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Madeira is often referred to as the Pearl of the Atlantic. This Portuguese archipelago has always been a well-known, world-class tourist destination. In the last few years, the Island has attracted much attention as people worldwide choose to emigrate to Madeira.
Whereas the expats that used to come to Madeira used to be mainly retirees, currently, there are people from all age groups, including digital nomads and remote workers. There are various coworking spaces around the island, including the famous Digital Nomad Village in Ponta do Sol.
Living in Madeira - Our guide 2022
Madeira is an archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 1000 km (621 miles) away 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. Porto Santo is a smaller island to the northeast of Madeira that is well-known for its paradisiac yellow sand beaches and is home to around 5000 inhabitants.
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.
Despite being an island, Madeira offers the best of both worlds: the calm and intimacy of a small region and the cosmopolitanism of a 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 geographical location and direct flights mean Madeira is a short plane trip away from many major European cities.
Locals are usually familiar with the English language, seeing as Madeira has been a top tourist destination for a long time. All in all, it should be easy for expats and remote workers to be integrated into the local culture and 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, due to the fact it has no large forest areas, features a larger thermal amplitude and is usually hotter year-round.
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.
This means that if you are living in Madeira with a Golden Visa or other resident permit, you will be allowed to travel without restrictions in the entire Schengen Area.
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, according to World Travel Awards.
Expats come to Madeira for many reasons, such as:
Living in Madeira - Our guide 2022
Madeira features a large and vibrant expat community. There are people from all over the world living in Madeira, but the more represented nationalities are British, Canadians, Americans, and Germans.
Most of them stay around Madeira’s south coast, in areas such as Calheta, Ponta do Sol and Funchal. Nowadays, the cities on the island’s north coast are increasingly getting more attention, as buyers value the calm, green forest surroundings.
For the last couple of years, a huge influx of remote workers and digital nomads has come to Madeira, boosted by the emergence of various coworking spaces and the Digital Nomad Village. Madeira is today 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 real estate in Madeira. Demand has seen a massive increase, which is excellent news for sellers. Buyers, however, should expect slightly higher prices and higher returns on short- and long-term rentals.
Luxury real estate properties have also been experiencing constant growth, with many sizable private investments by world-renowned groups such as Savoy and Pestana.