Portugal’s Algarve coast qualifies as an ideal place to consider reinventing your life abroad in retirement. Live and Invest Overseas has named the Algarve as the world’s top retirement option for three years running.
The Algarve can be an attractive choice for single women who are making a move overseas alone. The big and long-established expat community is welcoming and supportive, and this is one of the safest spots in Europe and the world.
The Algarve is also a noteworthy option for anyone looking for a base from which to explore the Old World. Centuries ago, the Portuguese were exploration leaders. Today, a retiree in this country is ideally situated to follow in those footsteps.
Here are four more reasons Portugal, and specifically its Algarve region, is an appealing choice for anyone considering retirement in Western Europe:
1. It’s Europe. Not everyone is cut out for life in an emerging market country, and that’s ok. If you appreciate and prioritize first world infrastructure and old world culture, the developing world likely won’t work for you.
Likewise, not everyone is comfortable in the tropics. If hot and humid weather all year long isn’t your idea of an ideal climate, take tropical destinations off your list. Look instead to Europe, with its reliable electricity and internet, museums, cafes, history and more moderate climes.
Portugal is a very wired country. Highway tolls are electronic. You make government agency appointments online. Wi-Fi is everywhere. Living here, you’d never have to worry that your children or grandchildren wouldn’t be able to contact you in case of an emergency. In addition, the very reliable electricity and internet make Portugal a great choice if you need or want to supplement your retirement income. Living here, you could easily earn extra cash flow through a laptop-based enterprise.
When it comes to climate, the Algarve gets top marks. This is the sunniest coast in Europe, with moderate temperatures 12 months a year.
[Read: 15 Places to Retire in Europe.]
2. The cost of living is affordable. Many retirees, when considering options for where to retire overseas, take Europe off the list immediately, fearing that the cost of living in Europe must be out of reach. This is not the case in general, and is definitely not the case in Portugal. Europe can be affordable, especially right now, thanks to the U.S. dollar advantage. The dollar is stronger against the euro than it’s been in years.
In the main tourist areas of the Algarve, you can enjoy a glass of wine at an outdoor café for four euros. And if you take just a few steps off the tourist path, you can get that same glass of wine for one euro. Groceries are inexpensive if you buy local, and this region is home to many fresh fruit and vegetable markets. Imported items are more expensive.
3. The country welcomes foreigners. Tourism is important for Portugal’s economy. The country is known for year-round golf, fantastic beaches, good value vacations and friendly people. Europeans have always come to Portugal for holidays in the sun, but word is spreading and the net is expanding.
The government is actively encouraging visitors from around the world and has created visa programs to make it as easy as possible for people to come as tourists and perhaps to stay longer-term. It’s possible for a retiree to establish residency by showing a guaranteed income of as little as $1,000 at the current exchange rate.
4. You don’t have to learn a new language if you don’t want to. Because of the strong tourist infrastructure in the Algarve, almost everyone you meet here speaks at least some English. In addition, the British have been retiring to the Algarve for decades. It’s possible to live a rich and full life in this beautiful region without learning more than a handful of Portuguese words.
However, moving to a country where the language is new is an opportunity for personal growth and a chance to keep your brain active. Don’t be shy. You’ll find the Portuguese to be supportive and appreciative of any attempt to learn their language.