Bargain Homes in This “Secret” Portuguese Hill Town

Last month one of my team members, Eoin Bassett, embarked on an exploratory trip of Portugal. I had asked him to check in on opportunities in the Algarve…but do to some exploring along the way.

One thing you should know about Eoin…he’s a bloodhound for opportunity and travel.

When he was on the road, my phone was hopping with messages, videos, and photos of the bargain properties and opportunities he’d found in one of Portugal’s overlooked regions, the Alentejo.

Here’s how Eoin describes the region:

“The Alentejo is the most peaceful place I have ever been.

“To be frank, it’s so peaceful, so safe…so relaxed and tranquil, that it would be dull if it wasn’t for the layer of secrets…

“Italy has Tuscany. France has Provence…

“In Portugal it’s the Alentejo, gentler landscapes but much of the same bucolic Mediterranean-style bliss, tons of history, culture and good food, and at an incredibly low cost.”

Eoin uncovered so much on his trip that I asked him to put together the entire package of his findings for me when he got home, and together we created a report that we’ve called The Dream Home Guide to Bargain and Profit in Portugal (find out how to get your hands on this, plus two other great resources, here).

Today, I’m sharing an expert from that report.

Eoin spent a few days in one of the Alentejo’s historic hill towns and below is a taster of some of the bargain properties he came across…

Bargain Homes in This “Secret” Portuguese Hill Town

By Eoin Bassett

The road from Lisbon to the Mamede mountains is good all the way. It takes just over two hours if you don’t stop for coffee. And the closer you get to the mountains, the fewer cars you see…until…

You’re on smooth backroads perfumed by pine forests winding past a patchwork of olive groves and vineyards, through sleepy white-washed villages…

And into the 200 or so square miles of natural park that makes up much of this mountainous region.

The Mamede mountains separate two great rivers of Iberia (Spain and Portugal together are called Iberia.) This region is a haven for wildlife and rare flora. A hikers paradise. Perfect for lazy-day rambles through the countryside…and pretty much a secret.

You could wake up in your hill-town home here and be in Madrid’s best brunch spot in three hour’s drive. From this hidden part of Portugal, a hop across the border to an equally hidden Spain is easy.

The geology is varied and in one town you see schist-stacked walls, in another great lumps of granite. To the north I hear the soil is red…to the south it’s dark…

The altitude makes micro-climates. On a six-mile hike along an ancient Roman road I stopped to pick ripe blackberries, plump figs and admire ferns growing across the road from grapevines and olives.

On one short walk I found myself in an oak wood straight from Lord of the Rings, where gigantic boulders forced the path to weave, then on a sun-dappled grassland plateau, and finally into the cool shade of slender sweet chestnuts.

I based myself in one of the regions historic hill towns. The town is crowned by an imposing citadel, from which the town grew, rolling down the southern slopes along cobbled lanes. To the north the Jewish quarter expanded after Spain expelled the Jews in the 1400s.

Everything is old, most of it preserved, but not in that museum-like way you find in many such towns. This town is lived in. You get your bread and cakes in the bakery…your fish and veg in the market…you have your favorite coffee spots…you can bring your friends for a fine and fancy dinner or go for trendy tapas. There’s a pharmacy…a supermarket down the hill…

You will look in vain for garbage in this town, the street cleaners are ruthless, the locals proud of their public parks and tiny gardens. Cheerful men whistle as they grill sardines on their doorsteps. Women lean over balconies to share the news with neighbors. A foreigner meets no raised eyebrows, just a wave or a nod of the head, “bom dia”—good day. Tourists do come, just not in droves. At least not yet. Besides, the Portuguese are courteous folk.

Dogs are walked. Church bells ring. Hens cluck. The wind stirs the trees. Children play…In fact, on a Friday night I found a bunch of them playing in the square while their parents enjoyed some outdoor theater. It has an artsy air.

On a Monday morning I breakfasted on little chicken pies and watched the townsfolk stir. Storefronts opened, business began. And in the sky hundreds of swallows did switchbacks from the eaves of the church.

Breakfast…I didn’t know what was encased in the pastries so I ordered them. Lightly herbed chicken.
Breakfast…I didn’t know what was encased in the pastries so I ordered them. Lightly herbed chicken.

I think of hill towns as a bit like condo buildings…

The amenities are shared. Everyone can enjoy the town’s clean and modern swimming pool. At viewing points around you find little parks laid-out in freshly clipped box hedging with roses and a bench. The cafés and bars are where you meet.

Tourism was on a tear in Portugal before the pandemic and there’s every sign it will continue that way. It’s fairly undeveloped and low-key in this part of the country. To book my Airbnb I had to send money by bank transfer. And use Google translate. Not a big deal but not effortless either. And that could spell opportunity…

Just do a better job marketing and organizing your village home into a rental…and own something special.

My sense is that this hill town is getting discovered but that it’s still early.

