Welcome to a Magical Monday on The Midlife Makeover Show! I hope you have your passport and sunglasses, because we are taking a little journey to the gorgeous island of Madeira, Portugal! Woo-hoo!
On today’s episode, I am going to tell you why the heck I moved to a little island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Since I began posting my move to Madeira on social media, and announcing it here on the show, people have been asking, “Wendy, WHY did you move to Portugal and HOW did you decide on the island of Madeira?”, so on today’s show, I will tell you my top 7 reasons as to why I moved here. I will also tell you a bit about Madeira as we go along. There’s so much to tell you about this cool place!
If you want to follow my fun here on the island of Madeira, then you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, or TikTok. If they come out with another social media platform, I’m going to jump off the highest cliff in Madeira! But seriously, follow me on any of those platforms by searching for Wendy Valentine or The Midlife Makeover Show.
I post all sorts of fun things about my life, and most importantly, I post all sorts of things to inspire YOU to have more fun, more joy, and more happiness in your second half of life! That is why I do what I do every day to hopefully encourage you to go after your life with gusto, which that alone leads me to my #1 reason as to why I moved to the beautiful island of Madeira!
Reason #1 Why Not?
It’s that simple. Why not? Life is short and why the F not? Living in Europe has been on my Fuck It List for a long time. You heard me right. I said Fuck It List. Some people have a Bucket List, I have a Fuck It List. In other words, fuck it, let’s go for it! Let’s do it!
So yes, I have always imagined living in Europe ONE DAY. ONE DAY I will live in France or Spain or England. ONE DAY! Well folks, if there is something you have talked about and dreamed about doing in your life ONE DAY, you better turn that ONE DAY into DAY ONE. Make this DAY ONE of making your dreams come true. We don’t know if we even get DAY TWO, so you might as well start with DAY ONE!
By the way, the term Bucket List originated from the phase “kick the bucket”, meaning, “to die”, so get started before you kick the bucket! As Nike would say, Just Do It! Figure out a way and do it!
One of my greatest pet peeves in life is people that talk and talk and talk about doing things in life, but they never take the leap. They don’t think they’re capable of making their dreams come true, they think that dreams are for other people, they don’t want to go through the trouble of changing their life in order to make their dreams come true, or they think they have 1000 years to do it. I call bullshit on all of the above.
I used to have a magnet on my fridge that said, “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?”, so let me ask you then, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? First of all, what do you want anyway? Make your own Fuck It List of things you want to experience in your life. Since you’re at midlife, there’s probably a lot of things you want to do before you take your last breath.
Just like Maya Angelou said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Create some great moments that take your breath away. Make your life so remarkable and so extraordinary that your last thought before your last breath is, “damn that was fun!”
Give yourself the gift of a good life!
When you look at your Fuck It List, pick an item on your list, and say, “Fuck it! Let’s do it!” and just like my reason for moving to Madeira, why not?
Before we move onto Reason #2, let me tell you a bit about Madeira. Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal claimed in 1419. Madeira is 35 miles long and 13 miles wide. It is located 310 miles from the African coast and 620 miles from the coast of Portugal.
It is not difficult to get here at all. When I flew to Madeira, I flew nonstop from Chicago to Lisbon, Portugal and then took about an hour-long flight from Lisbon to Funchal, Madeira. Easy Peasy!
Speaking of Funchal, it is the capital of Madeira with a population of 130,000 people and the entire island having a population of about 250,000 people. Needless to say, it is a bustling, energetic, big, little island. That leads me into reason #2.
Reason #2 Energy and Environment
Throughout my 50 years of living on this awesome planet, I have realized more and more of what feeds my heart and soul. The more I have lived, the more I understand Wendy, which can be complicated, and what Wendy needs in life to be her best. I recognize what helps my growth in life and what hinders my growth in life. As I have gotten more in touch with the deeper aspects of myself, I know what brings me joy and what brings me sadness. Furthermore, I now know the environment that encourages me to thrive and flourish. I know which environments feed my heart and soul.
