What is moving from Canada to Portugal actually like? Check out our latest client interview with Kenneth Cole for honest answers!

Last Updated on July 4, 2024 by Laila Oliveira

Relocating with your family can always be a rollercoaster of emotions. There are fun moments, unpredictable ones that test you, and challenging ones that make you question if this was the right decision. Follow along for one of our favorite conversations we’ve had this month – our expat interview with Kenneth Cole! 

Read and hear all about why he wanted to move from a cold country like Canada to a country known for 300 days of sunshine. We hope you have as much fun reading it as we did interviewing him and learning more about his life and journey! 

Guest Introduction

Victor: Hello, everybody! It’s nice to be here today because I’m with one of my dear friends, Kenneth. He’s a client from Viv Europe who moved from Canada to Portugal and has been living here for a while. So, Ken, if you want to introduce yourself so we can know a little bit about your stay here in Portugal, who is Kenneth, that would be fantastic. 

Kenneth: You bet. Thank you, Victor, for inviting me to join you in this conversation. As a bit of my background, I’ve traveled widely through my careers and had a wide range of careers. I don’t like same, same, same all the time. 

I like changing and I like doing things differently. And I’ve done that all my lifetime. As a young child, I was in a military family, and we traveled all over the world. And then as a young adult, I was in the military and traveled all over the world. And then a university student and then moved into a number of different careers that had me traveling as well. 

There was a period of time in the US when I was a public school teacher working in the school system. And then I became a doctor at BC Children’s Hospital where I specialized and was actually called to travel all over the world doing teaching and training on behalf of the hospital in my area of specialty. 

Travel and experiencing new and different things have always been a part of who I am, so moving to Portugal was not going to be a surprise. 

(Picture below, from left to right: Victor Queiroz, Ana Margarida, and Kenneth Cole)


Why did you move from Canada to Portugal? 

Kenneth: When I made the decision to move permanently, it was for a number of reasons. 

You would say, why did you leave Canada? Well, I left Canada because it’s cold—very, very cold. The weather is not very comforting or very positive for a senior person. People are increasingly stressed. There’s actually a bit more violence there than I’m used to or that I like in North America. 

So there were just reasons for me to say, let me go somewhere else. And I had the opportunity to do that. I’ve been to Portugal many times in the military and on vacations, and it was a pretty easy decision to say Portugal will be my new home. 

Victor: What a background! So Ken, thank you for the background. And it’s really nice to know that you decided to come to Portugal. Such as myself, you came here quite recently. I’ve been here for six years. And such as you, I’m really, really enjoying the country. 

Why did you decide to hire Viv Europe to help with your immigration process? 

Victor: And asking about the reasons why you chose Viv Europe to come to Portugal, could you please elaborate on why you decided to hire the company and how was the process of finding the company? 

Kenneth: This is not my first time to immigrate. I immigrated from the United States to Canada 30 years ago. That’s a long time. And immigration processes change, and they’re just different from country to country. 

So, I had immigrated previously. So here I am going to immigrate to Portugal. And I do the standard thing a lot of people do. I start Googling. Everything is Googling. You Google the universe to find out information. And I saw very good reviews for Viv Europe

What I really liked is that while I know you serve immigrants coming into all of Europe, you do have an office in Portugal. So I knew that would be sort of like where you’re where you’re based. And that was that was a good thing. But I just saw very, very good things. And even when you think about why did I even look for somebody to help me immigrate? The real reason is I didn’t know what I didn’t know. 

I wanted to immigrate. That’s what I knew. But I was so naive. I did not know what the process was like. I knew I needed to get some support on the process, and what are the regulations, and what are the requirements, and what are the steps, and what are the sequences. And I don’t speak Portuguese. So, I needed support. And Viv Europe was that support. 

Support and online resources apart from Viv Europe

Victor: Sometimes, it’s not as straightforward as in an article on the internet. So having someone to guide me through the process usually makes it easier, the integration here in Portugal. And we are really happy that you found this move to Portugal straightforward. And moving on, Ken, to the next question we have here. In addition to the support provided by Viv Europe, what other resources did you find important when moving to Portugal? 

Kenneth: For me, it’s a bit tricky because I don’t use Facebook, and everybody uses Facebook. I never have. Perhaps it’s my age or my generation, but I do emails, I’ll do texting, and I’ll do the internet. So I was sort of limited to that, but Viv Europe is good about putting content up on the internet to see and access. 

So that was first and foremost. I used the internet a great deal, but I will tell you that my local consulate became a very good source of information and guidance. I connected to the local Portuguese consulate very, very quickly. We became friends and became familiar and comfortable with each other. They were on the local scene and very, very helpful for me. I also participated in some local activities in the Portuguese community where I lived in Canada and spoke with them. 

