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Portugal - Madeira

The islands of Madeira are owned by Portugal and are located in the Atlantic. The islands welcome visitors all year round due to the good weather. The islands have a population of around 250,000 people and there is a growing number of expats on the islands, some of whom have moved there for work but an increasing number are settling there for retirement. Most of the urban developments are located near the coast.

The climate of the islands varies a little from place to place but all enjoy mild weather through the year. Higher altitudes experience lower temperatures but coastal areas have temperatures of between 15°C and 22°C. Rainfall is fairly high during the winter months and quite low in the summer.

Madeira is proving to be a hot spot for those who wish to retire, mainly due to the weather and the wide range of leisure facilities on offer. There are apartment complexes which have been built and aimed at those who want to give up work. The cost of living is a little higher than on the mainland, but it is considered to be worth it for year round good temperatures. The islands offer a laid back lifestyle which many people seek when they give up work.

Madeira is also a good place for those who wish to start their own business. A tourist based business is a good prospect as the islands have a year round steady stream of visitors. Those who are experienced at running a hotel, bar or restaurant may fare very well in Madeira, although there are opportunities on the islands for those with other marketable skills, such as hairdressing, or for those who can run a sailing, diving or other holiday activity venture. However, for a business outside of the tourism industry it is very important to be able to speak Portuguese.

Madeira has just two inhabited islands - Porto Santo and Madeira itself. Madeira island has a very laid back way of life, even in the height of summer when the tourists flock to the islands. Madeira has some of the highest property prices in Portugal mainly due to the demand. It is possible to buy plots of land that have planning permission, which can help to keep costs down, or a run-down property that is in need of renovation. The island is known for having a good standard of health care and there are several international and private schools that have a good reputation, although local schools offer free education. The town of Funchal has a range of property styles available, from apartments to large detached houses. However, it is much more difficult to find a good quality rental property as most people would rather buy.

There are several other towns that can be considered for those who are retiring and looking for a quiet area to live in. Porto Moniz is on the north coast and is a mainly agricultural area. Property prices are a little cheaper in this part of the island, but properties are rarely available. Camara de Lobos is one of the oldest towns and is another agricultural area, but the city of Machico has different types of properties available from apartments to large houses. Prices are cheaper than in Funchal. Tourism is becoming one of the main industries in Ribeira Brava, so for those who want to run a tourism based business this might be a good area to try. Properties vary in style but are reasonably priced. The town of Santa Cruz is in a similar position and has the advantage of being home to the international airport.

The island of Porto Santo has Vila Baleira for its main urban development, although this is often referred to by the name of the island. The island itself is very small and has everything needed for daily life such as schools, shopping areas and health care facilities. Properties are not as expensive on Porto Santo as they are on Madeira, but the smaller island is attracting more and more tourists each year and some further development is expected. Properties available include some apartments, but there are a number of older houses on the island that are in need of renovation.

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