Portugal matches today’s definition of luxury: authenticity, innovation, and creativity. This is especially true with regards to the investment possibilities in the low-density areas of the country. Investors and the media never tire of “discovering” this part of Portugal that surprises visitors — the off-the-beaten part of the country that provides ample opportunities to invest in property. Indeed, there’s a broad range of opportunities on offer in Portugal’s low-density areas, with more and more investors scrambling to tap into this wealth of opportunity.
One of the reasons for this is because of Portugal’s Residence Permit Program or the Portugal Golden Visa. This is a five-year residency by investment scheme for non-EU nationals, which has become one of the most popular residency by investment schemes in the world since its inception in 2012. Indeed, foreign investments have contributed €4 billion to the Portuguese economy, and recent interest is focusing on the low-density areas of Portugal.
The Portugal Golden Visa Program provides several investment options for investors. However, there are important locations restrictions that apply and the price points vary depending on whether a property sits in a “low density” area of Portugal – one of the key reasons to invest in these areas.
Why invest in Portugal’s low-density area? This guide walks you through the Golden Visa 2022 options, including which areas qualify, and what terms such as “interior areas” and low-density” mean in practice.
Portugal Golden Visa Investment Options
The Portuguese Golden Visa Program for residence by investment is considered one of the best in the world. The program grants a temporary residence permit for non-EU citizens that intend to invest in Portugal. Changes from 1 January 2022 mean that certain location restrictions apply. For a complete overview of the changes, consult this Portugal Golden Visa Changes Guide from our residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions.
In line with the 2020 Golden Visa changes, property investment options include:
To be eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa, the following real estate options are available to investors:
Buy residential real estate in designated interior areas of Portugal that are worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). If the residential property is located in a designated “low density” area, then a 20% discount will apply.
Buy commercial real estate anywhere in the country that is worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). If the commercial property is located in a designated “low density” area, then a 20% discount will apply.
Buy residential and commercial real estate anywhere in the autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores, worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). Note that the entire islands of Madeira and the Azores are classified as high density, so there is no 20% option when investing in the islands.
Which areas are eligible to invest in Portugal with the Golden Visa?
The Portuguese government is looking to nurture investments in the following areas:
Low density areas
Activities of high environmental and social value
Job production and productivity
The Portuguese authorities have altered the real estate investment routes to account for this, in creating a classification system of what areas you can invest in Portugal. These areas are called “interior” and “low density”. It is important to note that these are very different terms.
Here, we will run over these different terms, to provide you with a clear understanding of each.
Interior areas are areas where you can make a residential real estate investment to qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa.
For commercial real estate, there are no location restrictions in place (i.e. you can invest anywhere in the country as long as the property is classified as “commercial”).
This map highlights Portugal’s interior regions. Note that properties that belong to “interior” Portugal qualify for residential AND commercial real estate investment, although commercial properties can be purchased outside the “interior” parameters (highlighted in blue).
Low density areas
Low-density areas are defined as territorial units (NUTS III) that have less than 100 inhabitants per square km or a GDP per capita that is less than 75% of the national average. Low-density areas determine whether a 20% discount rate is applicable to your investment or not.
It is very important note that an area can be both interior and high-density. If this is the case, you can purchase residential real estate but no discount will apply.
Low-density areas are shown in light grey below (areas that fall outside the low-density zone are shown in dark grey).
As an example, you will be unable to invest in some parts of the Algarve for the Portugal Golden Visa. Although it is classified as a low-density area, it is not considered a completely interior part of the country. Currently, some areas that are considered as low-density AND interior areas are Ajezur, Odeceixe, and Sagres, where you will be able to buy a residential property or invest in a residential rehabilitation project.
Invest in Portugal: Golden Visa real estate options
This map provides an overview of the areas of Portugal that are eligible either for:
High-density property investment in non-interior areas (commercial only).
Low-density real estate investment in non-interior areas (commercial only).
High-density property investment in interior areas (residential and commercial, but a discount does not apply).
Low-density property investment in interior areas (residential and commercial, 20% discount applies).
Interior and low-density residential real estate
You can buy a residential property that falls under both the categories of a “low-density” and “interior” area in Portugal. Some properties that will qualify for the Golden Visa will even be in areas that have a high-growth potential – such as the Douro Valley, Aljezur, and Peneda Gerês.
Each of these offers excellent, spacious properties that are very good value for money. You will be able to find properties with a private swimming pool and large areas of land for roughly €400K.
Prices per m2
Real estate investment in Portugal’s low-density areas: 280K investment option
For a basic investment of at least €280.000, investors can purchase a property in a low-density area in Portugal and obtain all the benefits of EU residency through the Golden Visa.
