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Housing in Portugal

Everything You Need to Know About Finding a New Home

If you are looking for accommodation in Portugal, you should first get a feel for the housing market—think scarce and expensive options in bigger cities like Lisbon and Porto, and significantly cheaper options in surrounding metropolitan areas and inland. You will be glad to know property is affordable, and you can even buy a home to get a visa or citizenship.

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Finding housing in Portugal is likely to be one of your top priorities when you move. With prices higher than ever, you can expect affordable options to disappear quickly. If you are going to be living on a Portuguese salary, you will find rent and mortgage expenses a strain.

There are different types of houses you can find in Portugal—from the common apartment you can find in all cities to the typical Portuguese farms located in more tranquil areas. Whether you are looking for houses and apartments for rent or to buy a house, we can show you some of the most common practices for the process of finding accommodation. We explain what long rental contracts normally look like in this country to what documents you will need for either renting or buying.

In the meantime, you can look for short-term rentals on popular holiday websites. Portugal is big on tourism so you will not lack options for short-term accommodation for when you first arrive and are settling in.

Renting a House or Apartment

In this guide, we go through all the steps you need to know on how to rent houses and apartments: from the process of finding your ideal home, breaking down how much it will cost you, to setting up utilities, internet, and more.

What is the Average Rent in Portugal?

On average, housing in Portugal costs around 1,100 EUR (1,200 USD) in rent per month. This number grew considerably from the 800 EUR (880 USD) registered just a year before.

Rent prices will vary greatly depending on the part of the country in which you choose to live and the type of housing you seek. Cities closer to the coast will typically be more expensive than the inland east side of the country. Lisbon and Porto top the list for the most expensive cities in the country.

When it comes to monthly rent prices, these are the most expensive districts:

Most expensive districts Rent EUR Rent USD
Lisbon 1,500 1,640
Porto 1,100 1,200
Faro 880 960
Beja 730 800
Setúbal 690 755

 

The minimum house rent you will find in Portugal is in the district of Guarda. Since the average rental price in this district is less than 350 EUR (385 USD), it means you can find housing that is less than this amount.

The districts with the lowest average rental prices per month are:

Cheapest districts Rent EUR Rent USD
Guarda 350 380
Portalegre 370 405
Castelo Branco 390 425
Vila Real 400 435
Santarém 420 560

 

Renting in Portugal as a Foreigner

Renting in Portugal should not be a problem for foreigners. However, you might experience some difficulty communicating with potential landlords when viewing a house. Some older generations may not speak any language other than Portuguese.

In general though, you will experience the same struggles as nationals when it comes to finding affordable housing and securing a place. In cities like Porto or Lisbon, rentals are likely to be taken off the market within one or two days of having been advertised.

What are the Required Documents for Renting?

You will need the following documents when signing a rental contract in Portugal:

  • valid ID or passport
  • last paystubs or tax return

If you cannot provide a paystub or tax return, you may be asked for a guarantor. They will need to provide the same documents.

As a tenant, you can request the following documents from your landlord:

  • caderneta predial (land register)
  • licença de habitação (habitation certificate, a license that guarantees the building can be inhabited)
  • energy certificate

You are typically asked for a deposit equal to one or two months’ rent in advance.

Furnished or Unfurnished Homes

You will find both furnished and unfurnished accommodation in Portugal. An apartamento mobilado is a furnished rental. This usually means the accommodation has all the essential furniture such as beds, couches, and dressers, and might even include some decor.

Unfurnished apartments will typically have a functional kitchen, with a stove, oven, and cupboards, and a fully functional bathroom.

Short-Term Rentals: Things to Know

If you need a short-term or vacation rental when you first arrive in Portugal, you will not have any difficulty finding a variety of options. You can find a vacation rental for almost anywhere in the country on popular accommodation websites.

You will not need any documents for short-term rentals besides your ID or passport. As for average costs, a vacation rental can cost between 25 and 100 EUR (27–110 USD) a night, depending on the place.

Rental Contract and Deposit

The most common rental contracts, or contratos de arrendamento, are one-year contracts, two years, and even up to six years. Contracts longer than six years are also possible, but less common. The maximum period established by law for a rental contract is 30 years.

As of now, you can still sign a contract for six months or less, but recent changes in law have made the minimum contract duration one year, so soon enough this will no longer be an option.

Rental contracts in Portugal have a duration of two years by default—that is if the contract does not mention the duration. It is typically renewed for three years when there is no other indication.

