Over the past few years, buying a property in Lisbon has become one of the top targets by international property investors across the world, for many reasons. From the extremely popular Golden Visa programme that’s attracted billions of euros of investment to the opening of offices by some of the worlds biggest companies like Amazon and Google, Lisbon has cemented its place on the global property investment map.
An investor’s market
The Portuguese economy has grown steadily since the crisis in 2008 and the real estate market has followed this rhythm. The combination of tax incentives for investors, policies to support new businesses and the wave of regeneration throughout the city has been changing the urban landscape and cultural environment for the better.
Lisbon is not a city that rests on its laurels. Public and private investment continues to improve the city centre as well as newer areas around the centre. Areas like Marvila, home to what will be the world’s largest start-up hub – Hub Creativo Beato (three times the size of the current world largest in Paris) is part of a €3.6bn regeneration in Lisbon’s equivalent of New York’s meatpacking district. Such investment has already attracted other global heavyweights such as Mercedes to this unique district that hugs the river Tagus.
The removal of inheritance tax in 2004, plus fiscal benefits for retirees and low or even no taxation on profits and dividends generated outside of Portugal has brought a new type of immigration to the country. The new wave of “Lisboetas” are qualified professionals looking to have a fantastic quality of life whilst investing wisely and securely.
Incentives for entrepreneurs
The Portuguese government offers various incentive programmes for new businesses. Added to the low cost of living in Lisbon, it’s no wonder that the city has been attracting more and more young entrepreneurs, generating a new wave of startups and businesses, stimulated by the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) fiscal incentives programme, one of the most interesting of its kind in the world.
Express route to European Citizenship
The Portuguese Golden Visa programme allows its subscribers work and obtain temporary residence permits, as well as permitting full usage of the public health and education systems in all countries within the Schengen area. It’s a fast track to a European passport via investment in real estate (it takes five years) and today over €5bn has been invested in the country through the programme since its launch in 2012, attracting a wave of smart and visionary international investors to Portugal.
Quality of life
One of the most beautiful cities in the world, Lisbon elegantly mixes tradition with modernity. With great infrastructure, easy access and affordable prices, plus amazing beaches and an average 300 days of sunshine per year, Lisbon is the perfect place to enjoy life outdoors.
Prices are rising in Lisbon, yet well-located properties still have great potential for growth depending on the area. Generally, when comparing property prices in Lisbon to values in other major European capitals, the average price per sqm for properties in Lisbon is still low, especially considering the continued public and private investment pouring into everything from infrastructure to businesses. With tourism having risen by over 50% between 2012 and 2019, the demand for short and long-term rentals keeps rising, with major new business centres being added to the city.
Whilst Lisbon’s real estate market is definitely becoming more mature, both recent and forthcoming investments are elevating this city to the next level. Over the next 10 years, billions of euros in public and private investment will be poured into the business sector, international and domestic infrastructure and overall regeneration, further reshaping the Portuguese capital. With more and more businesses and professionals choosing Lisbon as their home and a continued increase in tourism, new ways of investing are attracting different types of investors. This demand is feeding through to the real estate market and causing rental yields to grow.
Named the European Green Capital of 2020, Lisbon is planning ahead and improving its public transport. Two new subway stations, two new train stations and several bus and tram services will be added in the upcoming years. Lisbon also has 1,500 shared bicycles and a flourishing network of cycle paths which will soon span 200km.
Arts & culture
Lisbon’s arts and culture scene continues to evolve too and the city hall has announced an investment of over €80m in new arts facilities. Meanwhile, the Cultural Centre of Belém (CCB) and the International Exhibit Lisbon Centre (FIL) are undergoing expansion
New business hubs
With a thriving economy and one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, Lisbon is the future home of what will be the world’s largest startup hub – the 100,000 sqm Hub Criativo Beato. Other major business hubs include the Alcântara Complex, Exeo Campus and the forthcoming K-Tower. Together, these will create 100,000 jobs for the city. Plus, major international companies such as Google and Amazon have opened offices in Lisbon.
Ahead of the UK and Spain, Portugal is ranked as Europe’s 13th best healthcare system in 2018. Portugal is investing heavily in new medical facilities. Lisbon will see two new hospitals and a major cancer research centre, worth over €480m.
New Lisbon airport
After over a decade of research and planning, Lisbon will construct a new airport in Montijo. Expected by 2023, this project is worth over €1bn and will double the city’s capacity to 43 million passengers per year.
