During the period between when we applied for our Residence Visas and when we anticipated we would be moving, a change was made in the housing requirement for those visas. There had always been a stipulation that we have a place to stay when we entered Portugal, but when we made the initial application a short term-rental was sufficient.
Our original plan was that Jana would stay a week in a hotel, then I would join her and we would move to an AirBnB or VRBO until we could locate an apartment. Portuguese authorities now require that you have long-term accommodation prior to the Residence Visa approval. There are different interpretations on exactly how long of a contract is needed, but most people are reporting contract terms of 6 months to 1 year being the standard.
This was sobering as the Residence Visa is only valid for 4 months, but you’re required to have at least a 6-month lease to obtain it. However, a lease in Portugal is not EXACTLY the same as a lease in the good old USA. I am still scratching my head about how this works exactly, but it is rather renter friendly. When you sign 1-year lease, you are only obligated to stay for one third of that time. From the landlord’s end, he or she is obligated for the full term. Because of this, most landlords want a 2-year lease. So finding ourselves in a "go big or stay home" situation, we are now the proud “owners” of a 2-year lease for an apartment in Porto, only 8 months of which we are required to fulfill.
How did this come about? It took a whirlwind 9-day trip in late July, during which I was able to find a great apartment in a fantastic location, negotiate and sign the lease for an amount that was within our budget, have the utilities (water, gas and electric) changed to our name, and set up contracts for a landline telephone, television, internet, and mobile phones.
The next few blogs will go into some detail on how we made this happen, including both the positives and the negatives, and how none of this would have gone as smoothly if we hadn’t hired a real estate professional (more about our friend Miguel down the line).
Next Up: Apartment Rental (Part Two)