This retired couple left the U.S. and bought a home in Portugal for $534,000—this is a look inside

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

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

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

How we discovered our condominium in Lisbon, Portugal

Just 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 few condominiums to tour throughout our journey.

This retired couple left the U.S. and bought a home in Portugal for $534,000

After taking a look at a few areas, we determined we needed a fixer-upper to get extra sq. footage for our cash. We had been solely planning to stay in Portugal for about two years, so discovering the “perfect” home wasn’t that necessary to us.

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

Photo: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

We will need to have checked out greater than 100 flats online. When Noki and Evie returned to the U.S., I stayed behind to view extra locations in a particular person.

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

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

“On paper, this apartment would not have been my first choice,” says Alex. “But I’ve learned that taking the leap for something that brings you joy, even if it feels uncertain, is worth it.”

My realtor and I sat at a cafe and negotiated again and forth with the proprietor through textual content messages. When the deal was finished, we landed on a buy worth of a $533,554 (not together with brokerage fee and taxes).

We wired the first 10% down the cost to the proprietor, which was a bit unnerving as a result of there having been no credit score checks and restricted due diligence. Everything was agreed upon through a handshake.

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

“The shared gardens and courtyards that surround the building drew me to the space,” says Alex.

Photo: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

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

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

  • Property taxes: $50
  • Maintenance charges: $400
  • Electricity: $225
  • Water: $23
  • Wi-Fi and cell telephones: $91

Total: $789

Living in historical past: Inside our Lisbon condominium

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

Photo: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

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

Inside the 400-year-old construction are widespread areas coated 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 faith” and put in a proposal for the condominium.

Photo: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

When you stroll into our condominium, you possibly can instantly respect why our construction was in a position to survive Lisbon’s nice earthquake of 1755. The strong stone partitions are almost 4 ft thick in some locations!

The loft-like residing and eating room area is the place we spend most of our time-consuming espresso, taking online 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 visitors with loads of pure gentle and minimalist design.

Photo: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

We preserve the area sparsely completed. After shifting from a massive home to a condominium, we found that we solely want a small quantity of furnishings to really feel snug.

At one finish of the predominant 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. Running the size of our kitchen wall is a lengthy spice rack, which helps us cook 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 condominium.

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

Photo: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

At the different finish of the condominium is our bedroom. We share the lavatory down the corridor, which has a washer and dryer, with our daughter Evie.

Alex’s daughter Evie’s bedroom is at the finish of the corridor, giving er loads of privacy.

Photo: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

And addition is her bedroom.

Finding a neighborhood in Portugal

On paper, this condominium would not have been my first alternative. I did not know the nation or the neighborhood nicely, and refinancing our home in the U.S. to purchase a condominium in an overseas nation was a dangerous step for us.

But I’ve realized 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 in the communal gardens consuming wine, hanging with neighbors, and having fun with views of the Tejo river.

Photo: João Esteves for CNBC Make It

My father and stepmother handed me away throughout my first yr of legislation college.

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

What I really like most about Portugal is its welcoming and light tradition. Every evening, Noki and I head to the communal backyard for a glass of wine with our neighbors. As we get pleasure 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 have now no plans to go away.

*Prices in 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 is the creator of the “Investment Pancake” collection on, the place he writes about tax planning, investing, early retirement, and the place to search out the finest meals in Lisbon.

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