Portugal has two of the most successful property investment incentives in the world which have both drawn significant demand from international property investors. One of the main reasons behind the success of these programmes is the fact they attract both EU and non-EU investments. The NHR programme generally attracts those from Europe who are looking to reduce their worldwide tax exposure (but does attract those outside Europe too) and then for non-EU investors, the biggest incentive is the highly successful Golden Visa programme, which puts people on the path five-year to EU citizenship.
Golden Visa property investment
One of the most popular residency programmes in Europe, the Portuguese Golden Visa focuses predominantly on investment in real estate and has already brought in close to €5bn since the programme was launched in 2012. This has made it a huge incentive for international investors to buy property in Lisbon.
Outside of the huge benefit of eventually obtaining a Portuguese passport, thereby becoming an EU citizen, one of the main reasons people apply for this programme is to be able to benefit from freely moving around, living and working in any one of the Schengen countries, as well as having access to Portugal’s public education and health care systems. Applicants are eligible for a Portuguese passport after five years.
The main benefits
Golden Visa process
The process for someone buying a property in Lisbon and combining their investment with the application for a Golden Visa is quite simple. As long as an investor follows the correct process, aided by an expert such as a Golden Visa lawyer, then everything can happen smoothly. One of the biggest areas which cause delays to the process with the organisation of an investor’s documents and information. Here is an overview of the main steps across the five-year path to EU Citizenship.
The NHR programme
Tax-free living in Portugal: is it really possible? Almost. The country’s Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) allows those who become fiscal residents in Portugal to benefit from special, reduced rates, or even no taxation at all, on income generated outside the country — such as profits and dividends — and flat low rates on income generated within Portugal’s borders during 10 years of the programme’s duration.
Main benefits of the NHR
*Conditions to be analysed on a case-by-case basis.
**From 2020 onwards pension income will be taxed at 10%, only applicable to new NHR residents.
The process of buying a property in Lisbon is relatively easy and in line with other major European countries. The acquisition costs, between taxes, lawyers are around 8% of the buying value of the property. If buying an off-plan property, you can expect to pay 30% of the amount when the contract is signed and the rest in instalments during the construction, with the final instalment to be paid upon signing the deed.
About 70% of the cost of the property can be financed, regardless of nationality or country of residence, with low rates paid back over a period of up to 40 years. Interest rates of between 1.75% -2 .9% can be achieved depending on the purchaser’s profile with a max loan-to-value rate of 70%.
1 – Select your chosen properties
2 – Visit the properties
3 – Reserve and sign the contract & pay instalments during construction
4 – Complete deed and make the final payment
5 – Post-sales: decorate, plus get help with administration and rentals when applicable
Compared to cities like Paris or Barcelona, the Portuguese capital is relatively small, therefore when buying a property in Lisbon, it’s important that each of the areas is understood, as each has its own unique charm, charisma and pricing structure.
With good connections by bus, train, and tram, it is very easy to get around in and out of Lisbon. Therefore, even if you prefer to invest in a Lisbon property outside the central area of the capital, the distances between neighbourhoods (and zones) in the city centre are relatively short.
If, however, you want to buy a property in the prime centre, close to the main attractions of Lisbon there are still a wide variety of options for you.
Chic and cosmopolitan, home to some of the best brands in the world such as Cartier, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci, this area continues to improve with new hotels, boutique shops and high-end cuisine. Some of the new additions are the JNCQuoi, a multi-concept high-end restaurant and fashion boutique, and Anantara Spa at Tivoli – considered the world’s best hotel spa brand in 2017.
Avenida da Liberdade is the most prestigious and sophisticated avenue in Lisbon with buildings dating back to the 19th century. Characterised by award-winning architecture, baroque palaces, spacious sidewalks with exotic tall trees and cafes, fountains and statues – this vibrant avenue connects Marquês de Pombal to Rossio.
Buying a property on Avenida da Liberdade – things to consider:
Being the most sought-after avenue, the demand for property in this area is extremely high. With properties generally priced between €9,000/sqm and €12,000/sqm, apartments and penthouses here are amongst the most expensive in the city. Premium long-term rentals are common with yields in the region of 4-6% possible.
One of the three historic districts of Lisbon not destroyed by the 1755 earthquake which raised much of the city, Alfama is steeped in old-world culture. For someone buying a property in Lisbon, owning a home here within its confluence of cultures, on a hill over the Tagus with its
colourful picture-postcard houses, offers a complete immersion in Lisbon living. This means for buy-to-let investors it’s also a solid bet in terms of long and short term rental yields.
