Most Interesting Property Play In Europe—Plus Best Advice For The Would–Be Portugal Expat
An interesting gentrification strategy is at work in Lisbon.
Old buildings… classic-style structures with 200, 300-plus years of history… in sad states of disrepair… are being bought and renovated into modern, even luxury apartments, 8, 10, a dozen, maybe up to 20 units per.
There’s a lot of this inventory to work with. A depressed economy and decades of rent control have translated into blocks and terraces of once-glorious structures that have not been maintained or upgraded in generations.
The classic facades are being preserved, with their oversized windows and doors, functioning shutters, balconies, iron railings and gates, ornamental plasterwork, and elaborate tile work, while insides are being gutted and reinvented into stylish one- and two-bedroom apartments with all mod cons of our 21st century.
These apartments are intended for sale primarily on the foreign market, Asian, European, and, increasingly, North American, in some cases for private residences and, more often, to be made available for rental. The country’s growing tourist market is helping to fuel this movement that I see as one of the best property investment opportunities not only in Europe but anywhere in the world today.
Property agents, developers, and experts are highlighting the opportunity in detail, showcasing several renovation projects in process or about to get under way in prime zones of particular interest, for all in attendance at this week’s Live and Invest in Portugal Conference, which kicked off bright and early this morning in Carvoeiro on this country’s Algarve coast, about three hours south of Lisbon.
Lief and I are persuaded. Last year this time, we made our first investment in Portugal in the form of a rental apartment in the centuries-old coastal city of Lagos that has been nearly fully occupied since within 24 hours of being available for rental. We’re encouraged enough by this experience to want to make a second investment in what we see as the most promising market on the Continent, and we’re thinking a Lisbon pied-à-terre could be the ideal complement to last year’s coastal buy.
I’ll share more details as we consider different options for what and where, specifically, to buy.
Meantime, here in Carvoeiro, the crowd in the room has heard today from our Portugal attorney on this country’s top residency and visa options, from our top property advisor on senior and retirement living options (these are not available in much of the world, but an appealing and very affordable option is coming onto the market here in Portugal), and, as well, from full-time Algarve expat Alyson Sheldrake.
“I’ve always wanted to see if I could take my painting hobby and turn it into a career,” Alyson told the group. “And here in Portugal I’ve been able to do that. My husband, as well, with his photography.
“My days now begin with an hour or hour-and-a-half walk on the beach with my dog. I knew that I’d become a true local when the proprietor of the local café where I would stop for a coffee each morning after my walk would have my coffee waiting for me on my favorite table every morning when I walked in.
“For my husband and me,” Alyson continued, “Portugal has allowed us to step off the treadmill of our rat-race life back in the U.K. into a sweeter, gentler life that almost seems like a fairy tale come true.
“My best advice for anyone else thinking about making a move like we’ve made, to Portugal or, really, to any new country, would be not to wait until you’re sure you can afford the move. If you wait until you’ve saved and saved and are certain you can afford it, you’re waiting too long.
“Do your sums and then figure out how to make the math work.
“Our only regret is that we didn’t make this move sooner.”