Taking a Peek at Property in Central Portugal: Thought Provoking
Updated: Feb 13
33,000 € - 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 176 m² built/70 m² floor area/plot of 4,467 m². 10 minute walk to Rio Unhais, 6 minute drive to Rio Zêzere, 25-ish min drive to the villages of Pampilhosa da Serra and Pedrógão Grande. Simply stunning setting and mountain views. A number of old, ruined stone outbuildings and one good garage. Fruit trees and forest. Terraced. Beautiful. Also a little scary, as will be discussed.
From the idealista listing:
"Village house with several attachments and surrounding land. In a quiet village near Albufeira do Cabril. The villa has 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom. It also has a terrace and balcony with beautiful views. In the basement there is a cellar and storage. It needs some improvement works. The property has 5 attachments. 4 of them in stone where there were storage, corrals and wood oven. Need reconstruction. It also has a spacious garage in good condition. Half of the land area is agricultural, on terraces with fertile soil and fruit trees. The other half is forest land. Property with perfect sun exposure. In a quiet and peaceful village with local coffee. 2km from Albufeira do Cabril and a village with cafes and mini market. Approx 15min drive from the villages of Pampilhosa da Serra and Pedrógão Grande." - Detached house
- 2 floors
- 176 m² built, 70 m² floor area
- 2 bathrooms
- Land plot of 4,467 m²
- Second hand/needs renovating
- Orientation South
- Energy efficiency rating: F (ECI not indicated) - Garden"
The following photo was screen grabbed using Google Map Street View. This scene is about a 10 minute walk away:
To be frank, though, not the greatest roads for walking. Narrow and twisty. But being back-country Portugal, I would imagine almost always empty.
This is Madeirã, a fairly typical village in the area:
I have located the property on Google Maps, but will respect the wish of the advertiser not to reveal the exact coordinates. Igreja de Folgares is very near by, so I will use that as a reference point for measuring distance. Here's a photo of the immediate environment by Luís Gonçalves. It looks like Luis has spent some time in the area, because he also has pics of other nearby villages.
Amoreira Cimeira is the closest small village at 7 minutes away by car. It has two post offices (?), a couple cafes, and likely a mini-mart. As you have probably figured out by now, I love taking screen grabs from Street View, especially when there are people in them. This lady is the archetype of a little old Portuguese grandma.
To Lisbon - 2 1/2 hours
To Porto - 2 1/4 hours
To Coimbra - 1 1/4 hrs - Sizable town with all amenities/facilities
To Castelo Branco - 1 1/4 hrs - Ditto
To Pedrógão Grande - 30 minutes - Village with some amenities
To Pampilhosa da Serra - 25 minutes - Ditto
To give you an idea of the density of houses in the neighbourhood:
This is important, because as should be clear by now, the property is quite remote. Having neighbours is so critical to community, safety, and access to local knowledge and experience. It's good so see there are quite a few families around.
Now, let's consider the property itself with a close overhead image, with the street name blurred out:
I am 99% sure that this is the property in question, but it doesn't match up with the written description very well. The land plot is given as 4,467 m², which is about 1.1 acre. That scale ruler is 64 m across, one side of a square that makes an acre. I just dropped 4,467 m² on to this image and here is what you get:
It's difficult to reconcile the above area with the statement, "Half of the land area is agricultural, on terraces with fertile soil and fruit trees. The other half is forest land." The only forested area nearby is the brushy hill in the bottom right corner, which pulls the property line in that direction, but at the same time I'm quite sure the garage mentioned in the blurb is at the upper left corner of the green square. I don't know. Regardless, there are indeed terraces (in the sense of landscaped terraces), ruined outbuildings, and a garage.
Road access is very good. There is a good amount of distance all around the house, helping with privacy. There are trees helping with that too, but that is another matter for discussion. I might as well talk about the big blazing elephant in the forest.
Portugal, especially interior, rural Portugal, has a real problem with wildfires. The problem is exacerbated by extensive monoculture tree farms growing mostly pine and eucalyptus, two notoriously flammable species. The worst wildfire season in recent memory was 2017, with very large blazes occurring in many inland locations, including this area. It's a hazard when living in forested temperate zones, especially ones that get very hot and dry in the summer. Central Portugal gets very hot and dry. To help combat this problem, the government requires an area around your house to be cleared of brush and undergrowth and, to some, extent, trees. I don't know the particulars of the law (another article on the back burner, so to speak), but I would probably take out a few of those very close trees.
