Moving to the Algarve

Portugal has become quite a hotspot for moving and retiring in the past year, specifically for those coming from America. One particularly sought after destination is the Southern coast, known as the Algarve.

If you’re moving to Portugal and are looking for a sunny beach spot, you won’t find one better than the Algarve. It’s Portugal’s closest point to the equator, just at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, so it’s always sunny, breezy, and just overall lovely. In fact, it’s consistently ranked as the best place to retire (International Living, 2020).

If you’re already headed there and looking for a way to get your stuff over there with you, fill out our form and get some free quotes from shipping companies.

Cost of shipping to the Algarve from the US

As nice as it would be to drop everything and start a new life as a captain of a small Portugese sailing vessel, sometimes our attachment to the material world is just too much, and you might want to bring your belongings with you.

If that’s the case, you might be looking at another kind of vessel – an international shipping freighter – and wondering the cost of such an operation. Well, wonder no more!

Let’s estimate that your belongings fall around the average cost of the contents of a three-bedroom household, which, according to Admiral Insurance, is around $53,000.

The shipping rates themselves are from World Freight Rates, based off the sea freight rates for a 20ft container of used furniture. The duration of the trip is sourced from SeaRates.

OriginDestination20ft Container CostDuration
New York City, USASines, Portugal$1,257.4414 days
Los Angeles, USASines, Portugal$3,052.6727 days

Data updated as of August 2020

Cost of flying goods to the Algarve from the US

There are some cases where speed can be a factor. If you want/need your belongings as soon as possible, you might want to consider using a flight service instead of shipping. While this is faster, it’s also considerably more expensive. Sometimes it can be up to 18x moreso.

There is an airport right in the middle of the Algarve known as Faro, so that’s where we’ll be landing. These estimates are based on a single meter-cubed 250kg container of household goods. Keep in mind, it’s a lot harder to transport a heavier shipment by air than by sea.

New York, USAFaro, Portugal$2,705.42
Los Angeles, USAFaro, Portugal$2,705.42

Data updated as of August 2020

Healthcare in the Algarve

Portugal has a well funded government healthcare program. It isn’t entirely free, but you won’t be going into debt to pay any medical fees. As far as quality goes, it’s ranked 13th in Europe, above the UK, Spain, and Italy.

Firstly, children and seniors do have free medical care. Under 18s and over 65s are covered with whatever procedure they need. Everyone in between may find themselves spending a bit here or there, but it will all be fairly priced and subsidized by the National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde, SNS).

If you don’t want to rely on the public system, however, you could always set up your own private plan. Cigna offers private international health plans that you can customize to your liking. Sign up today!

Algarve Beach

There's so much coastline in the Algarve that beaches like this are commonplace

Cost of living in the Algarve

Once you’re settled in your ocean view vista, it’s important to know how much you’ll be spending, especially if you’re a retiree without an income. Here’s a table of some basic daily purchases you might be making, and how they compare with the average US cost.

Basic groceries (milk, bread, eggs, cheese)$12.12$20.01
Basic restaurant meal$8.85$15.00
Single beer$2.36$2.84
Movie ticket$8.26$12.00
Monthly gym membership$38.41$36.11

Data from Numbeo. Updated as of August 2020

Portugal’s cost of living is significantly lower than America’s. Almost everything is far cheaper on average, so it’s a great place to retire as an expat with a lot of savings. However, if you’re working and have yet to save up a lot of money, this low cost of living will be slightly offset by Portugal’s low average salary, discussed below.

Transferring money to Portugal from the US

If you’re thinking of moving to Portugal, you’ll probably need to convert some of your American dollars into euros.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Wise, an easy-to-use online international money transfer service which uses the real exchange rate, and charges low fees.

How much could you save? Well, its service can be up to 8x cheaper than high street banks.

Join more than 7 million people and start using Wise today.

Working in the Algarve

While the Algarve is a massive hotspot for retirees, you might be going there looking for work. Make no mistake, despite the large retired population, there’s still a lot of work to be done in the Algarve. So if you’re looking to enter the realm of hospitality, or if you’re looking for something more office-based, you’ll still be able to find employment if you play your cards right.

