Cape Verde's most expensive cities

Hello everyone,

What are the most expensive cities to live in Cape Verde? What are the costs of things such as rent, utilities, weekly groceries, dining out, etc.?

What is the lifestyle like in these cities, for expats and locals?

What are the different neighbourhoods like? Are there more affordable areas?

Do you have any experience living in any of Cape Verde's most expensive cities? What was it like?

Which cities in Cape Verde would you recommend? Are there any that offer particularly good value for money when it comes to cost of living?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Priscilla wrote:

Hello everyone,

What are the most expensive cities to live in Cape Verde? What are the costs of things such as rent, utilities, weekly groceries, dining out, etc.?

What is the lifestyle like in these cities, for expats and locals?

What are the different neighbourhoods like? Are there more affordable areas?

Do you have any experience living in any of Cape Verde's most expensive cities? What was it like?

Which cities in Cape Verde would you recommend? Are there any that offer particularly good value for money when it comes to cost of living?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla


Cape Verde is a very small country. The population is only half-a-million and it is spread over 9 inhabited islands. Half the population lives on the island of Santiago. So as you might expect, Cape Verde has no real "cities" as such.

The only place that may qualify as a city is the capital, Praia. One quarter of the country's entire population resides in Praia. So, Praia resembles a real city. And here you'll find most of the kinds of places, goods and services you'd expect to find in a city. However, since all of the other islands must have basic goods shipped there from Praia, things are cheaper in Praia (except rent) than anywhere else.

Rent is cheaper on all the other islands than it is in Praia (except Sal and Boavista which I'll get to shortly), because there is a lot of demand for housing in Praia. However, by living further out of the city center, you can find cheaper rentals. But it gets a bit complicated because the other factor which is the high levels of poverty. Even within areas closer to the city center, there are areas which are considered quite poor. Rents in these areas are very cheap, but the dwellings may not be livable by western standards. Conversely, there are a few areas well outside the city center, such as Palmarejo and Cidadela, that are considered more upscale and so are more expensive.

Finally, there are the islands of Sal and Boavista. These receive over 80% of the tourists that visit Cape Verde annually. The tourists vastly outnumber the local populations by a factor of 10 to 20 or more. And not all of the tourists opt for hotels. Many foreigners have purchased vacation homes or second homes on these two islands. In addition, there are many expats who reside on Sal and Boavista and who work there or have started their own businesses serving the tourist market. There is thus a very high demand by these more wealthy individuals (compared to the locals)  for housing in Sal and Boavista. The rents in Sal and Boavista are therefore much more expensive (double to triple) than rents in Praia.

How is with the houses in Mindelo?
We would like (maybe) to sell our place in Zagreb and to buy an apartment in Mindelo but we don't have any idea about the prices and the offer on the market.
We would like to have an apartment ca 50-60  square meters, everything what we see on internet offer are bigger houses or apartments.
Our idea would be to live in pension in Mindelo o maybe one other town of Cape Verde, it is important that we can buy our home
Thank you so much for your kind answer
Diana

Hi Diana,

I'm unclear about why this seems to be such a challenge for you. How well do you know Mindelo? If you don't know that much about it, you'd be much better off renting a place there for a few months to see what it's like to live there. And while you are physically there, you can search for a property in an area that you'd be comfortable living in.

Once you are familiar with Mindelo, then you should know that you're best off to simply contact a qualified local real estate agent as you would do just about anywhere in the world. Only a real estate agent would know of everything that's available and can help you identify the available listings that meet your exact needs.

A reputable local agent will also know the true market prices and will not try to dupe you because they will lose their reputation and possibly their license.

This is not something you can just look for online...you're likely to be ripped off by a private local seller who knows foreigners buying real estate probably have lots of money but no knowledge of the actual market prices.

Work with a reputable local agent who has a real estate license and a reputation to uphold. Let me know if you need a referral via private message.

