The Complete Guide to Relocating to Lisbon
There is a selfish temptation to tell others: “Don’t even think about relocating to Lisbon!”. Like your secret swimming cove or favourite, but less-frequented pub, you wouldn’t want to spoil one of Europe’s lesser-known gems by telling everyone about its attractions.
Far enough south to enjoy a near-perfect Mediterranean-like climate, Lisbon is also out of the way enough to be “far from the madding crowds” while at the same time it’s wired into the hi-tech, high value-added, modern European economy.
While Lisbon is undeniably on the map these days in a way it wasn’t before, visitor numbers are growing surprisingly slowly considering the city’s accommodating warmth and character. Despite its status as a lower-cost destination, Lisbon was only the 17th most-visited city in Europe in 2019. Its 3.6 million annual visitors mean there are still great opportunities for those planning to relocate to the Portuguese capital.
Colourful, diverse and historic, all without being overwhelming, the Portuguese capital boasts a plethora of public squares and gardens, the River Tagus waterfront and, within a short radius, national parks, the Atlantic beaches – meaning there are plenty of prime residential options for those considering taking the plunge and relocating to Lisbon.
Who is relocating to Lisbon?
Located on Europe’s Atlantic coast, Lisbon is something of a cusp between old Europe and the “new world.” One might say the city – one of Europe’s oldest – has the longest-standing travel links with the rest of the world: It was from here that Vasco da Gama set sail on his pioneering sea route to India; as did Pedro Álvares Cabral, for the voyage that would see him “discover” Brazil and claim for the tropical behemoth for Portugal; Ferdinand Magellan also set sail from Lisbon on the first circumnavigation of the globe.
An international melting pot of nationalities
Lisbon’s history as a global hub goes back even further, with the population having welcomed Phoenicians, Greeks and Jews and receiving unwelcome visits from raiding Romans, Moors, Vandals and Visigoths, among others. Today, as someone moving to Lisbon’s metropolitan area, you’ll be in good company. The city is a melting pot of nationalities, with 22% of residents of foreign origin – a cultural and economic diversity that gives Lisbon an exciting energy.
Last year, foreign buyers accounted for more than one-third of total residential real estate sales, according to market researcher Confidencial Imobiliária. While citizens of a record 92 countries purchased homes in the Portuguese capital in 2019, five nationalities accounted for more than half of those purchases:
Americans are now fifth on the list of foreign property buyers in Portugal, accounting for nearly 5% of all purchases by foreigners, according to Confidencial Imobiliário. The recent uptick in American buyers, many of whom hail from New York or the San Francisco Bay area, dovetails not only with the volatile current moment in the U.S. but also with Lisbon’s newly consolidated status as a tech hub.
Portuguese authorities have long been trying to turn Lisbon into a tech capital, announcing the transformation of a factory into a 35,000 sqm incubator, the Hub Criativo do Beato, and playing host to the massive Web Summit for several years in a row. But it was Google’s announcement that it will be opening a new, 500-employee-strong support centre in the Lisbon suburbs that cemented the city’s status as a serious digital hub and helped put it on the radar of industry insiders from the Bay area, as well as risk-averse New Yorkers looking for a safe haven outside the U.S.
Portugal has long been home to one of the largest communities of Britons abroad. The relationship between the two maritime powerhouses stretches, of course, stretches back hundreds of years, even centuries before Anglo-Portuguese families in the Porto area became major players in the Port wine trade starting in the 18th Century.
In more recent times, Britons have been snapping up properties along the coast, from the Silver Coast to the sun-drenched Algarve, since the 1990s. Brexit has further fanned British interest in Portugal. An estimated 50,000 Britons are thought to be living in Portugal now, and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has tried to ease the community’s worries about what Brexit might mean for them by pledging to respect the rights of UK citizens who live or invest in Portugal.
A quick 2.5-hour flight from Paris, Lisbon is seen as a bright and welcoming respite from the gloomy weather and métro-boulot-dodo routine of the French capital and beyond. For French nationals looking for a more laid-back lifestyle without sacrificing the perks of a major European metropolis, Lisbon has it all – sunshine, public safety, a low cost of living, and good schools, not to mention high-end restaurants, museums and galleries.
