Where is the right place to buy?

November 2015.

Our first trip to Portugal. My research had looked at Porto, Lisbon, the Silver Coast and the Algarve as prospective places to buy. All of these places had looked great but the Algarve met some other criteria. algarvemapThe climate was more favourable and our plans at that time centred around being in a popular family holiday destination. My cousin and her husband asked if they could join us on our first trip. They are lovely people and like us love looking at properties so it was an easy ‘yes’. Their neutral input would be invaluable. In our naivety we had thought we would not only find the right place to buy but also the right property in a week!

Let me first explain. Our original intention had been to buy a property we could renovate and then either let it out as a holiday let or sell it and use the equity to buy and renovate again. It was not our intention at this time to move to Portugal full time. Researching, buying and managing this first property would become my employment.

My cousin has a friend who has owned an apartment in Salema, West Algarve, as a cooperative for 25 years. This was to be our base but not an area where we had considered purchasing. As lovely as it is the west is a long way from the airport and the climate can be colder.

Salema, West Algarve


Based on my area research and the type of properties we were looking for I had narrowed my search to Lagos, Portimão, Ilha de Armona and Olhão. Our criteria was house not apartment. Old with character. A minimum of two bedrooms. An outside space. Near restaurants. Ability to renovate or improve but not a ruin. A purchasing budget of circa €100,000 and with renovation costs a total budget of €150,000.

I tried to do as much leg work as I could in the weeks leading up to our trip. I spent hours looking on the Internet for properties that met our criteria and sending enquiries to the relevant agents. Unfortunately this is where I met my first challenge. Some, (but certainly not all), of the agents I contacted never replied to my email. Sometimes I received a response claiming the property I had enquired about had been sold for some time (quite often this property was low priced and therefore appealing). Fortunately it is the habit for sellers to list their properties with multiple agents and after a while you get to know (as with any profession) which agents to trust and can track most properties through a few good agents but of course that comes much later in my story.



What a beautiful city. But all the properties we were taken to see were not suitable. They were either too small or needed too much renovation for our budget. Prices can be quite expensive here.



We liked Portimao. It is a busy working city with a popular beach, Praia de Rocha, on its doorstep. We found a house there with great renovation potential and we started discussions with a builder. However as we weren’t sure if the renovation costs would blow our budget we still continued to look at other properties in other areas.

Ilha da Armona


Oh my goodness. For me this was love at first sight. I love this island. And we found a property which we put on our shortlist if things didn’t work out in Portimao. However my husband had a few concerns which with retrospect were quite valid. Armona is the only island in the Ria Formosa where properties are legal but if we were to ever sell the banks will not give home loans thereby reducing the purchasing client base. His other concern is that it is very much a summer season location with little activity at other times of the year. Oh well. If we ever become rich we can maybe afford to buy a summer retreat here smiley


Olhao streets 2

This town has a wealth of old properties. However a lot of the properties we were shown were ruins. The prices for us were a little on the high side given all the work that needed to be done. We found some fabulous restaurants tucked away in the back streets but to be truthful the town was a little rough around the edges. It is certainly a town with great future potential.
So by the end of our very informative week, with a very steep learning curve, we had found one potential property in Portimao. In my next post I’ll write about what happened next……..

Author: Denise

My name is Denise. Having spent over 30 years in an international career in Organisational & People Development I am now putting down roots in Tavira in the East Algarve, Portugal. I'm a female Brit, married to a Norwegian, and I find it hard to believe I'm in my early 60's when I don't feel it and have so many more things to do and achieve. I became an expat when I left the UK in 2001. Since then I've lived in Norway, Singapore, Malaysia and now Portugal. I love to travel, enjoy the company of good friends and cooking. But my life time passion is property. As the daughter of a builder I love imagining what any old or dated property can become and managing the transformation process. I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to do this many times and am excited to be doing it again in Tavira as well as helping others realise their own dreams.

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