Portugal, with its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and inviting Mediterranean climate, has become an alluring destination for those seeking to call this picturesque country home. However, for those contemplating the move to Portugal, a crucial question arises: Is it more advantageous to buy or rent property in this captivating land? 

In this article, we embark on a journey to explore the intricacies of the Portuguese real estate market, dissecting the factors that influence the buy-versus-rent decision. 

The Portuguese real estate market

Real estate in Portugal has witnessed a surge in popularity, particularly among foreign buyers and those considering renting property. Additionally, programs such as the NHR (Non-Habitual Resident), which offers tax benefits to those who move to Portugal or the Portugal Golden Visa which offers residency to non-EU citizens who invest in real estate, has boosted demand for property in Portugal. 

Property prices in Portugal vary depending on the location, with prices being higher in popular tourist destinations such as Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve region. However, compared to other Western European countries, buying a house in Portugal is still relatively affordable, making it an attractive destination for those looking to invest in property or buy a second home.

Navigating the Portuguese real estate market involves adherence to established regulations, along with a series of legal and administrative procedures, whether you’re considering buying or renting. To ensure a smooth process, it is strongly advised that prospective buyers and tenants seek the guidance of qualified legal professionals and experienced real estate agents.

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When should you rent a property?

Selecting the option to rent property in Portugal is a decision influenced by a variety of factors, each catering to distinct lifestyles and needs. Let’s delve into these scenarios further:

1. When you seek freedom and adaptability

Renting property in Portugal embodies the concept of living life on your terms. It is an excellent choice for individuals who relish the freedom to adapt to evolving circumstances. 

Whether you are contemplating a lifestyle change, a new job opportunity, or simply yearn for the excitement of exploring different regions within Portugal, renting offers the flexibility to shift your living situation without the constraints of property ownership. 

It enables you to seize opportunities, embrace new experiences, and tailor your living space to your current needs, all while enjoying the beautiful backdrop of Portugal.

2. When you need a short or medium-term solution

One of the compelling advantages of renting is its ability to align seamlessly with the temporal nature of your housing needs. Whether your stay in Portugal is temporary, spanning a few months or a couple of years, renting accommodates your precise timeframe. 

This adaptability is particularly valuable for expatriates, students, or those engaged in projects with defined durations. Rather than investing in property that may not suit your future needs, renting ensures that your housing solution perfectly matches the duration of your stay, optimizing your living experience.

3. When you want to reduce initial expenses

Embarking on a new chapter in Portugal may come with initial financial considerations. Renting property offers an attractive avenue to minimize upfront financial commitments. 

Unlike property purchase, which often involves substantial down payments, taxes, and maintenance costs, renting typically requires a more modest financial investment at the outset. 

This can be advantageous, especially during the early stages of establishing your Portuguese residency. It provides the flexibility to allocate your resources strategically while enjoying the comforts of a well-maintained rental property.

4. When your career involves relocations and mobility

Portugal’s thriving economy and diverse job market attract professionals from around the world. If your professional life entails mobility or frequent relocations, renting emerges as a strategically sound choice. It enables you to navigate your career path with agility, swiftly responding to new opportunities or job transfers without being encumbered by the complexities often linked to property ownership. 

This level of flexibility aligns seamlessly with the dynamic nature of modern professional life, ensuring that your housing arrangement remains in harmony with your career aspirations.

5. When you prefer to avoid property responsibilities

Property ownership carries a basket of responsibilities, ranging from regular maintenance and property taxes to unforeseen repairs. Opting to rent in Portugal effectively transfers these responsibilities to the property owner or landlord. 

This translates into a worry-free living arrangement where you can enjoy your chosen residence without the burden of property management. It allows you to focus on your personal and professional pursuits while the property owner takes care of the intricacies associated with homeownership.

rent home in portugal

When you should buy a property?

Investing in real estate in Portugal through property ownership can be a strategic choice in various scenarios. Let’s delve further into when it’s particularly advantageous to buy property:

1. When you have a long-term plan

Property ownership not only aligns with long-term commitments but also provides a sense of rootedness and stability. It’s a choice that resonates with those who envision themselves becoming an integral part of the Portuguese community, raising a family, or simply establishing deep connections with the local culture. 

Owning property in Portugal means becoming a part of the picturesque landscapes, historic towns, and vibrant neighborhoods that define this captivating country. It’s an investment not just in Portuguese real estate but in the very essence of a place you call home.

2. When you aim to build equity

The concept of equity building through property ownership is akin to gradually accumulating a financial safety net. As you make mortgage payments, a portion of those payments goes toward reducing your loan balance, effectively increasing your ownership stake in the Portuguese property. Simultaneously, the property’s value may appreciate over the years. 

This dual benefit results in the creation of wealth that can be leveraged for future endeavors. Whether it’s seizing other investment opportunities in Portugal or securing your financial future while basking in the beauty of the Portuguese landscape, the equity built through property ownership empowers you to make informed financial decisions.

