As with all big decisions in life, research is the key and one must always remember that living somewhere is completely different to holidaying there.
Relocating on a permanent basis to another country, especially one which has a different language and culture, needs thorough planning. If you have children and need to work, this is even more crucial.
Experiencing all the seasons is a must too. Hot, sunny Portugal can also be cold, wet and windy at times and remember that most houses do not have central heating.
Other things that you may wish to consider are:
• Is a coastal area, while nice in the winter, going to be too busy and noisy in the summer?
• Is a place that is lively and entertaining in the summer going to be too dead and dull in the winter?
• What are the local amenities and services on offer? What is the local transport like?
• Do you need a lot of social contact, or are you happy to live quite remote and isolated?
• Do you want or need the support of fellow nationals around you, or do you want to be a million miles away from the nearest expat?
Choosing the right location for your needs is essential and must be very carefully considered. Make a list of the things you really need and want and those you definitely don’t. Being far away from the nearest shops and banks can seem bearable during a two-week holiday, but on a daily basis it may become extremely irritating.
If you are retiring to Portugal, then you should still do some thorough research. If you are fit and able, living somewhere remote might not be a problem. However, if you have any medical issues, then living somewhere closer to health centres and other amenities might be a wiser option.
Another factor to consider might be how you wish to spend your retirement. For some, a quiet life of gardening and reading in a countryside location is ideal. For others, a more active social life might be desirable. Check what is on offer to you in the areas you are looking at and whether this suits you.
It goes without saying that sound financial planning for your retirement is a must. Speak to an expert financial consultant, who is knowledgeable about both Portugal and your country of origin.
Whether you decide to buy a new-build on a development, a resale property, a plot to build on or a countryside ruin, you should make sure of the reputation and credentials of those you are dealing with.
On deciding to buy a property in Portugal, most people head straight for the local agents in the area that they are looking in or, if back in the UK, surf around the Internet to see what they can find. There is nothing wrong with either approach.
In Portugal, a real estate agent has to be registered and have the appropriate insurance and professional qualifications. A registered agent is given a number. This is known as an AMI No and is issued by INCI (Instituto da Construção e do Imobiliário), who are the regulatory body for all estate agents in Portugal – www.inci.pt.
The AMI No should be displayed on their website (as well as the title Mediação Imobiliária) and on all company documentation. Agents should also carry an ID card issued by INCI.
A real estate agent must be in possession of copies of all paperwork and documents relating to the property for sale.
There are several UK companies on the Internet now selling property and plots in Portugal. They are sometimes connected to a builder or developer and these will not be registered by INCI. Therefore, you should remember that you will not be protected by Portuguese Law should anything go wrong.
Of course there are people who prefer to sell privately. No problem in that. But check that the person selling the property actually owns it. You can consult both national and expat newspapers and websites for private property sales.
If you decide to buy directly from a builder or developer, have them build a new house on a plot, or have any work done on the property you are purchasing, such as renovations or extensions, get independent recommendations and references from other people and go to see some of their previous work. A local builder may also be preferable to one from a different part of the country.
A builder, who undertakes large renovation works or projects, as opposed to minor repairs, must be a registered builder and should have an Alvará de Construção (building permit). These are renewed annually by INCI (i.e. the same regulatory body for real estate agents).
Make sure that in any of the above situations, you use qualified legal advice and that proper contracts and documents are drawn up.