Living in Faro: A Guide for Foreigners

Faro is the bustling capital of the Algarve region of Portugal, where tourists tend to pass by on their way to other cities in the south of the country. But, if you stop for a moment, you will see that Faro is a charming city in its own right, with a laidback vibe and friendly locals that are ready and willing to welcome you to their city. Living in Faro is the perfect place if you are considering living in the south of Portugal. 

For avid travelers, you also have Faro international airport, where you can easily get to other countries, whether for business or for leisure. The golden beaches, stunning landscapes, and hidden bays make this part of Portugal so special, and you can enjoy a high quality of life that is also the most affordable in Western Europe. In this living in Faro article, we’ll provide you with everything that you will need to know about living in this sunny paradise. 

In this living in Faro article, we’ll cover the following: 

  • Where is Faro?
  • Top reasons for living in Faro
  • Best neighborhoods in Faro
  • Buying or Renting a House in Faro as a Foreigner
  • How To Live in Faro as a Foreign Citizen: Residence Permits and Visas 
  • Cost of living in Faro
  • Schools
  • Getting around
  • Shopping
  • Healthcare
  • Language
  • Weather in Faro
  • Festivals and attractions
  • Living in Faro: pros and cons
  • Is Faro safe?
  • The bottom line of living in Faro Portugal

 

Where is Faro?

Faro is the capital of the Algarve, in the center of the region. Its central location, with an international airport, allows travelers to travel nationally and internationally without any trouble. 

Faro is particularly popular with expats and, after Lisbon, is the most expat-heavy city in the country, accounting for 15.7% of the expats in Portugal. This is good for investors, with high demand for accommodation in this part of the country.  

 

Top reasons for living in Faro

The sundrenched south of Portugal is popular with expats, tourists, and locals, and it’s difficult to know where to begin when talking about the top reasons why the region is so beloved. The weather, the scrumptious food, the pristine beaches, the affordability, the list would go on and on. Faro is particularly special because of the unspoiled beaches and impressive land formations. Also, you can easily get around to the rest of the Algarve and further afield. You can travel to Tavira in the east, Lagos in the west, and even get to Lisbon within a few hours if you head north. 

Outstanding business location

Although not so well known as a good business location, the Algarve is home to more than 200 tech companies, and, in 2020, the University of Algarve, which is based in Faro, opened the Algarve Tech Hub. This is a complex of over 3000 square meters that aims to change the face of southern Portugal into the country’s very own “Silicon Valley,” aiming to attract entrepreneurs, investors, and digital nomads. Yes, in the future, the Algarve will likely be a very good business location.

Safe and tolerant

Portugal is the fourth safest country in the world, according to the 2021 Global Peace Index, after Iceland, New Zealand, and Denmark. Portugal has low crime rates, is a pretty liberal country, and is very welcoming to foreigners, particularly in the Algarve. Indeed, you will find that some parts of the Algarve are set up with expats firmly in mind, making it very easy to get around safely and conveniently. Whether you are retiring to find your place in the sun, moving to the country with family, or looking to work as a digital nomad, you will find that Portugal is very welcoming.

Beautiful beaches

Faro is the gateway to the Algarve and, as such, you’ll find plenty of beaches to choose from. The most popular close to the city is Praia de Faro, which is where you can head if you want a quick beach fix. However, whether you venture east or west from Faro, you will be able to find some of the most spectacular beaches in the country. 

Tax benefits

One of the many attractive advantages of moving to Portugal for foreigners is the tax benefits that are available through the favorable non-habitual residence (NHS) scheme. If structured correctly, the scheme provides significant tax benefits for up to ten years. This has been a major draw for expats moving to Portugal over the years. 

 

Best neighborhoods in Faro

In this section of our living in Faro article, we’ll provide you with some information on the neighborhoods in the capital of the Algarve.

Downtown

Faro’s downtown is a buzzing affair and is the place where most tourists head when they arrive in town. However, if you are only looking to live in Faro for part of the year, the central location will enable you to make a profitable investment if you are considering renting out your property. In this part of the city, as in the historical center, the streets are paved in the typical Portuguese ‘calçada’ style.

Downtown is also where many of the shops, restaurants, and cafes are located. You will also find many local handicraft shops, where you can buy from local suppliers. 

The Old Town

The Old Town, or Cidade Velha in Portuguese, is the historical center of Faro. With imperial walls that date back to the 9th century when the city was occupied by the Moors, in this part of town, it will feel as though you are stepping back in time. The Old Town is also well known for its small streets, hidden pathways, and classical regional houses. The restaurants and bars create a vibrant atmosphere at night as the town comes to life.

Montenegro and Quinta do Eucalipto

If you are considering moving to Portugal with your family, then you are in for a treat. Beaches galore, fun activities, and delicious food await! However, to avoid the many tourists that visit the region and to live in a more spacious part of town, we recommend considering Montenegro or Qunita do Eucalipto. These suburban areas of Faro are perfect for families, where there are fewer cars, lots of parking places, and many parks and green spaces where children can play. Note that you can also find many lovely villas in this part of town, with swimming pools, gardens or private gyms. Faro beach is also just a short bike ride away. 

