So you are thinking of buying a property in Portugal? We are into our sixth year as property owners in The Algarve and while there have been challenges it's proved to be one of the best things we've ever done.
One key thing to be 100% clear about is why you are buying the place. Is it purely an investment or like us, is it a place that you would eventually like to retire to. Will you be using the place yourself and renting the other times, renting completely or not renting at all? Cameira Law's 'Portuguese Property Guide' was an extremely useful resource and we're pleased to see it's second edition coming out as the regualtions around renting have changed.
The banking market has really opened up as well. We have remortgaged our place once already and made big savings moving across - we used a local agent for that Algarve Mortgages which made the process quicker and simpler.
Our story I'm sure is unremarkable, but worth a read for those considering buying somewhere to retire to. Having visited Portugal on business many times I was already familiar with the friendly people, great climate and good food, but it was a long weekend in Faro with my wife when we realised this is where we would like to come regularly for holidays and eventually end up. It's not that we haven't travelled - we've lived in Australia, visited Asia, Africa and the USA but the attraction of The Algarve is the combination of clsoeness to friends and family (2.5 hrs from London) without sacrificing the climate.
Back to the process. Make a list of the key things that you want from your property and always come back to the age old principle of location, location, location. We've ended up with a quiet village (we wanted quiet) but just 2km from one of the Eastern Algarve's large fishing towns Olhao. We chose the East for a host of reasons, not least that the Ria Formosa National Park runs along most of the coast through to Spain so the chance of it getting 'built up' in the next few decades is highly unlikely.
We have 3 restaurants/bars within walking distance, and a local shop with the basics a short 3 minute walk. Yes, we are quite able to jump into a car now in our late 30s but what about in 20 years time? We checked out the development plans for the two major towns Olhao and Tavira and found that they both had regeneration and expansion plans which are all good for the future.
In terms of the house itself we were very careful in terms of the privacy and 'overlook' from neighbouring properties.
Getting a decent lawyer and good rental company are vital if you are renting out. We're using East Algarve Rentals for the renting and we have our own website Villa Amarelo which was very easy to set up with one of the rental companies Rentalsystems who have a good package where there are no setup costs and you pay them 10% for rentals they get, but you can drive your own traffic to your own site and you only pay a small % to process the payments. The best site for bookings for us has been theirs, closely followed by Owners Direct.
Communications have improved no end. We don't bother with a phone at the house as everyone has mobiles and we have a mobile broadband dongle loaded and in the house for guests who invariably bring their own laptops. We filled the house with furniture from our house in the UK which gave us a chance to de-clutter in the UK and makes the house down there feel like home too.
Here's to ten years time when we will be running a family business down there.