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Searching For My Apartment In Lisbon Remotely

Having the right realtor in Portugal is essential. Although, nothing can really prepare you for the anxiety that naturally comes from renting an apartment remotely.

First do YOUR OWN Research

Advocating for myself started with research. I needed to understand what I wanted and what the market could offer before reaching out to anyone. Some things I considered were:

  • Do I need a realtor?

  • Is the style of the apartment I want in my price range?

  • What is the radius in each neighborhood I want to live in?

  • What trends does the market follow?

  • Is it cheaper to rent in the winter?

  • Are more apartments available in the warmer months?

  • Can I afford to live near my favorite restaurants and stores?

  • Is most housing near a supermarket?

  • Which direction do I want the apartment to face for the best light?

  • Do I prefer older buildings or newer buildings?

  • Can the building be on a busy street? A dead end? A pedestrian only street?

Find The RIGHT Realtor

Facebook groups, YouTube, TikTok, and word of mouth were my best tools. Before I reached out I knew the type of business I wanted to work with. However, when first deciding I considered if I wanted to:

  • work with someone who specializes in my desired neighborhood

  • work with someone who specializes in working remotely with expats

  • work with someone who is a realtor. There are several people & companies who can help you find an apartment in Portugal who are not realtors

I found my realtor on TikTok of all places. They specialize in helping people buy & rent property remotely. Portugal does not have an MLS, so my hope is that working with a realtor may give me access to a larger network of apartments.

Set Up Your Utilities

Word on the expat streets is it can take 2 weeks to 1 month to set up internet. Setting up utilities in Lisbon needs to be done in person, and there is a building near Marquês de Pombal dedicated solely to this.

This is one of the reasons why I decided to rent an apartment remotely. I would rather have internet established (through the help of my realtor) when I arrive then hop around coffee shops or pay for a co-working space.

Negotiate. And Then, Negotiate Some More

The prices in NYC are set. There is no small hope that an apartment I fell in love with slightly outside my price range will come down. In Portugal that hope exist but like every negotiation it's becomes a game of leverage.

I've been searching different rental sites, especially Idealista and saving apartments that fit my criteria. When the price is reduced, the apartment is rented, or if it's been available for months I'm aware of it.

When the time comes to negotiate I want to know If the apartment I'm renting sat on the market for 3 months or if the interest is high and the apartment just became available.

In Portugal you can negotiate:

  • The rent

  • Normal wear and tear

  • Getting your deposit back at the end of the lease

  • The appliances in the apartment

  • The type of contract your lease is

  • The length of your lease

  • How much the deposit it

  • How much rent you need to pay upfront

  • What furniture the apartment comes with

Helpful Resources

Rental Sites:

  • Idealista: A large selection of apartments, and easy to navigate. Apartments on this site move fast and some people have said it can be hard to get a response back from agents so its best to call.

  • Remax: A good selection of apartments, but the map doesn't make it as user friendly as it could be.

  • Casa Sapo: Has a great selection of apartments that seem to be geared towards more local prices. People have noted that agents are more responsive on this site.

  • OLX: Gives Craigslist vibes, so I take some of the post with a grain of salt.

  • Centaury 21: This has been hit and miss for me. A good selection, but a lot of the apartments are not as central as I would like to be.

  • ERA, JLL & Imovirtual: I have just started using these 3 sites, so far it been an ok resource.

There is a lot of overlap in the inventory on all of these sites. There are some smaller rental companies that may have exclusives on certain apartments. I've been making an effort to check their sites out as well.

YouTube Videos

I am still on the hunt for an apartment, follow along on IG and TikTok while I find, and furnish my new place.


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Hi I'm Allesia!

A native New Yorker turned Digital Nomad

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