Updated: April 2, 2024


The stunning Algarve region of Portugal is no secret. With tourists and expats flocking to visit this sun-drenched region each year, the Algarve continues to be a firm favorite for those chasing a high quality of life. While once a firm favorite with UK expats, you’ll now find a wide range of nationalities heading to this glorious part of Portugal.

The Algarve is located on the southern coast of mainland Portugal and is known best for its peaceful and pristine beaches, abundance of sunshine, and rich history. Many expats 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 popular among expats who want to ditch the daily grind and adopt a more relaxed pace of life.

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 what it’s like to live in this stunning part of Portugal.

Where is the Algarve?

The Algarve is 280 km to the south of Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. Depending on the type of transport, it takes about three to four hours to reach the Algarve from Lisbon, depending on whether you drive or take the train. The Algarve is located in Southern Portugal, bordered by the Alentejo on the north, the Guadiana River on the east, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west and south.

Why live in the Algarve?

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, and the region is one of the best destinations for retirees looking to live out their golden years overseas.

In this section, we provide you with more reasons to fall in love with this beautiful region of Portugal.

Quality healthcare with minimum costs

The residents of the Algarve have access to the Servicio Nacional de Saude (SNS), Portugal’s national healthcare system. The Algarve has a quality universal healthcare system where English is widely spoken because of the large number of retirees who 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 private health insurance plan if the state does not cover you. The Algarve also has well-equipped private healthcare systems in addition to its high-standard public health services. In recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of medical tourists in the Algarve seeking private healthcare. For many, it is an ideal place if you are seeking procedures such as aesthetics, dental care, hip replacement, and so on.

Affordable cost of living

The Algarve is the right place if you are looking for an affordable place to move to. From transportation to groceries, the cost of living is attractive, particularly for Americans and European expats.

Real estate options

When it comes to Algarve real estate, there are many options for you to choose from, ranging from luxurious villas to affordable properties. You’ll also find land for sale in the Algarve, perfect for building your dream home from scratch.

It is recommended to hire a real estate agent in the Algarve or work with a buyer’s agent to narrow down the properties that fit your requirements.

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 square meters 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. There are also many boutique stores selling handicrafts, particularly in the more populous towns and cities.

Weather in the Algarve

The sunny weather in the Algarve is one of the important reasons people settle here when they move to Portugal. The region boasts year round sunshine, amounting to more than 300 days of sunny days per year. The Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean influence the weather in the Algarve, meaning that you will get sunny days that never get unbearably hot, given your proximity to the ocean.

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

Portugal ranks as the seventh safest country in the world, according to the 2023 Global Peace Index. 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.

Beautiful beaches

Given that the Algarve region hugs the southern coast of Portugal, you’ll find a wide array of fabulous beaches in the region, from the stunning Praia da Rocha close to Portimão to the calm tranquillity of the Praia da Ilha de Tavira. The beaches are one of the key attractions of moving to Portugal, alongside the relaxed pace of life, vibrant culture, and excellent gastronomy.

Make the most of outdoor living

The Algarve is a firm favorite for water sports fanatics, with the opportunity to surf, go kayaking or waterskiing, or enjoy several other activities out on the ocean. Some of the best beaches in Europe are in the Algarve, and you’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding which one to visit. For those who prefer keeping their feet on firm ground, there are hiking tracks, biking tracks, and 39 golf courses in the Algarve region. The stunning climate means that you’ll be able to enjoy getting out and about even in the depths of winter.

Buying a Property in the Algarve as a Foreigner

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.

GC-ICON-100Buying 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.


Check out our complete guide to buying property in the Algarve

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GC-ICON-30Property prices 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, close to the Spanish border.

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 different municipalities of the Algarve in 2023. Note that if you are looking for an affordable apartment, cheaper options will be found away from the coast or city center.


