Portugal’s Cost of Living: How Much Does it Really Cost to Live Here?

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Last updated on June 14, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 8 minutes

Portugal has long been marketed as a cheap place to live, or somewhere with a low cost of living, but is that really the case?

Yes and no. In Portugal, it’s possible to find a 3-course lunch menu for €10 or less (sometimes with wine and coffee included) but when it comes to other costs like cars (new and second-hand), electricity, fuel, and toiletries, Portugal is more expensive than many other European countries.

Many people who visit Portugal as tourists only encounter costs like food and drink. If you buy a good bottle of wine for less than €5 and eat out for less than €10, it’s easy to assume that everything in Portugal must be cheap.

Similarly, if you read that Portugal’s minimum wage is low – around €820 per month in 2024 – it’s easy to assume that it’s possible to live there on that amount. In reality, it would be extremely difficult. You wouldn’t be able to afford your own property and after basic essentials like groceries, would have very little money, if any, left over.

It also depends where you’re coming from. A lot of the articles that describe Portugal as “cheap” are aimed at Americans looking to move from cities like New York or San Francisco where monthly rents of $4,000 are considered normal. The concept of a “free” public healthcare is also a huge selling point to many Americans, whereas this would be considered standard to most Europeans.

However, even though rental prices in places like Lisbon are on par with many other European capital cities, the quality of life you can get in Portugal is better in many ways due to the good weather, good food, and laid-back lifestyle. And while Lisbon is now quite an expensive place to rent and buy (and Porto and the Algarve are in high demand as well) it is possible to live very affordably if you opt for other parts of the country, particularly rural inland parts.

All of that aside, Portugal can be a very affordable place to live, particularly if you already own your own property and have simple tastes. The joys of living in Portugal are enjoying the sunshine, drinking coffee on a terrace, or visiting one of the country’s many beautiful beaches — all very inexpensive pleasures. If that sounds like the type of lifestyle you would enjoy, Portugal could be a place where you could have a lower cost of living.

Estimating Costs

Rather than relying on what it costs someone else to live in Portugal, the trick is to estimate how much it will cost you to live in Portugal – and then maybe add at least 20% as most people tend to underestimate these costs.

Property

The biggest cost for most people is property, whether that’s buying or renting a place. There is a huge demand for property at the moment and finding a bargain property seems harder than ever.

In Lisbon, expect to pay:

  • €400 for a room
  • €1,000-1,500 for a 1-bedroom apartment

You can get an estimate of rental and purchase prices by browsing the listings on Idealista to see what’s available in the areas you’re considering. If buying, don’t forget to factor in an average of 6-8% additional purchasing costs.

Utilities

Electricity & Gas

Utilities, and especially electricity, can be expensive. For a 1-bedroom apartment, expect to pay around €60 for electricity and €20 for gas.

Many homes don’t have central heating and rely on space heaters or the air con units to keep the property warm in winter. It’s very easy to double or even treble your utility bill doing this.

Water

The cost of water varies considerably from region to region. At the cheaper end of the scale, a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon might pay around €15 per month for water.

Internet

Expect to pay between €39 (200mb) and €49 (1000mb) for home internet on a 2-year contract. In Portugal, it’s common to include your mobile phone on the same contract (and often family members’ mobile phones) as well as your TV in order to get the best possible deal.

If you get a prepaid or PAYG sim card, expect to pay around €20 per month.

Food & Drink

Groceries

Food and drink is generally very affordable in Portugal. A single person should expect to pay around €250-350 per month on groceries. Wine is very affordable: a good bottle of wine costs around €3-7 at the supermarket.


Continente (PT)
A litre of milk (half fat UHT)€0.89
Green Pepper (individual)€0.75
Store Brand Chopped Tomatoes€0.89
Broccoli (individual)€2.99/kg
6 Large Eggs€1.49
Heinz Top Down Ketchup 460gm€2.39
Banana (individual)€0.22
Self Raising White Flour 1 kg€0.89
Store Brand Olive Oil 1 Litre €4.39
Chicken Breast (price per kg)€6.49
Kellog’s Corn Flakes 500 G€3.99
Store Brand Salted Butter 250 g €1.89
Store Brand Crunchy Peanut Butter (price per kg)€6.29
Tinned Kidney Beans 400 gm€0.74
Spaghetti 500g €0.84
Total€31.26

If you really want to be accurate, take your weekly grocery shop and put it into the online shopping cart at a Portuguese supermarket like Continente. German discount supermarkets Lidl and Aldi are typically cheaper than Portuguese supermarkets like Pingo Doce and Continente.

Eating Out

Eating out is also very affordable, particularly if you eat at traditional Portuguese restaurants: the prices go up if you opt for more modern, international restaurants, particularly in places like Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve.

A beer or glass of wine can cost anywhere from €1 to €5 and up, depending on the type of bar.

A traditional espresso (café) from a pastelaria can cost as little as €0.50 in a rural location, but will probably be closer to €0.80 in a city. If you order an espresso from a more modern or hipster café, expect to pay around €2.

Taxes

Taxes are difficult to calculate, particularly as some people will pay taxes under the standard Portuguese tax system while others will pay taxes under another tax regime, such as the previously available NHR regime or the new NHR.

Residents in Portugal are normally taxed on their worldwide income at progressive rates varying from 14.5% to 48%.

