Buying property is hard to do… (or the trouble with the deeds)

… and why I’m still “urban” for a little while longer.

Portugal is a lovely country: it has plenty of sunshine, the people are lovely and the coffee is great. And it has plenty of property to buy, especially if you look outside of the big cities like Lisbon or Porto. Sadly, much of the rural property is abandoned, often in dire need of repair and restoration. Which  is probably exactly why an increasing number of foreigners tend to buy these places and turn them into anything from B&B’s to workshops, farms, small holdings and palatial residences.

Yet, despite the abundance of empty property, actually buying a place is much less straightforward than you’d think. In fact, buying a place in the sun can turn out to be quite an adventure in itself. If you ever look around on the internet for purchasing advise, it seems it comes with a big “be aware and get advice” in blinking bright neon lighting all over it…. and for a reason!  While in the beginning I dismissed all the talk about the trials and tribulations of buying a place in the sun as something that happens to holiday makers who buy a flat from a ruthless developer, I soon learned that not all of the problems are because someone is trying to fool unsuspecting foreigners. But also, and this is probably especially true in the case of rural property, many problems are simply the result of the way business is done historically here, with no bad intentions at all…

In my case, the first hurdle was dealing with the real estate agents. This was somewhat unexpected, as in the UK, estate agents tend to be highly motivated folks, who are literally chasing after any potential buyer. In Portugal, my experience couldn’t have been different: I was lucky to get a reply to an email inquiry maybe 1 out of 10 times, and then mostly stating that all the information was on their website (even though I usually asked for information that was actually not on the website to begin with).

buying direct…

The solution came in the form of pureportugal, a website where most of the property is advertised by the owners. This meant that I could email questions to the people selling the properties – and usually got an answer really quickly. The downside of this though is that now I am dealing directly with the owner, rather than someone necessarily experienced in selling property, which explains the problems with the deeds that followed. That said, from countless stories on the internet, it seems even a slightly clueless but well-intentioned owner is better than a disinterested estate agent. So maybe this is a blessing in disguise.

of deeds, licenses and men…

So, here came hurdle number two: the trouble with the “deeds” and “licenses”.  This is probably the most complicated and confusing part of the property purchase to navigate. Basically (or rather as far as I understand by now….), the land is divided up into either rustic land or urban land. That means, rustic land is land that is used for agriculture and has no buildings on, like a field, olive grove etc… Urban land is land with a building on (or it could have a building on it).

The next problem then is what sort of building: buildings can either have a license to live in, a license to use the building for agricultural purposes (think shed), or to use it for touristic purposes (like a B&B). Seems fairly straightforward, but it is anything but… As you can imagine, many of the places in the countryside have never really changed hands, and therefore many deeds and licenses are hopelessly out of touch with what is actually “on the ground”. Some farmers may have build a shed on land that isn’t supposed to have one, while others may have constructed houses or annexes, or even swapped land with neighbours etc…

This isn’t really helped by a stifling and complicated bureaucracy, which means that many people just never caught up with having the right deeds and licenses in place. Or the deeds are entirely out of date, like missing out buildings altogether or showing much smaller buildings than the actual buildings are etc…

The problem, however, comes when the place is sold – as then the licenses and deeds should be correct, or otherwise, the purchase might end up having to correct all of this, including incurring fines and even potentially having to demolish buildings. And, of course, any alterations can’t be done before the correct licenses are awarded.

This entire subject area is so complicated, that just about everyone I ran into who bought property here had some sort of horror story to tell. In that sense, I think I am quite lucky to have a lawyer who seems to have checked all this out and insisted that all of the licenses and deeds are 100% correct before the final purchase. Of course, things were not quite correct, …

the choice

Basically, at that point, I had to make a choice: I either look for another place, or I stick with the place that I like and wait for the process to complete.  Reading how other people have literally ‘abandoned’ plans to purchase upwards of a dozen properties because of the problems with the deeds and licenses, I decided to try and stick with this property. After all, the property I have set my eyes on seems to offer everything that I wanted, and in a location that is amazing. Having made that decision, my lawyer suggested putting a time limit into the contract: so if the legalisation hasn’t happened within a year, I can pull out and look for another property. With this reassurance, I decided it was a gamble worth taking, and, fingers crossed, I won’t need to go to plan B, visit lots and lots of other properties and hope that they have the right paperwork…. and start everything all over again. As luck would have it, shortly after deciding to stick with plan A, I was also lucky enough to be offered another contract for work, which meant that I was stuck in Lisbon until the summer anyway. In that sense, it seemed like a good choice to hold on and wait. Which also explains why I’m still in the big city, rather than in the countryside.

