Photo Credit: Sharolyn Wynter
Sharolyn Wynter Shares Why She Quit Her Six Figure Job In The U.S. For A Life In Portugal
Before deciding to live as an expat, Detroit resident, Sharolyn Wynter, was doing very well financially in the US. She was working for Deloitte, one of the Big 4 consulting firms, primarily serving financial services clients.
“My life was good in the States, but it was also very high burn, so I started looking into living abroad because I knew early on that my lifestyle was not a healthy or sustainable way to live. In my fifth year with the company, I applied for an overseas assignment, which allowed me to live and work in London for two and a half years. It was a phenomenal and transformative experience that pretty much confirmed that living overseas was the best fit for me,” Wynter told Travel Noire.
She said that the benefits and better quality of life with respect to healthcare, dating, overall safety, travel opportunities, and mental health led to her decision to live abroad.
“Prior to living overseas, I was an avid traveler. As the child of immigrant parents, I was exposed to international travel from a young age during visits back to Jamaica where my family is originally from. Those visits exposed me to different cultures and ways of life which sparked my curiosity and planted the seed for my love of travel. As I got older, a lot of my major life decisions revolved around travel. I went to college out of state (Spelman College), chose internships in different states each summer, and I even picked my job in consulting because they paid for your travel,” she said.
With that job, Wynter was able to fulfill her dream of traveling to many places. However, after suffering a mental breakdown, she decided to quit her job in 2019. Then, she began to travel extensively internationally and so far she has visited over 50 countries. Currently, she has been living in Portugal since 2020 with her savings ( $100,000) and working as a freelance consulting from Lisbon, the city where she lives now.
“I always joking say, I didn’t choose Portugal, Portugal chose me. I first visited back in 2017 on a group trip and loved it so much that I decided to stay back a few extra days to explore the country solo. The energy from that first trip really resonated with me because something about Portugal felt like it could be home and I felt a sense of ease there.”
With the cost of living in Lisbon being almost half of what it would in the US for the same lifestyle, it was an easy choice for Wynter when she quit her job and decided to move overseas. She revealed that her cost of living in Portugal is about $2,100 a month, including rent ($1,250 for a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon’s downtown), food, healthcare, leisure utilities, phone and transportation.
“Additionally, the country as a whole is really beautiful, the people are kind, I have access to fresh and tasty food, access to good healthcare, I get plenty of sunshine, there’s a reliable transport system (Lisbon), and I feel safe here. Now, I am working to become fluent in Portuguese not just out of respect for the country and the culture but also because I can see myself living in Portugal forever.”
The other thing aspect that attracted Wynter to Portugal, was how vibrant the African Diaspora was represented throughout the country.
“There is a thriving Black expat community growing out here, so I would say Portugal is a good country for Black expats, especially creatives. “
This Black expat community inspired her to create The Xpat App as a result of some of the challenges that Wynter experienced as a Black millennial woman who decided to live as an expat.
“While searching for my second country to move abroad to, I was finding it hard to find insights into the Black experience for those of us who were living abroad. There were plenty of resources about our community traveling abroad, but as a previous expat, I knew that traveling abroad and living abroad were two different experiences. Additionally, in mainstream expat communities, I found an underlying negative sentiment towards the Black community and discussions about race were often dismissed or turned into a “dumpster fire”.”
This also inspired her to start a series called Xpat Chats (launched in May 2020), which is a live chat series featuring insights, advice, and tips from Black expats, nomads, and study abroad students.
“As Xpat Chats grew, I quickly realized that our community abroad was not only much larger than I imagined, but also thriving. This inspired me to create the Xpat App (launched in Dec 2020) to create a safe space for our community to connect, share resources, and have access to a directory that provided insight into the many Black expat communities across the globe.”
For her, the biggest benefit of the app is providing access to the world’s largest global directory of Black expats, nomads, and study abroad students. Currently, there are over 3.5k members on the app, representing more than 120 countries and territories.
“Xpat App also benefits diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the larger expat, nomad, and study abroad communities. It is unique because it is the first app designed specifically for the global Black community that works, studies, and lives abroad. In addition to being home to the largest global directory for the Xpat community.”
Looking to move out of the US right now? Here’s Wynter advice: “As someone who moved abroad during the pandemic, there is a part of me that feels like if you truly want to move abroad, you are going to find a way to move abroad…regardless of the circumstances. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that for some people the pandemic actually opened up the possibility of living abroad as remote work has become more recognized and accepted in workplaces around the globe,” she concluded.