• The story of Sandra & Bert

The story of Sandra & Bert

May we introduce ourselves? We are Bert and Sandra, 53 and 52 years old, born and raised in Flanders. We have two adult children and came to live permanently in Portugal at the beginning of 2018.

When we were asked by An-Sofie from Immo Portugal to share our Portugal story with them, we didn’t have to think long about it. In the spring of 2013 we got to know Portugal for the first time. The persistent gloomy winter drove us to warmer places during the Easter holidays. That’s how we ended up in the Algarve. It was a pleasant surprise. The country, the culture, the beaches and especially the people left an unforgettable impression on us.

Once back in Belgium, Portugal did not let us go. We went looking for information about the different regions here. It soon became clear that Central Portugal and in particular the Silver Coast seemed to us the ideal area to look for a second home. We had once said to each other: “Buying something abroad, we would never dare ….” But as Bert had been working in real estate for many years, we were soon able to separate the wheat from the chaff when looking for a place to live in Portugal, and we resolutely joined forces with Immo Portugal, which has an office in both Portugal and Belgium.

Overjoyed with our beautiful apartment in São Martinho do Porto, as much as we could, we came here to enjoy the good life. And so the desire for more grew … Now you must know that for many years I had the dream to start a B&B. So when we started looking for a second home in Portugal in 2015, we immediately had a number of conditions: the house had to be suitable for making a B&B “later”. Absolute requirements were as many bathrooms as bedrooms, spacious rooms, swimming pool and beautiful view. And so we bought our house at the Silver Coast, with a view on hills, nature reserve and the ocean.

That “later” seemed to take a long time at some point. And we started thinking “out of the box.” Why wait until we were entitled to a retirement? Would we still be fit enough to start a B&B? The more we thought about it and discussed it, the more the picture took shape. We thought it would be great to make a switch in this direction with another 15 active professional years ahead.

Of course it was not an easy decision, because no matter how you turn it around, choosing a piece is also losing a part. After all, we had plenty of children, parents, family, friends and social contacts in Belgium. Moving to Portugal also meant seeing your children and parents, my sister and her family less often (but … if we see them now, here or in Belgium it is invariably quality time!), giving up your work, leaving your colleagues behind, giving up your leisure activities for a part … And although it is always claimed that a house is ‘just a lot of stones’, you think about it for a while before you sell it and you realise that for almost 30 years you have shared joys and sorrows, raised your children, gave parties, enjoyed the garden and many more …

But one thing is certain: the choice for a different life in Portugal has been a positive choice. We didn’t leave because it would all be so bad in Belgium, or because we no longer liked our work or were bored with the people around us. No, we came here because we want to make this dream come true and we would regret it for the rest of our lives if we didn’t dare take this step. We can last a few more years before we are retired, and we only have one life and this is what we want to do now for the rest of our active life and especially together: to give our guests a nice holiday in a beautiful country, spoil them with a good bed and a nice breakfast. Giving them tips for trips in the area, finding good restaurants, etc… We are working hard ourselves,  but always with a kind of holiday feeling in the background.

What also helped to take this big step now is the realisation that life is not infinite. At a very young age we learned that life can give ugly turns. When we were both half in the twenties, we lost a baby, a period full of pain and sorrow, where we ended up stronger as a couple (thanks to a lot of different people around us …).
We knew back then that we could handle everything together, as we had already experienced the worst that could happen to us. Through the death of our child we have learned to put things into perspective; no more nagging about trifles or unimportant things, enjoying small things, enjoying nature, good food and drinks, getting to know people of all nationalities. And this is exactly what we have found here.

We are enjoying what we are doing, together with our guests, to the maximum…
We gleam when we hear the many beautiful comments after their stay with us and that motivates us enormously to keep going and to improve ourselves.

In the meantime, we have purchased one (smaller) apartment because we want to furnish the last room in the house (which was temporarily our bedroom) as an extra B&B room. We are happy to stay in our cozy apartment, which will be furnished with our furniture and things from Belgium and then come to the B&B in the morning to treat our guests with a varied breakfast.

Who could have thought five years ago that we now live permanently in Portugal? For sure we didn’t!
But we have not complained for a moment. We work hard (but without stress) and at the same time we are enjoying to the fullest.

And you know, just maybe in the long term we have to give up a bit on living standards, but what we get back in terms of quality of life is priceless!

Bert & Sandra

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