3. When you intend to leave assets for future generations

Beyond the financial aspects, property can carry significant emotional and sentimental value. When considering legacy planning, owning property in Portugal, a place of personal significance or family heritage, can be profoundly meaningful. 

It becomes a tangible representation of your life’s journey, culture, and values, intertwined with the rich Portuguese heritage. Passing down a property in Portugal to the next generation not only ensures their financial security but also serves as a lasting tribute to your Portuguese heritage and the indelible memories created within those walls.

4. When you encounter competitive market conditions

Navigating the real estate market in Portugal requires a keen understanding of market dynamics. In competitive conditions, such as a buyer’s market or historically low interest rates in Portugal, the opportunity to acquire property at favorable terms becomes more accessible. 

Favorable financing options can translate into lower monthly payments, while reduced property prices may offer potential for appreciation over time in the vibrant Portuguese property market. These conditions present a compelling case for seizing the moment and making a prudent property investment that aligns with your long-term goals in Portugal.

5. When you desire to personalize your living space

Owning property in Portugal grants you creative control over your living space amidst the country’s breathtaking landscapes. It’s a canvas upon which you can imprint your unique style, tastes, and preferences. Unlike renting in Portugal, where alterations are often subject to limitations, property ownership invites you to make structural or cosmetic changes that truly transform your living environment. 

Whether it’s designing the perfect kitchen with Portuguese flair, creating a lush garden oasis amidst Portugal’s natural beauty, or crafting an inviting outdoor patio to savor Portugal’s pleasant climate, your property becomes an expression of your individuality and lifestyle amidst the rich Portuguese cultural tapestry.

buy house in portugal

Renting a house in Portugal

When looking to rent a property in Portugal, it’s common to find rental contracts typically made for a duration of one year. It’s worth noting that landlords may also request a security deposit, which is usually equivalent to up to three monthly rental payments. 

You may be interesting in reading our guide: Renting a house in Portugal.

Rental Prices in Portugal

Rental prices in Lisbon have indeed seen a substantial increase in recent years, driven by the surging demand for housing in this bustling Portuguese metropolis. According to Idealista, the largest housing portal in Portugal renting an apartment in the heart of Lisbon, with approximately 80 square meters of space, can command a monthly rent of around €1,500. 

However, when compared to Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, the housing market in Lisbon appears notably pricier. In Porto, renting a similarly sized apartment with equivalent characteristics comes at a more affordable rate, typically around €1,170 per month. 

This translates to a significant cost saving of approximately 20% in Porto when compared to Lisbon, making it an attractive alternative for those seeking more budget-friendly housing options.

Properties to Rent in Portugal

The most convenient and efficient way to find an apartment, room, or an entire house is by conducting an online search. There are several online property portals that list properties for sale in Portugal and very easy to navigate, such as:

Rental Contract in Portugal

Before signing the rental agreement, make sure that you understand all of the terms and conditions of the lease. Review the rental agreement carefully and ask the landlord or agent any questions you may have. 

Make sure that all aspects of the rental agreement, including the rental price, move-in date, and length of the lease, are clearly spelled out. Take a look for the following:

Legal Responsibilities: The rental agreement must outline the legal obligations of both parties to maintain the property clean and undamaged condition.

Deposits: It’s common for landlords to request a deposit, typically equivalent to one or two months’ rent, as a safeguard against damages or unpaid rent

Upfront Payments: Differentiate between deposits and upfront rent payments.

Guarantor: In certain situations, landlords may ask for a guarantor, especially if the tenant lacks a stable income or possesses a poor credit score.

Notice Period: Familiarize yourself with the notice period for terminating the rental agreement, as specified in the contract. Generally, it ranges from one to two months.

Registration: Ensure that the rental contract is registered with local authorities. 

Inventory: Some rental contracts may include an inventory of the property.

Renting an Apartment in Portugal

For more videos about investing or moving to Portugal, explore our YouTube channel here: YouTube Channel Portugal Residency Advisors.

Buying a house in Portugal

Thinking about buying a property in Portugal? You may be wondering how to buy a house in Portugal. The process of buying a house in Portugal is generally straightforward, but there are some differences to be aware of compared to other countries.

Find our more in our guide: Buying a house in Portugal.

House Prices in Portugal

When it comes to property prices in Portugal, location plays a significant role in determining the cost of buying a home. Prices can vary substantially from one region to another, making it essential for potential buyers to consider their budget and preferences carefully. 

According to Idealista’s selling price advertisement from September 2023 here’s a breakdown of the price per square meter (m²) and the estimated cost for an 80m² property in different regions sorted out by price level.

Lisbon, as the capital and one of Portugal’s most sought-after cities, Lisbon tends to command higher property prices. The average price per square meter (m²) in Lisbon stands at €3,841, making an 80m² property in this vibrant city cost around €307,280. 

Properties for Sale Portugal

To find properties for sale in Portugal, the most common approach is to initiate an online search using reputable platforms like Idealista or Casa Sapo, both widely trusted sources in the Portuguese real estate market. 

