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Looking for the perfect place to start your own permaculture project?  RSS feed

 
Pina River
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dear fellow permies

We are living in inland Portugal in a very beautiful wild and welcoming area. To cut a long story short, what we would like most is to see the land around us being rehabilitated, restored, and rejuvenated by like-minded people using permaculture or any other land-loving practices.

If this sounds like you, then get in touch because we are happy to help people find land by pointing them in the right direction to locals with land for sale, chatting about the pro's and con's of living in our area, giving information about how to conduct a sale/purchase successfully, and introducing you to people you might be inspired by or interested in.

This will suit people who are proactive and actively searching for land because we are not keen to source land for people or anything like that. We just want to help out like-minded people and hopefully persuade you to come and live in our area!

Why?

Because the land needs you. We live near the village of Monsanto (I know! But its actually a village in Portugal and means Sacred Mountain!) in the district of Idanha-a-Nova. While traditional farming practices have decimated the top soil, removed most of the indigenous forest, and generally degraded the environment, its amazing how rich this area still is in essential resources like water, terraced land, fruit trees, and really friendly locals.

For a small capital outlay you can buy say 2 hectares with water, a stone barn, and olive and fruit trees. Its a good start! The rest is up to you. Come and help us restore this land to the paradise that it was and can be again.

Think Geoff (Lawton) and think thriving abundance and come and do it here!

yours ever so hopefully!
pina river

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MONSANTO MOUNTAIN
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OUR HOUSE
 
Ayalah Namun
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Hi Pina,

So interesting to read your post! We are a couple living in London, and we are planning to move to Portugal, (Castelo Branco area) to do exactly what you are doing. The only problem we have is that we have no source of income when we leave. We rent our home here but we have some money saved to buy some land in Portugal. We have visited the area in 2014 and loved it.
We found a property there, with some 15,000 sqmt of land and it's just perfect for us. It has an agricultural building for renovation as well, and it's quite livable, but we have 4 dogs and the place needs to be made secure so that they don't fall into the well or something like that.

We haven't bought the land yet, but are seriously considering buying it soon. The issue will be that we will not have much money left after that. I was working and earning a good salary until my boss decided to bully me out of my job, so I am losing my job this month, although he is paying me off. This is the money we will have to buy the place.

We want to do many things, such as an aquaponics system so that we have fish and vegetables, we want to have chickens, and plant a vegetable garden as well as some more fruit trees. All this will take some time to achieve, but without some sort of money I find it quite hard. I speak Portuguese fluently so that is not an issue. But we want to leave the rat race, so working for other people will not be a choice we want to make, at least not in this corporate world anymore. So at the moment, it's only the two of us and we are very much novices in everything to do with gardening and permaculture projects.

We were wondering if there were like-minded people around Castelo Branco, or surrounding areas, to help us renovate our stone building, and help us learn how to do things in the land, such as build a chicken coop, or help us harness the water available to be used in the house and around the land. We would love to help other people in return as well, and ideally we would really like to have some people living with us, because we believe that if we live in a small community, we will have far more fun than living alone just the two of us.

I wouldn't know how to start some sort of business to make some extra cash in Portugal, since the economy there is not that great, and apart from selling produce in the local market, I don't know what we could do to make some money, because after all we will need some for petrol (car) and certain supplies that you cannot just make or grow yourself.

The building in the property is big enough for us and our dogs, I think it has some 70 sqmt, so it's quite good to start with. There are no windows and just one door, which needs to be replaced if we are going to live there for a bit. The area is flat and has a well and a dam. It also has some fruit trees but I don't remember which ones apart from a couple of olive trees.
We have no experience in building renovation either but we can certainly give it a try, after all we will need at least 2 windows and one or two more doors in this building.

Being in Idanha-a-nova you are quite near to the place we want to buy, some 10 or 15 mins drive I think.

So my question would be: What can people do in these areas to make some money? We won't have the luxury of an income so we are looking into doing something there. We thought about planting Hemp but we could not find a processing Hemp plant in Portugal. If anyone knows where there is one, we will be grateful to hear, so that we can plan better.
What are the things that people are doing in these remote and rural areas in Portugal, to make some spare cash for expenses?

