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 mini 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 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.
OLX, Sapo, 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.
There are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to apartments and rooms for rent in Lisbon such as Casas e apartamentos para arrendar em Lisboa, Arrenda Lisboa Low Cost – Apartamentos, Lisboa – 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.
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 the main option. This is especially true if you’re looking for a property with internet.
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.
There are websites other than Airbnb like Wimdu and HouseTrip, but none of these have a monthly option. Wimdu is probably the cheapest Airbnb alternative, and it can be worth looking at what cheap monthly rentals are available (filter price from low to high). You might not find much, but sometimes there are one or two options.
Another option is Nestpick, a startup that is aiming to becoming the Airbnb of medium and long-term rentals. 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.
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.