- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Portugal Guide (PDF)
With such a wide range of housing options available, new arrivals are sure to find their ideal accommodation in Portugal. Expats will be able to choose from apartment blocks, condominiums and even rustic farmhouses. The price of accommodation in Portugal relative to the typical salary earned is generally considered to be reasonable except for the main cities and surroundings of Lisbon and Porto.
Expats, especially those that don't speak good Portuguese, should consider hiring a reputable real estate agent to assist them in finding a suitable home for the duration of their stay in the country.
Types of accommodation in Portugal
The standard of accommodation in Portugal can vary hugely from area to area, and from building to building. Newer apartment blocks are modern, well finished, and structurally sound; while older buildings, although beautifully rustic at times, can often have problems with plumbing and electricity supply, among other things. Property in Portugal is generally quite spacious, particularly by British standards.
Shipping existing furniture to Portugal is an option, but the costs can run quite high. It will probably end up being more economical for expats to simply buy furniture once they are settled. There are plenty of reputable furniture stores to be found in the large urban centres in Portugal.
Home security is not a pressing issue in Portugal, although in tourist areas minor break-ins can sometimes occur. Modern apartment blocks in Portugal are usually fitted with electronic access panels, deadlocks and shutters. For the most part, expats report that they feel safe in their homes and confident in the safety of their possessions.
Finding accommodation in Portugal
Expats planning on moving to Portugal should start researching properties before they actually move to the country. Since Portugal is such a popular holiday destination, there are loads of short-term rentals available, but long-term rentals can disappear from the market quickly.
Expats can use estate agent websites to get an idea of the market in their chosen area or suburb. Local newspapers will also have classified sections were landlords may advertise accommodation. Those who don’t speak Portuguese may find it best to hire a real estate agent to help them with the process of finding accommodation in Portugal.
Renting accommodation in Portugal
Most expats moving to Portugal will probably look to rent rather than buy, at least initially. Expats should note that they need a Portuguese fiscal number in order to rent accommodation in Portugal. EU residents can apply for their fiscal number by visiting their local tax office. Non-EU residents must make use of a legal representative to apply.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Short-term rentals will typically be furnished, while long-term rentals tend to be unfurnished. Expats need to make sure they know what is included in their rental before signing the rental contract.
Once expats have found a suitable property in Portugal, they'll need to sign a rental contract. Some landlords or agents may have contracts available in English but in many cases, expats will need to have the document professionally translated. The rental contract will establish the legal obligations of both the tenant and the landlord. It will also state what is and isn’t included in the rental price.
Landlords in Portugal will normally require two months’ rent as a security deposit. They may also require the first and last month’s rent in advance.
When moving into a property, it is best to carry out a full inventory of the fittings and fixtures as well as any existing damages. Upon the termination of the lease, the property will be inspected. Any damage to the property is deducted from the security deposit.
Rental contracts in Portugal are fairly flexible. Most landlords or rental agents will offer a choice between fixed-term and open-ended contracts.
Fixed-term contracts are set for a minimum of one year but can be significantly longer. Some expats prefer open-ended contracts as they may not be sure how long they will stay in the country or if they’ll end up buying instead. Tenants will need to take careful note of the notice period of their contract.
Short-term rentals will most likely include utility bills in the rental price, but long-term rentals rarely include utilities like water, gas and electricity. These costs need to be added on to the monthly rental price when expats are creating a monthly budget.
►Expats planning on making a permanent move to Portugal will find this article on Buying Property in Portugal useful
►Learn more about the expenses expats incur when moving to Portugal in Cost of Living in Portugal
"The building standard in general can be quite uneven, so no palace standard is to be expected, despite most housing offering plenty of space." Learn more about Helena's thoughts on living in Portugal.
Are you an expat living in Portugal?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Portugal. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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