In Alfama’s preserved alleyways, the sounds of fado and community conversations still escape through open doors echoing a voice of history through the labyrinthine streets.
Buying a property in Alfama – things to consider:
Original buildings are still being renovated, though it is hard to find those with ample parking. Due to the topography of the area, amazing views can be found but deals often happen behind closed doors so ensure you have contacts with market experts.
Large apartments and good facilities. It is an area of the city that is more recent than the “downtown Lisbon” and is close to the prestigious Avenida da Liberdade, therefore has wide and long avenues, picturesque squares and eclectic mix of modern and baroque architecture.
Superbly located, quiet and flat, Avenidas Novas is perfect for those who want to live in the centre but away from the hustle and bustle. With Eduardo VII Park, Gulbenkian art centre and gardens right next door, there are also plenty of attractions on the doorstep.
Buying a property in Avenidas Novas – things to consider:
Prime properties in Avenidas Novas range from €6,000 per sqm to €10,000 per sqm, which considering its location adjacent to the prime Avenida da Liberdade, means there is often real value to find, especially within renovation projects. It is also more common to have parking here as part of a property development.
One of Lisbon’s most picturesque neighbourhoods, Bairro Alto was constructed in the late XVI century and became iconic by its narrow cobblestoned streets, ancient houses and traditional commerce. Home to typical restaurants, scenic bars, fado houses, boutique stores and sightseeing viewpoints, Bairro Alto is the epicentre of Lisbon’s cultural life and a reference spot for journalists, writers and artists.
Buying a property in Bairro alto – things to consider:
Laying between Chiado and Príncipe Real, and a few minutes away from the river, this vibrant neighbourhood has a party scene too. There are still many beautiful areas of this district that don’t have the ‘vibrancy’ on the doorstep but make sure you know what it sounds like at night.
One of Lisbon’s most popular and busiest districts, dynamic Baixa is home to restaurants, shops, boutiques and some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks such as Elevador de Santa Justa and Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s grandest plaza and the historic centre of commerce.
Whilst Lisbon is famed for its seven hills, Baixa, meaning ‘low’ in Portuguese, is refreshingly flat, making it perfect for exploring by foot. Lively during the day, Baixa becomes more laid back in the evening with locals and tourists alike heading to nearby Chiado which is just 10 minutes’ walk away.
Buying a property in Baixa – things to consider:
With Baixa experiencing some of the highest occupancy rates in Lisbon and many of these apartments eligible for short-term rentals, these stunning residences are perfect for those seeking a buy-to-let property investment in a prime location.
A riverside neighbourhood with some of the city’s most famous museums and monuments, Belém is the last neighbourhood in Lisbon before the suburbs which boast beaches, making it one of the most popular areas for those wanting the ‘surf before work’ culture.
A royal and noble district of Lisbon, it’s home to emblematic palaces, fountains, botanic gardens, playing areas, museums, renowned restaurants and cultural monuments, this district is also home to many schools and universities.
Buying a property in Belém – things to consider:
Even though Belém is outside the main prime central districts of Lisbon, it is a famous area and properties, particularly penthouses, with river views can command premium prices. Value for money can also be found though, with larger apartments on offer within renovated Pombaline buildings and some new-builds.
Nestled between the Sintra mountains and the sunny beaches of Cascais, Beloura is an up-and-coming neighbourhood of Greater Lisbon that offers a unique and peaceful lifestyle just 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre.
Close to the beaches and lifestyle of Cascais as well as the Sintra-Cascais National Park, Beloura is close to Oeiras which is emerging as an important tech hub and home to one of Google’s tech centres as well as a number of business parks including TagusPark, Lagoas Park and Oeiras Hub. It also has tennis clubs and one of the largest golf courses in Portugal.
Buying a property in Beloura – things to consider:
Property prices in Beloura have risen by 48% since 2015 and show no signs of slowing down with property prices set to rise by around 30% over the next five years. With the addition of the new TASIS Swiss American school, rents are also expected to increase over the coming years.
Graça is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon. Set on the highest hill of Lisbon, above Alfama and next to the castle, this area offers some of the best views over the castle, the river and the city. With two very famous viewpoints, Miradouro de Santa Graça and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, this typical neighbourhood is a preferred spot to many.
Graça is very well connected to the city centre and benefits from great infrastructure and services, which is why the property market here is heating up, but there is a lack of modern or refurbished properties. These spacious modern apartments fill that gap and there is strong international and domestic demand for them.
