Where to buy a property in the Algarve
The Algarve has a wide range of different properties for sale in many different locations and I am often asked where the best place to buy is in the Algarve. This is, of course, a difficult question to answer, as there are so many different reasons why someone might want to come and live here, across a wide range of different ages, families, lifestyles and requirements.
There are however some basic questions that you need to ask yourself before you commit to signing on the dotted line, and I always recommend that if at all possible, you visit the Algarve and rent a property (out of the peak season) for a few months first. This way you can take your time, explore an area, and crucially find out what it is like to live here all year round. The peak of summer and the middle of winter create two vastly different Algarve experiences. The weather and climate also play a part in your decision, and the Algarve in winter is very different from the peak-season summer Algarve.
There are also a bewilderingly large number of properties for sale here in the Algarve. Doing your homework, and renting beforehand if possible, can mean that you are in the perfect position to forge ahead and make that all-important – and potentially life-changing – decision to purchase your dream home here in the Algarve.
There are lots of questions to ask yourself, including:
- Do you have an idea about the region you would like to live in? The Western or Eastern Algarve, the central region around Albufeira, inland away from the beach, or further up the west coast? Would you like to easily pop across into Spain?
- Do you know what type of area you would like to live in? The countryside, a village, town, a larger city, or coastal resort?
- Do you want to be in a tourist development, a more residential ‘locals’ place or a quieter more rural area with no immediate neighbours? Do you want to be amongst expats and foreigners, or somewhere more Portuguese?
- How close do you want to be to local amenities, such as bars, shops, restaurants, the local market, the beach, a marina?
- How far do you want to be from the airport?
- Are there adequate pharmacy and medical facilities in the area for you?
- What other facilities do you need? Schools? Entertainment? A gym? Golf?
- Will you need to use public transport?
- Will you be considering setting up a business here? Will you need to work remotely online and require excellent internet coverage? Will you need to travel for your work, rely on passing trade, or have clients come to you?
- How important is it to you that you can walk to your local amenities, e.g. a coffee shop, local shops, the post office? Or are you happy to drive?
- Do you want a property that is ‘ready to go’ or are you happy to do some minor renovations/updating? Or are you looking to completely renovate an older or even ruined property?
- How close do you want your neighbours to be? Is being near to or part of an ‘expat’ community important to you?
- What are you looking for in a property? Is it just for you, or are family and friends coming to visit important (if you live miles from the beach expect to do a lot of driving unless they hire a car when they come to visit you!)
- Do you intend to live full-time in your property or do you hope to rent it out too? A popular holiday location for rentals might be a very different prospect than your preferred ‘permanent home’ location – that is unless you like a ‘holiday’ lifestyle all year round.
Remember that the reasonably quiet coastal resort with its bars and restaurants that seemed quite jolly in the quiet October sunshine will become a magnet for holidaymakers in the summer – and that those same bars will still be open and playing music until at least 1 a.m. Similarly, the quaint pretty village overlooking the beach may all but shut down in the winter months, leaving you feeling a little isolated.
Have a look at Armação de Pêra or Lagos if you would like to find a busy coastal resort that will still give you some room on the beach in August or try Burgau in the west for a quieter beach village.
There are many pretty villages in the Algarve that are very appealing, and many are only a short drive away from the beach. Most have basic amenities like a small shop, all will have at least 2 or 3 cafés and probably a couple of restaurants. Remember though that the further away from the coast and tourist resorts that you travel, the less likely it is that the local people will speak anything other than Portuguese, meaning that you will need to learn the language if you want to fit in. You will also need to be able to drive and own a car if you don’t want to have to rely on patchy local transport as all the major shops, supermarkets and the beach will all be a drive away. Try Alte or Salir if you would like to experience real village life without being too isolated.
A larger town or village may appeal to you for many reasons, better facilities and amenities will be on your doorstep and including local healthcare, pharmacies, sports and fitness and a wider range of shops, bars and restaurants will all be within walking distance for you. There will also be a larger ‘expat’ community available for you to tap into, with groups and clubs to join. Transport links will also be better, although all roads eventually lead to the A22 motorway or N125 road here in the Algarve. Try Silves, Loulé, Olhão or Tavira if you would like to find a larger town with plenty to keep you occupied.
Purpose-built resorts, often surrounded by at least one prime golf course, offer many high-quality facilities on site for you to use. Do check out the monthly or annual fees in advance before you decide and add those to your planned budget though. Full gym and fitness facilities, indoor and outdoor pools – often heated – tennis courts, children’s play areas, landscaped and maintained grounds, and a clubhouse and restaurants can all be on your doorstep. You don’t have to like golf to live there!
There are many golf resorts on the Algarve with accommodation available to purchase on the resort. These can be a good investment for the ‘part-time’ dweller – some offer a 1/4 share purchase, which means that you can stay in your ‘home’ for 3 months of the year. Many have a ‘rolling programme’ so that ‘your’ months will change each year – but remember unless you can swop with another owner, you can only visit during ‘your’ months, so if your big 50th birthday is in July next year, but you have been allocated June, you won’t be able to stay in your home to celebrate your big day – something to consider before you sign on the dotted line!
For the ultimate in luxury and security, there are several private gated communities scattered across the Algarve, where you can rub shoulders with pop stars and footballers and experience a very different way of life. Luxury properties can be found from 1.5M euros to 25M euros and will ensure that you experience the ultimate in luxurious living in the sunshine. Try the Vale do Lobo area or the famed wider ‘Golden Triangle’ area as a starter for prestigious villas.
There are also eco-resorts springing up in the Algarve, with an emphasis on environmental and sustainable living, with many winning awards for design and innovation. Luxury villas are available with minimal running costs that stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter within an estate with an environmental ethos.
You could also consider exploring the west coast of the Algarve, with its pretty beach villages, quieter pace of life and stunning coastline. It does get colder there in the winter though. Try Odeceixe if you are keen on surfing and a laid-back way of life.
For real rural countryside living, you don’t have to travel too far from the coast to discover a peaceful and tranquil existence. Buy a plot of land and have a house built to your specifications or find an old dilapidated property to renovate. Expect to contend with a borehole for your water supply – and at best a patchy internet signal… not recommended if you want to run an online internet-based business! You will probably be surrounded by orange groves, chickens, and a noisy cockerel or two! Head towards the north of the region where the Algarve meets the Alentejo for some real rural living.
Whether you want to buy an apartment, modern build house, or luxury villa; the Algarve has so many properties for sale that you are bound to find what you are looking for.
Spending time deciding whether you want to live in a town, coastal resort, village, beach or countryside – how far away from basic amenities you are happy to be situated – and what facilities like healthcare, fitness, schooling, shops, restaurants, and public transport are important to you – can all help you to make the right decision and help you to find your dream home in the Algarve sun.
Happy house hunting!
(A shortened version of this post was included in the Living the Portugal Dream blog)
About the Author
Alyson Sheldrake is the author of the award-winning and popular Algarve Blog, and has also been a keynote speaker for several years at the annual ‘Live and Invest in Portugal’ international conference.
She is an accomplished and sought-after artist working alongside her husband Dave, a professional photographer. They moved to the Algarve to live in 2011, having fallen in love with the region and bought a home there many years previously.
She has just released her book ‘Living the Dream – in the Algarve, Portugal’ which is full of useful advice, enjoyable adventures and hilarious accounts of their Algarve life in the sun.
You can discover more about the book, including links on where to purchase, and view a free Photo Album to accompany the book, via the Algarve Blog website:
The book is available on Amazon in paperback, Large Print Edition, and eBook version.
You can also connect with Alyson via the Expats Portugal forum. Her nickname @alyson.