I have lived in a ton of places in the United States: St. Louis, Missouri, Haymarket, Virginia, Walla Walla, Washington, San Antonio, Texas, Dallas, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona, Williamsburg, Virginia, Chicago, Illinois, and as many of you know, I traveled the country in an RV and have been everywhere except Alaska. That’s on my Fuck It List!
Everything is energy, including where you live, so it’s imperative to live in a place that energizes you. There is no right or wrong place; it’s the place that is best for YOU. As children, we obviously don’t have a choice on where we live. We live where our parents say we are going to live, but you are an adult now, and you can choose where you live and how you live.
For me, I have concluded that I do best in sunny environments with some cloudy days. I actually like a few cloudy days here and there to mix it up a bit. I like 65-to-70-degree temperatures with no snow whatsoever.
I’ll admit that when I was living in Chicago for a very brief part of my life, I got very depressed. The dark days did not serve me well. My energy was low, my creativity went to shit, and I felt like blah. My soul was screaming, “Get me the hell outta here! Now!” So, I did.
All that being said, Madeira definitely feeds my heart and soul. Madeira is actually nicknamed The Land of Eternal Spring due to its comfortable spring-like temperatures year-round. It is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world with lush, green forests, majestic mountains, exotic plants and flowers, and black sand beaches. Black sand beaches? Say whhhhat? Yes, some of the beaches on Madeira Island are black!
Madeira landscape was actually created by volcanic eruptions about 890,000 years ago. When you explore the island, and I hope you have the pleasure of doing so someday (add that to your Fuck It List!), you will see how it was formed by a volcano by its many peaks, valleys, craters, and cliffs. The highest mountain on the island reaches 6100 feet! When the island was discovered, it was covered in a laurel forest, leading to its name ‘Madeira’, which means ‘wood’ in Portuguese.
Maybe it’s the fire of the island that feeds my fiery soul. There really is so much magnetic energy on this island. I could be happy anywhere, but I am especially happy here. My creativity went from 0 to 10 in about 10 minutes, which will come in handy when I start writing my book soon! I can‘t wait to tell you more about that!
So, what about you? What type of environment feeds your heart and soul? What brings you joy? What makes you smile? What brings you peace? What gives you energy? Think about that.
Have you envisioned living somewhere else? Maybe you’re not completely clear on where you want to go. Maybe you’re happy with wherever you are, and that’s totally okay. Because again, there’s no perfect place for everyone. It’s only the place that’s perfect for you.
Just know that you have choices, and you can go explore! I know a lot of midlifers and empty nesters that keep their main residence and take several trips throughout the year. Sometimes breaking up the monotony of your homelife and traveling to new places is enough to feed your heart and soul.
Traveling to other states and countries is not as expensive as you think either. There are so many creative, affordable ways to travel nowadays. Not to mention, a lot of employers are allowing employees to work remotely now. Or there are tons of new jobs popping up all the time where you can work remotely. Going back to Reason #1 of Why Not? just figure out a way to explore new places that bring you joy.
While we are on the topic of money, let’s move onto Reason #3.
Reason #3 Cost of Living
For me, I want less stuff and more experiences. I’m done with the stuff. We all came into this world with nothing, and we will leave with nothing, so why spend so much time, money, and energy carrying around a bunch of crap? I would rather use my time, money, and energy on living more of life.
When you’re not spending money on getting more stuff or maintaining your current stuff, there is more money left over for experiences. Furthermore, when your cost of living is low then there is more money left over for experiences.
For me, living somewhere with a low cost of living was important, and Madeira has a low cost of living. When I first started researching where I wanted to move in Europe, I stumbled across a great YouTube channel called, Track Us Down with Doug and Monique. They have an awesome show that provides tons of great information about Madeira, including their monthly cost of living breakdown.
They just posted a video last week where their monthly expenses for the two of them was only $2634.00. And that is everything you guys! Rent, utilities, cell phones, groceries, dining out, activities, auto insurance, and healthcare. Just my apartment alone in Chicago was more than all of their monthly expenses put together. And my apartment was overlooking an ugly field with dead plants covered in snow! Blah!