Average asking price (€/m2)







Castro Marim
















São Brás de Alportel






Vila do Bispo


Vila Real de Santo António


GC-ICON-105Enlist the assistance of real estate professionals

To find your dream property in the Algarve, we highly recommend working with a real estate agent or buyer’s agent who will be able to guide you through the process. Note that real estate agents in Portugal will work on behalf of the seller and will get a higher commission for a higher sale. Working with a buyer’s agent, there is no conflict of interest, and they will have your best interests at heart – securing the best possible deal for the buyer.

Goldcrest is a local buyer’s agent based in Portugal that provides a service tailored completely to your needs. If you are considering buying property in Portugal, get in touch with us today for a complimentary call.

GC-ICON-81Required documents to buy property in the Algarve

There are certain documents you need to submit if you buy property in Algarve. They are:

  • Proof of identification (Portuguese ID card or a passport)
  • Portuguese tax number (NIF)

You can get a NIF number in Portugal from the government finance office by providing your passport and current address as proof. Note that to get a NIF number as a non-EU citizen, you will need to have a fiscal representative. It is also advisable to get a Portuguese bank account to avoid transaction costs.

In addition to obtaining your NIF number from your local tax office, you will require the following documents to buy property in the Algarve.

  • Photo Identification: A valid ID confirming your identity
  • Contrato Promessa de Compra e Venda (CPCV): The purchasing agreement or property deed detailing the terms and conditions of the property transaction.
  • Energy Certificate: This certificate provides details regarding the energy efficiency of the property and should be provided by the seller.
  • Imposto de Selo: The stamp duty payment, mandated by the Tax Authority for property transactions.
  • Caderneta Predial: The land register document containing pertinent information about the property, such as its location, boundaries, and registered owner.

iconSteps involved in the buying process

Below are the steps involved in buying a property in the Algarve:

  • Although not a requirement, we highly recommend working with a real estate lawyer in Portugal to assist you with the legal aspects.
  • Signing the Promissory Contract
  • Signing the Final Deed (Escritura)

Hiring a lawyer

After you find the ideal property that you want to purchase, we recommend that you hire a lawyer to help you with the legal procedures. Although there will be certain legal fees, working with a lawyer will help safeguard your investment, making sure the process is conducted correctly. The lawyer will do the due diligence and draw up a Promissory Contract for you. They will also verify if you have all the right 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.

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 out a mortgage) must be present.

GC-ICON-57Additional property buying costs

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 to verify the documents and make 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.

You can read more about the property taxes that you will need to consider at the time of purchase and on an annual basis in our article: Property Taxes in Portugal 2024: An Overview.

Consult our ultimate guide on Algarve real estate

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Renting a Property in the Algarve

In this section, we’ll briefly outline the key steps involved in renting a property in the Algarve.

Steps involved in renting a house in Algarve

There are certain procedures you need to follow when renting a property in the Algarve. While the process to rent a place is usually quite straightforward, generally speaking, it can also be a good idea to get in touch with a local rental company to assist you with the search for a rental property in the Algarve.

Here are the steps that you will 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 (the 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.

The Best Places to Live in the Algarve

The Algarve has many authentic and beautiful places to choose from. If you have decided to live in this wonderful part of Portugal, here are some of the great options for you to consider.


Albufeira is the most popular southern region in the Algarve, with the perfect mix of historic architecture and modern elegance. The warm weather, amazing beaches, and welcoming locals make it the perfect place to enjoy all year long. Also, if you are interested in history, Albufeira has a lot to offer through its architecture.


Lagos is in the western Algarve and has the longest beach in the Algarve with stunning turquoise blue water. The region provides a combination of traditional and contemporary architecture. The town has something to offer for all kinds of people, from fun water parks to inspiring museums and thrilling hiking spots.


Faro is the capital city of the Algarve, and rightly so, because of its stone-paved paths and historic walls that reflect the rich history and culture of the Algarve. You can find many fancy restaurants, international companies, and high-standard fashion stores in Faro. If you are looking to live in a place that is the right blend of busy streets and peaceful regions, Faro is the best option. Faro Airport is also located here, perfect for easy international travel for keen travelers.


