Wondering if living in the Algarve is worth it for expats? Find out all about Portugal's sunny southern region and plan your relocation.

Last Updated on July 8, 2022 by Maryam Siddiqui

Who said the Algarve coast was just for the summer holidays? Thousands of expats from all over the world decided to relocate here and enjoy southern Portugal all year round. But how does living in the Algarve compare to other regions of Portugal? 

This tourist hub has everything to make you feel like you’re on an endless vacation. Find out if living in the Algarve is worth the cost of living, the best municipalities to live in, and some tips for a smooth relocation process. Check it out!

What is it like to live in the Algarve?

The Algarve, which was once a very underrated area of Portugal, is now one of the biggest tourist attractions! Located on the southern side, this region has many perks of a safe European country, but it’s also cheaper than most countries on the continent.

Expats living in the Algarve describe it as one of the most fulfilling experiences they could’ve ever had. For many, it’s a break from all the stress they have dealt with for years. Although people have demanding jobs here too, coming back home to your apartment feels like walking on a cloud.

There aren’t big cities in the region; the capital and central city, Faro, has a population of 67,650. However, the entire area is well-developed with good infrastructure, hospitals, and schools between the many cities and villages.

Living in the Algarve

From Faro to Lisbon, it takes 2h30m to travel by car, and the capital of the Algarve has one of the busiest international airports in Portugal. 

You feel like you’re living in a small town with great weather and fantastic beaches, just a flight away from big European capitals. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a calm and chilled lifestyle, close to nature and amazing weather.

Who lives in the Algarve? 

The Algarve region’s population is steadily increasing every passing year. The current statistics stand at 467,475, out of which nearly 100,000 are expats. That’s almost 21.7% of the total number of residents, while the national average of foreigners in Portugal is 5.7%. 

Of all the inhabitants, 62.8% are of working age, while 23.7% are the elderly and 13.4% are young people. A huge majority of the expats are from Britain and Brazil, followed by America, France, Germany, Italy, and Asia. 

While this region is famous for being retiree-friendly, many international students and digital nomads relocate here too. Living in the Algarve allows the youth to enjoy Portugal’s slow-paced life but also have access to professional opportunities.

Why do expats move to the Algarve?

By now, you probably have an idea about the quality of life in the Algarve region. So it’s not an overstatement to say that the expats move here simply because they’ve fallen in love with this part of Portugal. 

Some expats have also found this region to have immense commercial and real estate potential, hence attracting foreign investors. 

Here are a few reasons why expats love the Algarve enough to move here: 

  • Working near a stunning beach is priceless
  • Study in the best universities
  • Spend retirement on a gorgeous beach house
  • A plethora of business opportunities
  • More affordable than back home

Relocating to any new country is a big decision, but it gets much easier when you’ve got so many reasons to love the place!

Cost of living in the Algarve 

As mentioned earlier, the Algarve region is very touristic. Since tourists come from higher-income countries, the purchasing power is higher, and thus prices rise. Demand for accommodation and services rises a lot during peak season and prices are higher than in the rest of Portugal.

Although we can provide you with an estimate of expenses, the cost of living in the Algarve can vary greatly depending on your consumption habits and needs. Take a look at the average expenses of an individual living in the region:

ExpensesCosts
Apartment Rent (one-bedroom)€750
Apartment Rent (three-bedroom)€1,300
Groceries (monthly)€250
Utilities€140
Public Transport€50
Gasoline (per liter)€1.97
Leisure/Sports€50

Prices are from Numbeo (as of July 2022).

The best cities and villages for expats

When living in the Algarve is in your plans, you must not forget to research all the best cities and villages in the region. Depending on your needs and lifestyle, you’ll be happier living in one rather than the other. 

Here are the 5 best places for expats looking to live in the Algarve:

Faro

Capital of the Algarve region, Faro is the biggest and most important city in the south of the country. It’s where the local airport, university, and main hospital are, but it’s not where all the tourists want to go.

Faro-in-Algarve

As tourism is not the main economic activity in the city, Faro and its 67,000 inhabitants are dedicated to various sectors of activity. There’s a lot of commerce, shopping malls, and everything you could need in Faro; even so, the city can’t be considered big as it doesn’t even have a subway.

Lagos

Located on the western Algarve, Lagos is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. The charming white buildings, narrow streets, stunning beaches, and rock formations make Lagos a wonderful place to call home.

It’s home to 33,500 people, 8% of which are foreigners. Like most of the Algarve, Lagos advantages a lot from summer tourism. It’s packed from June to September but quite empty during winter. 

