From golf resorts and city-centre apartments to homes on the rural hillsides of the interior, the Algarve offers a broad range of accommodation options for expats. Prices vary widely across these different settings, and their appeal may vary depending on different lifestyle preferences. Many expats choose rural or coastal villas with pools or properties within tourist complexes.
Property in the Algarve is pricier than in many other parts of Portugal, Lisbon being the main exception. But Portugal is still one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe to find a home, and the Algarve presents plenty of options for all budgets, whether buying or renting.
Areas and suburbs in the Algarve
Located in Southern Portugal, the Algarve is largely a part of the Faro District, which also serves as its capital city and is home to 16 municipalities. The different cities, areas and suburbs in the Algarve each offer a distinct vibe, so expats from all walks are sure to find suitable housing at reasonable prices.
Those who want to be in the hustle and bustle of things will love the capital city, Faro, as it allows its residents to enjoy living in a metropolis while still being close to nature and beaches. A downside to living in Faro is the throngs of tourists that flood its beaches during the high season.
Portimāo, a former fishing town turned tourist hub, is the perfect base for families looking for a slower and more affordable pace of life. The town is home to public and private schools and amenities such as shopping malls, hospitals and restaurants. Expats who want to avoid tourists altogether should consider Sagres. Perched in the Western Algarve, Sagres boasts quaint markets and many exciting restaurants while having easy access to major cities such as Lagos. Expats moving here will need to invest in a car since public transport is limited in the town.
With a large expat community and lively nightlife, Lagos is one of the most popular cities in the Algarve. It has a range of amenities and historical sites that make it attractive to expats. The city is also home to smaller villages, so expats who want access to a major city while living a quieter life can find a home in Lagos as well.
Types of accommodation in the Algarve
The Algarve offers a wide range of accommodation options, from apartments to villas and everything in between. Both traditional homes and modern apartment blocks can be found in the urban centres. Tourist complexes may present an opportunity for holiday-rental income if an expat will not be in residence all year round. These complexes tend to have communal facilities such as pools and gardens that are maintained for a fee, making them easy to ‘lock up and leave’.
There are also many expats living in the countryside away from the coast, either on golf estates or independently. The regions further inland tend to be very isolated, lacking main roads and amenities and are populated chiefly by Portuguese locals who have lived in the area for generations. Renovated or more recently built homes are also plentiful in the countryside, ranging from modest to high-end luxury.
Owing to the high number of visitors to the Algarve, there are many holiday properties of all descriptions and locations available for weekly rental during the spring and summer months. Many of these are also available for winter lets at a vastly reduced rate. These properties are fully furnished and ideal for exploring the region before purchasing or for those not residing in the Algarve year-round.
Finding accommodation in the Algarve
Property in the Algarve is advertised on international property sites and by numerous estate agents in almost every town. Both rental and sale properties can be easily found through these portals. Expats can also choose to go through local rental agencies, but these tend to take longer and often charge high finders fees.
- Expats can visit rental property websites such as Kyero and Idealista to search for available properties in the region.
- Social media groups such as Apartments and Villas in the Algarve and Long-term Rentals Algarve are also great for finding accommodation that may not be listed on traditional property portals.
Renting accommodation in the Algarve
There are several options for those who prefer to rent. Long-term rental properties are usually unfurnished, while short-term properties are typically furnished.
Leases, costs and fees
To rent accommodation in Portugal, expats will need to sign a tenancy agreement (contrato de arrendamento). This agreement should outline the length of the lease, when it should be reviewed and how much notice the tenant or landlord needs to provide when ending the contract early.
Rental contracts can be either open-ended or fixed-term. In the case of a fixed-term contract, the duration and expiry date must be clearly stated in the contract. Expats must ensure they understand each aspect of the contract before signing it. It’s standard for landlords in the Algarve to ask for the equivalent of two months’ rent as a security deposit before a tenant can move in.
Read Accommodation in Portugal to learn more about the national rental system.
Typically, those renting accommodation in the Algarve won’t have to set up their own utilities. Expats will also need to check with their landlord whether utilities are included in their monthly rental fee, as this varies.
The electricity market in Portugal is liberalised, meaning expats can choose their suppliers. Those whose utilities will be included in the monthly rental fee will likely not be able to change their electricity suppliers, but those who will be responsible for their utilities can. Expats are encouraged to conduct some thorough research as each energy supplier offers a range of tariffs as well.
New arrivals can simply arrange a transfer of accounts with their energy supplier when renting a property. The landlord must provide the tenant with copies of previous utility bills, and it’s recommended to review meter readings with the property owner to avoid unfair charges. Expats may need to submit a copy of their passport, address, previous tenant's name, tax number (Número Fiscal de Contribuinte) and residency card.
The energy company will send an estimated bill bi-monthly, or expats can pay via direct debit monthly. Processes differ between suppliers, so it’s essential for expats to check with their specific electricity supplier.
Mains gas is uncommon in Portugal's rural and island communities, so expats moving to the Algarve are unlikely to encounter it. Bottled gas is the most common form of gas in the region, and in rural areas, gas tanks are common. These are typically installed by a gas company that charges a fee for supplying the gas. Property owners will usually sign a contract with a gas company of their choice and are charged a fixed minimum usage fee for the tank annually.
The Aguas do Algarve manages the water supply in the Algarve. To set up an account, new arrivals usually need to provide proof of identity, NIF (Número Fiscal de Contribuinte) number, proof of address and Portuguese bank account details. Before applying, expats should visit their local town hall to learn more about Aguas do Algarve.
Water bills are generally sent and paid bi-monthly. Expats can choose to pay a fixed rate for their water and pay separately for any extra water they use.
Bins and recycling
Local municipalities are responsible for waste collection and management in different regions of the Algarve. Typically, municipalities provide colour-coded bins for household waste. Blue bins are reserved for paper waste, and grey waste bins are for aluminium, toilet paper, sticky paper and pizza boxes. Plastic and metal waste will go into the yellow bins, while glass will go into the green bins.
Household waste will typically be separated and can then be dropped off at an ecoponto, which can be found throughout towns or cities, or tenants can arrange for door-to-door collection. It’s recommended that expats visit their local municipality’s website to learn more about waste management in their town.
Buying property in the Algarve
Buying a property in the Algarve is a fairly straightforward affair, but will generally require a Portuguese bank account and registration for a Fiscal Number, both of which can be organised by a lawyer. The purchase process involves the payment of a deposit which binds the purchaser and seller to the contract from the early stages.
The Portuguese administrative system is known to be bureaucratic, slow and somewhat complex. Expats should take care to obtain appropriate planning permission before considering any renovations or rebuilding.
► Find out more about working in the Algarve
What do expats say about housing in the Algarve?
"There are apartments, townhouses and villas to rent or buy in Tavira, our local town, or old ruins and villas out in the countryside." Read more about British expat Sarah's life in the Algarve.
Are you an expat living in The Algarve?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The Algarve. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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