Looking for a house or apartment to rent in the Algarve? Finding long-term accommodation on the Algarve may seem confusing, but it’s actually fairly straight-forward.
The first thing you need to decide is how long you plan to stay in the Algarve. If you’re staying for 6 months or less, you may look at different rental options than you would if you were planning on staying 6 months or longer.
Staying Long term (6+ months)
As with most countries, there are two avenues to renting accommodation on the Algarve: you can either rent privately or through a rental agency. Letting agencies are generally more expensive, and often charge additional fees, but some people find dealing with an agency easier than dealing with a private landlord.
If you’d prefer to find a private landlord, the main sites where you’ll find properties advertised are olx.pt and sapo.pt. Listings are likely to be in Portuguese, although you’ll find that many of the people advertising will speak English.
Staying Medium-Term (Roughly 1-6 months)
If you’re looking to rent an apartment, house, or villa for between 1 and 6 months (or thereabouts), you may look at different options.
Private landlords and letting agents usually rent on a 6-month basis, so those are still options to consider if you’re staying for that long. They’re also likely to be some of the cheapest options.
If you’re staying for anything less, you may find it more difficult to rent through a private landlord or agency. It’s not completely out of the question, especially in winter, but most will want a minimum of 6 months.
Don’t worry: there are plenty of other avenues for finding houses and apartments to rent including Airbnb, Facebook, and expat websites.
Airbnb (& other sites like Homeaway, Wimdu, etc.)
Best for medium term rentals (up to 6 months), especially over the winter period.
Many Airbnb properties have long term rates, for stays of 27 days or more. To view the monthly price, just make sure your start date and end date are at least a month apart.
Rates vary, but it’s possible to find Airbnb properties for €500 per month and up. This includes (or should include) things like electricity and internet, so factor that in when deciding if it’s a better deal than a standard rental.
Many people haggle with Airbnb hosts, particularly if they’re renting for more than 2 months. There’s an option inside the host’s dashboard to offer you a discount, although some ask you to pay them the rent in cash in return for the discount instead. As the old adage goes: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Just remember to be polite about it.
Even if you don’t decide to rent long-term through Airbnb, it can be useful for finding somewhere for the first month or two on the Algarve while you property hunt for something more long-term.
Aside from easily being able to search properties and get in touch with owners, the benefit of Airbnb is that you can easily see which properties have things like heating, internet, and parking.
Note: There are plenty of other alternatives to Airbnb including Wimdu, HouseTrip, HomeAway, Owners Direct, and VRBO that you can use to find rental properties. Airbnb seems to be the only one that really encourages a discounted monthly rate so, if you use one of the others, you’ll need to contact the property owners individually to ask them how much they would charge you on a month-to-month basis.
Good for both medium-term and long-term rentals.
Facebook is slowly becoming a classifieds website and there are now a few Facebook groups and pages dedicated to long term accommodation on the Algarve. Long Term Rentals Algarve is one of the main ones, while Free Group Long Term Rentals Algarve focuses on stays of more than 12 months.
It may also be worth joining local Facebook groups and posting to see if anyone knows of any available properties. Towns like Carvoreiro, Albufeira, and Vilamoura all have their own Facebook groups where you’ll regularly see people asking about accommodation.
Best for rentals of 6 months or longer.
Although the Algarve is slowly becoming more digitalised, a lot of advertising still happens through local newspapers like the Algarve Resident and the Algarve 123.
These newspapers are a great source of information. The catch is that you have to physically be in the Algarve to pick them up.
Noticeboards in Supermarkets
Best for rentals of 6 months or longer.
You’ll find a noticeboard in most supermarkets on the Algarve, and many of the notices will be about local properties that are available to rent. This is one of the best ways to find affordable accommodation to rent as most of the notices will be from local Portuguese people as opposed to expat property owners.
Best for medium-term rentals, especially over the winter.
Angloinfo, Expatica and all of the expat forums can be helpful for finding winter rentals. Many of the members have properties that they rent out short-term over the summer, and then are happy to fill cheaply during the winter months. Some also leave Portugal for a few months at a time, usually to return to their homes in Northern Europe, and often rent out their properties during this period.
That isn’t to say you won’t find any long-term rentals on sites like Angloinfo. There are a few, so it’s worth having a look, but the majority are likely to only be available over the winter period.
Best for rentals of 6 months or longer.
Most towns in the Algarve will have a letting agent with properties that are available to rent. Properties are normally rented on a 6-month basis, but you may be able to get a shorter contract if you ask. Some letting agents will be private while others will be part of a larger company like Remax, Century 21, or Era.
You’ll probably need to go into the estate agent’s office to see what’s available. Just because they have a website, or list properties online, that doesn’t mean all of their properties will be listed online. Some of the listings mightn’t even be available anymore. This is especially true in more rural parts of the Algarve.
With estate agents, it’s best to decide where you want to live and then pop into the estate agents in that area.
