Torres Vedras – the perfect place for quality living at an affordable price

 In News, Real Estate, Relocating

Think of relocation in Portugal and invariably talk turns to the recent flood of affluent Americans looking for a California lifestyle at half the price in Lisbon, Cascais, Estoril or Comporta.

Or you imagine young digital nomads hanging out in the Algarve in places like Lagos living the sun and beach lifestyle, or perhaps the French enjoying an urbane shabby-chic lifestyle in traditional Lisbon neighbourhoods like Graça or São Bento.

But not everyone is Golden Visa affluent or wants to live in the city where they can’t park and it can take around 40 minutes to get anywhere at peak traffic times. Some want the conveniences of having the city within a 30 minute car drive, but live in the countryside and yet have all the amenities of modern life close by.

So, if you are under 40, thinking of a change and can operate your own business free from frontiers, where do you go in Portugal to have the best of all words — accessibility, an international school, great food, fine wines, a slice of history that takes you back to the Napoleonic Wars, or piece of prehistory that has you following in the footsteps of the dinosaurs?

The answer might surprise. It’s Torres Vedras, a town of 83,000 inhabitants close the Atlantic Coast, full of attractions and activities, a vibrant annual carnival, a tennis club that the locals take seriously; a town with Roman remains, Moorish castles, medieval churches and monasteries, fortresses and manors within a 30 minute radius.

“We spent a long time criss-crossing Portugal looking for substantial plots of land at a reasonable price in which to create a new community for young families and professionals which offers all of the lifestyle and none of the hassle”, says Lebanese entrepreneur Georges Bou Jaoude, the Executive Director of Leap Assets which is behind the new residential community Portela da Villa which will emerge from parcels of land just 5km from the Torres Vedras.

LeapAssets has already been behind the refurbishment of a number of real estate assets in Lisbon, including the beautifully restored Alegria Hotel, a stone’s throw from the city’s posh Avenida da Liberdade.

This project near Torres Vedras (5 km) involves the development of around 260 plots of land which had been part of a residential project that stalled after the Great Recession and Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2011-2015. The price of the land at the time had been high, but the shelving of plans to build at new international airport at Ota to serve the Lisbon region saw the project abandoned and the land has remained fallow ever since.

That is until now. Portela da Villa is an exciting and affordable new urban housing project aimed at young people who cannot or do not want to afford the sky-high cost of homes in Lisbon. In its own modest way it seeks to redress Portugal’s current housing crisis problem in which little new housing has been built for over a decade, and where for every nine homes sold, only one is built.

Lisbon developers LeapAssets got the land – which covers 350,000 m2, of which 140,000 m2 is for above ground residential purposes, but also some plots set aside for trade and leisure orientated services – for a competitive price. The new community will be able to sustain around 3,000 new residents in 800 individual properties with prices ranging from as little as €240,000.

The new development, which is already fully infra-structured with some roads and green spaces, is close to exit 9 of the A8 motorway that links Lisbon to Leiria and cuts trough the famous scenic Silver Coast. The development, work on which has already begun, will be phased and the total €200 million project is slated for completion in 2025.

“More than being just another real estate project, we wanted to be part of the solution to Portugal’s housing crisis which we think the country will continue to face for some years”, says Georges Bou Jaoude, founder and managing partner of LeapAssets.

“Our focus is to create housing for families — whether Portuguese or foreigners — that suits middle class pockets, offering quality housing at affordable prices in a place that have all the amenities and services you’d expect in a vibrant and bustling town like Torres Vedras”, explains Georges Bou Jaoude.

Jorge points out that the sale price for new build in Lisbon stands at around €5,200m2 which is beyond the reach of the average young family.

The high price of land in the capital has not been the only problem scaring away developers from building affordable housing. The rising cost of construction materials by 12% in 2022 and the energy needed to build housing is also prohibitive, which is why the low entry point of the reasonably priced land means that good quality housing at affordable costs is possible at Torres Vedras.

Sebastião van Zeller, Investments and Business Development Manager at LeapAssets also highlights the lack of housing offer in Portugal compared to demand, with the cost of raw materials rising by around 80% over 10 years, pushing up the cost of new housing. In Lisbon, for example, 77% of all new build outside the city centre is above €300,000 and for every nine houses purchased, only one is new.

Not only that, 20% of the active working population, since the advent of Covid-19, are now working from home rather than a conventional office, or are choosing a hybrid work situation.

“Our houses are designed not just to be places in which to live, but also places from which to work, and so Portal da Villa provides a perfect solution for young families seeking a new home in a place where they can enjoy a more balanced lifestyle, with excellent road access and access to a whole range of amenities and services, all for affordable prices,” he said.

The development will offer various types of housing including townhouses with pools, villas and twin-villas, as well as apartments. The townhouses will have areas of between 274m2-282m2 with four bedrooms and covered garage,

The community will be blessed with ample green spaces including a public garden, a dog park, children’s playground, community farm, fitness rack, bird watching point, a local café, amphitheatre for performances, barbecue area, tree climbing facilities, padel court and even a chapel.

In conclusion, Georges Bou Jaoude said the project would only be successful with the support of the public authorities, such as the Torres Vedras Municipal Council whose mayor, Laura Maria Jesus Rodrigues was at the launch of the development in Lisbon on Tuesday. (May 2)

“We have high expectations that this will now at last be developed after waiting for 20 years for someone to invest in this land. It’s so close to Lisbon, taking just 20 minutes, and the project aligns with our policy of focusing on quality development in the area. We’ve seen a population increase, and we want to grow in a sustainable way. Portela da Villa is the kind of quality development we want. What we don’t want is to turn Torres Vedras into a another spillover suburb of Lisbon”, she said.

The history

In 2022 LeapAssets was advised about the availability for the acquisition of two bundles of assets near an urbanisation built 20 years ago, most of which was abandoned. It comprises 267 plots of land. 70 plots were developed over that 20-year period.
“We had searched the whole market, including Setúbal, Comporta, and we decided on Torres Vedras because it had all the right ingredients of accessibilities near a full-solution town, with beaches nearby, administrative bodies, shopping facilities, banks, a private national and international school. In short “everything to have an easy and happy life” says Georges Bou Jaoude.

Places to visit

There is no shortage of places to visit in and around the Silver Coast. The medieval town of Alcobaça with its monastery and haunting legend of King Pedro and Inês is close, while those who like to combine history with walking can explore the long line of fortifications and lookout towers built under the orders of the Duke of Wellington (Linhas de Torres) during the Peninsula Wars to keep the French from taking Lisbon. The medieval walled town of Óbidos famous for its chocolate fair, and the seaside towns of Caldas da Rainha, Lourinhã (famous for dinosaurs), Nazaré (where Garrett McNamara surfed the largest wave on November 1, 2011 | 78 feet (23.77 meters), and the charming town of Peniche with its famed seafood restaurants and infamous fascist era prison museum, are all within easy reach.

About LeapAssets

Founded in 2020, Leap Assets is a Portuguese real estate consultancy company based in Lisbon offering investment solutions with differing risk and return models. As entrepreneurs, the founding partners began their activities in Portugal in 2015 in the hotels and residential area. They created LeapAssets a property consultancy and portfolio management company with assets in Lisbon, Marvila and Torres Vedras.