Unfortunately though, the process of legalising an existing property is indeed fairly exhausting – and time consuming.  My place as a buyer is very much that of a spectator in this steeplechase, but I really feel for what the vendor is going through. He has faced any possible hurdle that I could imagine: from the dossier being sent to the wrong department, forgotten to a barrage of visits, questions and requests, and the authorities are definitely not making this process any easier.

The side effect of this is, however, that the vendor and I have now become pretty close friends: Over the last few months, we have regular meetings for lunch, going on excursions together and having small updates about the trials and tribulations of the legalisation process. I have also learned lots about the local area, as the vendor loves to talk about traditions, hidden places and other trivia from the area. In that sense again, I’m quite glad I actually know whom I am dealing with, and not dealing with an anonymous other through an estate agent. I can only imagine how much more frustrating and complicated that would be!

Of course, when I started this ‘adventure’, I hoped to avoid all of this legalisation madness… but, it seems it simply is, more often than not, part and parcel of buying property here. You can be lucky and find the one with the right deeds and licenses, but it seems 9 out of 10 have some sort of problem with this. Or, as my fellow sojourners said: it’s just the way it is. Luckily, after several twists and turns over the last eight months or so, we are hopefully on the home stretch with all the paperwork. So at the moment, I’m keeping my fingers crossed… and stay tuned for updates 😉  …

5 ways to have a #GayAutumn in #GayLisbon

It is the sad fact of summer that soon it will come to an end… but that doesn’t mean your autumn has to be boring! On the contrary, there are plenty of great options to make this the most fun autumn ever in #GayLisbon

1. Get cultured…
The iconic gay and a bit else film festival QueerLisboa returns from 15-23 September, jam-packed with great films to watch.

2. Party, party, party…
Downside of August? No parties. So check out Conga, Spit N Polish and Maria Lisboa for the party schedule in autumn.

3. Get social…
Films, parties, concerts, dinners… Add some social events to your life with the Meetup.com LGBT Social Group.

4. Get active…
It is never to late to join BJWHF for some gay rugby and co… or why not join the HikingGays for some walks?

5. Get naked…
Why not show off your sexy tan-lines (or lack of them) at the Hanging Out Nude Portugal group for gay men and make some new friends.

Above all: have a great Autumn!

Mountains, Beaches and Hippies

A guest post by Anike Marberg

Unbeknown by many people, Portugal has long been a destination for hippies, misfits and those that want to live a different life than the one so often found in many “Western” societies. During the 1970s and 80s, many hippies from Northern Europe, disillusioned by the political and cultural systems and the decline of their movement came to seek an alternative to joining the rat race in their home countries.

Almost secretly, this often overlooked country on the edge of Europe became the new hideaway for those seeking a different life.

Inspired by the beautiful beaches of the Algarve, the rocky mountains of inner Portugal and the near year-round sunshine, many made the trip south, including my parents. Many acquired small farms and lived as self-sufficient farmers, others in small communes while others established small businesses, restaurants and even entire eco-villages.

After living for years in communes in Germany and faced with having to make a choice between taking up ‘proper’ jobs or moving, they set out together for a better life in the sun in 1982. Establishing themselves in the mountains of the West-Algarve, they brought with them not much else but their two kids, a camper van and many ideals and just enough money to buy a small plot of land.

For us kids, living in the sun was a total difference to life in grim and grey Germany. Although the community in the Algarve was much smaller than the community we left behind, it was far more colourful, fun and enjoyable than anything we experienced in Germany. We first lived in a small commune in the western region of the Algarve, were the kids came form all over Europe and even some from Brazil. Playing and being outside became a new way of life. And we explored in amazement our new terrain, the freedom and the wilderness that now became home.

