Updated: June 18, 2024

Living in Madeira is a dream for many. This Portuguese archipelago offers impressive mountains, lush forests, a subtropical climate, and sweeping ocean views that have attracted expats from all walks of life over the years, each looking to secure a piece of stunning island life.

In this article, we’ll get to the heart of life in Madeira, getting under the skin of what it is actually like to live on this autonomous island of Portugal. From exploring the natural beauty of the island to housing prices and everything in between, we have you covered.

Discovering Madeira Island, Portugal

madeira portugalThe first Portuguese ships reached Madeira in 1419, discovering a paradise in the middle of the ocean, off the coast of Northern Africa. The island was named Madeira, meaning “wood” in Portuguese, due to its lush, green vegetation that continues to be a massive draw for expats and tourists to this day.

Located in the Atlantic Ocean, about 650km (360 miles) from the Northern African Coast, Madeira boasts a mild and pleasant climate throughout the year. The Madeira archipelago consists of four islands, of which only two are inhabited, Madeira, where round 98 percent of the population live, and Porto Santa, while Desertas and Selvagens are uninhibited and remain points of key ecological significance.

Madeira is home to the Laurisilva Forest, a unique national treasure that was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, where you can walk along the trails and levadas that cross it, and take in outrageous ocean views of the island. Nature lovers will be in their element.

For those who are more into the city life, what can be surprising to some is just how cosmopolitan the capital city, Funchal, is. You’ll find fine dining options, international cuisines, boutique hotels, and a modern marina, where you’ll see an array of sailing boats and yachts bobbing in the water.

For a high quality of life, perpetually fabulous weather, stunning natural landscapes, and some of the best food out there, Madeira should certainly be on your radar.

Pros of Living in Madeira

Madeira-Funchal-CoastWe’ve already provided you with the highlights of what makes Madeira stand out as a top location. In this section, we’ll detail a few of the key elements that make living in Madeira, Portugal, a dream.

Pleasant climate: Madeira has a mild, subtropical climate year-round, with temperatures rarely dipping below 15 Degrees C (59 Degrees F) in winter or rising above 25 Degrees C (77 Degrees F) in summer, making it ideal for outdoor activities and a comfortable lifestyle.

Outdoor activities: For outdoor enthusiasts, be prepared to be swept away by the sheer choice of options. Activities such as hiking, surfing, scuba diving, and paragliding are popular due to the island’s diverse terrain and favorable weather conditions. The Levada walks, following the island’s historic irrigation channels, are particularly renowned, and make for the perfect hike in the midst of nature.

Excellent infrastructure: Despite its remote location, Madeira boasts a modern infrastructure, including a well-connected airport with regular flights to mainland Europe and reliable internet services, making it suitable for remote work and connectivity.

Expat community: Madeira has a growing and vibrant expat community here, providing a supportive network for newcomers. English is widely spoken, so you shouldn’t face too many language barriers.

Digital Nomad Paradise: The Madeira Digital Nomad Village has been welcoming remote workers for years now and, with many co-working and co-living spaces scattered across the island, Madeira is a top choice for those looking to strike the perfect work life balance.

Healthcare: Madeira has a high standard of healthcare, with both public and private healthcare facilities options available and a very high ratio of doctors to patients.

Education: The International School of Madeira and the International Sharing School of Madeira are good international school options to get your children off to a good start in life. Madeira generally has very good education levels, including both private and public schooling options.

High quality of life: Madeira is renowned for being incredibly safe, with Portugal in general ranking in 8th position in the 2024 Global Peace Index. Factor in the sublime climate, an affordable cost of living, outdoor adventures, and delicious local cuisine, and you are on to a winner.

Finding Your Place in Madeira: Best Area to Live

If your heart is now set on Madeira, you’ll want to have a clear picture of the top locations to consider. In this section, we’ll provide you with a brief rundown of the very best spots on the islands.


If you are looking for luxury property in Madeira then Funchal, the capital, located on the south of the island, is the best option. You’ll find spacious, modern apartments, stunning villas, and waterfront properties, many of which come with a private pool, gym, or private security.

This is also the political and economic hub of the island, and you’ll find the climate to be more stable here, leading to more development and properties available here than elsewhere on the islands. If you are looking for a vibrant city life where you also have easy access to some stunning landscapes, then look no further.

Porto da Cruz

Porto da Cruz has become quite popular with expats, drawn to the village by its relaxed atmosphere and spectacular natural beauty. Nature enthusiasts will find much to admire about Porto da Cruz. Porto da Cruz is situated in the northeast of the county, and if you are looking for a quieter option than Funchal, this is a good place to consider.

