SEF appointments in Setubal

On Sunday we took the train from Leiria to Setubal. We took one train from Leiria to the Lisboa Sete Rios station, and then from there a train to Setubal. The train from Leiria to Lisbon was 3 hours, and Lisbon to Setubal 45 minutes. A long day, but the 3 hour train isn’t so bad. It’s not at all crowded and we got our own car. The seats are pretty comfy and there is a bathroom.

Our AirBnb was right in the city center. That’s the one thing we don’t get with our apartment in Leiria. It was great getting to walk to everything in Setubal. It does come with a cost though. The apartment was at the top of a steep staircase and it wasn’t well insulated at all. We could hear the people above us a lot. Not a big deal for a few nights, but it really makes me appreciate our apartment in Leiria.

My SEF appointment was Monday at 3:30 PM. I was pretty nervous. This was arguably the most important meeting of my life. We love Portugal- we just signed a 3 year lease and spent thousands furnishing our apartment- obviously we want to be able to stay. I haven’t heard of anyone actually getting denied, so the logical side of me was trying to convince the anxious side that it would all work out.

Our AirBnb was only an 8 minute walk from the SEF office. Unfortunately it started raining right as we set out. It was forecast to start raining Sunday night and pretty much rain straight through the next two weeks. When we got to the office, the guard asked for my name and consulted a list. I’m not sure what happened because he couldn’t seem to find it and left for a few minutes, but then he came back and handed me a number.

Kyle and the kids were with me. Their appointments were not until Tuesday (9,9:30, and 3:30), but people have said that sometimes SEF will process the whole family at one time. When they called my number they let Kyle and the kids come with me, but they sent them back to wait in the front waiting room.

A woman who spoke English asked to see my passport. I was holding all of my documents and she asked for the whole stack. Included was my SEF application, our lease, proof of our lease registration, proof of our health insurance (with Medis), NIF paperwork, and 3 months of our Portuguese bank statements. She made some copies and then did the fingerprinting and pictures. I asked her if we could process my family and it seemed like she was going to, but then she said that they would just do them tomorrow. I asked if we could just do Sofia’s since Sofia’s appointment was so much later than everyone else’s, but she said no again.

We were about to leave, but there was a woman there who had been really kind and empathetic towards us. Kyle asked her one more time if they could process everyone else’s so that we could head home. She convinced her coworker to do it. We were so excited. She was so nice and we really appreciate her help. She didn’t speak any English, which always makes me nervous, but obviously we all got by. All together it took about 2.5 hours. We’re so excited to have that done. We’re officially residents! 🎉 🥳

Originally we were going to stay in Setubal until Wednesday, since we had 3 appointments on Tuesday. But it’s now 13:00 on Tuesday and we’re on the train back to Leiria. We actually miss Leiria a lot more than we expected. We miss our apartment. We have only been there for about 4 weeks now, but we’re really getting settled. We have so many boxes to unpack and we want to get back to it.

Plus, the weather has finally turned. We got so lucky our first two months here, but now it’s grey skies and rain. It’s forecast to rain most of the day, and I would rather be stuck in a train than an Airbnb. Side note- Airbnbs with toddlers are stressful. Sofia is 3, so she is somewhat past the age of breaking stuff, but Leo is just shy of 2 and he loves looking for things to break and ways to kill himself. Staying at an Airbnb with a 1 year old pretty much means chasing them around to see what they try to break or use as a weapon. It’s exhausting

So now we’re on the train, on our way home. I am so happy that we feel like Portugal is home. The place we miss is our apartment in Leiria. The place we miss is Leiria. Setubal has its charms and it’s pros, but it’s not home.

Kyle and I agree that we want to spend a few months at home, taking some day trips, but sleeping in our apartment. Then in a few months maybe we will take some overnight trips somewhere. For now I am nice and warm, riding on the train, watching the rain fall outside. I love riding on the train. It’s much more comfortable than flying or driving, and I have more freedom to move around.

One day we will go back to Setubal and give it a fair visit. We were only there for two nights and it was gloomy and rainy the whole time. I would love to see more of it some day. For now, we’re really excited to sleep in our own bed. And to see Bailey again. Sofia really misses him.

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