Cost of Living in the Algarve: The Breakdown

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 10 minutes

The Algarve is a great place to live. More than 300 days of sunshine, beautiful beaches, and a laid-back culture making it a popular place to move to.

The cost of living in the Algarve is also very affordable, particularly when it comes to food and drink. It’s possible for a couple to live in the Algarve on €800 – €1,200 per month, although outgoings obviously vary from person to person: some live on less but some live on a lot more.

Rental costs in The Algarve

The Algarve can be a very affordable place to rent. Monthly rental prices start from around €300 for a basic 1 or 2-bedroom apartment, and there are many apartments in the €400-700 range. You can get a better idea of rental prices by browsing the rental section of the major classifieds websites in Portugal (see: renting long term in the Algarve).

Rental prices are often cheaper inland, away from the touristic coastal towns, but this isn’t necessarily always the case. You can often find affordable rentals along the coast.

If possible, move to the Algarve during the winter or off-season months. Renting during the winter and off-season is considerably easier as there’s little tourist trade, and property owners aren’t thinking about renting their properties over the summer.

Renting during the summer is possible, but it’s easier if you try to get the long-term rates if you start renting a few months before the peak tourist season begins.

Renting for just a few months

Airbnb is a good option for short term renters who only plan to be in the Algarve for a few months. You’ll pay slightly more than you would if you rented privately or through an estate agent, but you won’t be in a six-month contract and your bills will be included.

Some estate agents or landlords will also rent on a shorter term basis, particularly during the winter months as they will have summer rentals that would otherwise be left empty.

Note: You’ll see words like T0, T1, T2, etc on Portuguese property websites. T0 is a studio, T1 is a 1-bedroom property, T2 is a 2-bedroom property etc.

Where to live in the Algarve

Where should you live in the Algarve? It depends on what you want.

If you’re looking to live in a city, Portimão and Faro are the two largest cities on the Algarve. Faro is the prettier of the two and has more to offer tourists; Portimão is more of a functional city. Neither are particularly big: both have a population of around 50-55,000.

Those interested in surfing (or learning to surf) should consider Lagos, Sagres, or anywhere close to the West Coast as this is where the surfing takes place. Sagres is small and primarily made up of surfers, whereas Lagos attracts a variety of different people.

Beaches are plentiful across the Algarve. If you have a car, you don’t need to limit yourself to living in one of the coastal towns like Albufeira or Carvoeiro. Living inland will often be cheaper and is typically less touristy. If you don’t plan to bring a car with you, you’ll probably want to live closer to the coast.

Walkers and hippies (for want of a better word) both tend to like Monchique (the Algarve’s mountainous region), Lagos, and the West Coast.

Eating out in The Algarve

Eating out in Portugal is also very affordable, especially when compared to most other European countries. At a traditional Portuguese restaurant in the Algarve, a main meal usually costs between €8-13.

It’s possible to eat for less than that, especially if you go to a non-touristy restaurant. Many charge less than €10 for a menu completo (starter, main, dessert, and drink). Piri-piri chicken and other affordable dishes are often prices at around €5-7.

Most Portuguese cafes also serve food, and they’re a good place to try traditional Portuguese mains and snacks. A bifana (pork sandwich) usually costs around €1.50-2.50 and a burger or daily special will cost around €5.

For a small beer (imperial) or a glass of wine, expect to pay around €1.50-2.50. An espresso (bica) usually costs between 0.50-0.80 and the irresistible pastel de nata, another 0.80-1.20 on average.

Of course, those are for the more traditional but less luxurious restaurants. The Algarve has restaurants to suit every taste and budget and, as well as the restaurants above, it has plenty of more expensive international, fine dining, and multi-Michelin star restaurants.

Grocery shopping

The cost of food and drink in the Algarve is extremely affordable. Expect to pay around €20-40 for a couple’s weekly shop (less if you’re vegetarian or vegan). The Algarve’s many markets are great value for money, and often have better quality produce than the supermarkets as well.

