Life as an expat in Cascais
Have you ever wondered what life as an expat in Cascais might be like? If you’ve lived in or around Lisbon or visited the city, there’s a good chance you will have been already.
Although it’s been around in one form or another since the late 12th Century, the pretty seaside resort about 30km to the west of Lisbon became a popular destination once King Luis 1 decided it would be the royal summer residence in the late 19th century.
As you’d perhaps expect, much of the Portuguese nobility followed. Of course, that brought with it some significant investment in the local infrastructure. To be honest Cascais has never really looked back since.
But, if you’re considering a new life in Portugal or perhaps an investment in property, would Cascais be a good fit? Or is it a town still living on the largesse brought by royal patronage?
Jacqui made the town her home with her husband after retirement from UK banking eight years ago.This is what she told us:
What’s the best thing about living in Cascais?
Jacqui: “It’s actually quite hard to pick just one thing but perhaps it’s the weather. Of course, we get some rain blowing in off the Atlantic in the winter months but our location means it doesn’t really get fiercely hot or bone-numbingly cold. There’s often a cooling breeze in the summer months. Also, we’re far enough south and close enough to the sea for winter snow and frost to be a rarity.”
Are there many other foreign nationals living in the area?
Jacqui: “Yes, there are; Cascais is actually pretty cosmopolitan. You will find communities of nationalities from all around the world. Portugal has historic links with nations in South America but there are plenty of British, German and Dutch families too.
“It’s not a new thing either. If you take time to look, you will find evidence of the Romans, the Moors, the Spanish and French. All of them occupied the area at one time or another.”
Is Cascais a backwater or a party town?
Jacqui: “It can actually be a bit of both. There are parts of town – even on the sea front – where it’s easy to find a quiet corner to enjoy a coffee. You can catch-up with friends without any of the razzamatazz which comes with so many other seaside resorts.
“Having said that though, the town can come alive at night. So many things in the area attract thrill-seekers and adventurers from all over the world. Surfing, sailing, kite-boarding are good examples, while Cascais was also named European Youth Capital in 2018. There’s also a casino in nearby Estoril said to have inspired Ian Fleming’s first James Bond story.
“So, in short, it’s not Ibiza – but it’s not Eastbourne either.”
People sometimes say Cascais is expensive. Is it?
Jacqui: “It probably depends on your perspective. If you’re used to a tight budget, you might be able to argue there are cheaper places. We’d probably describe it as reasonable though.
“Like-for-like, property in Cascais is probably comparable with many other Western European resorts. Look hard enough and you can find apartments and villas for around €100,000 – although, admittedly, most are likely to be more than that. On the other hand, good food, utilities and so on may be a little less. We’re certainly not paying the premiums demanded in places like Monaco or Naples. All-in-all, we’re happy with the cost of living in Portugal.
“Naturally, some Brits are a little nervous about the implications of Brexit. But the Portuguese government has said it values the British expat community and will do all in its power to protect us against any negative financial impact which is reassuring.”
How easy are the basics like schools and shopping?
Jacqui: “There are actually quite a few international schools in the area. You don’t necessarily have to worry about your children not being able to communicate with teaching staff or making friends. However, it’s always a good idea to start learning the language as soon as you can.
“Once you have your confidence after the first couple of trips, shopping isn’t really a challenge either. There may be a few things you’ll miss from ‘home’ but then the local seafood and amazing pastries more than make up for them!
You’ll find many who serve you in shops, restaurants and cafes speak enough English to understand you. But do try to speak as much Portuguese as you can. It’s always appreciated.”
If you ever had to leave, what would you miss the most?
Jacqui: “It’s easy to take things for granted after you’ve been around for a while but I think we’d probably miss things like the easy access to some lovely beaches, the walks along the promenade, and the sunsets.
“It’s also handy to be so close to Lisbon which is only a little way down the A5 or a short ride away on the train but even chatting with the stallholders in the Cascais market or a drive along the Marginal Road along the coast never gets dull.
“Most of all though, we’d miss our friends. They’re easy enough to make in and around Cascais and so many have different and interesting backgrounds. Just whiling away an afternoon or evening over a drink or a meal is easy enough to do anywhere I suppose – but it’s the quiet calm of Cascais which makes it special.”
If you’d like more information on a move overseas or just a chat about your options, why not give us a call or drop us a line? We’d be happy to help if we can.