However, if you find yourself navigating this digital landscape without proficiency in Portuguese, the ideal solution is to collaborate with local real estate agencies. Some popular agencies in Portugal include:

Mortgages in Portugal

Foreigners interested in obtaining a mortgage to purchase a house in Portugal should be aware of certain key factors that may affect the process. Firstly, interest rates on mortgages can vary depending on the lending institution and the borrower’s creditworthiness. 

Secondly, the maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio for non-residents is typically capped at 80% of the property’s value. However, it’s worth exploring different lenders, as some may offer varying LTV ratios based on the borrower’s financial profile.

Lastly, Portuguese banks often require borrowers to subscribe to a life insurance policy as part of the mortgage agreement. This insurance serves as financial protection for loved ones in the unfortunate event of the borrower’s passing. It’s a crucial aspect to consider when planning for a mortgage in Portugal, ensuring both your financial security and that of your family.

Property Taxes in Portugal

When buying a house in Portugal, it’s important to factor in taxes and associated costs such as the Property Transfer Tax (IMT), stamp duty, and notary fees to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the financial implications of your real estate investment.

Property transfer tax (IMT): IMT tax is based on the purchase price of the property and can range from 0% to 8% for residential properties. To have a better idea of the cost you can use this IMT calculator.

Municipal property tax (IMI): IMI is an annual tax based on the tax value of the property. The tax rate ranges from 0.3% to 0.8% for urban properties and 0.8% for rustic properties. You can check here the IMI calculator.

Stamp duty: Stamp duty is charged for all documents and arrangements in respect of real estate, including deeds, contracts and mortgages. This tax is based on the purchase price of the property and is typically 0.8% for residential properties.

Notary fee: Notary fees are charged for the services of a notary public, who is responsible for verifying the legality of the transaction. Notary fees can range from 0.3% to 0.5% of the purchase price.

Registration fee: These fees are charged for registering the property transfer with the Land Registry. Registration fees can range from 0.05% to 0.25% of the purchase price.

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Why to buy or rent property with us?

Local Expertise

We know Portugal. Due to our extensive local knowledge, we believe that concentrating our services in a single country destination is the best way to give you the most thorough and useful information. 

Holistic Approach

We offer a streamlined communication channel for the entire process, delivering a comprehensive service that encompasses all facets of your real estate investment journey, including property search, negotiation, legal matters, due diligence, and property management.

Independent Service

As an independent buying agent, we have the flexibility to collaborate with any agent, seller, promoter, or developer, providing you access to all available options in the real estate market. This enables us to objectively analyze every opportunity and find the right property for you at the best price, free from complications.

Simple Process

Technology plays a significant role in our company, allowing us to provide you detailed property market information and minimize our clients’ involvement in paperwork. As customers ourselves, we understand how to best serve your needs.

Frequently asked questions about Buy or Rent Property in Portugal

Is it better to buy or rent property?

The decision depends on your financial situation and long-term plans. Buying can offer equity-building and stability, while renting provides flexibility.

What are the advantages of buying property in Portugal?

Benefits include equity building, potential for investment, and leaving assets for future generations. It can also be a more permanent housing solution.

How can I find available properties for sale or rent in Portugal?

Online platforms like Idealista and local real estate agencies are popular options for property search.

What are the rental market trends in Lisbon and Porto?

Rental prices in Lisbon have been rising, making it more expensive than Porto. Porto offers more affordable rental options.

Is it worth buying property in Portugal?

Investing in property in Portugal presents an excellent opportunity, whether you seek a vacation residence, retirement home, or rental investment. Notably, short-term property rentals in Portugal’s tourist and university towns have shown impressive profitability.

Is it cheap to buy a house in Portugal?

Compared to many Western European countries, buying a house in Portugal is generally considered affordable. The cost of housing can vary significantly depending on the location within Portugal, with major cities like Lisbon and Porto having higher property prices compared to rural areas.

Is Portugal a tax haven?

Portugal is not typically considered a traditional tax haven like some other countries known for offering extremely low tax rates and financial secrecy. However, Portugal does offer certain tax benefits and incentives to attract foreign investors and residents such as NHR regime.

What is the average salary in Portugal?

In 2022, the average monthly salary for employed workers with Social Security-declared earnings was €1,269.34.

How much is house tax in Portugal?

The yearly municipal property tax (IMI) is levied at rates varying from 0.3% to 0.8% for urban properties and 0.8% for rural properties. Furthermore, a stamp duty of 0.8% is applied to any property transaction or transfer.

Is it hard to buy a house in Portugal?

For foreigners, the process of purchasing property in Portugal is generally uncomplicated. In terms of required documents, you will need the following: Your NIF number (Portuguese tax identification number) and a Portuguese bank account.

How long does it take to buy a house in Portugal?

In Portugal, the legal procedures and paperwork typically require approximately up to two months to complete, depending on the specific residential property and the associated legal requirements.