Brits will find a lot of those hard-to-get products such as mince pies, gravy granules, and curry spices at Iceland in Algarve shopping. Although this shop is called Iceland, it actually stocks both Iceland and Waitrose products. It’s possible to do a weekly shop here, although it would run slightly more expensive than in a Portuguese supermarket like Pingo Doce, Jumbo, or Continente. Lidl and Aldi are both also handy for finding those hard-to-get German products. If you’re really stuck, Apolonia stock a lot of higher end products although they’re much more expensive than the other Portuguese supermarkets.

Alcohol costs

Alcohol is very affordable in Portugal. It’s often possible to find a good everyday bottle of wine for €2-3, although the average is probably closer to €4-5. Most of the supermarkets regularly discount the bottles and so it’s often just a case of stocking up whenever they do.

Transportation costs in The Algarve

Unlike Lisbon and Porto, you really do need a car in the Algarve. You can get around by train, and there is a bus network, but it will definitely limit your ability to see a lot of places easily.

You can either rent a car on a long-term basis, buy one, or bring your car with you to the Algarve (normally for up to six months). UK car owners, see our post on car insurance companies that offer long term car insurance for driving in Europe.

Alternatively, if you only need a car for occasional use, you could rent a car as and when you need it (either from Faro Airport, which often has the best deals on the Algarve, or your nearest rental company). Use or to compare prices from all provides. As a guide, prices usually start at around €10 per day in the winter and €25-€30 in the summer.

Rail travel is extremely affordable in Portugal, especially long-distance. If you buy your train tickets more than a week in advance, you’ll get a discount of around 40-50%.

As an example, here are a few prices for single tickets.

  • Faro to Lisbon: around €10-12
  • Faro to Lagos: around €7.50 – €10.
  • Faro to Albufeira: around €5-€8.

Buses are another option, with a day pass costing around €3-4 on average.

Cycling is another alternative that’s slowly gaining popularity. Many bike hire companies will offer a long-term monthly rate. Alternatively, you can pick up a bike for a few hundred Euros from Decathlon (outlets in Faro and Portimão).

Electricity & Utilities costs

Utilities for a small apartment typically come to €100-150 per month, which covers things like electricity, gas, bins, and water. Of course, this varies depending on your usage. Summers in the Algarve are hot, for example, and you’re likely to have the AC on a lot.

Winters are generally mild but it’s worth noting that Portuguese houses can be cold in the winter, as they’re designed to get rid of heat. This isn’t true of all properties: if your house catches the sun in the winter it may stay reasonably warm.

Most AC units will have a heating function, but the heat doesn’t tend to stick around. Fireplaces tend to heat these properties best, and you’ll find that many of the houses (as opposed to apartments) have fireplaces.

Other costs to consider

Health insurance

Portugal has a public health service, which you can sign up for as a resident. Some people prefer to sign up for a health insurance plan, which will obviously increase your monthly costs.

If you’re visiting the Algarve on a short term basis, you will need some kind of emergency cover. European citizens are covered for a number of emergency treatments under the EHIC card scheme, but this doesn’t cover everything and travel insurance is always recommended.

Language classes

Group language classes usually cost around €60-70 per month while one-to-one classes cost around €15 per hour on average. If you can’t find any classes in your area, consider booking lessons over Skype through Italki.


The Algarve is great for two things: beach and walking. Both of these things are free, which keeps the costs down even further.

Other fun things to do on the Algarve include learning to surf, fishing, and going on a vineyard tour.

For example prices:

  • We paid €40 per person for a two hour surf lesson in Lagos. If you already know how to surf, it’s possible to hire the board and wet suit separately.
  • A tour of Cliff Richard’s vineyard at Quinta do Miradouro costs €7.50.
  • A boat trip around the Algarve caves costs around €30 – €35.

If you like going out, this is very affordable (a beer costs €1 on average) although it’s more of a summer month activity. Excluding New Year’s Eve, the Algarve is very quiet during the winter months.

Shopping (clothes etc.)

The Algarve has several shopping centres like Algarve Mar near Faro, Forum Algarve in Faro, Aqua in Portimão, and Algarve Shopping near Guia. These shopping centres usually have international favourites like Primark, Pull & Bear, Berksha, Accessorize, C&A, as well as few higher end brands like Massimo Dutti.