Victor: Yeah, you did your homework pretty well. It’s nice that you worked your way around to get the information that you needed. It’s true people usually go to Facebook when they find some communities. Sometimes it’s good. There are people who have gone through a similar path, but sometimes not that good because each one has its individual situation.

Biggest Challenges 

Victor: So, talking about challenges, Ken, what were your greatest challenges when immigrating to Portugal? 

Kenneth: Right off the top, what comes to mind is I’m not a very patient person. I’m used to being in control, and I can drive forward, and I can get things done fast if I just work hard and push forward. And I very quickly realized this process of immigrating I was not in control of it. I was writing along a process that required steps and sequences and governments to do things. 

I was going to have to learn to be patient, and that actually became a very good transition for me into the world of retirement. You have to learn all of a sudden to slow down, be a little bit patient, and be kind to yourself. So, I had to learn some patience because I’m used to doing something and getting it done.

Selling His Belongings & Relocating

I also had some anxieties because I sold my house and put everything I owned on a ship to Portugal, and I didn’t have a residence visa. And you say, oh my gosh, what have I done? Is that the best thing to do? Should I be worried that I’ve sent all of my goods to Portugal and I’ve sold my house, and I can stay there as a tourist for a period of time, but I cannot live there? 

Staying Positive Through It All 

Kenneth: And those are sort of red thoughts that can come up when you get worried and get very anxious about things. And I had to change those to green thoughts and tell myself it’s going to be okay. Stop worrying about everything and stop finding things to worry about because the world is full of things to worry about. 

Find some green thoughts and, some pleasures and some positive things. And I had to work really, really hard at not worrying about things. I was tracking the ship that’s got all of my stuff on it. Every single day across the oceans. And it’s just moving a little speck of a distance. And finally, I stopped doing that. The ship will be here when the ship gets here. Let that go. 

Moving To Portugal With A Pet – How Did You Bring Your Pet Dog To Portugal?

Kenneth: I immigrated with a pet, which was another. It was sort of a bit a little more complicated than I thought. You can find lots of information about humans immigrating. But what happens if you have a family member who has a dog who’s very dear to your family, and they’re going to come along too? 

And there are countries that have regulations on that. And it was very, very tricky. It was at that point that I found one of my best consort communities, which were pet owners who travel frequently to Europe. Sometimes, they’re coming permanently. Sometimes they come just for a vacation in the summertime. 

What they do is they come together and charter a plane together so their pets can travel with them, they can be comfortable on the airplane, and everybody shares the cost of the plane. And so I came over on a small private jet. It was seven adults and eight dogs. And we had our private jet and a lovely trip to get my dog here safely as I needed to. And that was a challenge, but I prevailed. It worked out! 

Victor: And you did really well! I’ve never heard about this way of coming to Portugal with pets. And so, I’m also learning from your experience. So you did really, really well.

Expat Experience Living In Portugal

Victor: How has been your experience living here for a month? What are you doing so far, living in Portugal, anything specific? 

Kenneth: Well, my nature is to immerse myself in the culture so that I can learn what it’s like to be Portuguese and appreciate the culture and living here. I think this is a gift that has been given to me. So, I’m taking tile painting classes for the Azulajos. I’m getting there. My first few tiles were pretty scary looking. But it’s a skill, and it’s an art, and it’s a craft that, with more training and support, my tiles are looking more attractive. 

Learning About Portuguese Culture

Kenneth: I’m fortunate that I’m studying Portuguese language and history at the University of Porto. There are some professors who got a grant to help immigrants with language studies, and I was selected for the class. And so, at no cost, I’m back in university studying Portuguese, which is a very challenging language for me. I have a degree in Spanish, and I’ve lived in Canada, which is French and English. And those help a tiny, tiny bit. Portuguese is just another whole ride. But I’m immersing myself in the culture in every which way I can. 

And even at this moment tonight, we’re recording this conversation in one of our places of Fado, our homes of Fado. A beautiful place where you come and people share their music and share their feelings. And this particular spot has been a very important place for me to make friends and to feel engaged in the culture. 

and understanding what Portugal is about and what it is like. We’re next to a train station, and you would never know that this is right outside Sao Bento Station. But it’s just a very, very special place. And I’m glad we got to select it as the venue for our interview. 

Victor: You’ve done a lot just here for one month! You find yourself enrolling in class into painting titles. Congratulations! 

Advice For Expats

Victor: In terms of advice for people who are immigrating to Portugal, do you have any type of advice that you can share with people that were in your situation, and thinking about moving to Portugal? 

Kenneth: You know, I think the first thing that comes to mind is to be sure to ask questions. And I think sometimes we don’t ask questions because we can feel weak when we ask a question. Steve Jobs, who was a big leader and so successful with Apple, he said one of the biggest things he did to be successful in this world was he did not hesitate to ask a question. 