Whilst the Non-Habitual Residents programme is an attractive financial incentive for French retirees, young French families with kids are also flocking to Lisbon too. With the highly-rated Lycée Charles Lepierre located in Amoreiras, many new arrivals are settling in the nearby n2018eighbourhoods of Campo de Ourique and Estrela, where French is now nearly as widely heard in the streets as Portuguese.
The political and economic turmoil of the past several years had sent a select group of Brazilians searching for stability in the terrinha, but it was the 2018 election of far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro that precipitated a surge in Brazilian transplants to Portugal. While wealthier Brazilians had for decades snubbed Lisbon, preferring London, Paris and Rome, many of the same factors that have seduced the French have also worked to attract Brazilians – who naturally enjoy the added advantage of a common language.
Brazilians of means have tended to gravitate towards Lisbon’s posh western suburbs on the Portuguese Riviera, particularly Estoril and Cascais. They tend to congregate together, often with multiple Brazilian families buying into the same gated condos. Portuguese nationals who had emigrated to Brazil during one of the booms of the South American giant’s recurring boom-and-bust cycles are also returning home.
Portugal has long been a country of emigrants, with Portuguese seeking to improve their fortunes decamping to the nation’s globe-spanning colonies going back centuries. The nearly 50-year-long dictatorship of António Salazar touched off waves of Portuguese emigration – to France, Germany, Venezuela, Angola and the U.S. – throughout much of the 20th Century, and the biting 2010-2014 recession, which hit Portugal particularly hard, sent ambitious young Portuguese packing to London, Paris and Brazil. (Around that time, The Economist declared that the South American giant was finally “taking off.”)
Now that Brazil has, in the newsweekly’s words, “blown it,” and Portugal is again humming along, Portuguese émigrés and their descendants from around the world are flocking back to the motherland. The Portuguese government has even created a fund to help Portuguese nationals who return home from abroad get back on their home.
The Chinese have been major players in Lisbon’s real estate market since 2012, when Portugal’s “Golden Visa” incentive went into effect, but for investment, not relocation. (See the section below for more information). In terms of transaction volumes, while they were briefly dethroned by the French, the Chinese took back the top spot in 2019, accounting for nearly 17% of total purchases by foreigners, according to Confidencial Imobiliária. Statistics from Portugal’s Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras suggest they are on track to hold onto the leading spot in 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese buyers tend to regard their purchases in the Portuguese capital as investments and often opt for such tourist-centric neighbourhoods as Chiado, Baixa and Mouraria with an eye to putting their properties onto the short-term rental market. And even before the pandemic, the Chinese often bought properties sight unseen, without ever visiting Portugal.
Property prices in Lisbon
House prices in Lisbon have been rising as people have let the cat out of the proverbial bag by talking about the city and its many attractions. Its popularity among foreign property investors buying has also helped drive prices, while keeping rental prices in check by adding to the supply of properties for rent. Indeed, while the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening to drive down property prices in most European cities, Lisbon is seen as likely to buck that trend. In fact, a 2020 report predicts that prices of the city’s most expensive homes to rise by 3% in 2020. In 2021, it forecasts a further 5% jump.
Property prices in the Lisbon metropolitan area were already up by 9.5% in November 2019, from the same time a year earlier, and prices have risen 4.5% year-on-year since 2014 – with flats rising at more than double the rate of houses. However, because property in Lisbon was so undervalued, the Portuguese capital still has among the lowest property prices among western European capitals – despite the fact that the city’s rise in prices has outstripped the 4% average increase in Europe as a whole in recent years.
One of the most flexible of its kind, the Portuguese “Golden Visa” scheme (ARI – Residence Permit for Investment) has proved extremely effective in attracting non-EU investor/residents. The main draw is that a €500,000 investment in property in Portugal garners a residency permit for the buyer and their entire immediate family, including dependent children.
There are also several other options for non-EU citizens seeking to relocate to Portugal, including, for example, a lower investment – of €350,000 (with more conditions attached) – or various other sums people moving to Portugal can import by way of capital transfer, cultural heritage or job creation.
