Updated: May 19, 2023

São Miguel Island – Ilha de São Miguel – is the largest and most populous island in the Azores archipelago. Nicknamed the “Green Island” for a reason, Ilha de São Miguel has vibrant green rolling hills, grazing cattle, stunning lakes, and spectacular ocean views. One thing is for certain – once you visit this island, you will not want to leave. 

When it comes to São Miguel Azores real estate, there are several options to consider. Indeed, if you are looking for splendid tranquility, want to reconnect with nature, or would like to embrace a truly Portuguese lifestyle, then you should consider property for sale located in the Azores – and São Miguel comes highly recommended. 

Alongside this, the Azores will remain eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa, which has undergone significant changes since 1 January 2022. Investors looking to partake in the scheme should consider the Azores as a viable option. It is important to note that Portugal’s Golden Visa Program is coming to an end, so it is essential to begin your application as soon as possible. 

You can learn more in our article: Understanding the Portugal Golden Visa Changes.

In this article, we’ll run over everything that you will need to know about São Miguel Island, from the real estate market to the spectacular beauty of the island. If you would like to book a call to discuss buying property in the Azores, then you can do so here to discuss your options today.


Why escape to São Miguel?

The entire Azores archipelago is a wonderful and privileged location to live. The Azores consists of nine islands, each with its own unique character, culture, and picture-perfect landscapes, and with a total area of 2,346 km². For an overview of the Azores, visit our article: Azores Real Estate: An Overview.

In this article, we will focus on São Miguel. São Miguel is located in the eastern group of islands in the Azores archipelago, close to Santa Maria (you can see our article on the beautiful Santa Maria here). 

The rolling hills, the many miradouros (viewpoints), and the tranquility of the Azores make the islands some of the most beautiful in the world. In fact, the Azores has been featured in numerous articles by companies like Forbes, such as their 2021 article describing the island of São Miguel as being a location not to be missed and their 2023 article describing the culinary delights found on the Azores Islands. 

When it comes to properties in the Azores, what could be better than waking up to the soft sounds of the ocean while taking your coffee in a fantastic villa with great sun exposure or enjoying a bowl of local fruits in an airy dining room with the most inviting natural light? Why not end the day with a glass of red wine as the sun sets on yet another beautiful day? The Azores really is a paradise for expats in Portugal, where they can relax in true harmony with nature.


São Miguel Azores Real Estate Market

São Miguel has a vibrant and ever-growing real estate market, where you will find all sorts of properties – from villas and apartments to townhouses, you have many options. If you are looking to move to Portugal and are looking for luxury properties, you will also be able to find prospective options here.


São Miguel Azores Real Estate – Prices

In the capital city of the island of São Miguel, Ponta Delgada, the average asking price for an apartment in the city center is €2,000 per square meter, while outside the city center, it drops to €1,406. Note that this is the asking price and that the transaction price can be higher or lower than this amount.

The cost of the property will also depend on factors like its size (for example, having three bedrooms or being split between a first floor and second floor), the area (prices in Ponta Delgada will differ from Lagoa), amenities like air conditioning or a swimming pool, and more. Indeed, properties on the island are very affordable in comparison to properties in other Western European countries.

São Miguel Azores Real Estate – Luxury Properties

If you are looking for luxury properties, then you will be able to find several properties in the luxury segment of the São Miguel market. Whether you are looking for a fantastic villa or a luxury mansion, many of the properties will have a beautiful ocean view, and some will come with a private pool, gym, or security. Of course, prices will vary based on the type of property (such as whether it’s a modern two-storey house with a spacious dining room or a first-floor apartment with a fantastic garden in a quiet location) and the amenities included, such as air conditioning, exceptional sun exposure (depending on the direction the property faces), and whether it is in a busy or quiet area.

While luxury properties are evidently more expensive, buyers will be pleased to know that they are relatively affordable compared to the equivalents in other European countries. For example, prices can range from around €500,000 for a four-bedroom 354 square meter luxury villa with a second floor in Lagoa to €2,000,000 for a four-bedroom 658 square meter detached house with a swimming pool and sea view.

São Miguel Azores Real Estate – the Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the most popular residency-by-investment programs in the world. The scheme provides investors with an array of benefits, including securing an entryway to other EU-member countries. 

