Portugal Long Term Rentals Challenge

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 Our first step after arriving in Portugal was to figure out the Portugal long-term rentals. Finding somewhere to live would be the next step to completing our DIY move to Portugal.

Here is our story of how we managed to find our own first rental place. 

Even though we were flexible and would take the first option that met our basic requirements it was not easy. 

Our Personal Situation

We've been nomadic travellers and 'homeless' for the last nine years, with our only long stop being three years in the Philippines. 

Over this time, we've enjoyed staying in many shared places: Shared and not our own.

As we roved, we minimised our life. Our material possessions had shrivelled, fitting into a 20kg suitcase, a carry-on case and a computer bag each. With the rest parked in 2 suitcases in London and Dubai with children and a box in South Africa with paintings done by an old friend. 

Our nomadic lifestyle was all we needed, although it sometimes became a little trying. I was looking forward to being in 'our little spot.'

After arriving in Portugal, we spent two weeks in Sesimbra and a month in Santa Luzia on the Algarve. The time on the Algarve was beneficial. As we then understood that "the Algarve" offers many varied living options and lifestyles. It's much more than US or UK expat enclaves or party-time resorts.

Our Requirements

Our budget was €600 a month. We needed a ready-to-move-in furnished unit, the first prize was two bedrooms, but we'd settle for one. 

We tried to concentrate on two areas; in the south from Beja to Evora and in the north from Sintra to Aveiro. 

Other than that, we were flexible. 

We started our search at the beginning of May and wanted occupation on 1 June. 

Despite our limited requirements and flexibility, it turned out to be a mission.

Portugal Long Term Rentals Sites 

As I started my Google searches, I found a few sites that I thought could be useful:

These included: 

LongTermLettings.com – the site included many properties to both rent and buy. But, the site was slow, and some filters were irrelevant. So, the searches were, at the same time, time-consuming and frustrating. In summary, not a pleasant user experience (UX).

Kyero.com – I couldn't find the filter for furnished or unfurnished accommodation (it may be there, but I couldn't find it!). I assumed that as this is an essential factor for many people, it should be easy to find. So, although the site offers many properties, the UX was messy and irritating again.

Idealista.com – this site offers many properties. It is fast and has a good selection of relevant filters. It also includes a handy option of being able to draw your area and an easy-to-use messaging system. So generally user-friendly.

Like all these sites, Idealista has redundant adverts. But I used the last updated day feature to find active rentals and settled on using Idealista. 

Some Concerns with our Search for a Portugal Long-Term Rentals 

Both owners and renters have valid reasons for concern. 

We had read that scammers use these sites on unsuspecting people. We also received warnings from the site that a particular listing was suspect. The scammer fear was one reason we had some concerns dealing with individual advertisers. Another reason was that we couldn't communicate in Portuguese. And finally, we didn't know Portugal and would have to rely on the advert.

To negate my concerns, I spent a lot of time making sure that the offers I considered were reasonable and credible. Here Google maps with satellite and street views was a valuable resource. 

On the other side, we appreciated their concerns. Some owners would be uncomfortable communicating in English. Some may have had bad experiences with foreigners in the past. For others, it may be the first time they were considering renting to foreigners. 

So in the process, both sides have a myriad of worries! These worries make the rental process quite messy.

On balance, we felt more secure dealing with property agents who at least had brands, registration numbers and websites!

Vagos view

The Search for Our Ideal Long-Term Rental

At the outset, we tackled our search with enthusiasm and high expectations. We sent messages, we made calls and then ... 'crickets'! Hardly a sound!

We accepted the concerns of people and companies in the initial contact via the site or phone. Some advertisers specified phone contact only. In these cases, we usually had to leave a message.

Our enthusiasm and excitement had turned into a war of attrition!

We did get some feedback. But generally, it was not what we wanted to hear. Responses like 'The property just been rented' or 'It will only be available from 1 July'. 

Early on, I realised this wasn't going to be a quick process, so I created a document to keep track of our seventeen applications. 

During this phase, we noticed that some properties looked stale with no updates for some time. We crossed these off these, assuming they were rented or taken off the market.

Two days after the initial message, I would send another through the system. Meanwhile, my wife was making the telephone calls. Again this required leaving messages. Callbacks were rare, so we followed up with another message or phone call the following day. We were sometimes adding a phone call to the system messages.

Even after follow-up messages and calls, responses were poor. 

Even after appearing to make progress and sending supporting documents, it was still a battle. The apartment we have was through Remax in Aveiro. Although finalising the deal wasn't plain sailing, they were always very professional.

In Conclusion 

Finding a long-term rental property is time-consuming and frustrating. First, finding sites that don't work for you and developing a search system. 

Then watching days tick past with no progress!

With patience and persistence, we found our perfect Portugal long-term rental. Sight unseen, we signed a one-year rental contract.

We are now living in a one-bedroom apartment in Vagos, a small town about 10 kilometres south of Aveiro. It meets our wants – a small town (22 000 people), close to a bigger city, Aveiro (80 000 inhabitants) and close to the countryside. A place where we could experience an authentic Portuguese lifestyle. In an area with very few expats and close to the country and the beach. But with fast internet. 

I hope that our experience prepares and helps you in some way find your perfect rental in Portugal.


Tags

long term rentals in Portugal, renting apartments in Portugal, renting houses in Portugal, renting in Portugal


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  1. Thank you very much. I had the same problem the moment I was searching for a home in The Netherlands and Germany when I lived in Spain and wanted to moove quickly for supporting my mother.
    Now in about 2 years we want to moove to Portugal and I am afraid I will have the same problem with finding a rented house with land for the dogs for a long time.

    1. I think that the rental sites could do a lot more in improving their user experience. Like making sure that redundant listings are removed, stating things like when the property is available, the minimum rental period, whether pets are allowed and what pets. In many ways, Facebook groups are more useful!

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