The Algarve is very safe.
I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is probably one of the world’s most dangerous places. I lived in San Pablo in Brazil, which is amongst the crime capitals of the world. I used to do a lot of business in Bogota when the drug cartels were more prevalent, where I used to have a personal code with my driver so that I wasn’t hijacked. I still remember when I lived in Miami that there were places in downtown Miami that you couldn’t walk at night.
Compared to those places, it’s a complete and utter difference in the Algarve. I believe Portugal is the seventh safest country in the world. The Algarve is known as a place for people who do not wish to be necessarily in the limelight and who would rather be away from the media. Many famous people who could choose any location choose the Algarve because you don’t have the paparazzi running around.
If you walk around the Algarve, you will see the average middle class people who live here, among whom, the crime rate is very low. Historically there has been very, very little violent crime in the Algarve, which continues to be the case. There is no racial or social unrest. Portugal is generally a very homogenous country from a racial, a religious, and other perspectives. Most people are of the Roman Catholic faith. And even people who are not necessarily religious are very, very neutral and not in any way outspoken about their beliefs. What one finds in Portugal is a country that is very tolerant, which contributes in no small measure to the fact that not only is the country safe, but people feel safe. The comment that we often receive from people who are down here is, “I really feel safe. I can walk at night to a restaurant or into town and I don’t feel as though I’m being threatened in any way.” This is very important.
We had a single female client from the US living in London who was staying in one of our locations near Portimao in the Algarve and wanted to go to either a jazz concert or ballet that playing in a very large venue that was located in a bit of an industrial area on the edge of the river. She walked from the place where she was staying across a fairly deserted village to the performance, and then walked back. Later, I dropped her an email to ask her how it went. She wrote back, “Absolutely fantastic! If I had been in London I would have had to take a cab to stay overnight in a hotel and caught a cab to see the show, pay a fortune for the show, come back and have gone back home to my house. Instead, in the Algarve, I saw a top performance, and walked back. I felt completely safe and it cost me probably a tenth of what it would cost in London or New York.” I believe it’s important to live in a place that feels safe as opposed to just citing statistics that say it’s safe. The important thing for most people is to feel safe.
In general, people don’t have burglar bars or big dogs for security in the Algarve. Some of the traditional properties that are out in the countryside need some protection because they closed for months and so to just avoid anyone having the temptation to break in, sometimes people will put worked, ornate iron bars on the windows and the doors. However, in the city and in the suburbs, it’s not that common to see burglar bars. On the contrary, it’s much more common to see big wide sliding doors to make the most of the views and the sunshine.
(In 2009 actress Angelina Jolie had been looking for property in the Algarve, Portugal, pictured.)