Different ways of living
in the Portuguese Beiras

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Ways of life

In the Beiras you can:

For many people from different countries it's hard to imagine living on a farm that's fully your own and have hectares of land to go with it. Imagine what you can do with all that space? Have a horse? Your own forest? A lake? In Portugal you can.

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First: don't rush into it

Moving to another country is a huge step, you can't just pick up your things and go. Depending on your homecountry you need to arrange all kinds of things there. Ask around and look around (on the internet) for information, if you fail to do so, this will most likely cause problems later.

Many people want to move to another country, most of them do their homework before they go, but especially the last 5-10 years there are a lot of people who do not take this serious enough and it looks like these numbers are rising by the year: often they quickly decide to buy a campervan or caravan and leave without taking all the necessary steps. They have been looking around on the internet and have seen that people (in Portugal) live on a piece of land in a campervan, a shipping container, a wooden shed or whatever and they think "oh, look: we can do that too, let's go!".

But this is not precisely how it works, when one person does something somewhere, that doesn't mean that another person can do that too somewhere else. This depends on how the local authorities feel about this: some places are quite liberal in this, other places just don't want it, or have certain arrangements pre-made that you can invest yourself into (this goes especially for alternative ways of living). Next to that it also depends on the spot locally, what you can do on one spot in a certain town might not be allowed in another spot.

Always be open and honest about your plans to the local authorities, that means: if you are thinking of living an alternative life, always go to the local junta de freguesia first and be 100% open, they will tell you what you can and can't do and what you sometimes have to do first.

But this is just basic responsibility isn't it? It's not a piece of cheese that you buy, it's about the rest of your life and there are too many people who just aren't as responsible as they should be and often this ends in trouble: f.e. they bought a piece of land and find out afterwards that they can not do what they wanted to do.

Every year, especially from spring on, newcomers who aren't well prepared come to Portugal.

After finding out that they are in trouble they go looking for places to stay so that they do not have to go back.

Some of these people do not have the right intentions and sometimes they are not being honest; they go around asking for help everywhere and also sometimes cause problems after they have put their campervan or whatever on other people's land.

It's actually a bit sad: more and more people feel desperate in their homecountry and have an urgent need to leave, but this can have unpleasant consequences and you can not expect other people to solve your problems for you.

So: prepare well!

Living in a stone house in a village or on a quinta (farm):

Living in a stone house

In the Beiras the houses are on average amongst the cheapest of Portugal, especially in lesser populated areas. Many houses are listed at real estate managers but a lot of houses are not and there are some real beautiful places to buy in this category.

You can buy a ready-to-live-in house, or a house that is partially livable, a ruin or a piece of building land (if you want to build your own of have it built by a contractor). You need building permission ofcourse if you want to renovate something or build something from scratch. Basically it's pretty straightforward: you need an architect to start with, mostly the Cámara (one level above the junta de freguesia) knows a few. They can do the whole process, from looking for land to finalising the project. Thing is that you need to work with certified companies to get everything fully legal, the architect knows a lot of them, but ofcourse you can find your own builders etc. too. The architect guards the process and when a part is finished he comes to inspect and mostly approves, if not then he will explain why not and what has to be done, to you ánd to the builders.
You can also agree with the architect and the builders that you want to do certain things yourself too, this all happens in the beginning of the process ofcourse.

If you don't really find what you're looking for on the internet or just want to know what's more for sale in a certain area, then you can choose to go there and rent something for a while. You can also do things like house-sitting, living temporarily in a community or on some people's land in an outhouse in exchange for work (or money ofcourse).
Thát way you can get aquainted to the people in your area (Portuguese ánd immigrants) and ask around in the cafés etc. for places that you can buy, you will be amazed how much there is that is not on the internet, especially away from the coastal areas and in particular in the Beira Baixa and Beira Alta.

Rural / alternative living:

Living rural

The second possibility of living in Portugal is living in a campervan or caravan on your land. This offers possibilities for people on a smaller budget, but ofcourse also if you just don't want a stone house, but something simple because the house is not the most important part, like you have been dreaming for years and years to have forests around you, or mountains, or both, or have a huge vegetable garden, farm animals or grow trees for selling them later, whatever.

This is the thing: there are no permits for living in a campervan or a wooden shed, you can buy a wooden garage or whatever and put it together, you don't need a permit for that. That not only goes for people with a stone house and a garden in which they want to put up something like that, no that goes for everybody ofcourse, same country, same rights for everyone.

But: (yes, there is a but), here´s the thing: people in your village may not like it, the junta de freguesia may not like it either, that differs from place to place. And if somebody else does the same that doesn't automatically mean that you can do that too: there's always the other people, the local people and every spot is different. People may not mind in spot A but dó mind in spot B. This is where you always have to ask around and especially be open and honest to the junta de freguesia, théy are the ones in charge and if théy say you can´t then you just can't and if they say "go ahead" then you're home free (but don't hide things, be open about all your plans and whens and wheres).

Warning to people who do not take all the necessary steps: if you are not being honest, if you think you can outsmart the Portuguese, then you are in for a wild ride, because that's lack of respect and the Portuguese people deserve all the respect you can give ánd they are very proud and believe me: you'll know, you'll find out the hard way.


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