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Over the years we have found that most people planning a move to Madeira are uninformed as regards the simple day to day costs of utilities and services, as well as their availability. You need no longer remain in the dark. Here goes ...(UPDATED AUGUST 2014).

In this section we have covered a selection of questions which people have frequently asked in the past. Should you like to have answers to questions on other subjects, or further clarification on these, please email us. Your feedback is a crucial aid in selecting more topics to add to this section.

To provide real-life estimates, we use two situations:

Household A - Couple with teenage child, living in Caniço.
Household B - Couple living alone in Funchal.

Electricity. What is the voltage and costs?

Madeira uses a 220 volt system, with individual metering per household. Most European (including UK) appliances work perfectly here.
A fixed monthly connection charge of approximately €9.00 is applied, and consumption is charged per Kilowatt Hour, at the rate of approximately €0.11 per KWh.
Household A - €84 per month.
Household B - €38 per month.

Water Supply. Is it Council water or private supply?

Council water is standard in Madeira, with individual metering per household.
A fixed monthly connection fee of approximately €3.00 is charged, as well as a garbage collection and maintenance fee of approximately € 8.00. Consumption is charged per kilo-litre, at the unit rate of €0.30 for the first 5 kilo-litres, €0.50 for the second 5 kilo-litres, €0.70 for the third 5 kilo-litres, and € 1.05 for the excess.
Household A - €23 per month.
Household B - €18 per month.

Gas Supply. Is gas used and how is it supplied to the homes, and at what cost?

Gas is the most commonly used energy source for water heating and cooking, as it is cheaper than electricity. All new properties already come with the installation of gas supply to the boiler and cooker, as it is almost standard that these appliances run on gas.
Apartments and townhouses in recent developments are supplied with piped gas. A communal container is built as part of the development, and is kept supplied by the gas company. Each home is fitted with an individual meter, and the consumer pays for the gas used.
A fixed service fee of approximately €3.20 is charged for a piped gas supply, and consumption is charged at the rate of approximately €4.50 per cubic meter.
Where piped gas is not available, bottled gas is used. This is available in various sized bottles, and can be supplied to the consumer's home.
Household A - €54 per month.
Household B - €39 per month.

Telephone. What are the options and costs?

There are various options available, including fixed and mobile.
The traditional fixed line phone is rapidly becoming obsolete, with more and more residents opting for a telephone service incorporated in their Broadband Internet package, which offers a combination of phone, internet and TV service.
There are currently three main mobile phone operators in Madeira, with a variety of pricing options and packages. It would be fruitless to give all these here, but generally mobile communications in Madeira are cheaper than the UK.
You can get more detailed information at their websites:
Vodafone Meo NOS

Internet. What connection options are available?

There are a number of Internet Service Providers (ISP's) in Portugal, extending to Madeira. Broadband is the most common option. Other (older) options also exist but we won't even cover them here as they are becoming extinct very rapidly.
Cable Internet is a very popular solution as Madeira has a very well established Cable system, which was set up for Cable TV and then naturally expanded for Broadband Internet use. As mentioned previously, incorporating this service with telephone and TV services is becoming the norm. The cost depends on the bandwidth which you choose.
Wireless Broadband is a recent addition to this technology buffet, and has its advantages because you can literally have access anywhere. This option is useful if you need access to the internet on the move. A simple wireless adapter on your laptop connects you at amazing speeds from home, the office or even when you're sitting at the coffee shop.
You can get more detailed information on the two main operators' websites:
Meo NOS

Television. Do you get foreign language programs, and if so, which?

With TV the problem is not whether there are options, but rather that there are sometimes too many available, making the choice rather confusing.
Until recently, the obvious choice was Netcabo, but with the mergers that have gone on in the telecoms world, you practically need a degree in communications engineering to figure out exactly what the best choice will be.
The result of this booming competition is that you can have almost any variation of channels in your living room, from local channels to practically all major international channels covering sport, news, films and series. The greater concentration is very clearly on the English language, as even the films and series shown in local channels are presented in their original language - usually english - with portuguese subtitles.
Prices vary greatly depending on which base package you chose, which optional premium channels you select, and also whether you want telephone and internet services included. Have a look at the two websites below for more precise details:
Meo NOS

TV, Phone and Internet combined. What does this cost?

I know, it can be confusing. However, as a reference, we'll have a look at the two households and see what they pay for these three combined services.
Household A - €64 per month.
Household B - €59 per month.

Cinema. Can we see foreign language films in Madeira?

There are currently more than a dozen theatres in Madeira, many of which are situated in Funchal. Practically all of the films shown are in the original language - mostly English - with Portuguese subtitles.
Most of the latest films are launched in Madeira at about the same time as in other major European cities.

Newspapers.Can we find foreign language newspapers in Madeira?

Most of the popular UK, German and French newspapers and magazines are available at selected newsagents. Some are on sale on the same day of publication, and others on the following day.

Shopping. What shopping facilities are available?

Well, hold on to your credit card, because there are certainly unlimited ways to wear it down! Madeira has for some time been well served by most of the major supermarket chains and franchise outlets operating in the Mainland. Most of these outlets were, until recently, located in Funchal. Now they are available in other strategic points on the island, making life a lot easier for the residents who live outside of the capital.
Well recognised franchise names are here, from fast food to designer apparel. The Madeira Shopping was the first to place most under one roof, in a modern complex strategically located just off the main motorway out of Funchal. It is a complex that holds its own well when compared to shopping centres in major cities, and the combination of variety, entertainment and dining offered makes it a must for most Madeirans. Forum Madeira came next, followed by Funchal Centrum, opened in 2007.

Dining. What are restaurants like in Madeira, and what variety?

While Madeira is traditionally known for its Espetada, this specialty is by no means the only one offered in local restaurants. The variety is vast, ranging from the highest standard in formal dining, to fast food. On the whole, restaurants are of a good standard, and prices are very reasonable.
Besides the traditional Madeiran fair of espetada, grilled chicken and fresh fish, there are now also more exotic options on offer. Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Brazilian, Tex-Mex, English, German and Vegetarian restaurants are now available.

Sea Bathing. Is sea access readily available, or does one have to go through a hotel?

The local authorities have taken great care to prevent the sea access being limited to hotels and resorts. Residents have a variety of options, including visiting one of the public swimming areas with sea access (at a nominal charge), or going to public beaches around the island.
Some hotels do allow the public to use their facilities for a fee.

Learning Portuguese. Are there any schools or colleges teaching Portuguese to foreign residents?

A number of language institutes offer Portuguese lessons to foreign residents. Courses are given both during the day and in the evenings. Private lessons can also be arranged through private tutors.

Maid Service and gardening. Is it easy to finds maids and gardeners, and what would such services cost?

Maid and gardening services can be contracted through companies or privately. The latter is most common. A daily rate is usually agreed upon, and the number of visits per week contracted. Normally a maid or gardener will cost in the order of €40.00 per day.

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