Lagos is a place you should definitely have on your list if you’re looking for peace, serenity, and beautiful views.

Portimão

Portimão is the second-biggest city in the Algarve region and one of the main ones for local tourism. Like Faro, it has a population of around 60,000 inhabitants and a more diverse economy.

The city has excellent infrastructure, good hospitals, schools, cultural and sports agenda. It’s also one of the cheapest places in the Algarve region; keep reading for real estate estimates. A good tip for living here is to have your own car.

Albufeira

The most famous and most touristic city in the Algarve is Albufeira. Its central location, fantastic beaches, restaurants, bars, and sunny weather have made this city a favorite of the British Community in the Algarve.

Albufeira-in-Algarve

So much so that many Brits decided to extend their holidays and embark on the adventure of living in the Algarve. 

Here you can find many businesses with signs in English and even employees who don’t speak fluent Portuguese. It’s definitely a very different Portugal than you’d expect.

Carvoeiro

Next up is Carvoeiro, a small town with excellent quality of life. This stunning white-washed village built on top of a golden cliff grew to become one of Portugal’s most beautiful postcards. To top it all, the scenery is complemented by sunny and calm days.

The clean air of the village already attracts many tourists, and although Carvoeiro is no longer just a fishing village, it continues to maintain its Algarvean traditions. The village is located only 20 minutes away from the city of Portimão, contributing the necessary infrastructure to live well.

Weather in the Algarve region

This is one of the main reasons the Algarve attracts so many expatriates. The weather conditions here are almost always pleasant; the sun shines throughout the year, and rain is a rare visitor. Summers are hot, and winters are cold – just like they should be!

See what the average weather is like in the Algarve region below:

SpringSummerFallWinter
Maximum temperature18.8 °C
(65.84 °F)
25.8 °C
(78.44 °F)
21.5 °C
(70.7)
16.4 °C
(61.52 °F)
Minimum temperature13.8 °C
(56.84 °F)
19.8 °C
(67.64 °F)
16.9 °C
(62.42 °F)
12.2 °C
(53.96 °F)
Average Rainfall42 mm
(1.6 in)
2 mm
(0.07 in)
53 mm
(2 in)
67 mm
(2.6 in)
Average Humidity70%63%72%73%

Data was acquired from the official Climate Data website.

The real estate market

Buying a property in the Algarve is a dream of many Portuguese and foreigners. Therefore, the region has one of the most expensive square meters. There are places less touristy and far from urban centers that are cheaper and more private.

The prices vary, and it’s hard to tell exactly how much you should expect to invest. You must know the real estate market in Portugal very well and have an expert by your side to guide you.

To give you an idea of the real estate market in the Algarve, we’ve compiled a table, from most expensive to least. Check out the averages prices per 100m2:

MunicipalityPrice/100m2
Lagos€322,000
Lagoa€311,900
Albufeira€286,300
Tavira€258,800
Silves€234,000
Faro€231,300
Portimão€225,100

Prices are from Idealista (as of July 2022).

At these values, a house in central Albufeira would cost around €600,000 on average, and a 2-bedroom apartment in central Faro would cost approximately €270,000.

  • It’s imperative to do deep research before jumping into any big investments. This is why many expats prefer taking Viv Europe’s help before investing in Portuguese real estate. 

Finding a place to rent in the Algarve

You can tell the hype about living in the Algarve is very real, right? While we’re still discussing accommodations and their prices, let’s discuss whether finding a rental in the Algarve is challenging. 

While the process of finding a rental doesn’t sway people from living their dream life here, expats and locals do have to start planning way ahead. Many locals also flock to the Algarve for vacations, apart from foreigners. Thus, rental prices skyrocket, resulting in a shortage of available properties.

However, the government-introduced Affordable Rent Scheme helps Portuguese families find reasonable long-term rentals. As for tourists, you might want to start researching ahead of time if you’re worried about exorbitant prices.

Healthcare in the Algarve

Although living in the Algarve comes with many perks, the public health system in the region is not the best. Unlike Lisbon and Porto and their successful healthcare, there are more cases of delays in services and a lack of doctors in hospitals.

Therefore, to get around the situation and avoid long lines, most expatriates living in the Algarve use the private health system with health insurance. 

The rates are a little higher than in public hospitals, but depending on the case and the importance you give to your health, it’s worth it. Hospital Particular De Gambelas and Hospital Lusíadas Albufeira are two private hospitals in Faro and Albufeira respectively.