Working in Lisbon & quality of life
Despite its location on Europe’s far western fringe, Lisbon has a well-connected and dynamic economy. It hosts some of the major multinationals in the technology, computer hardware and software sectors, including OutSystems, Novabase, SAP, Cisco Systems, and Nokia, as well as professional services and consultants including Deloitte, Accenture, McKinsey, Boston Consulting, and such banks and finance behemoths as BNP Paribas, Hiscox.
Hunting for unicorns, the wannabe billion-dollar corporations, has become a major sport in European capitals like London and Paris. But Lisbon’s unique attractions – including lower labour and infrastructure costs, climate and overall quality of life – are attracting some of the brightest and best talent. That means that despite its relatively small population, this capital city of around 500,000 is holding its own in the inventive and creative industries.
By any standards, Lisbon is a great place to move to if you want a great quality of life. The Mercer Quality of Living Ranking places Lisbon at 37, ahead of places like London, Barcelona and Seattle but (surprisingly) behind Perth, Bern, Singapore and Calgary.
It’s difficult to see how some of the latter cities can compete with Lisbon for its climate (very good), pollution index (low), its cost of living index (low), health care index (high), safety index (high). Lisbon’s drawbacks are its property price-to-income ratio, which is high but unavoidable, and its traffic commute time, which is moderate but can be shaved down by using the city’s cheap and well-regarded public transport system.
Cost of living in Lisbon
On balance, the day-to-day shopping basket makes living in Portugal one of the cheapest places to live in western Europe. Accommodation prices have been rising but are still below the European average. Food prices are a bit lower, but a real bonus is that eating out is 22.1% cheaper. While it will cost you more to clothe yourself, and even more to furnish your home, you can find relief elsewhere. You’ll also save on spending time outside your (expensively furnished) home by taking advantage of cheaper recreation and culture opportunities.
A car will cost you, but public transport costs are lower than the European average. If you work from home or have friends and family with whom you want to stay in touch, communications costs are relatively high. Your lifestyle choices obviously affect your overall cost of living, but you can reckon on a four-person family spending €1,912 a month outside of housing costs, and a single person about €546.
There is no restriction on foreign property ownership in Portugal and non-EU citizens can obtain a five-year residency permit known as a “Golden Visa (see above). To protect yourself when taking up residence and buying a property in Lisbon you will need a notary. You can find a registered notary at the European Directory of Notaries or Notaries-Europe.
A notary will check the Land Registry (Conservatória de Registo Predial) and Inland Revenue (Repartição de Finanças) to make sure the property can be legally sold and check for any restrictions on its use. Once you sign the Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda (sale contract), witnessed by the notary, you become liable for property transfer tax (Imposto Municipal sobre Transmissões ). Finally, you have to sign the Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda (Deed of Purchase and Sale) and have the property registered in your name.
Legal residents of Portugal are eligible to use the healthcare in Portugal, which is of a very high standard, ranking just behind Germany and above the United Kingdom. It is provided through three coexisting systems: The National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde, SNS), special social health insurance schemes for certain professions and voluntary private health insurance. Non-residents need travel insurance or a European Health Card, if they are from a country subscribing to the scheme.
Education is compulsory in Portugal and the public schools are free for residents of the country. There is also a well-developed network of private schools. To find the most suitable school, contact one of the schools in the area where you live or the Direcção Regional de Educação (Regional Education Authority). The European Union website has many useful links. (See below for a list of 15 international schools in the greater Lisbon area).
Portugal’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) education rating is at or above average in reading, writing and science. PISA comments that, “When assessed over a longer period of time, Portugal is one of the few countries with a positive trajectory of improvement in all three subjects”.
St. Julian’s School – Carcavelos
While it bills itself as Portugal’s “leading British international school”, Saint Julian’s is, in fact, one of Portugal’s premier international schools, full stop, with some 40 nationalities represented among its more than 1,000-strong student body. (Still, it remains the favoured choice by British families and has a distinctly British feel). Founded in 1932 on the grounds of a former vineyard estate overlooking the ocean in the coastal town of Carcavelos, around halfway between Lisbon and Cascais, and serving nursery through Year 13, St. Julian’s offers several different curriculums, as well as a Portuguese as a Foreign Language programme aimed at helping non-native speakers gain fluency.
