Member Highlight January 2022

 This month we are talking with Laura Kunze
(by Sandra De Haan)

Laura is an American from suburban Detroit. She started working straight after high school, eventually entering the field of Human Resources in 1989. In this role she was responsible for supporting employees on expatriate assignments. She could not have guessed that one day, she would be an expat herself! At the age of 45 she completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Business at Central Michigan University while working full time. It was one of her proudest moments. During that time she met her German husband, Torsten. They were both recently divorced and Torsten introduced her to international travel. In 2002 the two of them tied the knot in St. Lucia.

After getting married, it was time to start a new career and Laura followed her passion for animals. She worked at a kennel, at a luxury cat hotel and as a petsitter. Not always easy to walk dogs at night in the Michigan cold and deep snow!

In 2006, Torsten’s work moved them from Detroit to Charleston, South Carolina. Laura loved it. Charleston has been ranked as one of the most attractive travel destinations in the US for many years. She had a couple of part-time jobs there and also worked as a volunteer for an animal rescue. In 2007 Laura volunteered for a two weeks stay at an animal sanctuary in Utah, (2000+ miles from Charleston) where she fell in love with Sampson, a large mix breed dog whom she adopted. She adopted Smokey the cat from the local shelter and DJ, another cat, who needed to be re-homed.

In 2015, a new job for Torsten took the couple to Melbourne, Australia for a period of two years. Unsure at first, Laura ended up loving it and looking back now, realises it was one of the most exciting events of her life. The seed was planted to retire outside of the USA and by the time Torsten finished work in 2020, International Living Magazine had recommended Portugal as one of the best places in which to do that. Due to Covid, a trip to see how they felt about the area was not possible, so they decided to jump in with both feet, sight unseen and move here! They arrived in Estoril in June 2021 and haven’t regretted it.

Laura is a great nature/animal lover. Her garden in Charleston was full of bluebird nesting boxes and feeding places for birds. She even created a safe place where she would protect Monarch butterfly eggs so they could become caterpillars, then butterflies, which she would then release back into nature. Gardening, walking, listening to audio books, watercolour painting, horseback riding and wine tasting are other hobbies.

Laura is very happy to be a part of IWP. She participates in the Paradão walks, attends the coffee mornings and goes on the Sintra walks. She is very grateful for the many friends she has made along the way and looks forward to attending more events in the future.