Managing visits from friends and family

Within mere minutes of settling into your new home in Portugal you are likely to have friends and family getting in touch, asking when they can come and visit. Although seeing them is always fun, having them stay in your home can be another matter entirely. Our in-country expert Ben Taylor provides here his top tips for managing visits from friends and family...

Image

Before we moved to Portugal, hosting guests from “back home” may be right near the top of our “things to look forward to” list.

The times when friends and family come to stay remain some of our most anticipated and happy occasions. But we certainly know a lot more about providing hospitality after four years as expats than we did as beginners.

When we lived in England, we’d often have people to stay for a night or two, or individuals deciding to head for our spare room after a late night, rather than heading home. What we didn’t have was people staying for prolonged periods, sometimes up to two weeks at a time.

When you have people in your home for that long, you get to know them really well, and that can go one of two ways. Either you find yourselves bonding and getting on famously as a result, or you rapidly need reminding why you were friends with them in the first place.

After four years, we’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum and, it’s fair to say, most of the points in between. If you imagine, for a moment, all of your own family and friends, you could probably name plenty who you love dearly, but wouldn’t necessarily choose to share a holiday with. Well, when you live abroad, you get to experience a holiday with each and every one of them, for good or ill!

It’s also important to point out that these “holidays” rarely happen in isolation. In our case, we seem to have two distinct “visitor seasons,” one running April to May and another September to November. Last year, there were only three nights during the whole of September when we didn’t have people staying in our apartment.

It’s important that I emphasise, at this point, that we do, on the whole, love having people to stay, and our lives would be awfully empty and dull if we didn’t. But it’s not always easy. During the September I refer to above, every one of our utility bills doubled as a result of extra usage. You can also imagine how hard it is to get work done with a home full of guests.

Now, with some experience under our belts, we’ve become more accomplished at “guest handling.” We are up-front with guests before they arrive that their presence does have a financial implication. Each airport run costs us €15 in petrol and tolls, and we do expect them to reimburse us – after all, a taxi would cost them €75.

We are also clear on when we have to work and honest about the fact that, on certain days, they will need to make themselves scarce. We’ve found that total honesty is the only way to make long visits work.

Our most recent visitors had been here before, and their visit worked incredibly well as they knew what to expect. By quietly disappearing off to the beach first thing, we were free to get on with our work. Come 6pm, we were phoning them to ask what they fancied having on the barbecue. We also kept finding packets of chocolate biscuits in the kitchen that we hadn’t had to buy, which is always nice.

They were great guests – but do be warned that they’re not all like that!


Further reading for Living In Portugal

Image

Finding work in Portugal

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in Portugal.
Read more...

Image

Social life in Portugal

The best way to get settled in Portugal is to find out as much as you can about your new community.
Read more...

Image

Heathcare

One of the first things you need to do once you arrive in Portugal is find out where your nearest hospital is.
Read more...

Image

Education in Portugal

Are you emigrating to Portugal with school-age children?
 

Read more...


Latest news

Image

Big Decisions!

We’ve just concluded one of our “itchy feet” phases. To cut a long story short...

Read more...

Image

Schooling in Portugal

If you plan to move to Portugal with a family, thinking about schooling for your children should be a top priority.
Read more...

Image

Make ownership costs manageable

It’s not just the purchase that costs money, but once you’re a happy owner, you’ll need to cover on-going running costs too.

Read more...