Finding long-term accommodation on the Algarve may seem confusing at first, but renting a property here is actually a fairly straight-forward process.
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.
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
- rent privately
- 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
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.
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 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 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
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.
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.
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.
In fact, there are a few Facebook groups dedicated to Algarve properties that are available to rent over winter:
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.