While many Portuguese looked on in puzzled amazement what these foreigners got up to, the welcome was warm and friendly. Curious at times, distant at others, but always in a manner that was pleasant, welcoming and friendly. We soon became friends with some local kids, which meant navigating linguistic, cultural and attitude differences. I still remember trying to explain to a local friend what my parents were doing in this country and why we were not allowed to eat meat. To this day, I’m sure, the now grown up hasn’t quite understood what those strange people did here. But as long as it was fun, it was good enough.

In my early twenties I left to explore the other side of my identity. But after a few years in Germany, I quickly realised that visiting my parents meant more to me than just holidays in the sun. Every time I was back in Munich, I missed the sun, the mountains, the friendly smiles and the happy vibes that made Portugal feel more home than the country where I was born.

When I moved back here in my thirties, it felt like coming home, too. Although I my way of life is different then the way my parents live: I live with a husband, in a comfortable house and with two dogs. Nevertheless, the welcome I received was just the same as the welcome my parents had some twenty years earlier. And I’m loving living here every single day. Even on the rare days where it rains, I’m grateful that my parents made the choice for Portugal – a place I missed so much when I was away.

The Quinta Project – gay retreat community in Portugal

Reconnect to yourself and other gay men with the @gayQuinta co-living community Click To Tweet

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live together with other gay men on a farm?
Maybe you want to take a break from bustling city life – and just disconnect for a few weeks?
Or maybe you want to just be yourself, and stay in a relaxed community with like-minded guys.

Whatever your answers, you should definitely check out the Quinta Project: a gay co-living community and retreat centre forming in Portugal, based on the values of urbangay.

The Quinta will offer medium-term co-living in a rural setting for gay men: from a few weeks to a few months, for guys who want to disconnect from big city life and reconnect to themselves and other men. Based on the mission to offer a unique experience, the Quinta Community will be a unique and different alternative to escape to – away from to stressful and demanding urban life. The idea is to offer a safe, supportive, inclusive and non-judgemental space for guys from all over the world, where you can connect with others, live, learn and exchange ideas and form friendships away from the hurried and often superficial city life.

A key principle setting  the Quinta community apart from just a shared living space will be the emphasis on community-based social and learning experiences. Upon joining, guests will become “contributors” to the project itself. The Quinta will provide shared spaces, meals and social events for everyone. And in addition, all contributors are also asked to organise at least one event for the other community members during their stay. This could be a yoga session, a guided workshop, a talk, screening or anything else that the member wants to share with the group. This way, everyone is encouraged to bring a piece of himself to the others, and the other contributors can learn something from every guest at the Quinta.

At the moment, the Quinta Community is looking for a suitable location. With plenty of summer shine guaranteed, the Quinta is building a body-, age- and sex-positive community to share a rural habitat, where a group of men can live respectful, towards nature, the environment and other men.

To find out more about the project and see how it develops, head over to the project webpage or follow them on Twitter or Facebook. The urbangay newsletter will also have major updates as the community and project progresses, so don’t forget to look out for them in your inbox!

July Agenda for #GayLisbon

This month is festival time in #GayLisbon…hopefully you have recovered from Pride last month, because it is time to put your dancing shoes on before the August holidays! So here are all the parties for the month:

Conga Club:
Tensnake – Queen of the Desert
8 July
@TimeOut Market– check their Facebook or Instagram Page for details

Trumps
HOT Season
7-9 July
@Trumps – see their website for details

LesBoat
LesBoat Party
15 July
@on the river – see their facebook event for details

BJWHF
Pit Beach
13-14 July
see their website for details. Actually a sport festival,… with socials!

Maria Lisboa
TBC
Check their Facebook page for details

Spit ’n Polish:
TBC
@ Ministerium Club – check their Instagram page for more details

Meetup.com Group
International LGBT Network Lisbon

Sports in Lisbon
Check this post

Centro LGBT:
More details on their Facebook page (in Portuguese)

For an annual overview of events, see annual LGBTQ+ events in Lisbon (useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon!). To make sure you receive next months list – and all the blog posts in a neat and easy to read format – sign up to my newsletter here (it’s free… and I won’t ever sell your address! Promised!).

