A dream destination, with its bright sunshine, seaside resorts and low-cost real estate, Portugal is increasingly attracting tourists from France and around the world. The Iberian region is of great interest to many Europeans, and over the last few years has been particularly popular. Why this sudden enthusiasm for this beautiful country? What are the French looking for when they come here for a vacation, or even to settle down? One thing's for sure: this region, which has already become extremely attractive in recent years, is still being coveted.
An attractive destination
Portugal enjoys a warm climate and proximity to the sea. Its seaside resorts are a major asset for tourism in general. If its dreamy beachfront setting is enchanting, so too are its large urban cities, steeped in the country's history and culture. For example, the beautiful cities of Lisbon and Porto. City breaks par excellence, these two places are ideal landmarks for visiting globetrotters. Just a few days' vacation to kill? Let's go to Lisbon or Porto! In fact, these two cities are highly regarded not only by the French, but also by their European neighbors.
The destination appeals to young and old alike. Located on the Atlantic coast, Portugal is a magical place for surfers. Indeed, the promise of great sensations is there for the "wave sportsmen". However, the elderly are not left out. In 2014, for example, the first Lookea club in the Algarve region opened its doors. The vacation group makes it easy to find more confidential and intimate relaxation spots. For those seeking peace and quiet in the sun, this is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
A vacation or more?
For all these reasons, Portugal is increasingly popular with holidaymakers. The figures bear this out. In 2014 there were around two million French visitors, 20% more than in 2013, 33% more than in 2012. The number of visitors to the Portuguese coast and its urban cities continues to rise. But it's not just the happy summer visitors who are interested in the country. Indeed, some simply decide to settle here permanently. This was the case for 7,000 French people in 2014, three times as many as in 2013. Among these new arrivals 80% are retirees who have come to make the most of their free time. But then why so much eagerness for Portugal?
Firstly, the Maghreb saw its popularity plummet due to the rise of Islamism and the fear of terrorism. As a result, holidaymakers have been looking for an alternative, low-cost seaside destination. Secondly, the cost of living is 35% lower than in France. Not to mention a very low tax burden, thanks to the RNH (non-habitual resident) status available to new arrivals. This allows them to be exempt from income tax for 10 years, provided they live 6 months of the year on Portuguese territory. What's more, property prices are relatively low compared to the rest of Europe. Between 2011 and 2013, Portugal was hit by the sovereign debt crisis. This was responsible for a 30% drop in the property market. As a result, in 2014, one property in 5 was purchased by a foreign investor.
Considering all these positive aspects, and putting aside the language barrier, there is only one real obstacle to French people settling here permanently. This is the health care system, which is less efficient in Portugal, and is a source of concern for potential buyers. Nevertheless, it's also a market up for grabs for certain start-ups. In fact, a number of small companies are now offering to help retirees with their health insurance needs.