Each year, our Live And Invest In Portugal Conference falls on the week of my birthday… and for the last four years, since moving to Paris, I’ve taken advantage of that fact by rolling a small getaway into the annual—much anticipated—work trip.
That is to say, this week I’m thinking ahead to the longer, sunnier days of April… of the warmer climes of Portugal’s Algarve… of the stunning cliffs and deep-blue waters that crash dramatically into the riddled limestone… the sea sprays that shock from time to time as you walk along the boardwalks… the fresh seafood and the refreshing wines that are paired with it…
And to the fun I’ll have hopping on a plane to meet dozens of Portugal enthusiasts, along with all the friends and colleagues I’ve amassed down there.
It makes for a built-in celebration every year!
Portugal’s Algarve region has been a retirement haven for quite some time now, and though she was knocked off her pedestal this year, taking the silver instead of the gold in our 2023 Overseas Retirement Index for the first time in nearly a decade, she still has plenty to offer the aspiring overseas expat…
Taking second place in this year’s Index is Tavira, a charming traditional town in Portugal’s Algarve. It’s widely known as the most authentic and beautiful in Southern Portugal.
The Algarve has come in first place in our annual Index more often than any other destination.
It offers everything the would-be retiree could want, including:
- Near-perfect weather and sunshine year-round
- An established and welcoming expat community
- High-quality medical facilities
- An affordable cost of living for a high quality of life
- Endless opportunities for fun and adventure, especially for nature-lovers
- English is widely spoken
- Well-developed infrastructure
- Easy access to the United States and Europe
Indeed, the Algarve is tough competition when it comes to the best places in the world to retire, and it is neck and neck with Chitré, Panama, in this year’s rankings…
Chitré inched ahead by providing a more stable environment in the face of economic crisis. But Tavira (winner of our 2021 Overseas Retirement Index) still has plenty to offer…
Found in the less-touristed eastern Algarve, Tavira has held onto its authenticity, both in terms of its culture and its cost of living. It features all the trappings of a traditional Algarvean town: cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings, lacework chimney pots, and azulejo tiles.
If you want a view of the Algarve of centuries past, before the golf courses and beach resorts were put in, look no further.
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Spliced by the River Gilão, Tavira’s riverfront is endowed with promenades and swaying palms, open-air cafés, and restaurants serving the day’s catch. Flanked by Renaissance architecture and connected by an old Roman bridge, the riverfront casts a romantic air about town.
Tavira’s population of about 26,000 is still very much local, although expats from the U.K., the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and France have also established themselves here.
Expats are drawn by the fantastic beaches, agreeable climate, relatively low cost of living, and traditional atmosphere.
Tavira has a well-deserved reputation among nature-lovers. It’s situated along Ria Formosa Natural Park, one of the most important wetlands in the world.
Its protected status means that Tavira’s beaches have been unmarred by development and remain the most naturally beautiful in the region. Tavira Island, just offshore, features three perfect, golden-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters…
The Algarve’s year-round pleasant weather is one of its main draws. In Tavira, the average temperature is 64°F (18°C), meaning you can maximize your time spent outdoors.
Aside from hitting the beach, top outdoor activities are kite surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling and scuba diving, boating, golf, hiking among the dunes of the natural park, and more.
Tavira is culturally vibrant, with open-air markets, fairs, and festivals hosted year-round. It consistently draws tourists, but even still, it’s much quieter than other places on the Algarve coast.
Portugal makes life easy for retirees by offering several options for residency, including “self-sufficiency” visas, digital nomad visas, and investor visas. It’s not a tax haven but offers some relief to foreign retirees through its Non-Habitual Resident scheme, a tax abatement program.
Plus, U.S. dollar holders continue to have a currency advantage in Europe because the euro is at historic lows against the dollar.
If you’re ready to slow down and savor moments in the sun… discover a healthier lifestyle and food… live in a safe place with an emphasis on family and friends… or make a good investment with the benefit of an EU passport… Tavira could be the place for you.
But why, you might ask yourself, did Portugal lose a few marks this year beyond economic factors…?
- The rising cost of living here puts its Cost of Living Grade lower than it has been in the past. The increase is due in part to: inflation, which we’re suffering from the world over; the skyrocketing costs of energy in Europe this year due to the Russia-Ukraine War; and a general value appreciation thanks to the influx of foreigners over the last decade.
- The cost of real estate has also been on the rise, largely due, again, to foreign investment. By all accounts, it’s a seller’s market in Algarve right now, and prices are unaccountably higher than they should be in many cases.
- The shrinking real estate inventory, as bemoaned by our real estate contacts on the ground, means that finding property to buy isn’t as easy as it once was. One Algarve agent quoted her file as having shrunk from 800+ properties to about 250 in the last year.
- The reforms made to the Golden Visa program mean that it’s much more restrictive. The real estate purchases that qualify you for this residency path are now fewer and more expensive.
- The changes made to the NHR program in the last year also mean that Portugal has become less of a tax haven.
If you’re on the list to join us in April, I look forward to seeing you there!
Editor, In Focus: Europe