Moving to the Algarve
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Ah, the Algarve: sandy beaches, quaint coastal villages, temperate climate. It's no wonder why the Algarve on Portugal's southern coast is so popular with expatriates. Making a move to the Algarve is increasingly popular with Brits – and as the expat community in the Algarve grows, so do the English speakers, making a transition from Britain to the Algarve even easier than before. If you're thinking about moving to the Algarve, here are a few tips to make a smooth transition.

The Cost of Living in Portugal

One reason that the Algarve (and Portugal in general) is becoming popular with British expats is the relatively low cost of living compared to other places in Western Europe. In general, the average couple living in the Algarve can comfortably get by on less than 2,000 Euros per month. In fact, a joint income of 1,000 to 1,500 Euros per month will be plenty for most expatriates.

Earning a Living in the Algarve

Yet, despite the fact that living in Portugal is less expensive than living in Britain, money and job availability is the number one reason why expatriates move back home. Therefore, before making the leap, consider how you will support yourself in your new home. First, if you have already had a long and successful career and plan on moving to Portugal to retire, meet with your financial advisor first to see what you can reasonably afford based on your retirement savings. You might be surprised that your savings will not get you as far or last as long as you had hoped. Making a few simple lifestyle choices, such as choosing a smaller home or a less expensive town, will also determine how long your retirement savings will take you.

If you're not already at retirement age and will be looking for a job in Portugal, consider whether or not you can keep your existing job and telecommute to Britain. This is a great option for freelancers, as the Algarve's expatriate community ensures broadband internet connections that are fairly widely available in the region. If you do decide to find work in Portugal, set to work learning Portuguese. While the acceptance of English in the Algarve is growing, job seekers in Portugal definitely need to be willing to learn the language.

Another job opportunity in the Algarve is teaching English as a second language. If you decide to pursue this route of employment, you'll need to become certified to teach English as a second language first. When searching for an English teaching position, research the school you will be working for and the contract they present to you very carefully: as many English teachers tend to be young people without much money looking for an adventure abroad, certain schools are notorious for taking advantage of English teachers and sticking them in poor accommodations or not providing them with the support they need.

Finding a Home in the Algarve

Once you've figured out how you'll be supporting yourself in the Algarve, it's time to find a place to live. Thanks to the global economic crisis, housing in the Algarve has been at record lows this year, making it a great time to purchase a home. However, because the expatriate community is growing in the Algarve and tourism there is already a major industry, villas and homes designed for holidaymakers tend to still be overvalued: buyer beware. Housing is still the most expensive part of a relocation to the Algarve.

If you do plan on buying a home rather than renting, be sure to find a Portuguese real estate agent who is government licensed.

Other Factors to Consider

Health care: Health care in Portugal is free for all residents, including hospital treatments and visits to the family doctor. However, the health care quality in Portugal is generally not as high as it is in Britain or other parts of western Europe. For those individuals dealing with chronic health issues, this is definitely one factor to weigh when considering a relocation to the Algarve.

Schools: In the Algarve there are a few English primary schools, including Barlavento Primary School in Espiche and VVIS International School Algarve in Luz-Bargau. However, the local public schools, while not always English-speaking, have a good reputation amongst expats and are generally regarded as a very good place for children to receive their education. Furthermore, the preschools throughout Portugal are considered some of the best in the world.

UK Pensions: Good news for retirees – pensions and benefits can be paid directly into a Portuguese bank account. To find out more, contact the Pensions and Overseas Directorate in Newcastle.

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