Last updated on Jul 25, 2023
Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Funchal, Portugal. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.
What do I need to know about living in Funchal?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Funchal, they said:
"Funchal, the capital of Portugal's Autonomous Region of Madeira, is a popular retirement destination for expats due to its mild climate, beautiful landscapes, and relaxed lifestyle. Before retiring in Funchal, expats should consider several factors. Firstly, understanding the cost of living is crucial. While Portugal is generally more affordable than many other European countries, prices in Funchal can be higher due to its popularity as a tourist destination. This applies to housing, dining, and entertainment. Secondly, it's important to understand the healthcare system. Portugal has a high standard of healthcare, both public and private. However, expats should ensure they have adequate health insurance coverage, as non-residents are not entitled to free healthcare. Language can be a barrier for some expats. While English is widely spoken in tourist areas and among younger generations, many locals, particularly older people, only speak Portuguese. Learning some basic Portuguese can greatly enhance your experience. The process of obtaining residency in Portugal can be complex and time-consuming. It's advisable to seek legal advice to understand the requirements and ensure all paperwork is correctly completed. Portugal has a favorable tax regime for retirees, known as the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) scheme. This can significantly reduce the amount of tax you pay on foreign income, including pensions, but it's important to get professional advice to understand the implications. The climate in Funchal is mild and pleasant year-round, but the island can be quite hilly, which may be a consideration for those with mobility issues. Finally, while Funchal is a safe city with a low crime rate, it's still important to take common-sense precautions, particularly in tourist areas where pickpocketing can occur. In terms of lifestyle, Funchal offers a relaxed pace of life with plenty of outdoor activities, cultural events, and opportunities to socialize with both locals and other expats. However, it's worth noting that the city can get busy during the peak tourist season. Overall, retiring in Funchal can offer a high quality of life, but it's important to do thorough research and possibly spend some time there before making the decision to move permanently," said one expat in Funchal.
What do I need to know before moving to Funchal?
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.
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