Residents of Portugal from other parts of the world – so what should we call ourselves?


In a recent conversation with Amy Glasser, 65, a retired American who lives in Lagos with her husband Sonny Meehan, 73, also a retired social worker, she remarked that she did not want to be called “an expatriate” but rather considered herself an immigrant. This put Ol’Pat in an immediate panic.

For the sake of clarity, will I have to change my screen name to “Irving, the immigrant”? Besides some minor branding issues, I’ve come to realize that there are some important distinctions as well.

When my lovely wife and I taught in the Bahamas many years ago, our two-year contract included a return ticket. Even though we were very involved in the local community, who spoke English by the way, with teaching, coaching, theater and social life, we fit the definition of expatriate or expatriate as “someone who resides outside his native country on a temporary basis”.

If you’re looking (always a good idea), an immigrant is “someone who moves to another country to live there permanently.” However, just to be sure, I searched for expat and was informed that it is often a vaguely general term referring to “a person residing in a country other than their home country”.

So while Glasser is technically correct, since they bought an apartment and have no intention of returning to Washington State, the “Patster” also seems like it could keep his designation, unless it’s not so simple and, of course, let it be not.

I also spoke about this issue with locals from Lagos, Betsy O’Hara, 76, a retired American from a career in tourism and marketing, and her husband Clive Atherton, 79, a British citizen at retirement, after a career in IT.

O’Hara had an interesting prospect since in a previous marriage she had lived in Germany for 32 years. For various reasons, she reports that she never felt at home or welcomed and remembers being called an “alien” (you can call me Al).

O’Hara notes that the Portuguese, at least in the Algarve, seem much more friendly and tolerant towards people from other parts of the world. She and her husband have no problem thinking of themselves as expats, even though they too own an apartment and plan to stay.

Atherton brought up an interesting point when he suggested that there might be a class or status distinction in how many of us think of the terms “expatriate” versus “immigrant”, and Wikipedia has it under – also hears. According to the Internet’s most cited news source, “In common usage, the term often refers to educated professionals, skilled workers, or artists holding positions outside of their home country, either self-employed or sent abroad by their employers”.

Thus, ordinary workers who move, legal or not, are often considered immigrants. It occurred to Betsy, Clive and yours truly that you never hear of “illegal expats”. Please also note that even Wikipedia doesn’t know where to place retirees in this discussion.

Atherton also finds himself in a somewhat unique and somewhat common situation in which he was once a citizen of the European Union and now, because of Brexit, is an alien.

According to Rui Caetano, 53, a Portuguese who lived in the United States for 37 years but has now returned to his native country and has become an important source of information for the so-called expatriate community, it is exactly what the Portuguese call us – foreigners or, more precisely, “estrangeiros” (Fred, the foreigner?).

It is a classification that our German, Dutch or French neighbors do not have to worry about, whether they own a second home or their main residence.

O’Hara mentioned that she had read somewhere that being an expat was “a lifestyle choice” and that struck me as a relevant concept that certainly caught the attention of many, if not most, of our resident pensioners. While some retirees feel like they’ve escaped some of the negativity, divisiveness, and violence currently dividing the United States (Glasser certainly thinks so and she’s not the only one), they don’t. are not technically and cannot qualify. as refugees.

Although they could afford to live at a standard they had grown accustomed to in the United States, they chose to come to Portugal because of the cost of living, the good weather, and the general feeling of safety. They weren’t forced to flee like those huddled on the US-Mexico border (so there’s no danger of having to move on to Ralph, the refugee).

We are lucky to have exercised a life choice. Take Mike Wasinski, 59, and Frank Remiatte, 53, for example. Both took early retirement; Wasinski from teaching and Remiatte, who worked in the insurance sector, and moved to Portimão. After considering Belize because they weren’t sure they could afford to live in Europe, they were delighted to find that Portugal was within their reach, even with high gas prices.

These guys, who are active founding members of Americans Living in the Algarve (ALITA, which now has 1,800 online members), not only were happy with the Algarve weather which was just as good in San Diego, where they lived before coming here, but they really liked the idea of ​​being able to travel around Europe. They have visited Germany before and are looking forward to more opportunities now that restrictions are lifted.

Ol’Pat agrees. Portugal has the impression of being at the gates of Europe. Even with a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, my lovely wife and I have visited Barcelona, ​​Marrakech, London and Amsterdam as well as the island of Jersey for the past five years.

Given the convenience of travel, cheap flights to the UK and the proximity to Spain, France and Italy and the rest of the continent, Atherton suggested that since we come from all over in the United States and around the world, we might refer to ourselves as “globetrotters” (Gary, the Globetrotter would be a good name for a blog, if I had one).

Remiatte and Wasinski hope to have dual nationality since Remiatte’s grandparents were Portuguese. With two passports, their travel options would be virtually limitless. O’Hara and Atherton also passed the language requirement to become citizens of Portugal. While Glasser and Meehan (who also lived in the Netherlands for five years) and, yes, my lovely wife and I are not so sure that we will ever be able to learn what is for us a difficult language, we have also all intend to stay here in Portugal “for the foreseeable future”.

Especially in the Algarve, due to the extensive British influence and welcoming nature of the locals, English is generally spoken here, making daily life quite liveable (please do not send an angry letter. Of course, every resident should work on learning the language and we will do our best).

All of this means Pat isn’t going to change his pen name. After all, my column is published in the “Lifestyle” section of the main English-language newspaper in Portugal, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to enjoy the expat lifestyle, as part of a truly global community. .

By Pat, the expat
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For the past 10 years, Pat has lived in Panama, which was once ranked above Portugal as a top retirement destination (but not anymore), where he wrote a column for a travel publication.


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