Changes to the Golden Visa came into play on 1 January 2022. From this date onwards, investors were no longer able to invest in real estate in the hotspot locations of Portugal, such as Lisbon, Porto, and many coastal areas, including much of the Algarve. However, the Azores has remained eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa. Because of this, investments into the islands, including in São Miguel real estate, have continued.

On 14 April 2023, the Portuguese government announced that the Golden Visa would come to an end. An exact end date has yet to be specified, and the Golden Visa Program remains open currently. If you are interested in pursuing residency in Portugal through the Golden Visa Program, it is best to do so as soon as possible. Undoubtedly, securing property in São Miguel and on the other islands in the Azores archipelago means investing in an area in high demand to visit, live, and invest in.

You can read more in our article: Portugal Golden Visa: Your Ultimate Guide 2023.


A History of São Miguel

São Miguel has a rich history since being discovered by the Portuguese. The following section will provide a brief history of the island and its role.


Discovery of São Miguel

São Miguel became the second of the islands of the Azores discovered by Gonçalo Velho Cabral to be settled by colonists from mainland Portugal. Although the exact date is uncertain, it is believed it was discovered sometime between 1426 and 1437. The first settlers noted the beauty of the island, covered in ravines warm with sun and with an abundance of trees.

Sometime after the first settlement of Povoação Velha, which was situated on the southeastern coast, a volcanic eruption occurred between 1439 and 1444 in the crater of Sete Cidades, which was, at the time, uninhabited.


15th and 16th centuries

In the early 15th century, Infante D. Henrique authorized the settlement of the Azores, and many settlers from continental Portugal traveled to São Miguel. The temperate climate and the fertile soils attracted settlers from other countries, including the Flemish and the French. In addition to these settlers, cultural minorities, such as Jewish New Christians and Moors, were exiled to the island during the Inquisition. 

The fertile soils allowed for rapid economic growth, and the establishment of a military garrison pushed things further still, opening up trade as the port was a landing point in the African and Asian commercial trade routes. Particularly favored was the exportation of sugar, and later orchil, a dye used in the making of cloth, that was exported to Flanders. Indeed, these commodities stabilized the island’s export trade. 

The first capital of São Miguel was Vila Franca do Campo. However, this city was devastated in the 1522 Vila Franca earthquake, causing Ponta Delgada to become the administrative and economic center from 1546. Later in the 16th Century, during the Portuguese succession crisis, the people of São Miguel came out victorious in the Battle of Vila Franca against a French squadron that supported the claims of the pretender António, Prior of Crato.


17th century onwards

With the Portuguese Restoration War in 1640, the island was once again renowned as a commercial and trade center. New contacts were made with Brazil, which was heavily colonized during this time. Many of the island’s historic buildings, such as its churches, date from this period. The island’s architectural changes and expansions largely came from the revenues that were created from exporting oranges overseas, mainly to the United Kingdom. 

During the Liberal Wars, following the landing of troops loyal to Queen Maria II, a resistance to the Absolutist regime in the Azores was organized. In 1832, the militia pledged allegiance to the Charter and Queen Maria, creating a contingent that sailed the continent where they were involved in liberating Porto. 

Following the Liberal Wars, the economy flourished, and the port of Ponta Delgada expanded by exporting new crops, including pineapple, tea, and tobacco. The development of the fishing industry, expansion of the dairy industry, and cultivating food staples allowed the population to grow. 

After the Carnation Revolution, São Miguel was given the seat of the Presidency of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, located in Ponta Delgada.

São Miguel Azores Real Estate – Where to Buy

There are several locations in which to buy property in São Miguel. The islands are split into six municipalities – Ponta Delgada, Povoação, Ribeira Grande, Nordeste, Lagoa, and Vila Franca do Campo.

Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores Islands, has many lovely properties that would make a perfect retreat. Here, you have excellent restaurants, fine dining experiences, and traditional Portuguese eateries. 

Povoação is also a good location to consider. A municipality in the southeast of the island, where the semi-active craters of the Furnas and Povoação volcanoes can be found, Povoação is surrounded by beautiful nature – forest, mountains, and river valleys to the north and the glimmering Atlantic to the south. 

Check out our article: Mountain Houses for Sale in Portugal.

In the north of the island, Ribeira Grande is another option to consider. Mountains and river valleys abound, providing plenty of opportunities to find a quiet location to enjoy the natural landscape. You also have an excellent selection of beaches here – Santa Bárbara, Monte Verde, Moinhos Beach, and Viola Beach. Even in the winter months, the mild climate and sheer beauty of the landscapes are sure to get you out of the house. 

