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Ana Teresa Silva: Lisbon

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LX Factory

IM Magazine’s Ana Teresa Silva gives us the inside-scoop on living in Lisbon.

What is the housing market like in Lisbon?

The main problem is that although housing prices are pretty similar to those in neighboring countries like Spain and Italy, salaries are much lower. And only the poorest people receive help, so the middle class is really having a hard time these days – especially as both housing prices and unemployment have been increasing in the last decade.

Is there any affordable housing in the city centre?

No, unfortunately not. I wish! If there was affordable housing, it would be gone in 10 minutes – that’s why the few social projects that we have are all located outside of the city centre and popular districts.

What about alternative living/housing projects?

In Portugal, we really don’t have that many good examples. The ones we have are mostly for art and culture, rather than living. And even the few that are for living are hard to find, because they don’t have websites and aren’t part of a network. I only know of two, both very small projects: one near Lisbon, in a city called Sintra, and another near Caldas da Rainha in the north.

Do you know of any alternative housing success stories?

We have the LX Factory [photo], a 23,000sqm warehouse located in a good part of town that used to belong to Lisbon’s most important textile company. It was totally abandoned; then a group bought the property and let small creative companies rent space there. It is now filled with architects, musicians and art galleries. Also, in my neighbourhood about 10 minutes outside the city centre, the mayor cleaned up the slums and moved people into social housing projects.

Do you think there might be more cooperative run initiatives in the future?

For sure. It’s a movement in its infancy. I think timing is important: people are open to different ideas at different times. But we’ve already seen a trend towards sharing resources and wanting to live together. You can feel it happening. For example, more neighbourhoods – especially poor ones – are coming closer together. And even just walking the neighbour’s dog or babysitting their children is a beginning, because we don’t have a history of this kind of thinking. But still, people need more information about it. Right now, they don’t really know how these projects work.

Lisbon stats:

Population 564,432

Average apartment purchase price/sqm in the city centre €2450

Average monthly disposable income (after tax) €900

Density/sqkm 2550

Average rent for a one-bedroom in the city centre €500/month