Alain and Christof, a couple from Belgium, are one of the many international homebuyers who have fallen in love with Silver Coast, Portugal. Recently, they shared their journey of buying a property in Portugal in a special episode of Portugal The Simple Life Podcast, hosted by Dylan Herholdt.
This personal conversation took place in their beautifully designed contemporary villa, while overlooking the green countryside and horses in a small rural village near Caldas da Rainha.
Their joy in sharing where the sun sets and their holiday home’s amazing view is contagious, and Dylan couldn’t help but wonder why they are not living here permanently.
The reason, however, is simple: both still work and have very busy lives in their hometown near Ghent, Belgium. Christof is a professional hairdresser and owner of a successful saloon for almost three decades. Alain has worked for an insurance company for over 30 years, and also helps manage the couple’s other businesses in the fashion retail industry. However, the plan is to eventually move to Portugal, where they are constantly discovering the many joys of a more slow-paced and simple lifestyle.
Although they initially considered buying a second home in Africa, a continent that Alain and Christof both love, they decided Portugal was the best option for many reasons. Including Portugal's excellent healthcare, safety, proximity to the rest of Europe and, most importantly, its amazing lifestyle.
“When we first visited Portugal, we fell in love with the country and its atmosphere. There is something here, I don't know how to explain it. Whether it's something in the air…” - Christof
Everybody comes to Portugal with an expectation based on what they've heard or read about, and Alain and Christof already knew about the amazing weather. When they finally came, they were surprised by all they didn’t know, when visiting regions such as Lisbon and the Alentejo! However, it was the Silver Coast that truly stole their hearts.
Why build a house in Portugal?
“We have our own house in Belgium, it's an old house completely renovated, but I’ve always wanted to build a brand new house. But not in Belgium. Suddenly, there was something, there was a click!”, says Christof.
A click made easier thanks to a friend who had already bought a property with Immo Portugal and introduced them to the Silver Coast region of Portugal, located just an hour north of Lisbon.
“That was the 'click' at the beginning, but there wasn't exactly a plan for being here. It just happened!”, explains Christof.
“We both have stressful jobs, literally we work all day till night. And when we come here, it's… I don't know what it is, but we do nothing! We really unstress. It's quiet and people are easier”, adds Alain.
Portugal versus Belgium… and their decision to buy with Immo Portugal
For Alain and Christof, life in Portugal is very different from Belgium. “In Belgium, we feel like we are constantly in a competition”, explains Alain, who believes their holiday home in Portugal is a haven.
“In the village where we live, there is literally nothing but peace and quiet. But 10 minutes away, in the city of Caldas da Rainha, we have everything…” - Alain
The Silver Coast region was one of the topics Tim Demeyer, Sales Director at Immo Portugal, talked about during his first meeting with Alain and Christof. Tim visited the couple in their home in Belgium and showed them a property on plan with a design that appealed to their personal taste.
“Tim, from Immo Portugal, explained everything that would happen and said the first thing we should do is visit the place where the house would be built. He said: ‘you have to love it!’”, recalls Alain.
As soon as they had the opportunity to travel, they visited the plot with Rita, from Immo Portugal’s office in Portugal. Two weeks later, they decided to buy the property and make their dream home come true.
With the help of Immo Portugal, who oversaw all the construction work directly with the builder, the final result really lived up to their expectations: from the design to the high ceilings, big windows and the home’s stunning setting.
“We always say we have a painting in front of us. Every day, when we look outside, we see something different. It's really nice, even when it's raining!” - Christof
As for the building process and the quality of the construction, the happy homebuyers are also satisfied with how everything turned out. “I am quite a perfectionist, so from the beginning they knew this was going to be difficult. But afterwards, the builder said: ‘No, you're not difficult, you know what you want!’, explains Christof, who believes the good communication with the builder and Immo Portugal made the process much easier.
Enjoying the simple life on Portugal’s Silver Coast
And why choose the Silver Coast? “I think it's the easy life… it's not fancy. (...) When you go out, you can go as you want. I can wear shorts and a t-shirt and go with my flip-flops, it's not a problem. In Belgium, I can’t do that”, says Christof.
“When we come here, it’s always the same. We forget what we do in Belgium and we have another life here. A real other life, where no one is looking at you… (...) That's the difference between Belgium and Portugal, the people are different. Here, they have a nice balance.” - Alain
Having no plans for the day and not having to rush for anything are two other things the couple enjoy when they spend time in their holiday home in Portugal. Not to mention the food!
Avowed foodies, Alain and Christof love visiting outdoor markets and tasting fresh new pastries while visiting bakeries in the mornings.
Discovering local restaurants is another favourite pastime to make the most of their downtime. They appreciate simple, yet delicious food, and there is always time to savour each bite. The couple usually travels from Belgium to Portugal by car and so also seizes the opportunity to fill the trunk with Portuguese wine they share with friends back home!
Regarding advice for people considering a move to Portugal or buying a holiday home here?
“Follow your hearts, visit, look around and feel Portugal. I can't explain it, you have to feel it, and when you have that good connection, just jump!”- Christof
Watch Alain and Christof’s full interview on Portugal The Simple Life Podcast:
If you're interested in buying a home in Portugal, visit Immo Portugal's website to see properties for sale!
Portugal The Simple Life is sponsored by a network of Portuguese companies that specialise in supporting families to transition to a simple life in Portugal. Please contact us if there is anything we can assist you with: Leisure Launch Group, Immo Portugal, Portugal Accounting, Portugal Interiors, Portugal Realty, Presprop Portugal Construction, SCH Holiday Homes and SCH Property Management & Rentals.