Susan and Mike Bloomfield from Bury, north Manchester, had long dreamt of a home in Portugal. After appearing on the TV show last year, they bought a two-bedroom house for £151,000 in Algarve’s “golden triangle”. Susan, 54, tells their story.
“We contacted A Place in the Sun as we were looking to buy a property in Portugal and wanted a ‘home from home’ in a warmer climate,” says Susan, who works for the police. “Mike, at 55, is retiring from the fire service and the goal is to spend longer periods of time out there rather than just one or two weeks and to have somewhere for our children [aged 24, 28 and 36] and grandchildren to use.
“We have been visiting the region for over 20 years and know the central Algarve well, especially Vilamoura and Albufeira, but were keen to explore more. Initially, our budget was £120,000 and we wanted a traditional home, with its own entrance, not an apartment in a complex full of tourists. But for outside space – more important than the number of bedrooms – we soon realised we would have to up the budget to £150k-£160k. Being able to draw down a lump sum from my pension meant we didn’t have to get a mortgage.
“We bought the third property we saw on the TV show because it had everything I had pictured in my mind. We are still pinching ourselves. It’s a semi-detached converted farmhouse with two bedrooms, a lovely open fire, its own courtyard and plunge pool and a garage for the bikes and golf clubs. It cost £151,000 (€172,400) from a private seller.
“The location is great. We are 15 minutes outside Loule and the same to the airport, or a 20-minute cycle to the beach. There is privacy but we can walk to our local town of Almancil, and the resorts of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo are nearby. A Dutch/Portuguese couple with a horse and goats live in the adjoining property and we have had drinks with them already.
“We did learn from the process that it’s wise to use a currency broker, as the exchange rate changed during the purchase process and the difference between €1.14 and €1.19 to the pound equated to £5,000-£6,000. Even though the UK owner agreed to sell it to us in sterling, a Portuguese property has to be sold in euros and administered by the Portuguese, so we couldn’t get around losing out a little to the exchange rate.
“But we love the property and have been out every month. We get cheap flights there – from £25 each way with Ryanair – and it’s very reasonable when we are there. There's an Aldi and Lidl on our doorstep and a bottle of wine costs €2. It’s going to be used a lot by family and friends and it’s great because my daughter, who is a teacher, has been able to spend six weeks there in the summer holidays – something she wouldn’t have been able to afford to do.