May 2022 is a HIGHLY Competitive Rental Market: Finding a Modern Apartment was Much Harder Than We Expected – Moving to Portugal – Expats Portugal Community Forum
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[Solved] May 2022 is a HIGHLY Competitive Rental Market: Finding a Modern Apartment was Much Harder Than We Expected


Posts: 130
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Topic starter
(@kkcwalton)
Estimable Member
Joined: 1 year ago

Hi everyone,

We're just finishing our exploratory tour of Portugal this week and were able to sign a lease today.  I thought to share our experience acquiring a lease so others on the way aren't surprised.

We surprised ourselves in that we thought we wanted to move to Coimbra.  We liked the idea of a central, university town, with close access to dark skies in the mountains to the east.  My husband is an astronomer and loves to stay up all night with his telescopes star gazing.  Because of his hobby we were searching for an apartment or house with a south facing wide sky view from a patio or terrace.

The rental market in Coimbra is extremely tight.  A lot of it is student housing.  I've been watching their market for about a year, and occasionally one can find a nicer, newer apartment for rent but they go quickly.  We planned to stay in Coimbra for 2 weeks to find our apartment, but we were unable find a single apartment that met our requirements, even after hiring someone to help us.  They couldn't find one either.  I finally went to a new development and talked to the contractor.  He referred me to a couple of realtors, one of whom had an apartment in the complex.  I ran to see it that evening and while nice and new, the layout felt claustrophobic to me.  They were renting a new 2 BR unfurnished apartment with central heat, air conditioning, a parking space and small terrace for 950 euros / month.  It was leased within 24 hours.  After one week in Coimbra, we felt like while lovely, it was just a bit more quiet than we wanted.  Since we couldn't find an apartment, we returned to Porto for the second week to continue looking there.

We poured over Idealista twice daily to catch any  new listings.  There were many more apartments in Porto to choose from, even a few with the terrace Bob wanted but unfortunately the condition of the apartments were old, or had street lights over the terrace, or didn't have heat (much less air-conditioning!), etc.  We were able to get appointments to see 6 apartments during the week, after pouring through hundreds of listings.  Concurrently, we were also looking for apartments in Lisbon and Cascais in case we couldn't find what we wanted in Porto.

We did find one very nice 2 BR furnished apartment with heat, air and parking in a busy location in Porto, and the building was completely renovated in 2018.  However we were told we wouldn't be able to view it until the tenants moved out at the end of June. That didn't work for our schedule.   The apartment was so much nicer than anything else we'd seen, it was furnished with excellent energy ratings, we made an offer to take it without seeing it.  Apparently at the same time, another couple did the same so we ended up in a competitive situation.  We offered the owner a little more than the asking price to 

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Posts: 130
Premium Member
Topic starter
(@kkcwalton)
Estimable Member
Joined: 1 year ago

Sorry all!  I hit enter before the post was finished.  Here's what I meant to post!

Hi everyone,

We are just finishing our exploratory tour of Portugal this week and we were able to sign a lease today.  We found it much more difficult to find the apartment we wanted, and I wanted to share our experience so others are prepared for it and aren't surprised.

We thought we wanted to move to Coimbra.  We liked the idea of a central, university town, with close access to dark skies in the mountains to the east.  My husband is an astronomer and loves to stay up all night with his telescopes star gazing.  Because of his hobby we were searching for an apartment or house with a south facing wide sky view from a patio or terrace.

The rental market in Coimbra is extremely tight, unless you want to live in student housing.  I hope our days of student housing are past for us!  I've been watching the Coimbra rental market for about a year, and occasionally see a nicer, newer apartment for rent but they go quickly.  We planned to stay in Coimbra for 2 weeks to find our apartment, but we were unable find a single apartment that met our requirements, even after hiring an agent to help us.  They couldn't find one either.  I finally went to a new development I've been watching and spoke with the contractor.  He referred me to a couple of realtors, one of whom had an apartment in the complex.  I ran to see it that evening (stacked with other people who were seeing it) and while nice and new, it felt claustrophobic to me.  They were renting a new 2 BR unfurnished apartment with central heat, air conditioning, a parking space and small terrace for 950 euros / month.  It was leased within 24 hours.  

