• Have a realistic budget as you will need extra money for associated fees and house maintenance.
  • Properties are cheaper in Central Portugal and will be more expensive nearer major cities and the coast. If you don’t mind an hours commute to a major city or beach then you will get more for your money in Central Portugal.
  • Hire an English speaking solicitor/lawyer. Don’t try to do it alone especially if you don’t speak the language. Portuguese law is very different to English law.
  • Are you looking for a permanent home for relocation or holiday home?
  • If you have a larger budget you are most likely going to want to narrow down an area you like then search for properties.
  • If like us you have a smaller fixed budget you are better off searching properties first otherwise you may fall in love with an area and never find a suitable property within budget.
  • Are you going to work in Portugal? Will this dictate where you chose to live?
  • Are you a city person or prefer the countryside? We live in a little rural village which to many in the UK would seem very remote with no shop etc. but actually for Portugal this is not that remote at all as there are many properties that are off the grid here in total isolation. We can be in the major city of Coimbra in one hours drive, a beach in just over one hour and airport in two hours, which suits us perfectly.
  • Do you need to be near an airport?
  • Do you want to be near a beach or countryside?
  • Do you need to be near good public transport e.g. a train station or will you have access to a car?
  • Do you require a garage or covered parking area? Out of all the houses we viewed only one house had a garage. Most houses were located down narrow lanes so the parking spot was just next to your house or on the land which came with the house. Is this sufficient for you or do you have a car or motorbike that you want covered and securely locked away each night?
  • Do you need/want to be close to shops/bars or would you prefer a more remote rural village? We are not very social people to be honest but we do have a cafe and shop up the hill and a small bar quite near to us.
  • Holidays are not the same as living here permanently. 
  • Do you want to live off the grid? 
  • Do you need good internet speed e.g. for your job? Remember to test the speed at properties.
  • How much land do you want? Many properties come with lots of land, sometimes acres but how are you going to maintain this?
  • So many Brits I meet have a dream of buying some land with a ruin and building a house. This is a lovely dream but can be expensive. 
  • Do you want a house with minimal work or a total renovation? e.g. buying a ruin.
  • Be aware of buying land to build a house, check that you can actually build a house on the land. 
  • Sewerage – a lot of Portuguese homes have septic tanks. 
  • View as many properties as you can. Every property is different here.
  • Promissory contract – you don’t have to sign a promissory contract but for us it was peace of mind as we were returning to the UK and it gave a timeframe for when the deeds will be exchanged. If the seller pulls out they will have to pay you back double of the deposit (our deposit was 10% of property price). If we pulled out we would have lost the 10% deposit. Although if they did pull out I’m not sure how easy it would be to actually obtain double the deposit – It all depends on who is holding the deposit – lawyer, estate agent or seller. I have heard it can take years going through courts. 
  • Heating & Air con – most houses are designed for the hot summers so don’t retain heat. Unless you have central heating winters are going to be cold. We only have a log burner and it can get quite cold in the evenings in winter time. Summers can be extremely hot so check that the house has air con, if not maybe factor in this cost.
  • Do you want a swimming pool/plunge pool or no pool? Salt water? We didn’t want the hassle of a pool and couldn’t really afford a property with a pool but don’t under estimate the summer heat. If you don’t have a pool do you have a nearby beach or river beach to cool off?
  • If viewing properties in winter time be aware that some quiet villages may have a lot of holiday homes so it may appear very quiet with no neighbours living in the properties but once spring/summer arrives it may be a different story. The house behind us is empty but now the weather is getting warmer they have visited a couple of times and have a small yappy dog.
  • Do you want immediate neighbours? Our house is detached and we have nothing one side but a house the other side and a house behind ours. Noise does travel far here and the Portuguese do tend to speak very loud. Bear this in mind when viewing properties. Don’t rely on the agents advice. We viewed a small house with tons of olive trees. There was a really loud cockerel in the house behind and the agent said it was only making a sound to be fed. The house wasn’t for us anyway but if you are sensitive to noise like me please do your research and visit the property more than once.
  • My advice would be to bring a folder with a photo and basic info of each house. Make notes straight after each viewing. We bought with us a folder with plastic pockets which was an amazing help. You can also slide any documents in here that you might need to obtain fiscal number e.g. utility bill etc.
  • Some agents will not give out coordinates or precise address of the property. I think this is because they don’t want you to go directly to seller and try to cut out the middle man. Some will meet you in their office base but others will meet you at one property then you can follow them to others if you are viewing more than one property with them. Others like to meet you at a nearby location e.g. petrol station. This might sound dodgy but is normal practise here.
  • Be aware that photos on Rightmove and estate agents websites can be very misleading. I fell in love with one property and when we viewed it the property was horrendous, nothing like the photo’s and it required at least £50,000-75,000 worth of work. So don’t fall in love with one house, keep your options open. I also know a person who fell in love with a house and booked flights out to only view that one house but the house sold before they got to fly out and they were super disappointed and didn’t want to visit. Although agents appear very keen they will sell to the first person with the available funds.
  • Holiday homes – are very popular here. Bear in mind that if you buy a property that was previously a holiday home like we did it could be an advantage as you will likely purchase a fully furnished property which can save you thousands. Our house came with cooker, fridge/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, coffee maker, dining table and 6 chairs, 2 sofas and 2 chairs, bed frame, wardrobes, dressing table, bedside cabinets, desk, chest drawers, digital telephone, radio, telephone stand, TV stands, curtains, crockery, cutlery, glass wear, vases, tons of kitchen gadgets e.g. mixer, a bar and stools, pots and pans, bookcases, curtains, art work, garden strimmer, garden chairs and table, some tools etc. All we needed to buy was: mattress, bedding, pillows, rugs, towels, tea towels, table cloth, place mats, bath mats, sofa throws, cushions, kettle, espresso maker, knife set, saucepans, glass storage jars, bread board and chopping board, shower heads/hoses and a toilet seat. Don’t forget the corkscrew!
  • How much do you really love your significant other? If you are not making this journey alone are you both retiring or are you going to work outside of the property or working remotely from your home? We both worked FT in the UK so left the home early in the morning and only saw each other evenings and weekends. I don’t work here currently and hubby works remotely from our house so we do see a lot more of each other although I am usually found outside gardening on most sunny days. We are lucky as we get on great like best friends and have daily laughs but this is something to consider. You may be going from spending a few hours per day together to being in one anothers company 24/7 which may cause friction in some relationships – just something to think about as I have no idea how easy it is to get a divorce here! If you really want to annoy your other half do what I did and instead of communicating by words and sentences sing everything all day long. Ask and respond to everything they say by singing your words – who said you can’t have fun whilst working together.
  • Be aware of negative Nancy’s – there will be someone from back home who is pretty negative and will make negative comments. Take these comments with a pinch of Portuguese salt, just disregard them and surround yourself with positive Penny’s. Unless this is their personality (some people thrive on arguments and debates) they are just jealous as they don’t have the imagination or get up and go to make it their dream. Most true family and friends will be pleased for you and send words of encouragement. Just remember that not everyone is pleasant in life and some people just want you to fail – prove them wrong and go be happy and live your dream.