Porto Santo

Madeira’s other inhabited island, Porto Santa, known as the golden island of the Atlantic, is a true gem and arguably one of the most stunning islands in the world. Famous for its 9km pristine sandy beaches and welcoming local community, you’ll also find that property prices here are more affordable than on Madeira Island.

Other locations

Santa Cruz, Câmara de Lobos, and Machico each offer investors stunning properties with modern interiors and killer ocean views. Santa Cruz is located on Madeira’s southeastern coast and is home to rugged landscapes, a seafront promenade, and Praia das Palmeiras, a picturesque pebble beach. And then you have Machico, a short ten-minute drive to the east of Santa Cruz, where you will find tranquil beaches and top eateries, making it the perfect location for those looking to live a little outside the hustle and bustle of Funchal.

While Santa Cruz and Machico are to the east of Funchal, Câmara de Lobos is to the west of the capital. Câmara de Lobos features a charming harbor dotted with colorful fishing boats and offers a glimpse into Madeira’s traditional charm through its historic streets and bustling markets.

You’ll notice that many of the top locations are on the south of the island. This is because the weather tends to be less predictable here. However, you’ll also find some stunning locations to the north of the island. Ponta do Sol on the west coast is also a top contender and has some of the warmest weather on the island.

Should I buy or rent a property?

Madeira’s real estate market is appealing to foreign buyers, given the continued interest from tourists and expats looking to visit or move to the island. While buying property in Madeira can be a lucrative investment due to the thriving market, where you should be able to get a nice return on your investment, renting offers flexibility and less commitment. You can also rent out a property while you decide which part of the island is best suited to you.

Cost of Living in Madeira

Maderia is an affordable part of the world to live in. A family of four’s estimated monthly costs clocks in at around €2,398 without rent. In this section, we’ll provide you with some insights into the cost of living in Madeira, including property and rental prices.

Housing prices in Madeira

When it comes to property prices, the average asking price for property is €3,070 per square meter on Madeira Island and €2,267 on Porto Santo. When it comes to renting property, renting a one-bedroom apartment in Funchal’s city center costs approximately €1,163, while outside the center, the average is around €908. For those seeking more space, a three-bedroom apartment in the city center typically rents for €1,975, whereas outside the center, the average is approximately €1,300.

Dining out

An inexpensive meal at a restaurant in Funchal typically costs around €7, while a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant averages €50. When it comes to fine dining establishments, expect to pay international prices. You’ll find a wide array of incredible restaurants in Funchal, including two Michelin-starred restaurants, Il Gallo d’Oro and William.


For basic utilities, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, expect to pay around just over €100 per month for an 85m2 apartment.

Healthcare in Madeira

Madeira has some of the best healthcare in Portugal, with numerous health centers scattered around Madeira Island and one in Porto Santo. The island also houses the Dr. Nélio Mendonça Hospital, which includes emergency service facilities.

With the fourth-best doctor-to-patient ratio in Europe, Madeira offers one of the finest healthcare systems on the continent. You will also find private and public options, and most medical staff have a good command of English. For Portuguese residents you will be able to access the public healthcare system at a minimal cost.

Education in Madeira

Madeira has an excellent education system with two prominent international schools: The International School of Madeira and the International Sharing School of Madeira. Tuition fees vary depending on the school. You will also find several public schools alongside the private schools, which are generally very good, and which will enable your child to be bilingual.

Getting around in Madeira

While Madeira does have quite an efficient public transport system, primarily serviced by buses, the most convenient way to explore the islands is by car. Additionally, a ferry service connects Madeira with Porto Santo. The only international airport is located in Funchal, the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport.

Exploring the Natural Beauty and Attractions of Madeira

best-places-to-live-in-portugal-funchal-madeiraMadeira is a perfect haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of natural landscapes and attractions. Below we share some of the top natural attractions that you won’t want to miss.

