With a temperate climate, medieval castles, beaches, olive groves, vineyards, wooded hilltops and a soon to be completed new airport, the Alentejo region of Portugal has much to offer foreigners seeking an attractive and quiet European getaway. With residential home prices in Evora ranging from 50,000 to 120,000 Euro ($72,000-172,000) and an affordable cost of living, this UNESCO World Heritage city in the Alentejo region is an affordable option for international real estate investors and retirees. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
It’s late November, but warm enough to lunch outside under the orange trees. I’m in a sunny square in Evora, a walled city in Portugal’s Alentejo region.
Preserving a Roman aqueduct, baths, and temple ruins, Evora’s roots go deep. But the overall feel is medieval and Moorish.
Handsome houses with faded coats-of-arms. A leafy park with gazebos adorned with azulejos, Portugal’s iconic painted tiles. Secret passageways. Art-filled churches. A macabre ossuary chapel lined with human bones…
Bizarre, gothic, irresistible. The bone chapel (in Sao Francisco’s church) was my first stop. From floor to ceiling, its walls are packed with skulls and bones—removed from graveyards in the 16th century to make room for new arrivals. A deliciously disturbing inscription above the door translates as “Our bones wait for yours.”
A living museum? In part, yes, but there’s more here than heritage. Evora is also a university city of 55,000 people; 14,000 live “within the walls.” So it’s odd that the two real estate agents I’ve met don’t know of any agency handling tourist rentals. Although Evora has UNESCO World Heritage status, it’s almost as if the idea is new.
The Algarve aside, mass tourism has barely impacted on Portugal. The Alentejo is a prime example. A land of beaches, olive groves, vineyards, castles, and gorgeous little frontier towns perched on wooded hilltops, it has everything barring an airport.
But hold on. A $47 million project to transform an old military airbase at Beja is now almost completed. With capacity to handle 1.5 million passengers a year, the talk is of budget airlines using the new airport, delivering an influx of Brits, Germans, and Scandinavians.
As yet, few foreigners know of the Alentejo’s attractions. Tourism marketing is very low-key. Why, I don’t know. The region isn’t impossibly remote. Hemmed by the Atlantic, it lies between Lisbon, the Algarve, and the Spanish border.
You’ll find good food (delicious roast sucking pig) and stonking red wines—often less than 7 euro ($10) a bottle in local restaurants. At chestnut fairs and country markets there’s an extravaganza of flowers, veggies, cheeses, olive oils, honey, live poultry, and bric-a-brac—I went to one in the nearby “marble town” of Estremoz.
Habitable village houses often surface for less than 50,000 euro ($72,000). Plus there’s no huge overhang of unsold developments. As with much of Portugal, the Alentejo escaped the building frenzy seen elsewhere in Europe.
That said, I saw an old Evora convent that had recently been restored into luxury apartments. Every one had sold. The same developers are currently transforming a 17th-century mansion in the historic center. An 854-square-foot apartment is 120,000 euro ($172,000).
Or you could buy a small restored 645-square-foot townhouse for 100,000 euro ($144,000). Two-bedroom apartments for long-term rental in Evora start at 450 euro ($645) a month.
This article has been republished from International Living.