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Cost Of Living In The Algarve: A Detailed Breakdown

How Much Does It Really Cost To Live In Portugal? Here’s A Detailed Budget Breakdown

When you think about the world’s cheapest places to live or retire, you probably think first of Latin America or Asia, writing off Europe altogether, figuring no way someone of modest means could ever afford to move to the Old World.

For most of Europe, that can be a reasonable perspective. But Portugal, especially the Algarve, is an exception. Living here, you could embrace the best of a Continental lifestyle even if your budget is what might be described as ideal for the developing world. The Algarve is legitimately one of the cheapest places in the world to live—and live well—today.

How cheap are we talking?

You could rent an apartment for as little as 500 euros per month; for 700 euros per month you could rent something very nice. You could live on as little as 800 euros per month in addition to whatever you’re spending on rent.

In other words, you could live or retire in the Algarve with a budget of 1,300 euros per month or less. That translates today, thanks to the down-and-out euros, tonot much more in dollars.

The even better news is that this budget buys a standard of living that has nothing to do with scraping by or making do. Living in the Algarve, even on a limited income or a retirement pension, your days could be filled with diverse and engaging activities, your evenings spent enjoying dinners out with friends.

During a recent visit to 15th-century Lagos, one of my favorite destinations in the Algarve, in the city’s lively old town, crowded with tourists that day, we stopped at a café on the main square. The menu offered a hamburger for 2.80 euros, a small pizza for 3 euros, and sandwiches for not much more. Not fine fare, but this is tourist central.

When I commented on the surprisingly low prices to a traveling companion, a native Portuguese, he was confused.

“These cafés and restaurants are much more expensive than others outside the center of town,” he explained. “Other places elsewhere in the city would be cheaper.”

How could a restaurant hamburger be cheaper than 2.80 euros?

Of course, there’s more to life than hamburgers. Here’s an overview of the cost of living in the Algarve overall, beyond housing:


One practical advantage of life in the Algarve is that you can get by without either heat or air conditioning much of the time, and some properties are equipped with neither (though fireplaces aren’t uncommon).

It’s a question to ask when shopping for a place to live as you might appreciate the ability to raise or lower the temperature of your home now and then, but, most of the year, you’ll live comfortably without these expenses.

Figure 75 euros per month on average for electricity, including some air conditioning.

In addition, budget about 70 euros per month for the combined expenses of phone, internet, and cable TV, which can be purchased as a bundle.


I’ve told you about the hamburgers…

Considered more broadly, eating in the Algarve is one of the greatest delights of living here and also one of the best bargains. I’ve enjoyed some of the best meals of my life in the Algarve. Menus feature prawns bigger than lobsters I’ve known and every other kind of sea creature you can imagine, all fresh from the ever-present sea and available for rarely more than 25 euros a meal. A chilled glass of Prosecco is as little as 3 euros.

Avoid restaurants with menus in multiple languages, as these places target the foreign tourist market. If you want authenticity at a low price, look for pratos do dia (dishes of the day) signs scribbled on blackboards or papers taped near restaurant entrances, priced from as little as 3.50 euros. Staff in these places can be an exception to the rule that nearly everyone in this region speaks English, but you can get by with sign language, a phrasebook, and a friendly smile.

Of course, you could spend much more than 3.50 euros for a meal out, as this coastal region boasts five-star restaurants, too.

Eating in can be an even greater bargain. Depending how often you choose to dine out rather than cooking at home, 200 euros per month per person should be a comfortable food budget.


This is where the Algarve really shines, no matter how you like to spend your time.

You could enjoy many pleasant days walking around cobblestoned towns and villages, window shopping then stopping at outdoor cafés for a coffee or a glass of wine. Castles, fortresses, museums, and small theaters charge 3 euros per person entrance fee on average. Old harbors, medieval fountains, gardens, and historic churches are all accessible at no cost.

You could fill yet more pleasant days hiking in the countryside or wandering the long beaches. Cliff walks, beach combing, and bicycling, too, are no cost.

Keep a car, and this whole coast is your playground. Day trips to Sagres, Silves, Carvoeiro, Ferragudo, and beyond could fill many afternoons or long weekends. The sun shines year-round, and temperatures are rarely too hot or too cold to keep you from setting out to explore the many old-town squares or the great outdoors.

An entertainment budget is 100% controllable anywhere but perhaps especially so in this region where you have so many options for zero-cost ways to spend your time. If you want to dine out two or three times per week and see the occasional movie, figure up to 200 euros per month per person.

Beyond these basic expenses (utilities, food, and entertainment), you’ll have the cost of health care (which can be zero if you’re a legal resident and register for the public system), the cost of furnishing and keeping your home (be it a rental or a place of your own), incidentals (dry cleaning, haircuts, etc.), and the cost of keeping a car if you decide you want one (you probably will; public transportation isn’t a strong suit in this region).

