Nazaré is a typical fishing town, with a strong bond with the ocean, visible even in the local handicraft – nets, buoys, panniers – and in the cuisine. All charming enough, of course, but in practical terms, is Nazaré the ideal destination for somebody looking to move to Portugal?
The geography of Nazaré makes it very enticing to Portuguese and foreigners for holidays or as a place to settle down. The fact that it is so close to the ocean, the gorgeous beaches and the climate make Nazaré a spot where you can fully enjoy a land blessed by immense natural beauty.
Quality of life
Being a small town, Nazaré has a calm lifestyle which helps you easily forget about the bustle of the bigger cities. Here time moves more slowly and everything happens naturally, with a closer connection to nature, and healthier as well.
The ocean and the beaches call out for exercise and an outdoors lifestyle and the people are gentle and simple, providing new arrivals with a truly communal spirit that makes it so much easier to fit in.
Nearby urban centres
Nazaré is part of the council of Leiria, around 100 km from Lisbon and Coimbra, which makes it an ideal destination for those looking for the best of both worlds: a calm and restful town to live in, but still close enough to larger urban centres.
When you live in Nazaré it is easy to get in your car and visit an exhibition, or see a show in Lisbon, or go and see your kids for dinner at Coimbra, where they can go to University. The proximity helps fight the feeling that you are far from big urban centres, or of isolation.
On the contrary, you’ll feel lucky to live near the beach and be able to make it to any more cosmopolitan event in no time.
Cost of living
At a time when the world is going through a financial crisis, the cost of living naturally carries weight when picking where you are going to live. In this regard Nazaré couldn’t be a better choice.
True, it has grown in size and popularity over the years and is now known all over the world because of its waves, but it is also famous for its strong and unique local traditions. Nonetheless, the cost of living is still very accessible, when compared to what we can find in other Portuguese cities.
For example, in 2020 it is relatively easy to find a two-room apartment for around 500 euros a month, according to the main real estate agencies.
With tourism as the main industry, however, finding a job might not be easy, unless you are thinking of launching a tourism-related business or you already have skills in this field.
A town rich in traditions
Nazaré is so rich in traditions that in the 50s and 60s it caught the eye of artistic geniuses like photographer Cartier Bresson or film director Stanley Kubrick, who documented the daily life of the people, and delighted in the traditional skirts of the women and the men’s flannel shirts and black caps.
The seven skirts worn by the women are still used and meant to keep them warm when they were waiting at the beach for their husbands to come back from the sea, where they spent the days fishing to provide for their families. The top skirts were used to cover their backs and their heads, while the lower ones kept their legs warm.
Nazaré is also a deeply religious town and hosts many festivals, pilgrimages and processions that console and entertain the whole population, keeping its history and its memory alive.
Simple and open minded folk
The people of Nazaré are naturally welcoming and cheerful, although also marked by the tough life of fishing and tragedies that saw many of their men go to their deaths in the treacherous sea.
Nonetheless they are generous and caring of their neighbours, always willing to help and even more open to visitors since tourism gained such a foothold.
The presence of so many Portuguese and foreign visitors, who come to enjoy the famous waves that pound the coastline every year, has contributed to making the locals more open minded, and receiving their guests with equally open arms.
The beaches are important for local development and have been key to the development of the town but also of the mindsets of the locals. They have become famous as a surfing paradise, especially after Garett McNamara set a world record for surfing a giant wave.
Nazaré was already a reference in the surfing world, but since then Praia do Norte, Praia do Sul, Praia da Vila and Praia do Salgado have become much more popular, filling up with surfers and bodyboarders and, in the summer, with normal beach-goers, who just enjoy the sands and the sun.
Surfing as a calling card
If in former days – and to some extent still today – the seven skirts, the fishing and the cuisine brought many curious people to Nazaré, nowadays it is surfing that brings in the crowds, especially during the competitions that take place every year, such as the Nazaré Pro (bodyboarding world circuit) and the Nazaré Challenge (part of the World Surf League’s Big Wave World Tour)
Rich and healthy food
Moving to Nazaré is always an investment in health and quality of life. With such a strong fishing tradition, the highlight of the cuisine is the fish, both stewed and grilled, as well as the seafood.
The fish soups are delicious, as are the dried horse-mackerels, a local specialty. And because everything is connected to the sea, even the deserts are named after fish, such as the sweet sardines, puff pastry covered and stuffed in egg pudding, to die for.