The Portuguese archipelago of Madeira has two inhabited islands – Porto Santo and Madeira Island. – and if you like the thought of living in Portugal but hate the thought of living in the Algarve, one alternative is moving to Madeira.
If you want long sandy beaches you should choose Porto Santo, but if you want the most stunning landscapes and a slightly easier transition abroad you may well favour Madeira Island and living in or near the capital city of Funchal where English is widely spoken or at least understood, and where you will find the highest concentration of expats.
Many articles and even whole websites focus quite closely on living in Portugal on the mainland, but few are dedicated to life in Madeira, and because the archipelago’s feel is really quite different to that of the mainland, we thought we’d tell you a little more about what to expect.
Those who favour Portugal over Spain for example will tell you that they do so because the Portuguese people are genuinely so welcoming and there is less of an obsession with property and money in Portugal than there can tend to be in Spain. Well, if you add to this a more stunning landscape, a more dramatic coastline and even a better climate, you’re likely to be looking at Madeira rather than the Algarve!
Geographically located off the coast of Africa, Madeira is certainly European. The currency is the euro, the culture is European and politically speaking Madeira is 100% Portuguese. And yet the climate is sub-tropical with temperatures rarely dropping below 20 degrees centigrade even in the winter, and a high level of rainfall in the mountainous interior ensures the island is very green for the majority of the year.
Dominated by stunning mountains and dramatic sea cliffs, Madeira Island is the most popular island with expats thinking about moving to live in Portugal and seeking an alternative location to the Algarve which is well populated with Brits and golf courses! Most inhabitants of Madeira Island live on or near to the coast, and the vast majority of properties that expats favour are blessed with the most incredible Atlantic Ocean and mountain views. The climate, the landscape, the genuinely laid back and friendly people all make Madeira an increasingly popular choice for those seeking a real alternative location overseas.
There are a few downsides that come with moving to Madeira though – for example the pace of life is SO laid back that anything involving formalities and red tape such as sorting your residency out can take an awfully long time and require a great deal of patience! In addition to this the Portuguese language is famously impossible to learn! On Madeira Island you are also more likely to have stony beaches rather than sandy one – but then Porto Santo is blessed with a famous 9km sandy beach! And finally on the negative side of things employment can be tricky to come by and low paid if you don’t speak Portuguese and/or are not in a professional role.
The good points of moving to Madeira most certainly outweigh the bad. The cost of living is lower than in the UK, property is still more affordable than in most parts of the UK, the pace of life is slower, there are fantastic celebrations across the island on high-days and holidays such as Christmas and New Year, the food is excellent, the weather amazing, leisure and social pursuits are very varied and widely available, you can get some English TV and radio channels, broadband internet is widely available and there is a good balance between the number of international expats and local Madeirans who all call Madeira home.
If you love Portugal but thought the only place you could consider moving to and feeling at home was the Algarve, think again. There is more to Portugal than either the Algarve or even the mainland – look at Madeira if you want a more exotic, more laid back and possibly more interesting location to move abroad to.