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Newbies help please... First steps in buying land and moving to Central Portugal :-)

Posts: 8
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Hi all,

We hope you are well. We are new to this forum and sorry if this gets posted often, but we would be hugely grateful if anyone could help us on our first steps on this new permaculture journey!

Myself, Martin, and my partner, Maike, both 28, from the UK and Germany, have had a few years experience in permaculture around the world, and briefly in Portugal, and are ready to take the big step (hopefully with help from the kind permaculture community) to buy land in Central Portugal, near Coimbra or Castelo Branco. We are looking for about 5 - 10 acres, with tree cover, a ruin to renovate (ideally with habitation licence) and ideally some year round water source, like stream or spring - as we are looking to be pretty self-sufficient. We have seen plenty for sale online, but we know from experience, it seems everything in Portugal is better and more beneficial face-to-face, just as an off-chance, does anyone know any land for sale that meets that criteria that is cheap close to them? And that is of correct documentation, registration etc.

We are coming to Portugal in June for a couple of weeks to get the ball rolling and meet some people, see some areas and land for sale - with the idea to move permanently in early 2020. It would be great to meet some permies near Coimbra or Castelo Branco area, if anyone is keen for a drink and to help us on this journey? We feel it would be great to meet people, hear your journeys and your ideas - and best of all, make friends!

Just to start us off, before we look around to buy land, what sort of documentation do we need to sort out, so that when we find the land we would like to buy, we are ready to go? Like how do we get our Fiscal Numbers? When we come in June, we would like to sort these things out, so is it possible to sort it out in a few days? Or is it one of those that requires numerous visits to the Camera?

- I read a few topics on the forum regarding some sellers (mainly estate agents) not giving details of the property/registration until after paying a deposit, could someone clarify their journey and how it went? Is it common that land is not in the correct name or size or registration? If so, what is the process?
- Should we go through an estate agent or buy from someone local with the help of a good lawyer/solicitor?
- Could anyone recommend a good lawyer/solicitor for the Coimbra or Castelo Branco area that we could meet with in June?

Sorry for the long post and many questions, I am sure things will become clearer soon.

Thank you for any help, it would be much appreciated
And so looking forward to living close by to some of you and becoming part of the permaculture community in Portugal

Much love, Martin & Maike.
Posts: 91
Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
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Hi Martin, welcome.

We have seen plenty for sale online

The difference between photos and reality is huge, prepare to be emotionally tired..

Is it common that land is not in the correct name or size or registration? If so, what is the process?

It's very common, it happened to me 2 or 3 times. The process is simple, you either love the farm and buy it anyway or you dont, i didnt as there needs to be ethics... always check land size in google and the name of the owners of the farm in the public office.This is quick. Be carefull with the local real estates as they are less caring with this matter.

Should we go through an estate agent or buy from someone local with the help of a good lawyer/solicitor?  

You can start visiting lands through agents, have a feel of the area and then visit the villages and ask in cafes or the municipal center.

Could anyone recommend a good lawyer/solicitor for the Coimbra or Castelo Branco area that we could meet with in June?  

Sure i can, my father

I will be waiting for that drink!!
Take care
Martin Hewell
Posts: 8
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Hi Velho,

Thank you very much for the information. It's very helpful.

Okay, I think we will prepare for it to be tiresome and pretty long-winded - and will take it slow and steady, and make sure everything is right!

Great point - how do we check the size on Google? Because there are a few we like, but it doesn't give the exact location or address, how can we check that before we waste our time? Should we just ask the website for the exact location and check on google earth?
Also, how do we check the names of the owners of the farm? Will it be the local office in the city of the district?

That's great - we will have to meet you and your father for a drink in June

Thank you!
Velho Barbudo
Posts: 91
Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
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Checking if the land has the announced size is something you can do on Google earth. I did it because i had experience in farms before so i knew the farms i saw were not the size the sellers were saying. The agents Will not tell you where the farm is located before you go there, is a posterior work for you.

Confirming the owners is something that you can do at the local city quite easily.
Posts: 9
Location: Portugal
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Hi Martin and Maike

I am German and I bought land in the Castelo Branco area ca. 3 years ago. I can't recommend my lawyer I had but I can recommend the real estate agent (Adam, originally from UK), who was also the owner of the land I bought.

Like how do we get our Fiscal Numbers?

I got my Fiscal Number (NIF) when I actually bought my land. My lawyer asked me to get a Portuguese citizen who can vouch for me and who would pay taxes in case I didn't pay. Of course I didn't have anyone like that, this is a lot to ask of anybody! I lived in Switzerland at that time, it is possible he rules are different for getting a NIF with an EU address.
I told Adam and he asked me for a copy of my passport and had the NIF on the next day. He used the address of the land I was buying as my address. So it must be easy to get a NIF - at least for someone who knows where to go and what to say. And I believe it's not the Camara Municipal but the Financias where you get it.

Aside from that all I needed was to give my lawyer power of attorney for the sale (I hope that's the right legal expression - it was some paper that stated that he represents me for the transaction) and send him a passport copy.

I had the money available, so I didn't have to deal with any mortgages or bank loans, those can complicate things.