Any ideas will be great.

This is also my first post in this site and I would love to meet like-minded people in Portugal who have taken the big step and are happy to give us a hand in achieving our dreams.














 
Pina River
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dear Ayalah

how nice to hear from you! we can't encourage you enough to leave the rat race and come and live here in portugal! its heaven!
we are very curious where your land is. do you know your nearest village? maybe we know some people living near you to put you in touch with them.
although your project must seem huge and daunting from where you are now, actually you will find when you get here that, while it is a lot of hard physical work, you will quickly learn how to do things you've never done before, and you'll easily make a comfortable and productive space for yourselves. its not difficult, you just have to take the step, trust yourselves that you can do it, and just do it!
while the economy is of course very different from the english one, there are many people who live in this area, portuguese and foreigners both, and we all manage to get by. one thing is that the cost of living is a fraction of that in most other countries. if you are happy with a simple lifestyle and are good at economizing you can literally get by on a few hundred euros a month. especially if you have a veggie garden. its hard to say exactly what you can do to earn money here because each person seems to find their own thing to do and its never what you could have imagined before you get here. some examples of what people are doing here to earn money are: making pickles and jams and selling them on the fundao market, acting as translators and helping portuguese people sell their land, running chai shops at the boom festival, baking bread and selling it to other foreigners, offering camping on their land for tourists. usually what happens is that people get here and then they figure out a way to survive. it doesn't work the other way around. also, the most successful strategies are often ones of diversification. so earning money from doing more than one thing. the best tip though is just to spend less!
if we had to give advice it would be to try and arrive here with enough money to last a year. this gives you time to sort out your living space and get to know your environment and make contacts and find opportunities. we are spending about E3000 a year and it has cost us about E2000 to get our place into a comfortable living space. our requirements are quite low though! so we don't have running hot water or a washing machine or anything like that! just one solar panel and a long drop toilet and a solar shower. but thats how we like it! also we do all the work ourselves. all the building work, except for having the hole made in the stone barn for a window. that was too much for us! we also didn't know anything before we came and we have learnt as we went along. most people here do it that way.
so its better if you don't arrive in winter!
don't worry about your dogs, they won't fall in the well! dogs are smart and adapt well to natural living!
the fact that you can already speak portuguese gives you a bigger head start than you are imagining.
if your land has been for sale since 2014 then maybe consider making an offer that leaves you enough money over to live for a year.
when you come over, let us know and maybe we can meet up. come and visit us and see our place.
we will be happy to meet you.
good luck and come soon!
pina and eric
 
Ayalah Namun
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Hi Pina

Thank you so much for your detailed reply! This is what I was looking for! Some optimism!
Perhaps we should have enough to live by for a year in Portugal, after all everything is cheaper than in London for sure! Besides we will not paying for much anyway, no rent, no gas, no water charges, etc....
If you guys are spending some 3,000 euros a year, then there is hope for us! hahaha

The land has been for sale for a while, and we plan to buy it asap. It's close to Salgueiro do Campo. Some 15 mins drive from Castelo Branco.

You are right to say we should just do it. When people think too much they don't do anything at all. But yes, it is daunting! Although I have lived in other countries from a young age, the idea of not having a job or working for wages seems quite daunting. Besides I must take responsibility for the welfare of my dogs. They are my priority, and frankly we want to move to Portugal so they can have a better life, and run around like dogs suppose to do, eat fresh organic food, etc.
We want to keep beehives for honey, so perhaps we can sell some of our produce, I guess. We love honey. We use honey on everything, including for medicine. So I guess you are right. We can make this work.
You gave me some great ideas! Thank you!

We also have low requirements, but we will need some hot water and some electricity. So I have spent this last week planning and researching how to build a rocket stove water heater for a shower, and for other parts of the house, as well as other things needed, such as how to lime render and plaster the walls, make an earth floor, etc. Just really the very basic stuff to start with. A toilet (compost), somewhere to wash ourselves with some hot water, until the basic work is done in the house and water is piped in. I might have to bathe naked in the dam for the first few days. hahahah

We are looking to get some solar power too, but I keep thinking it will be too expensive.

Question: You say you spent 2,000 Euros to get your place in a good living condition. What work have you done to it for this amount of money?