The marina of Faro

The marina of Faro, which faces the Ria Formosa, is also a very good place to find a nice play to stay. Here you will find plenty of cafes and restaurants, and, in summer, there are many concerts that you can watch for free. Even if you do not live in this area, what could be better than strolling around the marina on a lovely weekend morning?

 

Buying or renting a house in Faro as a foreigner

Portugal has very flexible policies when it comes to allowing foreigners to buy or rent property in the country. In this section of our living in Faro article, we’ll provide you with some information about buying or renting a property in Faro.

Buying a home in Faro

If you are looking to buy a house in Faro, you will find that there are many different property types. From villas, apartments, and luxury properties, you should have no trouble finding your dream home. What’s more, you may even be able to find vineyards and farms for sale outside the city itself. As with anywhere in the Algarve, the further north you go, away from the coast, the property prices will fall. 

You can see our article on how to buy property in Portugal here

Renting a house in Faro

If you are looking to rent a property in Faro, you have lots of choices open to you. As Faro is one of the hotspots for expats in the country, you should be able to find something that suits your needs.

 

How to live in Faro as a foreign citizen: residence permits and visas 

If you are considering living in Faro, you will need to know how to reside in the county legally. In this part of our living in Faro article, we’ll arm you with crucial information that you will need to know about the different visa types and residence permits that you will need to live in Portugal as a foreign citizen. 

Living in Faro as an EU citizen

If you are an EU citizen are would like to stay in Portugal for more than three months, you will need to apply for a registration certificate. You can apply for this certificate after entering Portugal, and the registration certificate is valid for a period of up to five years. 

Living in Faro as a non-EU citizen

If you are a non-EU national and would like to live in Portugal, you will need to apply for a Portuguese residency before you arrive in the country. Once your visa expires, you will need to apply for a residence permit. 

Living in Faro with the Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa is for individuals that are looking to invest in the country, whether through a property purchase, fund investment, capital transfer, company formation, or through a donation to the arts, scientific research, or natural heritage.

If you are looking to buy commercial property in Faro, then you may be eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa. With this, you can secure residency in the country, and after five years, you may be eligible for citizenship. 

You can see our step-by-step guide to the Portugal Golden Visa here

Living in Faro with the D7 Visa

If you have a steady passive income, then the D7 Visa is the perfect option for you. A favorite for retirees who want to avoid the high living costs of their home country and enjoy the sunshine and quality of life in Portugal. 

You can see our Portugal D7 Guide and free eligibility test here.

 

Cost of living in Faro

Portugal, in general, is one of the most affordable countries in Europe. In Faro, if you keep away from tourist-heavy places where food and drink may be more expensive than in other cities, you should find it a very affordable place to live. In this part of our living in Faro article, we’ll provide you with some more information you should be aware of about the cost of living here. 

Accommodation

According to Numbeo, the cost of rent in Faro is around 6.63% lower than in Lisbon. Below are some estimations of renting costs in Faro 

  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost you €830 per month.
  • A one-bedroom apartment outside the city will cost you €703 per month.
  • A three-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost you €1,396 per month.
  • A three-bedroom apartment outside the city center will cost you €1,076 per month.

 Food

Definitely in the top five things about living in the Algarve is the food. It is delicious and, for the most part, particularly if you shop in the local markets, the fruits and vegetables are grown under the Portuguese sun so that they will be bursting with flavor.

Food is generally very affordable, and the quality is very good. Also, it should come as no surprise that a big focus of food in the Algarve is its fish and seafood. Portuguese wine, amongst the best in the world, is also relatively inexpensive for a good bottle.

Eating out

The Algarve is well known for its focus on fresh fish and seafood, which are served straight out of the ocean. Paired with a glass of Portuguese white wine, you will be sure to dine very well. There are also a good many pastry shops that serve excellent products for those that have a sweet tooth.

Restaurants in Faro are relatively affordable compared to in other western European cities. However, if you venture into more luxury restaurants, expect to pay international prices. 

Transportation

As Faro is in the center of the Algarve, it is very easy to get around. You have trains and buses that will take you to other parts of the sunny south and further afield. However, if you have a car, it is very easy to find more hidden beaches, less touristic areas, and less busy places to relax.

If you are in Faro itself, it is a very walkable city, so you can meander through the streets and marvel at the many sights that the city has to offer. 

 

Schools

There are several international schools in the Algarve. These include the Nobel International School Algarve, located near Carvoeiro, which is one of the oldest in southern Portugal and which provides academic programs for children between the ages of 3-18, and Vilamoura International school, which provides a wide-ranging education program for the same age group. 

Elsewhere, Vale Verde International School, close to Lagos, focuses on a British curriculum, as does Colegio Santiago Internacional, which is located in the quieter town of Tavira. A little further afield on the western coast, Aljezur International School is also a very good place to consider for your children and has a nurturing environment for them to fulfill their full potential. 

