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 into.


the answer came back:

Sustainable living will be for individuals not a venture like yours, grants you’ll be on a hiding to nothing, because of time they take, terms, restrictions etc, the other problem you’d need to buy first and then keep your fingers crossed you might get a grant, question is what do you do if unsuccessful?
Better to approach Region and see what you might be able to do and how.

If you have similar nearby suggest you check if they are legal and if so how, it would make your project easier, if they’re not legal that that’ll also will tell you something.

Ask to see Caderneta’s it’ll state on there what the land designation is, if it’s several acres of land then the odds are that a small % would be Urbana where the houses are and the rest Rustica
MrBife likes this.

The grant’s were just something we were going to look into but will have no bearing on our decision.

Not sure how I find out if the other places are legit but they all have websites and advertise through reputable tourism websites.

Am trying to track down the contact details for the Regional tourist authorities in the hope that they can shed some light on the situation..

5 Responses

  1. “Remember this is a country which is on it knees financially – only its links with Brazil are keeping it afloat” ….typically a roast beef idea..

  2. Yep, this is bullshit. Sorry, but off-grid living in Portugal is still safe and sound. However you will need some time to fix your paperwork – yurts require regulations, but not everywhere, but if you don’t have any neighbors you will be fine ;)

  3. I agree with Nessa, this text is absurd. Also, it adds no real information for the people interested in creating something new or moving off-grid.

  4. The links with Brasil are keeping it afloat? Do you really do your homework before stating such stupidity? Portugal is afloat deu to the Troika lenders, lots of auterity, less imports and more exports, sector where Spain alone represents 30% , all EU more than 80%, etc. Angola alone is almost 3 time more importante to portugueses exports than Brasil, the same with China. So, wold you care to explain?
    Your british complex of having gene overtake by your ex-colony (the US), in a way than you are kept afloat by them, ais almost ridiculous. Do not try to evoke your fate as benigno someone elses. If you have said Angola I would even tive you a break, but Brasil? OMG

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