Angelo

DianaIlicTurkovic wrote:

How is with the houses in Mindelo?
We would like (maybe) to sell our place in Zagreb and to buy an apartment in Mindelo but we don't have any idea about the prices and the offer on the market.
We would like to have an apartment ca 50-60  square meters, everything what we see on internet offer are bigger houses or apartments.
Our idea would be to live in pension in Mindelo o maybe one other town of Cape Verde, it is important that we can buy our home
Thank you so much for your kind answer
Diana

dear Angelo,
thank you so much for your answer.
We plan to spend a vacation (2 weeks) in Cape Verde and I'm sure we will understund immediatly if we could be happy in Mindelo. Just from photos and stories it seams to be a great place to live.
We are not a rich couple, we have a modest means of money, so for us it is very important that we can close our financing structure.
Do you have may be any idea about the average cost for square meter of one modest apartment in Mindelo?
In web sites we can find only resorts and luxury apartments that we do not need.
Second, we have to understund which amount of money we will need monthly for cover one modest type of life because we will have our pensions and small savings.
Thanks in advance,

Hi Diana,

For personal matters, such as your income resources, we should really discuss privately. I will send you a private message.

Regardless, please note that you can't really judge a place simply by the pictures. Also, what is it that you are really looking for? If you want a quieter less expensive lifestyle, I would hardly recommend São Vicente. That is known as the party island. If you love music and constant parties, by all means, that would fit. Be aware that São Vicente (and Praia the capital) have the highest rates of crime in Cape Verde because they are the busiest cities with high population density. Hardly the place for retirees!

If you want a safe, quiet lifestyle with low costs of living and very low crime, you should consider the islands of Brava, Santo Antão and São Nicolau. They are the most beautiful of the islands but they are EXTREMELY boring (no nice restaurants, no nightlife, nothing but you, the mountains and the birds and plants...very low population density). But they do have a few cultural events several times during the year, so you won't die of complete boredom. São Nicolau has the second best Carnaval of all the islands. Maybe these three islands offer more of the retirement lifesytle you want. They also have no nice beaches if you're looking for a beach lifestyle. And the transportation options between are limited (no airports on Brava or Santo Antao, limited maritime service on Brava and Sao Nicolau).

If you want a leisurely, quiet, beach-style retirement, then consider Maio. Sal and Boa Vista have lots of very nice beaches, however, they attract hordes of tourists and they are NOT cheap. They are the most expensive islands to live on.

For me, the island with the best balance of quiet (but not boring), very low crime, affordable cost of living, excellent real-estate prices, excellent restaurants, interesting activities, fewer rowdy tourists, ready access to airport and maritime transport, and access to everything you might need for an active retirement is actually Fogo (but NO beaches).

The only issue you will find challenging as a retiree no matter which island you choose is the quality of healthcare. Only São Vicente and Santiago have significant hospitals (but even so, they are not advisable for foreigners). Be sure you have expat health insurance in case you need to be evacuated for emergency care in Europe, or Brasil. Of course, if you live a healthy lifestyle which is very easy to do in Cape Verde, then you should not really worry as the basic health care options exist here on every island. There are also private clinics that you can frequent instead of the public hospitals.

Angelo

DianaIlicTurkovic wrote:

dear Angelo,
thank you so much for your answer.
We plan to spend a vacation (2 weeks) in Cape Verde and I'm sure we will understund immediatly if we could be happy in Mindelo. Just from photos and stories it seams to be a great place to live.
We are not a rich couple, we have a modest means of money, so for us it is very important that we can close our financing structure.
Do you have may be any idea about the average cost for square meter of one modest apartment in Mindelo?
In web sites we can find only resorts and luxury apartments that we do not need.
Second, we have to understund which amount of money we will need monthly for cover one modest type of life because we will have our pensions and small savings.
Thanks in advance,

dear Angelo,

Your parents have chosen you a great name, you are really an angel  :)
Now you've given us a lot to think about.
We plan to organize a vacation on the CV in 01/2019 and stay on CV for 2-3 weeks to visit the islands and see who would best suit us and if we really like it.
We are living now in Zagreb, capital od Croatia and the estimated population of the city in 2017 was 806.920 so you can immagine that for us would be very difficult live in a small town with 2.000 inhabitants.
Our ideal life would be to have a small house with garden for our dog (really small, 50-60 square meters), to live in a town where there is a fruit and vegetable market, a fish market (I really love to cook), small stores, no hypermarket. Some local bar, local restorants with local food. For me it would be great if I can go everywhere od foot, no car. For pensioners it is better to perform all on foot.
We love the sea and the beach, but we are not the type that are all day long on the beach. Sports life is not our strong side but we love long walks along the sea.
In the evening we are mostly at home, but we like to go to a drink in some local bar or in some club where the live band is playing. No parties, thanks.
An important element for us is the climate because we would like to spend a lot of time in the fresh air (now we are all day in the office) and CV has a fantastic climate.
Once again, thank you very much for answering me.
I apologize for my bad English, but I hope you understand everything
Have a nice day,
Diana

I vaguely remember last year Angelo CV somewhere briefly explained finances in CV terms.