Safety in the Algarve region

The fact that thousands of tourists are rushing to the Algarve is quite telling of the region’s safety and security. Portugal itself is the fourth-safest country in the world, as per the Global Peace Index 2021. So, worrying about your safety should be the least of your troubles.

As far as the Portuguese are concerned, the community is very welcoming and progressive. Hate crimes, discrimination, and street crimes are not the norm. People come here to take a break from the world, and that’s exactly what it’s like living in the Algarve. 

Despite all this, we recommend taking all the necessary precautions you would comply with whenever you go outside. Tourist hubs tend to attract pickpocketers, so be mindful of your belongings and stay vigilant.

Studying in the Algarve

The universities in the Algarve region give admission to many foreigners. And for students, it’s a treat to enjoy living and studying in one of the best places in Europe! 

Take a look at some of the most popular disciplines offered at universities: 

  • Business Administration
  • Cultural Heritage and Archaeological
  • Economics
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Food Engineering
  • Hotel Management and Hospitality
  • Marine and Coastal Management

These aren’t all; you can refer to the University of Algarve website for more information.

International schools in the Algarve

With the ever-growing expat community, more and more international schools across the country have opened up. Here are the biggest international schools in the Algarve:

Especially if your family comes from an English-speaking country, enrolling your children in one of these schools may help them integrate and adapt better to their new life in Portugal.

The labor market in southern Portugal

As mentioned earlier, the main economic activities in the Algarve are related to tourism. Therefore, most of the region’s job offers are in the hotel industry, restaurants, and tourist activities at sea.

Additionally, real estate, construction, and digital marketing are areas on the rise in the Algarve. Besides that, there are more traditional occupations related to agriculture, winemaking, and fishing.

labor-market-in-the-algarve

Currently, the national minimum wage in Portugal is €822.5 per month. Although this is the minimum wage, people living in the Algarve region generally make a lot more. Salaries in Portugal are known for not being as high as in other countries, but the cost of living is also lower.

Anyone who wants to work in large companies or make more money shouldn’t think about finding work in the Algarve unless it’s in the abovementioned areas.

A curious fact about the labor market in the Algarve is that many businesses close their doors during the winter. As most of their clients are tourists, there’s no work when there are no tourists.

A destination for digital nomads

Ever since the pandemic in Portugal, a new audience turned their attention to the Algarve. 

Digital nomads realized they could work and enjoy life in a fantastic and affordable place. Digital nomads are people who’re able to work from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection.

The Algarve region is beginning to be seen less as a tourist destination and exclusively for retirees, and more as a complete paradise for remote workers.

Living in the Algarve as a retired person

The Algarve has been elected countless times by countless rankings as the best place to retire in the world. And that’s not by chance!

After all, the region is perfect for living with quality of life, pleasant weather all year round, good infrastructure, and the security of Europe for a lower price than average. Some of the many reasons to retire in the Algarve.

Spending your retirement in Portugal isn’t a bad idea altogether, but doing it in the Algarve is remarkable.

The expat community in the Algarve

As expected, the Algarve region enchants any foreigner who passes by. So much that the region holds the highest percentage of expatriates legally residing there, as shown by the official data from Pordata.

expat-community-in-the-algarve

This is the region where it’s more common to find Portuguese people who speak English, besides central Lisbon. The Algarve is where so many people from different nationalities choose to spend their time. That cannot be a coincidence.

Since the expat community is growing every month, it’s not hard to Find Your Community here! 

Is it worth living in the Algarve?

This decision is very subjective to what kind of lifestyle you’d like to live; some people prefer Lisbon for its business world while others love the calming Algarve!

Speaking for myself – I moved to the Algarve 5 years ago, and it has been absolutely worth it for me. Since then, I don’t regret it at all. It’s a beautiful and safe place, with pleasant weather for most of the year, the friendliest people in Europe, and at a close distance from the main metropolis of the continent.

Of course, it doesn’t offer the best public healthcare in the country and job opportunities and salaries are quite disappointing. But if you go around these small issues, you get to enjoy life at its best.

Consider visiting the Algarve before relocating, though. Going on a scouting trip to Portugal is the best way to be sure that you should live in a new country. After all, being an expat comes with its fair share of challenges.

When are you coming to Portugal?

If you’re considering moving to Portugal and living in the Algarve, you’ll have to plan many things before relocating.

Join our online community on our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats and get to read others’ stories of what it’s like. Having people to help or simply understand what you’re going through is priceless.

Viv Europe offers professional assistance at every step of your relocation to Portugal. Whether it’s applying for the right visa, finding a real estate property, or even opening a business here.

Contact us now and let us help you turn your dream into reality!

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