Portugal Cost of Living: The Breakdown

By James Cave / Published: August 2018.
Posted in: Money & Finance

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Portugal is one of the most affordable places to live in Western Europe. Combine that with beautiful weather, great food, and it’s easy to see why so many people are choosing to make Portugal their home.

All kinds of people choose to make Portugal their home, and Portugal has even attracted a few celebrity faces over the years. J.K. Rowling lived in Porto where she wrote early sections of Harry Potter, Madonna has as a house in Lisbon, and Cliff Richard has lived on the Algarve.

Of course, for such a small country Portugal is very diverse and lots of things differ depending on what part of the country you’re in. The Algarve, for example, has mild winters, whereas Northern Portugal and The Azores are much wetter. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, has seen a huge increase in tourism and city centre rental prices are disproportionately higher than anywhere else in the country.

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So, while Portugal has great weather and a great cost of living overall, it’s best to look at things on a regional basis (we have guides to the cost of living in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve to get you started).

Regardless of where you end up, Portugal can offer a great quality of life and a very affordable one as well. Even with the rise in the cost of living in Lisbon, it’s still Western Europe’s most affordable capital city. Likewise, house prices have risen considerable in the Algarve but they’re still well within the reach of many retirees from Northern Europe, North America, and Australasia.

Rental costs in Portugal

Rental costs vary across Portugal, and even within regions themselves. In the Algarve, for example, rents can vary depending on how close you live to the coast. Rather than pay the coastal rental prices, many people choose to live inland and then drive to the coast as and when they want to visit. Towns like Lagoa and Silves are just 10-20 minutes from the beach by car, while the mountainous region of Monchique is just 30 minutes away.

As apartment rental prices can range from €100 per month to more than €1000 per month, the easiest way to estimate the rental costs it to look at the classifieds adverts for that region on a site like Sapo.pt or OLX.pt Doing this, you can get a better idea of what rental prices for that region are.

Property prices in Portugal

If you decide to purchase a property in Portugal, that’s another cost to consider either as an upfront cost or as a mortgage.

Like rental prices, property purchase prices vary considerably across the country. Apartments can cost as little as €20,000 in some parts of the country to hundreds of thousands and even millions in other parts.

As with rental prices, it’s best to look at house prices for the region you’re thinking of living in using a site like Idealista, Sapo.pt, or OLX.pt.

Eating out in Portugal

The cost of eating out in Portugal is extremely affordable, and many expats living in Portugal can afford to eat out almost every day. A lunch menu or menu do dia can cost less than €5, although typically costs somewhere between €5 and €12, and this often includes wine as well. A coffee, especially a bica (espresso), might cost €0.50 or less in rural parts of Portugal, and even in Lisbon rarely costs more than €1. Dinner is slightly more expensive, although you can still find main courses for less than €10.

These prices are for traditional Portuguese dishes at traditional restaurants and pastelarias, which are typically simple in their decor and ambience. Head to somewhere upmarket and the prices will increase.

Non-Portuguese cuisines can be more expensive although this isn’t always the case. There are plenty of affordable Chinese and Japanese restaurants in Lisbon and plenty of affordable Indian restaurants in the Algarve, for example, but it can be difficult to find affordable Mexican food. This is simply because Mexican food is in vogue, and all of the restaurant put a higher-than-average pricetag on their meals.

Wine in restaurants is also affordable, at least for a very drinkable but simple bottle of wine. A bottle of wine starts from around €10 in a restaurant, and many traditional restaurants will often have a cheaper vinho de casa (house wine).

Grocery shopping in Portugal

Grocery shopping is also very affordable in Portugal, particularly when it comes to basics like fruit and vegetables, fish, and meat – essentially, anything that’s grown or caught in Portugal.

Brand name products are usually more expensive than other countries. Cereals, for example, along with international brand name household cleaning products are much more expensive than in countries like the UK, Germany, and USA.

Alcohol costs

Alcohol is very affordable in Portugal, both in supermarkets and in restaurants and cafés. A drinkable bottle of wine starts at around €3 in the supermarket, and averages at around €5-7. For many people that move to Portugal, this is perfectly adequate. Portugal has wines to suit every budget, though, and you can find plenty for €20-50 and for as much as several thousand Euros.

Wine in cafés is also affordable and can cost less than €1 per glass, but usually costs somewhere between €1 and €4.

Naturally, Port wine is also affordable, and a bottle of Port starts at around €3-6. As with wine, there are ports to suit every palette and budget and there are plenty of medium-priced ports (€10-50) as well as those in the expensive category.

Beer is also affordable, especially if you stick to Portuguese beers like Super Bock and Sagres, and a beer in a café typically costs €1-2.

Transportation costs in Portugal

Transportation costs are affordable in Portugal. A metro ticket in Lisbon costs €1.45, and starts from €1.20 in Porto.

