The Algarve is located on the southern coast of Portugal, known best for its peaceful and pristine beaches, abundance of sunshine, and rich history. Many expats from the US, when they move to Portugal, choose the Algarve as their second home for its rich cuisine, deep heritage, affordable cost of living, and lifestyle. The idea of living in the Algarve is particularly famous among expats who want to ditch the daily grind and adopt a slow-paced lifestyle.
The Algarve is fondly referred to as the ‘Florida of Europe’, and is one of the most visited places in all of Europe during the summertime. In this article, We’ll delve into the beauty of the Algarve and provide you with key insights about the region.
In this detailed guide, you will learn about:
- The location of the Algarve
- Why living in the Algarve is a great idea?
- Buying and renting options for foreigners in the Algarve
- Best places to live in the Algarve
- Living in the Algarve as a foreigner: residence permits and entry visas
- Cost of living in the Algarve
- Transportation in the Algarve
- Weather in the Algarve
The Location of the Algarve
The Algarve is 280 km from Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. Depending on the type of transport, it takes about three (by road) to four (by train) hours to reach the Algarve from Lisbon. and is about a three to four hours ride depending upon the mode of transport you choose. It is on the southern coast of Portugal, bordered by the Alentejo on the north, the Guadiana river on the east, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west and south.
Why living in the Algarve is a great idea?
The Algarve is widely known as a holiday destination for its amazing beaches and perfect climate. The peaceful lifestyle and quality of life tempt foreigners to stay and live in the Algarve after retirement. In this section, we provide you with more reasons to fall in love with the mysterious yet beautiful Algarve.
Quality healthcare with minimum costs
The residents of the Algarve have access to the Servicio Nacional de Saude (SNS), the national healthcare system of Portugal. The Algarve has a quality healthcare system because of the large number of retirees that choose to settle in the region. You can have access to general healthcare at a low cost, although there are additional charges for specific procedures, such as X-Rays, scans, etc.
You must acquire a health insurance plan if the state does not cover you. The Algarve also has well-equipped private healthcare systems in addition to high-standard public health services. In recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of medical tourists in the Algarve, it is an ideal place if you are seeking procedures such as aesthetics, dental care, hip replacement, etc.
Affordable cost of living
The Algarve is the right place if you are looking for an affordable place to move to. The cost of living in the Algarve is around 30 percent lower compared to other countries in western Europe. You will need roughly €1,250 a month for a modest lifestyle and €1,800 a month to enjoy a more luxurious lifestyle.
Real estate options
When it comes to real estate, there are a lot of options for you to choose from, ranging from luxurious villas to affordable properties. If you are buying properties through the Portugal Golden Visa program, then there is an added advantage of becoming eligible for a residence permit. However, do note that there are location restrictions on residential real estate, and only some specific areas of the Algrave now qualify.
It is recommended to hire an estate agent or work with a buyer’s agent to narrow down the properties that fit your requirements. For commercial real estate, there are no location restrictions under the Portugal Golden Visa.
Shopping in the Algarve
There are many shopping malls in the Algarve that you can visit. One such is MAR, the biggest in the Algarve with 86 shops, 25 restaurants, IKEA, and an area of 8,000 sq mts to sit and relax. In addition to the high end shopping malls, there are also many local markets where you can witness the local life of the Algarve and get your hands on fresh and seasonal produce.
Weather in the Algarve
The weather in the Algarve is one of the important reasons people settle here when they move to Portugal. The region boasts more than 300 days of sunshine per year. The Atlantic and Mediterranean influence the weather in the Algarve and keep it stable throughout the year.
Easy access to Europe
Major European cities are easily accessible from the Faro region in Algarve, attracting central and northern Europeans to escape from colder climates. There are many national carriers and low-cost airlines that can take you across Europe. The Algarve also has an impressive roadway connecting the key urban regions.
Quality of life
The Algarve is one of the safest regions in Portugal, with friendly and hospitable locals. You can get by with English, but if you want to experience the authenticity of the Algarve, it is advisable to learn a little Portuguese. The Algarve offers a high-quality life through its unique cuisine, picturesque landscapes, and low-crime rates.
