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. Fewer choose to live in the towns of the Algarve, which tend to have more of an authentic local feel and often come without any outside space.
Property in the Algarve is more expensive than in many other parts of Portugal, Lisbon being the main exception. However, Portugal is 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.
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 farther inland tend to be very isolated, lacking main roads and amenities, and are populated mostly 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.
Finding accommodation in the Algarve
Property in the Algarve is advertised on international property sites and by numerous real 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 finder's fees.
Renting accommodation in the Algarve
There are a number of options for those preferring to rent.
Due 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 of six months from November to March 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.
Furnished or unfurnished
Long-term rental properties are usually unfurnished while short-term properties are typically furnished.
Background or credit checks
Renting accommodation in the Algarve can feel informal to some expats. Landlords frequently don't ask for references or do credit checks.
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.
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 need to be clearly stated in the contract. Expats must ensure they understand each aspect of the contract before signing it.
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. Those who need to pay their own utilities will find that it is simple to do as one can set up direct deposits or make once-off payments at certain ATMs or shops.
Household waste and recycling are managed by the local council. Household waste is collected from one's property. On the other hand, expats will need to take recyclable products to their local recycling point. Recycling should also be separated into the correct coloured bins as prescribed by the local council.
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. Due to inheritance laws in Portugal older properties may be owned by a number of family members, which can make the purchasing process lengthy and complicated. It would be advisable to establish the seller’s position before proceeding to establish an understanding of the likely timescale.
The Portuguese administrative system is known to be very bureaucratic, slow and somewhat complex. Expats should take care to obtain appropriate planning permission before considering any renovations or rebuilding. For older rural properties it is not unusual to house one or more ‘illegal’ buildings, such as sheds or extensions. If this is the case, it may be necessary to register the buildings and have the plans updated. If they are deemed not permissible by law it may be necessary to remove them.
► Find out more about working in the Algarve
"There are apartments, town houses and villas to rent or buy in Tavira, our local town, or old ruins and villas out in the countryside." Read more about Sarah's life in the Algarve.
Are you an expat living in The Algarve?
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