In the United States, when you rent an apartment, it usually comes with ceiling fixtures. They may not be exciting, but they’re there. As Harold checked out unfurnished flats we quickly learned that is not always the case in Portugal. It appears that when the previous tenant moves out, they remove their lights and cart them off. Who knew?
To review, I was in Porto with Miguel, our real estate agent, and after checking out several apartments, the last one was a winner. I was up late talking to Jana via Skype and up early the next morning to let Miguel know we were ready to start negotiations on the Miragaia flat. This is when it gets real…
On the second day of our apartment hunting mission, our real estate agent and I headed out early to the Lordelo do Ouro neighborhood in Porto where there were two flats, both quite close to each other. One of the apartments was of interest, with a nice park out front, and a garage which someone had fashioned into an office.
Before we relate our rental experience in Porto, a little bit of background is in order. First, there are a number of online sites where you can do some scouting on your own (Idealista, Casa Sapo and Imovírtual to name a few). Some offer other language options, but for those that are only in Portuguese we used Google Translate. GT’s camera feature on our iPhone or iPad allowed us to take a photo of the text, then highlight it so Google can translate it. It’s not perfect, but it’s helpful.
As we neared the date we were going to be without a home in the U.S. (August 31st) we knew we needed to find a place to live in Porto at the end of July. As we mentioned in the last blog entry, at this point we were under the impression we just needed a short-term stay like a hotel room or an Airbnb, so we were not being too aggressive about finding an apartment. We’d spent the last year tracking various rental sites (Idealista, Casa Sapo and Imovírtual) so we had a good idea of what was on offer and how much we’d be paying per month. Armed with that info, we sent messages to several real estate agents in Porto. And never received a response.
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.