Investors in the Portugal Golden Visa program are no longer allowed to buy residential property in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve coast under changes introduced in 2022. But did you know that you can still buy a home in a few picturesque towns in the Algarve near sun-kissed, wave-lapped beautiful beaches and be well on your way to a Portuguese passport?
Portugal’s Golden Visa is one of the most popular visa schemes in the world. It is a residency by investment scheme, giving holders five years of residency with the opportunity to apply for citizenship in one of the top European countries. It also allows free movement around the Schengen Zone, something that is very desirable post-Brexit.
And what better timing to explore a Portuguese residency investment with Portugal having just loosened COVID-19 restrictions on entry requirements? Visitors just need a vaccine certificate and no tests for children under 12.
These great opportunities for investor migrants usually do not last. And from January 2022, some fairly major changes were introduced to the program. The biggest change is Lisbon, Porto, much of the Algarve and other coastal areas such as the Silver Coast and Setubal no longer qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa.
The reason behind this move is to encourage investors to look outside of the popular, high-density areas and boost the economy in less-populated inland areas and the islands.
Other changes include an increase in the amount of money needed for residency for certain investment routes. For example, one way of obtaining a Golden Visa is to invest in a fund, such as a capital venture. From 1 January 2022, the minimum amount to invest will rise from EUR 350,000 to EUR 500,000. You can read about the changes here.
The good news is the most popular way to get the Golden Visa – by purchasing a property worth EUR 500,000 or more – is not changing.
And, not all of the Algarve is excluded.
Several beautiful Algarve towns still qualify for Portugal Golden Visa, and they are all within a hopping distance of the country’s most beautiful and tranquil beaches. We explore them below:
1. Vila do Bispo
Only eight minutes’ drive from the popular surfing town of Sagres and under 20 minutes from the long stretch of sand at Praia da Cordoama, Vila do Bispo is a peaceful part of the Algarve.
This quintessentially Portuguese town is set on the edge of a beautiful and vast natural park – Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina – so the scenery is spectacular. There are numerous yoga retreats in the area that make use of the impressive natural surroundings.
Within the town itself, which spirals down a hill, you’ll find quaint narrow streets, whitewashed houses framed by vibrant pink flowers and plenty of bars and restaurants. Fish is a popular dish, however, don’t be surprised if you find wild boar, hare and quail on the menu too.
There is a year-round international community living in Vila do Bispo, so there is always something going on. The area is excellent for cycling, walking, diving, surfing and golf.
Vila do Bispo is easily accessible via a great motorway network. Faro international airport is just over an hour’s drive. Apartments and small townhouses start from around EUR 180,000 while larger properties tend to be nearer EUR 300,000. For the Golden Visa, you need to invest in EUR 500,000 worth of property, however, this can be spread over multiple properties.
2. Castro Marim
On the other side of the Algarve, on the border with Spain, lies Castro Marim. The town is home to two castles and an annual Medieval festival. During this festival, which happens over four or five days in August, Castro Marim transforms into a medieval village with traditional banquets, music and tournaments.
There are also three gorgeous Blue Flag beaches within easy reach of the town, fabulous weather, a huge nature reserve and brilliant golf opportunities. The best resort is the Golf and Country Club which features three nine-hole courses that all have great views. In fact, the golf is so good, it draws people from all over Portugal and even Spain.
Castro Marim is a tranquil town with a laid-back feel. For a livelier night or day out, both glitzy Vilamoura and the much-loved seaside resort of Albufeira are under an hour away.
Better still, the town is just 45 minutes from Faro airport, and one could easily pop across the border for some day trips in Spain!
Small houses go for EUR 150,000-200,000. Detached properties start from around EUR 250,000 and ones with a pool sell for around EUR 300,000-350,000.
Monchique is nestled at the foot of the Algarve’s highest mountain, Foia, which you can actually climb on foot, mountain bike or jeep. It is the highest town in the Algarve and is incredibly green.
Monchique is traditional and beautiful. Colourful houses line the narrow-cobbled streets and there is a delightful central square with pretty fountains, vibrant flowers and restaurants. The whole vibe is very laid-back – think sipping coffee in an open-air café, newspaper in hand, watching the world go by.
Although it is a popular day-trip destination, Monchique does not feel touristy. Nearby, you’ll find the famous natural spa called Caldas de Monchique with its wonderful hot springs. The water has a temperature of around 31 degrees Celsius and is said to help with ailments such as rheumatism and some respiratory illnesses.
The town is easy to reach from Faro airport which is about an hour’s drive. The lovely seaside resort of Portimao is 35 minutes away and Lagos is around 40 minutes.
Property in Monchique is very affordable; you can find ruins, farmhouses or properties in need of renovation. Villas or modern apartments sell from EUR 200,000.
Are you interested in the Portugal Golden Visa program or acquiring Portuguese citizenship? Get in touch with our team, who will be able to assist and clarify any queries you may have about the program or its requirements!
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