Meravista: Asks expats why they chose the Algarve

By on September 19, 2013


The Algarve attracts people from all over Europe and beyond who choose to relocate to the region. The Algarve’s newest property website Meravista asks expats who made the move to tell us why.

The Algarve is home to over 52,000 foreign residents, that’s around 11.5% of the total Algarve population. At the last count there were 378,349 homes in the region, around 70.6% of these dwellings are owner-occupied and 20.3% are rented. So what’s the attraction? Why do people choose to live and work here and are they enjoying the Algarvean lifestyle?


Linda Dubbelt Disse has recently sold her successful business in Boliqueime
Linda owned The Grand Café in Amsterdam, before starting an interior design and renovation business. It was this new career path that brought her to the Algarve. She fell in love with the region while working here and it didn’t take much persuasion to convince her partner Mick to move here from their home in Holland.

Linda arrived in the Algarve in 2001 with retirement in mind. It was after one fruitless shopping trip to buy decorative candles that she realised there was a gap in the market. In 2003, Linda decided to open a shop selling a range of candles for the home, which she named Lindy Velas. The business thrived and expanded to stock a wide range of home and garden accessories. Linda told us: “Setting up my business was easy in 2003, but I found that an excellent accountant and lawyer were vital for paving the way and keeping me straight on all the rules and regulations.” Linda has recently sold Lindy Velas. She comments: “I love Portugal, the Portuguese and my lifestyle here in the Algarve.”

Gina Carrington moved to the Algarve with her husband and young son
Gina tells us: “After thirty years of taking our family holidays in The Algarve, my parents bought a villa in Portugal and retired. That’s when I decided to move here with my family and try to get work.” Gina explains: “Having been in the travel industry for many years in the UK, I found a job in the same line of business here in Quinta do Lago. That was 10 years ago and we have never looked back.”

How well did Gina’s son adapt to his new lifestyle? “Our son went into the local education system and is now at school in Faro,” says Gina: “It didn’t take him long to learn Portuguese and integrate with the local population.” She smiles: “We have made many friends here and love living in the sun and our Portuguese lifestyle.”
Gina works for Solseta Travel.


Michèle Wolters owns luxury holiday villa company Algarve Housing
Michèle is originally from Utrecht in the Netherlands. At the age of 36, after spending six months in Nepal and six months travelling, she found that she couldn’t settle back in Holland.

Michèle’s parents had been resident in the Algarve for many years, so moving to be closer to them seemed like the ideal next step. When Michèle’s father spotted an advertisement in a local paper for a personal carer in the Silves area, she applied, got the job, rented out her apartment in Amsterdam and, in 2002, made her move to the Algarve. It was only a year later, in 2003, that Michèle was presented with the opportunity to rent and manage four luxury villas. The rest is history. “That was the start of my business, Algarve Housing,” she says: “I sold my apartment in Amsterdam, bought a property in Silves and now, in 2013, I have a business with around 70 luxury villas for rent.”

So, what does Michèle like about living here? “There’s so much to like,” she smiles: “I love the ‘live-for-the-day’ attitude and relaxed way of life. Also, a big plus for me is that the cost of living is generally much cheaper here than in Holland, especially going out for drinks and dinner.” Michèle continues: “Although I didn’t move here for the sunshine, when I’m back in Holland and the weather is grey, I realise that the Algarve climate is a definite advantage. The beaches are gorgeous and the countryside around me is beautiful.”

Would Michèle recommend living and working in the Algarve? “I would definitely recommend it,” she says: “But if you’re thinking of setting up a business in the region, make sure you get good advice and that you understand the legal requirements. There are many organisations here who offer help in this area.”

Bruce Allen and Eva Kennedy run a naturist guest house in Silves.
Both disillusioned with life and work in the UK, Bruce and Eva sold their home in England in 2002 and headed for a new life in the sun.

They bought an old Quinta just outside Silves which was practically a ruin and needed many months of hard graft to knock it into shape. Their dream was to eventually offer B&B and self-catering holidays. They had no idea that today they would be running Quinta da Vista as a successful naturist holiday destination, and attracting guests from across Europe and beyond. Bruce explains: “We got off to a fairly good start marketing the Quinta as a general guest house. Then we realised that the Algarve was fast becoming one of the top naturist destinations in Europe. We saw an opportunity and we took it!”

When asked why they chose the Algarve, Bruce told us: “Eva and I were eager to escape the stresses of life in the UK and carve out a new future for ourselves here, where we could enjoy a more relaxed outdoor lifestyle and have time for ourselves.” He continues: “We’d visited the region several times for holidays and it ticked all the boxes for us. Because many Portuguese in the Algarve speak English and are generally very helpful, the language has never been a problem either.” Bruce laughs: “Our work-life balance here is just about right, 25% work and 75% life. Seriously, a great lifestyle here costs far less than in the UK. There’s an excellent social life and the climate means we can enjoy our hobbies of cycling and running all year round.”

Bruce says of setting up their business: “We’ve had a few challenges along the way, but nothing to make us regret leaving the UK. It’s hard if you leave family behind, but it’s surprising how many people want to visit you when you live here.”

Anita van Huson, co-founder of Meravista adds: “What you have to remember when you are searching for property in the Algarve is that you’re not just looking for a new home to buy, you’re looking to buy into a completely new lifestyle. If you’re not that familiar with the region, do your research before you start your property hunt, to make sure you choose the right location for you and your family.”


So much to enjoy for free
Aside from the best year round climate in Europe, there are so many things about the Algarve to appreciate and so much of it comes with a zero price tag; great news for those with a young family. There are beaches, miles of unspoilt countryside, mountains, lakes and waterfalls. In fact, wherever you turn in the Algarve, you’re surrounded by natural beauty. The range of activities on offer in the region is countless too. From sky diving to periwinkle picking. Whatever it is that floats your boat, you’ll almost certainly find somewhere to do it in the Algarve.

Ref: Censos 2011 Resultados Definitivos – Região Algarve

About Meravista:
Conceived, designed and developed over the course of 18 months, Meravista is a property portal focused exclusively on Algarve property in Portugal, targeting buyers across Europe.

Contact Meravista:
Anita van Huson
ISSUED: September 2013

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