Writing from the top of my head: if you can live as locals live, monthly 300 EUR per couple should do it fine.

If you want all that developed cities have, you'll probably need 1000 EUR (or more, depending on your lifestyle).

Many foreigners in CV live somewhere in-between, with average budget 500-600 EUR per month. Considering local wages in CV, this amounts to two decent CV salaries.

Either way, even just average HR retirement income (300 EUR per person) should keep you afloat quite comfortably, roughly speaking.

I planned CV for this year, but cannot afford to be off internet and there is still just 3G network with slow download and terrible upload speed (impossible for anything but elementary browsing or email).

So, most of my consulting work should be done by phone which is not impossible for some time i.e. short vacation, but is just not doable for longer periods. (Yes, I checked satellite phone option, but for data it is not stable enough and is really volatile making any VOIP impossible.)

I am sorry, but my longer CV stays will have to wait for some time. Still, I really love relaxed CV lifestyle in general, beautiful people, and everyday flights to Lisabon (so no feeling of being stranded in the middle of Atlantic).

D

Yes, you recalled correctly. Your comments are right on the mark. Including your comments about the internet. It is too slow. Especially the upload speeds. It is impossible to use it for VOiP business calls.

The only thing I would say slightly differently is that the minimum cost of living will vary by island. On 300€ monthly you can get by in just about any island except Sal and Boavista. In Sal and Boavista you'll need at least 500€ because housing is much more expensive.

These minimum monthly costs would be without any entertainment. And you'd be looking at very basic accommodations.

Double those minimum amounts and you could live very comfortably. However, if you wish to live like a king or queen in Cape Verde, you should have 1.500-2.000€ in monthly income. At that level of income, your standard of living in Cape Verde would be comparable to a very comfortable lifestyle in Europe or America.

Angelo

dedif wrote:

I vaguely remember last year Angelo CV somewhere briefly explained finances in CV terms.

Writing from the top of my head: if you can live as locals live, monthly 300 EUR per couple should do it fine.

If you want all that developed cities have, you'll probably need 1000 EUR (or more, depending on your lifestyle).

Many foreigners in CV live somewhere in-between, with average budget 500-600 EUR per month. Considering local wages in CV, this amounts to two decent CV salaries.

Either way, even just average HR retirement income (300 EUR per person) should keep you afloat quite comfortably, roughly speaking.

I planned CV for this year, but cannot afford to be off internet and there is still just 3G network with slow download and terrible upload speed (impossible for anything but elementary browsing or email).

So, most of my consulting work should be done by phone which is not impossible for some time i.e. short vacation, but is just not doable for longer periods. (Yes, I checked satellite phone option, but for data it is not stable enough and is really volatile making any VOIP impossible.)

I am sorry, but my longer CV stays will have to wait for some time. Still, I really love relaxed CV lifestyle in general, beautiful people, and everyday flights to Lisabon (so no feeling of being stranded in the middle of Atlantic).

D

Sorry, I missed that important point: to me, some city is needed so I wrote from my point of being somewhere close to Praia like Cidade or so.

Sal and Boavista are for tourists mostly, no everyday life is flourishing for Westerners except if you want to live very relaxed local style.

Other than that, two average Croatian retirement cheques of about 300 EUR per person should allow a couple to live comfortably. Add 100 EUR for decent health insurance (including helicopter transport!) and that's it.

Sure, any extras like entertainment are very variable so not included here.

D

Yes. Now we're both in full agreement!
Thanks for sharing your experience as well. Your comments are extremely helpful for other expats who are considering living in CV.

dedif wrote:

Sorry, I missed that important point: to me, some city is needed so I wrote from my point of being somewhere close to Praia like Cidade or so.