We cut our trip short in Coimbra.  We found the city, while lovely, was quieter than we wanted.  Since we couldn't find an apartment anyway, we decided we'd prefer to be in Porto with more going on. This surprised us after a year of thinking we wanted to live in Coimbra.

To find apartment leads, we obsessed over Idealista twice daily to catch any new listings.  There were many more apartments in Porto (including Gaia and Matosinhos) to choose from, even a few with the kind of terrace Bob needs.  Unfortunately the condition of the apartments we saw were too old, or too expensive, or had street lights over the terrace, or didn't have heat, etc.  We were able to see 6 apartments during the week, after pouring through hundreds of listings and contacting many.  During this week we were also looking for apartments in Lisbon and Cascais to view the following week, in case we couldn't find what we wanted in Porto.

We found one very nice 2 BR furnished apartment we were excited about.  It has central heat, air and parking in a busy location in Porto, and the building was completely renovated in 2018.  However we were told we wouldn't be able to view it until the tenants moved out at the end of June. That didn't work for our schedule.  Because the apartment was so much nicer than anything else we'd seen in our price range, we applied to take it without viewing it.  Despite that not being ideal, at the same time, another couple offered the same .  We ended up in a very competitive situation both bidding on the apartment.  In the meanwhile, our week in Porto was over and we relocated to Lisbon.

While waiting to hear the owner's decision on the apartment in Porto, we looked at 6 apartments in Cascais and Lisbon.  These were sourced through Idealista, friends, and a local realtor.  While we felt the general condition of most of the apartments we saw in Lisbon was better and more spacious than in Porto, they were also significantly more expensive.  That said, we almost preferred an unfurnished apartment in Lisbon to the one in Porto, but the sky view didn't work for Bob.

Ultimately we were very lucky and the owner of the apartment in Porto chose us, I think because we were first in line with our offer.  We signed the lease today, three days before we return to the US.

Such a long story!  But I just wanted to let fellow apartment hunters know how proactive we had to be to find our apartment.  We find the current market extremely tight and much more expensive than we expected.  Perhaps you'll be much luckier than we were and you won't have as difficult a requirement to meet as we did.  However even if you hire someone to help, be prepared to study the market independently.  Ask friends to help you search.  Send emails on properties you're interested in through Idealista's messaging (it translates!), search out several professional realtors to help you search, and be proactive in managing any conversations when you get the chance to have them.

A new friend advised us to "Trust the Portuguese people and let them take care of you."  We have found them to be incredibly helpful and hardworking, and we are very appreciative of their support during this time.  However without significant effort and initiative on our part, we would be leaving Portugal without a lease.  

We wish you the best of luck with your house hunting.  Let us know if we can be of any help.

 

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Posts: 293
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(@jonesdn2020)
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Joined: 1 year ago

Thank You for sharing. Can you share the price for the Porto apartment you went with. We found it interesting that Coimbra was 950. We are in a 2BR furnished apartment in Lisbon. The apartment has street parking only but has central heat/AC and cost us 1400.

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(@kkcwalton)
Joined: 1 year ago

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Posts: 130

@jonesdn2020 We ended up paying 2100 euros / month.  That's for a prime location, 2 BR furnished with heat, washer & dryer, parking, etc.  It's more than we wanted to pay, but with our special need for a sky view terrace, and the market demand, it drove up our price.  There are cheaper apartments available, but none that met our criteria that we were excited about.  Sounds like you have a great price locked in!

But, the market is driving up prices too.  This week in Lisbon we made an appointment to see a 2500 euros / month apartment in Oeiras.  By the time we visited, the owner had increased the rent to 2800 euros.  This was for a 4 BR, modern, unfurnished apartment.

We have heard that a lot of Ukrainians are coming to Portugal to get out of the war and that's driving up demand now as well.  It's a hot market right now.  One person told us that the demand is less in the fall.

Best of luck!