The school’s rather small Portuguese section follows the Portuguese national curriculum until Year 10; whereas, the Kindergarten and Primary School follow the English National Curriculum up to Year 5, as does the Secondary School until Year 11, followed by the IB Diploma program. (Note that Saint Julian’s does not offer A-Levels). Some of the school’s recent alums have gone on to such top global universities as Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Stanford and the University of Chicago.
Head of school: Dr. Nicola Mason
International Preparatory School – Alcabideche, Cascais
Located in Alcabideche, another town along the Portuguese Riviera, IPS is something of a smaller, softer version of Saint Julian’s, offering the British national curriculum and emphasizing community and the social inclusion of its 250-odd students. Offering Nursery through Year 6 classes and serving children roughly ages 2-11, this English-language primary school, is, in fact, a feeder for Saint Julian’s secondary school. British children make up the lion’s share of students, but some 35 nationalities are represented at the school, which was founded nearly 40 years ago. It’s a warm and fuzzy environment that also prides itself on its strong academics.
Headteacher: Robert Taylor
St. Dominic’s – Cascais
St. Dominic’s has the reputation of being a less posh version of St. Julian’s. Whilst it lacks Saint Julian’s privileged sea view, St. Dominic’s often garners praise for its faculty’s warmth and their devotion to the diverse student body, which includes kids from some 50 countries. The school serves around 650 students ages 3-18, with all instruction is in English, following the British national curriculum. Graduates obtain an IB diploma.
Principal: Richard Tangye
Carlucci American International School of Lisbon – Sintra/Beloura
Don’t be misled by the name. Like many of the other schools popular with the expat community in Lisbon, the Carlucci American International School of Lisbon, or CAISL, isn’t actually located in Lisbon but rather in the climes of Sintra, about a half a hour by car from Lisbon proper. Popular with the American community (it’s the only State Department-recognized school in the area and includes a wide selection of extracurriculars) the school has more than 700 students from some 50 countries.
Portuguese, Brazilians and Chinese are among the most-represented nationalities, and nearly a third of students hold more than one passport. Starting with an early education programme for three-year-olds, CAISL runs through Grade 12, and graduates finish school with two degrees—an American high school degree and an IB degree. Recent graduates have gone on to such universities as Cambridge and LSE in the UK (nearly half of graduates go on to a British university); Columbia, Brown, NYU and Swarthmore in the U.S., as well as universities in Portugal and the Netherlands. Founded back in 1956, CAISL now boasts a new gym, as well as spacious classrooms and an enviable library.
Elementary principal: Katie Morris
Secondary principal: Nate Chapman
International School of Cascais – Cascais
Alternatively known as the International Christian School of Cascais, this K-12 school was founded by missionaries and built on faith-based foundations. There is a chapel on the school grounds; Bible study is part of the curriculum, and all the staff members are practising Christians, though just around half of the students are. Founded in Cascais in 1980, the school remains small, with under 80 students total.
This means classes also tend to be small, with just around a dozen kids per class. The school follows an American curriculum, and instruction is in English. In addition to Americans students, the school also has sizable Brazilian, Angolan, Chinese, and South African contingents, with administrative support offered in Chinese and Afrikaans, as well as English and Portuguese.
School director: Pastor Carlos Freitas
Oeiras International School – Oeiras
Housed on the grounds of a historic quinta in the Portuguese Riviera town of Oeiras, this English-language school serving kids ages 3-18 follows the IB standards, with a special focus on maths and sciences. Founded in 2010, the school remains quite small, with a student body of around 220. Some 65% are international students and the rest Portuguese nationals. Classes average just around 16 students, and there are an array of extracurricular activities including taekwondo, surf, chess, creative dance and tennis. The school also boasts a student-run garden, as well as a small herd of goats, a donkey and a pony that roam the grounds freely.
Principal: Steven Lewis
Deutsche Schule Lissabon – Telheiras, Lisbon
With instruction in German and Portuguese, this 1,000-student-strong K-12 school serves not only Lisbon’s German-speaking community but also many Portuguese students. More than half the student body is made up of Portuguese nationals. However, note that students whose mother tongue is not German are able to apply for admission only for Kindergarten or Grade 5. With a primary campus located in Lisbon proper – in the Telheiras neighbourhood, just north of the University of Lisbon – the school also has a secondary campus in Estoril. Families flock to the German School, attracted by its reputation as among Lisbon’s most academically rigorous institutions.