Bank accounts & currency transfers

If you plan to stay in Portugal long-term, you’ll probably need a Portuguese bank account. Most Portuguese banks charge a monthly fee of between €5-€10, so you will need to factor that into your costs.

If your earnings or savings are in a non-Euro currency, it makes sense to pay attention to the currency fluctuations and to move your money at the most opportune moments. Sites like Wise (previously TransferWise) are also worth using instead of traditional banks, as these do not charge the same fees that banks do.

Co-working spaces

The Algarve isn’t quite the digital nomad hotspot that Lisbon or even Porto has become, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good place for remote workers, digital nomads, and freelancers. In fact, it’s becoming a digital nomad hotspot, particularly around Lagos.

And with Portugal’s new digital nomad visa, it’s only expected to grow in popularity.

The Algarve VS other parts of Portugal

Although the Algarve is more expensive than other rural parts of Portugal, it’s more affordable than big cities like Lisbon and Porto.

The (Costa de Prata) Silver Coast north of Lisbon is often touted as an alternative and more affordable version of the Algarve, although it doesn’t have the same expat scene that the Algarve has. For some people, that could be a pro rather than a con. There’s also the Costa Azul (Blue Coast), near Setúbal and Sines, which is South of Lisbon.

It all depends on what you’re looking for. Portugal’s cost of living is one of the lowest in Europe, but most people moving to Portugal want to either be near a city or near the coast. Those two things raise the cost of living but, for many people, are an essential factor in getting the quality of life they want here.

Have you lived in the Algarve? Do you think it has a good cost of living? Let us know your thoughts and reviews by leaving a comment below. 

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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There are 75 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. We’re coming to the Algarve from the U.S. on January 8th to scout the area as a possible retirement home. Thanks for this very down-to-earth report on expenses.

  2. Hi James,

    Two friends (sisters) are going to Lisbon for a couple of days and then wish to rent a condo in Lagos for 5 days in June. I’ll be joining them. What’s the best way to go about finding a nice inexpensive condo or apartment to sleep three people? Also, is it practical to take a trip to Seville during our stay?


    • Hey Lisa,

      Apologies for the delay in replying! Airbnb is usually your best bet, although can be helpful as well. Between the two of them, they dominate vacation apartments here.

      From Lagos to Seville is definitely doable. There’s a bus! Apart from hiring a car, or using a rideshare service like BlaBlaCar, this is the only way to get between the two places.

      It takes about 3 hours to get to Seville. I’ve done it as a daytrip from the Algarve before, but it’s probably better to do an overnight in Seville.

  3. Hi James,

    Thanks! Should this all transpire, would you be interested in being interviewed for onsite?


  4. Hello James,
    This is all very helpful information. My husband and I are planning to make a trip to The Algarve within a year’s time. I’m working on getting all the paperwork done so that we can make The Algarve our permanent residence, if possible. We’re from USA so will be filling out forms required of us before and once we get to Portugal. Meanwhile, I’m studying about the history of Portugal and learning the language. I have two or three questions I’d like to ask you, but prefer doing it via email. If so, please contact me by email to let me know and I’ll get back to you with my questions.

    Thanks so much for doing this blog.


  5. Hello, we’re a small family of 3, and we’re thinking to move to porto o comibra, do you think that 1200 euros per month is enough to live there? thanks

    • Hi Carina,

      If your outgoings are just rent and food, then it should be doable. I would recommend taking a look at the rental prices on, to get an idea of how much rent costs in both places. I would imagine that Coimbra would be cheaper than Porto, but I’m not sure.

  6. Hi James
    I am an Australian looking at relocating to Portugal around November 2017. You article is terrific, especially the various links. Thanks very much.

  7. Hi James,
    thank you for your report, found it very useful. I am an Aussie who has been living in the midwest USA for a few years and ready to “move on”. The Algarve area holds great appeal to me but not sure why, think perhaps its because as teenager I imagined living in a mediterranean environment, one with sandy beaches and homes carved into a hillside complete with geraniums in window boxes. Anyways my question is more about lifestyle. I have enjoyed immersing myself in other countries/cultures but at times have felt a little isolated as I am a single female in her 50’s. Is it easy to find places the expat community there frequent and socialise? I would really enjoy being part of such a community whilst still enjoying the local culture.

