- 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 a range of downtown 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 and northern European 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 security 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. However, long-term rentals can disappear from the market quickly.
Expats can use real 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. However, expats who don’t speak Portuguese may find it best to consult a real estate agent to help them with the process of finding accommodation in Portugal
Renting accommodation in Portugal
Upon relocating to the Iberian Peninsula, most expats will probably look to rent rather than buy in Portugal, 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 or 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 (contrato de arrendamento) regardless of whether it's a short- or long-term rental. 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 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.
Expats will find that rental contracts in Portugal are fairly flexible. Most landlords or rental agents will offer a choice between fixed-term open-ended contracts.
Fixed-term contracts are usually set for a period of two years. 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 as some contracts can require up to four months’ notice when ending the contract.
Short-term rentals will most likely include utility bills in the rental price. However, long-term rentals very 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 very 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.
"Due to rising prices in real estate, students and those with smaller budgets are finding it difficult to find affordable housing." Read Gail's Expat Arrivals interview for more.
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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