I am asking because we plan to cut the stone walls and put a few windows and doors on the building, as well as re-doing the roof. But that can be done slowly. There is also a broken stone wall that we want to rebuild with cob, and which is joined to the main building. It can become a kitchen or a bathroom.

Do people have to rent a place or stall in the market in order to sell their produce?


Your place looks fantastic by the way! We will definitely stop by to visit you when we come. Thank you! Hopefully you will come to visit ours too when it is done.

Let's keep in touch.






 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
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we have 4 dogs and the place needs to be made secure so that they don't fall into the well or something like that


This is a valid concern - a lot of wells here have mesh covers fitted to them. I've known of dogs who have escaped overnight and there have been search parties sent out to try to find them, only to have them called off with the bodies have been found floating in one of the wells. The wells here are often wide, with low surrounding walls, and dogs don't seem to realise that the surface isn't solid and jump down to explore them.
 
Anna McIntyre
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Location: Scotland (for now)
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Hi Pina and Ayalah

I read your posts with huge interest because I've pretty much made up my mind to buy land in Portugal.
There's a rural plot near Barbaido that's off-grid enough for me- no utilities but with river frontage. Plenty of wildlife.
I'd like to live very simply there and gradually add a small house, veg garden, solar panels and so on.
It's also quite a big plot. I want a big plot so I can leave some of it wild for me to roam around in and do my wilderness things. The rest would hopefully be lovingly cultivated back to productive life.
I'm thinking to let a few people camp there to make some money on the side. Thanks for that idea Pina

Barbaido is very near the place you're looking at Ayalah. It would be good to know some other beginners nearby. And you would both be very welcome to visit if I do end up there.

The thing is I'm single- and that's fine with me for now because I'm enjoying some freedom for a change- so when I go out there I'd like to not be too isolated. It's great to know there are lots of other people there already and doing the same things I'm interested in.
So I really appreciate your offer to help out, Pina. I'm going to contact the owner of the land soon and arrange a viewing so I'll be around Castelo Branco at some point this summer. It would be great to meet some locals for a different perspective and for the invaluable knowledge that locals always have.
Is there anything glaringly wrong with the area near Barbaido that you know of Pina?

Regards
Anna.
 
Ayalah Namun
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Hey Burra Maluca,

Yes, we will definitely make the well safe for our dogs. My smallest one cannot reach it but the big ones can. And they are curious. We thought about placing a metal grid on top of it. And I am also planning to put a ladder inside it. Something that will not rot or corrode. Maybe stepping stones or something, just in case there is an unexpected accident. Someone needs to get down there somehow.

Also my dogs have not been alone in the wild before. I will build a fence where I want them to stay until the area is made totally safe for them. They never saw a snake or a big spider... they might get hurt. But they are big dogs. I have malamutes and huskies.

________________________________________ xx _________________________

Hi Anna

I don't know Barbaido but if it's near to us then fantastic! You can be sure we will come to visit when we are both there.

Got to say that you are very brave to come alone, since you say you are single. If we are there, you will not be isolated and would be welcome in our house anytime.
It is possible that I may be going to Portugal soon too, to buy the land and finalize the details. We might even meet in Castelo Branco. Who knows?




 
T Olive
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Hello
Thank you for posting!
This is exactly what my husband and i are looking to do! We currently live in London and are starting the hunt for land, so any tips that you can provide would be welcome.

We are both very keen on an off-grid lifestyle for our family (2 young ones and a third on the way!). We have decided on Portugal as my grandparents are Portuguese (and i do speak Portuguese) but i don't have any family ties to the mainland.

We will be renting our London property as a source of income and do have some funds saved. How much would one expect to pay for land in the area you mention?
Ideally we would like 10 acres or more. Also are there local schools? Could you recommend any agency website to buy land from?

There is so much to think of but this just feels right!










 
Ayalah Namun
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Hi T Olive

Do you by any chance have a sister called Sofia? I also live in London. But we are sick of it. Sick of the rat race and working like mad without being able to have a life.
Well, my fiancee and I are having the same thoughts of going to Portugal to live off grid. We look at Pureportugal.com and rightmove.co.uk as well. But there are many other sites where you can find good properties.

