Rick Steffens, a professional musician, and his wife, Victoria, who worked as an intensive care unit nurse, always knew they’d retire overseas. “We love traveling, but we couldn’t afford to keep our house in California and travel at the same time,” Rick explains. Now, retired on the south coast of Portugal, between the Algarve’s dramatic beaches and the almond groves of the Monchique mountain range, they’ve found their ideal location to settle in.
Aside from the Algarve’s natural charms, Rick and Victoria feel that the Portuguese way of life suits them better than California’s. “We felt like there’s sometimes a bit of a ‘What shall we do with the old people? Let’s shove them into a retirement home’ mentality among America’s younger generation,” Victoria says. “Although some of these places are gorgeous and organize lots of activities, we didn’t want to live in a retirement community. We don’t like bowling or bingo; we prefer a more active lifestyle with pastime pursuits of our own choosing.
“To tell you the truth, Portugal wasn’t even on our radar initially,” she adds. The couple actually planned to retire in Panama. However, after six months of living there, they decided it wasn’t the country for them. “We thought we could just drive from Central to South America and travel around the continent easily, but that wasn’t the case. At border checks we were confronted by officials with machine guns, which burst our bubble a bit.”
They then rented a house in Ecuador and spent a month traveling through Colombia. “Everywhere we went, people were raving about how wonderful Portugal is. They all told us the same thing: You need to check it out. After doing some research, we decided to give it a go. We’d already visited Europe four times before on our travels and loved it,” Victoria explains. In 2015 they arrived in the north of the Portugal, where they lived for a year.