Living in the Azores doesn't have to be a distant dream. Find out what it's like to live on the beautiful Portuguese islands.

Last Updated on May 5, 2022 by Letícia Melo

Have you ever thought about living in a place full of nature, tradition, and privacy? Welcome to the Azores archipelago! The islands of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean are breathtakingly bucolic. However, in recent years, the Azores islands are receiving more foreign residents. What is it that attracts them to live on the best islands in Europe? Learn all about living in the Azores in the full article.

Living in the Azores archipelago: day by day

Living in the Azores, you can expect a relaxed lifestyle and natural beauty surrounding you. They are magical islands indeed, and living here may change your life.

It really is an experience of a lifetime to move abroad to Portugal, especially if you don’t speak the local language or haven’t any friends yet. But the Azores are known for being welcoming and indescribably pleasant.

Most expats living in the Azores choose the island of São Miguel or the island Terceira, but Santa Maria island is also often remembered. In total, there are 9 islands in the archipelago, as you can explore in the map below:

Who lives in the Azores?

Despite its many islands, the Azores are not inhabited by many people. According to data in Pordata, in 2021, 236,440 people lived on the Azores islands. Of these, it is estimated that around 1.7% were foreign nationals with a residence permit.

Despite the low percentage of foreign population, the local inhabitants of the Azores are used to receiving people from all over the world.

Especially in recent years, when Portugal started to be in the biggest tourist headlines, the Azores have experienced new investments and unprecedented development.

According to the Association of Immigrants in the Azores, the majority of expatriates in the Azorean islands are Brazilian, German, Chinese, American, Spanish, British, Cape Verdean, Italian, French and Canadian.

Why are expats moving to the Azores?

Like all of Portugal, the Azores offer its inhabitants an excellent quality of life at low costs. The weather is pleasant most of the year, and the islands are extremely safe.

Because they’re islands, you’ll be more isolated from the fast-paced, modern world that European capitals are used to, but for good reason.

By living in the Azores, you will be giving yourself a chance to a life of peace in the midst of nature, with Portuguese and Azorean culture and cuisine.

Another interesting point is that, throughout the 20th century, many Azoreans emigrated to the United States and Canada. Now, many descendants of these emigrants want to return to the land of their grandparents, parents, or where they grew up.

What are the best islands to live in the Azores?

The Azores archipelago is made up of 9 islands, each with its own unique traditions and natural beauty. Locals even say that the accent changes from one island to the next. The Azores archipelago is made up of 9 islands, each with its own unique traditions and natural beauty. Most expats choose to live in the islands of São Miguel, Terceira, and Santa Maria. However, it is impossible to say which is the best island. It wouldn’t be fair to the Azores.

It is up to you to decide for yourself which island is right for you. In order of number of inhabitants, the islands of the Azores are: São Miguel, Terceira, Pico, Faial, São Jorge, Santa Maria, Graciosa, Flores, and Corvo. Find out what it’s like to live in the Azores islands:

São Miguel island

The island of São Miguel is the largest and most important of the entire Azores archipelago. This is where the capital of the region, the city of Ponta Delgada, is located, with the main services in the area, such as hospitals, an international airport, shopping malls, and hotels.

São Miguel island Azores

São Miguel island is large and still has several peculiar regions and traditions. Tourism, along with agriculture and fishing, is the main area of the island’s economy.

As it has the most complete infrastructure of the archipelago, the island of São Miguel is expats’ first option when considering living in the Azores. Although you have all the necessary services to live well in São Miguel, life on the island is very calm.

Details about São Miguel IslandData
Resident population133,295 inhabitants
Percentage of population that is foreign1.3%
Average earnings of employees€971.16 per month

Terceira island

One of the visitors’ favorite islands in the Azores, Terceira island is without a doubt one of the most beautiful locations in Portugal. Terceira is the second most inhabited island in the Azores, and one of the archipelago’s cultural centers.

Terceira island Azores

Living on Terceira Island, you’ll probably be around the island’s capital, the city of Angra do Heroismo. It is the second most important city for the local economy, but it’s also the first city built in the Azores and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Besides the raising of livestock, Terceira has an international airport, as well as an American Air Force Base which contributes greatly to the local economy.

Details about Terceira IslandData
Resident population53,244 inhabitants
Percentage of population that is foreign1.1%
Average earnings of employees€1,053.10 per month

Faial island

Know for being the nautical sports island, Faial is one of the most important islands in the Azores. It is one of the central islands and has the highest concentration of expats in the archipelago. The island’s economy revolves around fishing, livestock, and increasingly, tourism.