Taxis are affordable in Portugal, and taxi apps like Uber, Cabify, and MyTaxi are even more affordable although these taxi services aren’t available everywhere in Portugal.

Intercity train travel is also cheap in comparison to other countries. It’s possible to get a return ticket from Lisbon to Faro in the Algarve for around €20, for example, which is a very affordable for a 3-hour journey. Intercity bus travel is also very affordable.

Outside of cities like Lisbon and Porto, you’ll probably want to have a car which will add to your monthly outgoings. While car insurance is not particularly expensive in Portugal, buying a car in Portugal is. Secondhand cars, in particular, are much more expensive than they are in other European countries like the UK. Fuel is also expensive, and many people who live on the border fill up in Spain where it’s cheaper.

Electricity & Utilities costs

Electricity costs in Portugal can be expensive, particularly if you run the aircon constantly. For a small apartment, you should expect to pay €100-150 per month for utilities.

One thing it’s worth mentioning is that houses tend to be cold in the winter, even in warmer regions like the Algarve. Although Portugal can have cold and damp winters, especially in the North of Portugal, the houses are designed for the months of the year when it’s warm – namely the expel heat rather than retain it.

Some aircon units have a heating function, but these don’t heat the room effectively. You can get central heating installed, but this is quite expensive. Fires and wood stoves tend to be popular, particular in rural areas, and are some of the most effective ways of keeping a house warm in the winter.

Phone and internet packages vary from between €20 and €60 per month on average. Some of these bundles will include a mobile phone contract, or you can this out separately instead either as prepaid (PAYG) or on a monthly contract.

Other costs to consider

Health insurance & Healthcare

Many expats who move to Portugal choose to take out a health insurance policy rather than rely solely on the Portuguese national health service. Others find the public health service to be perfectly adequate, while others again primarily use the public health service but pay for some treatments privately out of their own pocket.

Health insurance costs vary from person to person and can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand Euro per year. One-off visits to a private doctor vary considerably, and are very difficult to average.

Language classes

If you’re living in Portugal, you’ll need some level of Portuguese. The level you’ll need will depend a lot on where you’re living: less in the more touristy parts of Portugal and more in the less touristy parts.

It’s a good idea to learn as much Portuguese as you can, however. While a lot of Portuguese people speak fantastic English, not everyone does and you’ll often find yourself in situations where you need to speak Portuguese: going to the hospital and visiting the local council are two such examples.

Language classes vary in price depending on factors like whether you’re learning as part of a group or one-on-one or whether you’re taking classes at a language school or privately. A group class can cost as little as €5 per person, while one-on-one lessons range from around €10-40 per hour.

Shopping (clothes etc.)

As well as groceries, you’ll have others things that you need to buy like clothes, electronics, appliances, etc. These may be more one-off purchases, rather than regular purchases, but it’s a good idea to factor in some spending money for these things.

it’s worth mentioning that online shopping in Portugal is fairly underdeveloped, at least in comparison to countries like Germany, the UK, and USA. Most of the online shopping that takes place in Portugal is with non-Portuguese companies like Amazon, Zalando, and Asos. These companies deliver to Portugal, but the delivery times are usually around 1-2 weeks.

Bank accounts & currency transfers

If you plan to live in Portugal long-term, either as a resident or non-resident, you’ll probably need to open a Portuguese bank account to pay bills such as utilities. It can also be useful for withdrawing cash in Portugal, especially if your current bank charges you fees for doing so.

Portuguese banks typically charge a small monthly fee (around €5-10) for their bank accounts, so you’ll to factor this into your costs.

If you normal bank accounts are in another currency, it’s worth using a service like Wise (previously Transferwise) or a currency broker (for really large amounts) to convert your money into Euros.

Do you live in Portugal? Are you moving there? How do you find the cost of living? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. 

31 thoughts on “Portugal Cost of Living: The Breakdown”

  1. Hello James. I follow your site for a wile now and i like it very much. Of course, not everything can be covert.So hear my 1st. time contacting U. I'm a retired+disability Expat from Switzerland, lived in Ecuador,Colombia and now in Thailand since many years but it's just too much crazy,unstable,unsafe here, i want to leave next year maybe around April 2022. The Algarve it has to be, because of the climate. Too hot in Thailand (24h AC-100euro month) too cold+wet in Switzerland and cost of living. Outside Faro or Tavira in a modern T1,with good Medical services near by would be great. I also need a Car.As i figured out i will have to pay 10% flat tax for my income.I pay no income taxes in Thailand,
    but every year 470 euro for Visa alone and the flights home to Switzerland once a year r about 2000 euro, so with saving that i can pay the 10% taxes in Portugal.I pay about 1100Euro for my Health insurance+about 400euro separate for Type2 Diabetes medication a year. Now , for about 1800 Euro, can i have a good quality life there? What about Car costs, lets say for a new Suzuki Swift 1.2 Automatic . Full cover Insurance and taxes over a year, or for a 10year old Honda Accord 2.4 AT ? A Car is essential for me. Thank U

    • Hi Benno,

      Take a look https://www.standvirtual.com/ or https://www.olx.pt/carros-motos-e-barcos/carros/ to get an idea of car prices.

