When I was working on my book “How to Move to Paradise“, I met a lot of interesting people in order to collect as many different stories of moving to Portugal as possible. In March, I got in touch with Natalia, a young entrepreneur from Russia who has been living in Portugal for over a year and is about to open her own business in Lisbon.
In March, I got in touch with Natalia, a young entrepreneur from Russia who has been living in Portugal for over a year and is about to open her own business in Lisbon.
There were several elements to this story that surprised me a bit, all in a positive way. Buying real estate even in your own country can be quite a non-trivial task, and in a place where you don’t speak your native language, where the laws and customs are different, it gets even scarier. That’s why I always say it’s worth spending some time on the ground before deciding to take such a step as buying a property. If you rent a place for a while and end up not liking it, you won’t be tied to anything if you decide to leave. It’s one of the biggest investments of your life, even if you’re not doing it for the first time, so evaluate the risk/reward properly.
Why I bought a house in Portugal
– My move started in 2017 when I decided to make a change in my life. I had been living in Moscow since I was born: I graduated from school, university, opened my first business here. There were many projects, but the most successful was a small network of beauty salons around the city. Two of them still exist today: both are near Mayakovskaya Street. I love my home town very much, but there has always been one important problem here. In Russia it is practically impossible to realize yourself in an honest way. You always hit the ceiling of your possibilities and without the right connections you just can’t develop further.
That’s when I decided to make a dramatic change. Over the years, my husband and I had managed to save a good amount of money and decided to try to move to another country. Marcos, my husband, is from Mexico, so of course the first thing we did was go there.
As it turned out, that was a big mistake. The conditions for business in Mexico are even worse than in Russia; we had problems even at the stage of IP registration. The only thing that was pleasant was the low housing prices. We bought a small apartment on the outskirts of Mexico City. To be honest, I already knew then that it would hardly be a profitable investment, but considering that we sometimes come to visit my husband’s parents to have our own apartment here seemed like a good idea.
After the first year of trying unsuccessfully to start anything worthwhile in Mexico, it was clear that we wouldn’t get very far that way. The only problem was where to go next. The solution came by itself and after spending a week in Russia with my family, we took a short trip to Europe. The logic was simple: in three months (the duration of our tourist visa) to travel across the countries of central Europe and look at local life. That’s how we got to Portugal for the first time.
Portugal turned out to be exactly the place we had been looking for so long. Great climate, ocean in direct reach, nice people, and the best environment to start a business in all of western Europe. When we returned to Mexico, we made the decision to find an opportunity to move to Portugal.
From among many other companies, we came across Service MoveToCascais, ordered a trial consultation and immediately found the answer to our question. After listening to our story and learning all our wishes we were offered a great option: a golden visa for Portugal through real estate investments.
Buying a house in Portugal
Natasha looked at seven or eight properties, but she liked this house in Portugal at first sight. It was usually a good sign, and the price was right. It was owned by a British couple, and they were in a hurry because of circumstances back home. In the end, the purchase price was €507,000, a very good value for such a beautiful place.
Besides the house itself they managed to negotiate the purchase of all the furniture. The owners did not want to bring it all to England and the girl did not want to buy everything from scratch.
When I first bought a property in Mexico, I had to furnish the whole house from scratch, and believe me, it’s not a pleasant experience. The first month we ate at the kitchen counter and I worked on my laptop sitting on a plastic chair.
The house was in the Lisbon area, literally 300 meters from the coastline. Everything was in perfect condition: first floor living room, bathroom, kitchen and guest bedroom; first floor three bedrooms, another bathroom and a balcony with a wonderful view over the surroundings. The house is close to several beaches, including the small peninsula of Peniche, where she took surfing lessons. In the other direction are vineyards and castle villages. The price was right, so she didn’t haggle – many similar properties cost between 630,000 and 800,000 euros near the coast.
Available mortgages in Portugal
Often in conversations with people coming to developing countries, there is a discussion about the need to either pay for the house in full when you buy it, or take out a loan secured by another property. In countries like Ecuador, Panama, Mexico and Thailand, mortgages are rare. Interest rates are high, if you can get a loan at all, and you usually have a weighted payment to make in five to seven years.
This is not the case when buying a property in Portugal. Natalia was able to put down a 20 percent down payment and get a long-term interest rate of 1.95 percent for 25 or 30 years. That, in the end, is less than the long-term inflation rate. To get that rate, you have to have a life insurance policy. Anyone can get one – it’s easy and not very expensive.
– The real estate agent that MoveToCascais gave me was a godsend! She was the one who found the offer. In addition, I had a Russian speaking lawyer who made sure everything was in order and who expedited the paperwork. The cost of the transaction was not difficult to cover: a few thousand euros and I already own this beautiful house.
Cost of utilities in Portugal
The agent also set her up with a plumber and a cleaner, both of which were very reasonable.
–The average full-time wage in the area is about 1,000 euros a month, so the cost of domestic services is pleasantly surprising. The painting crew is going to paint the entire interior of a house in two days for 500 euros. The plumber was here for half an hour and only took 15 euros for the job. The people here are much more responsive than I expected.
Getting a residence permit through Portugal’s golden visa program.
As we wrote above, Natalia was getting a Portugal residence permit through the golden visa investment program. Let’s talk more about this opportunity.
The Golden Visa in Portugal has existed since 2012 and was created to give non-EU citizens the right to obtain a residence permit in exchange for a 6-year investment in real estate. The Golden Visa program has not only helped people live and work in the area, but has done wonders for the local economy. Almost six billion euros are said to have been invested in Portugal since the scheme was launched.
The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the most popular citizenship programs for investment in Europe and in the world, because Portugal is a safe country to live in with an affordable quality of life and good health thanks to its relatively affordable real estate prices (some of the lowest among all EU capitals).
The Portugal Golden Visa program was launched by the government to grant residency status to all real estate investors and eligible families wishing to invest in Portugal. This is done by investing in real estate and is available to any citizen outside of the EU.
The Portuguese Golden Visa program is a program that is available to all citizens outside of the EU.
After obtaining a residence permit with a gold visa, you will be eligible
- reside in Portugal for the duration of your visa,
- work, live and study in Portugal,
- free travel without a visa to the 26 countries of the Schengen Agreement of the European Union.
Portuguese gold card holders receive a temporary residence permit in Portugal for two years, renewable for another two years. At the end of the 5th year gold card holders can apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship if all other requirements of the law are met.
Natalia was easily able to make a 20% down payment and pay closing costs, even though she bought a condo in Mexico last year.
What about now?I emailed Natasha again while the pandemic was going on, and learned that she had sold the house when she decided to open a business in Portugal.
– I put the house up for sale in January 2020, and within three weeks it was sold to a lovely Portuguese couple. It was a good deal: it sold for €650,000. With the proceeds, I bought a studio in Lisbon, which is currently being renovated.
I am so glad that I decided to move two years ago. Portugal is a wonderful country and despite all the challenges of the pandemic, I was finally able to fulfill myself here. The whole move was a success, thanks in large part to the guys at MoveToCascais.
If you too want to change your life for the better and have been thinking about moving for a long time, now is the best time to take the first step. We have created a unique M.Consalt offer, in which we will try to answer all your questions about moving to Portugal. Remember, the main thing is your motivation, and all the details of the immigration process are best left to professionals. We are waiting for you in Portugal!