Expat Case Study: Elaine Pope

USA to Portugal


Elaine had visited Porto, Portugal in 1998 and felt a strong connection to the city. Upon a return visit in 2019, she recognized the “pull” was still there and began looking into ways to have an apartment in Porto and one at home in the USA. Her plan to finalize apartment details in April 2020 came to a halt when pandemic lockdowns began. As the pandemic progressed, she realized the new “rules of the world” would require her to get a residence visa in order to live in Portugal. Her job as an onsite event manager allows her to live anywhere as long as she is close to an airport, so the challenge became what type of visa would allow her to achieve an objective of living part-time in Portugal and part-time in the USA.


  • Determining which visa would be appropriate
  • Managing the process during covid restriction times
  • Clarification and understanding of travel vs physical residence in Portugal required


  • 1-on-1 Coaching
  • Timeline Planning
  • Connecting with Our Partners
Elaine Pope US citizen moving to Porto Portugal

What problems did you have before working with Expat Empire?

Throughout the lockdown, I was searching for everything relating to visas but it was like searching for ingredients for chocolate chip cookies without an actual recipe in mind. I was getting conflicting information because I was finding results for the NHR scheme, D7 Visas, Golden Visas, NIF, and tourist visa requirements. I literally had all the ingredients for my recipe with no knowledge of how to make them into the cookie that I wanted.

What did it feel like as you tried to solve those problems?

I was frustrated and confused. The worst part is that, in my job, I drop into a foreign country and make things happen for 500+ people without a problem, yet I could not even figure out my first step for moving abroad. I vacillated between determination to make something happen and throwing up my hands and giving up. I just wanted someone to help me find a path so I could take the right steps.

I saw David interviewed on a YouTube channel about moving to Portugal and it sounded like he may be one who could assist me in finding my path. I had decided to come to Porto as soon as travel reopened so that I could confirm the desire to live here was still strong. Since David lives in Porto, I was able to meet in person and instantly see that another American had made the move and was thrilled to be here….a bit comforting!

What was different about working with Expat Empire?

David took time to listen and understand (and later remember) my situation. He understood that my comfort level with some things was quite different than many who are undertaking a move like this. However, my desire for doing things correctly and having a plan was extremely important. Through our conversation, I began relaxing and seeing that this may be a process, but it did not need to be complicated, especially if I accepted assistance. David worked with me on my initial objectives and then as my plan morphed, he adapted along with it providing assistance, support, and recommendations along the way.

What does your life look like now that you have worked with Expat Empire?

Finally, I am in Porto with only the SEF interview yet to come! I used two of David’s partners to assist me. One was the immigration attorney and the other was the relocation assistance to help with an apartment. My attorney helped guide me through the steps, confirming my details along the way so that I was confident everything was in order prior to submitting my application. I know many people use Facebook groups for information, but I wanted a personal contact in the country who was guaranteed to be up-to-date on the latest regulations and be able to assist me in case of an issue. Since my job requires travel, I wanted someone with definitive answers regarding the law, not a crowdsourced answer, because if my information was incorrect, it could have long-term negative impacts.

Fortunately, my connections with friends in the country enabled me to have a contract for an apartment to meet the visa requirements, but once here I would need a more permanent apartment. David’s partner helped me find options that met my preferences and went with me to see the apartments. This provided an additional level of confidence because I had a bilingual pro who could explain some of the idiosyncrasies of apartment searches in Portugal while also making sure the landlord and I understood each other. She accompanied me to the signing of the contract and explained all details and acted as my translator with the apartment manager. Although the apartment manager speaks English well, it was good to have that additional level of translation – sometimes just to explain details that are different between landlord/tenant expectations in the US vs Portugal. I also think it was an additional level of comfort for the landlord. Since I am “on the move” during the time of contracting the apartment, it is comforting to have someone working with me to make sure utilities, internet, etc. will be connected.

I also purchased the Timeline Planning service for moving from Expat Empire. It has the potential to be a very useful tool for some, but in my case, I have used it more as a referral source. It hits on every detail that could apply to singles, couples, or families who are making a major move. My personal lifestyle is one of traveling light and only responsible for myself so I can be more flexible with timelines. My deadlines have been set by the immigration process here, not a deadline to be in Porto to start a job or for some other specific requirement. As a result, I have not been able to use the timeline to the maximum effect that some could. However, it has proved useful as a reference and guide for timing.

Once in Porto, I attended a few meetups sponsored by Expat Empire. They are very informal and allow a chance to meet and mingle with international expats, not just Americans. I enjoy them because they are low-key meetings in a place that is quiet enough to be able to have conversations. The Bar of Soap is a unique venue that has a more local feel than some places where other expat groups meet. My goal in moving to Portugal was to experience Portuguese culture and make friends within the community, not to be an American who functions as an American safe in an enclave of what I know. My experiences with Expat Empire have allowed and encouraged that perspective.

The peace of mind that comes from working with Expat Empire and their contacts is huge!

Want to join Elaine in Portugal?

We can help you make it happen!