To be eligible for the €280.000 investment option and obtain the 20% discount, the applicant must:
Invest in a commercial rehabilitation project that is located in a low-density area.
Invest in a residential rehabilitation project located in a low-density area AND that is also classified as”interior”.
Advantages of investing in low-density areas
The €280.000 option is very attractive due to:
A low investment threshold, with the opportunity to earn high rental returns.
Very affordable in comparison with other Portuguese Golden Visa options.
In a low-density area, an investor is likely to find much bigger and better properties 2-3 units to rent.
Profitability is around €12.000 per year, which makes the case for owning several units quite attractive.
As the capital needed to invest is low, investors have more freedom for other business investments.
Away from the crowds, these low-density areas of Portugal are great for new beginnings and offer a high quality of life.
Cities in the interior of Portugal are becoming popular with students and, as the young population grows in these cities, the need and opportunity to serve them intensifies
European and local investors buy in these areas.
Yearly growth of 5%
Promising areas to develop eco-tourism, wellness, innovation, and luxury projects.
Other excellent low-density areas to invest in
Peneda-Gerês, the Douro Valley, and Alentejo are pristine areas popular with tourists.
Gerês is one of the favorite regions for investors due to its dense and wonderful Peneda Gerês National Park. It is an incredible place. The famous waterfalls are paradisiacal and a rarity in Europe.
Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Douro Region is one of the most acclaimed areas in the world due to its untouched natural landscapes.
Invest in Portugal: Full list of low-density areas
The full list of 165 counties and 72 parishes that are categorized as low-density are outlined below.
Low-density counties in Portugal: 1. Abrantes 2. Aguiar da Beira 3. Alandroal 4. Alcácer do Sol 5. Alcoutim 6. Alfândega da Fé 7. Alijó 8. Aljezur
9. Aljustrel 10. Almeida 11. Almodôvar 12. Alter de Chão 13. Alvaiázere 14. Alvito 15. Ansião 16. Arcos de Valdevez 17. Arganil 18. Armamar 19. Arouca 20. Arraiolos 21. Arronches
22. Avis 23. Baião 24. Barrancos 25. Bej 26. Belmonte 27. Borba 28. Boticas 29. Bragança 30. Cabeceiras de Basto 31. Campo Major 32. Carrazeda de Ansiães 33. Carregal do Sal 34. Castanheira de Pêra 35. Castelo Branco 36. Castela de Vide 37. Castro Daire 38. Castro Marim 39. Castro Verde 40. Celorico da Beira 41. Celorico de Basto 42. Chamusca 43. Chaves 44. Cinfães 45. Constância 46. Coruche 47. Covil 48. Crato 49. Cuba 50. Elvas
51. Estremoz 52. Évora 53. Fafe 54. Ferreira do Alentejo 55. Ferreira do Zêzere 56. Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo 57. Figueiró dos Vinhos 58. Fornos de Algodres 59. Freixo de Espada à Cinta 60. Fronteira 61. Fundão 62. Gavião 63. Góis 64. Gouveia 65. Grândola 66. Guarda 67. Idanha-a-Nova 68. Lamego 69. Lousã 70. Marção 71. Macedo de Cavaleiros 72. Mangualde 73. Manteigas 74. Marvão 75. Meda 76. Melgaço 77. Mértola 78. Mesão Frio 79. Miranda do Corvo 80. Miranda do Douro 81. Mirandela 82. Mogadouro 83. Moimenta da Beira 84. Monção 85. Monchique 86. Mondim de Basto 87. Monforte 8. Montalegre 89. Montemor-o-Novo 90. Mra 91. Mortágua 92. Moura
93. Mourão 94. Murça 95. Nelas 96. Nisa 97. Odemira 98. Oleiros 99. Oliveira de Frades 100. Oliveira o Hospital 101. Ourique 102. Pampilhosa da Serra 103. Paredes de Coura 104. Pedrógão Grande 105. Penacova 106. Penalva do Castelo 107. Penamacor 108. Penedono 109. Penela 110. Pedo da Régua 111. Pinhel 112. Ponte da Barca 113. Ponte de Sor 114. Portalegre 115. Portel 116. Póvoa de Lanhoso 117. Proença-a-Nova 118. Redondo 119. Reguengos de Monsaraz 120. Resende 121. Ribeira de Pena 122. Sabrosa 123. Sabugal 124. Santa Comba Dão 125. Santa Marta de Penaguião 126. Santiago de Cacem 127. São João da Pesqueira 128. São Pedro do Sul 129. Sardoal 130. Sátão 131. Seia 132. Sernancelha 133. Serpa 134. Sertã