Sal and Boavista are for tourists mostly, no everyday life is flourishing for Westerners except if you want to live very relaxed local style.

Other than that, two average Croatian retirement cheques of about 300 EUR per person should allow a couple to live comfortably. Add 100 EUR for decent health insurance (including helicopter transport!) and that's it.

Sure, any extras like entertainment are very variable so not included here.

D

CVAngelo wrote:

Be aware that São Vicente (and Praia the capital) have the highest rates of crime in Cape Verde because they are the busiest cities with high population density.


Hello Angelo, really nice to meet you. I've been only to Sao Vicente and didn't notice any issue regarding safety but I was staying in a hotel etc.

What sort of criminality is happening in Praia?

Many thanks,

Steve

Hi Steve,

Great to meet you too. Thanks for your question. Note that my statement is on a relative basis ... Mindelo and Praia have the highest rates of crime within Cape Verde (i.e. compared to other towns and other islands). On an absolute basis, we are actually doing pretty well compared to other 3rd world countries.

The criminality that we see too much of in Cape Verde is really petty theft. Anything not nailed down is likely be stolen when you are not paying attention. In some cases, things are stolen from persons under "threat of violence". In other words, victims may be approached by a thief (usually two or more) armed with a tiny knife, a toy gun or even a home-made pellet gun (which isn't powerful or accurate, and is prone to misfire/backfire).

Such weapons are shown simply to cause the victim to more "easily cooperate" and usually the perpetrators are sometimes more scared than the intended victim - they do not truly intend bodily harm and simply want the material possessions carried by the victim so they can go off and sell them down the street. Hard core violence is quite rare during such acts of petty theft, and foreigners experiencing such violence is even more rare.

However, most of these petty theft crimes take place in the poorer areas and off the beaten path. The victims tend to be other poor Cape Verdeans. So my advice to everyone (locals and visitors) is to take the precautions that you would take ANYWHERE: stay on the main roads that are heavily travelled; do not wonder off into unlit back roads and areas that are unfamiliar, especially at night; travel in groups at night; never flash cash or walk with lots of cash...for purchases use credit and ATM cards instead; do not carry around expensive valuables such as jewelry, laptops, expensive cell phones ... leave them at home. Make sure your cell phone is backed up to the cloud so that you can recover all contacts, photos, documents, chats, etc in case it is ever stolen (or lost)!

Furthermore, homes could be broken into when the resident is at work or even at night while they are asleep. Simply make sure your doors and windows are secure and that sliding doors and windows have pins/poles in the tracks that prevent them from being slid-open from the outside. take the normal home-security measures that you would anywhere. Never assume that because an apartment is several stories up that people cannot climb up. We have quite a few spider-men in Cape Verde. LOL

In addition, although it really isn't necessary, business-people (including foreigners who are resident in Cape Verde) have the right to carry a licensed weapon of low-calibre for personal protection. There is a simple process to apply for a weapons license. The weapon is issued by the police department and they require you to take a training-course in handling and maintaining the assigned weapon which is registered to your name.

So the controls in place are excellent. And since the weapons that are issued are of very low calibre, they really are meant to serve only as a deterrent to scare off some of these poor youngsters who may attempt to rob a victim of their possessions (wallet, phone, cameras, laptops). Just showing that you have a concealed weapon would be enough to send would-be thieves scampering away as they themselves tend to be very scared of even unarmed victims.  If you are interested in getting a concealed-carry permit, i'd be happy to show you how to do that.

Finally, business places do not typically get robbed, but for maximum security for a business than handles/keeps a lot of cash, you can simply hire a security guard (even an overnight watchman). They are paid around €250 a month. For employees who work late at night (and who may be targeted by bandits, most businesses provide a transport-service that carries them directly to/from their homes as many may live in poorer areas or poorly-lit zones.

Regards,

Angelo

steverichards75 wrote:
CVAngelo wrote:

Be aware that São Vicente (and Praia the capital) have the highest rates of crime in Cape Verde because they are the busiest cities with high population density.


Hello Angelo, really nice to meet you. I've been only to Sao Vicente and didn't notice any issue regarding safety but I was staying in a hotel etc.

What sort of criminality is happening in Praia?

Many thanks,

Steve

Great to know

@CVAngelo 

Very nice summary ! 🤙