Monchique is an ideal place for nature lovers, as it is surrounded by mountains and far away from crowds. The town is famous for its healing thermal water from geothermal springs and health resorts. It is the spa capital of the Algarve. The region is also famous for its handicrafts, such as lace works, wooden chairs, and wickerwork.

Quinta do Lago

Quinta do Lago is a place you must live in if you are into luxury. You will fall in love with nature and the ocean that surrounds you, making it your new favorite destination. The town also has many golf courses, top-class sports facilities, outstanding restaurants, and luxury housing options.


Tavira is a calm town with fewer crowds located along the banks of the River Gilão. It overflows with traditional Portuguese houses, churches, and cobblestone streets. Down south, you can find the Ria Formosa Natural Park, protected waterways, and bird sanctuaries. You will find that Tavira and the Eastern Algarve, close to the Spanish border, are the most authentic parts of the Algarve region. Plus, you will come across more affordable properties for sale here.


Silves is located along the banks of the Arade river and is a very unique town in the Algarve. The town is filled with orange-colored rooftops with well-preserved castles. The place has something to offer irrespective of the time of the year.

Living in the Algarve as a Foreigner: Residence Permits and Entry Visas

In this section, we’ll delve into how you can move to the Algarve region. With many visa options open, you should be able to move to Portugal without too much trouble.

Living in the Algarve as an EU citizen

If you are a European Union citizen, and if you are going to stay in the Algarve for more than three months, you need to apply for a registration certificate. You can apply for the registration certificate at the local council 30 days after your three-months entry into the country. The cost of this certificate is €15 for adults and €7.50 for children.

The registration certificate is valid for five years. If any of the family members do not have European nationality, they are required to apply for a residence card to live in the Algarve for more than three months.

Living in the Algarve as a non-EU citizen

If you are a citizen of a non-EU country and are thinking of living in the Algarve, you are required to apply for a Portuguese residency visa.

Various residency options are available for individuals who are not citizens of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland.

Portugal Golden Visa: The Portugal Golden Visa program offers residency in Portugal in exchange for investment in the country. The Portugal Golden Visa is an excellent option if you are looking to invest in the country in exchange for an investment. Golden Visa options include investing in investment funds, cultural production, or job creation. The Portugal Golden Visa has proved to be one of the most popular residency-by-investment programs since its inception in 2012.

D7 Visa: Also known as the Retirement Visa or Passive Income Visa, the D7 Visa allows individuals to relocate to Portugal provided they have sufficient passive income.

Digital Nomad Visa: The Digital Nomad Visa grants a residence permit to those who work remotely for a non-Portuguese company and earn at least four times the Portuguese minimum wage.

These are just a few of the available options. If you’re considering a move to Portugal and want to explore your residency options further, our division specializing in residency and citizenship, Global Citizen Solutions, is ready to assist you.

Living in the Algarve as a US citizen

If you are a US citizen and planning to live in the Algarve for more than three months, you need to apply for a residence permit, as would any other non-EU citizen. The process is straightforward and easy, and the most popular options are the D7 Visa, Golden Visa, and Digital Nomad Visa, shown above.

Cost of Living in Algarve

The Algarve is an affordable location in Europe, and while living costs will depend on lifestyle habits, you should find most things reasonably priced, particularly when compared with equivalents in the USA or other European countries.

In this section, we’ll provide you with some insights into the cost of living in the region, from food expenditures to internet costs.

Rental prices in the Algarve

Rental property prices in the Algarve vary based on the type of property you choose. However, the region is very affordable when compared to other European countries. According to Numbeo,  you can get a one-bedroom apartment for a price of €1,000 in the city center, while a three-bedroom apartment would set you back around €2,711 per square meter. This will obviously depend on where you buy, with apartments outside the city center costing significantly less.

If you are living on a budget, stay away from the city centers in the big cities. If you are searching for long-term rental properties, we recommend beginning your search early due to the ever-increasing demand.