Spring is the busiest time of year for tourism and short-term rentals in the region. Wildflowers are at best, temperatures the most pleasant. By summer it’s getting hot, August and July are the hottest months followed by September.

I was there at the hottest time of year, scouting property at the hottest time of day when temperatures were close to 90 F. It’s not humid though, so if you get in the shade or jump in a pool, easy enough to cope.

Winters in these mountains are fairly cold and rainy, but that’s when you head south perhaps to your Algarve base…

Because, as Ronan’s pointed out to me several times, you could buy your hill town home or even two of them with the rent checks from the right condo in historic Lagos…

So, let’s look at a selection of houses I found in this “secret” hill town…

A Four-Bedroom House for $46,782

This house in the 18th-century part of town is listed at €40,000 ($46,782). That price is negotiable…

This house has a wider footprint that most in town. Typically houses in the historic part of town have three floors. Most houses have two doors. One traditionally opened onto a stairs leading to the home…living room, bedrooms, and the kitchen on the top floor.

The second door led into the ground floor, where the shop might be, or animals could be kept.

This means most of these houses give you the option of creating two independent apartments. Nearly every house I saw had this lock-off option. Perfect for visiting friends or family, potentially useful for renting if you get the tourism licence you’d need from the Camara (local council.)

Back of a beermat calculations, after renovations, for €120,000 to €150,000 you would have a nice home in the center of town.

With some work, this could be a nice 4-bed house for under $150,000.
With some work, this could be a nice 4-bed house for under $150,000.

The key to renovation here—as with anywhere—is to find the right people. This is another reason to like Portugal. I found real estate folks responsive and professional, more than I can say for other places I’ve scouted. I think finding a good lawyer, an architect and a builder would be straightforward enough.

It’s a place you can do business. Stuff works.

Key thing with renovating, is not to rush. Time is money. If you take your time, think it through, it ought to cost you less.

A Bargain Bolthole for $25,736

Around the corner from the €40,000 house I viewed another house for €22,000 ($25,736).

This would convert nicely into a one-bed home with a basement kitchen and a lounge with a sofa-bed. It’s not as pokey as it sounds once you take out a few of the interior walls and open it up.

I would probably offer €16,000…and figure on spending another €20,000 to €30,000 or so on renovations. Add a spiral staircase down to the basement kitchen. I would have my desk by the Juliet balcony, enjoy the twilight…practice Portuguese with the old lady hanging washing across the road.

To put it into U.S. dollars, for less than $55,000 I’d have the perfect little bolthole in the mountains. I could stroll the battlements just outside the house, pop down to the main square for a 76 cents coffee (that’s U.S.). I’d get my bread fresh from the bakery…my meat in the butchers…or just eat out all the time. Everything is so affordable…

This house has an asking price of €22,000 ($25,789). It’s been on the market for a while and might be worth trying an offer of €15,000 to €16,000 ($17,500 to $18,750).
This house has an asking price of €22,000 ($25,789). It’s been on the market for a while and might be worth trying an offer of €15,000 to €16,000 ($17,500 to $18,750).

A Terrace on Your Roof: $76,000

Everything is so easy to walk to here that you can check out a lot of property fast…

Just down the hill from the bargain bolthole house I checked out a more traditional three-story home. Though it needed some work you could move in today and live there no problem.It had two entrances and a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor. If you put a kitchen on one of the upper floors you’d have two totally independent units.

But the reason I was looking at this one was it had a roof terrace…

This $76,000 home has views over the town, and the castle, from the rooftop terrace.
This $76,000 home has views over the town, and the castle, from the rooftop terrace.

Ronan says:This is just the tip of the iceberg…Eoin’s trip threw up lots more opportunities.

You can read them all in the report we put together about this scouting trip: The Dream Home Guide to Bargain and Profit in Portugal. This is a legitimate behemoth, jam-packed with videos, photos, and detailed accounts of the properties Eoin discovered…

You’ll also discover:

  • The exact location of all the properties you just read about above…

  • Where you can buy a home in a Portuguese castle for only $91,223…

  • The urgent rule change to Portugal’s Golden Visa program you need to know about before January 2022…

  • The most famous hill town you’ve never heard of (once a major thoroughfare in ancient times, now a hub of bargain-priced real estate)…

  • Plus, I explain how you can use Portuguese bank financing to buy property in Portugal at insanely low rates. Foreigners can borrow up to 80% or even more in some cases.

All the details for getting a copy of this report are here…and not only will you get our report, The Dream Home Guide to Bargain and Profit in Portugal, you’ll also receive 2 other resources that will be of benefit if you’re interested in investing or living (or doing a bit of both) in Portugal.

If you’re interested in a bargain home in Portugal, Eoin’s report is a great place to start. This is real boots-on-the-ground intel…he visited these properties, took videos and photos, and gives you a taste of what’s on offer right now. Get your copy of The Dream Home Guide to Bargain and Profit in Portugal right here.

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