For the regulars and a guide to bars, like Finalmente, Trumps, Construction and Co: check Patroc here, or the listing of the best gay bars/clubs in TimeOut Lisboa (in Portuguese).

Got an addition? Get in touch!

Lisbon Gay Beaches

With beach season in full swing, here are a few tips for days where you want to cool off by the sea side close to Lisbon…

Praia 19 / Beach 19 (Costa de Caparica)
Possibly the largest and definitely most famous gay beach of Lisbon. The fame of it helped by a Antonio Da Silva arty porn movie shot there. The easiest way to reach it is to head for Fonte da Telha, using the ferry from Cais do Sodre and then buses 127 or 145 (see here for timetables).  Then, on the beach, head a little north and you will arrive there. Alternatively, follow the directions here – though using the small train from Costa de Caparica is more expensive and times consuming.

Praia da NATO (Costa de Caparica)
If you don’t fancy going to the “big one”, head south from Fonte da Telha and head for Praia da NATO or sometimes called Praia da Adiça. It’s pretty much a continuation of Praia 19, but much less busy. There also isn’t any bar or café on the beach – so bring your own supplies.

Praia do Meco (Sesimbra)
A little further south, is the granddaddy of all nudist beaches in Portugal: Praia do Meco. It’s a little hippie, a little gentrified and touristy by now, but can be quite fun. To get there, catch the bus from Praça Espanha in Lisbon to Santana (207) and then get a local bus to Meco. Not easy, but remember you are visiting history.

Another beach to check out in the “far south” is Praia de Galapinhos between Sétubal and Sesimbra. Again another beach that has been votes best in Europe and lost much of its original clientele … but it is pretty!

If you don’t fancy a trip south of Lisbon, you have two options almost next to each other – but both hard to reach by public transport:

Praia da Ursa (Cabo da Roca)
Voted somewhere to be the prettiest beach in Europe has done more harm than good to this fairly isolated beach. But it is pretty and a few gay guys can still be found among the visitors checking out this beauty spot between Cascais and Sintra. Best reached by bike or car though…. (see google maps)

Praia da Vigia (Carvoeira)
A little further north than Ursa, this is another pretty beach – so far fairly untouched by tourists. But again, unfortunately the transport options are really limited. So the only realistic way to get there is by car (see map here).

Finally, if you don’t really care so much about a beach or fancy cliff climbing, there are the Cliffs of Sao Pedro near to Estoril (map here). The advantage is that it is really easy to reach from central Lisbon by train (Linha de Cascais from Cais do Sodré), but an area of outstanding beauty it is not. A few guys sunbathe nude on the cliffs, but most don’t really care about their tanlines.

Happy Summer!

Agenda for Pride month June in GayLisbon

It’s here! A month of pride! Bear Pride! Lisbon Pride! With the hottest party coming up right on Terreiro do Paço/Praça do Comércio as part of Lisbon Pride. Dance a full 12 hours on Europe’s most iconic square (Yes, it’s the one above!)… Party with the sexy residents of Lisbon until the sunrise over the Tagus… There is no pride in the world quite like it! Can you miss it?

So here are all the parties for the month:

Lisbon Bear Pride
Tr3s bar’s sexy, cuddly, hairy festival!
31 May – 5 June 2017 Lisbon Bear Pride

Lisbon Pride:
Pride March:
17 June: Pride March Lisbon – the march!

24 June: Arraial Lisboa Pride – Pride festival on the Terreiro do Paço/Praça do Comércio – 12 hours party on Europe’s most iconic square. Don’t miss it!

Conga Club:
Tensnake – Queen of the Desert
8 July
@TimeOut Market– check their Facebook or Instagram Page for details

Maria Lisboa
TBC
Check their Facebook page for details

Spit ’n Polish:
Silver
17 June
@ Ministerium Club – check their Instagram page for more details

MeetupGroups
International LGBT Network Lisbon
Cusek Bar LGBT Evenings

Sports in Lisbon
Check this post

Centro LGBT:
More details on their Facebook page (in Portuguese)

For an annual overview of events, see annual LGBTQ+ events in Lisbon (useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon!). To make sure you receive next months list – and all the blog posts in a neat and easy to read format – sign up to my newsletter here (it’s free… and I won’t ever sell your address! Promised!).