There is a ten-year tax exemption for expats that move to Portugal, whereby they can receive significant tax advantages for up to ten years. You can read more about this in our article: NHR Portugal Program.
Buying and Renting Options for Foreigners in the Algarve
Whenever you move to a new place, the first thought that comes to your mind is, “Where will I stay?” In Portugal, you’ll be pleased to know that there are no restrictions on foreigners buying or renting property. You will, however, need to ensure that you can legally reside in the country This section provides details regarding buying and renting a place in the Algarve and the required documents.
Buying a house in the Algarve
The Algarve attracts many foreigners looking to retire and settle because of the high quality of life they can enjoy at affordable costs. If you are interested in settling in the Algarve and looking to buy a house, the procedure is straightforward. Real estate in the Algarve is ever-growing and popular for those seeking luxury properties to invest in or a primary residence.
Property buying costs in the Algarve
The property prices in Algarve vary based on the city you choose to live in, but a good tip is that houses outside the city center are much more affordable. If you are looking for fancy housing, the central Algarve is the ideal place. It has properties with private pools and all kinds of luxuries. If you are looking for authentic and affordable properties, you can find many options in the eastern Algarve.
There are many options, such as beach houses, modern apartments, villas, etc. It saves time if you first decide on the type of property and the region before sending in the search party.
The table below will give you an idea of the property prices in the major parts of the Algarve.
|City||Average prices per m2 in 2020 |
Required documents to buy property in the Algarve
There are certain documents you need to submit while buying a property in Algarve. They are:
- Proof of identification (Portuguese ID card or a passport)
- Portuguese tax number (NIF)
You can get a NIF number from the government finance office by providing your passport and current address as proof. It is also advisable to get a Portuguese bank account to avoid transaction costs.
Steps involved in the buying process
Below are the steps involved in buying a property in the Algarve:
- Hiring a lawyer
- Signing the promissory contract
- Signing the final deed
Hiring a lawyer
After you find the property you want to purchase, you need to hire a lawyer to help you with the legal procedures. The lawyer will do the due diligence and draw up a promissory contract for you. They will also verify if you have all the required documents for the purchase.
Signing the promissory contract
After verifying all the documents, they will draw up the promissory contract, the first binding contract. The promissory contract consists of all the important information, such as the final price, all the terms and conditions, and the final deed date. Your seller will then sign the contract, and you will be required to pay the deposit amount at this stage. Keep in mind that the deposit amount is non-refundable.
Signing the final deed
The Escritura (final deed) is signed, and the final amount is paid between 30 and 60 days after signing the promissory contract. At this stage, the vendor, the buyer, the notary, the lawyers of both parties, and the bank representatives (in case you are taking a mortgage) must be present.
Additional property buying cost
In addition to the amount you pay for the property, you need to bear the below-listed prices during the purchase.
- Notary fees: The notary fees depend on the type of contract. The notary signs the final deed that confirms the purchase of the property.
- Legal fees: You are required to pay legal fees to the lawyer for verifying the documents and making sure everything is correct.
- Property transfer tax (IMT): While transferring the property in your name, you need to pay the property transfer tax. The percentage depends on whether your property is a rental, holiday, primary, or permanent residency.
Steps involved in renting a house in Algarve
There are certain procedures you need to follow when renting a property in the Algarve. Here are the steps that you need to follow to rent a house:
- Get a NIF number
- Submit ID proof (Portuguese ID card or passport)
- Pay the deposit, which includes a month’s rent. You might also need to pay the security deposit based on the requirements listed by your landlord.
- Sign the rental contract that includes details, such as full names of the landlord and tenant, nationality, date of birth, lease duration, review date, and notice period (landlord must provide if they are not renewing the lease).
- If needed, you also need to have a guarantor, especially when you are renting the property for a short-term period.
If you are interested to learn more about Algarve real estate, consult our ultimate guide: Algarve Real Estate Portugal.