Answers to all Your Algarve Questions
Here are some of the most popular questions, along with the answers we are asked regarding living in the Algarve. Feel free to get in touch if you have any you would like added. Most of the topics are answered in full in our latest news section. However, you can find the links to the relevant articles in the answers below for more information.
The cold winter in the Algarve runs from the beginning of December to the end of January, so a short period compared to many other European countries. The sun is normally still shining and warm until the end of November and begins again from around the middle of February, the temperatures start to rise again after a few months of a cold snap in December and January. During the daytime, the temperatures can still reach a warm 16-25°C however it can get a little chilly in the mornings and late evening with temperatures dropping to lows of 5-10°C. However, don’t expect any white Christmases, although snow has fallen at the highest point up in the mountains of Monchique many years ago, it has been almost 20 years since it hit the coastal areas.
Covid Measures Implemented in Portugal Updated on 27 April 2023
With the Algarve tourism industry back to somewhere near normal and visitors planning to visit the region this year, we thought it a good idea to clarify the latest rules and regulations regarding entry into Portugal concerning the Covid measures currently in force for visitors wanting to enter the country.
The Latest Good News for Visitors to Portugal
Great news if you’re planning to visit Portugal, including the Algarve, Azores and Madeira! You’ll be happy to know that you no longer need to provide a negative COVID test or present a COVID-EU digital or vaccination/recovery certificate from a third country accepted or recognised in Portugal. Learn More about the Covid situation in Portugal here.
Getting around the Algarve is very easy and also inexpensive whichever mode you choose. We find the easiest and most convenient way to get around the Algarve is by car. This is the quickest way to travel between towns and cities.
If you don’t have your own car there are plenty of hire companies across the region. They are quite expensive during the summer months but out of peak season, you can find cheap deals.
There are three main bus companies operating in the Algarve region, You can buy tickets at the bus stations online, or pay the driver. You can catch a bus to all the main towns and cities in the Algarve. Ubers are cheap and in abundance, there are also lots of normal taxis but tend to be a little more expensive.
The train line runs between Lagos and Vila Real de Santo António, so it’s quite easy to get from the west of the Algarve to the east.
Obviously, the first and easiest way to reach the Algarve is by plane. With regular flights from the UK and most European cities, the Algarve is very accessible to everyone. The best airport to fly to is Faro, alternatives within a 2-hour drive include Lisbon other options include Seville and Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.
There are direct flights to Faro from most UK airports with Ryanair, Easyjet, British Airways, Tui, BA City Flyer, Wizz Air UK and Qatar Airways. Most are reasonably priced apart from during the school holidays of course! In winter flights can be picked up for as little as £10 with Ryanair!
Other modes of transport include driving, again there are many routes for ferry crossings and of course the channel tunnel route. The ferry from Dover to Calais only takes 90 minutes, whereas from Southampton or Plymouth down to Santander or Bilbao it takes between 20-30 hours depending on the operator and starting point. The most popular carrier would be Brittany Ferries and prices range from £240-400 depending on the season.
Fortunately, Portugal does have an outstanding record for welcoming ex-pats. The conditions for foreigners getting a mortgage are more or less straightforward.
If you are a foreigner or non-resident of Portugal looking to buy Algarve property and are looking to do so with a mortgage to finance the purchase, now is a great time to do so as the banks are now lending again due to the economic recovery in Portugal and the solid state of the property market.
For the most part, mortgages are the most popular way to finance buying a property in Portugal. Not only can residents apply for a mortgage from Portuguese banks but non-residents are also able.
The current variable mortgage rate in Portugal starts at approximately 3.3% per year based on a 30% loan to the overall value of the property.
Those rates can increase if you require more finance for instance 60% to 70% loan to property value. If you are looking for fixed rates they are available at around 4.1% for up to 5 years based on loan-to-value ratios of up to 70%.
The length of time it takes to buy a house in the Algarve can vary, depending on the complexity of the sale, the availability of financing, and the presence of any legal or bureaucratic obstacles. On average, it may take anywhere from a few months to a year to complete the process of buying a house in Portugal.
Below is a brief outline of the steps involved in buying a house in the Algarve:
Firstly work out your budget and financing options: You’ll need to determine how much you can afford to spend on a property and whether you will need to acquire a mortgage.
