Choosing The Proper Rental

Deciding to move to Portugal on the D7 visa was the easy part. The difficult part lay in finding a house to live in, a prerequisite for getting the visa. The doubts came at us hard and fast, making it a seemingly impossible task. Which city; which neighbourhood; how large an apartment; how many bathrooms were just some of the many questions that cropped up. Another big question was how do you choose a place to live without seeing it?

The task seemed much more manageable once we took it one step at a time. The first step was to decide on a budget and then look at what was available. Once that was decided, our lawyers in Lisbon put us on to a real estate agency that specialised in remote house hunting. A short questionnaire about cities, neighbourhoods, type of house etc. was dealt with. The agency, for a fee, said that they would compile a list of properties that were suitable to us, and once we’d shortlisted a few, they would take us on video tours of the houses. They suggested we get in touch later, closer to when we were ready to sign the lease agreement.

Fortunately for us, things worked out for us in that we managed to visit Portugal before applying for our D7 visas. It was a short trip and was solely devoted to meeting our lawyers and going house hunting. So we didn’t have to look for houses remotely. We planned to get all our documentation for the visa in order beforehand, fly to Portugal, find a house, get our lawyers to sign the lease agreement and then apply for the visa when we returned. Time was necessary because the lease rent would start almost immediately, and we had no idea how long the whole visa application would take.

Choosing Your City

Choosing cities was a toss-up for us between Lisbon and Porto, both cities we had visited previously and loved. Much research using sites like and pouring over google maps went into learning about the various neighbourhoods in the two cities. Serious house hunting started using websites such as and Of the two, we preferred as it offered a wider selection of properties. The hunting started in earnest about a month before we travelled to Portugal, sometime around mid-December.

Lisbon was our first choice, tbh

What we found was that the Lisbon property market was very volatile. Prices were very high, and almost every property we liked was snapped up within a day or two of listing. We ended up contacting many agents for listings that we liked. Many didn’t respond, but those that did were short-listed. Of course, some properties went off the market before we could travel, but by the time we arrived in Lisbon, we had a couple of properties in Lisbon and a handful in Porto to choose from.

Some of the places we saw didn’t match up to the pictures – no surprises there. Some of the brokers involved were real shysters. One even suggested he would help us make a fake lease and cancel it once the visa was done. Please do NOT fall for these offers, as it will jeopardise your whole visa process. 

Ultimately, what decided it for us, was the proximity to the sea that our home in Porto offered. That trumped everything else. While negotiating the terms of our lease, we managed to get our landlady to defer starting the rent on our lease until May 1st, even though we were planning on signing the lease by the end of Jan. That in itself saved us 3 months of rent. Please don’t be afraid to ask for a delayed start to the rent payments. While most landlords will not agree, there is no harm in asking. Remember, everything is negotiable.

But, a view as sweet as this is hard to ignore

We left Portugal on the 17th of Jan. after instructing our lawyers to sign and register the lease. The back and forth between the two lawyers seemed to go on forever, but eventually, the lease was signed by mid-Feb. and we could go ahead with our visa application.



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