Moving to the Algarve
Expats have been moving to the Algarve for decades for the abundance of warm sunshine, the top-class seafood and the slower pace of life. Located on the southern coast of Portugal, the rich valleys and picturesque beaches have made this region a popular choice for pensioners, and those looking to live out their twilight years in peace.
Although the cost of living has started to catch up with other European destinations as of late, the Algarve still has much to offer for those seeking a new life in the sun.
There are thousands of foreigners in the area, and those that make the effort to integrate with their local community and learn the language are welcomed with open arms.
Expats will find that getting around the region is straightforward and inexpensive; a point facilitated by the abundance of low-cost airlines that fly in from other European destinations.
World-class private hospitals and international schools suitable for expats and their kids are scattered around the region, and state options exist too.
It should be noted that the public institutions are comparable to the facilities offered by other European countries, and can be inconsistent in quality. Whether or not an expat qualifies for these facilities depends on their personal situation and where they are moving from, so thorough research is always required.
Expats moving to the Algarve should be cautioned about the stagnant state of the economy. There is a lack of job opportunities in the region, and if one does not speak Portuguese, the chances of finding employment are low.
Expats should also be prepared for some degree of culture shock, especially when it comes to the glacial pace with which live is lived. Bureaucracy can be painfully slow, and difficulty in dealing with town halls and government departments can be a source of major frustration.
The other downside to be aware of is that the Algarve, particularly the central area, gets extremely busy in July and August; with residents often commenting that it feels like a completely different place at these times.
Apart from these points, though, expats moving to the Algarve are in for a treat.
If seeking a life involving meals that last for hours, long walks on the beach and in the mountains, and a climate that allows a person to spend most days in the open air, the Algarve could be the place.
Alternatively, life in the Algarve can also be very traditional, and one will only need to go ten miles into the hills to witness families living self-sufficient lifestyles that differ little from decades ago.
If an expat is not dependent on finding employment, the Algarve has much to offer; including the sea, sunshine and sardines!