Primary school director: Dagmar Lucks
Lycée Français Charles Lepierre – Campo de Ourique, Lisbon
One of the most centrally located international schools in Lisbon, the Lycée caters to the French and Franco-Portuguese communities. (Just 10%of the student body of around 2,000 are neither French nor Portuguese nationals.) Located near the Amoreiras shopping mall, the school follows the curriculum established by France’s Ministry of Education, and students in their final year of secondary school sit the country’s baccalauréat college entrance examination. Families with children in the school tend to settle down in Campo de Ourique and nearby Estrela, two tiny neighborhoods that have seen a spike in the number of French residents in recent years.
Principal: Serge Faure
Redbridge School – Campo de Ourique, Lisbond
This primary school in Lisbon’s Campo de Ourique neighbourhood also has an early childhood program serving kids from age 3 and catering to English-, French- and Portuguese-speaking youngsters. The nursery school has three teachers, each a native speaker of one of the three languages. Primary school families can select one of two bilingual programs, either French/English or Portuguese/English. While some 19 nationalities are represented in the student body, about 40% of students are French, 30% Portuguese and 30% other nationalities.
The majority of the school’s families live nearby, in the neighbourhoods of Campo de Ourique, Estrela, Santos, Lapa and Amoreiras. Redbridge draws on some Montessori techniques to help build creativity and also teaches kids about nutrition through a robust food education program. They also offer an extended-day program that runs through 6:00 pm.
Head of School: Hélène Dubourdieu
British School of Lisbon – Cais de Sodré, Lisbon
Located in the very heart of Lisbon – on the Rua de São Paulo in Cais de Sodré, in a building that once housed the Portuguese Mint – this private primary school is a new addition to the city’s roster of international schools. It is currently serving children from nursery school through Year 4, or roughly ages 3-8, with classes taught in English according to the English national curriculum. BSL also offers after-school care for working parents, as well as extracurricular activities including literature, art, computers and judo.
Headteacher: Zoë Hubbard
PaRK International School – Praça da Espanha, Lisbon
PaRK is an English-language school serving kids ages 1-18 with several campuses in the greater Lisbon area. Initially founded as a nursery school back in 2003, PaRK has grown with its students and is now offering the IB Diploma program for its Grade 11 and 12 students. With campuses in the Lisbon neighbourhoods of Praça da Espanha and Restelo, as well as in Cascais and the northwestern suburb of Alfragide, the school serves more than 1,300 students from 32 nationalities, although Portuguese kids make up the lion’s share of students. Classes average around 22 students and are capped at 25 students. PaRK emphasises technological fluency, and students use iPads in class starting in Grade 4.
Managing Director: Barbara Beck Lancastre
Prime School – Lisbon, Estoril & Sintra
With four schools in Lisbon, Estoril, and Sintra, the Prime School offers the Cambridge Curriculum and A Level prep to students from ages 3 to 18. Founded in 2007, Prime bills itself as a “trilingual international school” with instruction in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Students age 13 to 18 have the option to board near the Cascais campus. Some 60 nationalities are represented in the student body of around 800 children and teens. Prime also offers extracurriculars including aviation classes for qualified students age 16 and older.
Head of school: Edite Reina
Astoria International School – Areeiro, Lisbon
This bilingual English-Portuguese primary and secondary school near Lisbon’s Roma metro station also offers a nursery for babies as young as 4 months. Around 70% of the school’s around 200 students are Portuguese nationals, with the remaining 30% international students. (Grades 3 and 4 also include instruction in a third language, German).
Lisbon Montessori School – Cascais
Located in Cascais, the Lisbon Montessori is a very small school serving children from ages 2.5-12. While the school’s language of instruction is English, Portuguese-speaking classroom assistants are always on hand, meaning that most students become truly bilingual during their time at Lisbon Montessori. As per the Montessori method, students are divided into mixed-age classrooms. Around 30% of the school’s roughly 40 students are Portuguese; the rest are international students from around a dozen different nationalities.
