The Cape Verde Islands, located off the coast of West Africa, are somewhat of an anomaly in Africa – a stable democracy, free of recent political upheaval, and sought after as a retirement option by Europeans and Americans.
The archipelago attracts a variety of other settlers too however, engaged in tourism and other business, and has a high immigrant population. Ironically, many Cape Verdeans choose to emigrate, meaning that there are actually more Cape Verdeans abroad, including half a million in the US!
The country’s capital, Praia, is located on the island of Santiago, but the majority of foreign visitors and immigrants enter the country via one of the international airports, one located in the capital, and one on the nearby island of Sal. Flights are sporadic, so some planning is required, and although the two international airports service daily flights in and out, you may have to wait for a flight from your area, or endure a few connecting flights!
One good option would be to fly to South Africa, either Cape Town or Johannesburg, and get a connecting flight from there, as both airports offer daily flights to the islands.
Visa requirements for US and European citizens are not strict, however, the applicant must be in possession of a valid passport, and has a choice between a 90 day and 1 year visa, costing between 2000 and 4000 CVE (Cape Verdean Escudos) – which amounts to between $25 and $45 – definitely not expensive!
Another promising point that sets Cape Verde apart from the rest of Africa is the fact that no special vaccinations are required, and the area is malaria free.
When it comes to language, it would be a good idea to brush up on your Portuguese, as, like many African countries, the islands were colonized, and most of the population is of mixed African / Portuguese extraction, otherwise known as Creole.
Culturally, the people of Cape Verde are very similar to their Portuguese and African rural ancestors, so soccer and church activities are the name of the game. As far as food goes, you will need to really like fish, since agriculture is limited, and most food is imported, making red meat very expensive!
As far as modern conveniences, like telephones, internet services and other communications, Cape Verde is also very much more advanced than most of its African neighbors – having effective service from Cabo Verde Telecom, which has been providing fiber optic based services since the 1990’s.
When you start to investigate property prices in Cape Verde, it becomes clear why so many westerners are choosing to retire or emigrate here. A house on this island paradise is available for under $ 30 000, which blows most of its idyllic island competition out of the water!
The country is also feeling the global property market slump, so it is certainly possible to pick up a bargain at the moment, if you are in the market to relocate!
All in all, having been moved off the least developed countries list in 2007, with a burgeoning tourism industry, peaceful, politically stable climate, and reasonable infrastructure, Cape Verde is certainly worth a look for those wishing to get away from it all, and retire in the sun.
It’s also a great idea if you’re looking to start a business, or would like to explore employment opportunities in international tourism.