Traditionally admired for its sleepy fishing villages, sandy beaches overlooked by dramatic cliffs and great value holidays, the Algarve is used to being in Spain’s shadow. But overseas visitors are discovering its sophistication and unique appeal, and embracing a very special and unique quality of life.
Their high levels of satisfaction come as no surprise. Living in the Algarve offers fantastic temperatures, a beautiful coastline, natural mountain parks, picturesque villages and towns, plus great food, friendly people, tax breaks and 300 or more days of sunshine.
From Tavira in the east along to Sagres in the west, taking in the landmarks of Faro, Albufeira, Lagos and Portimão along the way, and then around the corner up to west-facing Aljezur, the Algarve offers a wide variety of places to find a property.
The southern coast is where most people chose to live in the Algarve, with its cosmopolitan capital Faro setting the tone by combining ancient history, modern sensibilities and great shopping. They have historically clustered around the resort areas such as Lagos, Loulé and Albufeira, embracing iconic names such a Praia da Luz,
The colours of Portimão, whitewashed houses of Albufeira, ancient fortress of Lagos, riverside townhouses of Tavira, the artiness of Olhão and Moorish tinges of Tavira all hold their own individual appeal. And of course all are joined by a dramatic coastline where turquoise water, heavenly beaches and a warm welcome await.
But the west is also growing in popularity as people explore this comparatively forgotten side of the Algarve and discover its secrets. Sagres on the southwestern corner marks a change to more surfer-friendly conditions, beaches with a different character and inland towns with undeniable appeal, and people are also discovering cool westerly places such as Zavial, Vila do Bispo, Praia Castelejo and Aljiezur
Wherever you choose to settle, from buzzing resorts to chilled out villages, in properties ranging from sleek apartments and villa complexes to tumbledown rural cottages, you’ll find your ideal home and lifestyle in the Algarve.
The growing demand for living in Portugal is translating into a healthy demand for property. British, American, French and Swedish buyers are leading the way and while - as in Spain - levels are below those of the boom times around 2007, things are improving.
This has been driven in part by the introduction of the Golden Residence Permit scheme in 2012. This gives residency permits to non-EU citizens investing in the country, but has mainly been taken up by those investing €500,000 or more in property (or €350,000 in regions of lower demand.) This has been a particular draw for buyers from China, Russia and Brazil.
Broader appeal to take up residency and live in Portugal is offered by the non-habitual resident tax scheme, with broad-based benefits including a 10-year tax exemption for many people receiving foreign pensions and income.
In terms of quality, Portugal has enjoyed a growing reputation for world-class architecture since the turn of the century, and this has trickled down to the mainstream building trade. Construction quality has improved, and dealing with builders is generally a straightforward process.
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