Property for sale in the Algarve - Part 1
The Portuguese and the British, while poles apart in many ways, have always been at ease with one another. This is not the case with the closely related people on the Iberian Peninsula. Things are still prickly between Portugal and Spain. In Portugal there is a certain phrase summing this up "de Espana nem bon vento nem bon casamento" - which translated means "neither a good wind nor a good marriage comes from Spain". Although joined geographically, emotionally they are oceans apart.
Essentially, Spain is a Mediterranean country whereas Portugal although climatically Mediterranean it faces the Atlantic and as such is at the mercy of its elements.
Situated on the south-western extremity of the continent, Portugal has always attracted a steady stream of occupying foreigners: Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Germanic Barbarians, Moors - even the Spanish for a never-to-be-forgotten 60 years. In more recent years the invasion has come from Britain in the form of expatriates investing in property for sale in the Algarve and package holidaymakers.
The elegance and charm of the greater Lisbon area and the hardworking northern city or Oporto have long attracted entrepreneurial (and sometimes rather eccentric) Britons. Not until after democracy was established with the popular revolution of 1974 did the British start arriving in large numbers. Most of them chose to find property for sale in the Algarve, the southern most province, rather than the cities. The chief attractions being more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, a spectacular coastline, low prices and the hospitality of the down-to-earth Algarvians.
The sun continues to shine to such an extent that some environmentalists worry that global warming could cause the Sahara desert to spread northward into Southern Portugal. Of more immediate concern both to environmentalists and everyone with a love of natural beauty in the Algarve is the spread of urban developments, particularly along the south coast. This has been a direct consequence of the ever growing popularity as a place for foreigners to relax, retire and buy property for sale in the Algarve.
The cost of living has sky-rocketed but so too have the standards of living thanks to huge amounts of foreign investment as well as the benefits of EU membership. A few years ago you could buy a quality villa with a pool in a nice locality near the Algarve coast for around £175,000 to £200,000. The cost now is more likely to be around £300,000 to £350,000, but the market is very competitive.
In the more exclusive resorts at the higher end of the market prices seem to have gone through the roof and this year are expected to rise even higher. In Vale de Lobo, 15 minutes drive from Faro airport, prime beachfront sites are being sold for up to £4.5 million. These prices are way above anything ever paid for similar sized plots in the nearby Quinto do Lago, a well known haunt for the rich and famous including Michael Owen, Chris Evans and Alan Shearer.
Despite the escalating prices the demand for property in the Algarve is still extremely high and in some case outstrips supply. Estate agents have a high supply of would-be purchasers with a short supply of properties to show them. Rigid land zoning policies and building restraints mean that this may be the case for some time and there is now a trend to start opening up the interior of the country.
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