The Algarve: Best Place in the World to Retire!

Finally it is official!

It has been coming for some time, it must be said. Europe’s leading beach destination – World Travel Awards. 2nd best place to retire overseas – The Telegraph. 7th friendliest nation in the world (among 140 surveyed) – CNN. World’s leading Golf Destination – WTA.

And now: Algarve, Portugal: Best Place in the World to Retire – 2014 Retire Overseas Index.

The index, which has just been published, sees the Algarve ranked ahead of 21 global locations including places such as Abruzzo in Italy, Barcelona in Spain, Istria in Croatia, Pau in France, Chaing Mai in Thailand, Istanbul in Turkey, Dumaguete in the Philippines, Ambergris Caye in Belize, Mendoza in Argentina, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and City Beaches in Panama.

The ranking was compiled using 12 criteria including climate, cost of living, crime, English spoken, entertainment, environmental conditions, existing expat community, healthcare, infrastructure, real estate, residency options and taxes. Portugal scored top marks in several categories: it received an A for its sizeable 100,000 expat community which allowed new arrivals to integrate faster; an A for Environment, an A for Crime (I think that should be lack of Crime!); and A for infrastructure, recognition that EU money was actually spent on something tangible; an A for Residency and of course an A for climate – no surprise there!

Surprisingly for many, but not us, it was awarded an A for Entertainment. This is not New York or London, but you can see a World Premiere of a musical – Blind Faith has its run of 8 performances in October before starting a 60 performance tour in the UK. It isn’t New Orleans or Paris, but you can enjoy jazz, fado, youth orchestras or ballet, most weeks of the year. It isn’t Flushing Meadow or Adelaide, but you can play a tennis tournament most weekends. Wentworth it ain’t but talk to any of the pros and they will tell you that among the 42 courses that grace the Algarve, there will be at least one that will match your favourite anywhere in the world. Plus you won’t have to travel more than an hour to reach any of them. And when it comes to traditional markets and an array of dining experiences, well, there is really no need to travel to Florence, Rio de Janeiro or even Spitalfields.

Health and Real Estate ranked as an A-. Taxes only ranked as a B because the Non Habitual Residency programme, which allows many new resident foreigners to earn pensions tax-free, only lasts 10 years for any qualifying individual. And the Algarve’s lone C was earned in the English Spoken category, not because few people speak English in the region but because Portuguese as a language is considered very difficult for a foreigner to learn.

Forbes, the highly respected and influential magazine, business and entrepreneurial group, was quick to publish news of the Algarve’s new-found status for retirees. The report, which can be found at, incorporates the summary of the comprehensive study conducted by Live and Invest Overseas, the US-based publisher which spent months analysing data from different countries.

As Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, states of the Algarve and Portugal in general, "it’s the most affordable option in Europe for retirees” - But as she points out, "retiring part-time overseas can also be a good idea”. The publisher frequently encourages those wishing to retire to a new location to do so for a trial period before making a final decision.

Service-based solutions such as those run by, are changing the landscape of the decision-making process of new and potential retirees, providing a way to experience the lifestyle and the region’s many advantages (and any challenges) prior to taking the plunge.

Luis da Silva, Founder and Managing Director at Algarve Senior Living, who has been actively involved as a local correspondent for publications such as the Overseas Retirement Letter, states "we are passionate about living in the Algarve and the many benefits and advantages of life in the region.” Algarve Senior Living assisted in researching and providing relevant data to support the Algarve’s status as an excellent retirement destination.

Algarve Senior Living is not only walking the walk, by launching the region’s first flexible solution for independent seniors. It is also talking the talk, by trumpeting positive data on Europe’s most famous secret, now also the best place in the world to retire. Hope to see you at an Algarve Senior Living village soon, where we walk the talk!

Welcome to Algarve Senior Living

For many months, the Algarve Senior Living team has been busy preparing for the Autumn (Fall) 2014 launch of its first villages. We hope you will explore this site and find useful information about our offerings, the region and why it is such a great place to retire. We have also been working in the background to start to make the Algarve Senior Living brand known around the world. We will post links to relevant articles and contributions on a regular basis including articles of local interest (see our piece on Portugal's largest private gallery), tax (hear from a Swedish expat who saved 57% tax by becoming resident in Portugal), and news articles which might be of general interest to our readers, guests and visitors.

We invite you to read through an article, written by the Algarve Senior Living team for the international publication Overseas Retirement Letter. Here you will find a detailed description of why the Lagoa municipality, in which our pilot Carvoeiro villages are located, is such an attractive multinational expatriate location. Please take a look at Retirement in the municipalities of Lagoa and Silves.