The Currency Question

Right now all costs are more affordable than they’ve been in a long time for Americans in this part of the world thanks to the strong dollar (or weak euro, depending how you look at it).

What if the euro rebounds? That is, what if you move to the Algarve to take advantage of today’s exchange rate, but the euro gains 20%, 30%, 40%, or more on the dollar? If you’re living on a fixed or modest income, aren’t you setting yourself up for a problem?

If you are considering making a move to the Algarve with a limited budget, here’s what I suggest:

Buy a place of your own at today’s favorable exchange rate. You could find something on the Algarve coast for the equivalent of US$150,000 or less. That locks in your housing cost.

Given the overall low cost of living, even with a modest nest egg, you likely could set a little aside each month. If the exchange rate were to move against you (as, yes, it could), your cost of living would increase in dollar terms, but with decent savings and the fact that you’re living in your own digs and therefore rent free, you could hopefully handle that shift.

Housing is typically the lion’s share of any budget. Reduce your housing cost to nothing (by paying for your own home in full at today’s very favorable exchange rate), and you’re well positioned to ride out future currency movements not in your favor.

Beyond housing, here’s how your monthly Algarve budget could break itself down:

An Algarve Starter Budget

Groceries: 200 euros per person Entertainment (dining out, movies, bars, etc.): 200 euros per person Electricity/Water/Gas: 90 euros Telephone/Cable TV/Internet: 70 euros Transportation: 75 euros Miscellaneous Expenses (home goods and personal items, including local health insurance): 150

TOTAL: 785 euros/month

Kathleen Peddicord


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Recovery in Portugal set to continue with sales forecast to rise by 30% in 2017

The recovery in Portugal’s residential property market is expected to continue in 2017 with estate agents and brokers predicting a rise of 30% in sales during the year.

Buyers from overseas have also been returning, according to the Portuguese Real Estate Professionals and Brokers Association (APEMIP) which says that Portugal is in a unique position to offer political and social stability to foreign investors.

Sales are being helped by lower mortgage costs with data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) showing that the interest rate on housing loans has fallen now for 13 months in a row to its lowest level since 2009.

In the Algarve, for example, Casas do Barlavento has found that around 45% of interest from abroad is coming from the UK despite Brexit, followed 24% from Sweden and 15% from France.

Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme, which offers residency to non-European Union property investors, is also proving popular with 16% of overseas buyers in this category.

‘It has been a long time for the recovery, but we are now seeing an increase in demand which is now not keeping up with supply,’ said Paul Cotterell, sales director of Casas do Barlavento.

Price are also rising. The latest INE figures show that they increased by 7.9% in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016. Values for new homes increased by 4.2% and for existing homes by 9.2%.

The figures also show that sales increased by 25.9% year on year to €4.3 billion and as well as the Algarve, the country’s capital city Lisbon is also seeing prices rise and sales increase.

Foreign buyers can typically get a mortgage from a Portuguese lender for about half the value of the property they are buying home, according to agents.

Buying costs, including sales taxes, land registry and stamp duty are about 7% and rental yields are also growing with some locations at 5%.



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Why Algarve, Portugal Should Be On Your Must-Visit List

If you’ve scrolled through Instagram within the last year or so, then you already know that Portugal is the place to go. It has turned up on more must-visit listslately than nearly anywhere else. And no wonder—the sun-soaked, western sliver of southern Europe has much to offer: rich culture, beautiful architecture, and a dazzling culinary scene. (Not to mention the well-styled hotels that are the stuff of social media dreams.) While scores of travelers are drawn to the vibrant cities of Lisbon and Porto, would-be visitors should also look to the south—namely, the Algarve region—for an under the radar coastal retreat that’s full of authentic Portuguese pleasures.

Although equal in beauty to neighboring Mediterranean mainstays like Majorca and St.-Tropez, the Algarve is still enjoying relative obscurity—but with glittering new resorts popping up along the coastline, a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants, and a delicious type of wine you won’t find anywhere else, it’s only a matter of time before that’s no longer the case.

Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort’s outdoor swimming pool. Photo: Courtesy of Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort

What to Do
Beaches are the biggest draw, with more than 150 rolling out their wide, golden shores like welcome mats. Many are bordered by craggy rock cliffs and caves for an extra photogenic effect. Falesia and São Rafael beaches, both in Albufeira, see their fair share of sunbathers, and Praia da Amoreira, in Aljezur, is a sweet spot for surfers, thanks to its abundant waves. If you’re searching for that quintessential crescent of Algarvian sand, make your way to Praia da Marinha in Lagoa, one of the Algarve’s most celebrated beaches. But rather than drive right up, arrive via the cliff top walk that starts at Praia do Vale de Centeanes in Carvoeiro, some three-and-a-half miles away. Carvoeiro makes an excellent base for a day of beach hopping: The new oceanfront Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort opened in April after a major five-star renovation, and its chic spa debuted in June. Head to the resort’s new Skybar to drink in the view as the sun sets over the Atlantic, but not before enjoying Vale de Covo Beach, an otherworldly sight with crystal-clear water, rock cliffs, and an iconic cave.

