A shift from city to countryside 

A SHIFT FROM CITY TO COUNTRYSIDEMany are those choosing Portugal’s countryside areas in which to take holidays, moving away from choosing Lisbon and Porto where bookings dropped and remained stagnant due the pandemic. 

Led by bookings in the Bragança and Guarda areas, pandemic-aware families want nature and fresh air with 77% of bookings now being made outside of urban areas.

During the pandemic, the supply of Alojamento Local (AL) registered countryside properties rose in Bragança (registrations up by 50%), Guarda (up by 47%), Portalegre (up by 36%) and Vila Real (up by 32%).

More than 55,000 property owners depend directly on Alojamento Local income, many hard hit during the slump in tourists during the pandemic period (75% down between 2019 and 2020) and hoping for a boost this year as bookings rise.

For investors looking for an AL-compliant property to buy and rent out, there is a lack of supply, driving prices up for fully refurbished countryside properties.

Many buyers continue in vain to buy renovated rural properties in which to invest, rather than endure the pain of local planning regulations and ‘going it alone’ with a renovation.

For those seeking a home, social media postings for 'agricultural land plus buildings' are showing increasingly optimistic price per hectare figures, luring the unwary. 

Smaller plots can command a premium if they add value to a planned build or rebuild project, but the opportunism of many sellers, sensing 'foreign blood' has been notable in the past 12 months.

Many buyers purchase land without first checking what can be done on it, later falling foul of regulations for ecological, forestry, agricultural and natural park areas, plus the nation's fire zoning laws which are just that, national laws with no possible local leeway. 

Certain Facebook groups have many requests from those seeking a 'permaculture' lifestyle with a stream, chickens and self-build structures - all of which can be achieved but not until there’s been a hard look at the national and local rules relating to a particular site.

Specialist rural property developer, Paul Rees of Rural Properties, comments, “some attractive-looking properties seem cheap, but there’s always a reason, so find the reason and check at the local Câmara what can and can't be done before you buy.”


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