You can see more about the schools in the Algarve, and Portugal in general, and the education system in our article here

Getting around

As previously mentioned, there is a good train and bus network in the Algarve. Note that some towns do not have train stations, so getting there by bus will be the best option for you. 

While the public transportation is generally very good in the Algarve, it is much easier to get around if you have a car. 

 

Shopping

Faro has both local markets and shops where you can purchase handicrafts made in the area. However, you also have shopping centers where you can find household names. 

If you are looking for an authentic food experience to purchase some of the best products in the Algarve, visit Faro Municipal Market for fresh-from-the-farm foodstuffs and cheap lunch. 

 

Healthcare

Residents of Portugal can have access to public healthcare through Portugal’s National Health Service, known as the SNS (Serviço Nacional de Saúde). In Faro, you have good quality healthcare options and hospitals. There are also some private clinics that you can go to if you have health insurance or would like to pay while you are there. 

Over the past ten years or so, the available healthcare for foreigners in Portugal has improved leaps and bounds, probably fueled by more expats moving to the country. As many expat retirees live in the Algarve, English is widely spoken in healthcare facilities, and there is state-of-the-art medical equipment. 

The Euro Health Consumer Index ranked Portuguese healthcare as the 13th best in Europe in 2018, ranking in a higher position than the UK, Spain, Italy, and Ireland. Portuguese healthcare scored the highest in terms of patient rights and information, waiting times, and accessibility, as well as overall health outcomes. Portugal has an average life expectancy of 81 years. 

 

Language

Faro is a very expat-heavy city that is also very popular with tourists. As such, English is widely spoken, and you will have no difficulty getting by. However, it is always nice to have some of the local language up your sleeve to impress the locals.

 

Weather in Faro

The weather in Faro is typical of the Mediterranean, with warm, clear summers and cool winters. Temperatures rarely fall below 40°F (4°C) or above 92°F (33°C). If buying a property in Faro, we recommend checking insulation, however, as it can get quite cold inside in the winter months.

Festivals and attractionsFaro-Portugal-real-estate-png

As the capital of the Algarve, you will always find something to keep you occupied throughout the year. In this part of our living in Faro article, we’ll run over some of our favorite festivals and Faro Portugal points of interest that are not to be missed. 

Festivals:

  • The Baixa Street Fest takes place on Friday evenings toward the end of June and into August. Embrace the peacefulness of Faro’s hot nights and enjoy the entertainment on offer in the form of theatre programs, concerts, and light shows while the shops open late and provide very nice discounts. 
  • July is the month of festivals, and more than 20,000 motorcycles gather for a three-day event in Vale das Almas for demonstrations, various performances, and music. 
  • The Ria Formosa Festival is one of the biggest gastronomic events in Portugal, and Faro has usually played the host. For ten days, enjoy the very best food in the country, particularly seafood straight from the ocean. 
  • Forklkfaro is a celebration of colorful music and dances from around the world, covering a total of 15 Algarve localities, and embracing the international world, going on for nine days. 

Attractions:

  • The Old Town
  •  Sé (Cathedral)
  • Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
  • Lehtes Theatre
  • Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo

 

Living in Faro: pros and cons

In this section of our living in Faro article, we’ll provide you with some of the pros and cons of living in this city.

Living in Faro pros and cons:

Advantages

  • Affordable cost of living in a cultural European city.
  • The best climate in Portugal.
  • There are many expats living in Faro and the Algarve region.
  • Buzzing nightlife and social scene, with excellent restaurants and bars.
  • High quality of life.

Drawbacks

  • The bureaucracy process can be slow.
  • Some properties may not have central heating.
  • It may be overwhelming with tourists during the peak tourist season.

 

Is Faro safe?

Faro is a very safe city to live in, with a laid-back vibe. Portugal is the fourth safest country in the world,  according to the 2021 Global Peace Index, showing the country as a very good place to relocate to. However, as with any city, it is best to be careful in busy areas in Faro, particularly in tourist areas, of which there are many in Faro and the south of Portugal in general. 

 

The bottom line on living in Faro Portugal

Faro is an excellent place to live and is often overlooked in favor of other places in the Algarve. However, Faro is a splendid city in its own right, with very good transport links, great weather, and perfect beaches. Whether you are looking to retire, move with family, or simply work as a digital nomad, you will find that the city has much to offer. 

If you are still considering other areas in Portugal or would like some more information on certain topics, here are some other articles that may be useful to you:

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Frequently asked questions about living in Faro:

Is Faro a good place to live?

Yes, Faro is an excellent place to live, with great weather, many expats, and good food. Also, from Faro, you can easily reach other beautiful parts of the Algarve.

Is Faro expensive to live in?

The cost of living in Faro, Portugal, is very affordable, particularly when compared with other cities in western Europe.

How is life in Faro Portugal?

With many things to do in Faro, you will be able to try new things while also finding the time to relax, soak up the great weather, and get to know other expats. Faro is a very good choice of city if you are considering moving to Portugal and want to soak up the best weather in the county.