Hope Matthews Sells All Her Belongings and Moves to Portugal
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Author and inspirational speaker Brené Brown often talks about choosing “courage over comfort.” Longtime Fishers resident Hope Matthews did just that when she sold her house, car, furniture, and all of her belongings to move to Portugal in September of 2022 on a two-year retirement visa.
After 32 years of working full time as a social worker and parent to five children, she decided to take a sabbatical to discover herself.
“One of my lifelong passions has been traveling internationally and experiencing different cultures,” says Matthews, who studied in France in college and worked in Italy and Germany after graduating. She has also traveled to Haiti and Ecuador to support mission organizations. Nevertheless, the notion of moving to Portugal was both exhilarating and terrifying.
“No matter how many times I questioned if it was right or wrong, I circled back to the same conclusion – the only failure would be not trying,” Matthews says.
When she was raising her children, she hosted several exchange students. While on sabbatical, Matthews plans to visit some of those students in the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.
Portugal offers a variety of history, culture, architecture, castles, monasteries, vineyards, topography, food, music and more. Matthews spends her days reading, writing, listening to podcasts, studying the language, learning about the culture, connecting with people, building new friendships, exploring new villages, hiking, swimming, practicing yoga and meditation, visiting museums, and attending festivals.
“I try to have a plan most days, but there’s so much to be distracted by,” she says.
Sure, there have been challenges with settling into another country. Topping the list is navigating the language barrier.
“I’ve ordered something in a restaurant thinking it’s one thing, only to discover I just ate fried squid,” she says.
The perks outweigh the drawbacks, however. Getting to travel full time has enabled her to visit small towns she wouldn’t normally see with limited amounts of time.
“I’ve found some real treasures just by winging it,” she says.
Prior to leaving the U.S., Matthews joined several expat Facebook groups, including one called “Women Over 50 Moving to Portugal.” When she arrived, she was welcomed by the community.
“There’s an instant connection and camaraderie you have with people who are on a similar journey,” Matthews says. “I’ve developed a core group of wonderful friends whom I could call on, day or night.”
This entire experience has made Matthews realize just how capable she is.
“I’ve learned to slow down and be present, and recognize that my worth is not found in what I do,” she says. “I have a new level of inner strength and confidence.”
She now knows that she can live alone but not be lonely.
In fact, she often feels like she’s walking through a postcard that’s come to life.
“My friends and I will be staring out over the ocean and say, ‘Can you believe we get to live here?’” Matthews says.
Although she sometimes misses the “easy” life back home, she may extend her stay once her visa expires in May 2025.
“I’m finding a lot of peace and contentment here.”