• Justus Hayes

Homestead in the Middle of a Silves, Algoz, and São Bartolomeu de Messines Triangle

Updated: Aug 18

As usual, I will have to return to this post. Here are links and photos in the meantime.


São Bartolomeu de Messines, 280,000€ - 2 separate houses of 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom each, compound style. Kind of a pool, 320 m² built, 160 m² floor area, 20,000 m² plot, very cool converted garage, privileged location.


I find the built/floor m² a little puzzling. Floor space of 160 m² divided by 2 buildings is only 80 m² per building, and that seems small given the photos. My guess is that each is about 160 m².


Advertised by RE/MAX Albufeira Smart. From idealista:



"Property located in Lavajo, São Bartolomeu de Messines, with 2ha of flat land, excellent for agriculture projects, with 2 2 bedroom apartments, 2 car garage that is converted into a cellar, with irrigation tank that in summer serves as a small pool, plus a plot of land with attachments (oven, storage and kennel)."


Built in 1988. Energy efficiency rating: F



Thanks, Google! I guess. Mixed feelings about Google.


Location


- 15 minutes to Silves

- 10 minutes to Algoz

- 15 minutes to São Bartolomeu de Messines

- 30 minutes to Portimão

- 20 minutes to Praia de Armação de Pêra


You definitely need a car or a scooter or something to live here. Nothing is within walking distance except the bus - the 118 travels R. de Lavajo right past the driveway. Likely one of those takes-forever, wandering country buses, though. Because this is the country all right, flat as a pancake, fields for miles in all directions.


Woah. Game changer. I just realized you can print Street View to pdf. Here we go:



Tangent


Ok, we are entering some interesting territory here, both literally and figuratively. Interesting and problematic enough that it deserves its own dedicated post on this blog, which I will do at some point. Here's the problem. The idealista listing format for advertisers allows them to indicate on a specialized Google Map feed the location of the property they are representing. 99% of the time, this location is not exactly specified, as "The advertiser prefers not to show the exact address, but it's in this area..." The thing is, it can often be very easy to locate said property on Google maps, especially when the property is in a very sparsely populated area, like this one. If I make public the coordinates of the property, like I have just done here, I am violating that preference. Yet anyone can do what I just did in about five minutes. Complicating matters further, this is extremely valuable and pertinent information. If you were thinking about buying a property, wouldn't you want to see what it looks like from the street and "walk" around the immediate area?


Nested Tangent


Here's an anecdote, and it's a long one but a good one. When I started using idealista to look at properties, I begain in Spain, specifically Barcelona, followed by Sitges. I chose Sitges because I had visited there one afternoon when I was 18 with a couple of high school friends. Nice beach. I found a beautiful hotel for sale at around $1,500,000 CDN, two minutes walk to the water, in the Old Town, 3 floors, colourful and traditional style, a converted fisherman's home, just amazing. I really wanted to see it from the street but was faced with challenges. Because it was just one more building in a street-long row of buildings, there was nothing particularly distinctive about it from above. No certain style of swimming pool, no peculiar driveway or lawn shape, no particular configuration of outbuildings. None of the clues I usually use to identify a property from space.


Now that I write that sentence, what a fucking incredible world we live in. Good lord! And what a weird and extremely specific hobby I have developed. "What do you like to do in your spare time?" "Oh, the usual. Gardening, listening to podcasts, sleuthing properties in Portugal using satellite imagery. You know how it is."


In fact, let me dig this place up. I know I emailed it to myself. I will be back. And I will post this in the meantime.


