August 10, 2013

Thinking of starting an off-grid haven in Portugal? Forget it

Over at https://expatforum, they have been debating the possibility of starting an off-grid ecolodge. Remember this is a country which is on it knees financially – only its links with Brazil are keeping it afloat.

But the welcome given to entrepreneurial, frontiersmen types is, shall we say, frosty?

“I am currently looking at property in the South West and hoping to start up a small scale Eco lodge,” said a newbie poster called Speago.

“We have seen a few suitable property’s with land and would like to put 2/3 Yurts, caravans or log cabin’s on the land with regards to starting up a small tourist business.

We would like to be as self sufficient & Eco friendly as possible. Would love to hear from anyone that could give any advice or helpful information with regard to starting this type of business.”

But a regular poster called Canoeman poured cold water on the idea

“Many people want to dodo this, but if you want to be legal then it is not an easy matter, the big stumbling block is land designation, this type of project by it’s nature requires Rustica or farm land and it is extremely difficult to get the correct permissions for yurts etc, also virtually impossible to legally run services like water, electricity and drainage.

Reserve/Ecological & Agro Florastal land very very unlikely to get permission for anything

Urban land or building land can be built but also attracts a premium because you can build – but yurts still difficult.

So it comes down to people doing it under the radar or going through the bureaucracy of a full blown “project for tourism”

The Government has stated this year that it is actively going to enforce current laws on “AL” licencing (holiday let licences) and the Algarve is always in the spotlight for this type of thing.

I suggest you speak to the Regional Tourist Authorities and get some idea on what type of project would be likely to succeed, costs and how you go about it before committing yourself to a purchase

Speago replied

Hi canoeman

Thanks very much for the reply. The property’s we are currently interested in are near Algarve’s West coast. They are not farmland but not sure if they will be classed as rustica. I know there are a couple of similar ventures near buy, and also a couple of campsites in the area. The property’s are both habitable and come with several acres of land. We want to keep is as low impact as possible and do what we can to improve the land.

We want to do everything by the book and get all relevant permission. So I guess the regional Tourist authorities will be my first port of call.
I have also read there are E.U grants available for sustainable living projects, which is also something I need to look …

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