On Portugal, privilege and the flipside of childfreedom.
Olá! We just got back from a scouting trip to Portugal, which may be the next place our childfree lives take us. Our future home, or at least the next step on our journey together.
I know, everyone seems to be moving to Portugal. Or at least, everyone with a certain amount of privilege. And why wouldn’t they? The country’s beautiful, temperate (between the heatwaves and flash floods :/) and has everything from vibrant cities to stunning mountains to rugged beaches. The people are lovely, the food’s great, and things are cheap… ish, for now.
We have complicated feelings about moving to Portugal. We used to run an expat blog about Berlin and were regularly blamed for the city’s gentrification, as we were certainly part of the problem. Twelve years later, we’re now being priced out as rents rise, the cost of living increases and we earn less money than we ever have (but hey, we’re on a mission!) A similar thing happened to us in London, and will probably happen down the line in Portugal.
Being able to contemplate such a move, and its implications, is a luxury most people don’t have. We resist the stereotyping of childfree people as swanning off for hedonistic holidays in exotic destinations, pockets full of disposable income… but, generally, we enjoy a freedom that most parents don’t.
We haven’t laid down roots in Germany, and as EU passport holders (no thanks to Brexit!), we can up sticks and move. We don’t have jobs here, or family, and our friends leave all. the. time. We don’t have much money, but moving to a cheaper country will further extend the time we can spend on this vital project.
In a sense, the decision’s a no-brainer. And yet, it’s still very scary! We feel grateful to have these options, the space to weigh them up, and the freedom to create the life that’s right for us. And the insecurity we feel is nothing compared to the experiences of less privileged childfree people, whose lives are nowhere near as free and easy. That includes many in Catholic majority countries – like Portugal.
We’re not very woo-woo, but when were in Portugal, we feel like the universe sent us a sign. Linha da Frente, the Portuguese 60 Minutes, mentioned We are Childfree briefly in a report on the childfree choice, on public TV, at prime time. It’s so encouraging to see the issue under such a spotlight, and amazing that our Instagram flashed up on screen!
The privilege of our progressive Berlin bubble is another navel-gazing topic I’ll leave for another day! We know there are millions, maybe billions, of childfree people all over the world, who need our help and support – to know that they can live full, fulfilling lives. One day, our message of hope will reach across the globe. For now, Portugal – we’re (probably) coming for you!
Do you have any Portugal tips? Do you live in the country and want more childfree friends? Get in touch – we would love to hear from you.
Shouts out to our podcast producer Anna, the best (and realest) unofficial tour guide in Porto; Jen, an ex-Berliner who’s created a lovely childfree life slanging the tastiest wine and food at Tricky’s in Lisbon; and everyone who sent us recommendations on our socials. Thanks lovelies! 🖤
Photos by Zoë Noble
Words by James Glazebrook