This week the MiMove – blog talks to Daniela and Mac, originally from Germany who wanted an adventure and ended up with living their dream in Portugal running a surf camp.
Dreaming of an adventure
We were living in Berlin and studied business, focussing on tourism and graphic design. When we graduated, we wanted to have an adventure before settling down and starting a family. As surfing is our passion, part of the adventure was to go to Portugal for four months and surf.
While we were there a plan started to take shape. We wanted to try and start a surf camp. Apart from on holidays we had never lived by the sea or had a life where sea and surf were natural components and that was a dream of ours. Perhaps we could create the life we wanted?
Portugal best for surfing
Portugal was an easy choice. It simply has the best coastline and waves for surfing. And it is still fairly unspoiled and undeveloped in regard to large tourist complex you might find elsewhere in Europe.
We rented an apartment for an entire winter while we were looking for a house. It took a little time before we found our perfect place, but we did, in Lourinhã. It is a lovely house with a beautiful garden. We started out renting that one as well, but we completely refurbished and extended it to suit our needs at our own expense.
Launched surf camp
Then we launched our “Drop In Surf camp” and after a successful first season we knew that our dream was about to come true. Without any financial backing we managed to buy the property within three years, that is how well is has turned out. We continued to expand until 2016 and now we have three houses that we use for the business. We don’t wish to extend any further as we want the business to stay small and familiar. Right now, it is of the perfect size for us – it is a lot of fun to run a business of this size.
Since starting our surf camp our family has also been extended. We have two children now, Mia and Max. They are growing up completely bilingual and are like any other Portuguese children.
The language has been more of a challenge to us adults, but we get by. Apart from the language, nothing has really been a problem.
We were a little worried about paperwork and bureaucracy but we haven’t had any problems at all. I don’t think we dreamt of the scale of our business, but it is really working well, and we feel very welcomed here. And of course, there is a lot of other local business that benefits from our attracting new customers to the area. In the midst of it all, we are just a normal family, we work, our children go to the local school but at the same time, we are living our dream. It is simply fantastic!
It is lovely meeting so many new wonderful people, we have made so many friends from all over the world. They are all interested in learning more about surfing. We have had beginners as young as 8 years old and as old as 60. We have managed to get everyone onto the board! Everyone that knows how to swim and that is physically fit can learn how to surf.
Do it all again
If we could relive our lives, I hope we would make the same decisions all over again. This really turned out the best way possible and we would do it again without hesitation. Then again, when we started there wasn’t much competition in the surf field. Now, I think that the market may be saturated. But there are many other areas where there is still room for new players, should anyone dream of starting a new life in Portugal. I believe there are interesting opportunities in remote tourism, off the beaten track. There is so much to do and experience in Portugal if you leave the tourist areas and the big cities.
Just do it
To anyone who harbors a dream of doing something else, our advice is to just do it! Yes, you may fail but it can turn out wonderfully also, and you won’t know if you don’t try.
If you ever wanted to try surfing, we would love to see you! (our webpage is only in German but Google can translate it for you or drop us an email and we can respond in English).