Initial rent payment logistics

Hi everybody. I'm a retired American university librarian in the D7 planning stages. My est. departure is late Sept. 2020 and my question is about the logistics of paying rent in Portugal before being able to open a local bank account. My understanding of the sequence is this:

1. Secure housing for a minimum of 6 months, in my case a rental
2. Obtain a contract from the landlord which becomes documentation for the D7 application.
3. Use a utility bill as a basis to obtain an NIF number.
4. Use the NIF number as a basis to open a local bank account.

So what's the best way to deal with the fairly large amount of money required for the initial rent and security deposit, etc. before being able to open a local bank account? Wire transfer services seem to require a bank account as would checks drawn on a US bank account. Traveler's Cheques maybe? Are those even still a thing?

Also, does the rental contract need to be officially notarized or presented in a particular way? I'll be working with the D.C. Consulate, which as of April 15th, 2020 will be outsourcing this process to something called VFS Global. I'm initially looking at Tavira, by the way. Thanks.

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