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Madeira is often referred to as the Pearl of the Atlantic. This Portuguese archipelago has been a well-known world-class tourist destination for centuries. This island has attracted much attention recently as people worldwide choose to move here.
The expats that used to come to live in Madeira were mainly retirees. Nowadays, people from all age groups, such as digital nomads, remote workers, and families, choose Madeira as their home.
Living in Madeira - Our guide 2023
Madeira is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 1000 km (621 miles) from mainland Portugal. It consists of 4 groups of islands, of which only two are inhabited.
Madeira Island is the biggest and is home to 250.000 people. There is also Porto Santo, a smaller island to the northeast of Madeira, famous for its paradisiac yellow sand beaches.
Other small landmasses that belong to Madeira include the Desertas Island and the Savage Islands. Both are uninhabited and designated nature reserves.
Living in Madeira is ideal for those who value great weather, fantastic quality of life, a low cost of living and breathtaking natural landscapes. Madeira also offers an extraordinary work-life balance, a good business environment and various investment opportunities.
One crucial aspect to consider is that Madeira is an Autonomous Region of Portugal, as defined by the Portuguese Constitution. Despite its special political and administrative status, Madeira is an integral part of Portugal and the European Union.
If you have a residence permit in Portugal, you can travel without restrictions in the entire Schengen Area.
Despite being an island, Madeira offers the best of both worlds: the calm and intimacy of a small region and the cosmopolitanism of a big city. The excellent road infrastructures connecting all corners of the island allow you to complement a hard day's work with a dip in the sea or a walk in the mountains in sometimes less than 15 minutes.
“Madeira is captivating in so many ways – here is a perfect environment for networking, productivity and with a strong entrepreneurial vibe” says Samantha North, UK expat and founder of Digital Emigré.
Madeira is in the same time zone as Lisbon and London (although Portugal adopts daylight savings time in the summer and advances one hour on the clocks).
Its central location – between Europe, North America, and Africa - and direct flights mean Madeira is a short plane trip away from many major European cities.
Locals are usually familiar with English, seeing as Madeira has been a top tourist destination for a long time. Overall, it should be easy for anyone to be well-integrated into the local way of life.
The island’s mild climate will usually vary between 16º in the winter and 25º in the summer. These temperatures will fluctuate around the island, with the north generally being cooler and more humid and the south drier and hotter.
There is also variation in climate between islands: Madeira Island is dominated by the Laurel Forest (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which regulates the island’s climate, not letting the temperatures rise or fall too much.
Porto Santo, because it has no large forest areas, features a larger thermal amplitude and is usually hotter and drier year-round.
The cost of living in Madeira is generally lower than in other Portuguese cities, such as Lisbon or Porto and significantly lower than in European capitals, like London or Paris. On average, as of the time of writing:
Madeira has always been a destination of choice for tourists worldwide. It has been, since 2015, the World’s Leading Island Destination.
Expats come to Madeira for many reasons, such as:
Living in Madeira - Our guide 2023
Madeira features a large and vibrant expat community. People from all over the world live in Madeira, but the more represented nationalities are British, Canadians, Americans, and Germans.
Most stay around Madeira’s south coast, in areas such as Calheta, Ponta do Sol and Funchal. The cities on the island’s north coast are increasingly getting more attention as some buyers value the calmer and greener forest surroundings.
For the last couple of years, a considerable influx of remote workers and digital nomads have come to Madeira, boosted by the emergence of various coworking spaces and the Digital Nomad Village.
Today, Madeira is one of the most popular destinations in the world for remote working.
If you are an expat moving to Madeira, you will eventually need a place to stay. Madeira’s real estate market is very appealing for residential and investment purposes.
The local housing market has been gaining momentum, with investors realising the medium and long-term potential of Madeira’s real estate. Demand has seen a massive increase, which is excellent news for sellers. Buyers, however, should expect slightly higher prices.
Due to it being a top-rated tourist destination, Madeira usually has exceptionally high occupancy rates (for all kinds of accommodations). This means that if you buy property in Madeira as an investment, you can expect solid returns on short- and long-term rentals.
Luxury real estate properties have also been experiencing constant growth, with many sizable private investments held by world-renowned groups such as Savoy and Pestana.
Still have questions regarding life at Madeira? Check out the FAQs section on our website.
NEWCO is a one-stop shop for investors and expats in Portugal. We can help you with all the aspects of moving to Madeira, such as getting a residence permit, obtaining a NIF, bank account, finding property in Madeira and more.