135. Server do Vouga 136. Soure 137. Sousel 138. Tábua 139. Tabuaço 140. Tarouca 141. Terras de Bouro 142. Tondela 143. Torre de Moncorvo 144. Trancoso 145. Valpaços 146. Vendas Novas 147. Viana do Alentejo 148. Vidigueira 149. Vieira do Minho 150. Vila do Rei 151. Vila do Bispo 152. Vila Flor 153. Vila Nova da Barquinha 154. Vila Nova de Cerveira 155. Vila Nova de Foz Côa 156. Vila Nova de Paiva 157. Vila Nova de Poiares 158. Vila Pouca de Aguiar 159. Vila Real 160. Vila Velha de Ródão 161. Vila Verde 162. Vila Viçosa 163. Vimioso 164. Vinhais 165. Vouzela
Low-density parishes in Portugal:
Águeda União das freguesias de Belazaima do Chão, Castanheiro do Vouga e Agadão União das freguesias do Préstimo e Macieira de Alcoba Amarante Ansiães Candemil Gouveia (São Simão)
Jazente Rebordelo Salvador do Monte União das freguesias de Aboadela, Sanche e Vázea União das freguesias de Bustelo, Carneiro e Carvalho de Rei União das freguesias de Olo e Carnadelo Vila Chã de Marão Amares Bouro (Santa Marta) Goães União das freguesias de Caldelas, Sequeiros e Paranhos União das freguesias de Vilela, Seramil e Paredes Secas Caminha Dem União das freguesias de Arga (Baixo, Cima, e São João) União das freguesias de Gondar e Orbacém Castelo de Paiva Real Condeixa-a-Nova Furadouro Guimarães União das freguesias de Arosa e Casteiões Loulé Alte Ameixial Salir União das freguesias de Querença, Tôr e Benafim Marco de Canaveses Várzea, Aliviada e Folhada Ourém Espite União das freguesias de Freixianda, Ribeira do Fárrio e Formigais União das freguesias de Matas e Cercal União das freguesias de Rio de Couros e Casal dos Bernados Pompal Abiul Ponte de Lima Anais Ardegão, Freixo e Mato Associacão de freguesias do Vale do Neiva Bárrio e Cepões Beiral do Lima Boalhosa Cabaços e Fojo Lobal Cabração e Moreira do Lima Calheiros Estorãos Friastelas Gemieira Gondufe Labruja Labrujó, Rendufe, e Vilar do Monte Navió e Vitorino dos Piães Poiares Serdedelo Porto de Mós São Bento Santarém União das freguesias de Casével e Vaqueiros Silves São Marcos da Serra Tavira Cachopo Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo Tomar Olalhas Sabacheira União das freguesias de Além da Ribeira e Pedreira União das freguesias de Casais e Alviobeira União das freguesias de Serra e Junceira Vale de Cambra Arões Junqueira Valença Boivão Fontoura União das freguesias de Gondomil e Safins União das freguesias de São Julião e Silva Viana do Castelo Montaria Viseu Calde Cavernães Cota Ribafeita São Pedro de France União das freguesias de Barreiros e Cepões
Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa
Once the temporary permit is granted, investors may:
Freely travel within the Schengen Area.
Apply for family reunification.
Live and work in Portugal.
Obtain permanent residence (after 5 years, subject to terms and conditions).
Obtain Portuguese citizenship (after 5 years minimum, subject to terms and conditions).
Get in touch
If you have found your dream property in Portugal, seek help from a specialized property investment firm such as Goldcrest. Experienced professionals guarantee purchase advantages, and work through the requirements, hidden costs, and fine print smoothly and efficiently.
Contact the Goldcrest team to access exclusive information on the property market in Portugal and find out how much you can save on your international investment.
Frequently asked questions about low-density areas in Portugal
What are the low-density areas I can invest in?
The low-density areas of Golden Visa Portugal are divided into two categories: municipalities and parishes. The entire interior of the country is made up of low-density municipalities that can represent good investment opportunities.
How much do I need to invest in a low-density area?
At least €280.000 investment in the rehabilitation of real estate in a low-density area is needed to obtain Portugal’s Golden Visa.
Can I get residency if I invest in real estate in a low-density area?
Yes, if you invest in a low-density area of Portugal and obtain the Portuguese Golden Visa this gives you access to live and work in the country as a resident with all the advantages that are associated with that position.
You can discover more in this exclusive chapter of our new e-book Your Expert Guide to Buying Property in Portugal that you can download for free right now.