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Portugal - Viana do Castelo

The Viana do Castelo district can be found in the north west of Portugal, sharing a border with Spain and the Braga district. There is a total population of 250,000 people and the district is named after the city of Viana do Castelo. There are 10 municipalities in the district. The city of Viana do Castelo has around 37,000 inhabitants and stands at the mouth of the Lima River. This region of the country is just becoming popular with expats who are attracted to the region because of its laid back lifestyle and tranquil towns.

The area sees very little rainfall and no snow, so the winters there are very mild. Temperatures fall to around 8°C but in summer can reach 25°C easily. The climate is another attraction for those wanting to live in the area as it does not get unbearably hot in the way that some tourist regions do further south.

Due to the proximity to Spain, many expats are choosing to retire to this area as it makes it easy for them to do a little travelling in both countries. The area also has the advantage of reasonably good weather all year round, which many people look for when choosing to retire to another country. The cost of living is very reasonable and there are many tranquil towns to choose from.

There are business opportunities on a relatively small scale in this area but as the weather is reasonable all year round, tourism based businesses will not be as seasonal as in other areas, so opening a small hotel may be a good opportunity.

The city of Viana do Castelo has much to offer those who want to live and work in the area. The town has beaches for the tourists and many leisure amenities and properties along the coast are reasonably priced when compared with other beach resorts. The town has kept many of the local traditions alive and many people flock to the area to see the processions which are held during the summer. Properties range from apartments in the area of the beaches to traditional small houses in the centre. Properties in the centre of the town can be bought already renovated or in need of some work. The city has schools with good reputations and properties on the outskirts of town are generally larger and are on larger plots of land.

In the town of Ponte de Lima, which is quite a rural town, there are many mansions and these occasionally come onto the market. These are often priced above the regional average, particularly if the house is in need of some renovation. Towns such as Vila Nova de Cerveira are popular with those who are looking to retire to a traditional Portuguese way of life and the homes are usually rustic properties with period features. Properties in the area are in demand and usually sell quite quickly when they come onto the market.

The town of Melgaco is a popular tourist destination with its spa and castle. Properties available range from modern to ancient and cover a wide range of budgets. The town may be ideal for those who are looking to start a tourism based business. The town is small so there is not much choice in schools, but there are plenty of leisure amenities from sports facilities at the spa to restaurants. There is a small community of expats and this is expected to grow as demand grows.

Buying a rural property is another option in this area. Building plots are often sold with planning permission already in place and can be bought very cheaply, depending upon the size of the plot and the type of home that permission has been granted for. Buying a plot with an existing structure such as a barn for conversion is also an option and these can also be obtained at a very low price. It is possible to buy barn conversions that have already been completed and are ready to move into, but the price of these is often five or six times what it would have cost to buy a run-down property.

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