afpop celebrates “best year since 2007” by breaking the 6,000-member mark

afpop, the association that provides all kinds of support to foreign property owners in Portugal, has dubbed 2017 its “best year since 2007” in terms of new members.

In an interview with the Resident, afpop CEO Michael Reeve told us that 915 new members joined the association last year while over 360 were reinstated.

“It was the first time since 2007 that we finished the year with over 6,000 members,” Reeve told us.

“We almost did the year before but fell short by just under 30,” he said.

Around 50% of afpop members are British, 18% are Scandinavian, 10% are Germans and 8% are Dutch.

Michael Reeve explained that the number of new members certainly helped afpop reach this milestone, but that the good news is also attributed to the association’s “high retention level” – in other words, the number of members who remain linked to the association.

He also said that while ‘Brexit’ does not really impact the association’s work, afpop did receive more inquiries from British members.

“When there’s uncertainty, people look for somebody to give them a bit of assistance about what their rights are, how to apply for citizenship and residency, for example.

“We don’t give opinions, we just report what things are. We just tell people about the information they need for their lives, and I think that is a comfort blanket for some people.”

The UK and Ireland have always accounted for a large chunk of afpop members, but the range of nationalities has been expanding in recent years.

“We’ve had an increase in Scandinavian members, more French and more Americans. We’ve never really had a big American contingent, but 10% of our members now are from the USA and Canada.”

According to Reeve, these increases are due to more people “seeing Portugal as a good alternative to spend their retirement”.

Most members continue to be retirees, some of them younger than usual, who seek the assistance required when moving to a new country.

The afpop CEO also highlighted the larger number of Finnish and Swedish people in the Algarve in the last two years, as well as the French.

“While they might not be here to live (full-time), they certainly are coming here for substantial periods of time and to buy property here.”

The question now is whether 2018 will continue to bring more good news and if the start of the year is anything to go by, the answer seems to be positive.

“Just over the weekend we had 20 members who joined the association over the internet, people we had never spoken to. New members do seem to be coming in, which seems to be in line with what authorities are saying about the numbers of people that are coming to Portugal.”

Michael Reeve also told us that the association is tentatively aiming to reach the 6,500-member mark by the end of 2019.

“It’s probably a bit ambitious, but if we continue to provide the services, retain members and increase the number of new members by just 1% or 2%, then 6,500 is a reachable target.”

Expanding beyond Algarve
While it isn’t exactly a short-term goal, afpop is looking to expand its presence outside of the Algarve and reach more new members in other parts of Portugal.

According to Michael Reeve, around 95% of members are currently based in the Algarve.

“We have some members in Cascais and others in Madeira, but most of them are down south.”

Cascais or Estoril is one of the potential areas where the base could be set up, but there is still a long way to go before the project moves forward.

As the CEO explains, the process is “very difficult” and involves attracting new members, getting businesses involved and making sure that the move is ultimately worthwhile.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]

Photo: caption: afpop CEO Michael Reeve, pictured with Marisa Neves (left), who started working at the association last week, and Karina Vieira, who has been with afpop for 14 years