Updated: Jul 19
It's been quite a while since I wrote up a piece of rural Portuguese property, but this little gem jumped out at me a couple of days ago while watching the Destino Portugal channel on YouTube. It is the definition of a pocket farm - small and contained with good infrastucture, attractive features, and an interesting layout that borders on quaint. At 42,500 Euros ($46,208 USD), it's definitely a bargain, although bringing the house up to livability would require a significant amount of time, work, and money. As always, there are pros and cons, but I think the pros win out handily with this one. The location is the parish of Pampilhal, in the municipality of Sertã, in the district of Castelo Branco.
This article contains many screen grabs from the Destino Portugal video, and I strongly recommend watching the whole thing for yourself:
The tinted composite on the left above is my best guess as to the borders of the property, with the only questionable boundary being the one on the left - I think it's pretty close, though. Unfortunately, neither Nick (holding the camera) nor Paula (the realtor, email@example.com) mention the square footage of the property, nor the square footage of the main house, so some estimating is necessary. I think we are looking at about 2,500 square meters, or just over half an acre. The main house is maybe a 90 square meter footprint (almost 1,000 square feet), perhaps less, and there are an additional two outbuildings. I've spent quite a bit of time trying to pin down the exact location on Google Earth (which would allow more precise dimensions) but so far no luck. That might seem like little property for the money, given the area and what you can get for that price when looking at less developed land. It's that development though, the infrastructure, that helps make this property attractive.
**Edit, Feb 03: I have found the property on Google Earth, so I can now say with some confidence that the area is 1,844 square meters, or about .46 of an acre. The main house looks to be about 93 square meters, or about 1,011 square feet. The Google Earth image also makes it a lot more obvious where the property lines are, making it clear that I missed the very bottom terrace when I put together the tinted map of the plot.**
This larger composite of drone shots from the video is included to show the landscape across the road, behind the property. The fact that the property has a large and hilly pine forest directly across the road is, perhaps, the biggest mark against this place. This part of Castelo Branco is a very high-risk wildfire area, being in the general vicinity of Pedrógão Grande where the huge and devastating wildfire of 2017 started.
Mitigating that risk somewhat is the presence of that road, which would allow emergency vehicles easy access. Also very important is the fact that all of the forest is uphill of the property, with all of the downhill land being cultivated with just sparse trees. Fire likes to travel uphill, and so this aspect of the terrain would help somewhat.
Turning to the positives, there are many. The exposure looks to be roughly northeast facing. That means the 11 well-maintained terraces that make up this sloping plot should get good morning sun. The land is connected to mains power and water, which is always a handy option, but has its own water supply (more on this below) and could easily support a solar collection system, making off-grid a possibility. There was no mention in the video of a septic tank or a soak-away (which would be tough given the confines and the slope), so likely connected to a mains sewer.
I won't say too much about the two-story house other than noting that as is typical, it requires complete renovation from top to bottom with all that entails. There is a relatively new interior cement floor on its second floor that may or may not be an asset. Regardless, the walls will have to be raised when the roof is replaced. Not at all habitable as is, and so any prospective owner who wanted to live on site as they renovate would require a camper van or something similar. None of the terraces look big enough to house a good-sized yurt. A low but sizable stone and block outbuilding (which currently boasts a bread/pizza oven) flanks the parking area, and could easily be converted into a garage or storage building.
As mentioned, the terraces appear to be in very good shape, stone-faced and outlined with many grape vines (wine variety, predominantly) and sporting a number of mature olive trees (around 18?) and some fruit trees. There is also a large pergola growing kiwi fruit. About a third of the way down the slope, next to the pergola, is a spring-fed cistern. That it is spring-fed is an assumption on my part, but a good assumption given that the property also boasts a very cool and unique water mine that has literally been deeply carved out of the granite hillside. It provides water all year long, and so is a massive asset to the property. No word as to its potability, but still invaluable as a supply for the land. I would also imagine that it is refreshingly cool in the heat of the summer.
The terraces divide the considerable slope of the property into 11 levels, each one the size of an ample front yard in Vancouver terms. There's more than enough room for a vegetable garden and a setup for chickens on a couple of the upper terraces, while a lower level could contain a solar array.
Halfway down the plot, there is a second outbuilding that deserves some attention. A stone-walled building with good headroom and two separated rooms, each with their own door. It is designated an agricultural support structure and so would need to be approved by the local council for any official renovations to make it a residential space, but even renovated as an agricultural building it would still be a great place for storage and a quiet retreat.
Because I like doing this kind of thing, here's a labeled pic of the property:
As the above labelled image indicates, there is a path down one border that is shared with the neighbouring plot. This path appears to be fairly narrow and is the main route from the top to the bottom of the property. This means that there is likely a limit to the size of equipment and materials that use this path. That poses little difficulty for things like a lawnmower, wheelbarrow, or weed whacker (strimmer, for the Brits out there), but might prove challenging if the lower outbuilding were to be renovated, for example.
The gallery below consists of screen grabs from the Destino Portugal video as Nick and Paula walk from the top of the property to the bottom. I've included shots of the terraces on the way where possible, and also included a couple of views that give an idea of just how close the neighbours are. Their houses are not that close, in fact, but do sit on higher ground overlooking the property. This brings us to another potential strike against this listing, and that is a lack of privacy. Anything you do on this land will likely be noticed by your neighbours, a situation that can be a benefit or a liability depending on your attitude towards your neighbours.
Here are some Google Earth maps showing location:
Pampihal is about a 20 minutes drive to Sertã, and between 21 to 27 minutes to Figueiró Dos Vinhos, the two closest large towns with all amenities and services. The closest town is Cernache do Bonjardim, only 6 minutes away by car. It's a two hour drive to either Lisbon or Porto, while the beach is about an hour and 20 minutes away. This is about as central as Central Portugal gets.
While I'm not sure exactly where they are located, I know that Kylie and Guy of the Make.Do.Grow. YouTube channel (well worth the follow) are in the Sertã region. Checking out their content would help gain a little insight into renovating an old stone farmhouse in the area.
I think this is a fabulous opportunity to take over a hobby farm that will allow the purchaser to grow the grapes to make their own wine, produce some olive oil, raise some vegetables and a few chickens, and work within a sizable habitation foot print to rebuild a house of considerable size. The view is amazing, the access is great, amenities are close by. Looks great to me.
While I have your attention, let me briefly highlight my newest creative endeavour, Lazy River Design Works. Hawaiian shirts, graphic tees, bucket hats and more emblazoned with vivid and quirky imagery straight from my brain. All proceeds support my efforts to be a stay-at-home Dad for our son, Rowan. He's a beautiful boy with Down Syndrome and Autism who needs 24/7 supervision. Have a look and get yourself something - I would appreciate it!