Let me add that my monthly expenses in Chicago did not include health insurance because I couldn’t afford health insurance in the United States. I used to pay almost $1000 per month for a crappy health plan with a $5000 deductible. And let me also add that I am very healthy, and I rarely, and I mean rarely go to the doctor. And do you know what I am paying for health coverage here in Portugal? You are going to poop your pants when I tell you. Fifty buckeroos per month for excellent healthcare. They have some of the best doctors in the world!
My monthly expenses dropped dramatically since moving here, which of course leaves more money in my pocket to play and enjoy more of life!
Before we move onto Reason #3, make sure you check out Track Us Down on YouTube! You will love their show! They are so adorable! As a matter of fact, Doug and Monique were on The Midlife Makeover Show a few months ago! Go back and listen to episode #35 titled Retire at 50 & Travel the World! How to Declutter, Downshift & Downright Enjoy Your Midlife with Track Us Down!
I also had the pleasure of meeting Doug and Monique last week and they are as cool in person as they are on screen! Coincidentally, they live down the street from me! That leads me to Reason #4!
Reason #4 The Portuguese Peeps
The peeps that live here on Madeira are the friendliest, kindest, and most genuine people I have ever met. They take the time to talk to you and they are never rushed. Back in the US, we are always in a hurry and always worried about where we have to be next instead of just enjoying the moment. It has been so nice to slow down, breathe, relax, meet new people, and just have a nice conversation over a cup of coffee.
Speaking of conversation, majority of the Portuguese speak English! Shewee! Actually, before I discovered Madeira, Portugal, I considered moving to Spain. One of the drawbacks to Spain was the fact that they didn’t speak as much English. Not that I couldn’t learn Spanish, but it certainly makes it a little easier when they are more fluent in English.
Also, there are a ton of expats here on the Island of Madeira. I have met people from all over the world that have moved to Madeira. Some of them are retired and some of them are digital nomads. Which one am I? Hmmm. I act like I’m retired, but I suppose I fall more into the digital nomad category. I just need my microphone and my laptop and I’m good to go anywhere!
Anyway, whether it’s the polite Portuguese, or the Americans, Canadians or Europeans that have moved here, Madeira has a wonderful, harmonious community. You can tell there is a lot of respect and care for the island and for the people that live here, which is how it should be. And that leads me to Reason #5!
Reason #5 Safety
I want to take my dog for a walk without looking over my shoulder. I want to walk into my home without feeling that I need to immediately lock the door behind me. I want to eat lunch on a restaurant patio without worrying about a drive by shooting. I want to feel safe in my environment.
Here are some interesting stats on safety. According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland is considered the safest place in the world, followed by New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, Austria, and then Portugal! Woo-hoo! Portugal is ranked the 6th safest place in the world.
Do you know where the United States falls on the scale of safety? You’re going to poop your pants on this one, too. The United States is ranked 129 out of 163 countries! That is awful! Absolutely awful! Afghanistan is the most unsafe in the world at #163, which means that the U.S. is only 34 places behind Afghanistan! That is awful you guys!
Worldpopulationreview.com stated “The United States’ ranking has fallen every year since 2016, a drop usually attributed to a decrease in life satisfaction, rising political division, and an increasing wealth gap.” I never talk politics, so don’t worry, I won’t even go there, but going back to what I said earlier about living in an environment that is best for you, living in an unsafe environment is not good for me. I absolutely love the United States, but good golly, what in the world is going on there?
Anyway, comparing downtown Chicago to downtown Funchal, it is sooo nice to take a stroll without worrying about getting robbed or shot or stabbed. I just want to drink my poncha, eat my bolo do caco and enjoy the beautiful scenery. And that leads me to reason #6.
Reason #6 The Yummy Food
The food here is sooo good you guys! If you follow me on Instagram and watch my daily stories then you know I love to cook, but I haven’t wanted to do much cooking since I moved here! There are so many great cafes, restaurants, and bars here on the big little island of Madeira!
I love strolling through the little villages, checking out the menus as you walk by, picking a restaurant at random, pulling up a chair on the patio overlooking the ocean, and ordering a poncha! What is poncha, you ask? Poncha is the signature drink of Madeira, and it is made of rum, lemon, and honey. It is dangerous and it is good! Sometimes you don’t even have to order one –– the server just automatically brings you one!