Your rental contract should have the following information:

  • personal details of both parties such as name, date of birth, nationality, and marital status
  • exact location of the rental property
  • number and date of the licença de habitação (habitation license)
  • rules and conditions established between tenant and landlord

Rental Process and Rules: Landlords and Tenants

As for some rules you can expect as a tenant in Portugal, here are the things to know:

  • Having a written contract is mandatory—verbal contracts are not legally recognized.
  • Your landlord may not allow you to sublet the rental.
  • Your landlord can increase your rent once a year, depending on the duration of your contract.
  • Your landlord does not have the right to enter your home without permission. That being said, you can report them if they enter or have entered the property using their own key.
  • Your landlord is obligated to register the rental contract with Portal das Finanças, the official website of Portuguese tax authorities.
  • You may only deduct taxes on your expenses with rent if your legal address matches the address on your rent invoices. If you move into a new place, you have one month to change your address on your valid ID in the country.
  • If you plan on renting with a pet or adopting one in the meantime, make sure to state that and include a clause in your contract that allows you to do so, so you do not run into issues later on.
  • If you have lived in your rental for at least one third of your contract, you can terminate that contract. You will have to notify your landlord four months (120 days) before the date you intend to leave.

Utility Bill Payments

When renting in Portugal, the most common practice is for tenants to pay their own utility bills. In these cases, you would need a contract with each utility company under your own name and a bank account for payment through direct debit.

However, it is also not uncommon for utility costs to be included in the monthly rent, especially if your contract is short-term. This can be advantageous for tenants, since it means they would not need to draw up utility contracts. For the case of water, this would require visiting the company’s offices in person with your rental contract.

On the other hand, this monthly cost tends to be a fixed amount added to your rent, instead of the actual expenses. That means you cannot account for utility costs if you need to reduce your spending, and you may be paying this expense when going on vacation or abroad.

As always, if you opt for a rental with utility bills included in the rental price, make sure to ask for invoices of such expenses, even if just to estimate what your rent should be with utilities included.

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Buying Property as a Foreigner

If you want to know how to buy a house or property as a foreigner, you can find everything you need here. This guide on buying a home in Portugal covers average house prices, types of properties you can buy, requirements for property purchase, and more.

House Prices in Portugal

Houses in Portugal cost an average of 250,000 EUR (275,000 USD).

The capital once again tops the list of the most expensive districts in the country for homes. Houses in Lisbon cost around 330,000 EUR (363,000 USD).

Below is a list of the cheapest and most expensive regions in the country to buy property:

Most expensive districts Average price EUR Average price USD
Lisbon 330,000 360,000
Faro 315,000 345,000
Porto 220,000 240,000
Leiria 215,000 235,000
Setúbal 205,000 225,000

 

Least expensive districts Average price EUR Average price USD
Castelo Branco 125,000 135,000
Portalegre 140,000 155,000
Guarda 145,000 160,000
Beja 150,000 165,000
Santarém 155,000 170,000

 

What Types of Property Can You Buy in Portugal?

Buying a home in Portugal will mostly depend on your needs and the extent of your household. You are sure to find both houses and apartments of all sizes.

  • Apartment sizes in Portugal range from studios to five-bedrooms or more.
  • A moradia or casa is a typical detached home. This may or may not include surrounding outdoor areas such as a patio, front or backyard. Most homes in Portugal are surrounded by a wall with a front gate which can range from knee-high to eye-level or higher.
  • Casa geminada is a semi-detached home­—two symmetrical houses that share one wall.
  • Quintas are typical Portuguese farms or rustic houses. These can be found in more inland areas of the country, although you may be able to find some in suburban areas.
  • Condomínios or condos are individual apartment buildings with shared common areas. These are usually safer than regular apartment complexes and you can expect better maintenance, since these are quite costly.
  • Terreno stands for land. If you wish to build your own home, make sure the property is registered for habitation purposes and not agricultural. You can only build on agricultural land under very specific conditions. Check with the city hall (Câmara Municipal).
Know the Terminology for Apartments

The terminology used is T0, T1, T2, T3, and so on—the numbers correspond to the number of bedrooms. For example, a T1 is an apartment with one bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room. A T0 is a studio apartment. If you see a +1 next to the number, such as a T3+1, this means there is an extra room with no windows.

Process and Steps for Buying a House in Portugal

If you have not yet begun your search for a new home, you can start doing so with real estate agencies or websites. Once you have found a place that suits you, and the house viewing was a success, you can begin the process of buying a home in Portugal.

  • Try to negotiate the price of the property. Usually, you will have some room for negotiation, so not negotiating could be a waste of money.
  • Make a down payment to reserve the property—this is typically 6,000 EUR (6,600 USD).
  • Signing a contrato-promessa de compra e venda (CPCV) is advisable. This document is not mandatory but it offers some guarantee on both parties while you wait to sign a deed (e.g, while waiting for the mortgage to be approved, for the construction to be finished, or for the property to obtain all the necessary licensing).
  • Sign and notarize the property deed (escritura).
  • Take out a loan with a bank if you cannot pay upfront. To take out a mortgage, you are typically asked for proof of residence, proof of income (e.g, your last paychecks or bank statements), documents related to current financial obligations (e.g., rent, mortgage, debts, etc.), and details about the property such as promise of a contract or the deed.

