Cost of Living in Lisbon: The Breakdown

Written by:
Last updated on June 12, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 10 minutes

Living in Lisbon is no longer as cheap as it once was, particularly when it comes to rental costs.

Although there are more expensive restaurants and coffee shops than there were a few years ago, most of the other living costs have risen in a much less dramatic fashion.

It’s still possible to find a lunch menu for less than €10 if you look hard, a glass of wine for €1-2, a coffee for 50-60 cents, and to keep your utility costs low by being careful (read: wearing a jacket indoors in winter).

That’s not to say these costs haven’t gone up. They have, but it’s always possible to find a cheap alternative. That’s much harder when it comes to buying and renting property, however.

Note: Just because you can get a beer for €1 or a meal for less than €10, don’t assume that’s where you’ll end up eating and drinking. There are also bars where a glass of wine costs €4-5 and a main dish costs €15-20, and these are the places that expats and young professional Portuguese tend to frequent.

Can I afford to live in Lisbon?

One of the most common questions people ask is “can I afford to live in Lisbon?” Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to answer that question as everybody spends money differently and everyone has a different definition of “living comfortably.”

Do you know how much money you spend currently and what you spend that money on?

Most people don’t. They know how much they earn (although a lot of people don’t know how much actually goes into their bank account each month) but they don’t tend to stick to a budget or keep track of what they’re spending money on. They just make sure they don’t hit zero each month.

If you want to know how much it’ll cost you to live in Lisbon, look at how you’re spending money now. Go through your receipts and bank accounts, work out what all your outgoings are, and try and find out how much each of those expenses would cost in Lisbon.

It’s a bit of a headache, and it’ll take a few hours to do, but it’s worth it.

Living Costs in Lisbon

Renting an apartment

Rent will probably be your biggest cost in Lisbon. Monthly rental prices for a 1-bedroom (called a T1) in the city centre start from around €600-700, but it’s rare to meet someone (especially an expat) who’s paying that.

€1,000 seems to be closer to the average, although you will meet people who are paying twice that.

Read more about rentals in Lisbon

Renting a Room

A room in an apartment, if you end up flatsharing, starts at around €200 but typical prices are closer to €400.

In Lisbon, it’s not uncommon for flatshares to contain 4+ bedrooms (even 10+ sometimes) and you may want to spend €50-100 more so that you can live with less people.

Read more about finding room rentals in Lisbon

Staying less than six months?

The rental prices above are for long-term rentals, but many people visiting Lisbon stay for less than six months.

Short and medium-term apartment rentals (28 days – several months) are usually more expensive and harder to find (medium-term room rentals aren’t too difficult to find, however).

Airbnb does allow hosts to set monthly pricing for stays that are longer than 28 days, but it’s still rare to find apartments for the €1,000 per month mark. Some people are able to negotiate the price down, particularly if they are staying for longer than 28 days.

Spotahome and Flatio are two websites that cater to medium-term rentals. Between them they have several hundred medium-term rentals in Lisbon.

Eating out in Lisbon

Eating out depends a lot on where you eat. It’s still possible to get a 3-course lunch menu with wine for less than €10 from a Portuguese tasca, but you’ll struggle to get a main meal for less than that if you go to a more contemporary or international restaurant.

The average price of a main meal in an upmarket Portuguese or restaurant serving international food is probably around €14 or so.

Coffee is the same. You can get an espresso for somewhere between €.60 and €1 in most cafés in Lisbon, and a pastel de nata from €1 or less, but go to a hipster café and your costs will double.

Grocery shopping

Groceries are still very affordable in Portugal, particularly if you live near a decent supermarket. This can make a big difference to your living costs, and also what you’re able to buy, so look out for a decent sized supermarket (Lidl, Pingo Doce, or Continente, for example) when you’re house hunting.

If you don’t find one, but do have a decent market that’ll be fine. Portuguese markets are great for fruit and vegetables, meat, and fish, and often more affordable than the supermarkets.

Alcohol costs

Alcohol is fairly affordable in Lisbon, but it depends where you buy it. Head to the Bairro Alto, for example, and you can get a beer for €1 or a cheap cocktail like a Caipirinha for €2 or so. A glass of wine in a Portuguese tasca should similarly costs €1-2 on average, while a supermarket bottle of wine costs between €3 and €10.

Of course, there are more expensive places in Lisbon as well where you can expect to pay €10 or more for a cocktail. It depends where you go.

