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Renting long term accommodation in the Algarve

30 comments from other Portugalist readers

Finding long-term accommodation on the Algarve may seem confusing at first, but renting a property here is actually a fairly straight-forward process.

(Note: we now also have guides to renting long term in Lisbon and Porto.)

How long do you plan to stay?

The biggest question you need to ask yourself is how long you plan to spend here in the Algarve. Three months? Six months? A year?

The amount of time you plan to stay in The Algarve can make a big difference to the type of properties that are available to you. Generally speaking, if you’re staying for less than six months, you’ll find it difficult to rent anything other than holiday rentals.

This isn’t always the case, and you’ll find letting that some letting agents and private landlords are open to negotiation. This is especially true in the winter time, as many summer rentals, particularly apartments, are left empty.

Normally, though, most properties that are rented either by letting agents or private landlords are for rents of six months or more and, naturally, landlords want to rent it to the person who’ll stay there as long as possible.

Where do you want to live?

The Algarve is quite a big place, and there are big differences between a touristy coastal resort like Albufeira or Carvoeiro and a small town like Alte or Aljezur.

There are also big differences between the three different parts of the Algarve: the Eastern Algarve, the Central Algarve, and the Western Algarve.

Start by picking one of the three parts of the Algarve

The Western Algarve is perfect for those that want somewhere remote, non-touristy, and great for surfing.

The Central Algarve is the main and busiest part of the Algarve, both for long-term residents and tourists. Being in the middle of the Algarve can be very useful, as you can easily go east or west.

The Eastern Algarve benefits from being near Faro and The Spanish border. It doesn’t have as many great beaches as the Central Algarve, but it does have the beautiful Ria Formosa.

Some towns straddle the border and could be a good compromise if you can’t decide between two parts. For example: Portimão and Ferragudo are just on the border between the Western and Central Algarve while Faro and the surrounding towns are a good compromise if you want access to both the Eastern and Central Algarve.

Next, pick one or two towns that you’d like to live in

Once you’ve decided which of the three bits of the Algarve you want to live in, the next step is to pick one or two towns in that area. This will help you to narrow your search down, and give you somewhere to aim for.

Do you want to be near the beach or in the countryside? Is price a big factor, in which case maybe you want to stay back from the coast, or is location the biggest factor? Do you want a big town or are you happy in a small town?

Where are rentals advertised?

Now that you’ve narrowed down your search to one or two towns on the Algarve, you can begin your search based upon how long you plan to stay.

Staying Long term (6+ months)

As with most countries, there are two avenues to renting accommodation in Portugal. You can either

  1. rent privately
  2. through a rental agency

Agencies are generally more expensive, and often charge additional fees, but some people prefer to deal with an agency rather than deal with a private landlord.

Finding listings from private landlords

Classifieds websites

If you’d prefer to find a private landlord, the main sites where you’ll find properties advertised are olx.pt, idealista, and sapo.pt.

Listings are likely to be in Portuguese, although you’ll find that many of the people advertising will speak English. This isn’t a guarantee, of course, but it’s fair to say that English is widely spoken on the Algarve.

Supermarket noticeboards

Another place that’s worth looking is the noticeboard in that town’s supermarkets. Almost every Portuguese supermarket will have a noticeboard by the exit where people advertise properties for rent, second-hard cars for sale, and pets that are looking for a home. Despite all of the increases in technology in the past few years, this is still one of the most common way things are advertised in Portugal and especially in the Algarve.

Facebook groups

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. There’s also Algarve Rent or Sell.

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.

Expat websites

Expat websites are another place to look. Angloinfo is the most commonly used, along with its sister site smartexpat.com, which has a section dedicated to Algarve rentals.

Local expat newspapers

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.

Finding listings from estate agents

Agency rentals are also listed on sites like OLX and Sapo, but sometimes it’s just as easy to walk into an agent’s office and ask what they have available.

Now that you know where you want to live on the Algarve, it’s just a case of driving to those towns, wandering about, and speaking to all the estate agents there.

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.

Other Property Websites

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.

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 will look at different options to the long term rent.

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 groups, and expat websites.

Airbnb (& other sites like Homeaway, Wimdu, etc.)

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 27 days 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 internet or are pet-friendly.

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.

That said, 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.