If you don’t already know, start by deciding whether you want to live in the Eastern Algarve, Central Algarve, or Western Algarve. Then, begin looking at the towns in those areas before finally looking at the estate agents in those towns.
The following are some estate agents that advertise as having long-term winter rentals specifically for winter. If you’re staying six months or more, almost every estate agent will have properties suitable for you – these are just a few of the places that are advertising specifically to expats (or prospective expats – prospectpats).
- Mackenzie Rentals: Usually have some long term lets, mainly around Vilamoura.
- Avenida Property: another small letting agent that occasionally has long term lets, usually around Lagos, Burgau, and the Western Algarve.
- Casas do Barlavento: Often has long term lets in and around Lagos and the Western Algarve.
- Seashell Property Management: Lists a few winter lets. These are usually high quality properties and therefore more expensive than many other estate agents.
- Baron du Lac: Focuses on the really luxurious properties with rental prices going as high as €8,000 per month.
Best for rentals of 6 months or longer.
Portugal has its own equivalents of Craigslist and Gumtree: the three main sites are Olx.pt, Sapo.pt, and Idealista. Both the listings and the sites will be in Portuguese so this will be a good Portuguese lesson for you.
Other Property Websites
Varies, but usually best for 6 months or longer.
Longtermlettings.com is a useful website for finding long term rentals in the Algarve. It also has a few listings in Lisbon and other parts of Portugal, although the majority seem to be in the Algarve. Meravista is another large website that lists properties for rent as well as for sale while Aluga Algarve, although quite small in comparison to many of the others, is is worth looking at as well.
Things to consider before renting in the Algarve
It’s much easier to rent an apartment in winter (roughly October to March)
There’ll be plenty of summer rentals and villas available to rent that otherwise would be sitting more or less empty. From February or March onward, however, people start thinking about putting their properties on the short-term rental market and taking advantage of the summer trade. That’s not to say there won’t be any properties available during the summer — there’s still a long-term rental market, it’ll just be smaller.
If you plan to stay longer than winter, make sure that’s understood
This isn’t a problem with properties that are normally rented out long-term, but it could be if the landlord or agency was expecting to have the property back after the winter period.
Properties get cold in the winter time
Winters are warmer in the Algarve, however, properties are designed to stay cool in the summer. This means they can get very cold in the winter. Unlike Northern European properties, most don’t have central heating. Some have radiators, but they’re often not very effective.
The ideal Algarve winter property should catch the sun during the day and have a working fireplace. These properties can be hard to find, especially if you’re looking at apartments, but it’s something to think about when considering your future home.
It’s easier and cheaper the further inland you go
Many of the coastal properties are likely short-term holiday lets, or at least they have the potential to be. The rural Algarve gets very little tourism in comparison, making it a great place to look for affordable rentals. Especially, if you’re planning on renting during the summer months.
You probably won’t use the pool in winter
Although you’ll be extremely grateful of a swimming pool in the summer, you probably won’t use it in the winter. Some apartment blocks won’t even bother maintaining theirs, assuming nobody would want to use it. So, don’t fall in love with a property just because it has a pool as many make the mistake of doing.
Properties are listed as T0, T1, T2, etc.
Rather than listing a property as a studio or 2-bedroom house, properties are listed as T0 (studio), T1 (1-bedroom), T2 (2-bedroom), etc.
Will you need a car?
While we’re on the subject of properties, it’s also worth thinking about transport. While it is possible to get around the Algarve by public transport, having a car is definitely recommended. Many people bring their cars over, and there are even insurance companies that offer car insurance policies that cover you for six months or longer in Europe such as these UK-based car insurers.
Others arrange long-term car hire, while others simply hire a car as and when they need it. If you’re moving here, you’ll probably want to either import your car or buy a car in Portugal. That’s a big topic and worthy of its own separate article, though.
Will you need an internet connection?
If you’re specifically looking for a property that already has an internet connection, it’s worth checking to see if the property has a broadband (fixed line) or 3G (dongle) connection as many properties say they have internet, without specifying the type of internet (broadband or mobile broadband).
A dongle is actually fine for checking e-mails and browsing Facebook but, if you plan to use the internet more heavily, you may want a better internet connection. Most people get on just fine with a mobile internet connection, using the free Wi-Fi at their local pub, café, or library whenever they need something more data-heavy.
If your property doesn’t have an internet connection, you could consider getting a 3G connection yourself. Most Portuguese mobile phone networks like MEO and Vodafone offer some kind of data tariff that’ll allow you to browse the internet on your phone, tablet, or another device.
Are you bringing pets?
There are plenty of pet-friendly apartments and houses for rent in the Algarve. Some might not state it in the listing, in which case you’ll have to ask, but you shouldn’t have any problem finding a pet-friendly place here.
Have you rented an apartment, house, or villa on the Algarve? Do you have any tips to share with Portugalist readers. Let us know in the comments below.