Transportation costs in Lisbon

A public transport ticket (valid for the bus, train, tram, or ferry) costs €1.50 and you can get a monthly pass for €30-40 (see prices). Even if you don’t get a monthly pass, be sure to get a rechargeable Via Viagem card to get the cheaper rate. Without this card, you’ll pay almost double on the buses and trams.

Taxis and Ubers (and other Uber-style apps) are also very affordable. A 9km trip from Praça do Comércio to Lisbon Airport, for example, would cost around €10. That said, regular taxi rides quickly add up.

Lisbon is a very small city and, although it’s hilly, it’s easy to get around on foot. Most districts are very small, and you can walk across them in 10 or 15 minutes.

You don’t need a car in Lisbon, so whether you get one is up to you. Parking in Lisbon is competitive, and the streets are often very narrow so you may want to just hire one as and when you need it.

Electricity & Utilities costs

Utilities (water, gas, electricity, and bins) can be expensive in Portugal. For a small apartment, you can expect to pay €100-150 per month for utilities. This can increase significantly if you use the air conditioning a lot or have the heating on a lot.

It’s unlikely your apartment will have central heating, but many aircon units have a heater function. This doesn’t tend to heat the house very well, and can be expensive.


Internet and home phone contracts cost between €20 and €60 per month.

Mobile phones

1 GB of data on a prepaid sim card will cost around €10 per month on average, and each GB unit gets cheaper the more you order. You can get 5 GB for €15-20, for example. Monthly contracts are more affordable in the long-term, and you can often get combo deals for home internet, mobile internet, and TV.

Gym memberships

Lisbon has gyms to suit every need and budget. At the cheaper end of the scale, Fitness Hut costs around €28-€40 depending on the package you choose. Most of the other gyms average at around €70 but can go as high as €200 per month.

If you’d prefer to just run, there are plenty of great areas for running around the city particularly the waterfront between Cais do Sodré and Belém and in Monsanto.

Health insurance

If something goes wrong, it’s good to know that you’re covered. Registering in Portugal will get you on the public health service, but many people prefer to have private health cover as well.

Language classes

If you’re moving to Lisbon on a long term, you’ll want to learn Portuguese.

Expect to pay around €25-35 for a private Portuguese lesson through a language school. Booked individually, you can expect to pay somewhere between €15 and €20 for an hour-long lesson.

Group language classes vary considerably in price. Expect to pay between €9 and €30 per hour-long class. Some people like to do an intensive course, which is very effective but more costly upfront, while others prefer to do a few lessons per week over an extended period of time.

If you’re strapped for cash, we have a list of free resources for learning Portuguese. There are also quite a few language tandem meetups where you can swap lessons in your native language for Portuguese.

Shopping (clothes etc.)

As well as groceries, you’ll probably have a few other shopping expenses for clothes, maybe a new laptop, books, and other purchases. Some people shop a lot, and others infrequently, so only you can really estimate how much this will cost.

Portugal can be quite expensive for a number of items, particularly books, electronics, and appliances. A lot of expats and newcomers to Lisbon shop at Amazon or other online stores, or have larger items like appliances and furniture shipped over to Portugal as this is usually more cost-effective.

Bank accounts

If you move to Portugal long-term, you’ll need to open a Portuguese bank account. You can use a non-Portuguese bank account for withdrawing cash, and making card payments, but you’ll need the Portuguese bank account for paying bills like your utilities.

Most Portuguese banks charge a monthly fee that’s usually somewhere between €5 and €10 per month, although some will waive that fee if you keep a minimum balance in your account.

If you only need to use your bank account for withdrawing cash, you can probably get by without opening a Portuguese bank account. If your bank account is in another currency, however, this probably doesn’t make financial sense. Currencies fluctuate all the time, and it’s best to keep an eye on the exchange rates to see when it’s best to send over a large chunk of cash to your Euro account. Currency transfer sites like Wise (previously Transferwise) typically offer a much better rate than the bank.

Lisbon VS other parts of Portugal

As the capital city, living costs are higher in Lisbon than living costs in the Algarve or in Porto. If you don’t need or desperately want to live in Lisbon, you’ll get a lot better value for money in other parts of Portugal.

Portuguese salaries VS these living costs

Portugal has some of the lowest salaries in the EU. 

Some Lisboetas live on salaries of €500-800 in Lisbon, but that doesn’t really mean that you as an expat can. Many of these people have lived in Lisbon for decades and have fixed rent that’s often less than €100 per month. Those rents are no longer available and, being honest, the standard of those apartments would be well below what an expat would expect to live in.

Expats tend to have a higher cost than living overall. They usually live in the better neighbourhoods, eat and drink at more expensive restaurants and bars, and have a better (and more expensive) lifestyle overall.

