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This retired couple left the U.S. and acquired a house in Portugal for $534,000—here is a glance inside



In 2015, my spouse Noki, daughter Evie and I took a trip to Lisbon, Portugal. We instantly fell in love with the gorgeous climate, the rattle of cable vehicles, and probably the most welcoming folks that we might ever met whereas touring.

On the time, we have been residing close to Washington D.C. I might retired early in my 40s from a authorized profession, and whereas Noki labored as a nurse, we additionally had an funding portfolio that paid out sufficient dividends to reside on.

That meant we might afford to take a sabbatical — and Lisbon appeared like a promising risk.

How we discovered our condo in Lisbon, Portugal

Simply two days into our trip, we began planning to maneuver. The proprietor of our Airbnb related us with an actual property agent, and we booked a couple of condo to tour throughout our journey.

After taking a look at a couple of areas, we determined we needed a fixer-upper to get extra sq. footage for our cash. We have been solely planning to reside in Portugal for about two years, so discovering the “good” dwelling wasn’t that essential to us.

The household’s search ended with a two-bedroom, 1,300-square-feet condo in Barrio Alto, a neighborhood identified for its nice nightlife.

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

We will need to have checked out greater than 100 flats on-line. When Noki and Evie returned to the U.S., I stayed behind to view extra locations in individual.

The search lastly ended with a two-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot condo in Barrio Alto, a neighborhood identified for its nice nightlife. As I left the place, I seen a tile on the wall with an engraved quote from Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet, that learn: “I do know not what tomorrow will convey.” 

These phrases felt like an invite welcoming me and my household with open arms to a brand new journey.

“On paper, this condo wouldn’t have been my first selection,” says Alex. “However I’ve discovered that taking the leap for one thing that brings you pleasure, even when it feels unsure, is value it.”

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

My realtor and I sat at a restaurant and negotiated backwards and forwards with the proprietor through textual content message. When the deal was carried out, we landed on a purchase order value of a $533,554 (not together with brokerage fee and taxes).

We wired the primary 10% down fee to the proprietor, which was a bit unnerving as a result of there have been no credit score checks and restricted due diligence. Every part was agreed through handshake.

We took out a brand new mortgage on our Washington, D.C. dwelling that gave us $600,000, and paid for the remainder of the Lisbon condo in money.

“The shared gardens and courtyards that encompass the constructing drew me to the house,” says Alex.

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

We saved our U.S. dwelling totally furnished and rented it out to subsidize our housing prices in each international locations. And after Evie completed center college in 2015, we moved to Portugal with six checked luggage and a clean slate.

Presently, our month-to-month housing prices in Lisbon are:

  • Property taxes: $50
  • Upkeep charges: $400
  • Electrical energy: $225
  • Water: $23
  • Wi-Fi and cell telephones: $91

Complete: $789

Residing in historical past: Inside our Lisbon condo

The constructing’s widespread areas are lined in historic blue and white tiles, or “azulejos” in Portuguese.

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

Our condo is situated in one of many oldest intact buildings in Lisbon: the Convento dos Inglesinhos, a walled complicated of gardens, a church, and transformed cloisters.

Contained in the 400-year-old constructing are widespread areas lined in historic blue and white tiles that date again 100 years.

It was a tile with an engraved quote from poet Fernando Pessoa that satisfied Alex to “take a leap of religion” and put in a suggestion for the condo.

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

If you stroll into our condo, you possibly can instantly admire why our constructing was in a position to survive Lisbon’s nice earthquake of 1755. The strong stone partitions are practically 4 toes thick in some locations!

The loft-like residing and eating room house is the place we spend most of our time consuming espresso, taking on-line courses and consuming meals collectively. The home windows look down onto a walled courtyard with olive timber.

The household’s mixed front room and eating room welcomes friends with loads of pure gentle and a minimalist design.

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

We preserve the house sparsely completed. After shifting from a big home to an condo, we found that we solely want a small quantity of furnishings to really feel snug.

At one finish of the principle room is the kitchen, which we renovated in 2017 so as to add cabinetry and a push-door fridge that our two 20-pound cats cannot open. Operating the size of our kitchen wall is a protracted spice rack, which helps us prepare dinner throughout completely different cuisines. 

We spent roughly $200,000 over the previous seven years on renovations, redoing our flooring, and putting in cabinetry and closets all through the condo. 

“We designed our renovated kitchen round our sprawling spice rack,” says Alex.

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

On the different finish of the condo is our bed room. We share the lavatory down the corridor, which has a washer and dryer, with our daughter Evie.

Alex’s daughter Evie’s bed room is on the finish of the corridor, giving er loads of privateness.

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

And additional on is her bed room.

Discovering a group in Portugal

On paper, this condo would not have been my first selection. I did not know the nation or the neighborhood properly, and refinancing our dwelling within the U.S. to purchase an condo abroad was a dangerous step for us.

However I’ve discovered that taking the leap for one thing that brings you pleasure, even when it feels unsure, is value it.

Alex and Noki spend their time within the communal gardens consuming wine, hanging with neighbors, and having fun with views of the Tejo river.

Picture: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

My father and stepmother handed away throughout my first 12 months of regulation college.

Since then, I’ve all the time tried to acknowledge how life generally locations wondrous alternatives in your path, and that it is good to maintain an open thoughts — particularly as a result of we frequently do not get second probabilities in life.

What I like most about Portugal is its welcoming and mild tradition. Each evening, Noki and I head to the communal backyard for a glass of wine with our neighbors. As we benefit from the cool breezes and watch the solar set, I’m reminded of how blessed and lucky we’re.

Now that we have attained twin Portuguese citizenship, we now have no plans to depart.

*Costs on this story are calculated primarily based on conversion charges between the U.S. greenback and Euro.

Alex Trias is a retired lawyer. He and his spouse and daughter have lived in Portugal since 2015. He’s the creator of the “Funding Pancake” sequence on SeekingAlpha.com, the place he writes about tax planning, investing, early retirement, and the place to search out the perfect meals in Lisbon.

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