      It's a little harder to estimate car insurance prices, but you could try using a price comparison tool like https://www.deco.proteste.pt/auto/seguro-automovel . Most of these are in Portuguese only, but you can put the URL into Google Translate (like so) to get a good idea of what's being asked for.

  2. Hello,

    Hope it is ok to ask but are the Portuguese trustworthy in their appointments? For example if you have an appointment with a builder at monday 11.00 He will arrive that time and not 3 weeks later after several phonecalls. I ask because if I need something build I want it on the agreed time. Are Portuguese different in this? Than I have to keep this in mind when
    I make my move to Portugal.

    • Hi Erica,

      Hopefully someone else will answer this for you as I don't have enough personal experience to say.

      Generally, in Portugal, there seems to be an expectation that you mightn't turn up for an appointment. For example: if you make an appointment to go to the dentist, you'll get a phonecall the day before to confirm that you're going. The same will happen if you book your car into the garage, book an appointment with the hairdresser, etc. In most other countries, in comparison, if you book an appointment, people assume you'll show up for it (unless you phone to cancel).

      I would probably copy what everyone else does and phone up the day before to confirm.

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  3. Considering relocating to Portugal, but can't seem to nail down utility costs for heat/AC/water for a house. If a house was 2500 to 3000 sqft (250-285 m2) do you have any idea what the costs might be?

    • Hi Michael,

      I'm not sure. It's possible to get the cost per unit (I think 0.24c according to https://algarvedailynews.com/news/14818-rip-off-portugal-electricity-and-gas-prices-the-third-highest-in-europe ) but there are a lot of other factors to take into account.

      It's a good question, though. I would like to see if there's some way of working this out.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  4. Hi James, thanks for the wonderful article. I may be required to raise a long term work visa/ residence permit via my existing IT employer for working in Portugal. My dependent wife would be travelling with me. I wanted to know can she work legally in Portugal on a dependent/ spouse visa?
    PS: We are in India and both of us are working.

  5. Please inform on cost of living per month for a retired couple in Lisbon (middle-class area). T1 apartment and average (not extravagant) life-style.

    Any suggestion on safe and central areas for retired couple?


  6. We are thinking of relocating to Portugal, my husband is Portuguese and we would hopefully go round Castelo Branco and buy outright (we have a property here to sell with a large amount of equity). I have my own online business which makes between 500 pounds on a quiet month to 1000 pounds plus on a good one, my husband would also try to make money online and through seasonal work etc plus we would have money left from sale of house. We are looking at house with land to grow stuff etc and I will also paint/sell art too. Would we be able to get by frugally each month? My mother in law thinks so. We are couple with 1 child.

    • Hi Zoe,

      It's hard to say as everyone has different expenses. I've lived in Portugal as a couple on around £1000 per month or less (no children). That was living moderately frugally, and mainly cooking at home rather than eating out.

      I think you need to be very conservative with your earnings estimates when planning something like this. You already know how much you can earn from your online business but, since your husband doesn't have an established online business, I would be very cautious with my estimations here. You also need to consider what would happen if something happened to your earnings.

      Castelo Branco is a very cheap place to live in terms of property, but would there be work there to fall back on if you needed it?

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  7. Can you tell about tax rate for rental income from DTA country(republic of Georgia)?
    I hear that NHR can be remove in the future so please say without NHR.

    Georgia have 5% rental income tax for residential property and 20% rental income tax for commercial property.

  8. Can I still live better than other local portuguese citizen with €1000?(without rent)
    and can you tell me difference between T1 and T2?

    • Hi Jaehyeon,

      T0 = studio apartment
      t1 = 1-bedroom apartment
      t2 = 2-bedroom apartment

      Yes, you would live better than most - especially if you're planning on living outside of Lisbon. Most people in Portugal live on around €1000 (including rent) so only a few hundred Euros to spend per month on food and other expenses.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  9. Hi I live in South Korea and I am interested about moving to Portugal.I want to live in setubal.
    Can 1 person live €1200 without rent?
    -I will eat outside 10~15 time a month.Also,not expensive restaurant.
    -And I like to eat meat at home.I like pork belly and steak to eat.
    -I will go gym
    -I want to buy unlimited pass for lisbon-setubal.
    -I don’t smoking.
    And can I buy one or two room apartment inside €100,000 with tax in setubal?

    • Hi Jaehyeon,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, €1200 without rent in Setúbal should be more than enough. I imagine a lot of people living in Setúbal earn less than €1200 and those wages have to cover everything (incl rent).