If Lisbon’s cost of living is too high, consider living in another part of Portugal where the cost of living is lower. Porto is slightly cheaper, while the rest of Portugal has a much lower cost of living.

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [Disclaimer Policy]
Written by

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.

Spotted a mistake? Suggest a correction

There are 27 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. After having lived for my entire life in the outskirts of Lisbon I moved to Eastern Europe, more specifically, Bulgaria. I have reached the conclusion that it became impossible affording to live in Lisbon with such low salaries most of us take home in the end of the month. My highest-paid job was 550€ gross, because I didn’t have that much experience and I was lucky I didn’t have to pay rent. (Some people would call me lucky because they couldn’t even find a job).

    I decided moving abroad in 2016 because the situation was too difficult, yet I see that it has become even more difficult. I’m a grown-up man and moving back thinking that I’d have to live with my parents is something that I won’t even consider.

    These past few days I was speaking to a colleague and telling him that rents have become way too expensive in Lisbon and that even in the outskirts of the city people were paying 400 Euros for an 1-bedroom apartment. I got extremely surprised as soon I searched for apartments both downtown and in the outskirts of Lisbon. In a matter of 2 years and half since I moved, the prices have almost doubled and the salary remains basically the same.

    After researching a lot through most websites I saw that it was IMPOSSIBLE to find anything for less than 600 Euros where I used to live (empty apartments, without anything at all), and that most places were going for something around 900 or 1000 Euros. I won’t even comment about the city center of Lisbon where I couldn’t find a single studio for less than 800 Euros. Living in a campsite would probably be my only option (which I’ve considered), yet, it is also not that cheap anymore.

    How it is possible to move back? Unless you inherit something from your parents you’re basically screwed. Or unless you make over 3000 EUR gross (because half of it gets nailed by taxes). Still, I’d have to live a miserable life with such salary. How is it possible that in an Eastern European country I make more than the double I was making in Lisbon and my rent goes for 1/4 of the price? Plus, its brand new equipped?

    Going back on vacation? Definitely. Going back to work and live? Impossible and probably never.

    • The situation in Lisbon has become pretty crazy as more and more people have started renting their apartments on Airbnb instead of long-term. The costs have increased so high much there’s no way salaries could be expected to rise to match it. The government really needs to step in and limit the number of short term rentals, as these are drying up the long term rental market, but unfortunately that’s not happening.

  2. I think it’s time for digital nomads to look elsewhere in Portugal. Lisbon is actually one of the worst cities of Portugal, and I am not just saying that because it is 2 or 3 times more expensive. It’s a noisy city (lots of cars and planes), stressful, overcrowded with tourists that don’t even fit the sidewalks and it lacks parks. I really can’t understand this hype over Lisbon. Look at cities like Aveiro, Braga or even the Algarve (Lagos, Faro) where you’ll be way better than in Lisbon.

    • Hi Pedro,

      I think digital nomads mainly just go where there are other digital nomads.

      I expected Chiang Mai to be greener and less polluted. It wasn’t my favourite place in the world, but I’d consider going back just for the ease of being able to meet other people.

      Lisbon is a similar story. Lisbon now is very different than it was 5 years ago when people first started calling it a digital nomad hotspot. Unfortunately, by the time it became one, it also became a popular tourist destination in the meantime.

      I don’t know a lot about the other cities you’ve mentioned, but the Algarve is slowly becoming a digital nomad hotspot. It has the weather and it can be affordable. The problem is that there isn’t a hub city yet and nomads tend to be scattered all over the place.

    • Do you recommend any city near Lisbon?
      I am asking since I will be working in the city center soon and I need to find somewhere to live with my wife and baby daughter…
      Thanks for recommending me!

    • Hi Muhammad,

      That’s a very general question but, in general, people move to Portugal for the quality of life rather than the job opportunities. Portugal is safe and friendly, and a route into living in Europe. Generally speaking, wages are lower than most other European countries so it’s not somewhere that people come for work.

      That’s a general answer though. It depends on the industry you want to work in.

    • There are no jobs here for nationals, we are all leaving so there is your answer. Only rich people and expats can afford to live here and there is a reason the people who stay are taking the most antidepressants in Europe…..

  3. Hi,

    I am thinking to move to Lisbon from out of EU. Lisbon being the capital, the comments are totally understandable. If someone could enlighten me with the education system or school for the kids and the minimum wage in Lisbon ? I have a 7 year old daughter. I am a little worried about her studies.


