"We had maybe two or three couples with Portuguese roots, but in reality they were almost all Americans," said the head of the Algarve company Open Media, which has been organising events in the United States to promote Portugal as a destination.
After successful events in California in February, Open Media returned to San Francisco last week with several Portuguese companies seeking new clients, from property developers to expat insurers.
Hawker said that about half of the audience - which numbered 150 participants - had already visited Portugal and many are interested in buying homes, with budgets of up to one million Euros. It is a middle-class amount for California, he explained.
"The companies that were present were very pleased with the people who turned up, many already with visas in place, others looking for last minute opportunities to take advantage of the golden visa," he said.
He said that two of the companies most sought after by the audience were Medal Insurance, which provides insurance, and Global International Relocation, which specialises in helping international transportation ranging from transporting pets to classic cars.
Another much sought-after company at the event was the law firm Martínez-Echevarría & Ferreira, which helps those wanting to move to Portugal with aspects such as rental contracts, tax numbers and even opening bank accounts.
"There is a number of services they need when they move to Portugal and that’s what we help clients with," CEO Ricardo Ferreira told Lusa. For example, the law firm can help selecting which visa best suits the situation: a D7, a D2 or a golden visa, while they last.
There is a diversity of people, ranging from 40-year-old couples who want to work remotely to pensioners who want to enjoy their pension in another country.
"Most of them are middle class," the lawyer stressed. "These are people who really want to live in Portugal, who are overwhelmed with the cost of living in the United States, the insecurity, the political situation, the house prices," he explained. "They look at Portugal with prices still very attractive, with very good security and also good food."
As an example, the lawyer pointed out that a glass of wine in San Francisco costs no less than 20 dollars, while "in Portugal, you can buy a bottle for the price of a glass of wine here".
Also, the health services are expensive in the United States compared to Portugal. "There are several things that attract Americans to come to Portugal", he said. "You can see in conversations that they've already made the decision and want to know what needs to be done, what visas to get, some want to set up their own business," he added.
The "Living in Portugal" organisation is now heading to New York, where it will debut on 27 June, at an event where Bruce Hawker hopes more Portuguese descendants will show up. Hawker also promised to return to California in 2024, with more North American cities in the pipeline.