Faial, Info for Expats, Stories

Living in Faial

Living in Faial

Why did we choose Faial Island

Cryptomeria forest in Faial

Cryptomeria forest in Faial

When we first came to the Azores, almost ten years ago in 2012, we had no idea that we would be end up living in Faial and call it our home in a few years. It was a vacation that came out from an accident, a wallet stolen (with my passport in it) in Paris, while on a stop-over to South Africa. We had to go back after that, obviously, and once my passport was re-issued we though at least to make a shorter trip to a more closer destination.

The word Azores somehow came to my mind, so i started googling it, finding out that it looked like a warmer, milder Scotland, or Ireland.

Fast forward 5 years we come back, looking to buy a little house in the countryside, fix it, and start living here. The choice of Faial came naturally, due to a bunch of factors: the presence of good infrastructures (hospital, direct flight to Lisbon, and so on) was a plus, but the main factor was the view on Pico from Horta that offered us a little comfort from the idea of being stranded in the middle of the ocean. We come from northern Italy, and our city of birth (Turin) is surrounded by the Alps, so anyone from our city would feel uncomfortable if there is not at least a mountain to look at, from time to time.

How’s life in Faial

Faial has a funny shape, looks a bit like a turtle, and if you add Pico island in the picture it looks like it’s being chased by a whale. Like all Azorean Islands its settlements are close to the sea, at a lower altitude, and this is because especially during winters, the wind will blow harder at higher altitudes and the clouds will often cover the island from 250 mt above sea level up, creating a phenomenon similar to fog (called nevoeiro here) that although fascinating at times, can be grim and a bit depressing.

We ended up buying a little country house just below that limit, on the western side of Faial and that’s because we wanted it to be in the middle of a forest, overlooking the ocean, facing south west to be able to see the sunset.

Sunset in Faial

The sunset view from our house

The choice of living in the countryside comes from the idea that such a move – from a nearly one million people city, Turin, Italy – to a small island in the middle of the ocean had to be radical. So, although fascinating, the idea of choosing Horta, which is a city albeit small wasn’t appealing enough.

Besides that, living on an island that you can fully circle by car in just one hour or so, makes everything easy. We have all the basic services around us, and all the rest is a mere 20 minutes away.

A quiet paradise

On a sunny day, our view of the forest and the ocean in front of us reminds us of the wise choice we made by running away from the madness of the big city (especially in these times where the pandemic has exacerbated all the existing troubles). When the weather is bad, instead, there is plenty of time to dedicate ourselves to the many hobbies we have (reading, playing music, web projects, writing… ). Sure if we were still in our 30’s we would probably have been bored to death, but since we aren’t, it’s all good.




4 thoughts on “Living in Faial

  1. Tony says:

    Really enjoyed reading this article. I appreciate you sharing your reasoning. After some thought, we are also considering life on Faial, leaning towards the westside as well. Interestingly, I also have Italian roots…

    Curious, after 2+ years from this article’s publish date, do you guys still feel the same about Faial? Might you be able to recommend a good online map of the island that shows the communities or areas that have utilities (electricity, gas, water, internet, et al)? Interested in more of the rural areas, but ones that also have these services…

    Thanks much.

    1. Guide to the Azores says:

      Hello, Tony
      thank you for your kind words.
      Yes, we still feel pretty much the same about Faial. Things of course change a bit and as you get to know better the place you’ll find
      some downside as well, but overall we are happy with our choice.
      I’m afraid i don’t know of such a map, but every parish have access to such utilities, the infrastructure on the island are surprisingly good.
      If you move away from the villages, though there are indeed places with no electricity or running water, the best advice is to ask around if you’re there
      or ask the realtor about the plot/house you plan to buy. Even if the place has no connections, sometimes it is possible at a fair price.
      Other times it is not (because of the distance from the grid). Anyway as i said the best way is to ask the realtor about it, they have the obligation
      to give you the correct info.
      Thanks and good “hunting”

  2. RE says:

    What out of curiosity are the downsides? I’m considering a move to Faial

    1. Valeria Negro says:

      We live there and there are certainly negative aspects as well. Isolation, weather in winter and more… If you are interested we have a video chat service on this for those who have questions about moving there. Check it out at this link (1h or 30′) https://guidetotheazores.pt/travel-advice-for-the-azores-1-hour-video-call/
      I write you by email

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