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