What are the Requirements to Buy a Property?

When signing a binding sales contract, which needs to be witnessed by a notary, you will typically need the following documents:

  • ID of both parties
  • CPCV, if applicable
  • energy certificate of the property
  • ficha técnica da habitação (property information sheet)
  • infrastructure certificate
  • payment of the stamp, Imposto de Selo
  • caderneta predial (land register)

If you need help with any step when purchasing a home, request InterNations GO!’s Home Finding service.

Buying a House for Permanent Residence

Thinking of buying a house in Portugal to get a visa or citizenship? You should know it is quite easy to obtain residence and eventually permanent residence in Portugal by just purchasing property.

You can do this by applying for the investor’s visa or the Portuguese Golden Visa, as it is more commonly known. This requires you to purchase real estate equal to or more than 500,000 EUR (550,000 USD), or equal to or more than 350,000 EUR (385 USD), under certain conditions.

After five years, you can apply for permanent residence or citizenship in Portugal. You do not even need to live there in the meantime—you just need to spend two weeks a year in the country.

Utilities

Know all about utility companies in Portugal and how to set up your utilities. You will need to sign a contract with each company, usually for the duration of your rental contract.

Things to Know about Utilities in Portugal

In Portugal, both electricity and gas are used as a source of energy throughout the country. The use of natural gas is mainly for cooking and heating your home during winter. In some municipalities, you can find piped natural gas, but for the majority of the country, gas supply is usually bottled.

Typically, you will not find natural gas supplied in historic centers. As housing in these centers tends to be tightly packed and highly populated, this would be a public hazard.

Electricity and Gas Companies

The main electricity and gas suppliers in Portugal are:

  • EDP;
  • Galp;
  • Endesa;
  • Iberdrola.

These companies operate in a free market, which means they can set their own prices and you are free to switch between suppliers if you wish to.

Water Company in Portugal

Water in Portugal is provided by the public company Águas de Portugal. The company has several regional offices such as Águas do Norte or Águas do Centro Litoral which have several offices operating at the city level.

If you need to set up water in your home, you will typically need to visit the company’s office. You will need a rental contract of the place where you intend to set up water, or the property deed (escritura) in case you own the property, as well as your valid ID or proof of residence in the country.

Required Documents

You will typically need:

  • ID or passport;
  • tax number;
  • bank account number (IBAN) for direct debits;
  • rental contract;
  • details about the property that pertain to each utility:
    • CPE (código de ponto de entrega) for electricity—this number can be provided by the electricity company once you tell them your address
    • CUI (código universal de instalação) for natural gas—this number can be provided by the company that distributes gas in your area
    • water meter number and current count

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Internet and Mobile Phones

Find out how to get connected in the country­. We explain how to get an internet and a cell phone contract in Portugal, including how to get a SIM card and Portuguese phone number, and how to set up cable TV in this section.

How to Get Internet and TV

Setting up an internet connection, TV, and landline in Portugal is fairly easy. You just need to call a service provider and can have everything installed in a matter of days. You will find decent coverage for fiber optic internet throughout most of the country, which means fast internet connection almost anywhere.

You can surf each company’s website to learn about their deals. Most have packages with internet, TV, landline, and cell phone with mobile data. You can also call them directly to get more information on each product and negotiate a better deal.

Some of the most popular companies that provide communication services are:

  • Vodafone;
  • NOS;
  • MEO;
  • NOWO.

These companies provide internet, TV, and land phone for 25 to 40 EUR (27–44 USD) a month. If you want to include one or more mobile phones in your plan, you would pay approximately 10 EUR (11 USD) more for every cell phone you add.

Television in Portugal

Cable TV in Portugal gives you access to hundreds of channels. The most popular channels are Portuguese, broadcasting mostly Portuguese soap operas, daily shows, and news. However, international channels are found in most, if not all, TV plans.

You will be happy to know the Portuguese do not dub foreign movies or TV shows, opting for subtitles instead. This means you can watch a number of shows in English or their original language even on Portuguese channels. If you want to watch your home country’s TV in Portugal, you can always opt for a TV plan with more channels, and maybe personalized to your liking, though this option will be more expensive.

How to Get a SIM Card and Phone Number

You can get a SIM card and a Portuguese phone number with any of the companies mentioned above. Your cell phone plan can be included in your television and internet pack. If you choose to go with a separate provider for your cell phone plan, you will need to compare specific cell phone plans with the biggest providers.

To get a Portuguese phone number, you can connect to a service provider of your choice online, and request your SIM card through their website. This can be delivered to your home free of charge within a week.

For this, you will have to provide some information about you such as your name, address, NIF, and email.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: November 19, 2019
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