Could 2019 be the year you make your Portuguese dream come true? We think there’s every reason for it – and so, this week, we’re excited to launch part one of our six-part serialisation of ‘Buying in Portugal’ to help make it happen. In part one, we’re looking at why to move to Portugal and what you need to do before you even start searching.
Will 2019 be the year you make the move to Portugal?
Did you know that Portugal’s sunnier than California? As if those 3,000 hours of sunshine a year (compared to 1,500 a year in England) weren’t reason enough to move to Portugal, here are our top five reasons:
- Portugal is unspoilt and idiosyncratic. It has high-tech hubs in Lisbon and Porto is one of the most dynamic and exciting student cities in the world. Yet, this is still a country where farmers go to work on a donkey. And why not, with such beautiful and tranquil countryside? It’s also much less densely populated. There are just 113 people per square kilometre, compared to 420 in England!
- There are low taxes. Portugal’s non-habitual resident (NHR) scheme gives special tax benefits to new arrivals for up to ten years. If you work in Portugal, you will pay a low income tax rate, and if you receive investment or pension income here from abroad it will be tax free.
- You’ll find property affordable. When Property Guides cross-referenced weather data with holiday home prices across Europe to find where the sunshine costs least, the Algarve was far better value than any other Western European hotspot. While a 50m2 was at least a third less than in the Costa del Sol and half that of the Cote d’Azur, it had more sunshine than either. But it’s not just property that’s cheaper. On the expat cost of living index from Numbeo, the first Portuguese city is only placed 116th in Europe (London is 18th). In the Post Office travel cost barometer, the Algarve is the most affordable out of 22 popular tourist destinations around the world. Your pension will go a long way here.
- Portugal is easy to reach. The three main airports at Porto, Lisbon and Faro offer easy access to Portugal all year. Some routes are seasonal but plenty run year-round (unlike to many Mediterranean destinations). In Portugal it really is possible to nip down for a weekend off-season, from the UK’s regional airports too. Ferries via northern Spain or the gorgeous Sud Express train are other pleasant options.
- We’re old friends! The British and Portuguese have been friends and allies since 1373; it’s the oldest alliance in the world! Not long after it was signed, Cliff Richard moved to the Algarve. Okay, we’re joking on the last point, but plenty of our celebrities have moved to Portugal and been joined by the likes of Madonna and Scarlett Johansson. This is a friendship forged over the centuries, not just the decades, and many Portuguese people speak English.
What are the key decisions to make before starting your property search?
You’ll have five main questions to ask yourself before you start house-hunting for your move to Portugal. We find these questions work again and again to help define what you’re looking for. That way, you avoid wasting time looking at places you later find you don’t want. The questions are the following:
Why are you buying?
Knowing you want a property in Portugal’s just the start. Sit down and analyse what it is that you want in detail, so that you have motivation and direction. What do you want out of your new life? It could be:
- “We want more space for the family to enjoy the sun.”
- “We’ll get more out of pension in Portugal than back in the UK.”
- “The kids have left home – so it’s time for a new adventure!”
- “Lisbon and Porto look like great property investments, especially with Brexit uncertainty back home”
- “We don’t want to look back on life in later years and regret not having dared.”
How far does your budget go?
It’s so crucial to define your budget right from the start. Rather than finding a property and then trying to work out how to afford it, you should find your budget and work within that.
There are other ways to raise finance for your property, but start off at least with your own realistic budget. Don’t forget that you won’t get the “interbank rate” that you see on currency exchange sites. Budget for about a percentage point or two below that. However, you might be able to knock a little bit off the price of the property too, if you research the market.
How will you use your home?
Make sure you decide exactly how you’ll use the home before deciding what it must have. You may think you’d like a swimming pool, for instance, but find later on that that doesn’t fit your lifestyle.
Ask yourself what you’ll do with the property. Will you use it for long weekends? Will it before for three weeks over the summer? Will you move to Portugal permanently, or is it an investment property, later to be used for retirement?
For example, if you’re not looking at nipping down at the weekends, you could save money by buying further away from an airport.
What are the must-haves for your property?
Think about your ideal property within your budget range – what must it absolutely have? Does it need outdoor space? Would you like proximity to beach or do you prefer a pool? How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need? Do you want a terrace or a garden?
What would a deal breaker be for you?
It can be quite cathartic to think about what you can’t stand! Decide what you really don’t want to know what to avoid when you move to Portugal. Would cleaning a pool be too much maintenance? Conversely, do you find a beach less appealing than a pool? Would you find being in a busy resort too much?
This needs to be a home you love, so don’t miss anything out.