      You didn't mentioned what type of property you would want to rent, but a quick look at OLX.pt suggests that a T1 or T2 will cost around €500-700 per month. A room will be even less.

      Eating out can cost less than €10 per meal in an inexpensive restaurant, especially at lunchtime.

      Pork is plentiful in Portugal. The beef in Portugal isn't great quality, so you may find yourself eating a lot more pork.

      There are properties for less than €100,000 in Setúbal. I'd recommend looking at OLX.pt and Idealista to see what sort of properties you can expect to get for that money.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      • This is other question but can you answer to me?
        When did passive income visa program started?And do you think program will keep available after few years ~ a decade?

        • It's very difficult to know what'll happen to visas etc in the future.

          Up until now, though, Portuguese immigration has been very positive towards people who can support themselves (e.g. you have a pension or some kind of income). I imagine that'll continue, but it's impossible to predict.

          You could think about staying here until you're eligible for Portuguese citizenship. If you were to get that, you would be able to continue to live in Portugal regardless of what happens to visas in the future.

          Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  10. Hi James,

    I wasnot able to find the cost of living info about Fundão anywhere but Castelo Branco seems to be available. Thank you 😊.


  11. Hi James,

    Wonderful articles. Thanks for giving such a beautiful overview of the country.

    May I ask what are your thoughts on cost of living in Fundão for a couple and their 1 year old kid? Do you think 1600 € is a sufficient amount to live comfortably and then save some?

    Thanks and regards,

    • Hi Nik,

      Thanks for the kind words about the site.

      I think so, yes. Accommodation in Castelo Branco is fairly affordable and, if you don't have many other outgoings, it's doable. It really depends from person to person, though: everyone has a different definition of comfortable.

      I'd recommend working out what your outgoings will be e.g. rent, utilities, groceries, car, etc and then trying to price it up. It isn't possible to get prices for everything, but you can usually get enough to give you a good estimate.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  12. I am planning to move to Portugal and trying to collect all the inputs i need before i make up my mind for the move. could you please help me to get some idea.
    1) I will have the company in Amadora so what can be monthly rent for 2 bedroom furnished apartment.
    2). what will be the yearly cost if i go for an International school for my 6 yr old daughter
    3). How much salary i should seek as gross to have some saving after rent and school cost (I know it's very difficult, but if you give nay idea then it will be a great help).
    4). i saw in some sites these figures in Euros for family of 3 in euros.
    rent: 600
    electricity and utility: 150
    International school: 600 (monthly)
    grosser y: 400
    Insurance: 250
    others: 200

    Total 2200 Euro per month.

    could you please share your valuable input and can i get close to Euro 3000 a month (net salary) in Amadora

    • Hi Shravan,

      The average salary in Portugal is less than €1,000, so this should give you an idea of what living costs are here. I don't know what you do for work or your professional level in that field, so I can't really tell you what kind of salary you can expect. I would recommend looking at job sites to get an idea of the typical salaries for your profession.

      Amadora is not a particularly affluent area, so I wouldn't expect to find many companies paying €3,000 per month salaries there. Of course, it depends on what you do.

      I think your estimate for groceries is probably quite high. I would take a look at one of the supermarket websites here (Pingo Doce, Lidl, etc) so that you can get an idea of what a weekly shop might cost.

      Insurance may also be high, although I don't know what you're insuring and how many people as well. Remember: if you're living in Portugal, you will have access to the public health service here.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  13. We are moving to Lisbon for a year in Oct 2019. We had hoped to book a furnished apartment for the year in advance but are having trouble. None of the sites are getting back to us. Any suggestions? Thanks, Marilyn

      • Hi James
        We are experiencing exactly the same problem Marilyn mentioned. We contacted several realtors in Lisbon and Cascais and as far away as Peniche (North) and Lagos and Tavira (Algarve) directly. I don't want to mention specific names but the suffice to say the 3 "big ones". Also several rental agencies and even landlords. We only received replies in AIRBNB which also happens to be, relatively speaking, the most expensive. Apparently, business in PT is too good to care about the smaller fish. PT must be having an economic boom....

        • Hi Dan,

          Nothing to do with you being a big fish or a small fish or anything to do with the state of Portugal's economy, it's just how things are here sometimes. Many businesses (not just realtors) don't respond to emails or not your first email anyway. It's strange but, even though you're the one handing over the money, often you need to be the one doing the chasing.

          That said, when it comes to renting a house I need to feel confident that the landlord would respond to any problems I might have in the future. I would probably not chase in this instance and keep looking until I found someone I was happy with. That's just my personal take though.

          Tip: Sometimes it's also better to just go into the shops and speak to people rather than sending multiple emails. Not something you can do if you're not in Portugal, but something to know for the future. Face-to-face works a lot better.

          Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now


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