Welcome to Portugal, the New Ex-Pat Haven

This one’s for Denny who lives in Portugal. Put on your baggy shorts and grab your board, Dude, because surf’s up:

LA Times headline: Welcome to Portugal, the new expat haven. Californians, please go home


In the last decade, the overall population in Portugal has declined even as the number of foreigners has grown by 40%. The ranks of American citizens living in this land of 10 million shot up by 45% last year. Within the mix of retirees, digital nomads and young families fed up with issues including the costs of housing and healthcare, Trumpian politics and pandemic policies, Californians are making themselves known in a country once considered the forgotten sibling of Spain.

“I’d say 95% of my clients are now Americans,” said André Fernandes, a 38-year-old Porto-based real estate broker who, upon seeing the surge in interest in his homeland, moved back from New Jersey three years ago and switched from installing fire sprinklers to selling housing. “In the last week, I’ve called or emailed with people from California, Arizona and New Mexico.” One recent client, he said, was a Netflix writer.

Portugal emerged from the financial crisis of the mid-2000s as one of the European Union’s poorest nations. With the economy in shambles, Lisbon lawmakers drafted immigration laws to aggressively court foreign professionals, from the wealthy, who could essentially buy residency by purchasing land, to remote workers, who could secure a path to citizenship by earning money abroad but spending it here. More recently, the nation, which for the last seven years has hosted the Web Summit tech conference, has fashioned itself as a tax haven for cryptocurrency investors.

This one’s for Denny who lives in Portugal. Put on your baggy shorts and grab your board, Dude, because surf’s up:

My love affair with Portugal started around 1966 on an extended tour of Europe.

As a kid in Venezuela the only Portuguese people I knew were construction workers or gardeners and, being nasty as kids can be, we made fun of them. Between jobs in 1966 I decided on a three month tour of Europe. Portugal was not on the itinerary, I wanted to visit the more memorable places. When I told my sailing partner about the trip he asked me to buy a Duarte Bello stainless steel self bailer for our Star. Senhor Duarte Bello’s shop was in Estoril, on the outskirts of Lisbon. That’s how Portugal was added to the itinerary.

I was highly impressed by Portugal which was so different from my childhood imaginings. The Portuguese are the friendliest people I met in all of Europe. My short stay in Lisbon was the start of a love affair.

A few years after the European tour I attended a Star race in Easter Venezuela. On the drive back to Caracas, when I tried to pay for a coffee, I discovered that I had misplaced my duffle bag with all my valuables, documents, cash, credit cards, a gold keychain, the whole works! As soon as I got home I planned on reporting and replacing all my losses. On Monday I got a phone call

Caller: “Are you Denny Schlesinger?”

Denny: “Yes, who is calling?”

C: “This is the roadside coffee shop in PLC where you left your belongings. How can we get them back to you?”

D: “Please send them via Aerocav. My wallet with several hundred bolivares is in the duffle bag. Please use the money to pay for shipping costs and take the rest as a gratuity for your kindness.”

They paid for the shipping and didn’t take a penny for themselves. The shop was called “El Último Chance” The Last Chance before hitting the road. These were the same Portuguese immigrants I had made fun of as a kid.

For years I had been pondering where to retire to. Spain, Germany, the Caribbean? In the end I stayed in Venezuela despite the horrible Chavista dictatorship. Venezuela is a lovely country, with lovely people that had been very good to us. When the situation became dire I had to make up my mind in a rush. Portugal. I had to sell my car and I talked to the nearby tire shop owner, also a Portuguese immigrant. He suggested Porto.

Denny Schlesinger

DUARTE BELLO Designer of Star Fittings
Duarte Bello of Portugal designed and manufactured beautiful stainless steel Star fittings. On his boat “Faneca” shown above some of the innovative fittings can be seen. First and foremost is the circular boom vang track, the prototype of the system still used today. At the time this picture was taken in 1962 the usual method of connecting the boom vang was to hook a fitting which was on a wire running along the underside of the boom into some sort of fitting on the rail. There were several variations of this method. Another innovative item which Duarte designed was the Bello bailer, this in 1954. The thought that one could suck out the water in the bilge using the forward motion of the boat was a novel idea.

PDF: https://starclass.org/assets/documents/other_documents/ABPic…


I applaud your honest look back at yourself as a child. And this was one very fascinating post at how you came to be a citizen of Portugal. Also, the black and white photos of the sailboats and the description of the company “Star” was very informative. Thanks for sharing.

We have a sailing regatta in Key West during a time of year when the winds blow hard and the seas are rougher than normal. It is for J2 class sailboats which hold much bigger crews.

These guys take over the town during the week they are here. It’s interesting to see the boat owners buying drinks for their crews, many of them who are not paid but who get three hots, a cot, and all they can drink at night:


(That class of sailboat may be wrong, Denny. Please correct me if you know what you’re looking at here in the short clip above.)

I’m not familiar with that class of boat. One of my business partners sailed a “J/24” but it was a much smaller boat, three or four crew. That was back in the mid 1990s. I’m a bit past the “Use by” date. LOL


Denny Schlesinger