What you should watch out for when buying land in Madeira – Part 1

buying land in Madeira

There are many stories out there of people falling in love with a place far away, buying properties there and thus making the biggest mistakes of their lives! Well, I definitely hope this won’t happen to anyone reading this post (including the person writing this post, haha) but there are some topics related to this nightmare that I want to share on this blog. The first is about a specific reason why you shouldn’t buy a piece of land in Madeira if you haven’t seen it with your own eyes.

Of course, one might think, “I would never buy a property that I have never seen before,” but the sad reality is that a lot of people do just that. Especially when it comes to super deals, very cheap properties where you think nothing could go wrong. In the worst case scenario, you lose some money, so what? While this is true in some ways, everyone’s goal should be to prevent this from happening. There are far more stories of people buying villas that turn out to be ruins than buying land that they cannot use. But there are so many things that can go wrong when buying land you haven’t seen, too.

In my opinion, there are two main issues to think about when buying land in Madeira. The first one can be resolved from abroad, you don’t have to be in Madeira for that. It has to do with all the legal things: Can I build on this property and if so, what can I build? Is there anyone else who owns this property? Questions like this. This is for most people probably also the more important issue, as nobody wants a piece of land that cannot be used or, in the worst case, is not owned by them.

The other problem that is just as important to me (and the reason why I am writing this blog post) has to do with the roads in Madeira and the access to the property.

They don’t put pictures of the access in the listings

If you want to buy a house and look at the pictures of the house in the listing, in most cases you will see the access road in some of the pictures, as there are always some of the garden or parking spots. However, when buying land, in most cases there is no picture of the access road. One reason for this is that they usually take pictures of the land facing the ocean to give you an idea of ​​the wonderful views you will have from your living room. And they’re right, the views are amazing. But the view of the hill behind your future house is probably also quite amazing!

Madeira’s roads are (sometimes) too steep for me

The roads on this island are so steep and actually there is nothing to compare them to! And I come from Austria, know the Alps and have seen a lot of strange roads in Eastern Europe or in the Caucasus as well. Sure, there is no snow in Madeira (that’s not true by the way) so it doesn’t matter how steep the roads are as much as it does in Austria, but believe me, it’s important. I am adding this picture of what we believed was a ski-jumping hill but turned out to be a rather random road in Porto da Cruz.

At some point we saw a car driving up this road and parking in from of the big yellow house. We had to check it out one day, here is the video (we passed it coming home to Porto da Cruz from the Vereda do Larano hike).

Why do I need a nice access to my property?

First of all, you want to be able to drive this street almost every day, and for me that alone would be reason enough to find a property with good access. The second problem is that you want your guests to be able to visit you. And if you are considering renting out the place or having tourists in your house, consider getting a house with a nice access road. I’ve seen a lot of breathtakingly beautiful houses in Madeira on AirBnB with really bad reviews just because of poor access. Not only is it usually difficult to find the houses on the island, but it is also difficult to find a place to park your rental car safely and even more difficult to find a place from where you can actually start driving the car. Another reason I want nice access to the property is that after a few years I might want to make changes to my property. For example, I could buy one of those tiny houses. But if access to my property after building a house is such that no truck can ever come by and bring the tiny house, then I won’t be able to have one. And this is a serious issue with many homes on the island.

That, my friends, is why you should pay attention to the access in the listings. As I said, in most listings there are no pictures of the access streets simply because they are busy taking pictures of the ocean view. This is perfectly fine. But you might want to try and ask them to send you pictures facing the mountains. Oh, and then there’s one other thing…

Sometimes there is no access road at all

You might not see the access road to the property in the listing because there is simply no access road. In some cases people try to sell their land which is located in the middle of a big field. Sometimes there is the option of building a road (which needs to be done by you) and sometimes it comes with the purchase of another land that will serve as an entrance to yours. And then there are cases when you cannot build a road and you have to park your car a few hundred meters away.

We had a somewhat related issue, as our land was in the middle of a field with no access road. We had to buy another land, which is just a little smaller than the land where we want to put the house, that would serve as access to our land. Well, and guess what? The access road we now have, the one to the property we bought to gain access to our ‘real’ land, is not a real road, but a path that the farmers used. In addition, we are responsible for turning this path into a real paved road. You can see the road in the pictures below.

Fortunately for us, we knew about this before purchasing the land and fortunately for you, we are telling you about it before you buy something that you haven’t seen yet. Peace out, Hana.


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