Famous for its large marina, casino and world-class golf courses, Vilamoura in the Algarve region of southern Portugal has long been a favourite with retirees and holidaymakers alike. Sandy Vilamoura Beach has excellent facilities, while the red cliffs line of Falésia Beach, which stretches west to the fishing village Olhos de Água, provide a dramatic background to any swim. Faro International Airport is within a 20 km drive. Here several budget airlines connect the Algarve with many European cities, making southern Portugal easily accessible for "commuters" and holidaymakers alike.
To the south-east, Vilamoura merges with the neighbouring town of Quarteira, where yet more beaches await exploration. Blessed with a mild year-round climate and some 300 days of sun, the Algarve is a favourite with British expats who have settled here in large numbers. About 60,000 Brits have made Portugal their home, but there are also any number of Scandinavian, French, German, Swiss and American expats who have found the siren call of this beautiful coastline just too hard to resist.
Vilamoura's focal point is the marina, which is brimming with power boats, luxury yachts and boats for hire. All along this seafront sit cafes and restaurants, shops and service providers like dive or windsurf schools. Stylish and sophisticated, Vilamoura offers residents a lively expat scene and excellent nightlife with vibrant themed bars and chic lounge clubs as well as fine dining restaurants.
Only a short drive from Quarteira's traditional fishing harbour and daily indoor fish market, Vilamoura provides local residents with a wealth of attractions on their doorstep, from various theme and water parks that are nearby to dolphin watch tours and boat trips along the dramatic coastline. Nearby Loule, a traditional market town, offers the chance to enjoy an afternoon's worth of authentic Portuguese experience and still be back home in time for an alfresco meal on the terrace.
For around EUR 325,000 you can purchase a spacious, luxurious penthouse inside the main golf course's gated condominium, just a five minute drive from the marina and beach.
But smaller budgets of EUR 275,000 to EUR 280,000 can also find plenty to choose from among the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment listings. If you're planning to buy Algarve property in a golf resort, which have great rental appeal all year round, Vilamoura is ideal. Vilamoura golf apartments have fully fitted kitchens and come with two or three communal swimming pool in the grounds. An onsite restaurant and bar as well as 24-hour security come as part of the package. Some golf apartments even have their own roof terrace. Not bad for EUR 280,000!
Fully refurbished, smaller two-bed villas close to the famous "Old Course" can sometimes be found for just EUR 158,000. A spacious villa with three bedrooms and a sizeable plot of land costs from around EUR 595,000.
Retiring to Vilamoura?
Please see our Guide to retiring to Portugal for details, but generally speaking, you can transfer your UK pension to Portugal and choose to receive it into your UK bank or a Portuguese bank account. Contact the International Pension Centre, if you think it's time to claim your UK pension.
Healthcare in Portugal
Private healthcare in Portugal is steadily gaining popularity among expats and as a result, it is becoming more readily available. All private medical centres and private hospitals work with the international private medical insurance companies and there are reciprocal agreements in place with UK insurers too. Coach services link the Algarve with Lisbon, where many British doctors and dentists are in private practice. Portugal's own National Health Service, the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), is deemed excellent and English is widely spoken.
Retirees can rest assured that Portugal's excellent Integrated Medical Emergency System will have rapid-response times - in fact the average response time of seven seconds is much faster than the UK’s. Nationals of one of the 27 European Union countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, must show their European Health Insurance Card or EHIC (issued in their country of origin) and their passport or other identification document in order to gain access to free or low-cost healthcare.
Non-EU citizens holding Portuguese residency permits must be registered at a health centre (centro de saúde) and must hold a “User's Card”. This may be obtained at the Health Centre by presenting a document showing proof of residence authorisation. Overseas expats will also need to provide a social security card.
Settling into your Vilamoura Life
Various societies and expat forums, such as expatsportugal.com and internations.org, offer valuable advice as well as information on when expats meet for social events. As a keen golfer, you won't find a shortage of partners in Vilamoura; bars, even restaurants organise golf days followed by dinner and drinks, so it's easy to get to know people quite quickly.
Joining a dance class, cycling, bowls, walking or running club or simply signing up to a pure social club is the first step to integrating into Algarve society. Learning at least a smattering of Portuguese may be a struggle at first, but with practice you should soon be able to hold a conversation of sorts with your Portuguese neighbours (who'll probably speak English as well as you do!).
If you are planning to start a company, please visit Propertyshowroom's guide Starting a Business in Portugal.