    • Hi Sharon,

      There is a large expat community here, and yes there are plenty of regular meetups like walking groups, book clubs, Irish groups, rotary clubs, etc. I’ll try and do a post with a list of all the different ways to meet people, but I think the real challenge is finding the group that’s right for you. That can definitely take some time!

  8. So good to read all of this. My husband and I will be retiring to Lagos in 3 years. We visited last June and now are so homesick for Lagos already! I’m looking forward to corresponding with others in our same situation. Can’t wait to join book clubs, tennis clubs, language classes, wine tastings, etc. there. I’m a teacher here in the US and hope to be able to volunteer at schools there. Can’t wait to hear more.

    • I would suggest you consider taking a postal subscription to the Algarve English language paper ‘AlgarveResident’.
      This will keep you plentifully informed.
      Also ads which might be of interest for renting or buying.

      PS: I have no personal / financial interest in the paper ~am just making the suggestion.

  9. hi we are looking to move to portugal in the next few months but finding it hard to find acomadation on a budget we need 5 bedrooms and dont want to spend a fortune any suggestions

  10. Hi James,

    Your blog is incredibly useful as I’m hankering to move to Portugal hopefully in the next year. I want to rent for at least a year before deciding whether to buy; what is your view on the effect Brexit will have on us Brits wanting to live in Portugal and how easy (or difficult) is it to find very long term lets in the Algarve?
    Thanks for taking the time to avail us of your in depth knowledge and for keeping your blog simple but informative.

  11. James, I am single, 61-year-old guy from California and wishing to move to Portugal. I very much would like your very sensible opinion. I’m not sure the Algarve region is right for me. I do not play golf nor am i interested. I generally like the more textured side of Portugal i.e Porto, Coimbra, outer Lisbon though I confess that I do not wish to potentially be isolated from a social – even dating life due to the fact that while I will put much effort into learning the language, the reality is I likely will not ever become fluent as I have lived in other countries (Paris one year, Tonga in the south pacific 3 years) and despite tutoring, really trying hard, I was never fluent but sort of functional. So, is there an area of the Algarve that has the texture of Porto, trees, an generous English speaking community but not overwhelmingly, and very near to the water? I have mild asthma and so to many hills are not my friend. Thank you

  12. We want to move to the Algarve. We’ve been there many times. We are from the US. The problem is that this article is called Living in the Algarve Long Term and you keep talking about seasonal rentals etc. What is the cost to LIVE there 365 days a year?

  13. Hi there James;
    My wife an I will be spending 5 weeks ( March) in the Lagos area. We have a condo with a heated pool and we both love the beach so we’re good with that if we can swim in the ocean. We also like exploring and think a car might be handy, particularly if we took 2-3 day trips out of Lagos and up the coast or towards Spain. Would a little car be expensive for short trips?

  14. Hi, This is a very useful site, could I ask please, it is now February 2018, how up to date are your costings/ rental charge estimates , etc?

  15. James, I’m a U.S. citizen and am considering retiring to Portugal when I’m 65. I’m 59 now, and I think I’ll have about $1,700 a month of social security income when I retire. I’ll have about $250,000 U.S. dollars to buy an apartment. I don’t have a lot of money—do you think I’d be able to live comfortably there? Thank you!

  16. I am not James. ( He seems to have gone quiet in 2018 ~hope that will change soon as the information on is top notch. )

    However I can make a couple of suggestions from personal knowledge:
    Do NOT delay in starting to learn Portuguese. If you think it will be similar to Spanish in difficulty ( ie not very ) you are WRONG WRONG WRONG.
    It is much more difficult to speak and even more difficult to understand ( beginning and final vowels tend to just disappear ~ eg ‘obrigado’ is often pronounced just ‘brigad’ ~takes some getting used to. ) You need to study the grammar as well as the pronunciation and the more time you can devote to this before setting off for Portugal the better.
    There are some excellent recommendations for learning Portuguese on this very website.
    Presumably you already know that Porto and Lisbon are both very hilly ~is that really an obstacle for you because if so then it sort of rules them out I would have thought ?
    Or maybe you can get by by just taking things slowly and using your inhaler ? In Lisbon there is the wonderful 28 Tram ~ though it does not get you everywhere.