Find a knowledgeable Algarve estate agent: Working with a local estate agent who is familiar with the Algarve property market can be helpful in ensuring everything goes smoothly.
Start your search for properties: Once you have a general idea of your budget and financing options, you can start searching for properties that meet your criteria.
Schedule viewings of eligible properties: If you find a property that interests you, you will want to schedule a viewing so you can get a better sense of the property, its condition and its location.
Make a formal offer: If you decide to make an offer on a property, your Algarve estate agent can help you negotiate the terms of the sale.
Conduct due diligence: Before finalizing the purchase, you’ll want to conduct due diligence to make sure there are no unexpected problems with the property, such as outstanding debts or legal disputes.
Sign a purchase agreement: If both parties agree to the terms of the sale, you will sign a purchase agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.
Complete the sale: After signing the purchase agreement, you will need to complete the sale by arranging the transfer of the funds for the purchase price. You can then register the property in your name.
The process of buying a house in the Algarve can take several months, sometimes a little longer, depending on the condition of the sale and any legal or bureaucratic obstacles.
In our humble opinion yes!
So the short answer is yes, property prices have been on the increase for the last 20 yrs and show no signs of stopping. We see plots of land for sale at the same price as a prebuilt property in the same condominium and same size plot 15 yrs ago!
With so few Algarve properties for sale in the marketplace, prices are at a premium and will continue to be so. Throw into the equation the shortage of Algarve real estate in the most desirable areas and the time it takes to build new developments, and there is no reason to think otherwise.
If you are seriously thinking about investing in an Algarve property then read on for a more detailed look at the current situation and the forecast for the following year in this article “Is now the right time to buy in the Algarve“.
Once you’ve found your dream home and are ready to make an offer, the actual ‘Buying Process’ in Portugal may seem daunting if you are unfamiliar with what’s involved.
Instructing A Lawyer
It is highly recommended that you use a Portuguese property lawyer to assist with purchasing a property in Portugal.
If you are taking out a mortgage on the property, a valuation will be carried out by the mortgage lender.
Fiscal Number (Numero de Contribuinte)
You must apply for a ‘fiscal number’, which your lawyer can obtain for a small fee on your behalf.
Promissory Contract (Contrato Promessa de Compra e Venda)
Once a price has been agreed between you, the purchaser, and the property seller, you can sign a ‘Promissory Contract’.
Final Deed (Escritura de Compra e Venda)
This is the completion of the property purchase, where the balance of the price is paid, and the ownership is transferred.
Check here for our complete guide to buying a property in the Algarve
Algarve Property Searches
It is still possible to find a cheap property in the Algarve, here are the best places to look.
The further you move away from the sea and tourist locations the cheaper the price gets.
It seems the further you move from Faro airport the cheaper the properties get.
Searching for properties outside of cities, towns and villages can unearth some cheaper properties.
Properties in need of renovation or updating can throw up some cheap options.
Buying a plot of land in the Algarve and building your own house can be cheaper than buying an existing property.
Buying a turnkey project can work out cheaper than buying an existing property.
Buying off-plan from constructors, before the project has been started, can be 10-30% cheaper than the finished property.
Owners of properties that have been on the market for some time are often open to negotiating a cheaper price. It is always worth a chance and even if the reply is negative it costs nothing.
Look out for bank repossessions for sale in the Algarve, they are normally sold at 10-20% cheaper than the market value.
Recently reduced Algarve properties are another great way to pick up a cheaper property.
To find a repossessed bank property for sale in the Algarve you can find a selection of bank-owned properties for sale on our website or directly from banks in some cases.
While bank-repossessed properties for sale in the Algarve are not as popular and widespread as in other countries, there are still quite a few to be found.
When the owners’ circumstances suddenly change at home, unfortunately, the holiday home is the first to suffer, hence the banks repossess the property to sell in order to cover the cost of the mortgage taken out.
If you are searching for repossessed properties for sale in the Algarve then we at Gatehouse International are here to help.
With many bargain-priced villas and apartments that have been repossessed by the banks for sale in the Algarve, it’s a great way to get a bargain.
Algarve Investment Property
For many people buying Algarve real estate as a long-term investment may be a daunting thought and most would be hesitant to consider this as a viable long-term investment.