I just discovered this great website - Weather Spark. It is so amazingly useful and great that it will be getting its own entry today. This is the Weather Spark page for Pedrógão Grande.
There you can find yearly stats on a number of dimensions, including climate, air temperature, water temperature, wind, precipitation, humidity, growing season, and a lot more. What is particularly great is that every graph depicting a year can be further selected by month and day. Here is a screen grab for Pedrógão Grande:
There is so much information here, that it takes a bit to synthesize everything. There are a few signifiers that jump out at me. One is "the far-away foreign places with temperatures most similar to..." So: "Tandil, Argentina (6,245 miles away); Maryborough, Australia (10,922 miles); and Yass, Australia (11,145 miles) are the far-away foreign places with temperatures most similar to Pedrógão Grande (view comparison)."
For some reason, I can't get the straightforward temperature chart to print, so we will use this one instead (temperatures are in Celsius because I figured out how to switch to metric):
Growing season is also very useful info:
Finally, cloud cover and rainfall:
So, hot, dry and clear during the summer. Cold, wet, and cloudy during the winter.
Pros and Cons
The Pros first:
The price. Holy shit! I have been restrained on this point up till now, but Holy Shit! 33,000 € is just so little for what you get. I still can't get over it.
The property. It's on the small side at only an acre, but it does a lot with that acre. There are landscaped terraces to provide some flat areas, room for some gardening, established fruit trees. There is some privacy.
The house and other structures. Really both a pro and a con. The pro is that it looks livable with only a few things needing dire attention. The roof looks good, as well as we can can see it. The garage is decent, there is storage in the "wine cellar." The other outbuildings have no roofs, but could probably be adapted for some kinds of storage.
The view and setting. Just spectacular.
The borehole/well/cistern. This is not mentioned in the blurb, but there is something concrete and water-related in the yard. Hopefully a private water source of some kind. Possibly just a cistern.
The neighbourhood. That there is one, with people living nearby.
The extremely close proximity to both mountain vistas and fresh water recreation. From the top of the peak to the bottom of the valley. Walking distance. Admittedly, very steep walking distance.
There are definitely cons:
The fire hazard. I would find it difficult to live in a place with such a high risk of wildfire. I will be watching what happens this fire season with great interest, especially with possible Corona impacts on fire management. We have the same problem here in BC. It just gets so dry.
The house and other structures. The place may be livable, but only just. The kitchen needs immense work. The one bathroom shown here only has a wee shower. The other bathroom is pictured on the advertiser's website, but looks like it has no tub and perhaps no room for one. No tub. Ouch. The rooms are small. The two small bedrooms are very small. The blurb measures the "floor" area at 70 m², but that has to be a mistake:
That's 187 m², and that's only the top floor interior, not counting the addition at the back of the house. It also doesn't count the cellar, the balcony, nor the garage. That figure also doesn't gibe with "176 m² built." I'm not sure what's going on here, given that agents usually err of the generous side when listing area. Again, I don't know. There does seem to be a range in how square footage is calculated and categorized.
The remoteness. This can be pro or con, depending on your temperament. The logistics of having not-inconsiderable drives to have any shopping options at all is always something to take into account. That has a regular, daily impact on your life, and if you don't drive you have to rely on people who do. It means a lot more planning and being very organized because there is no "nip out." Remoteness is tempered by having good neighbours and being a good neighbour.
The smallness and unevenness of the property. An acre is not that big, and usable land is lost when dealing with hills and drop-offs. Terraces help, but only so much. If I'm going to go through the considerable effort of moving way out into the country, I want to have some land to work with. So that's an issue for me. For you, maybe not so much. It also is the case that this kind of hilly environment is less ideal for our youngest son, Rowan.
The heat. It will get very hot here in the summer, but that is true of almost everywhere inland in Portugal.
I love it. I couldn't see moving our family there for various reasons, but boy howdy could this be a great place for the right couple or family of three (four in a pinch). The remoteness is off set by the neighbours and the local setting/attractions. Those attractions include very easy access to two rivers. Speaking of ease of access, this place has it with a nice paved road up to it - not to be sneezed at. The house needs a lot of work, but is habitable in the meantime. I would like to get a very good look at the roof and have some knowledge about the wiring. As ever, internet is critical. Knowing more about the water situation would be helpful. The property does have trees and brush on it, but not nearly as much as some of the photos suggest. I like that there are storage/workshop options. Most importantly, the price is simply unbeatable.
Later - Woah, bit of a game changer here. Above is a screen grab from the new Google Earth. The property in question is indicated by the lightened circle.