The Faial island is also the place where the last large volcanic eruption in the Azores took place, from 1957 to 1958. The volcanic island is located on top of the tectonic divide between the European and North American Plates. However, since then no further worrisome volcanic activity has been recorded.

Its biggest city is called Horta, a historical and cultural hub in the Azores, with amazing seascapes and landscapes. Faial is a short ferry ride to the island of Pico, just 30 minutes, where you have a privileged view of the famous mountain.

Details about Faial IslandData
Resident population14,334 inhabitants
Percentage of population that is foreign4.7%
Average earnings of employees€1,125.80 per month

Pico island

The Azores’ second-biggest island, Pico is also one of the most visited by tourists. It is home to Portugal’s highest mountain, the volcano of Ponta do Pico, and is known for its black volcanic soils.

Pico island is one of the most peaceful places to live in the Azores

The island’s main urban centers are Madalena, São Roque do Pico, and Lajes do Pico, all located by the sea. Living here, you can expect to be surrounded by natural settings, especially because of the large areas of intact forests.

Despite its large size, Pico island is also quite economically dependent on its neighboring island, Faial. Most locals work in the fishing industry and dairy farms, but the island has also seen an increase in tourism lately, which may change Pico’s economy in the future.

Details about Pico IslandData
Resident population13,883 inhabitants
Percentage of population that is foreign3.9%
Average earnings of employees€944.43 per month

Santa Maria island

The island of Santa Maria is also a common choice for expats living in the Azores, just after São Miguel and Terceira.

Santa Maria island Azores

Curiously, Santa Maria is one of the smallest islands of the archipelago, but one of the most charming. It’s known here as the Sun Island because it has the best weather in all the Azores. In addition, the island of Santa Maria is one of the few in the Azores that has white sand beaches. A more typically beautiful setting and prone to great summer vacations.

There may not be as much urbanization on Santa Maria Island as on São Miguel Island, but if what you’re looking for is peace, quiet, and nature, you’ll be okay.

Details about Santa Maria IslandData
Resident population5,408 inhabitants
Percentage of population that is foreign2.5%
Average earnings of employees€1,492.50 per month

What is the cost of living in the Azores Islands?

The cost of living in the Azores, like the entire cost of living in Portugal, is lower than in most European countries. According to spending statistics on the Numbeo website, a person could live in the capital, Ponta Delgada, with only around €500 euros a month.

Home rentals on the islands are cheaper than in mainland Portugal and can increase during the summer months in more touristy areas. Even so, it is possible to find 1-bedroom apartments for rent for €350 monthly in Ponta Delgada. Much less than the Lisbon average, €640 for a 50 m² apartment, according to Idealista.

In fact, Ponta Delgada is one of the best and cheapest cities to live in Portugal with a good quality of life.

How much does it cost to buy a house in the Azores?

The price of properties in the Azores varies greatly depending on the island, location, conditions, and typology. In the entire archipelago, in January 2022, the average price per square meter was €1,045.

Check the table below to know the different prices for buying a house on the Azores islands:

Island in the AzoresThe average value of the sale of urban propertiesThe average value of the sale of rustic lands
São Miguel€110,387€44,882
São Jorge€40,882€6,108
Santa Maria€57,522€4,736

The table contains data provided by Pordata for 2019.

Buying a house in Portugal can be an excellent investment. According to the real estate website Idealista, from 2021 to 2022, the Portuguese market appreciated by 5.6%.

Since 2022, Portugal’s famous Golden Visa program promises to favor less inhabited regions, such as the Azores. The forecast is, therefore, that properties throughout the Azores archipelago will tend to appreciate in value, due to the increase in demand for foreign investment.

Learn more about the subject in our Complete Guide To Portugal Golden Visa.

How are the public and private healthcare in the Azores?

As in the whole of Portugal, healthcare in the Azores generally meets European quality. The main hospitals in the archipelago are located on the islands of São Miguel, Terceira, and Faial, but there are public and private health services on all islands.

Here, you usually pay for consultations and health services at the time of the appointment, so it’s good to have your health insurance up to date in case of any emergency. You can read more information on the website of the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers.

How is the labor market in the Azores?

The main economic activities in the Azores are linked to fishing and livestock production. Next, tourism, commerce, and catering have grown significantly in recent years on all islands.

Working in the Azores, you will have some tax benefits – residents of the islands pay less tax than the mainland. However, like all of Portugal, it will not have very high salaries or many diversified work opportunities.

Expats who are digital nomads, however, and have the privilege of being able to work from anywhere in the world, will love the Azores.

What can you do for leisure in the Azores?

From hiking trips, whale watching, and geothermal tourism, the Azores manages to give you an excellent impression. And, as is usual in Portugal, dozens of delicious typical dishes.