Montessori Directress: Ivona Rožanovska
Escola Secundária Pedro Nunes – Estrela, Lisbon
Reputed to be among the top public secondary schools in Lisbon, Pedro Nunes is housed in a stately building in the city’s upscale Estrela neighbourhood. Portugal’s public schools are open to foreign residents in the country, but with all instruction at Pedro Nunes conducted in Portuguese, following Portugal’s national curriculum, the Grade 7-12 school would be the right fit only for foreign students whose Portuguese is already strong.
Where to relocate to in Lisbon?
Like the Eternal City, Rome, Lisbon is reputed to have been founded across seven hills. But while Rome has the Tiber, Lisbon has the River Tagus and the Atlantic Ocean. Because the sea and the estuary are such prominent features, the parks and nature reserves that surround the metropolitan area frequently overlooked. And they should not be, as these green spaces add so much in terms of quality of life. Opting to live in places like Cascais or Beloura, on the western fringes of the city, can allow residents to take full advantage of the nearby nature.
The topography of the city presents those moving to Lisbon with a kaleidoscope of choices: Popular neighbourhoods close to the Tagus include Alfama and Bairro Alto and Chiado, with their narrow streets and lively nightlife, while the village-like “uptown” neighbourhoods, including Príncipe Real, Estrela and Avenidas Novas, boast local shops, restaurants and parks.
Lapa is upwardly mobile. It is amongst the highest-altitude locations in Lisbon, with stunning views across the Tagus. It remains upwardly mobile in terms of affordability while at the same time offering a host of hip, new cafes and restaurants. An area dominated by large houses and lush gardens, Lapa is home to the old parliament, as well as many embassies. West of the city centre, it has a quieter, more residential feel than some of the noisier and more bustling districts. It is not well served by the Metro but has good bus and tram services.
A bit removed from the city centre, Estrela hasn’t yet been “discovered” by tourists, and its relative flatness – the neighbourhood is spread out over a plateau of sorts – comes as a relief for seniors and those with small children, as living there spares residents considerable climbing. Estrela boasts the added attraction of being centred around the Jardim da Estrela – one of Lisbon’s largest and best parks, covering 4.6 hectares, or 11.4 acres. Estrela is not on the metro – though there are plans in the works to extend the yellow line to the neighbourhood – and is currently served by trams including the iconic line 28.
Despite being home to several universities and having, therefore, a sizable student population, Avenidas Novas is a quieter part of the city, offering large – although relatively expensive – apartments that make it an ideal landing spot for those seeking to move to Lisbon from abroad. The neighbourhood is close to the elegant Parque Eduardo VII, one of Lisbon’s largest green spaces, the atmospheric Amalia Rodrigues Park and the Gulbenkian Gardens.
There’s an ill wind that blows no good. Chiado was virtually razed to the ground by fire in 1988 but has risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes to become one of the most desirable and valuable areas in Lisbon. An important cultural and commercial hub, Chiado is famous for its theatres and museums, as well as for its bohemian feel. From the São Pedro de Alcántara viewpoint, you can enjoy panoramic views of Baixa, the River Tagus and the hill with São Jorge Castle at its summit.
“Baixa” means “low” in Portuguese and the Baixa neighbourhood refers to the city’s lower areas or downtown. Despite having been hit hard in the devastating 1755 earthquake, the area has been restored and now boasts some of Lisbon’s most interesting architecture. The area is packed with stores and restaurants, which lend it a distinctly “downtown buzz”.
Many of the houses in Bairro Alto date from the 16th century and are decorated with street art, giving the area a relaxed, non-conformist feel. The neighbourhood comes alive after dark as visitors and locals frequent the bars and restaurants among the steep and labyrinthine cobbled streets, enjoying traditional Portuguese cuisine as well as Fado – a nostalgic musical style pioneered by the nautical community that was once such a force in this seafaring city.
Graça’s age – it’s widely regarded as perhaps the oldest part of Lisbon – is reflected in its maze of narrow, cobbled streets. Built first by the Moors in the 11th century, it offers some of the finest views out over the city. Graça’s vibrancy is highlighted by the Feira da Ladra, the large outdoor flea market held every Tuesday and Saturday on Campo de Santa Clara, near the National Pantheon.
