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Renting Long-Term Accommodation in Lisbon

Last updated: October 2019* | 37 Comments

Finding medium to long-term accommodation in Lisbon isn’t as easy as it once was, or as cheap as it once was, but don’t let that put you off. Lisbon is one of the best cities in the world and, although this is a hurdle you’ll have to get past, it’ll be worth it if it means living here.

Lisbon’s housing problem

Before we get to where to look for long term rentals, you should know that Lisbon has a housing crisis at the moment. Part of this is due to Lisbon’s sudden surge in popularity. In the past few years, Lisbon has become the European city to visit. Everyone I meet is either planning to visit Lisbon or has already been.

Around the same time Lisbon started appearing on every travel blog and magazine as the place to visit, Airbnb went mainstream. Rather than rent out their properties on a long-term basis, landlords in Lisbon decided it would be much more profitable to rent them on Airbnb instead.

They weren’t wrong either. Renting an apartment in Lisbon starts at around €650, although there are definitely properties that are cheaper than that: many older Lisboetas have long term rental agreements where they pay as little as €50 per month. Yes, that’s not a mistake: some older residents, particularly in Alfama, have very cheap long term rental agreements.

But even at €1,000 per month, it often makes more financial sense for landlords to rent on Airbnb – especially because the tax they pay for renting to tourists is cheaper than renting to locals.

Ever since both Airbnb and Lisbon became so popular, Lisbon has had a housing problem. There are fewer rentals available, and those that are available are more expensive than they should be.

The combination of these two things, Lisbon becoming popular and everyone using Airbnb (or putting their apartment on Airbnb), means that finding medium to long-term accommodation in Lisbon is now very difficult. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and it’s certainly not as challenging as places like Berlin, but it can be difficult.

Staying Medium-Term (Roughly 1-6 months)

Despite Airbnb becoming less and less of an attractive option for monthly lettings in Lisbon, it’s still one of the main options for people living in Lisbon for less than six months.

With rental prices on the increase, you will probably need to haggle to get a fair price. You’ll also need to book quite far in advance to find a property that has several months free.

Spotahome is one Airbnb alternative that’s focused on people that want to rent on a mid to long-term basis (tip: they’re offering 10% off their booking fee to Portugalist readers with the code PTUGALIST437). 

Another site to look at is Nestpick. It aggregates listings from other sites like only-apartments, beroomers, and erasmu, making it easy to search and compare in one go. Users can filter results to see properties that have amenities like internet, a dishwasher, pool access, or an en-suite bathroom.

LongTermLetttings.com and Sublet.com are two other sites to look at. At the time of writing, Long Term Lettings has just 2 properties in Lisbon and Sublet has 22.

Expat.com sometimes has apartments in Lisbon for rent, although it’s usually just a few at a time. I’ve looked at other expat websites like Angloinfo in the past, but never had much luck. You will find one or two people letting properties on there, and maybe you’ll find the one, but don’t expect much more than that.

Red Apple Apartments focus on ‘corporate lettings,’ and apartments tend to cost between €1500 and €2500 per month (bills included). It’s too expensive for most people visiting Lisbon, but maybe not for everyone.

LisbonApartments.com has some monthly rentals with internet included (some also include utilities). Prices for a 1-bedroom apartment start at around €800 per month, not including bills.

Sabbatical Homes is a website that’s primarily aimed at academics, but is open to everyone. It usually has around 20+ properties listed, which isn’t a huge number, but it’s always worth looking at. Because these are other people’s homes you’re renting, as opposed to standard rentals, they’re usually very nicely decorated.

Uniplaces, a Lisbon-based startup which focuses on student accommodation, is also popular with digital nomads visiting Lisbon for a few months. It’s like Airbnb: you can search for apartments with amenities like Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and heating. It’s not as popular as Airbnb, however, and so most of the properties don’t have reviews yet.

Prices for a 1-bedroom start from around €650, with bills included. It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t have to be a student to rent through Uniplaces, and you can rent for as little as 1-month.

Erasmusu is another student-focused website that seems to allow professionals. It’s not as easy to filter listings as Uniplaces is, but worth looking at as it has quite a few properties.

Staying in Lisbon long term (6+ months)

As with any other country, in Portugal standard rentals can either be rented through a lettings agency or through a private landlord. The cheapest of these two options to rent from a private landlord. Most landlords post their listings on classifieds websites like OLX and Sapo, but occasionally on other places like Facebook groups that focus on accommodation in Lisbon.

Classifieds Websites

OLXSapo, and Custo Justo are three of the main classifieds websites in Portugal, similar to Craigslist in the US or Gumtree in the UK and Australia. There’s also property-focused classifieds sites like Idealista and Imovirtual.

(You will find apartments advertised on Craigslist here, but a lot tend to be scams. The same goes for expatriates.com. It’s worth having a look, but be wary: if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.)

Note: Portuguese property websites list apartments and houses as a T0, T1, T2, etc. A T0 is a studio, a T1 is a 1-bedroom property, and a T2 is a 2-bedroom property etc.

