Living in Albufeira: The Algarve beach paradise
Viv Europe-Official Legal and Relocation Partner to KipperTree
16 03 2023
Although formerly popular as a fishing hub, Albufeira has made major leaps as far as development is concerned. It has only taken this beautiful coastal town about 40 years to move from a small fishing village to one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the Algarve and Portugal as a whole.
Albufeira is a city full of life featuring plenty of beaches, restaurants, and bars. With a population of roughly 50,000 residents, the population quickly grows to close to 300,000 during summer, this goes to show you how popular this city is.
There is no doubt that Albufeira is among the most sought-after cities in the Algarve, and because of that, we are going to dig deep and uncover what living in Albufeira is like. This should help you know what to expect if moving to Albufeira is in your future plans. Tag along to find out more.
What is it like living in Albufeira?
Ever wondered what living in a coastal town that is most active throughout the year would be like? Well, this is Albufeira for you! This town is strategically located right at the centre of the Algarve giving you quick access to the eastern and western extremes of the Algarve.
What’s more, you will also be pleasantly surprised to find out that the capital of Portugal; Lisbon, is only two hours away from Albufeira. Now if this doesn’t excite you, then I don’t know what will! It goes without saying that the Algarve as a whole is a tourist destination, the number of tourists that visit this city is astonishing, especially over summer and spring.
Because of this, there are plenty of things to do in Albufeira. You can go and play a round or two of golf, visit the sand sculptures, or go down to the beach on a lazy afternoon.
It is also worth mentioning there is a good number of ex-pats that also call specifically Albufeira home. There is so much that Albufeira has to offer, and the promise of warm and sunny weather all year round is just but a few exciting things that you should know about this beach paradise in the Algarve.
Who lives in Albufeira?
Albufeira is a tourist hub that also turned into a small international community in its own right. There are plenty of locals and ex-pats who equally call this city home.
According to official data from Pordata, in 2020, 39% of residents in Albufeira were foreigners. This place is one of the main ex-pat centres in Portugal!
Why are ex-pats moving to Portugal?
Portugal is still a hot topic among travel communities not only in Europe but across the globe. Often referred to as the California of Europe, Portugal is a tourist and ex-pat magnet for all the right reasons. To begin, the cost of living in Portugal is relatively lower compared to the other European and North American nations.
To put this into perspective, data from Numbeo details that the cost of living in Portugal is 37.71% less compared to the US
But this is not all, the friendly local community and good all-year weather give ex-pats from all over the world a good environment to live a quality life.
There is something for everyone in Portugal, right from the warm sandy beaches of the Algarve to the beautiful landscapes of Madeira, you can be sure that there will be an activity that you will be interested in.
Cost of living in Albufeira
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the cost of living in Albufeira is relatively higher than in most cities in Portugal. The cost of living in the Algarve is considered low for ex-pats, but high for the Portuguese.
Coastal tourist hubs are usually more expensive especially when it comes to renting as compared to other inland cities in Portugal. The purchasing power of tourists and ex-pats from other countries drives up the prices of most commodities.
However, it is also important to mention that how much you will live off per month largely depends on your individual spending habits. Nonetheless, here is a breakdown of some of the common commodities and their respective prices in Albufeira.
Buying a house in Albufeira
The cost of buying or renting a house in Albufeira depends on the specific town that you are interested in. There is no one cost for all mentality when it comes to either purchasing or renting a house. According to Idealista, the average cost of renting a house in Albufeira is 10.5 €/m2. Therefore, the bigger the house, the higher the cost of rent per month.
The property market in Albufeira consists of luxurious villa homes and also regular properties that are within reach for many people.
Here is a breakdown of the cost of purchasing property in some of the popular towns within Albufeira.
Best neighbourhoods to live in Albufeira
There are plenty of neighbourhoods within Albufeira that sometimes can be difficult to choose where you should settle. Here are some of the popular neighbourhoods within the coastal paradise of Albufeira.
Albufeira and Olhos D’Água
The central neighbourhood of the city is also called Albufeira, and it’s where you’ll find the charming white-washed buildings with old Portuguese ladies at the windows overlooking the sea. As time goes by and tourism grows, however, this area is becoming more and more touristic.
Olhos D’Água is a beautiful resort town right in the centre of Albufeira with a population of just over 26,000. It is historically known as a major fishing town but has since developed into an attractive tourist hub. Its strategic location close to Portugal’s finest beaches makes this town attractive to both tourists and ex-pats who love the coastal life.
In contrast to Olhos D’Água, Guia is rather small with a population of about 5000 residents. This small municipality in Albufeira compensates for this lack of size with immense beauty. Although a little inland from the coast, the land in Guia gives you the perfect experience of a beautiful countryside vibe without going too far away from the sea.
This is another smaller neighbourhood in Albufeira covering only about 21 square kilometres. It is slightly bigger than Guia with a population of over 6000 residents. It is about 5 kilometres from the coast giving you easy access to the sea and also ample living space further inland.
This is another popular neighbourhood within Albufeira that you ought to put into consideration. While it is larger in terms of square footage (52.56 km²), it has the lowest population density compared to the aforementioned neighbourhoods of slightly over 3000 residents.
Public Transport in Albufeira
Moving around Albufeira is easy thanks to the several public transport options available. However, the popular means of moving around the city is via the public buses better referred to as ‘the Giro’. This local bus network plies 5 different routes and is easily recognized by the colour difference of the buses. Another possible public transportation option is via the train. Trains in Albufeira are ideal especially when travelling to the west or east of the Algarve or even to the north of the country. It is however worth mentioning that if your intention is to have an efficient trip to other parts of the Algarve, having a private vehicle will be very convenient for you.