The cost of food


Price (€)

Milk (1 liter)


Bread (500g)


Rice (1kg)


12 Eggs


Local Cheese (1kg)


Chicken Fillets (1kg)


Beef Round (1kg)


Apples (1kg)


Oranges (1kg)


Tomato (1kg)


Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)


Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)


Source: Numbeo

The Algarve has lively local markets where you can get fresh local produce at affordable rates. A top tip is to buy local where possible, as imported foods can cost significantly more.

Restaurant costs

The prices at restaurants vary depending on the type of restaurant. There are many fancy fine-dining restaurants in the Algarve that will make you want to visit again and again. In the table below, we have provided you with the approximate restaurant costs in the Algarve, referred from Numbeo.


Price (€)

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant


Three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant for two people




Internet and utility costs in the Algarve

Internet will set you back around €53 per month, while the cost of Algarve basic utilities, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, come to around €100 per month.

Transportation in the Algarve

You can find numerous trains and buses to travel between the regions in the Algarve, and public transport is quite affordable when compared with other Western European countries. You can also rent a car at affordable prices if you are prioritizing comfort.

If you are traveling long distances by public transportation, the train is the better option. The prices are affordable, and if you book in advance, you may also get a good discount.

Schools in the Algarve

There are several international, private, and public schools in Portugal. While public schools are free, many expats opt for international schools due to the variety of education options and languages available, plus excellent teaching standards.

You will find 12 international schools in the Algarve. You’ll be able to find various criteria and teaching methods to find the school that best meets your – and your children’s -requirements. Some excellent international schools to consider include the Nobel Algarve British International School and the Colégio Santiago Internacional School.

Weather in the Algarve

The Algarve has very good weather, warm for most of the year with a short period of rainfall. The combination of scenic beauty and sunny climate makes it the perfect place to live.

December, January, and February are the coldest months in the Algarve. The average temperature during the daytime in these months is between 9 Degrees C and 16 Degrees C. The temperature at night can fall below 6 Degrees C.

June to September is considered to be the hottest months in the Algarve. The Algarve receives little to no rain in summer. The temperature during this period is regularly above 30 Degrees C. The months of July and August can experience even higher temperatures.

Tourist Attractions in the Algarve

retired couple in portugalThe Algarve is renowned for its stunning scenery. Below are a few top attractions to consider.

Benagil Sea Cave: Accessible only by boat, this cave features a striking natural dome with a hole in the ceiling, allowing sunlight to stream in and illuminate the interior. If you are looking for jaw-dropping nature, you need to visit the Benagil Sea Cave.

Ria Formosa Natural Park: A protected area comprising in the center-east of the Algarve region. The Ria Formosa Natural Park is a network of lagoons, marshes, and barrier islands, rich in biodiversity and popular for birdwatching and boat tours.

Old Town of Faro: Meander around the historic center of Faro, with its cobbled streets, charming squares, and notable landmarks such as the Cathedral of Faro and the Arco da Vila gate. You’ll also find several boutique shops here to find handicrafts.

Silves Castle: For history lovers, Silves Castle is well worth a visit. Explore the well-preserved Moorish castle in the town of Silves, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. You will also find Roman ruins close by Cerro da Vila.

What are the pros and cons of living in Algarve?

As with every location, there are pros and cons of living there. While the Algarve has many more pros than most, in this section, we provide a few of the advantages and disadvantages of living in the Algarve.

icon_4554Pros of living in the Algarve

Some of the advantages of living in the Algarve include:

  • Some of the best beaches in Europe are found in the Algarve region.
  • Mediterranean climate with mild winters
  • Many expats with a strong English speaking community
  • Affordable cost of living compared to other European destinations
  • Rich cultural heritage and welcoming locals
  • Locals generally speak English
  • Top internaitonal schools

icon_4554Cons of living in the Algarve

Some of the disadvantages of living in the Algarve include:

  • High tourist numbers during peak seasons can lead to overcrowding in popular locations
  • Limited opportunities in the job market, particularly outside of tourism-related industries
  • Bureaucracy can be slow in Portugal
  • Living in the Algarve in winter can get cold inside, as houses are often not well insulated. Ensure you have a good heating system in place for those colder days.

