Imagine this… Open balcony, you wake up and the air smells like orange blossom and the ocean. You walk the sunny, white cobble stone streets to the nearby pasteleria and get some coffee and a pastel de nata. Later you ride your bike to the beach, maybe catch a wave or two on a surf board, and watch the most beautiful sunset… At night, you meet your friends at the local café for 1 euro glass of Portuguese wine, you talk and laugh, and realize that you have suddenly become stress and worry free.
Portugal is the oldest nation-state in Europe. It is full of history, traditions, stories of the past and dreams of the future. Here you can find the oldest book store in the world, best pastries you will ever eat, top surf spots and the biggest wave in the world, orange trees as far as the eye can see, cherry liquor that you drink out of a chocolate cup, beautiful houses out of fairy tale books, world-class golf courses, oh, and the weather… The Algarve is one of the sunniest places in Europe with over 300 days of sunshine a year.
If all of that doesn’t convince you, the locals will. The Portuguese are one of the nicest, most peaceful and helpful people you will meet. And while they do possess the relaxed, rather slow nature like most warm climate cultures, it will be impossible to ever get upset over it. Algarve natives will try their hardest to make sure you enjoy your time here and will help you with anything and everything. They will patiently teach you Portuguese, invite you to their grandma’s house for home-made bacalhau, and their stories of Portugal and the pride in their eyes will make you fall in love with this country even more. And then, sooner or later you will notice that Portugal has become a part of you and holds a special place in your heart.
Living in Faro:
The cost of living in Portugal is lower than in most EU countries. Here are the average prices of some everyday things:
Accommodation in a shared apartment € 130 - € 220 / month
Internet for the apartment € 30 - € 40
Lunch in school cafeteria € 2.70 - € 3.75
Lunch in cafeteria around campus € 3 - € 5
Dinner in a restaurant € 7 - € 15
Groceries € 150 - € 250 / month
Bus pass € 28 - 35 / month
One-time bus ticket € 2.25
Local phone SIM card € 10
Hair cut € 10- € 20
1 Coffee € 0.55 - € 1
1 Beer € 0.80 - € 2.00
Water bottle € 0.20 - € 1.00
Cinema ticket € 5.50 with student pass
Bottle of wine € 1.30 and up
Disco admission € 5
Drink at disco € 3 - € 10.00
Pastel de nata € 0.50 - € 1.00
Bus to Lisbon € 17
Train to Lisbon € 23
You can chose to search for an apartment before you arrive or after. The Mobility office, located on Gambelas campus, will help you, however, you should do most of the research yourself. You can look online on apartment rental websites, but most of the information will be in Portuguese and you will not know your roommates. The best option is Facebook Erasmus groups or international student groups. As students leave after each semester, their rooms become available and it is easy to rent and live with other students. Mobility office can set you up with a place in the school residency/dorms. This includes a shared bedroom and costs about 130 euros a month.
Useful things to know about Faro
Not a lot is open late. Grocery stores stay open until 9pm or 10pm, there are no 24/7 stores or gas stations. On the weekends there are some food places open late around the bar and disco area. On weekdays there is only one 24/7 restaurant called Papa 24.
Most places will only accept cash or require a minimum to pay with a bank card. However, ATMs are available on almost every street corner.
Smoking is allowed inside in almost every bar. Some restaurants and bars will have a designated area for smokers.