A Journey of Courage
Jaciara Teotonio is the owner of UK BASE PROPERTY, a large, award-winning accommodation service in London. She has been interviewed by CNBC, Isto E Magazine (Brazil) and the Financial Times newspaper. In search of prosperity and financial independence, Jaciara and her family moved from Brazil to Portugal and then onto London. As a result of her perseverance, Jaciara is now the owner of her own business. Here, we find out more about Jaciara’s exciting journey to date.
What was your life like in Brazil and did you want to move abroad?
Wow, life in Brazil in my family house was wonderful. I grew up in a large family with my father, mother and 7 brothers in a huge house with large gardens where my siblings and I climbed all the tall trees and we would dance together the whole day. It was a very happy time of my life. When I was in Brazil, I aspired to be a civil engineer but my first job was as a lawyer secretary. I had family and friends who lived abroad which made me want to live in another country. I always wanted to experience other places and other countries.
What countries have you lived in and why did you move there?
At the age of 18 I went with friends to live on a Caribbean island called Aruba. It was a wonderful place and it was beautiful. I worked there as a waiter and a maid.
Then, at the age of 27, I moved to Portugal. My adventurous spirit fuelled this movement. My husband and I wanted financial independence and the time the Brazilian economy was low. There was vast amounts of unemployment and a lack of jobs in our area. This cemented our decision to move to Portugal. We then, of course, moved to London, but I will discuss this later.
How did you find life in Portugal? Were there any challenges and how did you overcome them?
It was not an easy transition as we shared a house with 8 people. It took a while but after some weeks we began to settle and adapted well due the similarities in language. However, the Portuguese accent is very strong as some words are different to Brazilian Portuguese. I worked two jobs while in Portugal and these changed my life. I also started a sommelier course, but unfortunately I could not finish it. The first was in a care home. I loved caring for old people and I learned so much from them. The second was in construction and this was where I had always wanted to work. I was initially the cleaning woman but after three months I had progressed to the role of manager. However this was heavy work. Even though I had not studied engineering, I knew everything about the job. I faced sexism for being a woman working in the construction industry but I never gave up.
I found what I was looking for in Portugal as I was valued for my work, gained confidence and was respected by the Portuguese people. Even today, 9 years after I left Portugal, doors remain open for me. Soon I will announce our new projects that we have started in Portugal. Portugal offered me great opportunities and I maintain the great friendships I made.
What was the biggest thing you gained from moving to Portugal (for example, having experienced a new culture, greater independence, more trust, etc.)?
The biggest reward from moving to Portugal was my daughter, Tayna, as she was born there. I also learned a lot about the Portuguese culture. They are private people but when they know you, they then offer you the world. The Portuguese people helped me to grow and offered me countless opportunities. It was in Portugal that I had my first company cleaning houses, offices and buildings. Our success in Portugal allowed us to purchase our first apartment in Brazil. I got to work in an industry that I loved, civil engineering, and we were granted financial independence for the first time.
Was moving to London always part of your long term plan or was it a spontaneous decision?
I never imagined living in the beautiful city of London. We first began to picture ourselves here when we visited our dear neighbour, Paula, who had moved to the UK and invited us to visit her at Christmas. We stayed in the UK for two weeks and I began to fall in love with the city but I did not think about moving here.
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