And he never looked at asking somebody a question as a sign of weakness. It was a sign of what I want to know. I want some of your knowledge. And it was a sign of trust in that other person and a sign of respect to the other person when you ask them a question. So I ask questions. all the time. And that’s what helps build relationships. 

Sharing A Heartfelt Story

Kenneth: I was in a grocery store, and the orange juice here is stellar. We get some back in Canada, we get Brazilian orange juice. It’s concentrated and frozen on a ship for a few months, and they do something with it for the store. And here it truly is, oranges into a machine. 

Orange juice comes out, and I saw the machine, and it was written in Portuguese, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do. And I thought, I can do it myself, and I probably will be okay, but I pictured myself putting a small container under there and pushing the big button and it overflowing on the counter. So I asked one of the staff in the store, I said, can you show me how to do this? 

And she very willingly did it, and I think she appreciated it. I said, I don’t want to mess it up, and I don’t want to make a mess here, and she did it. And so by me asking her that question, it showed I trust you, I respect you, you have knowledge I don’t have, please share it with me. 

And we’ve now become good friends in that store. So every time I come into the store, we’re smiling, and it’s like, who can say Bom Dia first? Just by that, the relationship formed off of asking the question. So, ask questions and build relationships and networks. That’s an important part of being here. 

Believe In Yourself

Kenneth: Believe in yourself and understand that this is a journey. And it’s going to have bumps and hiccups and stops and starts. But you can do it and change those red thoughts to green thoughts. Because that anxiety and that worry can be very, very burdensome and can be an awful part of the journey. And it’s not what I want to focus on, and it’s not what I want to remember over time. 

So, with every red thought, there’s a green thought on the other side. When you think about I’m never going to get that visa, you should think about Yes, my visa is coming soon. And you just change it in the other direction. That has all served me very, very well. Next thing you know, here I am in Portugal, living in Portugal. 

The first few weeks I was here, I would say back home. When somebody would ask me about something, I’d say, oh, we’re back home and flying back to Canada, whatever. It’s not back home anymore. I’m home. I’m home in Portugal. I am here. And so that’s when I know I’ve actually arrived is when I start talking about Portugal as this is my home. This is my place.

Victor: That’s such good advice, Ken. Really, speaking as one who provides the service, you know, when we don’t know the questions our clients have, it’s hard for us to understand. Sometimes, we go to the end of the stage, and then if the question was not asked in the beginning, it can put everything in a bad situation. 

Ending Note

Victor: I truly agree with you on this one. And the fact that you are so positive—it’s so good to speak to someone with this way of living life. I try to have the same approach in life. Even when things are not so good, we try to think on the positive side and think that things will change. It’s really good that you have this spirit, and we can see it from the other side when we make this connection with clients. 

And it’s so good to see that your plans came to reality when you were here. So, congratulations on your journey, and I can’t thank you enough for being here with me. Ken, I really appreciate you taking the time to be here with me, sharing your knowledge, your experience with people. And I cannot thank you enough for this. Thank you, my friend!

About Presidencial Fado 

Inside Sao Bento Train Station, you will find Presidencial Fado. The decor features charming historical objects, creating a unique and atmospheric setting for experiencing Fado, a traditional Portuguese music genre that conveys deep emotions.

Presidencial Fado offers daily Fado music performances at 6 PM and 7:30 PM, with some of the most welcoming hosts we’ve met in Portugal! 

We’d like to give a huge shoutout to the team for helping us record this interview at Presidencial Fado. Thank you! 

As we conclude this heartfelt conversation with our wonderful client, Kenneth Cole, we reflect on the journey we’ve shared in helping his family relocate from Canada to Portugal. It’s been an incredible experience seeing our client’s dreams come to life, and we’re deeply honored to have played a role in this significant chapter of their lives. We wish them endless joy and success as they embrace all the wonderful opportunities this beautiful country has to offer.

Types of Visa for Expats in Portugal

Here’s a list of all the different types of Visas for expats that Viv Europe helps with: 

To know more information, get in touch with Viv Europe’s visa assistance experts

Do you need Visa assistance?

It’s normal not to know where to start. Just like our dear client Kenneth Cole reached out for professional guidance on immigration, you can too! 

Book a consultation with Viv Europe and start your seamless journey today. Keep your anxiety at ease, plan ahead with experts, and know the legalities inside and out. 

If you’d like to learn more about Portugal and hear more stories, join our Facebook Group, All About Portugal For Expats. Ask as many questions as you like, and feel free to inspire others with your own story! 

*All photos of our guests are used with permission for this expat interview only. Unauthorized use of these photos is strictly prohibited. 



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