For the regulars and a guide to bars, like Finalmente, Trumps, Construction and Co: check Patroc here, or the listing of the best gay bars/clubs in TimeOut Lisboa (in Portuguese).

Got an addition? Get in touch!

May Agenda … for #GayLisbon

It’s almost summer… all the heat, minus the family visiting from the North Pole – what’s not to like?!! So, with ❤️ from Lisbon: Here are the dates for your GayLisbon diary in May 2017.
The must-be seen at party of the month: Lesboa Party… because they are bringing over Brazilian superstar Inês Brazil… who is famous for…. well, just see her introduction video here.

Conga Club:
Fonda: Touchdown
6 May
– check their Facebook or Instagram Page for details

Maria Lisboa
Bootcamp
5 May
Check their Facebook page for details

Spit ’n Polish:
Silver
13 May
@ Ministerium Club – check their Instagram page for more details

Lesboa Party
Silver
27 May
@ Ministerium Club – check their Facebook page for more details

MeetupGroups
International LGBT Network Lisbon
Cusek Bar LGBT Evenings

Sports in Lisbon
Check this post

Centro LGBT:
More details on their Facebook page (in Portuguese)

For an annual overview of events, see annual LGBTQ+ events in Lisbon (useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon!). To make sure you receive next months list – and all the blog posts in a neat and easy to read format – sign up to my newsletter here (it’s free… and I won’t ever sell your address! Promised!).

For the regulars and a guide to bars, like Finalmente, Trumps, Construction and Co: check Patroc here, or the listing of the best gay bars/clubs in TimeOut Lisboa (in Portuguese).

Got an addition? Get in touch!

April in GayLisbon … Eggs and chocolate please!

Getting ready to have eggs and chocolate?  Here are the dates for your GayLisbon diary in April 2017 as far as I could find them. The recommended party of the month: Conga Club… because it is all about getting fit for summer!

Conga Club:
Freedom feels Good
1 April
– check their Facebook or Instagram Page for details

Maria Lisboa
10 Anniversary
7 April
Check their Facebook page for details

Spit ’n Polish:
Silver
8 April
@ Ministerium Club – check their Instagram page for more details

MeetupGroups
International LGBT Network Lisbon
Cusek Bar LGBT Evenings

Sports in Lisbon
Check this post

Centro LGBT:
More details on their Facebook page (in Portuguese)

For an annual overview of events, see annual LGBTQ+ events in Lisbon (useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon!). To make sure you receive next months list – and all the blog posts in a neat and easy to read format – sign up to my newsletter here (it’s free… and I won’t ever sell your address! Promised!).

For the regulars and a guide to bars, like Finalmente, Trumps, Construction and Co: check Patroc here, or the listing of the best gay bars/clubs in TimeOut Lisboa (in Portuguese).

Got an addition? Get in touch!

March Agenda for GayLisbon

Getting ready to welcome spring?  Here are the parties in Lisbon in March 2017 as far as I could find them. The recommended party of the month: Conga Club… because it is all about getting fit for summer!

Conga Club:
Dance for Fitness and Fun
4 March
– check their Facebook or Instagram Page for details

Maria Lisboa
Enigma
3 March
Check their Facebook page for details

Spit ’n Polish:
Silver
11 March
@ Ministerium Club – check their Instagram page for more details

Centro LGBT:
More details on their Facebook page (in Portuguese)

For an annual overview of events, see annual LGBTQ+ events in Lisbon (useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon!). To make sure you receive next months list – and all the blog posts in a neat and easy to read format – sign up to my newsletter here (it’s free… and I won’t ever sell your address! Promised!).

For the regulars, like Finalmente, Trumps, Construction and Co: check Lisbon Gay Circuit here.
And Comunidade Queer & Friends on meetup.com has an agenda of various other activities.
Got an addition? Get in touch!