The Atlantic coast isn’t the only place to enjoy the water in the Algarve. Ria Formosa nature park, with its lagoons, sand dunes, islands, marshes, and mudflats, makes for exceptional hiking and spotting wildlife.

Anantara Vilamoura. Photo: Courtesy of Vilamoura Anantara

What to Eat and Drink
The Algarve is awash in sunshine for nearly 3,000 hours each year. And with cool Atlantic waters lapping at the region’s shores and an eastern mountain border blocking out hot, dry winds from the north, growing conditions for fresh, flavorful fruits, vegetables, and herbs are excellent. The new Anantara Vilamoura resort serves plenty of Algarvian-grown goodness: Guests checking in are welcomed with glasses of sweet carob and shockingly bright orange juice, as well as almonds and figs grown on site. Lunches at the resort’s poolside restaurant Ria begin with plump local olives and tender, herb-marinated carrots, plus bowlfuls of fragrant olive oil and tangy, spiced tomato spread waiting to be mopped up with pillowy homemade bread. And that’s all before the menus arrive. Softball-size oranges are so abundant on the property that attendants at the adults-only pool flit from one lounge chair to the next proffering whole fruits—peeled, if you prefer—to enjoy while soaking up the sun.

Local foods at Ria restaurant. Photo: Courtesy of Lindsay Day

Seafood is another of the Algarve’s culinary stars—from clams bathed in oil and garlic to grilled whole line-caught fish to fillets of crisp-skinned sea bass. For that most sought-after of Algarvian treats, octopus, everyone seems to agree that there are only two places to go—Casa do Polvo Tasquinha and Polvo & Companhia, both of which are located in the “octopus capital of the world,” Santa Luzia, roughly 36 miles to the east. To earn bragging rights and to impress even your most intrepid foodie friends, make your way west to Café Correia in Vila do Bispo. There, order up a cold Portuguese Super Bock beer or a glass of vinho verde and a plate of goose barnacles, the area’s prized local delicacy. Called “percebes” by locals, the crustaceans grow on slippery, wave-battered boulders in the ocean, which means they can’t be farmed. Instead, they’re hand-harvested by local fishermen in a dangerous, by-permit-only process. Translation: They’re pricey—but it will be Euros well-spent.

Bon Bon. Photo: Courtesy of Bon Bon

It’s not hard to imagine that the Algarve’s bountiful supply of earthly and aquatic ingredients might have something to do with the fact that there are six Michelin-starred restaurants in the region. In quaint Carvoeiro, chef Rui Silvestre’s Bon Bonis a perfect example. Silvestre’s Atlantic lobster (served with organic egg yolk and imperial caviar) is so fresh, it still tastes like the sea, and his elegant white asparagus—paired with cumin and a São Jorge cheese aged for 24 months—might just make you well up. Although a Michelin-starred restaurant might not be the best place to break out your iPhone, we admit that Bon Bon’s tasting menu (four or six courses, with or without wine pairings) will give you plenty of material to make your friends back home jealous. Starting in September, if you fly TAP to Portugal, your Michelin-starred experience can begin before you even touch down: The airline will serve dishes from five Portuguese Michelin-starred chefs—Silvestre, Henrique Sá Pessoa, José Avillez, Miguel Laffan, and Rui Paula—to give passengers a preview of Portugal’s haute cuisine.

Cabrita Wines. Photo: Courtesy of Cabrita Wines

Some 300 to 350 indigenous varieties of grapes grow in Portugal, and as a result, you can toss a cork in any direction and hit a bottle of delicious, locally produced wine. Negra Mole grapes, however, grow exclusively in the Algarve, and they’re used to produce a gentle, drinkable red that hits the palate like a Pinot Noir. For a taste, head to Cabrita Wines in sleepy Silves. The winery, which was founded in 2007 and produces whites, reds, and rosés, offers tastings in a second-floor space that’s replete with polished wood and beautiful vineyard views. Also in your tasting lineup: Moscatel and Arinto—two more wines made from native grapes. Save room in your suitcase, because you’ll want to bring back a bottle or two.


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Mega investment to give extra shine to Portugal’s Golden Triangle

Exciting new development plans will hoist Portugal’s Algarve into the global tourism spotlight, cementing the Golden Triangle as a world-class tourist destination. Could now be the perfect time to buy a property there?

