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Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon
Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon
Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon

Real Estate in Portugal

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: People living in Portugal offer advice about real estate. How do you find a home in Portugal? Should you buy or rent? What is the cost of housing?

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How do I find a place to live in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"By cost and internet posts on Idealista. I had 10 days to get an address. Price was a big concern. I looked at 3 listings, 1 in Porto and 2 in neighboring Gaia. I chose the bigger place in Gaia. It was the right size and price. I was lucky that the Remax agent was honest and super helpful and spoke English! It is a good place in a nice neighborhood. Do your research beforehand and have representation, preferable an honest attorney," said another person in Porto.

"We came to Portugal last year for 2 weeks. We explored two areas only: first, the Algarve and next, Lisboa. These selections were based on weather, as we didn't want the colder weather in the North of Portugal. The Algarve is dead in winter, congested in summer, and just stuffed with Brits. The Lisboa area was delightful but we were sold when we took a train from Lisboa to Cascais. This is ideal: generally reliably nice weather, pristine beaches, restaurants all over the narrow streets and squares as well as along the pedestrian esplanade along the ocean. An easy train ride into Lisbon any time you want more culture or diversions, while plenty of museums, shows and parks in the Estoril/Cascais area. IDEAL," remarked another foreigner who made the move to Cascais and Estoril.

"I first lived in an apartment near the University. You can never go wrong living around a large school. People tend to be more open to help. I eventually bought a proprty and built a four bedroom home in a quiet section of the city. The land was a bit more expensive than other areas but it was well worth it. If your going to build.... please watch your contractor closely and NEVER pay for anything up front, only for work that has been done. You can get yourself into trouble that way," explained one person living in Braga, Portugal.

"We travelled extensively around Portugal, and although we wanted to live in the far north it was too cold in winter so we travelled further south and loved Tomar with its peaceful atmosphere, good connections, good shopping for my wife, good facilities and excellent access. We lived close by for 3 years," said another expat in Tomar.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

"We rent a condo. Yes, most of our expat friends have done the same, although, as it turns out, our landlords are also expats who own several condos and a single family house that they live in," added another expat who made the move to Porto.

"We are in a mid-rise condo building, renting a 2 bedroom apartment. We scoured all of the online sites, and fortunately took the advice of the owner of a holiday rentals site (Portugal Portfolio) to rent through her for 1 month and take that time to look around. This resulted in us finding our current home that we'd have never known about, at a better price, and ideally situated in an area of both local residents and holiday-renters, with every amenity within walking distance. We have no car--we walk to the market, beach, restaurants. We rent a car for excursions further away, as we are visiting every part of Portugal that we can, taking a trip every few weeks," explained one foreigner living in Cascais and Estoril, Portugal.

"I live in a single family four bedroom home. To be honest I don't really know of any US expats in my area. The people up north are very friendly, so most of our support circle is Portuguese," said another in Braga.

"We decided to wait before jumping in and buying and watched the buying behaviours, issues other expats had, studied the market, visited houses extensively. At present we have decided not too buy due to the exchange rate issues," explained one expat in Tomar.

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What is the average cost of housing in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

If you are thinking about moving to Portugal, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Housing cost is less than half of what we were paying in Denver, Colorado. Depending on the size of place you need and location, $700-1200/month can be average. Porto is more affordable than Lisbon and Vila Nova de Gaia, which is a 10 minute drive from Porto, across the river can be several hundred dollars cheaper than Porto. Neighboring smaller cities are even more affordable," explained one expat living in Porto, Portugal.

"Housing costs are lower here, but we're comparing a mortgage on a million-dollar plus condo in the US to rent on a 2 bedroom apartment with ancient appliances. It is easy to find a clean, modern, 2 bed/2 bath apartment with new appliances in the upscale, coastal Estoril/Cascias area for less than $2200/month if one works with a local realtor, and can cut those costs in about half in the smaller towns and villages inland. Utilities per month can add about $100. Internet service is about $30. On average, this feels like one can get a bit more with less but Portugal's Lisboa coast isn't a low cost choice. South and North and inland are less costly," said another person in Cascais and Estoril.

"My home loan was 200k euros and I pay around 600 euros a month. Property takes is another 1k a year and generally speaking water, electric, heating, cable tv and such round off to about 350 euros monthly. It's MUCH cheaper out here than in the US," added another expat who made the move to Braga.

Should I buy or rent a home in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

If you have not spent a lot of time in Portugal, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"We are renting a lovely house in a Portuguese residential community. Very peaceful and quiet. Lovely neighbors. Just a 15 minute walk to the ocean - Good transportation. Many people speak English or French. We have all kinds of nice little restaurants in this neighborhood all within walking distance and we will probably look to purchase near here," added another expat who made the move to Cascais.

"We decided to rent for a year while we get to know different towns before buying," explained one foreigner living in Tavira , Portugal.

"I am renting an apartment. It was difficult at first because a number of realtors didn't show an interest in helping me. When I found the right realtor, it went fairly easily. The biggest issue was having to pay for an entire years rent due to having no family in Portugal. There is also a scarcity of rental properties that are long term rentals," said another in Cascais.

Why do people move to Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in Portugal, they said:

"Understand what is and is not including in the price. It is common for sellers to take appliances, light fixtures, and much more with them if it is not listed in detail in the offer. Be patient. See many properties to understand the market. It's nearly impossible to do a market analysis of the asking price since historical sales are not easily known. When you find something you like, move quickly. No two sellers are alike. Some are highly motivated and will negotiate. Many will not budge. In Portugal you are basically buying the property "as is." Inspections are almost unheard of. Be prepared for unexpected expenses and repairs after closing," said another person in Matosinhos, Portugal (a suburb or Porto).

Are foreigners allowed to own property in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in Portugal, they said:

"None that I am aware of. The only unusual thing is if you want a mortgage. Most lenders require a mortgage to be paid off by age 70 (some a bit older) so it doesn't help most folks buying at retirement age. We did a cash purchase so everything went quickly from offer to closing in about 3 weeks," explained one person living in Matosinhos, Portugal (a suburb or Porto), Portugal.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Portugal GuidePortugal Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Portugal.

Portugal Forum Portugal Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Portugal on our Portugal forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

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Contribute to Portugal Network Contribute
Help others in Portugal by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Portugal.

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