Vila Franca do Campo is an exceptionally beautiful and privileged area – a small paradise that is located in the southern part of the island. Nordeste is the least populated municipality on São Miguel but is rich in fertile pastureland, with mountain tops and trees galore. Finding a property for sale located here will be ideal if your search criteria include a quiet area. Lagoa has the protected area of Ponta da Galera, thanks to the unique ecology on this part of the island. 

If you are unsure which of these fantastic areas in the Azores would be ideal for you, then speak with a Goldcrest advisor. Goldcrest is a buyer’s agent with a team of experts who will be able to provide tailored advice for you based on your needs and what you are looking for – whether it is a holiday home, a place to retire, an investment, or to relocate permanently. You can book a call here.

Lifestyle on São Miguel

The Azores is a destination that goes above and beyond when it comes to sightseeing, helped greatly by its moderate climate. With average temperatures sitting around 13 degrees C (55 degrees F) in the winter and 24 degrees C (75 degrees F) in the summer, the Azores doesn’t seem to have an ‘off-season.’

With fresh seafood and an array of activities to enjoy – from surfing and scuba diving to cycling and hiking – you will be able to wake up in the morning ready for your next adventure. You can also opt to relax in the hot springs in São Miguel. Here, you can unwind completely in the mineral-rich pools and emerge feeling completely refreshed. A good place to enjoy the hot springs is Furnas, a thermal water paradise with a stunning aesthetic that never fails to wow its visitors. 

The Azores are home to wine production, some of which is exclusively consumed on the islands, plus tea and pineapple plantations, where you can visit and taste the produce. Alongside this, there is an abundance of exceptional seafood and fish dishes that you will have to try (and eat again and again) if you live in the Azores. Indeed, the gastronomy of the Azores is rich and varied – yes, if you move to Portugal, then the Azores contain much to be desired. 

Be patient, however, as driving around the island, you are sure to come across cattle blocking your way. It is best to simply sit back and enjoy the wait, as from the roadside, you are sure to have a view of a beautiful ravine and the rolling hills and simply admire the wonder of the island.

São Miguel Azores – Practical Information

As the most populous of the Azores islands, São Miguel has three hospitals, so you can rest assured that you will have sufficient healthcare if you move here. If you are a resident of Portugal, then the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS – National Health Service in Portugal) is your port-of-call, providing healthcare for only a minimum cost. More complicated procedures, X-rays, and scans will require further payment.

There are frequent flights from mainland Europe, and you can fly directly from Boston and New York in the United States. When it comes to transportation on the island, it is best to have a car to get around as public transport is lacking a little.

Overall, São Miguel is an island of remarkable landscapes with plenty to do and see. Living here can often be more affordable than in other parts of Portugal, and most visitors can’t help but fall in love with the island. Whether you’re looking for a quiet area, a first-floor apartment with a fantastic garden, a modern house with great sun exposure, or more properties that fall into the luxury segment of the island, property investment here is sure to be a good choice.

Frequently Asked Questions about São Miguel Azores Real Estate

1. How much is São Miguel Azores real estate?

Regarding São Miguel Azores real estate, the average asking price for an apartment in the city center is €2,000 in Ponta Delgada. The average asking price for a rustic property is around €44,882, while a more urban property tends to go for around €110,387. You might find it beneficial to create a property alert to match your search criteria and provide you with a realistic idea of what is available.

2. Is São Miguel a good place for expats in Portugal to live?

São Miguel Island is a good location for expats in Portugal that are looking for fantastic areas such as Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Grande. They offer an authentic taste of Portugal, with a relaxed pace of life, an active lifestyle, and some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. If these aspects match your search criteria, it may be beneficial to create a property alert for the area.

3. Is São Miguel a good location to invest in?

The Azores are a good property investment and continue to increase in popularity. The dominant features of this area include exceptional sun exposure, beautiful landscapes, and properties like a fantastic villa or apartment with air conditioning, natural light, and more that cause many to consider this a privileged area to live.

São Miguel Island (and the rest of the Azores, for that matter) is still eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa following the changes that came into force on 1 January 2022. If you are interested in the Portugal Golden Visa scheme while it is still available, the islands are a good investment option. It is best to start your application now, before the program comes to an end.

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