Welcome to our site and feel free to explore, and to provide us with feedback and suggestions. We hope to welcome you as a resident or guest of Algarve Senior Living, or to having you participate in our Ambassador program.

The Algarve Senior Living team

Try before you decide

Jane Slade, of, makes a compelling argument as to why it may make sense to consider renting before taking the plunge of a country move. See her article on Likewise, for existing Algarve residents looking at moving somewhere with more of a community feel, less isolation, a range of activities and some medical support, then Algarve Senior Living may just be the solution as you plan ahead for your changing circumstances. Feel free to join us on Stand 16 at the Better Living in Portugal exhibition, to be held in the Portimão Arena between October 4 and 5, for a chat and to see whether Algarve Senior Living might be of help.

Another (boring?) weekend in paradise

We hear it all the time. Went on holiday but there was nothing to do. Great beaches, plenty of sunshine, but how can we otherwise occupy our time? The other day, I even had to convince a Portuguese person that he was falling into the trap of paying lip service to that ill-gotten, and much maligned, it must be said, reputation which places like the Algarve have earned, for being, dare we say it: boring?

Our weekend started before we realised the week had ended. The first of the summer’s night tournaments was being held at the Portimão tennis club and we had one of the family members playing in the seniors event. The warm-up was interrupted by a phone call to attend a meeting and by the time I returned to offer my support, the match was well into the second set. Two and a half hours later, with plenty of bifanasand refreshments being liberally distributed among the attendees, singles and doubles matches were still in full flow. In this tournament there was even a celebrity attendee. Stefan Edberg, former world number 1 and a frequent visitor to the Algarve, brought his family along to watch his son play. The only give-away that they might not be local club members, was the group of blonde-haired supporters sitting on the long wooden benches alongside an otherwise dark-haired audience.

The first night was an early night, as players and supporters managed to get away by 01:30 and doubles was largely held over until the following evening. Nonetheless, the next morning I drive over to the same club because a younger family member is participating in an U/12 tournament. Hours and several victories later, and we are looking at another full day on the Sunday interrupted only by the continuation of the senior tournament in the evening.

Much to my disappointment I don’t make it over to the Arte Algarve gallery in Lagoa which holds its first auction. Around 80 people attend to see 170 works go under the hammer. Interest is good for this debut occasion and more than 20 works, including prints by well-known Portuguese artist Guimarães and famous Spanish painter Miró, are sold off to art lovers.

From there, it is only a short hop to the Feira do Doce Conventual, a traditional sweets fair held annually in the beautiful Convent of São José. The visitor is greeted by the gentle sounds of a saxophone and flute duo, soloists drawn from the local orchestra. As much a feast for the eye as for the taste buds, the event includes the Big 4 of endogenous ingredients: carob, orange, fig and almond. My comment to one exhibitor that the mere sight of such sweetness is enough to increase cholesterol levels is not appreciated by the person in question, but other visitors smile between mouthfuls of sweets. Outside, the traditional fadoperformers are getting ready to entertain the visitors, their haunting melodies soon floating into the balmy night air.

Sunday’s tennis more than eliminates any excess that might have resulted from the previous night. Players and families leave the club after the finals. Just enough time to wander down to the waterfront and treat everyone to an ice cream...just another weekend in paradise

We are one of the reasons why the Algarve is great for seniors!

My Destination has just published an article listing Algarve Senior Living as one of the reasons contributing to the Algarve being seen as a fantastic retirement destination. Read the full set of reasons on

The Non Habitual Resident law: a case study

I thought that Börje Forsberg looked tanned and relaxed. Although we had never met before, I assumed that this was because he was now retired to the Algarve. He was quick to confirm my first impressions. By his own admission, he now has a very different lifestyle to the one before his retirement four years ago.

We had organised to meet so that Mr. Forsberg, an experienced company director and still active non-executive director, could tell me a little about why he had become a resident of the Algarve, specifically the town of Lagos. In a very personal and genuine way, he was spontaneous in admitting that the death of a close friend to cancer four years ago had made him rethink his life and decide to bring forward plans to seek a change of lifestyle and reduce his "double shift of 30 years” which had taken him to hundreds of international working destinations.

That change included a renewed focus on friends, family, his grandchildren, new challenges and (surprisingly) travelling (but not work-related).

In a structured process often associated with Scandinavian thinking, his research process had included an analysis of Spain, Malta, and France, until settling on Portugal, which he had only visited twice before. After an initial visit to Cascais and the greater Lisbon area, it was Lagos, a city he describes as "genuine” and "not destroyed by tourists”, that he decided to settle, spending on average nine months of every year. Originally from Stockholm, he found that in the area, expatriates mingle easily with locals, and a sense of a normalcy prevails throughout the year (even in the heady summer season).