For 10 acres of land, depending if it has ruins or a building on it... it can cost anything from £15,000 to about £50,000. I remember once checking some land in one of these sites, and it had some 50 acres. I was interested to buy it but it soon got sold and I missed the opportunity. It was about £18,000. Very cheap.

I don't think I will need this much land, although of course, it's always good to have it. And it will also depend on what your plans are. Do you intend to breed animals? Or plant for industry? Or ecoturism?... etc.
Having small children might "force" you to find a place nearer to a city where they have good schools. Unless you want to home-school your children, as many parents do.

I have noticed that more and more Brits are moving to Portugal these days. Perhaps because life here has truly become unbearable.


 
mikel roman
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Hi Pina! I will take you on your invitation also. Me and my partner will be around your area soon, I send you a private message! Thanks for some useful info posted about your region.

be well
 
Pina River
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Hi Anna

Great to hear you guys are considering Portugal. Good choice!! Please send me a private message so I can answer any questions you have.

Thanks and best regards
Pina
 
Andre Lemos
Posts: 55
Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
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Pina is right in all that she said and also Castelo Branco has it all, water, sun, mountains and rivers, friendly people, available farms and a nice district capital and beautifull small villages.

Pina, you know Kenny yes? i think i've met you once but im not sure.
 
Marie Legein
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Hi all,

Me and my partner are also looking for some land in portugal. We want to create a place that is as self sustaining as possible, close to nature, to escape the modern city-life.

We would love to be around a community with like-minded people, so maybe we can start looking in your area. We are planning to visit portugal in the winter/fall to look at some of our favorite properties and to meet people who have done this so we can learn from you.

For now our criteria for the place are: in a nice hilly/mountainious region, ideally if terraces are allready made, walking distance from a village, having some likeminded people around, good acces to our land, water source, a river or well or both, electricity (but we plan on using it only in the beginning and using less and less). Are we forgetting something important?

We also want to learn more about what crops and plants work well in the portuguese climate. And where do you get the seeds from? Also if you have problems with drougt?

We are thinking of living in a jurt in the beginning and slowly renovating a ruin so that in the future we could have volunteers and friends staying.


 
Pina River
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Hi Marie

Great to hear you are interested in moving to Portugal. Its the best place to live! From your list of requirements for your ideal land, I can see you've thought about it a lot. The one thing I would add to the list is fruit trees, and especially olive trees. 40 olive trees is plenty to provide you with enough eating olives and olive oil for the whole year. Yes of course you could always plant trees but we have come to realize the value of mature productive fruit trees. Money just can't buy you that 20 year head start!!

Surprisingly enough, there is very little issue about drought because there is so much more water than we initially expected. Annual rainfall is quite high, just that there are 4 months in the summer without a single drop. The solution is to get creative about harvesting and storing water. We use swales to rehydrate the land with water, ponds to catch rain run-off, a ram pump from our stream to pump into tanks for watering the garden, and tanks at the house to collect rain water from the roof for drinking. With these methods and one well we have enough water for everything all year.

As far as which plants do well, basically all the vegetables that you would expect grow well. Also in the winter the veggie garden is very productive, especially with the green leaves like spinach, lettuce, all kinds of cabbages, broccoli, parsley etc etc. There is a local organisation that sells biological, biodynamic local and regional seeds and we also exchange seeds between each other..

So we can recommend PurePortugal.co.uk for finding land, or just coming to our area and meeting locals with land for sale. When you come to Portugal in the autumn and are still interested in our area, feel free to make contact and if we can help, we will!!

Best of luck
pina
 
Pedro Santos
Posts: 9
Location: Lisbon and Castelo Branco
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Hi all. My wife and I just bought a small piece of land in Sobral do Campo, 20 minutes drive north of Castelo Branco. We are really sick of the city life in Lisbon.
We looked around with real estate agents and got nowhere. It was only when we started taking to people from the local communities that we really got moving. People will do a lot to help you if you give them a chance. Community is everithing!
For now we are there only for a weekend a month, next is 13 to 15 August, then the first weekend of September. We,d love to meet other people in the area.
 