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(@jonesdn2020)
Joined: 1 year ago

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Posts: 293

@kkcwalton Thank You! Yes, we were lucky securing this apartment in December of 2021. It had been upgraded 6 years ago and is very modern. We had looked at a 2BR with heat/AC furnished with rooftop terrace in Saldanha. It had parking as well and was asking 1750 at that time. There were multiple offers so we opted for this apartment since it does include a nice balcony.

We will see in November if the landlord attempts to raise the rent.

Congratulation on securing a place to live!

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Premium Member
(@itexpert7)
Joined: 2 years ago

Estimable Member
Posts: 239

@kkcwalton 
Wow, 2100 euros for a 2 bedroom flat! Is it sea front or something?
We pay 2150 for a huge 4 bed house with a pool in the Algarve (built in 2005).

Yes it's cheaper in Autumn, due to the scourge of Air-BnBs in the summer.

But how do the Portuguese afford a flat, when the average salary is only 1000 euros take home?

Portugal has gotten significantly more expensive, I'm surprised people keep coming. We pay much more than we did in the UK to live here. Spain is much cheaper apparently.

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(@sonia)
Joined: 1 year ago

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Posts: 191

@itexpert7

Rents in Lisbon and Porto are much higher that in the rest of the country. Even in the Algarve there is a big difference between different areas. The average Portuguese usually prefers to buy their flat because they will pay the bank a lot less then they would pay for rent and after 30 years they own the house. Also keep in mind that many Portuguese people live in the metropolitan areas around this cities because the rents there are not so high.

This increase in prices (rent and for buying) is why many Portuguese people dislike the foreigners coming to live here, the prices have gone way up in the last years, I can tell you in my city 5 years ago you could rent a 2 bedroom flat for 400 €, now you are lucky if you find one under 900€.

I suppose people keep coming because even if the rent is high for our standards it will still be less then paid on their own country, or they are not on a budget.

About spain, it may be cheaper but there is one thing you won’t find there, the Portuguese with their openness and will to help, the Spanish are more closed off and the great majority of them don’t speak other languages and they expect anyone that goes there to speak Spanish, not like the Portuguese.

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Premium Member
(@itexpert7)
Joined: 2 years ago

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Posts: 239

@sonia 
YES I love the Portuguese people!
I'm paying double than I did in my own country, and it's not sustainable. I was hoping to buy but after 80 or so viewings it's not happening.
Sadly most things are more expensive in Portugal as the lovely Portuguese don't seem to have a budget/discount/demand lower price mentality, like British people do.
For example I went to my local car dealership and they wouldn't give me much of a discount for an expensive new car in January 2021, so I refused to buy from them and imported from Germany at a massive saving.

But I think the main reasons why accommodation is so expensive in Portugal (at least in the Algarve) these days are:
* Socialist camaras that don't allow building and take 2+ years to give permits (if they even allow!). I heard a lot about this in the Algarve.
* The scourge of AirBnB, where everything remotely nice or near the sea, is bought to rent out per week for profit. Thereby both removing almost all good flats/houses out of the market and stealing the business of the hotels; no surprise all hotels I've seen are old even though the tourism has increased so much in the past 10+ years.

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Posts: 101
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(@alleycat)
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Joined: 10 months ago

Wow! Nothing like searching the entire country to find a suitable apartment...just in the nick of time!  Kudos to your tenacity Bob & Karen and congratulations on finding your new abode and entry locale. We appreciate your tale and it reiterates the challenge we all must go through. Whether one is renting or buying...takes time, hard work, lots of luck and good Karma to find a new "home". Did your lease begin already, so you are covering the rent even though back home to get your application process done, or lucky enough for it to start later?

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Premium Member
(@kkcwalton)
Joined: 1 year ago

Estimable Member
Posts: 130

@alleycat HI Allie!  It's good to hear from you.   Our lease starts July 1st, although we are unable to return to Portugal until our visas are approved.  We anticipate we'll move at the end of August / early September.

What are your plans?  Have you decided where to move?  Best of luck  finding your place.

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(@alleycat)
Joined: 10 months ago

Estimable Member
Posts: 101

@kkcwalton I'll send you an email to continue a chat.

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