Expat Stories – Stuart Kushner
March 2021   EXPAT STORIES

Expat Stories – Stuart Kushner

Stuart Kushner is a Cigna Global customer. Stuart moved with his family from the USA to the Philippines in 2011.
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In 2019, Stuart and his family moved from the Philippines to Portugal.

They have been living there ever since.

This is his expat story.

Tell us about your expat move?

We moved to the Philippines back in 2011 and we were there for eight years. Whilst we were there, I was working on my own business and working towards relocating again.

In June 2019, we moved from the Philippines to Portugal. I decided that I would live in Europe instead of going back to the US, so that’s how we got on.

How did you find it living in the Philippines?

Well my wife is from the Philippines so we had a good community there and found it easy to connect with people. The people there were really great.

It’s a very tropical country. But the one thing I really miss from there is the people, some of the nicest people in the world.

We just felt it was time to go somewhere new. I didn’t want to go back to the US yet and I’d always wanted to live in Europe. I started researching parts of Europe that would be affordable and nice. We found this little town in Portugal and it is so beautiful here.

How have you found it living in Portugal?

We really love it here. One of the biggest bonuses of living here is that the healthcare is very affordable. With our Cigna insurance policy, it is only about $380 per month for all four of us. I know that in the US, we would be paying a whole lot more than that. So we’ve been able to get healthcare and the system here in Portugal is really good.

The town we live in here is very clean, very safe, and has great weather. I joined a country club and have been able to play some golf.

The food is really good here, and I think it is better than it was in the Philippines. I don’t think I ever heard anyone say that they were visiting the Philippines for the food!

My kids are being tutored right now in Portuguese, so that’s the challenge for that come with a new language. We really love it though!

What have been some of the biggest highlights from your expat journey so far?

The cultural differences are really great. In the Philippines, the people there are very friendly and they like to sing and dance. They are very outgoing.

There are lots of spectacular views and great landscapes. In Portugal, it is very European, there are lots of castles and old houses. We are very close to the beach.

I remember when I joined the country club, one of the first things I asked them was “when does it close?” This is because I’m from Washington D.C. and when it snows in the winter there, the golf clubs close for a couple of months. But they said the course doesn’t close at all, and that was really nice to hear!

Europeans speak a lot of languages so living here makes me a feel a little bit dumb! Pretty much everyone here speaks a couple of different languages, and I even met someone here who speaks 10 different languages. So for me that is really impressive.

Have you had many challenges moving abroad?

Being away from family and friends is probably the hardest part. Making friends here has been nice, I’ve made a few friends on the golf course and also with my neighbours here, but it’s not like home.

So I do miss my friends from home.

Shopping is definitely an issue here too. Anything you can think of in the US, you can get it. Here, it’s not the same and you don’t have as much variety.

What advice would you give to those who are considering making an expat move?

My attitude has always been just to go for it! If you have the resources to live somewhere else and you want to do it, go and do it!

Would you recommend the expat move?

Oh yes! I don’t have any regrets. It has been an amazing experience to live in another country and take on everything that has been thrown at me.

When I was researching places to live and I found Portugal, the weather was one of the main things that attracted me to it. The weather here is just spectacular and the cost of living is very reasonable. It’s cheaper than D.C. that’s for sure!

Finally, how would you summarise your expat story in 10 words or less?

If it’s something you want to do, make it happen!

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