Alfama has all the charm of old Portugal. Another one of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods, it is made up of a warren of narrow streets and archways – in part, a legacy of its Moorish past – and spreads on the slope from the São Jorge Castle down to the River Tagus. Its alleys are filled the aromas of traditional meat dishes and grilled sardines, and strains of mournful Fado music are often floating in the air. In recent years, Alfama has gotten a boost from a spate of renovations of old homes, as well as the proliferation of new cafes and restaurants.
Cais do Sodré
Cais do Sodré is a lively, bustling waterfront area with vibrant nightlife and a gritty feel. It’s home to the Mercado da Ribeira, a cavernous food court with a wide range of traditional Portuguese delicacies and pastries, as well as international cuisine. Pink Street, with its bars and restaurants, comes alive at night as tourists and locals rub shoulders in its relaxed atmosphere.
Architects, designers, artists’ cooperatives, galleries and the Museu de Art Antiga (Museum of Ancient Art) are all the stuff of Santos-O-Velho, or “Santos the old,” as the neighbourhood – now known simply as Santos – was once referred to. The area is now nothing short of a cultural hub, with many of the disused waterfront warehouses converted of late into creative spaces. On the River Tagus estuary alongside Santos is the Doca de Alcantara Marina, with 440 berths for yachts. The Doca also offers day sailing, as well as longer trips out onto the Atlantic – to the Azores or Madeira, and beyond.
Lying in eastern Lisbon, Marvila was originally identified as the location for the 2020 Websummit technology conference. Sadly, this year, Covid-19 has driven the 2020 Websummit online. However, it’s a testament to Marvila’s resilience that the area has metamorphosed in recent years from a declining industrial port and working-class area into a tech and start-up hub. Marvila went from being overlooked and unwanted to a highly coveted area, known as a “hip” place to live – particularly among techies and creative types.
Cascais is a resort to the west of Lisbon with strong royal connections, having hosted seaside holidays for the crown of Portugal, as well royal families from across Europe and beyond. One of the wealthiest municipalities in Portugal, Cascais also boasts some of the country’s most breathtaking villas, as well as the highest property prices. With its delightful sea views, the city is cherished for its cobbled streets, charming city centre, glorious beaches and fishing harbour. Three bedroom apartments start at around half a million euros.
Located within the Municipality of Cascais, Monte Estoril is reputed to be the most liveable and also most expensive places in Portugal. The heart of the Portuguese Riviera, Monte Estoril centres around the sheltered Praia das Moitas, a beach lined with hotels, restaurants and bars. The area is renowned for the boutiques and independent shops hidden up and down its hilly streets, as well as its world-class golf club.
Beloura is a stone’s throw from the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais (or the Sintra National Park), a protected mountainside that slopes into the sea and is home to many rare species of plants and animals. It is a highly prized area for those with active lifestyles, as both the Penha Longa Golf Course and the Guincho surfing beach are close by. In addition to its outdoors activities and attractions, Beloura has its own shopping and other facilities and is also close to both Cascais and Estoril.
Relocating to Lisbon – the rental market
Choosing to move to Lisbon puts potential buyers before a delicious dilemma: Where to buy?! With the city offering a range of very different-feeling neighbourhoods across its seven hills and all the enticing possibilities lurking nearby, the choice is not easy. There is the decision whether to be close to the River Tagus or the Atlantic coast; whether to be in the thick of the exciting, urban hubbub or more tranquil areas in the city or near resorts and open spaces.
An average monthly rental in Lisbon (including utilities) was $1,233.50 a month (±€1,058.49) in 2018 – around the European average – although rental rates had been increasing until the Covid-19 pandemic. However, underlying trends are consistent and unlikely to result in a surge in rental rates because supply continues to outpace demand.
More opportunities are coming onto the market as people renovate older properties for short-term rentals like Airbnb, and rising foreign property investment interest is sustained by the “Golden Visa” incentives.
Begin your Portugal property search
As well as offering a varied portfolio of properties for sale in Lisbon, Athena Advisers has strong relationships with lawyers in Portugal who can help you with both the Non-Habitual Resident programme and Golden Visa programme, should you need to obtain a visa. Get in touch to begin your Portuguese property search.