Pedro Santos
Posts: 9
Location: Lisbon and Castelo Branco
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We also have a friend selling some nice land. I'll get tge details and post it here somewhere.
 
João Carneiro
Posts: 67
Location: Portugal, Zone 9
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So i turn my head for a couple of months and this forum comes to life...

I have relatives around proença-a-nova, so i spend a reasonable amount of time around there. If anyone is searching for contacts in that vicinity i might be persuaded to lend a hand
 
João Carneiro
Posts: 67
Location: Portugal, Zone 9
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solar tiny house woodworking
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And what can i tell you about living in my country...

There is truly not a heavy necessity for money(you'll be amazed). But there are some minimal things you should consider:

- health insurance (no idea, a necessity, specially for foreigners from outside the EU, inside the EU i think you are still covered locally by your nacional insurance/social security)
- car (from 500€, you can get cheaper... but, let's leave it there)
-- car insurance( about 150€/year)
-- car maintenance(oil, filters, etc. cheap but varies largelly)
-- car tires (from 15€/tire)
- tools
- powertools
- land(you can buy land really really cheap. A relative of mine has aquired 300m^2 of land for about 150€ at the shore of a stream. Beying here, and knowing and talking to people, is key. I think you could be better/well served by searching for some sort of accomodation arrangement in exchange for some work and later on invest you money with some wisdom).
-- land taxes(really, really, really cheap)
-- building materials(if you buy a bit of woodland you'll be pretty much self suficient)

About people, we are a very warm people. I think there has been some erosion in our culture in this regard, but i guess we are still very hospitable people.

About income, that's the tricky part of the bargain, but there are opportunities. Sometimes it takes a fresh look at things and some diversity that is so common in foreigners. Working for others is a noble and many times profitable ocupation.

About wells... recently one of our dogs fell onto a well, it was saved by climbing to an old metal drum that was afloat in it. The brave firemen took him out some hours later. That well is about 3 meters wide and 6 meters to the water surface. I have one with a concrete lid at my place, it's 2 meters wide and 14 meters deep... keep those animals safe...

About the weather, it depends on the area. I live in the north. It's green, luxurious with abundant water. Far south it changes a bit, turning to a dryer climate specially in the summer. As it is, we still have plenty of water, but are much more cautious with the spending.

About life, it all comes down to what you seek to accomplish and what is your understanding of a good life. This place, my country, is a paradise. You'll be fine here.


ps.: There are sharks in every warm waters, beware of them. (This is a joke, with a purpose.)
- this is all from the top of my mind, so bare with me
 
rudi idanha
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Ola everyone

just wanted to add a couple of things:

Social security (and health insurance): if you register as a small business (farmer) at Finanzas, you can receive social security benefits. Not automatically but after a long process at the social security office. A small business doesn't need to have VAT bookkeeping. Just order some printed sales receipts from your local printer. I have a social security number but I refuse to use any social security benefits.

Moving to Portugal: many foreigners that I have met here are a bit disappointed. It is not easy when you arrive from a  big city to make a transition to a different life "closer to nature". And I am not only talking about a material but also a mental transition. I believe (but it is only a belief) that to really make a transitional move, you have to let go of your own material wants and addictions. It is surprising how many "environmentally aware" foreigners drive around with old stinking cars (as I did in the beginning). There is a music festival here every 2 years (Boom) which promotes environmental awareness. In the end I think it is a little bit fake. People from all around the world travel here by plane and other (very old) vehicles. I wouldn't call that environmental awareness, despite their good intentions. Two years ago I was on the road to Castelo with my bicycle in the traffic jam after the festival finished. It was worse  than a traffic jam in Paris or London.

Dogs: I have 3 big dogs. It's my weakness. They run free. I train them not to kill animals because I have many free range chickens, ducks, geese, goats etc (I feed the dogs raw meat, but I kill the animals myself). The dogs help to keep the foxes away. No experience with drowning, my well has stone steps on the side. But they got trapped in wolf traps-for foxes (6x), strangling traps-for wild boar (3x) and one got poisoned. I saved the poisoned dog by giving a huge dosis of activated coal. There are a lot of half-wild feral dog packs around. Now  and then they kill sheep and goats. And sometimes people think your dogs have killed the sheep. Wolves are very rare but I saw early mornings 2 young male wolves in the Castelo Branco area. They come from the north and hope to establish a new pack. They are great animals, but probably didn't last long in the human predator world...

