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Portugal - Azores

The Azores is a group of islands located in the Atlantic Ocean which belongs to Portugal. The islands are situated nearly 1000 miles off the coast of Portugal. The islands are known for their tourist industry which is growing each year. The culture of the islands differs greatly from that of mainland Portugal, but each island is different to each other too. There are 19 municipalities in the islands and a population of around 240,000 people. The crime rate on the islands is extremely low and this is an important factor for many expats.

The location of the islands gives them a very different climate to the Portuguese mainland. Winter temperatures range from 11°C to 18°C, while summer temperatures range from 18°C to 25°C. Rainfall is very low during the summer months, but is not much higher in the winter, so visitors can be assured of mild weather all year round.

There are a number of expat retirees living in the Azores and one of the main reasons is the cost of living, which is low when compared to similar locations in the sun. Even though the islands are a popular tourist destination there are not many night clubs, so it is still a relatively quiet area to live. The islands have golf courses and other outdoor activities such as hiking are also popular. The island of Sao Miguel is larger and has more expats than the others, but the other islands are more tranquil and ideal for those looking for a quiet life.

There are some opportunities for those who want to start their own business in the Azores. Businesses related to the tourism industry such as hotel ownership should do relatively well all year round but are better limited to the larger island of Sao Miguel. Businesses such as restaurants provide another opportunity, particularly for those who want to concentrate on traditional foods, rather than bringing in cuisine from another country.

The Azores have different options when it comes to deciding where to live as the different islands have different advantages and disadvantages. The largest island is Sao Miguel, and many expats choose to make their home there. The harbour area at Ponta Delgado has undergone some redevelopment, mainly to bring in more tourists, although there are new apartment buildings in the area which are aimed at both long term residents and for short term rentals. There are several developments on the islands which are based around golf courses and again, these are a mix of long term residential developments and short term tourist lets. There is unlikely to be further similar developments as there are strict conservation laws governing much of the island.

Property prices on Sao Miguel are much higher than those on the other islands due to the demand. Sao Miguel is much more developed than the other islands and there are modern shopping centres, plenty of schools to choose from and some industrial developments.

On some of the smaller islands there are opportunities to buy land or property, although there may be restrictions on building new properties if there is not a building already on the plot. Many older properties are in need of renovation, particularly those outside the towns, but these can be purchased at a very reasonable price. Properties can be bought that include commercial premises for those who are looking to start their own business and many have good sized living accommodation attached.

For those who are looking to retire to a quiet life, the island of Faial is ideal. Towns such as Almoxarife and Capelo have just the basic amenities for everyday life and properties are reasonably priced. Most properties are cottages and there are very few apartments in these areas. The town of Cedros is a little busier as it is the agricultural centre of Faial but properties are still reasonably priced. The town of Horta is the island’s biggest town and many of the properties there date back to the Victorian era. It is a busier area, but has maintained many traditions of the islands.

Those who want to open a small business might want to consider the town of Madalena on the island of Pico. The town has a busy commercial sector and port and finding a reasonably priced property to develop into a small hotel or other business should be fairly easy.

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