Buying a property in Graça – things to consider:
With prices of €5,000 to €6,500/sqm for well-located refurbishments, the best opportunities here are up to 20% cheaper than in adjacent Alfama, but it’s catching up fast. The oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon, with winding streets and lovely real estate development projects.
With elegant tree-lined streets and home to grand mansions, embassies and even the official residence of the Prime Minister of Portugal, Lapa is one of Lisbon’s most noble neighbourhoods. Near the beautiful Jardim da Estrela and with some great schools and universities on the doorstep, this historic yet untouristy neighbourhood is hugely popular with families.
With a wide selection of restaurants, boutique stores, cafes, museums and cultural attractions, there is plenty to enjoy in Lapa. If you wish to explore further afield, the city centre, the bohemian neighbourhood of Santos and artsy Alcântara are all nearby.
Buying a property in Lapa – things to consider:
One of the most affluent areas in Lisbon, the tree-studded streets of Lapa are lined with foreign embassies, palaces, grand mansions and charming gardens. Prices can vary widely as a result and renovated apartments within historic buildings can reach up to €8,500 per square metre.
Imagine investing in London’s Shoreditch before it exploded onto the scene and saw prices double over 10 years. Lisbon’s Marvila district, which in the future will be home to the world’s largest start-up hub, is benefitting from more than €3.5bn in regeneration investment over the next five years.
This radical change will not only help further solidify Lisbon as Europe’s next great tech and creative hub but will turn Marvila into the city’s beating heart of innovation. Located between downtown Lisbon and the newly built Parque das Nações area, Marvila hugs the river Tagus and is perfect for a lifestyle that’s at the heart of art venues, culture, galleries, craft breweries and up and coming restaurants.
Buying a property in Marvila – things to consider:
Currently, even at the top end of the market, prices range from €4,000 to €6,000 per square metre which is very competitive for Lisbon. Similar up-and-coming areas of Lisbon, such as riverfront Santos, saw prices grow from €6,000 per square metre in 2013 up to €11,000 in 2020. With many forthcoming infrastructure investments arriving in Marvila too, such as a new train station and improved tram and bus services, the reasons to invest in this area really stack up.
One of the most popular neighbourhoods in Lisbon, Príncipe Real is trendy, classy and yet peaceful. Strategically positioned at the top of a hill, right next to Avenida da Liberdade, this neighbourhood is very central and well connected. It is the ultimate location for those who wish to live peacefully in the Portuguese capital.
Buying a property in Príncipe Real – things to consider:
Príncipe Real is an eclectic neighbourhood where palaces, colourful mansions, beautiful historic gardens sit alongside countless fashion shops, concept stores and acclaimed restaurants. This makes it one of the more expensive areas of Lisbon with prices reaching up to €11,000 per square metre for well-located renovated properties.
For a city that pioneered ocean exploration (think Vasco da Gama), the relationship between Lisbon and its waterfront had been somewhat disconnected. This was until the Santos district came back to life.
Originally an industrial area thanks to its proximity to the port and Old Ship Yard, Santos was branded the Santos Design District in 2005 and emerged as a sought after business and residential area thanks to a provocative mix of old-world charm and forward-thinking redevelopment. Now a breeding ground for some of Europe’s most highly revered design shops and a myriad of galleries, bars and restaurants, it’s stepping into the spotlight as Lisbon’s newest epicentre of cool.
Buying a property in Santos – things to consider:
Whilst this area is dynamic with numerous start-ups it is also very residential, making it a popular choice for families who want to live close to the river. Prices of apartments at the top of buildings can be high due to the incredible views available from properties close to the river.
1 – IMT*
Up to 6% of the sale price, 7.5% on properties at €1m or above. Possibility of exemption in the case of permanent private dwelling — subject to conditions.
2 – Stamp duty
0.8% of the sale price .
3 – Office / Registry / Lawyers Approx.
1% of the property value
1 – IMI*
0.3-0.45% of the market value. Possibility of exemption in the case of permanent private dwelling — subject to conditions.
2 – Condominium charges
€1-2 sqm per month
1 – Capital gains tax.
21-28%. Exempt if reinvested within 3 years — subject to conditions)
2 – Inheritance tax
Lisbon is complex and unique and until recently wasn't seen as the obvious choice for property investment, but in the past few years, it has seen a dramatic increase in popularity. Paris, London, Berlin, Rome are all cities that have a clear identity and cultural offering. Often thought of as the San Francisco of Europe, Lisbon is undergoing a m...