    If those ( very beautiful ) cities are not in fact ruled out then my suggestion would be ~why not spend a month in each of Porto and Lisbon, and then another month somewhere in the Algarve ?
    No need to make a ‘final’ decision on your resting place until you have had the experience of all of them.
    As to where in the Algarve on the basis of your interest in culture and such I would recommend Tavira ~either the town itself ( very beautiful ) or Cabanas de Tavira which is a few kms to the East and has direct ( ie walking ) access to the sea ……… whereas from Tavira you have to get a short ferry ride.
    One good thing about Portugal is that the distances are not huge – so, for example, if you were to settle in Tavira ( or elsewhere in the Algarve ) eventually, it is a simple matter to get the train to Lisbon now and again ( just one change at Faro ) for concerts / exhibitions etc..
    If the hills do not rule it out I would suggest you start with the Summer School for Foreigners run by the University of Porto

    Subsequent years you could do the one run by Lisbon University and also that given by the University of the Algarve.
    If you are ( or will be ) free from earning and other commitments then consider doing the Curso Anual at Porto or Lisbon Universities ( unsure if the Algarve University does one ).
    The fees are lowish, and I imagine that being signed up to a full year’s course would get you an appropriate length Visa.
    Because journey times are relatively short you would have plenty of opportunity to travel and explore and work out which area of Portugal suited you best for long term residence.
    You might have access to University Halls of Residence ~which could be fun, as well as cheap.
    As to social life : Porto, Lisbon and the Algarve all have English speaking expats , both working and retired.
    Though of course you will want to make friends amongst the locals too ~ although you can get by with English everywhere, as all educated Portuguese speak excellent English ~ you would benefit from being able to at least make efforts in the language ~and for that you need to study and persist ! ( See [1] above 🙂 )
    Check out
    regularly ~would recommend taking out a trial subscription to the printed paper.
    There is also AlgarveResident.

    • Hi Rhys thanks for all your very useful information and yes James seems to have left. Hoping he is alright. I just visited Portugal for the first time a week ago and absolutely loved it. Lisbon, Porto and Caiscais. Would love to see the Algarve next year as researching places to semi retire. I’m 58 single Irish female living in San Diego California also a painter so looking for an artist community to live in. Can u recommend an area in the Algarve for retiring artists? Will rent for a year and then purchase a home. Thanks again for your great advice. Dee

      • Hi Deidre,

        I’m still here 🙂

        I’m not sure about artist communities, so hopefully someone else can chime in. I know places like Monchique have large communities of artists, and the West Coast tends to attract quite a few as well, but I don’t know of any official communities.


    • Yes, these prices are no longer realistic for the Algarves. We are here now in Carvoeiro; considering a future winter destination, and are finding rents high as well as food costs. 15 Euro a day is our typical “eating in” budget without wine or spirits. We were told Portugal was more affordable. And unfortunately, an added 50% on each cent as Canadians.

  17. Yes I agree with John. Rent alone will be at the very least €600. If you live in a small remote village some of your costs might be correct. This needs to be updated.

    • Mariana, Can I go with you? LOL
      Single no children and look just like Liam. Same age too.
      Just kidding about imposing, but there is a good chance I may see you there Jan 2019……..
      Take care good luck..

    • Hi Kim,

      350-450 is quite low for two bedrooms (called a T2 here), but there are some. Any of the sites mentioned in the article e.g.,, etc. are where you’ll find these properties.


  18. Hello James
    I would like to relocate to the Algarve from Melbourne Australia and wondered whether there is any Mediation work for people who only speak English? There is a lot of conflict today and Mediation is a growing area especially in businesses, in schools and in ordinary every day communications. Your thoughts would be welcomed.