I assumed that his decision to adopt Lagos and the Algarve as his home involved more than the sea and pool views from his apartment, or the peaceful, balmy afternoons reading a book in the shade of the overhang of the balcony above him. He quickly expanded on the reasons for his choice: "the culture, good food, good wine” (said, it must be added, with just a hint of a smile), all added up to the "perfect” location for him. With a population of just 20,000, even the swollen summer that brought with it probably another 100,000 did not create any significant traffic jams. Perhaps it is time that they "rebuild the old bridge”, he adds as a critical afterthought, referring to the city’s once-popular crossing between the city’s promenade and Meia Praia and which due to structural instability and a lack of funds had ceded its position to a new crossing further upstream.

And, of course, the tax situation. Mr. Forsberg found out about Portugal’s Non Habitual Resident law, which allows new eligible retirees to receive their pensions tax-free in the country. Even though it was not his main motivation, the 57% tax saving was the icing on the cake. Mr. Forsberg is quick to add, though: "don’t move if saving tax is your only reason”, implying of course that his was a weighted decision involving a number of variables. But there is no doubt that for Swedes, "Portugal is the number 1 option” from a tax perspective, better than even Malta which has traditionally been the destination of choice.

True to his promise to himself "to live a completely different life”, he now runs (or jogs) five times a week, plays some tennis, reads and finds time to deal with his approximately 20 daily e-mails (which made me admiring and insanely jealous at the same time, when thinking of my own inbox).

With views over the ocean and of the communal pool in his apartment complex, there could be worse places to retire, I thought. And a 50% tax saving as an added prize…no wonder Mr. Forsberg has already convinced ten of his Swedish friends to join him.

See our interviewee live on Euronews in a Portuguese interview:

Art emulates Algarve multicultural senior community

It’s not quite Miami, or the melting pot that is São Paulo, or Paris with its quartiers, or even London with its myriad Tube stops, many of which represent gateways to miniature international communities. But the Algarve has its own ‘identity’ influenced by the vast range of nationalities represented in such a small area: Portuguese, German, British, Dutch, American, Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish…the list goes on.

In a regulated world, one where individuality is a treasured human trait and where public expressions of personal taste are increasingly uncommon, art continues to stand out as a medium for expression that crosses the cultural divide. Few places are more symbolic of the Algarve’s thriving multinational community than Arte Algarve, the unique space nurtured into the country’s largest privately-owned gallery by its founder Rolf Osang.

Arte Algarve is being developed into a multi-functional space, including a permanent home for art auctions (the first of which planned for July 19th 2014, where more than 170 works will be on sale), and will in the future include a shop for local arts and crafts and an area serving drinks and light snacks. It already houses a permanent Algarve art section, a rotating monthly exhibition and a cross-section of artists in its main gallery.

Artistic multiculturalism is evident in the works that grace the amazing space of the Arte Algarve building. Immediately evident is a blend of an original, almost ethnic, vein, as expatriate artists remain true to their roots, yet create unexpected contrasts with moments of inspiration brought on, one would imagine, by the omnipresent light.

From humble beginnings at a local arts market, Rolf Osang understood that the combination of the region’s beauty, its demographics and the "extraordinary quality of its light”, represented an opportunity to incubate the region’s artistic talent.

Art in the Algarve is ‘mature’ art, not only because many of its protagonists are seniors, but because the genre, themes, even the materials chosen are a reflection of a process of experimentation and maturation which sees each artist find the combination that is a perfect match to their taste, style and personality.

This recurring light motif (sic), present in so many of the works, where artists dare to be bold with colours and strokes, mirrors the physical structure itself, where the badly aligned roof tiles let in scintillating shafts of light while keeping the infrequent rain waters at bay. The combination of natural and artificial, direct and indirect lighting, sets the ambience which renders the massive space surprisingly intimate. The space itself is free of preconceptions and lends itself to the art connoisseur or the person with a love for beauty.

The variety of the work on display, which represents 70 artists in the main gallery alone and rotates every four months, means that a visitor can spend as little or as much time with each artist, choosing to simply gloss over those which are less to their liking. The way in which the gallery is organised, reminiscent of a traditional market where works by each artists are ‘clustered’ (without doubt influenced by Rolf Osang’s early experiences in the region), allows art lovers to find common themes, soothes the transitions between artists, and aids comparisons.