That ties back into reason #4, the friendliness of the Portuguese peeps, and also reason #3, the cost of living. Dining out here is so inexpensive, which makes you want to eat out more!
The food is so incredibly fresh here, too. The tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes! And if you want to go bananas on the island, you can, because Madeira is covered in banana trees! With such a great climate, Madeira grows their own fruit and vegetables. Plus, they catch the fish right here in the Atlantic Ocean!
One of my favorite dishes is espetada, which is basically beef on a stick. They use a bay leaf branch as the skewer (how genius!), the meat is seasoned with salt, bay leaves and garlic, and then grilled. So simple, so scrumptious!
There is quite a variety of foods here, not just Portuguese. There are some great Italian restaurants, Irish and English pubs, German, and even some good ol’ classic American burger joints! I think there’s one McDonald’s on the island. That’s plenty! Oh, and of course, Madeira is known for their Madeira wine! Going back to cost of living, I’m saving money on wine, too, since you can get a good bottle of wine for 4 bucks compared to 15 bucks in the U.S. I’m just saving money left and right here folks!
Thank God I work out almost every day, because I would be a house eating all the good food here. And that leads me to reason #7!
Reason #7 Quality of Life
When you live in an environment with good weather, good people, and good landscapes, it’s easy to achieve a good quality of life. Whether you are a sea lover, nature seeker, a food and wine enthusiast, or maybe you just like to shop, there is something in Madeira for everyone!
I have loved being able to go hiking, biking, walking, surfing, or simply lounging on the beach. Especially in the middle of winter! If I was back in Chilly Chicago, I’d be sitting inside on the couch. Probably watching YouTube videos about Madeira!
It’s actually more challenging here for me to stay inside then to go outside. As a matter of fact, as soon as I get done recording this episode, I’m putting on a cute sundress and going for a nice walk in Santa Catarina Park and looking for my next yummy restaurant to try in Funchal! That’s not a bad way to spend your day!
You don’t have to be an athlete or join a gym to be active either. Have you ever heard of the Blue Zones book? I strongly recommend it. You can check out the website at bluezones.com. There are all sorts of cool info on there. The Blue Zones was a study done about people in the world that live past 100 years old. One of the things they all had in common was that they were all active.
This is a quote from the Blue Zones website:
“The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.”
In conclusion, staying active is how to achieve a good quality of life and how to live a long life. I plan to live until I’m 111 years old, which means that I have 61 years to go! I will definitely do my best to feed my body, mind, heart, and soul with good things, so I can live a good life! I plan on doing a lot of that here in Madeira, Portugal!
A lot of people have asked how long I will live here in Madeira. I don’t have an answer to that question because I’m on the no-plan plan. I have learned to only plan a few months in advance in my life, because if I see something that looks interesting, then I go for it!
I don’t have my visa yet, which means I will have to leave here in 90 days or so to reset my passport and then come back again. I will figure it all out as I go along, and that’s what makes it so exciting! In the meantime, I am enjoying every moment on the beautiful island of Madeira!
So, there you have it! Those are my top 7 reasons as to why I moved to Madeira, Portugal!
Reason #1 Why Not?
Reason #2 Energy and Environment
Reason #3 Cost of Living
Reason #4 The Portuguese Peeps
Reason #5 Safety
Reason #6 The Yummy Food
Reason #7 Quality of Life
Again, join me on social media to follow the fun and check out my exciting adventures! Also, go to http://themidlifenews.com and sign up for my weekly newsletter to receive insider alerts on new episodes, live shows, free workshops, and special offers. As a bonus, you’ll receive your FREE Midlife Makeover Toolkit and a $50 coupon to The Midlife Makeover Method online course! Woot! Woot!
Hey! You never know! Maybe you’ll makeover your midlife and end up in Madeira! If you come here, then you better let me know! We’ll go out for ponchas and watch the amazing sunsets!
Okay Midlifers! Get out there and BE BOLD, BE FREE BE YOU!
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