The labour market in the city
It is no secret that tourism plays a huge part in the economy of Portugal. In this regard, since Albufeira is a tourism hub, the tourism industry is the biggest employer in the city. Therefore, when looking for active employment, it is best to concentrate your search on the tourism sector. However, you should know that Albufeira offers the perfect environment for digital nomads. Everything you would want as a digital nomad is at your disposal, for instance, fast internet, a calm working environment, and also untaxed proceeds from digital currencies.
Safety in Albufeira
Portugal is one of the safest destinations in Europe. In fact, Portugal is ranked fourth according to the 2021 global peace index. First off, the residents are very friendly to foreign nationals and will go out of their way to help. Also, in a tourist hub like the Algarve English is widely spoken making it easy for you to get by and settle in with ease. It is important to note that safety starts with you! You have to be aware of your environment and be cautious of how and where you place your items. While Portugal is quite safe, there are isolated incidents of petty theft like pickpocketing and muggings. Other than that, you will find life quite calm and peaceful during your stay in Albufeira.
Healthcare and education
Access to reliable healthcare is a major consideration when deciding whether a particular place is ideal for long-term settlement or not. In the case of Albufeira, there are several private hospitals and public clinics nearby that you can visit. However, it is worth mentioning that public hospitals are only available in neighbouring cities like Faro and Portimao. As far as education is concerned, there are several international schools within Albufeira that offer proper education at all levels.
Leisure and nightlife in Albufeira
While Albufeira fails in other things, this coastal city compensates in other ways like providing plenty of things to do for every age group. One option that you ought to explore is walking down the mosaic-tiled streets of the old town and getting to interact with locals and also experience the local cuisine in the small family-friendly restaurants. From the old town, you can easily access the nearest beach dubbed the ‘tunnel beach’ since you have to go through a tunnel to get there.
There are also several family entertainment joints like the Zoomarine park that offer seal and dolphin shows perfect for a family outing. Furthermore, your children will also get the rare opportunity to swim with dolphins in a safe and controlled environment. However, if you are into the exhilarating urban nightlife, then you have to pay a visit to ‘the Oura Strip’, which is the liveliest part of Albufeira. The strip is a small busy place packed with the conveniences of a big city, for instance, tattoo parlours, nightclubs, and fast-food restaurants. If you are looking for a place to dance and party the night away, then ‘The Strip’ beckons.
Living in other cities in the Algarve
Albufeira is just one among many cities in the Algarve. Therefore, if this coastal paradise is not for you, here are other options that you can consider.
This historical city which is also the capital of the Algarve region is not only rich in culture but is also home to several tourist attraction sites. While it is popular because of the Faro airport, the capital of this city has so much to offer its residents. Living in Faro will present you with amazing views of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and all the infrastructure you may need. Universities, hospitals, malls, and more.
Located in the southern Algarve, Lagos is the perfect place to explore what this side of Portugal has to offer both inland and in the sea. There are plenty of cliffs perfect for photography and also long sandy beaches for walks during the sunset. Lately, Lagos has become one of the best places to work remotely in Portugal. Digital nomads enjoy Lagos’ many co-working spaces around town, and the large ex-pat community too. Not to mention the stunning views of some of the best beaches in the Algarve – or in all of Europe.
This is the smallest city within the Algarve region that offers ex-pats the unique opportunity to interact with the traditional Portuguese heritage. Tavira is known for being one of the most beautiful cities, if not the most beautiful, in the entire Algarve.
Tavira is an ex-pat favourite place to live in the AlgarveBetween the river, the bridges, and clean and organized old streets, the city is very charming and is already an old point of interest for tourists, especially those who choose to stay in Tavira and settle down. There are several churches and many family-run restaurants perfect for a family meal.
For those who want to get as close to the sea as possible, then Portimão is the place for you. Portimão is the port city of the Algarve region and is popular for the busy marinas. It is also the biggest city in the western Algarve and was formerly popular for shipbuilding and the fishing industry. However, tourism has slowly replaced these activities, and Portimão is now a major tourist hub as well. You’ll find anything you need here. While the weather is pleasant, events happen throughout the year, and the prices are lower than in other big cities in the Algarve.
Loulé is a must-visit especially if you are in the Algarve, but is also a hub for ex-pats. Many foreigners live around Loulé, especially in the luxury condo Vilamoura. Besides having plenty of authentic stalls that sell fresh, natural produce from the land and the sea at the Loulé market, a beautiful Arabian-covered building, the city is complete and has its hectic life all year round, even without being the focus of tourists.
Pros and Cons of living in Albufeira
Similar to any other place around the world, Albufeira has its good and bad sides. Here are some of the pros and cons that you should know about this beautiful city.
The city is beautiful with a lot of things to do
Relatively lower cost of living than other European countries
Most people speak English
Good weather all year-round
Albufeira is a victim of over-tourism in Portugal
Overvalued real estate
What should an ex-pat think about living in Albufeira?
Albufeira is a lovely city that is worth paying a visit to and also immigrating to. There are plenty of attraction sites that fit people of every age group. Also, the weather is fair all year round including the mild winter seasons as well. If you are looking for a fun place to anchor down, then Albufeira should be at the top of your priority list.
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