You hear the soothing sound of the ocean while eating a mango so ripe that the juice runs down your hands. You turn your face to the sun while immersing yourself in the scent of exotic flowers. In the garden, you plant passion fruit and an avocado tree and sip local wine in the evening. Just around the corner is your favorite eatery where you and your friends enjoy seafood. Do you feel a burning desire to live closer to the sun? Or maybe living in Madeira is on your mind?
Let’s leave everything and go to Madeira!
However, think well if you really want to fulfill it by choosing to live in Madeira. The Island of Eternal Spring is tempting and lures with the promise of a happy life in the middle of the Atlantic. But as it stuns and delights, so also makes certain demands. Above all, there is no place for sandy beaches, and gentle walking routes are rare. With stunning elevations and valleys cutting the island like a razor, living in Madeira is literally balancing over the abyss.
Time is the key to understand the island, so you will realize late that beauty comes at a high price. Therefore, if moving to Madeira is on your mind, let me lead you through a shortcut. Firstly, I will show you the challenges you have no idea about and throw new light on some aspects. Madeira is extreme, so as a result, you will either confirm your adventure plan or change the destination. In other words, living in Madeira is a choice only for connoisseurs of non-obvious places. And for people without fear of heights.
Living in Madeira, a dream come true or madness?
Everyone has lost their mind! Tourists, tanned by the tropical sun and stunned by the views, settle on the island. Germans, Englishmen, and other wealthy Europeans occupy real estate offices and materialize their ocean-view dreams. In love with landscapes, climate, and food, they decide to buy a house. As a result, they will happily spend their retirement or vacation on the island of Eternal Spring.
Such a great idea, as long as they mostly care about peace and their own company, and their flat is conveniently located. Certainly, the island has a lot to offer, due to its stunning vegetation and subtropical climate. In other words, a bull’s eye for active nature amateurs! Holidays are something different from everyday life on the island. That is to say, life in Madeira, apart from the brightness, also has shadows.
Living in Madeira, a challenge on many levels.
Strong legs and good brakes.
Madeira is one of the largest volcanoes in the world and due to its small dimensions, is extremely steep. Living on the edge takes on a literal meaning here. In other words, strong legs and good brakes will be your essentials in skillful moving around the island. Due to the endless curves and hills, going to the bakery can be serious trekking, and the innocent-looking hills guarantee CrossFit training. Needless to say, it is absolutely necessary to have a car with good brakes and full insurance. Living in Madeira without a proper car would be a great loss!
Interesting fact: The only place to relax from constant climbing and overwhelming 3D effect is Paul da Serra’s plateau. This unreal, lush green flat “Madeira sponge” is the kingdom of levadas, cows and windmills. Its massif is surrounded by fairy-tale laurel forests immersed in clouds. It’s more than awesome! The road to the plateau itself is dizzying because reaching 1500 meters through the serpentines is quite a feat! So fasten your seat belts and keep your hands tight on the steering wheel!
Living in Madeira? Not for everyone!
Madeira tourism meets all needs, allowing tourists to explore the island, regardless of their age or restrictions. However, these facilities are superficial, because tourism is one thing, and everyday life and functioning in mountainous terrain is another story. You should be prepared for the effort and consider whether the endless hills and curves will not be too difficult. For instance, endless traversing hills (with trolley), the sweat on the back, and air humidity can completely discourage you. As a result, fit and mobile people will benefit more from the island than those with limitations or without a car. Certainly, living in Madeira will be more convenient for a young, active couple than for families with young children.
A good plan is essential.
A longer stay in Madeira means that you accept the island’s difficulties and prepare for a number of dares. Unless you are a toff who can afford luxury and an apartment with a view, get ready for the challenge. You turn a five-star hotel into a less comfortable local house and all-inclusive for self-cooking. That is to say, that from now on you must find your way in this jungle. Then the great fun begins for some, and hardcore roller-coaster ride for others.
A hut in the fog at the foot of the mountains.
A crucial issue for the comfort of living in Madeira is a well-thought-out place of stay. When making your decision, consider factors such as convenient location, altitude, and air humidity. It is very easy to be tempted by a low price and buy a house… standing in the clouds or in the shade for half a year! My friend from the north spends the coldest winter weeks in the shade of a great mountain. To make it clearer (darker in fact), the sunlight doesn’t reach her house for two months a year!
The lack of heating, downpours, and humidity are a terrible combination, having nothing to do with heaven on earth. So when planning a longer stay or living in Madeira, be well prepared and focus on functionality. Instead of a “fairy-tale” hut in the middle of a banana grove, choose a more practical solution. Therefore, I recommend sunny towns with good infrastructure and a mild climate, such as Funchal (Lido), Canico de Baixo, or Ponta do Sol.
Shortcuts in the mountains.
Living in Madeira more comfortable than ever.
Madeira, with its extraordinary potential, has developed on many levels at an impressive pace. Above all, its unique road infrastructure should be put on a pedestal. Thanks to huge grants, Madeira can boast of modern solutions, dominated by over 150 tunnels, numerous bridges, and overpasses. Therefore, once completely isolated parts of the island finally became available at the end of the 20th century. New roads and connections were built, which significantly shortened the distance and improved communication. Everyday life in mountain villages became easier and hours of hills crossing turned into comfortable, fast journeys. Now you need an hour to drive from the north to the capital city, instead of eight hours of trekking.
Do you know why Madeira is full of small, absurdly located bars serving “Poncha” and other local alcohols? For the courage and variety of the long and tiring drives across the island in the past. Although the distance shortened, roadside bars remained, and with them the infamous tradition of drinking drivers. To sum up, communication on the island is a new quality, and thanks to it, many previously inaccessible places are at your fingertips. They are still, however, mountainous areas that cannot be reached by public transport. Therefore, buying a suitable car should be a priority expense.
Communication changed, but not the way of thinking.
An interesting fact is that senior inhabitants of Madeira do not fully enjoy the comforts offered by modern road infrastructure. The memory of old realities makes it difficult to adapt to a new, more comfortable reality. In other words, they have encoded habits from the past, when transport was time-consuming and dangerous. And thus, due to communication difficulties and being cut off from the world, their life was only within the village. And so it has remained in many places to this day, but not because of the lack of access, but unchanged mentality. As a result, many Madeira leaves their mountain villages only for holidays and avoids unnecessary movements.
The construction of new tunnels did not encourage the local people to move around and enjoy the charms of the island, so many of them do not know it well. Some of them have never left the island. However, their lack of knowledge is due to the former inaccessibility, not ignorance. In addition, they convince that there is no better place in the world, so why go into the unknown?
Is a house among the peaks a peak of your dreams?
In conclusion, the mountains are the cause of the majesty and extremes of Madeira. They define its beauty, affect the comfort of life and reflect the mentality of its inhabitants. They dictate the island’s rhythm and define infrastructure and building, folklore, and tradition. This volcanic island of the elements, where the ocean constantly wrestles with the wind, has little to do with delicacy. Bathed in sunlight, mountain peaks change quickly and, instead of delightful, they overwhelm with majesty on gloomy days. Therefore, when planning a longer stay, consider if you really want to live at height, facing its daily challenges. Assess your possibilities and consider whether a short vacation will fill you up enough, or maybe you want to jump into the deep end? So leave everything behind, buy this ticket and start living in Madeira.
Find out more about fascinating Madeira:
The Island of Eternal Spring and extremes, Madeira.
The best weather in Madeira for your vacation!