Buying a property in another country can seem a complicated process especially when you do not speak the native language and are unsure of the process.
However, owning property has always had a steady historical track record and is not as volatile as other investments can be. Find out why we think Algarve property is a good investment.
Also, we here at Gatehouse International Algarve with our network of professionals are here to help with every step in the process of purchasing your dream Algarve home.
Any investor who has not seriously considered buying property as a portfolio option should take a closer look at the benefits of owning Algarve property and why it could be the best option for a long-term investment strategy.
Competitive home prices combined with one go the lowest interest rates in Europe make this a great time to purchase property in the Algarve as an investment property. One of the most popular property investments is rental homes for short-term holidays or long-term rentals. Investing in Algarve rental property can be profitable. Read our complete guide on how to find an investment property to use as rental income.
If you are interested in buying rental property in the Algarve, we can help. Contact Gatehouse International Algarve for more information.
Living in the Algarve
If you are a family thinking of moving to the Algarve one of the most important criteria on your list of prerequisites may be finding an International School for the children.
Bearing in mind that Portuguese schools are free but pupils are expected to speak the native language which can be a barrier for most kids.
In International Schools, the first language is English with Portuguese taught as the second language. However, as with all things good, there is a price to pay.
The cost varies from school to school but if you can afford the fees it is a great option and comes without the difficulty of the language barrier.
Although some would argue it is far better to throw them in the deep end in thinking that they will learn the language much quicker.
There are 14 Algarve International Schools on offer at present across the Algarve region so you will find a nearby International School nearby whichever location you choose to relocate to you.
The Portuguese public education system provides schooling free of charge to all residents and is compulsory for children aged 6 to 18 years of age.
Basic School / Ensino Básico, 1º ciclo
Years 1 – 4 are for children aged 6 – 10.
Children are taught basic Portuguese, Maths, Science, and Art.
Basic English is generally taught from years 3 to 4. However, it is often available earlier as an after-school activity.
The school generally beings at 8:30 am and ends at 3.30 pm. Find out more about the Public School Education System in Portugal.
Basic School / Ensino básico 2º ciclo
Years 5 and 6 are for children aged 10 – 12.
Learning includes Portuguese, English, maths, PE, history, geography, sciences, visual & IT education and music.
Basic School / Ensino Básico 3º ciclo
Years 7 to 9 are for children aged 13 – 15.
Lessons include Portuguese, English, maths, a choice of second foreign language (Spanish, French, or German), history, geography, chemistry, physics and PE.
Secondary Education / High School
Years 10 – 12 are for children aged 15 – 18.
Moving to the Algarve with older children can throw up many problems, one being the higher education offered in the region for university courses.
With plenty of options for kids under 18, including international and Portuguese public schools, unfortunately, the choices do become limited after that age.
The University of Algarve is the only public university in the Algarve region of Portugal. It offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs in fields such as business, tourism, marine biology, environmental science and more.
In addition, some private higher education institutions offer courses in various fields, including hospitality, business, and sciences.
Founded in 1979, it is a Portuguese public higher education institution located in 3 cities of the Algarve. It has its headquarters and two out of its three campuses in Faro (namely the Gambelas and Penha), another campus in Portimão and one in Lagos.
The university has four faculties Tourism and Maritime Technology, Science and Technology, Health Sciences and Economics.
However, if you are willing to go further afield, there are some excellent Universities in other areas.
According to many tourist magazines, Vilamoura is the best tourist destination in Portugal, and some even say Europe. It is a high-class destination, associated with a sophisticated lifestyle, but at the same time relaxing. Only 30 minutes from Faro International Airport, Vilamoura meets all the criteria for a great holiday destination or a place to call home for the more fortunate.
Enjoying such a privileged position, Vilamoura is a quiet and peaceful resort suited to all tastes and complemented by numerous natural attractions, beaches, and the beautiful white sandy coastline that stretches for miles. However, the centrepiece has to be the manmade “Marina de Vilamoura” inaugurated in 1974. It was built around a natural harbour and is quite rightly considered the most beautiful place in town, mainly when lit up in the evening.
Read more about the Algarve resort Vilamoura and what it has to offer.