Get to know some of the best things to do for fun traveling or living in the Azores:

  • Visit the Sete Cidades lagoon and the Fogo lagoon on São Miguel Island;
  • Go to Furnas and eat the traditional dishes cooked with volcanic activity;
  • Relax at the hot springs of Dona Beija;
  • Go on a tour to Vila Franca do Campo islet;
  • Join a whale and dolphin watching tour;
  • Try scuba diving with professional instructors;
  • Bring your hiking shoes and explore the islands best trails.

If you’re thinking about spending your next vacation in the Azores, you have to visit the Visit Azores official website. You will love the Azores!

What’s the weather like in the Azores?

The Azores are known for having good weather throughout the year, but also for having a lot of rain. Although there are no extremes in temperature, the Azorean islands have a mild oceanic climate.

See more details about the weather in Ponta Delgada, capital of the Azores, in the table below:

Maximum Temperature16.1ºC
(60.98 ºF)
21.6 ºC
(70.88 ºF)
19.9 ºC
(67.82 ºF)
15.7 ºC
(60.26 ºF)
Minimum Temperature13.6 ºC
(56.48 ºF)
18.7 ºC
(65.66 ºF)
17.4 ºC
(63.32 ºF)
13.6 ºC
(56.48 ºF)
Average Rainfall86 mm
(3.3 in)
38 mm
(1.4 in)
92.6 mm
(3.6 in)
120 mm
(4.7 in)
The table data was taken from the Climate Data website.

Remember that each island has its own characteristics, so climate and weather also vary greatly. Make sure you research the weather on each island in advance.

Azores or Madeira? They are not the same archipelago

The Azores are not the only group of islands in Portugal. A few nautical miles away is the Madeira archipelago, also rich in natural beauty. But make no mistake, although the Azores and Madeira have many qualities in common, they are not the same thing. In fact, Azoreans and Madeirans do not like to be confused with each other.

Read our article Living in Madeira: all expats need to know about life on the island to learn more about the other Portuguese archipelago.

Is it worth living in the Azores?

Living in the Azores pleases a lot of people. There are natural beauties on all sides, typical Portuguese calm, and a lot of security and civility. If you like the lifestyle in the Azores, of course, you do, it’s worth living here.

On the other hand, if you are looking for more hectic days, with many social events and work opportunities, you might be happier in another Portuguese city. Living in Lisbon or living in Porto are great options for those who prefer the big city and cultural activities to the countryside and outdoor activities.

How can I choose my ideal island to live in the Azores?

The best way to find out which Azorean island is best for you is to visit each of them yourself. Of course, you can hear other expats’ experiences, but at the end of the day, your opinion is the one that really counts when choosing where you are going to live.

Go on a scouting trip, take at least a month to travel in the Azores, and see how you would fit in those realities. Talk to the locals, be independent, and experience firsthand the real Azores. Then, ask yourself: Can I see myself living there? 

If the answer is yes, the next step is to start planning your relocation to Portugal.

Are you ready to move to the Azores?

If you have already made the final decision and know that you want to move to the Azores, know that you will be very welcome. The world-famous Portuguese receptivity seems to be amplified in the islands.

In addition, many foreigners are moving here to enjoy a quiet quality of life. Consider joining our online community on the All About Portugal For Expats Facebook group.

If you need help applying for a visa to Portugal, you can always count on the services of Viv Europe’s professional team. Let’s turn your Portugal dream into reality.

Viv Europe Small Logo

Viv Europe can assist you to put into action your plans to relocate to Portugal. Our team of experts knows what it takes to handle all the paperwork to make your move as smooth as it can be.

Written by
Viv Europe Small Logo

Viv Europe can assist you with your project to Portugal. Count on the all-in-one assistance company to Portugal.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our Portugal content as soon as they are published.

Join our Social Network

Like our page on Facebook and be informed about Portugal.

Read more

How to get a SIM card in Portugal after relocating

One of the first things you ought to do right after your flight lands in Portugal is to get a SIM card. How easy is it to do that? Let’s find out!


Top 10 Best Hospitals In Portugal: Public & Private

Health care is paramount, especially when considering moving to a different country. Here’s what you need to know about the Top 10 Best Hospitals in Portugal.


Finding a rental in the Algarve: why is it so hard?

Hundreds of people are in love with the region, but is finding a rental in the Algarve worth all the wait? Find out what the residents have to say!

relocate to Portugal ?

Viv Europe will assist you in all activities related to your moving to Portugal.

Golden Visa Webinar

Join our FREE Webinar where we will address the following topic:

How to invest 280,000 EUR and get an EU Passport

Transporte público em Lisboa