Article written by The Overseas Guides Company

A €1-billion plan for a new phase of development in Vilamoura, a world-class resort that forms part of the famous Golden Triangle, has been unveiled, representing one of the largest real estate developments in Portugal and making it an exciting time to invest in property there.

Vilamoura already boasts five world-renowned golf courses, magnificent beaches, a range of four and five-star hotels, and a marina that was crowned ‘International Marina of the Year 2015’. The new Vilamoura Master-Plan, which will include 18 development projects covering a total of 400 hectares, comes at a time when the Portuguese property market is recovering. Prices there are stabilising, new and off-plan projects are in short supply, and mortgages are cheap and accessible to foreigners.


The Master-Plan is based around six lifestyle themes, namely Vilamoura Marina, Vilamoura Golf, Vilamoura Active, Vilamoura Villages, Vilamoura Estates and Vilamoura Lakes, and different areas will offer a mixture of residential, leisure, tourism and retail units. Buyers are already able to invest in the new projects.

A highlight will be Vilamoura Lakes, which will embrace lakeside landscapes to create one of the leading lake resorts in Europe. It will comprise 250,000 sq metres of natural lakescape, including 1,900 residential units and five tourist-focused complexes, comprising 3,600 beds and first-class retail and restaurant outlets.


Vilamoura has also provided details of the planned enhancement of its marina area, which will encompass a new international Yacht Club, a branded spa and gym, together with three restaurants and boutique shops.

Paul Taylor, CEO of Vilamoura World, which is overseeing the Master-Plan, commented: “Our Master Plan has a clear objective to transform this great location into the leading resort destination in the Algarve. In the last few years Portugal has made huge strides to attract international inward investment through fiscal benefits and the successful Golden Visa Programme. Vilamoura provides a major investment opportunity in the future of Portugal. The country is on the road to recovery and Vilamoura is proud to play a key role in this national renewal. Vilamoura is leading the charge.”

Marina Pasquill who runs the Vilamoura office of, which helps Brits buy in Portugal, said: “Vilamoura does need better infrastructure and retail outlets, that is no secret, and this development will help achieve that, as well as putting this part of the Golden Triangle as much in the spotlight as Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. Vilamoura’s Marina area, close to our office, will also be upgraded to include a new yacht club, spa and gym, restaurants and boutiques, which we’re very excited about.”

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Portugal pulls in the punters – bring on 2015!

Surging tourist numbers, plans for more flights and award-winning golf – Portugal’s appeal is on the rise, signalling an exciting 2015 for this popular second home destination. We take a closer look…

Article written by The Overseas Guides Company

Foreigners have returned to Portugal and the Algarve in their droves this year, according to figures from the Portuguese Tourist Board that show a 12 per cent rise in overseas tourists between January and August compared to the same period last year. Brits are spearheading the influx too – UK visitor numbers grew by 15 per cent year-on-year for the same period.

Also encouraging is the news that hundreds of new flights to Portugal are due to launch in 2015, thanks to improved services from the likes of British Airways, Flybe, Thomson, easyJet, Norwegian and national TAP, which has additional routes from the UK planned as well as new services to South and Central America.

Meanwhile, Portugal recently rubber stamped its status as a leading golf global destination when it was crowned the world’s best golf destination at the inaugural World Golf Awards, held at the chic Conrad Algarve hotel. Adding to this, Quinta do Lago’s newly renovated North Course won the title for Europe’s Best New Golf Course at the same awards.

This is all great news for second homeowners and anyone in the market for a Portuguese property, especially those who rent out – or intend to rent out – their property to holidaymakers.

Meanwhile, the Algarve remains one of the most enjoyable places to live, with a healthy, laid-back lifestyle combined with an attractive tax scheme for qualifying expats.

“I’ve lived in Portugal for four years now and love it more and more each day,” said Marina Pasquill, an expat who helps British and other foreign people buy suitable property and settle in the Algarve. “I originally made the move from the UK to offer a better quality of life to my daughter, who couldn’t be happier. She gets lots of fresh air, thrives on the healthy food and lifestyle, and the schools here are great.” Marina works at, a free resource for buyers in Portugal with an office in Vilamoura.

Since moving to the Algarve, Marina has worked at one of the Algarve’s most prestigious golf courses, on the expat newspaper ‘The Portugal News’ and for a leading estate agency based in Albufeira. There is not much she doesn’t know about being an expat in the Algarve.

“I know and have worked closely with British people who have second homes or live here,” continued Marina. “I’ve seen first-hand the types of issues that can crop up during the Portuguese buying process or once you are an owner. It’s great being able to guide people looking for their ideal home here or those moving out here permanently, and put them in touch with the right people.”