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How did your find your apartment in Coimbra? How to coordinate lease timing with visa approval process?

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Hi, I'm spending too much time on Idealista and wondered how those of you who have rented an apartment in Coimbra found it.  Any tips and suggestions?

We've been corresponding with Savvy Kat for our apartment search.  They say good apartments in Coimbra go rapidly.  My understanding (still needs research) is that US citizens have to show a 6 - 12 month lease as part of the visa approval process.  Savvy Kat said we would only have 1-2 months to secure a lease before the lease starts.  I'm not sure how that will work with the timing of the visa approval unless we start renting an apartment before we receive our visas.  I'm reluctant to signing a years lease without an approved visa -- and being unable to use it while waiting for our visas.  Seems like wasted money to pay for an empty apartment and a bit risky to sign a lease if our visas aren't approved.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how they managed this?  I understand in the Algarve and other areas one can make arrangements with a landlord to start the lease on arrival, but not sure the Coimbra market supports that due to the demand.

Thanks for any insights you can share.