    • Hi Lyn,

      I honestly don’t know, but I think it might be difficult to get work in that type of field if you don’t speak Portuguese. While a lot of people speak English on the Algarve, business etc is primarily conducted in Portuguese and it sounds like the kind of thing people would want to do in their native language. Just speculating, though, as I really have no idea.

  19. Howdy,

    I would like to know more about legal status to retire in Portugal. I am a US citizen. Are there ways to stay beyond the 90 days as a tourist? And I would like to travel to other European countries and keep Portugal as my home base. But if I can only do 90 days in an EU country, how can I make this work? Thank you.

  20. Hi James,

    Firstly thank you very much for all the useful information on your website!
    My partner and I, together with our 18 month-old girl, will be going to the Algarve (Cabanas de Tavira) in about 3 months time for our first destination as Digital Nomads! We’re very excited! We plan to stay there for 7 months and hope we can make friends with locals and expats and hook up with other DNs as well!
    We are leaving Ireland where we have spent 4 years (we’re French). We have negociated a 2-bedroom flat for 850Eur, which is not cheap but not so bad as we will be there during the high season.
    Would you have any tip for meeting families with young children? And any tip for buying second-hand stuff (clothes, small furniture, toys…)?
    Thanks in advance 😉

    • Hey Cynthia!

      That’s so exciting for you guys! I think you’ll love it. The Algarve was actually the first destination I experimented being a digital nomad.

      Firstly, be sure to join the Algarve digital nomads Facebook group. It’s a small group, but hopefully you’ll be able to meet some people through it. There are also a couple of expat meetups, but the best thing to do is to have a look through all the different expat Facebook groups.

      For second-hand stuff, your best bet is OLX, the 123 newspaper, and Facebook. It might be worth having a quick look at eBay as well. There’s also an IKEA in the Algarve, which isn’t second-hand, but is quite affordable when compared to typical prices for Portuguese furniture. The

  21. Hi James,
    I’m in my 70s, a single woman who intends to move permanently to the Algarve within the next few months. I have some questions I hope you can help answer:
    1) As an American citizen, I can stay only for 90 days. Can I start the permanent visa application while I am in Portugal (during the 90 days) or go back to the States, apply for the visa and then return.

    2) The visa application requires a lease contract for 3 months. How do I get one from a Portuguese realtor without paying the full amount .?

    3) Can you recommend a realtor who can suggest how to
    find a 1 bedroom apt for around $750/800 a month in Lagos, Portimao, or Faro.

    Thanks a lot for any help you can give.

    • Hi Maria,

      That’s exciting I hope it goes well for you.

      1) I don’t know the answer to your first question, I’m afraid. There is a Facebook group for Americans in Portugal, and I would recommend posting there.

      2) If you’re looking for a 3-month lease, I’d recommend asking a few realtors. You’ll probably find it much easier to get this during the winter months.

      3) I’ve mainly used classifieds sites like Olx to find accommodation in the Algarve, so I don’t have any companies that I can recommend. Hopefully someone else will chime in with a recommendation.

  22. I too am in my seventies, Female. I spent a happy time in Carvoeiro in the sixties when there was very little there. Would now like to consider living in the Algarve but have a large pet family( two small dogs and five cats), whom I cannot abandoned. Do you think anyone would rent to me? A country property perhaps with garden where I could contain them, while I search to buy. What would the reception be for me and my animals.!!!

    • Hi Cynthia,

      That’s a good question. From speaking to other animal owners, I know that finding a place to rent can be difficult. It’s not impossible, though.

      I think focusing on a house in the countryside is definitely a good idea, both for the animals and for increasing your chances of finding somewhere to rent.

      Hopefully some other animal owners will chime in here with their experiences.


  23. Hi there,
    I am 46 years old father of 2 wonderful boys (17 and16) and we are from Canada. We want to move to Algarve region, which city is cheaper and has high school in English?

    • Hi Teo,

      There are really only two cities here on the Algarve, Faro and Portimão, and they’re both quite small (roughly 50k in each). Portimão would probably be the cheaper of the two, but there probably wouldn’t be a huge difference. Prime real estate is close to the coast here rather than cities.

