Portugal is a fabulous place to retire to. You will find friendly people, a dependable climate, and plenty of low-cost luxuries on hand. In this article, we highlight five affordable towns and villages in Portugal for your retirement.
We begin near the north of the country, and then head down towards the southern Algarve. The places here serve to illustrate how much variety is on offer in Portugal. Whether you seek rural peace, access to city culture, or classic beach life, you’ll find a good option.
Despite such variety, Portugal is a relatively compact place. Taking the Algarve as an example, all of the area’s amenities are in easy reach, regardless of where you choose to live. This can really help make your budget go further, as there’s no need to live in one of the glitzier areas to take advantage of its charms.
The same goes for Portugal’s major cities. They’re well connected to the rest of the country – and not just by road. Fast, comfortable and reliable train routes mean you can explore Portugal’s varied landscapes and attractions with ease.
We begin with a place that offers you a laid-back seaside lifestyle as well as easy access to Portugal’s second-largest city.
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This is a true “best of both worlds” destination. Technically a city, Espinho has the atmosphere of a small seaside town, but you can jump on a train and be in Porto in just 16 minutes.
Espinho is on Portugal’s Costa Verde (green coast). It’s worth remembering that Portugal sits on the Atlantic. This is a windswept coast that’s not as hot as the better-known Algarve. However, you still have a long, warm summer. Even in the depths of winter, average daily highs still hit the mid-teens.
There’s a thriving local atmosphere in this town of around 30,000 people. There’s a busy weekly market, an annual film festival, and even a plush casino. If you’re into golf, you have an historic course on the doorstep: Opoto golf club is one of the oldest in the world, in operation since the 19th century.
PROPERTY: New-build one-bedroom apartments from around €140,000. Cheaper options in nearby villages.
Tomar, in central Portugal, has become very popular with overseas residents. It’s a place that’s popular with those more interested in authentic Portuguese living than the Algarve’s “sun, sea and sand” lifestyle.
Tomar is an elegant town with a long and rich history. The Convento de Cristo, home to the Knights Templar, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Castello do Bode lake is in easy reach, with miles of shore, river beaches, fishing spots, and places to walk and enjoy the mild climate.
Lisbon in the nearest city, 90 minutes away by road and around two hours by train. However, many residents here are more than content to enjoy the low-key, slow-paced lifestyle provided by Tomar itself. It’s far from lacking in culture, and some of the town’s restaurants are the finest in the area.
PROPERTY: Property in this area is great value, with large apartments and even some detached houses for less than €100,000.
Almost directly west of Tomar is Nazaré, a town of around 15,000 on Portugal’s Silver Coast. This whole area is very popular with expats, but still authentic. It’s also a place where you get more for your money than you do in much of the Algarve.
The Silver Coast has many stunning beaches, but the bay in Nazaré is up there with the most beautiful. It’s a popular place for surfing, with waves drawing enthusiasts all year round. However, the town only feels truly thronged with tourists during a short summer peak in July and August. There’s plenty of room to explore and breathe in the quieter months.
Lisbon is just over an hour away by road. Closer by are several other Silver Coast hotspots, including Leiria and Óbidos. These places are also popular with international residents. Here you have the option of fully embracing the expat “scene” with all of its clubs and activities, or keeping yourself to yourself and fully integrating with the Portuguese way of life.
PROPERTY: Two-bedroom apartments from around €165,000, with new-build options for more. Some rustic properties and renovation projects from around €100,000.
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We now head down to the Algarve, to a small town that feels like a world away from the resorts not far down the road.
Moncarapacho feels rural, but is in fact just 15 minutes from plenty of beautiful beaches. It’s incredibly convenient, with Faro airport less than 30 minutes away, perfect for family visits in both directions.
Moncarapacho has certainly been discovered by overseas residents, with plenty spread out in the town itself and its neighbouring hamlets. However, its huge regular Sunday market feels distinctly Portuguese, with everything from live chickens and farm equipment to artisan honey and knock-off Ralph Lauren!
When it comes to amenities, the entire Algarve is your oyster, with all of it in easy reach.
When it comes to amenities, the entire Algarve is your oyster, with all of it in easy reach. The main A22 motorway is a few minutes away, as is Fuseta train station, which serves almost the whole width of the region. This is a town that feels tucked away but is actually extremely well connected.
PROPERTY: Apartments from €140,000. Spacious rural homes from €230,000.
Finally we have Quarteira, a perfect example of how you don’t have to pay glamorous prices to live right on the edge of a glamorous area.
Quarteira is situated between Vilamoura and Vale de Lobo, the latter being part of the Algarve’s “Golden Triangle.” Home to stunning golf courses and multi-million-Euro mansions, this is the Algarve’s most “high end” area. However, Quarteira is nestled in the middle, as an affordable and down-to-earth alternative to the purpose-built resorts.
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Popular with Portuguese families and visitors from Lisbon, Quarteira won’t be winning any architectural awards. However, it gives you all of the Algarve’s prime amenities at an affordable price. Some of those amenities are, quite literally, within walking distance.
PROPERTY: Apartments from €125,000.
The places suggested here only scratch the surface of all the affordable towns and villages in Portugal. We recommend checking out several to get a true sense of how rich and varied this beautiful country is.