The problem with the lawyer was that he had no experience in this kind of transactions and in the middle of it he asked for more money, because it was more work than he had expected. I could prove to him that I had stated fairly detailed what I needed him to do when we agreed on the fee, so he backed down. I am fairly sure though that he added quite a bit to the fees (notary etc.) which were much higher than they should have been. He never sent a receipt for those fees, a bill or the deed of the land, all I got was a pdf of the deed from my real estate guy. I was very busy at work at the time so I let it slide and only really noticed it months later.

Depending on what land you buy you may need to be able to pay utilities bills. In my case electricity was connected. A EU bank account and billing address may be accepted but in my case I got a Portuguese bank account the next time I was in Portugal. I needed a Portuguese address for that but the bank agreed to hold off sending me any mail (like the bank card) until I got my letter box sorted. Adam waited to transfer electricity until I had the bank account and once I had that I set up everything electronically. I get the electricity bills online and they get the money by debiting my account directly. Getting the letter box was a more complicated endeavor, Velho can tell you about it, he helped me get it after quite a trek through several different post offices (thanks again ).

I hope this was helpful and that you find a great piece of land!
Martin Hewell
Posts: 8
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Hi Monika,

Hope you are well. Thank you for the reply and some information of your journey, and what a journey it was! Great to hear all turned out well in the end, even though you had some ups and downs along the way

Thats great that you can recommend the estate agent, Adam, would you be able to pass on his details to us (via private message)?

That is interesting about the electricity bills and the post box, good to hear that there always seems to be a way to smooth things out.

So, which town/village do you live near Monika? And are there many other expat or local permies near you? If you dont mind me asking, do you work there or live off your land? It would be great to meet you when we come in June

As mentioned, we are both 28, we don't know much about this way of living, we just know we are so passionate about natural living, organic way of life and want to enjoy life with nature and animals as much as we can, whilst we can, and we don't have that much money saved up and therefore would still need some sort of small income.

So, what do others that are in a similar position to us do for income? Do many have jobs in the nearby towns? Have glamping style guest houses? Live totally off their land? Raise animals for meat/milk/eggs? Or sell their produce like honey, fruits and veg? We are not trying to steal ideas or anything like that, it is just very good to know what people do, cos if there are already lots of people competing in the same market or people are doing really well, we don't want to affect that. So it would be nice to know what could be done or if we could/should try something different. Like what is an area of need that we may be able to help with... for example, we are both very into natural living, health, organic food, fitness and wellbeing, and we have thought of having some sort of natural retreat? Have like tents/yurts (informing the council of course) and offer natural retreats, offering meals/yoga/fitness sessions etc? Or I am a Sport Scientist and Personal Trainer, so could even run something like a bootcamp/fitness classes in Castelo Branco or Coimbra or or local town or I could even work at a local gym for the first couple of years until the permaculture side of the land has started to fruit well that we don't need to buy as many things and could live off the land more. We are also quite artsy and paint / knit / make origami - so wondered if we could sell our things at any markets nearby? Also, we love horses and are trained, and thus could offer horse trekking? Do you think any of these ideas could work? Any thoughts? We are open to any avenues of areas of needs, so feel free to throw any ideas at us and we can start thinking. And we ask at this stage as this info kind of allows us to make a better idea of where we should try to look to move.

Please feel free to shoot our ideas down with the reality of how things really are in these rural areas, or give any other ideas, as we are new to this and would just like some information on what people out there are already doing and/or what would be quite beneficial.

Thank you for all your help
Posts: 5
Location: Alicante
chicken bee
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Hi Martin & Maike,

We are Davina and Joan (both 33) and our two kids, Luca (3) and baby girl Maia (6 months old).

Six years ago, while we were working together, Joan as an computer engineering and Davina as a translator, we decided to quit our jobs and start a permaculture project in North Alicante, near Valencia (Spain).

Here is the link in case you want to have a look https://granjamandragora.es
I’m sorry but it’s only available in Spanish.

It has been a great experience for us, so challenging. We have worked hard and regenerated the land. We have kept goats, chickens, bees. We have built swales, ponds… and enjoyed very much living in our tiny yurt.

Early this year, we decided to sell our farm, which we have just done. It is sited in a very touristic place and the adjacent properties are being bought by foreigners to build holiday houses .

We are now looking for a piece of land in Central Portugal. The area around Castelo Branco or Coimbra looks very nice to us!

Here in Alicante we were alone. After these years experience,
we’ve realised that building something with a community is essential. And now, with the arrival of our two kids, we want to be around with people with the same philosophy of life.

We’re looking for a land with a well or spring, so, with good water resources, with a house or ruin to renovate and most important, with other permaculturists with children around. Some alternative school or other shared parenting initiatives or with people home-schooling, so our kids can play with others.

We speak Spanish and English, and Davina speaks Italian and French as well.
We’ve got a small beekeeping operation of 50 hives that would come with us.

Basically, as you can see, we're looking for pretty much the same kind of land :)

We read that you’re planning to visit Portugal in June. We too. Hopefully, we will be there for two weeks (10- 24th June). It would be nice to meet if you are around those days and maybe we can share ideas, and help each other.
At the moment, we are looking for accomodation for those 2 weeks… we found some in Airbnb, as well as in the Parque de Campismo Municipal Idanha-a- Nova but they all seem to be a bit far from Monsanto, Penamacore area, which are our first options. Do you know any accomodations that would suit us?

Thanks in advance!
All the best,

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