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Couple Moves Countries To Renovate A Rundown Home, Inspiring Others To Take Chances.

A two-photo collage. The first shows a rundown home that’s falling apart. The second photo shows Alan and Vincent smiling for a photo together while standing in a green field with a bright blue sky above them. Vincent's arm is around Alan's shoulder and Alan has an arm around Vincent's waist.

It’s not easy to start over in life – the simplicity of staying on the same path can be rather tempting. But when Alan Andrew and Vincent Proost had the opportunity to move their lives from the UK to Portugal, they knew they had to take it. The couple first met in London on a blind date in 2006. Alan is originally from Pennsylvania while Vincent is from Belgium.

After two decades together, they started to search for a vacation home. Although they hadn’t spent much time in Portugal before, Vincent felt it was the perfect place for them. Little did they know just how right he was! In their search for a vacation home, they stumbled across a property that hadn’t been touched in 50 years.

Located in the rural village of Figueira e Barros, the couple fell in love with the views from every direction of the home, even with the house itself quite literally crumbling.

“It suddenly became a project,” Vincent said. “And I was like, ‘Okay, let’s move.’ And then we did.”

Alan and Vincent knew they were taking on a massive project, but what they didn’t realize is that a pandemic was just on the horizon. Once they were already living in a rented house in Portugal, the country went into lockdown. Soon enough, they were kicked out of their rental.

“All the hotels were closed,” Vincent said. “So we had to sleep in a tent for two weeks.”

From there, they were able to move into the barn on their property. They had already planned on fixing up the barn so they could eventually stay there while renovating the home, but because they had no other living options, they decided to move in before it had electricity.

“For a long time, we really couldn’t leave our village area,” Alan said. “And we had just moved here, so we didn’t know anyone.”

Luckily, there was a lot of work to be done on their 175 acres. With around 1,500 olive trees, the hardworking couple worked toward starting their own organic oil, which has gone on to win prizes such as the London International Olive Oil Competitions.

“Neither of us had any clue about the farming aspect at all,” Alan said. “So we were lucky that we met a Portuguese oil farmer, who’s been a kind of a mentor to teach us how to do it.”

Construction began in September 2020. It was intended to take a year but ended up being close to three. Still, both Alan and Vincent have found that it was worth the wait.

Their beautiful home has a solar water heating system and is made with as many traditional local materials as possible. Now, they rent out four of their five bedrooms for guests who come to visit this beautiful country. They call their bed and breakfast Casa Baio.

“The people really make the place,” Alan said. “It’s a very welcoming place. And I think because the population of the country is declining, they’re really pro-immigration.”

While Alan and Vincent have greatly enjoyed their time in their new home, health issues have led the couple to make some tough decisions. Alan was diagnosed with ARVD/C, a rare heart disease. Having it can increase the chance of sudden cardiac arrest or death. With so much manual labor needed to keep their farm running, they’ve decided that selling the home is their best option.

“It’s one of those things,” Alan said. “I’ve never had any health issues. And then suddenly… It’s really changing everything.”

Having to change their plans for health reasons hasn’t been easy, but they don’t regret coming to Portugal. Just like before, it’s time for this loving couple to start their next journey together. Now, they’re encouraging others who are interested in starting over to do the same.

“Go for it,” Alan said. “Life is short, we don’t know what’s going to happen around the corner. But also have your eyes open. And when you go into a new place, don’t expect things to be the way they were in the US, or wherever you’re coming from. Be open to the differences. Try to find ways of adapting and not expecting things to adapt to you. Because why should they?”

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here and here!

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