      As for English-speaking schools, the main one would probably be NOBEL. There’s also the Vilamoura International School.

  24. Thanks for the information about the Algarve. My husband and I are toying with the idea of retiring there. I particularly appreciated the information about transportation. We live in the Pacific Northwest of the US, and drive very little but we do keep a car. Is it prohibitively expensive to ship a vehicle from the US to Portugal?

    • Hi Agatha,

      It’s not so much the shipping, it’s the importation that’s the issue. Not only is it expensive to import a car into Portugal, but the paperwork can be complicated as well.

      • Thanks James. We are planning a short trip to Portugal in March to look around. We’ll only be there for about a week. I checked the US State Department website and it said that for such a short visit, US citizens don’t need to get visas – did I misunderstand? It mentioned Shengen (sp). It was several weeks since I read that, so my information might be off. One other question are there agencies that can help with “re-settlement?” We are trying to learn Portuguese, but it is kind of an uphill thing at this point. Any information you have will be helpful. Thanks.

        • Hi Agatha,

          I think what it probably said (which is a little confusing) is that you don’t need a tourist visa but you do need a Schengen Visa. So, yes, you need a visa, the Schengen Visa. This allows you to stay in Portugal (or anywhere in the Schengen Area) for up to 90 days.

          It’s very easy to get, but there are some requirements that you should read up on (e.g. make sure your passport is valid for “6 months beyond the intended date of departure”).

          There are definitely agencies that can help you settle in Portugal, but I don’t have any that I’ve personally used so can’t recommend one. I will try and get feedback from other Americans who have moved to Portugal to see if they have any recommendations. Is there anything that you’re specifically looking for help with?

          As for learning Portuguese, it’s definitely a challenge and especially when you’re not in a country where Portuguese is spoken. If you’re struggling with self studying, which is a skill in itself, you may find it easier to book regular lessons with a Portuguese teacher on Italki.

  25. My wife and I are US citizens (retired) and we want to do an extended stay (12 months) in Portugal. Are there any private agencies that you are aware of that can provide assistance on getting the visa arrangements set up? I’m unclear if we first must come to Portugal on a regular tourist visa and then convert to an extended stay visa. We have adequate financial means and will secure travel health insurance for the duration of our stay.

    • Hi Jon,

      I’m definitely not an expert in this area, but my understanding of the D7 visa (I think this is what you mean) is that you apply for it in your home country and then there is some additional paperwork once you get to Portugal – especially if you want to extend it past a year.

      As for agencies, I haven’t worked with any and so can’t recommend anyone.

  26. Thank you for your information. I’m not quite ready to move. We live in the U.S. and are looking for a place to retire where the climate is good all year and the cost of living is low. I have only been to Portugal once (Lisbon and Sintra) and enjoyed it, but did not look at it with an eye towards living there.
    I am also looking at Panama.

    • Hi Tom,

      For a good year-round climate, the Algarve is definitely the best place to look at. The cost of living is affordable by US standards, but it’s not the cheapest place in Portugal because it has such good weather and nice beaches. Alentejo could be another option if you don’t find it affordable enough.

      I’ve writing a little more about living in Portugal in this article:

  27. Questions still about Limits to visits for Americans, access to health care, residency chances, and issues around purchasing real estate

    • There are expat pages for Americans on Facebook that offer a ton of information. Always, check and recheck information, most is correct but I’ve seen where some people say something is incorrect. I’m planning on moving here in the next couple of years so I’m gathering lots of info too. I’m in Portugal right now to start scouting areas to live. So far, Tavira area (Algarve) is the best.

  28. We are a family of 5 living in the US and considering a move to Portugal, possibly Algarve. One of my concerns is education for our 3 children, ages 11, 7 and 7. I feel they are probably too old to do well in public school as they do not speak Portuguese, but the cost of international school for 3 children seems steep. Would anyone know the rough cost of living in the area with 3 children in international school?

    • I arrived in the US when I was 13, with pretty much no English. It was a bit tough the first few months, but then I got into the groove of things. Kids that age pick up a new language easily and I think your 11 year old ought to be fine – the younger ones obviously even more so.

