Madonna moves to Portugal, 5th best place for expats

LISBON Pop star Madonna, a new resident of the Portuguese capital, has been extolling the delights of living there. She is the most illustrious of a growing number of foreigners in the newly-fashionable city.

"I used to be a basket case, but now I live in Lisbon," the 59-year-old wrote on Instagram late last week under a photo of baskets hanging from the ceiling of an old Portuguese kitchen.

Portugal was on Wednesday named Europe's best destination for expatriates to live in this year and the world's best for quality of life in a survey published by social network InterNations.

In the overall global rating for best expatriate destination, Portugal soared 23 positions from last year to No. 5, making it the leading gainer worldwide.

Portugal - which boasts sandy beaches, golf courses, historic castles and some of the lowest prices in Western Europe - was hit hard by an economic and debt crisis in 2010 to 2013, but it has been on a steady recovery since and is going through a tourism boom.

Local media say Madonna has bought a €7.5 million (S$12 million) estate in the mountains of Sintra, outside Lisbon, and will continue staying at the Pestana Palace hotel while the estate is refurbished.

The 18th-century Quinta do Relogio estate was still up for sale on Wednesday.

Madonna - who wrote that "the energy of Portugal is so inspiring" - joins film stars Michael Fassbender and Monica Bellucci, who bought properties in Lisbon in the past year.

Among the reasons she has gone to Lisbon is that her 11-year-old son, David Banda, has started training at the youth academy of football giants Benfica, according to the Lisbon club. - REUTERS