  • Laurisilva forest: This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest surviving areas of laurel forest, offering lush greenery, endemic plant species, and a wide variety of birdlife, such as the Madeiran long-toed pigeon. It’s perfect for hiking and immersing yourself in nature.
  • Levada walks: Madeira is famous for its extensive network of levadas (irrigation channels) that wind through the island’s landscapes. These scenic walking paths provide easy-to-navigate routes, allowing you to meander through valleys, forests, and mountains.
  • Ponta de São Lourenço: This dramatic peninsula on the eastern tip of the island is known for its rugged cliffs, unique rock formations, and panoramic ocean views. It’s a fantastic spot for hiking and exploring diverse geological features.
  • Cabo Girão Skywalk: One of the highest cliffs in Europe, Cabo Girão offers breathtaking views from its glass-floored skywalk. Standing 580 meters above sea level, visitors can enjoy sweeping vistas of the coastline and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Pico Ruivo: The highest peak in Madeira, Pico Ruivo offers an adventurous hike with rewarding views from the summit. At 1,861 meters, it provides a vantage point for stunning sunrises, sunsets, and a bird’s-eye view of the island’s mountainous terrain.

Gastronomy in Madeira

Many visitors pay Madeira a visit simply to enjoy the delectable cuisine. From seafood straight from the ocean, tropical fruits, and specialties that include traditional dishes like espetada (meat skewers) and tapas (limpets). Madiera wine, a fortified wine, is also unique and sought-after across the world. Checking out a wine tour to see how this beautiful concoction is made would be a day well spent.

Final Thoughts on Living in Madeira, Portugal

Living in Portugal has become a reality for many expats, and Madeira is a beautiful location that provides foreign buyers with a whole array of advantages. If you are looking for an island paradise, then look no further. If you have visited Madeira, you’ll no doubt be aware that Madeira is certainly a special location with outrageous scenery, incredible gastronomy, and a beautiful climate.

With excellent, modern facilities, a top healthcare system, and a booming real estate market, living in Madeira is a dream for many, and with many expats settling here, you’ll find it easy to quickly establish your network.

From retirees to families, remote workers to investors, if you are looking for a holiday home or a place in the sun to move to permanently, Maderia should certainly be on your radar.

Frequently Asked Questions about Living in Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is one of the best European destinations to live, offering a mild climate, stunning natural landscapes, and a high quality of life. With excellent healthcare, education, and a welcoming community, it’s a popular choice for expats seeking a relaxed yet vibrant lifestyle.

Madeira enjoys a subtropical climate with mild temperatures year-round. Summers are warm and dry, averaging 25 Degrees C (77 Degrees F), while winters are mild, averaging 15 Degrees C (59Degrees F). The island’s varied microclimates offer diverse weather experiences.

Portuguese is the official language spoken in Madeira. English is also widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, hotels, and businesses. Many locals speak English, plus many healthcare professionals, making it easy for expats and tourists to communicate and get around.

Expats from the EU do not need a visa to live in Madeira. Non-EU citizens typically require a residence visa, which can be obtained for work, retirement, or investment purposes. Popular visas include the Portugal Golden Visa, the D7 Visa, and the Digital Nomad Visa.

Madeira is known for its low crime rate and high level of safety. Violent crime is rare, and petty crimes like pickpocketing are uncommon. The island’s friendly and secure environment makes it an attractive destination for families and retirees.

Madeira boasts excellent internet and telecommunications infrastructure, with widespread availability of high-speed broadband and mobile networks. Internet speeds are generally reliable, catering to both residents and businesses. Digital nomads will find Madeira well-equipped for remote work, and there is even a digital nomad village and many co-working spaces across the island.

Madeira has rich customs and local traditions, including vibrant festivals and cultural events like the colorful Madeira Flower Festival and Carnival. Traditional music, dance, and cuisine, such as bolo do caco and espetada, are integral to the island’s rich cultural heritage, reflecting its unique history and identity.

Madeira offers diverse housing options, from modern apartments in Funchal to charming villas with ocean views. Real estate prices vary, but you’ll find properties to generally be more affordable than those you would find in hotspot locations on mainland Portugal, such as Lisbon and the Algarve.

Madeira is highly accessible, with regular flights to major European cities and beyond. The island’s airport, the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport in Funchal, offers numerous direct connections, while excellent ferry services link Madeira to the nearby island of Porto Santo.

Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of living in Madeira Portugal:

Pros: Madeira offers a mild climate, stunning natural beauty, a relaxed lifestyle, and a low crime rate. The cost of living is relatively affordable, and there’s excellent healthcare and infrastructure.

Cons: Limited local job opportunities, especially for non-Portuguese speakers (although there are options in the tourism, tech, and hospitality sectors) and occasional isolation due to its island location.

Post-Brexit, UK nationals face new residency and visa requirements to live in Madeira. You will need to secure a residence visa, such as the D7 Visa, Golden Visa, or Digital Nomad Visa, to live in Madeira for more than three months.