  29. Hi James,

    Great article. My question has to do with retiring to the Algarve for 3-4 months each winter (ie. Jan.-Apr.). My wife and I are still a few years away but are considering spending the winter months overseas once we retire. To this end the Algarve has caught our attention and so we are just beginning to do our homework and trying to learn as much as we can in preparation for this time. We would be willing to consider purchasing a modest home but are also not opposed to renting on a monthly basis each year if that proves to be the better financial decision.

    What are your thoughts on this and also where would you recommend looking, given that we would enjoy being near the beach (ideally as close as possible), don’t likely plan on owning a car, enjoy immersing ourselves in the history and local culture of a place, don’t need or want the club scene, and mostly wish to enjoy a relatively quiet, moderately active outdoor lifestyle in a beautiful seaside location during the months that I’ve mentioned? Any help whatsoever is appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hi Blair,

      Lots of people come to the Algarve for the winter. It’s definitely doable.

      There are lots of places that could fit your needs. The main issue is that you don’t plan on owning a car so you can probably ignore the Western Algarve in that case. I would read this article to get some ideas:

      There isn’t really a club scene in winter but it sounds like you can probably tick places like Albufeira and Praia da Rocha off your list as well.

      Overall, most places on the Algarve are going to be quiet in winter as a lot of the businesses close up once the tourist season is over.

  30. Hi there. My partner and I are looking to buy a holiday home in the Quinta do Lago/Vale de Lobo area – with a view to moving there in 2027/2028. I am keen to know what costs are involved eg whether there are any service charges payable to resort owners etc…particularly when we take up residency. We have a son who is currently 3 years old…so the plan is to give him senior/secondary education there. Any other web resources that may be useful for us would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!


  31. Hi James, thanks for your time writing the article and responding to the questions.

    we are vegan and planning to move there. do you know if the markets sell veggie “meats” (like veggie burger patty, veggie chicken strips etc) there and also if there are plenty vegetarian restaurants there?

    also if you don’t mind, if we want to buy a property for the golden visa reason, do we need to find a trustworthy agent and is it better to check out the property before purchase (of course) vs online purchase. any guide there?

    many many thanks!

    • Hi James,

      I responded separately about the Golden Visa.

      Veggie meats and other items are becoming more common in Portugal and you’ll find that most large supermarkets in Portugal have a health food aisle. There are also some specialist health food shops like Celeiro (Portuguese chain) as well as a few other independent health food shops. Lisbon and Porto both have lots of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and there has been a big increase of these in the Algarve as well. I imagine there are also quite a few online shops as well.

      That said, it’s still a very new concept here. Most traditional restaurants panic when you mention the word vegetarian or vegan, and you should expect to eat a lot of omelettes and salads (salada mixta) if you go here. If you go to more rural and less touristic parts of the country, it can be even harder.

      On the plus side, Portugal has fantastic fruit and vegetables so cooking at home is a delight.

  32. Cost of Living in the Algarve: The Breakdown
    Hi James,
    My boyfriend and I are looking to move to Portugal for a few months. We are Irish citizens and would hope to find work out there. As 21 year olds, we were looking at the algarve as it seems to be the most affordable. I was just wondering, is it difficult to get a job as English speakers and where would you recommend for us to move that is close enough to beaches etc but also affordable and easy enough to find work?
    Thank you,

  33. It is possible to rent a 2 bedroom flat for £300 pounds per month near a beach. Looking for around 2-3 months.
    Any other advice would be good.

  34. We are visiting the Algarve in October and plan to start our journey in Lagos as we work our way to Villa Real San Antonio. Sadly we have only 2 1/2 days to experience the vibe in the Algarve and 3 days in Lisbon. Can you recommend where I can view long term rental properties that are “Pet Friendly” in the Algarve? We retired last June and moved from the U.S. to Panama. We believe Portugal is a better retirement destination. Thank you

  35. We live in Monte Gordo and things are a lot more expensive here than the prices stated above. We pay 750 a month rent for a 2 bedroom 1 bath 60m2. You’ll pay over 30€ for a meal at decent restaurant and our grocery bill is well over 125€ a week for the 2 of us.


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