Getting a work visa for the Algarve

If you’re not a European citizen, you’ll need a work visa to be able to work in Portugal. If you’re moving to Portugal specifically for your job, you’ll have been sponsored by your company and they’ll cover all the paperwork.

But if you’re waiting to get there to get a job, you’ll need to secure a work visa. Provided you find a job, it’s actually not too hard to enroll for a visa. As of last year, you can even apply online. As long as you aren’t an active outlaw and have your potential workplace vouch for you, you’ll be in the clear.

As far as vouching goes, as long as you’re not looking for an easily replaceable position, like a waiter or bartender, a company will most likely take the time to stick up for you.

Algarve Woman

Haven't you ever wanted to do this? Go to the Algarve and you'll have the chance!

Average salary in the Algarve

Portugal’s minimum wage is €4.38 an hour, hitting a monthly €700 on a 40-hour work week. However, the country-wide average clocks in at around €25,000.

Income tax in the Algarve

Like most countries, income tax in Portugal is not a flat rate. The more you earn, the higher your percentage of income goes back to the country.

The starting tax rate is 14.5% (covering all salaries up to €7,112), while the highest tax rate is 48%, imposed on anyone who makes over €80,882.

Job-hunting in the Algarve

The first thing you’ll want to do when trying to land a job in Portugal is to learn Portuguese. Beyond that, tools you’d normally use in America, like LinkedIn or Indeed, are just as useful in Portugal.

If you’re not looking for a particularly skilled job, Portugal is always on the lookout for anyone who can fill hospitality jobs, like hotel or restaurant staff, especially in a tourist hotspot like the Algarve. Your English would definitely help you land one of these.

Climate in the Algarve

One of the main reasons so many people retire to the Algarve is because of the amazing weather. In summer, it reaches a max of 84 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s the perfect weather for lounging on the beach or leaving all your windows open as you sleep.

Does it snow in the Algarve?

It definitely has snowed in the past, but don’t go there looking for ski slopes and dog-sledding. Generally, it’s a pretty temperate place, so you’ll mostly be packing for hot weather.

Algarve Oysters

Living out your retirement munching on clams sounds disgusting to some, but heavenly to others. It all comes down to preference

The best places to live in the Algarve

Portugal isn’t a massive country, and the Algarve is less than a tenth of its size, so a lot of the cities are similar enough that you won’t be torn in half by two equally appealing choices.

Faro: Best for city life

Faro is the main city in the Algarve. If you’re looking for a job, a bustling community, or a lot to do, Faro will be your main bet. It’s still very coastal, however, so you’ll still be able to indulge in all the fun beach activities.

Lagoa: Best for retirement

There’s a lot of room for preference when it comes to the “best retirement spot,” so this is very up for debate, but this is just what we thought looked the nicest. Lagoa has lovely beaches, great cuisine, and a not-too-busy aura that is perfect for anyone looking to relax.

6 fun things to know about the Algarve

If you’re teetering on the edge of packing your bags and heading to the Algarve, maybe we can sway you with a couple final fun pushes to show you how good life there can really be.

  1. Despite its small size when compared to the rest of the country, the Algarve is home to six of Portugal’s fifteen Michelin star restaurants
  2. It was home to a famous stray cat known as Mr No Ears. Mister was sadly put down in 2016, but had achieved over 20,000 Facebook likes in his time. What a legacy!
  3. One of the most powerful spirits in the world is produced in the Algarve. Medronho is a 48% alcohol beverage that is often brought out to newcomers. It has the English name of “firewater.” Yeah, no thanks
  4. It is home to one of the biggest artificial reefs in the world. These reefs don’t just look cool, they allow much larger fishing yields
  5. It’s one of the best places to try bacalhau, a fish that can supposedly be prepared with 365 different methods. One for every day of the year! Number 174 is our personal favorite
  6. There is a total of 125 miles of coastline, so you won’t be touching elbows with the person on the beach towel next to you

Next steps

If you’re retiring to the Algarve, congratulations! And if you’re moving to work, or even just visiting, an equally large congratulations to you too, as it’s a stunningly beautiful area with a lot to offer.

Don’t forget, if you use our free form you’ll be able to get free shipping quotes specific to you and your belongings.