How We Ended Up In Tavira
When my husband and I decided we were moving to Portugal to the Algarve… and then further decided that we wanted to buy a home of our own there… we worried we wouldn’t be able to find something we liked that we could afford.
This coast of Portugal has become so popular that we assumed cheap properties must no longer exist.
So we focused on cheap Portuguese real estate east of the Algarve. And looked for familiar and trusted names in Tavira, Portugal, real estate.
When moving to Portugal, I remember how excited I was the day I called RE/MAX in Tavira.
Choosing A Tavira, Portugal Real Estate Property
Looking back, I’m so glad that was my first call when moving to Portugal because it made the rest of our journey much simpler. In fact, we were happy to discover Tavira offers a lot of properties. Including many cheap listings.
If you have more than 300,000 euros to spend in Tavira, Portugal, real estate, skip to the next paragraph. If not, know that in this part of the world you will not find:
- many low-priced condos,
- resort apartments,
- country homes with spacious rooms.
What do I mean by spacious? Let’s say your overstuffed three-seater reclining chair will end up in different rooms. Or in a garage sale.
King-size beds, the extra leaves in your dining room table, HGTV-approved kitchen islands with extra prep space… nope… none of that will fit!
Finding Tavira, Portugal, real estate properties larger than 1,000 square feet proved challenging. I learned that the listing’s square meter measurement might include balconies or other types of outdoor space. Even spaces too small for anything but two or three flower pots.
Also worth noting is that listings boasting terraces are often rooftop terraces. To access these outdoor spaces, you must leave your apartment and carry your things on the elevator or stairs to the roof. Then limit your activities to a small, divided area that may offer little privacy.
Depending on where your designated spot is, it may be beautiful… or not so much.
When visiting properties, take paper, pen, and a laser-guided measuring tape. This is for quick, easy, accurate dimensions.
Many listings don’t specify room sizes. They might also list them in meters, which we Americans can find harder to visualize. My device (US$39.95 at Lowe’s) was so popular that I left it as a gift for my agent.
Another tip: Start watching HGTV’s “Tiny House” and “House Hunters International.” This will retrain your brain into thinking small. It helps.
Other items I asked my Tavira, Portugal, real estate agent about:
- Proximity to local/regional/national bus and train routes, stations, and stops (check)…
- A nearby airport (check… it’s 35 minutes away from the house we eventually settled on, in Faro)…
- Commonly used medical specialists, vision and dental health facilities (check)…
- Pharmacies (check)…
- Recreational facilities such as swimming pools, golf courses, parks, and senior centers (check)…
- Public and private schools (check)…
- Local administrative assistance with some of Portugal’s legendary red tape (check)…
- Lawyers and banks (check—at least three of each).
How To Make The Purchase When Moving To Portugal
To make a Tavira, Portugal, real estate purchase, you need to get a Número de Identificação Fiscal (referred to as an NIF). You’ll need this for all Portugal real estate buys.
You will also need a lawyer, a power of attorney, and a certified fiscal representative. Our lawyer was able to provide all three of these services. Plus, a Portuguese bank account.
We were lucky. The very efficient law firm we worked with produced our NIFs in one day. We needed two because a married couple requires individual numbers. They also confirmed their team would be our fiscal representatives… in writing, that same day.
Choosing A Bank For Your Tavira, Portugal Real Estate Buy
As for the bank account, it took two visits and more than three hours to open. Patience and polite conversation are customary at formal business appointments in traditional Tavira. Do not expect to rush. Rushing is rude.
Banks may need notarized documents, so call before you leave home to get the list of items they want. If you’re not sure which bank is best, your attorney might have a preference, so you can start there.
You can always change banks after you settle in.
I did not find an account without a monthly fee attached. It’s about 12 euros per month at Novo Banco. This includes the use of a credit card, debit card, checking account, and savings account. Frequent use may result in lower fees.
I’m told you do most European purchases with a debit card, but I’ve had no problem using my Mastercard.
Obtaining a bridge loan from Novo Banco was the most painful part of the process. The best thing we did in this home purchasing experience was to request a 90-day closing period. Had we gone with the traditional 30 or 60 days, we would have run out of time before approving our Portuguese loan.
To get our loan, we dealt with three levels of banking personnel. The local bank manager, regional mortgage specialist, and head office in Lisbon. Each had an interest in different documents and reports required to approve their part of the package.
It was well worth the wait, though. We saved on closing costs and got a great interest rate in our Tavira, Portugal real estate buy.
To ease the 90-day closing period, we offered a higher deposit to the vendor in our contract. That reassured him of our sincere intention to close. In Portugal, the vendor gets to keep the deposit, even if the sale falls through.
Bottom line, we were able to do every necessary prerequisite and managed to find and launch the purchasing process for an affordable apartment… after just two weeks in Tavira.
And that was the beginning of our amazing overseas retirement adventure.