Facebook Groups

During the winter months especially, Facebook Groups can be a good place to find short term rentals that would normally be left empty over the winter months. Start by looking up Facebook groups that are dedicated to the Algarve town that you want to live in and ask there.

Expat Forums

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 owners will 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.

Estate agents that offer winter rentals

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.

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.

Last updated in May 2019.
If you spot a mistake, leave a comment below.

30 thoughts on “Renting long term accommodation in the Algarve”

Leave a comment or ask a question below. I try and answer all of them.
  1. we stayed at Tranquil Escapes a while back. Its basically lots of cottages and they rent them out long term even in the summer. From €250 per month so it’s good if youre on a budget.

    Cottages / apartments available for long term lets / rentals in Foral in the beautiful Algarve, Portugal (near Albufeira, Guia, Algoz, Paderne, Tunes, Messines).

    http://www.tranquil-escapes.com/

  2. Moving for retirement on Long Visas. Paperwork approved yesterday. Hope to move in mid January at the latest. Mother and 2 adults, dog and cat…..need 6 months or more to get tax dis and established before finding a permanent home.
    Any suggestions,
    Thanks

    • Hi Randall,

      All of my suggestions are in the blog post above. Airbnb would be the most convenient, while a classifieds site like OLX or even an estate agents would be the cheapest.

      James

  3. Hello James. This is Brianna an Salvatore.We just moved here to Faro, and at the moment using an Airbnb while we look for places to live in for the school year. We are now among many of the students here worried about not being able to find a home. At first we were trying to take an entire apartment for ourselves to rent, but now we are at the point where we are looking for rooms. It is truly impossibile here for everyone.We are not only looking in Faro, but also in towns outside. We are running into our last options and we find everything to be hopeless. We have done everything you have said in your article, and we have also spoken with locals directly. Do you have anything else that you might know to help us? Please respond as soon as possible. Thank you.

    • Hi Brianna,

      Sorry to hear you’re having such a hard time finding accommodation in Faro. Have you gone through websites like Olx and Sapo? And visited estate agents in Faro as well?

      James

  4. I am 72 retired on a small pention am living in a tent a moment .is there any where where i can share accomadation in return for help around the house.i,m a quified carpenter but can do gardning ,painting cooking .can pay a small monthly rent .

    Davido.

    • Hi David,

      I would have a look at sites like WorkAway, which is similar to Wwoofing. They list people who offer accommodation in return for some daily work.

      Other than that, I think you would need to contact places directly. I’m sure there are some places in the Algarve that would need somebody.

  5. Hi James,me and my husband want to move to Portugal next year and are at a loss as to were to start? I’ve noticed that a lot ago people get visa? How do we do this?and can we get it before we go? Any help would be much appreciated thanks
    Helen graves

    • Hi Helen,

      If you’re from a country within the UK (who knows how Brexit will affect the UK on this), you do not need a visa to live and work in Portugal. If you’re from outside the EU, you probably will need a visa. A lot depends on where you’re coming from, and also why you’re moving to Portugal (retiring, working, launching a business, etc).

  6. Hello.

    We are from Calgary, AB Canada and are interested in retiring in Algarve.

    Any suggestions where to look for accommodations at 1,000 per month.

    Cheers!

    • Hi Lori,

      All of the sites mentioned above will cover that price range. €1,000 per month would be more than average in some rural parts of the Algarve, but wouldn’t be too unusual for larger properties or properties nearer the coast.

  7. Hello my name is Binita and work in Vilamoura but I don’t have good accommodation as now I am pregnant so looking for nice cheap place to move near Vilamoura marina .any suggestion?

    • Hi Binita,

      The sites mentioned above (Sapo, OLX, etc) will cover accommodation in Vilamoura as well as the rest of the Algarve.

      I imagine that Vilamoura marina is quite an expensive place to rent, as it’s popular with tourists, so you may struggle to find cheap accommodation there.

  8. Hi james,
    very useful article with plenty of good information for people looking for an accomodation in Algarve.
    I am going to move in Algarve in the next months and I will search my new living house thanks to this info.
    Any further news will be appreciated.
    Thanks. Roberto

  9. Hi James I was wondering how do you go on with medication both me and my husband have life medication how do we get it if we live in Portugal and do we have to take out private medical insurance?