When you buy land, try not to think that the land is yours, try to think the land chose you...


 
João Carneiro
Posts: 67
Location: Portugal, Zone 9
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rudi idanha wrote:Ola everyone

just wanted to add a couple of things:

Social security (and health insurance): if you register as a small business (farmer) at Finanzas, you can receive social security benefits. Not automatically but after a long process at the social security office. A small business doesn't need to have VAT bookkeeping. Just order some printed sales receipts from your local printer. I have a social security number but I refuse to use any social security benefits.



Hey Rudi, i'm not knowlegeable about this, but i think this is not quite acurate.

chech this out:

http://www.pwc.pt/en/pwcinforfisco/tax-guide/2015/irc/special-payment-account.html

and this

http://www.pwc.pt/en/pwcinforfisco/tax-guide/2015/irc/simplified-regime.html

and there is also the social security monthly payments... but it may turn out to be the cheapest, but most complete,  health insurance you can find...

you can forget about them, but be sure that they won't forget about you...

 
rudi idanha
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Ola João
I am only talking from experience. I started to be a small farmer some years ago (my partner wanted to have a security net), and I was told by Finanzas and Social Security that the rate was 0% under an income of +/- 5000e (for income tax) and under +/- 2000e (for social security). Every year I make my simplified bookkeeping and I fill in my tax return/social security online. I always receive an official confirmation that I don't have to pay tax. By the way I hate bureaucracy but I must say I was surprised by some of the people at Finanzas and Soc. Sec in Portugal. They were very helpful. 
Maybe I am an exception. I have not seen a doctor/dentist/hospital since I was 6 years old, now 50 years ago. And I am also an old peaceful anarchist, so I don't believe in countries, states and tax systems. But that is just me...Understanding all the rules and laws is anyway an impossible task.
cumprimentos Rudi
 
Rebecca Lawless
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Hi everyone,
I have just been reading through this thread and feel inspired. Me and my boyfriend are also buying a piece of land near Castelo Branco, we are going through the process of purchasing it at the moment, although it's taking a while for some reason.

We both live in Spain at the moment and have managed to get enough money together to buy the plot in Portugal, when we move there I think we will be back and forth to Spain for a year or so until we have found a way to make a living and have made the plot our own.

We also have a dog and I do a lot of animal rescue in Spain, so I would like to set up an area on the land for animal haven

We will be living totally off the grid and have a solar panel for electrics from our camper.
The land has natural spring water. Kindly, my Nan is giving me a Tipi so will be living in that for a while until the buildings are restored.

It's great to know that there are lots of like minded folks in the area, and I can't wait to get there and start on the land.

I can imagine the first few years will be hard until we get into the flow.

Hopefully will be coming back in September to sort out papers with estate agent and get it all signed over. Any hints or things we should be looking out for when signing over papers?

<3 ~~~~ <3

 
Andreas Lang
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Hello,
thanks a lot to all of you for that awesome thread! I just finished my PDC and going to come to Portugal next week. In the weeks to follow I´m planning to survey the country for a piece of land, where I can start my own permaculture project. Of course I would also like to have a look at the area around Monsanto, and therefore I would love to get in touch with you, Pina. Any help from all of you is highly appreciated!
warm regards,
Andreas
 
Andre Lemos
Posts: 55
Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
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Hi Rebecca, welcome to the area, i would confirm the farm size area on google earth and also confirm that the sellers are really the owners.
Where is the farm located?
not
Andreas, welcome as well, the optimum choice regarding farms is around Castelo Branco, a lot of sun, enough rain water (still),  water in wells, rivers, etc, good people and a nice district capital. South of the district, prices are too high and water is not enough and north of us it's too much rain and cold
 
Andreas Lang
Posts: 2
trees
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Hi Andre, thanks a lot for that hint, it matches perfectly with the infos I already got. I'm going to be around the district of Castello Branco probably at the 20th, and the days to follow... I'm very curious and excited about what will happen there..
 
João Carneiro
Posts: 67
Location: Portugal, Zone 9
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