Portugal continues to be at the top of best-places-to-retire-abroad lists. This got my attention when I retired three years ago as a midlife woman of 59. I was intrigued by the thought of lowering my living expenses, and the possibility of being able to afford to live on the ocean as a single retiree. The month I spent living in Portugal in 2019 convinced me it’s the country for me to move to in retirement. After returning home, I planned to save money and move to Portugal at 65. But when my house sold unexpectedly late last year, I realized I could move this fall, three years ahead of plan. Each month I will share a Midlife Expat Learning post here as I navigate the complex process of immigrating to Portugal.
Living in Portugal won’t be all beaches and wine. OK…yeah…it will be a lot of that. But it will also be important to stay connected with people back home. Now more than ever, that connection includes protecting them by voting in all elections. People living in foreign countries still can vote in U.S. state and national elections as citizens of the United States.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is a program of the U.S. Department of Defense that works to help military members, their eligible family members, and overseas citizens vote from anywhere in the world. According to FVAP, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) protects the voting rights of approximately 3 million U.S. citizens living overseas, as well as members of the military and their eligible family members.
“FVAP suggests making it a goal to register and request your absentee ballot with the FPCA (Federal Post Card Application) by August 1st of every election year. Using the FPCA ensures that your state will send your ballot to you at least 45 days before the election — a protection not guaranteed when using other absentee voting forms. When you use the FPCA, you can also select to have your blank ballot sent to you electronically to speed up the process.”Federal Voting Assistance Program
Expatriate vs. Ex-patriot
I’ve noticed some confusion about these terms among a certain segment of folks — often those who like to wear flag and “patriot” apparel, but have never actually volunteered to serve their country in the military…or in any capacity. Just to clarify: Expatriate is not ex-patriot — they are two different terms. “Expat” is short for the noun form of the word “expatriate,” which can be used as a verb or an adjective too. When I move to Portugal I will be an expat resident, not an ex-citizen or an ex-supporter of my country’s people. I will continue to show my support by voting in U.S. elections from overseas.
Moving to another country is a complex process, and information can change quickly without notice. Everyone’s experience can be different. I’m remembering to take it all in stride, stay flexible, prepared, pivot-ready, and positive. Stay tuned. Thank you for reading!
Midlife Expat Learning Posts
February: Residency visa requirements
March: Finding housing in Portugal
April: Taxes & Money in Portugal
May: World Portuguese Language Day
June: Healthcare in Portugal (postponed). See Cutting expenses to move abroad
July: Voting as an expat
August: Visa application timeline and expenses
September: Moving logistics
October: Meeting folks, making friends
November: Food, shopping in Portugal
December: Christmas in Portugal
Featured image my own.
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