  10. Hi James
    My wife & i are looking to move to praia da rocha with our young son (5yrs old) this year. I am a painter and decorator & would be looking for work over there. Could you advise me on any websites i could look on for work & that expats may advise work on.
    Any help would be very grateful.
    Brien

    • Hi Brien,

      There are a couple of expat websites out there like Angloinfo, Expat.com, and Expat Arrivals. I would also search on Facebook as there are a lot of expat Facebook groups on there, and they’re just as popular as (if not more popular than) the expat websites.

  11. Great article thank you! I’m a 52 year old American of Puerto Rican descent interested in retiring abroad after I turn 55. The Algarve attracts me because of its proximity to Spain and Morocco, and it beauty and affordability. I expect to be living on a modest pension… I’m doing the research now and planning to take a trip to the Algarve this winter maybe late November … do you have any recommendations for which town is a good place to stay for maybe 10 days that would (a) give me a good taste of the lifestyle, (b) is easy for walking as I wouldn’t have a car, and (c) easy to explore other nearby areas? I’m less interested in being on the beach everyday and more interested in really getting a feel of the local culture and the people. Another question I have is there a way I could meet with some expats who already live there ?

    • Hi Alex,

      Definitely a good idea to take a trip here and to see if the Algarve is right for you.

      If living close to Spain and Morocco is a major priority, you may want to look at places towards the Eastern side of the Algarve like Faro and Tavira and nearby. The Algarve isn’t a big place and you can get from one side to the other very quickly but, if you’re planning to go into Spain a lot, it may make more sense to live on this side.

      If you do drive, I would definitely recommend renting a car. The Algarve has okay public transport links, but it’s not amazing. If you don’t drive, and based on you wanting to be near Spain, I’d recommend staying in Faro as it has rail links to other towns on the Algarve like Loulé, Portimão, Lagos, Olhão, and Tavira. It’s also a transport hub, so getting buses to other parts of the Algarve will be much easier here.

      As for the expats, there are a couple of ways to meet expats, but joining some of the many Algarve expat Facebook groups is probably the best way to go about it.

    • Shorter-term rentals can be a bit tricky, but aren’t impossible.

      You could:

      A) Contact a short-term rental (from Airbnb etc) and ask them if they’d give you a special price if you booked for 3.5 months. It’s also worth posting in the Algarve accommodation Facebook groups and asking there.
      B) Contact the longer-term rentals and see if they would be willing to rent a little shorter than normal.

      Most people go for A rather than B as a short-term rental is normally better equipped (internet etc).

  12. Hi there, your information provided has been very helpful so thank you! My husband and I live in California and plan to visit as much of Portugal as we can within a 3 month period, probably November thru January so a permanent location will more than likely not be something we will do. We both want to be immersed into the Portugal culture by way of being near fishing villages with walking distance to markets to get fresh produce, fish etc.. any suggestions as to locations in the Algarve district or elsewhere where nightly rates are on the lower end and hopefully with ocean views? Thanks

    • Hi Meridee,

      As you’ll be travelling within the low season, hotel and apartment costs will be much lower than normal.

      A lot of the hotels on the coastal towns will drop their prices in the winter, and usually it’s a case of looking on booking.com or Airbnb to see what’s cheap. You may actually find better bargains in the more touristy places as these will be quite dead in the winter but, if you don’t mind that, it’ll give you a cheap base for exploring the Algarve.

      A lot of the Algarve coast is like this: it revolves around the tourist season, and then people rest during the winter. There are exceptions like Portimão and Faro, which are larger and aren’t completely based on tourism.

      For atmosphere and proximity to the coast, I’d look at Ferragudo and Alvor to begin with. Hopefully, you’ll find something in your price range in one of those two places.

  13. Hi James!
    My wife just got work in a hotel industry not far from Sintra…I know, it’s not Algarve, never the less maybe you could help me understand something) I don’t want to leave her alone there, but with tourist visa I can stay in Portugal only for 3 months. How do you think, is it possible to find a work there and make some kind of work visa? I have some experience in business development (wholesale and retail industry), my English is not so bad (as I suppose), I am 32 y.o. and have a great desire to change my life.
    I will appreciate the answer and any advise! Thank you!

    • Hi Alex,

      It’s really impossible for me to say especially as I don’t know anything about that industry. There are some jobs in Lisbon that are specific to Russian speakers, so it might be a good idea to look at those jobs as well. You’ll have much better luck if you extend your search to Lisbon than focusing just on the area around Sintra.

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