I reluctantly exited the main gallery, feeling guilty that I had not dedicated enough time or attention to any of the artists. I carried this feeling with me until I exited the building itself and looked back. There, I observed the unremarkable structure, a seemingly abandoned winery that had seen better days. My eyes could no longer see the drab outside that daily passers-by on the EN125 road observe, but instead the wonderfully reincarnated interior whose soul was an improved version of a former self. How interesting, I mused, that the senior artists whose works were brought to public attention in this once discarded space, had repaid the old dame with a new lease of life.

Take a look at our soon to be published section on Arte Algarve and be the judge of how unique the space really is. Algarve Senior Living guests will benefit from free guided visits to Arte Algarve.

Remember the 80s, rejoice the senior artists!

The largest-ever crowd at a Cascais Revival Festival was restless. A rushed performance by the preceding act, who were eager to be off to see England play in the World Cup, had sprinkled the warm night air with tension. Among the assembled audience the anticipation steadily grew as the crew meticulously rolled out, positioned and locked into place the drum kit, the backing singer microphones, the saxophonist’s stand, and then, in turn, the remaining equipment.

The musicians and backing vocalists to make their way onto a stage tinged with blue light. In what seemed like seconds, they found their groove and a jazzy, soulful instrumental set the scene for what was to come.

Billy Ocean arrived, strolling like a youngster between the backing singers and the bass player, with his trademark permanent smile lighting up a face seemingly untouched by age. The main sign of ageing was the silver-white Rastafarian locks tied neatly into a ponytail.

Initially a little faint, but quickly increasing in volume as he found his stride and mastered the acoustics, the voice was barely changed from the 80s. A little twirl, a finger immediately singling out someone in the crowd – creating an instantaneous personal link with each and every person – and the audience was soon chanting out the chorus of ‘Stand up – Stand Up’.

Billy Ocean owned the stage as he delivered wonderful renditions of many of his greatest hits, including Mystery Lady, Suddenly, Getta Outta My Dreams, and When the Going Gets Tough. One moment we were listening to the slow and soulful Colour of Love, the next the slightly snappier but equally soul-filled Love Zone, and then onto the catchy pre-80s Love Really Hurts Without You. During the entire show, he treated the audience to some smooth moves, little shuffles, sidesteps and moments of introspection, still able to lose himself in his art. I admit I was concerned he would displace a hip at the start of Loverboy, but from the shouts and hoots from some ladies in the audience, it was clear his sacrifice was appreciated!

Affable and engaging, Billy Ocean displayed all the traits of a man at ease with himself and the world around him. He epitomised, I thought to myself as the music rolled on and I watched him sing and dance on the stage, the image of the mature individual, or senior, who is able to do things he likes after a long working career. Of course, in Billy Ocean’s case, his ‘hobby’ happens to be the same as his life-long profession, but I thought it illustrated the point nonetheless. It was clear that his decision to continue to perform was purposeful. When he introduced one of the backing singers as his daughter, part of his motivation was there for all to see – the opportunity to perform with one of his children. Similarly to Kim Wilde, who on the previous evening had been accompanied by her vivacious daughter, here was a man who, happy with his own life, was now able to impart some of that joy and energy to others, even at sixty four. In fact, I thought, it is probably because he is enjoying life that he is able to find a connection to the audience so easily.

During the concert, I looked around the audience and saw a variety of ages, mostly middle-aged couples, but some seniors, a few youngsters who had accompanied parents and several young adults who arrived in groups or as couples. People quickly lost their inhibitions, dancing (or shuffling) to the songs that they remembered or simply because they liked the tune. I found myself unashamedly singing along, surprised that I could recall so many of the lyrics and embarrassed that my booming voice was so off-key. This was pop music at its most interactive. The artist danced and the audience followed suit.

When he bade the audience farewell, everyone knew he would be back for an encore, but no one begrudged him a little ‘time out’ to recover after almost an hour and a half on stage. And surely enough, he was back out to sing two more tunes, ending as expected with his massive hit Caribbean Queen (which I half expected him to do in the European Queen version, given where he was).

I observed the crowd as it melted, slowly, into the moonlit evening, and chatted to someone who I think expressed the general sentiment: "What an artist. Kim Wilde was good last night, as was Rick Astley, but Billy Ocean was fantastic. At his age, what a show! And what a personality!”

I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone in the audience when I say: It would be a pleasure to have this young-at-heart 64-year old back to entertain us again in the future. Well done, Billy Ocean, on such an engaging performance and to being a testament to what an active senior life should be like!

PS. Why, you may ask, is this one of the first ASL posts? See for yourself the variety of activities in which active seniors can get involved at an Algarve Senior Village. We don't promise to make you a superstar, but you can remain active if you wish, and who knows, maybe there is a star performance at some point in the future of one of our villages...