Here we go. The idealista listing. Here's just a taste of how beautiful this place is - I really do recommend visiting the listing and seeing the 43 photos for yourself:


Advertised by ENGEL & VÖLKERS


The immediate neighbourhood as indicated by idealista was Sitges' Old Town, right by the water and a marina (I think), not very large but very dense as you can imagine - narrow streets and alleys. I used Street view to wander around for a while, trying to think of a way to find this place. Eventually I hit on the idea that the only thing I knew for sure faced the street was the front door and window, as seen on the inside wall of the photo on the left above. That gave me a configuration and, possibly, a colour to proceed with. There's no guarantee that the door and window are painted the same colour on the outside, but they usually are. Armed with this knowledge, I returned to Street View and looked around. It soon became apparent that the colour in question, a particular shade between indigo and blue, is the signature colour of the area. It is used for trim and details frequently. Furthermore, the arched door shape is also very common, and an arched door with a window to the left almost as common. Finally, I focused on the shape of the windows in the doorway, the placement of the mail slot, and the shape of the grill work over the window. Bingo! Welcome to Carrer de la Carreta, 13, Sitges, Spain.


When I examined the street from above, looking for nearby businesses and whatnot, I noticed that the hotel shares a wall with "Zona X cruising bar." Not exactly a peaceful haven of tranquility, and definitely something I would want to know about if I was interested in buying this place. Ok, tangent over.


At any rate - location, and the fact that this property has a fantastic one. Being in the middle of an area featuring a variety of beautiful, historic and iconic villages/towns to choose from goes a long way. Errands become a lot more interesting. It's a fair drive to the beach, of course, 20 minutes or more, but that's just the case when living deep in farming country.


Features


Details about this place are few and far between on the idealista page. The existence of a cistern/dipping pool suggests an irrigation system, which of course it has to have as this is an agricultural property.


Once again, housework and errands beckon, but I will leave you with this:

I really do wonder if this could get me shit from somewhere. Only one way to find out. Of course, if I do get grief, I will modify my practices. At least, publicly. Privately, I will continue to dream-stalk properties all day long.


I'm back. Time to wrap this up. So, as the above shows us, privacy is limited with this property. "Our" buildings are part of a clutch of buildings, with either one or two immediate neighbours. If I had to guess, I would say that our buildings are the ones from 11:00 to 1:00, one neighbour is at 8:00 to 10:00 (the orange roof and grey roof, with pool to the left and their dooryard bisected by a driveway), and the third neighbour having just that wedge at 7:00 right up against R. de Lavajo. I would also guess that the sloppy diamond of undeveloped land (from the colour) with its right-hand corner touching the bus stop is not our land, while the slightly darker sloppy diamond just above it is. I only point this out because, if true, someone else's land is literally in our front yard.


20,000 m² equals almost 5 acres, so there is a goodly chunk of land behind the houses, from the look of it not tended now but recently. From an agricultural perspective, the flatness of the land is a bonus. From a Justus perspective, some trees, shade and landscaping are in order. In fact, the facades of the buildings would really benefit from a profusion of greenery, giving it a town-square feeling.


I wonder about the ramifications of "swimming" in the cistern, really just a plunge pool. Surely not chlorinated. Just perpetually supplied with fresh water that is replenished when crops are watered? Does that mean my son's pee is watering the oranges?


No mention of air conditioning, no mention of internet, no mention of fireplaces and I can't see any in the pics of the living rooms. The homes aren't huge but are big enough for a small family each. Kitchens are very dated but functional, although they could use more counter space. Bathrooms not bad; having only one per house sucks, though, speaking as a man who currently lives in a basement suite with only one bathroom. I really like the converted garage, or "cellar," so called because clearly that is where the drinking gets done. A good place for communal meals.


Conclusion


I don't know, this is a is a tough one. On the one hand, I love the location and the fact that the property can functionally house two small families with access to a large-ish piece of agricultural land. That land is a bit of blank canvas, lots of options. On the other hand, you are really cheek by jowl with your neighbours, which can be great or terrible. And the exterior would take a lot of work to achieve an oasis feeling rather than the feeling I get from it now, which is a hot, dry, spaghetti western feeling. What do you think?

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About Me

Justus Hayes. Husband, dad, scenic painter, container gardener, Vancouverite, Algarve enthusiast

 

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