Expat Guide to Living in Madeira, Portugal

09 July, 2022

An expat lifestyle in Madeira is outstanding as it offers better integration with the local community. If you’ve always dreamt of living an island lifestyle while still staying in touch with the country’s facilities and events, Madeira might become your new home. This breathtaking Portuguese island provides tropical luxury with every European comfort. Without further ado, here’s your little guide to living in Madeira.

Your Expat Guide to Living in Madeira, Portugal

Where’s Madeira?

Known for its breathtakingly beautiful natural surroundings and coastlines, Madeira is a Portuguese Autonomous Region and a stunning archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s located close to northern Africa, creating the meeting point between America, Africa, and Europe. 

Madeira has spring-like weather all year round and is nicknamed the “Pearl of the Atlantic.” The archipelago is nested 40 minutes away from the sunny village of Jardim do Mar and 55 minutes from Funchal. Funchal is the archipelago’s capital city.

Madeira cost of living

Read on to learn about Madeira cost of living. Looking for an affordable place to live in Portugal? Madeira won’t drain your budget.

When compared with the Algarve, Madeira has low utility costs. Moreover, fruit costs 3 or 4 times less than in Europe, for instance. The same applies to the majority of food items. 

The existing forms of Madeira’s public transport system are excellent. Even though there are no trains, Madeira has a great network of busses, which residents and visitors enjoy. 

Madeira provides a host of real estate investment opportunities. Property costs are cheaper than houses in some areas of the UK. The average cost of living is about $946, depending on your lifestyle.

Healthcare in Madeira

Expats can use the same health services as residents. State healthcare isn’t fully free. You will need to pay standard user fees called 'taxas moderadoras.' You can find out more information about the Madeira healthcare system here

If you're an expat in Madeira, or planning to visit, we recommend getting SafetyWing travel insurance. It's a very affordable and flexible travel health insurance that many expats in Portugal use. It's always important to make sure you have a good travel insurance in Portugal.

What is life like in Madeira?

The pace of life in Madeira is slow and relaxing, lowering stress and enhancing your well-being. Surrounded by outstanding beaches and mountains in fantastic weather, Madeira offers a variety of leisure activities. 

The food is great in restaurants and supermarkets alike, with top-notch restaurants all over the archipelago. Another thing that makes life in Madeira fun is its incredible infrastructure. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout Funchal. You can also obtain English radio stations and cable channels. 

Madeira is renowned for one of the world’s biggest New Year’s fireworks displays. The harbor is loaded with cruise ships and boats, presenting the sky in a really beautiful spectacle. Life on the island is never boring as there are tons of leisure activities and events to enjoy.

Recurring art exhibitions, museums with religious and Flemish art, traditional folk festivals, churches hosting organ music festivals, chamber music concerts, and monthly symphonic orchestra are only several examples of the island’s active cultural scene. 

Is Madeira an ideal place to live?

The mild climate, picturesque views, and numerous leisure activities make Madeira an ideal place to live in. A laid-back lifestyle, low crime, and amenities allure tourists from all over the world. The majority of residents and expats of Madeira live near or on the coast with the prominent Atlantic Ocean and breathtaking mountain views.  

The friendly people, climate, unique cuisine, and fantastic landscape all make Madeira a very popular choice for people searching for an alternative location overseas.

Professional environment in Madeira

Finding a job – especially a permanent one – in Madeira is extremely difficult. Even if you’re a professional, you might spend months before you find something. Luckily, there’s one alternative to consider when living in Madeira. The government supports those who want to start their own business.

The tax benefits vary yet some expats reap tons of benefits. The island provides Europe's lowest corporate tax rate and only 5%, through the Madeira International Business Centre.

Madeira is a great place for freelancers and digital nomads. There’s a tax regime such as the Non-Habitual Resident tax regime, which applies to expats. As an entrepreneur, you can combine the Madeira International Business Centre if you’re trying to find a professional.

Madeira expat community

Madeira expat community is diverse. There are a lot of expats coming from Germany, France, Austria, and the UK. Few expats are from the US, Canada, and Scandinavia. More people, particularly from these mentioned countries, are trying to move to Madeira. Due to entry requirements, many people fail to stay on the island. If you live in Madeira full-time and you want to find friends, you can join the Madeira expat community on Facebook.

Living in Madeira after Brexit

Even though Portugal is often referred to as one of the easiest countries to get residence, the whole process takes time and effort. When it comes to receiving residency, things have slightly changed. 

According to Brexit, you might not be allowed to live in the EU without a visa. It’s important to apply for a visa as soon as you decide to stay on this awesome island. There are several types of visas to apply for. The most widely used is the Golden Visa, D2, and the D7.

if you are planning to retire, think about receiving residency first. While it’s not as difficult as it used to be, many people choose to retire and receive residency without effort. Firstly, apply for a visa to have 5 years of residence in Portugal. Then, you can apply for permanent residency or citizenship. Citizenship will provide you with a passport. The residency will renew every 10 years.

The final word

If you strive to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, consider moving to Madeira. Despite being an island, Madeira has all the amenities of the big city. The cost of living is fully reflected in the lifestyle you lead, but in general, the island is very affordable. 

Where you decide to live in Madeira depends on your needs. The archipelago’s second-largest island, Porto Santo offers peaceful and quiet life. Other wonderful places to live are Ponta do Sol, Calheta, Funchal, and Sao Martinho among the others.