Luxury buyers are living it up in Lisbon


Portugal has long been an attractive beacon for real estate investors thanks to its mild climate, low cost of living and lack of restrictions on non-citizens – not to mention stunning natural beauty and culture.

The nation’s capital of Lisbon is the perfect starting point for anyone, local or not, to begin their search for the perfect Portuguese home or pied-à-terre.

“In general, living in Portugal was based on reasons such as the quality of life, the food, the landscape and the mild climate,” said Vanessa Elias, commercial director for INS Portugal – Fine Properties.

“However, many foreigners are now seeking other things, such as a better work/life balance, safety, political stability and a more relaxed lifestyle,” she said.

Lisbon lifestyle

Lisbon, the largest city in Portugal with a population just over 500,000, sits at the mouth of the Tagus (Tejo) River where it feeds into the Atlantic Ocean on the edge of the Iberian Peninsula, shared with Spain.

“The city has become a hub for digital nomads, attracting foreign talent ready to tap into the region’s potential,” Ms. Elias said. “One of the most encouraging qualities of Portugal is that there are no restrictions for foreigners who want to buy a home in the country.”

Although the country just announced it would be ending its “golden visa” program that had granted residency and an easy path to citizenship with a USD $350,000-$500,000 real estate purchase since 2012, it is still a simple process to purchase property there.

Tax incentives such as lowered property taxes, capital gains tax exemptions and the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) system, which taxes some income at a lower rate for 10 years, are added bonuses.

Both modern and historic buildings offer luxury accommodations in Lisbon. Image courtesy of Casaiberia Real Estate

“Property prices are also still quite reasonable in comparison with other parts of Western Europe,” said Paulo Lopes, economist and CEO of Casaiberia Real Estate.

Famous for its historic architecture, colorful tiles and yellow trams, Lisbon also boasts beautiful beaches in the smaller towns that lie along the coast to its west and wonderful weather year-round, with more than 300 days of sunshine.

“The Portuguese capital stands out for its excellent quality of life, good climate, local friendliness, a thriving economy and a diverse population,” Ms. Elias said.

“Lisbon’s culture scene is about more than traditional tiles and fado [Portuguese folk music],” she said. “It has a lively nightlife with plenty of bars, clubs and live music venues. And the city also has a thriving art and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, theaters and international music festivals.”

There is also an abundance of natural sights to take in and enjoy.

“In Lisbon, the Tejo River is undoubtedly a major attraction, offering picturesque scenery and abundant opportunities for sailing and rowing,” Mr. Lopes said.

And “Portugal has a long and varied coastline, meaning you’re not far from the ocean wherever you choose to settle in the country,” he said. “The coast and Portugal’s abundant natural parks offer plenty of opportunities to escape into nature.”

Spacious, modern interiors are big asks for luxury buyers in Lisbon. Image courtesy of INS Portugal – Fine Properties
Prime property

No matter where one settles in the capital’s region, the locale is key.

“Location is at the top of the list for by luxury buyers,” Mr. Lopes said. “Status, convenience, quality of construction, architecture and space follow close behind.”

Luckily there are numerous Lisbon neighborhoods from which to choose.

“Avenidas Novas is considered the glamorous part of Lisbon, filled with skyscrapers, postmodern bling-style luxury hotels and green squares,” Ms. Elias said. “Estrela is known for its grand villas and lush gardens, while Lapa is known for its trendy restaurants and bars.”

Branching out just southeast of Avenidas Novas is the most expensive street in Lisbon, Avenida da Liberdade.

“Avenida da Liberdade is undoubtedly the most sought-after location for luxury buyers,” Mr. Lopes said. “Its traditional architecture and green spaces make it a hugely popular place with foreigners looking for luxury homes in Lisbon.

“The neighborhood is located in the center of the city, close to a variety of restaurants, bars, theatres, concert halls and near a range of shops including designer brands,” he said.

There is also Chiado, teeming with historic architecture and views of the river, and Belém, which is just outside the city center but right on the river and filled with beautiful gardens.

The nearby town of Cascais offers large villas and resort living. Image courtesy of INS Portugal – Fine Properties

“The country offers a wide variety of properties, from traditional villas and apartments to modern condominiums and luxury homes,” Ms. Elias said.

“Lisbon is undergoing something of a renaissance, with a number of new developments springing up around the city offering the best features, such as pools, gyms and spas,” she said. “There are also renovated properties in the best neighborhoods of Lisbon, preserving the historic character of the existing buildings.”

Buyers not only want the best neighborhoods, but modern amenities, large living areas and private outdoor spaces.

The largest, most luxurious homes are found outside of Lisbon along the coast in the resort towns of Cascais and Estoril.

“Cascais was a refuge for exiled kings for many years,” Mr. Lopes said. “It still retains an air of refinement, with numerous places that allude to its aristocratic past.”

Thanks to its many draws, the Lisbon area is sure to continue to be a hotspot for both Portuguese and foreign homebuyers.

“It’s said that the light in Lisbon is different from other cities in Portugal,” Mr. Lopes said. “The sunlight reflecting on the Tejo leaves the city looking golden and magical.”

For a first-time travel itinerary to Lisbon, read “Olá, Lisboa” in the September 2022 issue of Luxury Portfolio magazine.