BookBitch Diary: May 1, 2023


Douro River Valley Wineries Tour

The bad news: my husband came down with Covid two days after we got home. Then 5 days later, I tested positive. I’ll be stepping back from this blog until things are controlled and we are on the mend. I hope you understand.

As I mentioned in my last diary entry, my husband and I planned this trip to Portugal because we were thinking about retiring there. After this trip, we are firmly decided. We loved the country and the people and the lifestyle and the food! And the wine – An American in Portugal: I live where wine is cheaper than water.

Now the planning begins in earnest.

I have always been a proud American, until 2016 when this country started straying from its democratic roots into the wannabe autocracy Trump promoted. The death of democracy seems almost inevitable, which I find incredibly sad. I always identified with that opening scene of The Godfather, that first line – “I believe in America.” No more.

My husband’s main reason for wanting to retire to Portugal is that the cost of living is so much lower than it is here. Honestly, we could not afford to retire in this country. at least not if we want to have any sort of fun in retirement. We could probably survive, but that would be it, and frankly, surviving is not how I want to spend my remaining years.

I am also inclined to move for the cost of living, but for so much more. I am sick of the politics in this country. I cannot stomach all the mass shootings and the complete takeover by the NRA in regard to our gun laws – or lack thereof. I am sick of Republicans’ “thoughts and prayers” while the governor of the state I live in just signed a truly reprehensible gun law. It goes into effect on July 1 and means anyone who can legally own a gun in Florida can carry a concealed gun in public without any training or background check.

Portugal is ranked as the 6th safest country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. There were 35 homicides in Portugal in 2021. Yes, you read that correctly. And that includes all kinds of homicide, not just guns. This is a great piece about retiring to Portugal: In my new home, Portugal, gun violence is not a constant worry. If you didn’t know, I live only a few miles away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, home to one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

Portugal ranks 22nd worldwide in health care, with a hybrid public-private health insurance system, according to the Legatum Centre for National Prosperity and clearly illustrated in this data chart from Statista. The U.S. excels in research rather than actual health care.

The weather is fairly temperate all year round, especially in the south but even in the north, the winters are quite mild which works for me. Most people speak English, especially in the bigger cities, but I will learn Portuguese. It only seems right. Americans are welcome there, and there are about 10,000 already living there – retirees and digital nomads. There are beautiful beaches along the entire west coast of the country, plus river beaches more inland, with lots of beautiful parks and all sorts of terrain for hiking. Plus thousands of years of history! It is about a six hour flight to New York, and with the lower cost of living, I am hopeful that we will be able to travel more than we can afford to here. Not to mention all of Europe is easily traversed!

These are just some of my reasons for wanting to retire to Portugal – and U.S. News & World Report ranks Portugal as the 4th best country for Americans to retire to: Best Countries for a Comfortable Retirement

Book News

Let’s file this under “Should this be happening?”

And on a lighter note…

Food News

7 Myths About Cooking With Salt

by Becky Krystal April 6. 2023

“Salt has been essential to cooking — and the human existence — for thousands of years. Our bodies can’t function without it. Our food is often tastier with it.”

Interesting article that may allay some fears people have about salt, while also explaining why it is so important in the various ways we use it in cooking.

I made this Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte for Passover, a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It was so good I took half of it to work so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it all!

Other News

A really smart friend of mine started a new business called Rise & Hedge, a twice-monthly financial literacy email newsletter. I think it is perfect for the young adults in your life, high school and college students, even middle-schoolers, not to mention anyone else who struggles with what to do with their money, how to grow it, and how to protect it. This is from their “About Us” page:

Rise & Hedge was created for one simple purpose:

To provide FREE financial literacy and investment education, with actionable ideas, to those who need it the most. 

Financial literacy education is mandated in fewer than half of America’s states, and innumerable people either don’t have an online brokerage account or don’t know what to do with it if they do. We’re here to change that.

Our team is comprised of educators, instructional designers, investment publishing professionals and digital marketing experts who aim to create best-in-class content and get it in front of your eyes, so you can make informed investment decisions that benefit the wellbeing of your personal finances. 

Learn more about how we achieve this by signing up for our FREE newsletters, which deliver how-to lessons and investment ideas to your inbox twice a month.

As always, thanks for reading, and stay safe.

4 Responses to BookBitch Diary: May 1, 2023

  1. Jan Zahrly says:

    Thanks for the info – sorry about the ailments. I love your idea of going there but am cautious of the health care. Did you talk to others about the quality of health care? And you can keep up this site from anywhere. Get well. peace, janz

    • Stacy Alesi says:

      The health care is excellent and way less expensive than here. Once you have a visa you can use the public insurance or you can buy private insurance to supplement it, which runs about $250/month.

      While we were there, our Douro Valley guide told us that his girlfriend was having a problem with varicose veins. He seemed to think that three months from calling for an appt to surgery was a really long time. I laughed; I had to get a new primary care doctor when mine went concierge, I called on Jan 2 to get my first appt for.,,, wait for it…April 6.

      There are a ton of videos on YouTube from expats talking about the medical & dental care & how good it is. Dental isn’t covered by public health care, but it is so much cheaper than here. First check up, cleaning, & x-rays runs about $25. Crowns run about $200, maybe less. Bottom line is that it is affordable.

      Health care is our primary concern, especially as we age. My husband had quadruple bypass surgery almost 20 years ago & all my eye issues made me take a hard look at the medical care and it’s good, and affordable.

      More info:

      • Jan Zahrly says:

        Thanks for the info. Makes me even more interested in getting out of this country before some fool shoots me. Feel better, get better health. peace, janz

  2. rae6684 says:

    Sorry to hear you both got Covid. Hopefully you recover fast. I checked the list of best countries to retire to, and New Zealand is top of the list, you could come down here. Admittedly the plane trip is a little bit over 6 hours

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