    • Hi Daril,

      Well, you have the option of both Portuguese and international schools in Lisbon. Obviously international schools are fee-paying, which would raise your cost of living. It would also mean that she would grow up in a bit of an expat bubble.

      As for the minimum wage, in Portugal it’s €600 per month. In Lisbon, it tends to be closer to €800 but the official minimum wage for Portugal is currently €600.

    • Hi Sam,

      Yes, you’ll be able to live well on €1069 if you’re not paying accommodation.

      As I don’t know the job, and probably wouldn’t know anything about the industry anyway, I can’t say whether it’s a good deal or not. It’s definitely enough to live on in Lisbon, though.

  4. Thanks for quick answer, what would it be in NET? I like to go out , have beer, travel around and still save something.
    Is it possible wit this money?

  5. Hi we are thinking of moving to Lisbon. We liked your particle
    suggest tell us what is true. We want a 2B no on bottom floor
    2B appliance and furnish in City Central no car we have a small
    dog? Studio $400.00 USD and 2B a couple said $1600.00 long
    term rent? Is this close or no hirer. Am I being realistic?
    Food seems reasonable but rent seems crazy like it is too high.
    You can rent a studio or 1B for $400.00 in Ecuador some people
    pay her $600.00 but 3 or 4 bed. One more question
    in Portugal if you are over 73 yrs can you still buy personal
    insurance and approximate price and waiting time.

    • Yes, Lisbon has become an incredibly desirable place to live and rents are rising rapidly.

      I would take a look at Olx or idealista (the two main classifieds websites) and just look at the prices, as this is really the only way you can get an accurate idea of the rental costs. $1600 USD is definitely not unusual in Lisbon. In fact, it would be cheap in some parts of the city.

      You can live in other parts of Portugal for a lot less, but obviously it’s not Lisbon. Lisbon is popular, well, because it’s Lisbon. You may want to consider some of the areas outside of the city like Almada, Cacilhas, and maybe Costa da Caparica. Rents are rising here as well, but they’re lower than Lisbon City Centre.

      I don’t know a lot about Ecuador, but I’m sure it’s cheaper than Portugal. The monthly wages and GPD are lower in Ecuador than in Portugal, so it’s bound to be.

      As for the insurance, I don’t know the answer to this one unfortunately.

  6. Hi I am thinking of taking a full-time job that offers 2200 Euros (net) a month. Will my partner and I be able to live in the city center of Lisbon? I’m seeing average costs for 1 bedroom furnished apartments around 1200 euros and am not sure if the remainder is enough for utilites, cell phones, internet, food, etc. Do we need to look outside the city center to live comfortably? Thank you

    • Hi Cassie,

      It’s very hard to say as everyone spends different amounts on things like food and has different definitions on what “living comfortably” means. For me, it would be enough but I have friends who are the same demographic as me and it might not be enough for them.

      Do you know how much your outgoings (utilities, food, etc) are currently?

      As for living outside of the city, again it would depend on your definition of living comfortably. It would probably mean more commuting, and may mean spending on other things like taxis, but yes you would get a cheaper and probably better apartment for your money. It probably wouldn’t reduce most other costs like utilities, internet, food, etc. though.

  7. Hi,
    can you please tell me the best place where I can look to rent a room/apartment for a family, we are a couple, me and my wife. We are looking for a safe place along with a good family feel. Also if you can suggest the area to stay in Lisbon where everything is easily available – like food, groceries, bus stop, metro etc.

  8. Can you comment on the cost of buying an apartment in Lisbon or Portugal in general? In addition to the cost of the apartment itself, are there monthly building fees and utility costs? How do we find out what those are?

    • Hi Joe,

      The monthly fees and utility costs will vary somewhat and you will need to speak to the estate agent for the property you’re interested in buying. In terms of taxes, stamp duty etc, you should budget somewhere between 5 and 10% of the property purchase price.

    • Hi Orien,

      It depends a lot on whether you’re going to rent a place by yourself or share a flat with others. 1-bed apartments are typically + €1,000 here and lots of people are paying + €1,500. There are lots of places around the world where you could live cheaper than that. You can rent a room for €400-500, which is okay but you can get better value for money elsewhere.

      Eating out is cheaper in Portugal, but digital nomads don’t usually go to traditional Portuguese cafes and pastelarias, so you will be paying more for your latte than you would a galão in a traditional cafe.

      However, I think you’re also paying for the community aspect. Lisbon has a huge digital nomad community and there’s always something to do. You could definitely find European cities that are cheaper but you won’t get the social aspect.


Leave a Comment