Frequently Asked Questions about Living in the Algarve

Is the Algarve a good place to live?

The Algarve has a rich cuisine, deep heritage, affordable cost of living, and lifestyle, which makes it a good place to live.

The Algarve is comparatively affordable, although the cost of living will depend on your lifestyle. A one-bedroom apartment in the center of a city in the Algarve will cost around €1,000, and monthly groceries for two people are around €400. The cost of living will obviously vary according to your lifestyle.

The towns at the top of the list are Albufeira, Lagos, Faro, Monchique, Quinta do Lago, Tavira, and Silves.

Living in the Algarve as an American can be an excellent choice due to its stunning beaches, warm climate, and affordable cost of living. With welcoming locals and a large international community, the Algarve offers a relaxed lifestyle with diverse cultural experiences and plenty of activities on offer, from golf to water sports.

Most expats in the Algarve tend to gravitate towards coastal cities and toens such as Lagos, Albufeira, and Vilamoura. These areas offer a large expat community, excellent amenities, and stunning beaches, making them popular choices for foreigners seeking to live in this beautiful region in Portugal.

Absolutely! The Algarve is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, welcoming locals, and high quality of life. Whether you’re looking for a coastal city or a quaint village the Algarve region has much to offer. With its golden beaches, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine, residing in the Algarve offers a truly enriching experience for expats seeking a relaxed and fulfilling lifestyle.

While living costs in the Algarve can vary depending on lifestyle choices, it is generally more affordable compared to other European countries. With reasonable property prices, access to fresh local produce, and a range of affordable leisure activities, expats can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.

American expats in the Algarve often choose to settle in popular coastal towns like Albufeira and Lagos, attracted by their picturesque surroundings, expat-friendly communities, and proximity to amenities such as international schools and healthcare facilities.

Locals and expats alike head to the south of Portugal to enjoy the great weather. The Algarve boasts a Mediterranean climate characterized by mild winters and hot, dry summers. With over 300 days of sunshine annually, residents enjoy pleasant weather year-round, making it an ideal destination for those seeking to escape colder climates and embrace outdoor living.

While Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, many locals in the Algarve speak English, given the strong expat community and booming tourism sector. You will also find that many Portuguese nationals speak multiple languages that include Spanish, French, and German. With this said, learning some basic Portuguese can greatly enhance your experience and make it easier to integrate into Portuguese society.

The Algarve is known for its safety and low crime rates, making it a popular choice for expats seeking a secure environment to live in. With a strong sense of community and with low crime rates, residents can enjoy peace of mind and a relaxed lifestyle in this idyllic region.

Expats can integrate into the local community in the Algarve by participating in social events, joining clubs or organizations, volunteering, and learning the Portuguese language. Engaging with locals and embracing the culture and traditions can also foster meaningful connections and enrich your experience living in this vibrant region of Portugal.

While the Algarve is known for its natural beauty, like any region, it faces environmental challenges such as water scarcity and coastal erosion. However, efforts are underway to promote sustainability and protect the region’s ecosystems through initiatives such as renewable energy projects. Expats can contribute to these efforts by adopting eco-friendly practices and supporting local environmental initiatives.

If you are a legal resident in Portugal, you will be covered by the public healthcare service, the SNS and will not require private health insurance. However, you must acquire a private health insurance plan if the state does not cover you.

You will find private health insurance to be quite affordable in Portugal, particularly when compared with private healthcare in the USA and other European countries. English is also widely spoken in healthcare facilities, given the large expat community in the region.

Yes, public transport is quite affordable when compared with other Western European countries, with buses and trains making it easy to get from A to B.

Furnished apartments will usually cost more than unfurnished ones, as will apartments with more bedrooms. The average asking price for an apartment in the Algarve is €3,897 per square meter. Note that the sales price can be significantly lower than this. You will find many options to rent or buy a furnished two bedroom apartment in the Algarve, with prices falling as you move away from the coast or the town center.