Facebook Groups

There are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to apartments and rooms for rent in Lisbon such as Casas e apartamentos para arrendar em LisboaArrenda Lisboa Low Cost – ApartamentosLisboa – Quartos e Apartamentos.

You’ll need to apply quickly whenever an apartment is listed, as most have several thousand members.

Renting through an Estate Agent

While some people prefer to rent privately, others prefer to do it through an agent. Most agents list their properties on sites like Olx, Sapo, and Idealista, but it may also be worth visiting them as well. Two of the largest in Lisbon are Century21 and Remax.

Renting a room in Lisbon

Rooms are a little easier to rent than apartments, and are often available to rent or sublet on a shorter term basis. Rooms, like apartments, tend to be posted on classifieds sites like OLX and Custo Justo, but you’ll also find them on flatshare specific sites like Roomster, BQuarto, and BeRoomers. 

Be sure to read through the full list of sites that list rooms for rent in Lisbon

Know of any other places to find long-term rentals in Lisbon? Let other visitors know in the comments below. We also have articles which discuss renting in Porto and The Algarve as well. 

Updates: Some updates are as small as a spelling correction. If you spot a mistake or want to suggest a contribution, leave a comment below.

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37 comments on “Renting Long-Term Accommodation in Lisbon”

  1. Hello
    I am from Iran I am 27 year old and and I am Phd student and apply from IST university in Lisboa and I am going to be there 11 Novamber. I have a pet ( little dog shitzhu cross) and I want to have my private room in apartmant share.
    My prices for per month ( 200-300€)
    Best wishes
    Pegah Rashidi

  2. Thank you for the article. Has anyone worked with Spotahome or RedApple? I am looking to switch from airbnb to a local alternative to airbnb or medium-or long-term rentals. I beg to differ on the tax issue–all in taxes are almost the same when renting via Alojamento Local or long-term. Yes, tax gets applied only to 50% of your gross income, but net income truly is close to 50% when you have an agent and not counting your own time. The landlord needs to pay 6% VAT which they don’t actually charge the client). It comes out about even on taxes and short-term lets are so much work, mostly because of the Portuguese bureaucracy. Vat receipts need to be sent to them within days of each rental and monthly declarations made of fees paid to airbnb (modelo 30), plus there is quarterly VAT filing, the worst of that being obligatory reports of invoices airbnb sends (reverse charge mechanism). Basically you need to compile hundreds of receipts of 3 euro each from the airbnb website. That is why I am considering switching to medium or long-term letting after 2 years of AL. What drove me over the brink was airbnb adding its own layer of bureaucracy. After I dutifully requested modelo RF-21 from them–which I newly discovered was an obligation on my part–so that I would not have to with-hold taxes from airbnb on the fees they charge me (sic!!), they then made my life miserable by requesting I send that form back to them with my information–this is surely something that their agent made up and I resented it after years of dealing with the Portuguese bureaucracy. Airbnb even froze my ability to accept reservations after I did not send them back the form, and impossible to get through to anyone or hold anyone accountable. Curious if everyone else is giving up on AL…

    • Hi Caroline, You views on airbnb short term renting versus more long term rent are very interesting. We bought an apartment in Lisbon, with the objective to generate an income via short term rent (airbnb or booking.com). However now the area, where the apartment is located has been made a ‘restrictive’ area from the City Hall, meaning that no short term lettings are allowed. (we have not yet received the licence!!!)
      We’re travelling to Lisbon next week to meet various agencies to hear their advice.
      Maybe we are not so bad off anyway with the prospects of long-term rent as we thought.

  3. I’m thinking of moving to Lisbon. It’s a great base for my work, which has me doing lots of travel in Europe to various corporate offices. I’m sick of living out of hotels all the time.

    Can I sign a long term lease? And then simply Airbnb my place during the time I’m away?

    My current city, Los Angeles, allows me to do that. Do I need a special agreement with landlords? Or is that totally okay? I’ll be there 70 percent of the time.

    Just the rest of the time, I’ll be gone for weeks.

    • Hi Khanh,

      I don’t think there should be a problem with you doing that.

      The only issue you might have is that your future landlord or letting agent might ask for someone in Portugal who can be your guarantor. That can be difficult when you first move to Portugal.

      If the landlord or agent is doing everything above board, you will probably also need a NIF. You may also need a Portuguese bank account, if you need to pay bills like the electricity. Both of those things are possible for you to get.

  4. Hi James
    Your notes were very helpful and well researched.
    I am travelling to Lisbon with my emotional support bichon. It is very difficult to rent an apartment with my dog, but I have one for the first 4 weeks.

    • Hi Georgette,

      Thanks for the kind words. I do my best 🙂

      That’s great that you’ve managed to get one for 4 weeks.

      Are you trying to rent “normally” or medium-term through Airbnb? I’ve heard from some pet owners that it can be worth contacting the people on Airbnb that say they don’t allow pets as many will make an exception.

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