American sommelier makes Portugal her new home

By Anayat Durrani

After a 46-year career in hospitality and as a culinary educator in Portland, Oregon, Maxine Borcherding became a Sommelier and wine educator at the age of 60. What followed were frequent trips abroad that would later influence her retirement plans.

“During breaks in the academic year, I began taking people on food, wine and culture adventures in France and Spain, and more recently in Portugal,” says Borcherding.

Now 75, she says the idea of relocating to live in another country quickly became even more appealing.

“I always had it in the back of my mind that I would love to live in one of the wine producing regions of the EU, but always assumed it would be in France,” says Borcherding.

Borcherding thought she would be moving to France because she had been teaching certification programs in French wine and served on the Board of the Alliance Francaise de Portland, where she managed in person and online wine classes and a wine marketing program for members.

“But when a friend told me about her plans to retire in Portugal, and the many advantages of doing so, I began to look into Portugal seriously,” she says.

Plans to move to Portugal ignited by wine interest

That’s when she reached out to EQTY Capital, a privately-held, real estate investment company based in Lisbon, Portugal. EQTY initiated funds onboarded 70 investors from the U.S. in the last year, says Michael Maxwell, head of business development.

“Having spoken to over 100 Americans over the last year looking at investing into EQTY advised funds for Golden Visa purposes has led me to visiting America on a monthly basis this year,” says Maxwell. “The lifestyle and quality Portugal offers resonates with all of them and the greater Portugal brand is certainly strong.”

Borcherding says several factors influenced her decision to relocate to Portugal, including the ability to apply for citizenship after five years of temporary residency, favorable cost of living, a warm and welcoming population “and quite frankly, the fact that Portugal had survived a right wing dictatorship and was resisting the rightward direction of political parties in other parts of the EU.”

She says the pandemic and the election of Donald Trump “and the ugly transformation of the Republican Party were the proverbial straws” that pushed her into taking action.

The migration journey of investing in a Portuguese Golden Visa

She sold her home of 20 years and after thoroughly researched qualifying funds she applied for the Golden Visa program and was accepted. She settled in Alcobaca, about 65 miles north of Lisbon.

“I am thrilled with my decision and love my life in Alcobaca. There is a wonderful group of Americans here, yet not so many that the character of the town is changed and remains very Portuguese,” she says.

Since its introduction in 2012, the Golden Visa Program has been a popular residence by investment program in Europe. The country boasts a strategic location, pleasant climate and an affordable cost of living. The Annual Global Retirement Index 2022, ranked Portugal as the fourth best country to retire in.

Maxwell says interest is growing steadily and noted that he assists American clients from all walks of life, throughout the country and across political spectrums.

“US investors are more accustomed to investing in securities, thanks to the country's long history of public trading and large number of accredited investors,” says Maxwell. “They value CMVM-accredited and professionally managed funds for their regulated nature as well as their superior tax efficiency when compared to direct real estate investment.”

Investors dealing with the consequences of Portugal’s SEF delay

Borcherding says her only frustration has been the disarray within Portugal’s Borders and Immigration Service (SEF), which she says has left applicants in a state of limbo as they await biometric appointments and the issuance of temporary residence visas.

“I will exceed my limit of 90 days on a tourist visa in the middle of June; and while Portugal allows us to remain while waiting for the SEF to resume appointments, I cannot travel outside of Portugal, ship personal goods duty free, apply for a driver’s license, etc.,” says Borcherding.

She says she submitted her Golden Visa application just over a year ago “and the five-year clock for applying for permanent residency will not begin ticking until the first temporary residency visa is issued.” Borcherding, who will be turning 75 in October, says she is “very aware that my time is not unlimited.”

SEF recently announced it has resumed accepting Golden Visa applications into the SEF portal after they were previously halted since December 2021. Borcherding says sadly the situation hasn’t change yet for her and that there has been no news regarding resuming biometric appointments for people who already have preliminary approval, or for those who are awaiting renewal of their residency cards.

“The advocacy that threatened lawsuits from the law firms and fund managers was directed at resuming new applications,” says Borcherding. “To date these same attorneys and fund managers do not seem to be advocating as vigorously on behalf of their existing clients caught in limbo.”

Meanwhile, Borcherding is enjoying living the good life in Portugal.

“Now that my most recent food and wine tour of Portugal is complete,” she says. “I will be prioritizing learning to speak Portuguese and expanding my knowledge of Portuguese cuisine and wine.”

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Uglobal Staff
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