With more than 300 days of sunshine per year, the Algarve is always a very popular place to live for a few weeks, months, or even a lifetime.
Finding somewhere to rent, whether it’s a room or an entire apartment, is always a challenge wherever you decide to live but hopefully this guide will make the process of moving to Portugal that little bit easier.
Where to look for accommodation
Depending on whether you’re looking for a place for a few weeks or a few years, this guide will highlight the best websites and services to look at.
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Because the Algarve is so focused on tourism, there are lots and lots of places where you can find an apartment, house, or villa rental if you’re on planning only staying for a few weeks.
For short-term apartment rentals, Airbnb.com is probably the best all-round site. It includes everything from budget to luxury properties and prices tend to be better than other similar sites.
While sites like Airbnb and Booking.com specialise in short-term accommodation, Flatio focuses on medium-term accommodation: typically 1-2 months, but starting from 14 days.
Booking.com tends to focus more on hotels than apartments, but it still has plenty of accommodation options in the Algarve including apartments, houses, and villas.
There are plenty of other alternatives to Airbnb including Wimdu, HouseTrip, HomeAway, Owners Direct, and VRBO that you can use to find short-term rental properties.
Medium Term Rentals
Medium-term rentals are usually anything from 1 month to 6 months. Most landlords focus on either short-term vacation rentals or long-term rentals, so finding an affordable place that’s available for a few months can sometimes be challenging.
Although Airbnb.com is mainly meant for short-term rentals, it’s actually possible to rent on a monthly basis as well. Many hosts offer discounted rates if you stay more than 28 days, sometimes 50% or more.
However, even with the discount, rates are often more expensive than the market average. If you’re planning on staying for several months, it’s worth trying to haggle to see if you can bring down the price.
If you’re planning on renting during the winter, be sure to read this guide to finding an Algarve winter rental as there are some options that might be available in the winter that wouldn’t be available during the summer.
Long-term rentals are usually considered to be anything from 6 months or more. The majority of these are advertised through Facebook groups or classifieds websites, but you can also find them advertised in local papers, on supermarket noticeboards, and through word-of-mouth.
Most properties usually come furnished, which can be an issue if you’re planning on bringing your own furniture, and usually don’t come with amenities like wifi unless the property was previously rented to tourists.
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.
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.
Some of the different groups include:
- Long Term Rentals Algarve
- Free Group Long Term Rentals Algarve
- Algarve houses to rent or sell
- Properties for rent or sale in the Algarve
- Algarve Rent or Sell
Then, there’s also Facebook Marketplace which is Facebook’s own classifieds section.
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.
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.
Local expat newspapers
Although the Algarve is slowly becoming more digitalised, a lot of advertising still happens through the print editions of expat newspapers like The Portugal News and Portugal Resident.
The Portugal News does have a PDF version of each edition on its site, but you’ll need to be in Portugal to get a copy of The Portugal Resident.
Estate Agents (realtors)
Some people prefer to rent with a lettings agency rather than with a private landlord. There are two main ways to find properties that are being rented out by professional companies.
The first is simply to drive to the town you want to live in and go speak to the estate agents. It’s much easier and you’re more likely to get a response than sending an email (as many people who try to rent in advance tend to find out).
The second option is to look at the listings on OLX, Idealista, and all of the other classifieds sites as many of these will be from professional property companies.
Renting a room
Renting a room is usually a little easier than renting an apartment as the contract lengths (if you have a contract) are much shorter and landlords are much more flexible.
As with apartments, the majority of rooms are advertised on Facebook groups and Classifieds websites
There are lots of different classifieds websites in Portugal, but 3 of the most popular are:
8 Things to Consider Before Renting in the Algarve
Besides finding a place to live, there are a few things that you should think about when moving to the Algarve.
Where do you want to live?
You want to live on the Algarve, but where? The Algarve is a big place – around 150 km wide – with lots of different towns and villages. There are touristy places like Albufeira, small cities like Faro, surfer hotspots like Sagres and Aljezur, and green, mountainous areas like Monchique.
Have a read through all the different towns on the Algarve to see which is right for you.
It’s easier to rent in winter
Not only are there lots of summer vacation rentals available to rent off-season, but it’s much easier to find long-term rentals in the Autumn, Winter, and Spring rather than the summer.
The reason for this is that property owners can earn well if they rent their property to tourists so, if a property is sitting empty in February or March, many would rather take the risk of putting it up for rent for the tourist season rather than get a long-term tenant. During the winter months, they’ll be much happier to agree to a long-term lease.
Properties get Cold in the Wintertime
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.
Inland is cheaper
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 unless its heated.
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.
A car is often essential
While it is possible to get around the Algarve by public transport, having a car is definitely recommended. Many people think they can live on the Algarve without one, but it’s incredibly difficult. Many towns have very limited public transport connections, and the buses and trains will only take you to other towns rather than to the beaches or areas of natural beauty.
Some towns are better than others for public transport – e.g. Faro, Portimao, and Lagos – so, if you are going to stay here without a car, try and pick one of the better places.
Many landlords will allow pets
Finding a pet-friendly rental in Portugal can sometimes be difficult, particularly in bigger cities like Lisbon and Porto, but it’s a lot easier in the Algarve. Just be sure to ask the landlord if it’s okay.