According to a foreigner who recently went through the process.
Today I live in Portugal and I don't see myself moving from here. The security, the purchasing power, and the quality of life were unimaginable for me before!
When I accepted the proposal to come here, I had many questions and uncertainties, and that's why I would like to share what I have learned along the way to help you in your moving process.
If you dream of living in the capital of Portugal but are still not sure how to start your search for a house, in this article I will walk you through the different neighborhoods and surroundings cities and towns, moreover, I will also suggest you websites to begin your search.
1. My experience
In December 2021, I arrived with my wife in Lisbon and we immediately went to a hotel. In the first week, everything was wonderful - we fell in love with the city right away. However, we did not expect that the process of renting an apartment to take so long.
So here's the first tip: stay in an Airbnb for at least a month, so you don't have to worry about finding a place right away.
The weather was something we had trouble getting used to during the first few weeks: we left a hot city, where the temperature was about 35 degrees and arrived at a cold one, where we experienced 9 degrees.
Hence, I can't stress enough the importance of having a place to stay (preferably with a kitchen), as the moving process is already complicated for several reasons: time zone, climate, and food, among other unexpected issues. Just the fact that you can make your own food, not changing your routine on that part, and have time to calmly find an apartment to rent... will make all the difference!
Now that you know a little bit about what I went through, I'll tell you some particularities of renting a house in Portugal.
2. Renting a house in Portugal
Let’s start with the terminologies, in Portugal, T0 means apartments without rooms (studio or flats), T1 means a one-bedroom apartment, T2 means a two-bedroom apartment, and so on.
As opposed to my country, here it is very common to rent an apartment fully furnished or with a kitchen equipped with a stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, etc. This helps a lot.
Another important aspect that you should be prepared for: one common criteria for renting an apartment/house is to have a Portuguese guarantor, and to give a security deposit, that you should pay to the landlord in advance. However, when you don't have a Portuguese guarantor (which was my case), you may be required to give a larger deposit or advance payment as compensation - but don’t worry, KWAN has a relocation package ready to help you in situations like this. But beware, the deposit is retained until the end of the contract and is usually required for 3 to 6 months (and it can be used as an advance payment or security deposit), which varies from case to case. To rent a room the process is usually faster, but the same requirements as above may be applied, making the process just as bureaucratic (good luck).
Therefore, the most important to consider is to plan and research a lot, and so making an informed choice. With this in mind, in the next topic, I will give you tips on websites and online groups to help you in your search.
3. Searching in the right place
For immigrants, going online is certainly a plus. With that in mind, here are some websites, and Facebook groups to help you in your search:
- Real estate websites, examples: ERA, REMAX, CENTURY 21;
- Facebook groups: Apartments & Rooms for Rent - Greater Lisbon; Apartments and rooms in Lisbon - flat sharing (tip: search on Facebook - Rent + Name of the city you want, there are always many groups on the subject that can help a lot).
It’s also important to use your networking (even if you only know a few local people!), the renting process usually goes faster when someone is referring you to the property.
This search process is usually quite laborious, so call the landlord/ real estate agent as soon as possible, schedule a visit and make your proposal. Apartments/houses in Portugal for rent come and go very quickly.
4. Finding the best deal
One way to get away from the high prices and rental conditions in Lisbon is to look for houses in the outskirts of Lisbon (Oeiras, Amadora, Odivelas and Sintra) and in the south margin of the Tagus river (Almada, Barreiro, Setúbal and Montijo). Not only is the price lower, but there is also transportation connecting the cities all the time, making it easier to get around.
The south margin (pictured above) was my choice because it has great deals, some co-workers were already living in this region, and the infrastructure is great (parks, shopping malls, hospitals, and markets).
It's like living in a countryside, but next door to a big city."
Besides, there is a train that connects Setúbal to Lisbon (passing through several districts on the way) and there are boats that connect Barreiro, Seixal, and Montijo to the capital.
Nevertheless, consider that if you don't live near public transport (and don't own a car) you may have difficulties getting to Lisbon.
City of Lisbon
The perks of living in Greater Lisbon is the diversity you find (bars, restaurants, shopping malls, transportation, landmarks, and everything this city has to offer). However, rentals have a higher price per square meter, for example, the rent you would pay for a studio apartment in Lisbon is equivalent to a 1 or 2-bedroom apartment in the neighboring areas.
It is perfect for people who need to work daily in Lisbon and want to easily get around, since the city's infrastructure is excellent and allows quick access from point to point.
Another option is to look for places to stay in Oeiras, Amadora, Odivelas, and Sintra, for example. These areas are directly connected to Lisbon, which means that you will live in the capital but away from the large flows, and have some faster means of transport than from the south margin (boat vs subway).
Amadora has a good infrastructure of shopping centers and public transportation (bus, train, and subway). Besides, it is 14 km away from the center of Lisbon.
Oeiras is one of the most developed and modern municipalities on the outskirts of Lisbon and has beautiful beaches. In addition, it borders the city of Lisbon and has the train and bus as the main means of transportation to the city center.
Sintra is a beautiful town with a vast architectural heritage! Rental values in the municipality are very diverse, with expensive, medium, and cheap options. Not to mention that the train allows you to arrive in Lisbon in approximately 30 minutes, passing through several points in the city.
Odivelas is a small municipality and is the closest one to Lisbon. In addition, it has buses and a subway. It is a place with a lot of cultural diversity and where you can find good rental opportunities, besides a lot of commerce nearby.
How to Find a House in Lisbon: Final Remarks
Summing up: the rental prices on the south margin are better per square meter, Lisbon has more accessibility and price diversity, and the outskirts are the middle ground (they have some good deals and several transportation options). So, it depends a lot on your goals, your needs, and the amount of money you are willing to pay.
Before making a decision, it is worth analyzing whether you work remotely or need to commute to the office regularly. Regardless of whether you choose the south margin, Lisbon, or the outskirts of Lisbon, you should keep in mind that the cities in Portugal are very organized, safe, and have excellent infrastructure for you and your family.
So wherever you choose to live, you will certainly feel safe and happy with your decision to live in Portugal - even if, as in my case, the beginning is a bit bureaucratic.
Besides, KWAN played a fundamental role during the whole process of moving and adapting. Today I am very happy about living in Portugal, the beginning is always the hardest part, but everything gets easier as time goes by. I wish you luck in your journey and hope these tips have been helpful. 😉