Transportation

Public transport

Public transport is extremely affordable in Portugal. As an example, a return train ticket for the 3-hour journey from Lisbon to Faro in the Algarve could cost as little as €20, when booked in advance. You can estimate train ticket prices on cp.pt.

Bus tickets are similarly affordable, and you can find even cheaper tickets on long distance coaches through companies like FlixBus.pt.

If you live in Lisbon or Porto, you may rely on public transport a lot and it might be worth looking into a monthly pass. In Lisbon, this costs around €40 per month. In Porto, the cost is similar: €30 for a Z3 pass or €40 for a Metropolitano pass.

Taxis & Ubers

Taxis and Ubers (or other taxi apps like Bolt) are very affordable in Portugal.

  • An Uber from Lisbon Airport to Praça do Comércio in the city centre costs around €8.60 (11.6 km or 7.2 miles)
  • An Uber from Faro Airport to Albufeira costs around €26.40 (46.5 km or 28.9 miles)
  • An Uber from Porto to Braga costs around €38.79 (54.5 km or 33.9 miles)

Cars

Cars, including second-hand cars, are more expensive than many other European countries, and more expensive than the US. You can estimate prices by looking at StandVirtual, the Portuguese equivalent of AutoTrader, and comparing the prices to the same car in your country. To estimate fuel prices, take a look at https://precoscombustiveis.dgeg.gov.pt.

Healthcare

Portugal’s healthcare system consists of two systems: the main public healthcare system and a smaller private system.

Public healthcare is virtually free. In many cases there is no charge, but sometimes there are small concessional fees (€5 to visit a doctor, for example).

Private healthcare isn’t free and you may spend between €50-90 to visit a doctor or specialist and obviously more for any kind of surgery or treatment. This can be paid out of pocket or you can take out a private health insurance policy which will reduce the amount you have to pay.

Health insurance costs naturally vary depending on factors like age and pre-existing conditions and the only way to get a proper estimate is to speak to a broker. However, €100 per month is a good average.

Schools

The cost of schooling for children varies in Portugal depending on whether you opt to send your child to a public tax-funded school or a private or international school.

  • State schools are typically free, with some costs for food, school trips, activities, and stationary.
  • Portuguese private schools charge a fee, but at around €500 per month it’s lower than what international schools charge.
  • International schools are the most expensive option at around €1,000-1,5000 per month on average.
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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 32 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.

Comments

  1. 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

    Reply
      • 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….

        Reply
        • 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.

          Reply
  2. 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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  3. 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,
    Nik

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  4. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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?

        Reply
        • 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.

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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  6. 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.

    Reply
    • Hi Jaehyeon,

      You would really need to contact a Portuguese account or someone who specialises in that type of thing.

      Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply
    • 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?

      Reply
  8. 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?

    Regards
    Johan

    Reply
    • Hi Johan,

      I have written about the cost of living in Lisbon in another article, but it’s probably due an update. Rental costs in particular are rising all the time.

      I will try and update it in the next few weeks, but take a look at it in the meantime.

      Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
    • Hi HumbleIndian,

      I don’t know enough about this to give you an answer, and don’t want to give you incorrect information. I really recommend that you speak to a layer who specialises in this field about this.

      Reply
  10. 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?

    Reply
  11. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  12. 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

    Reply
  13. Hello James, Many thanks and love the site for the financial, housing, etc. information/resources shared for moving to Portugal. However, finding little about securing employment i.e. applying and interviewing for jobs before and/or after you move. I know the basics apply on Indeed, LinkedIn, and Portugal recruiting sites Hays, Learn4good, and Sapoemprego, challenges of not speaking Portuguese, 13,000-24,000 Euros average salaries, Call Center, Tourism/Hospitality, Textiles, and Construction key sectors, etc. Just not sure if I should keep applying for jobs (seasoned sales/marketing professional with diversified skill set creating and executing digital/multi-platform campaigns and programs in corporate/media and entrepreneur/for/nonprofit roles) online and employers are open to virtual interviews before I move in January/Q1 2023 OR employers prefer in person interviews/with decreased COVID cases/restrictions and know that you currently live in Portugal versus planning to move there. I have secured housing at a friend’s home (put address on my CV), applying for temporary/3+-12 month Visa, and note this information along with my move date in cover letters. Greatly appreciate any thoughts and recommendations you can share and/or guests can. Best, Jill

    Reply
  14. Thank you for your honest report on the real cost of living in Portugal. It is so frustrating for me to read all about how cheap Lisbon is but the truth is, the ratio of income vs cost of living makes life here very challenging. The rent is usually more than in a city like Vienna compared to similar properties and not to mention that most rental real estate in Lisbon is old or renovated to relatively low standards. If you want to live in a modern, renovated, 2 or 3 bedroom apartment in a good area anywhere between Lisbon and Cascais, expect to pay no less than 3000€ per month and that’s no considering security deposit of up to 6 months + agents commission of no less than 2 months. Our cost for electricity, gas and internet is around 200€ per month in summer.

    The one point I disagree with you is the good food, being a foodie and passionate cook myself, I find the food very simple and most of the time bland. It is not comparable to other countries but costs the same. There is no good pizza to be found anywhere around Cascais, we have to go to Lisbon city to find pizza that’s good, but do expect to pay no less than in other capital cities.

    Traffic is a nightmare, drivers usually don’t indicate in circles or indicate incorrectly, our car got bumped 3 times already and nobody would leave his details on the windscreen. There is many things I could mention here that I don’t like but I don’t want to sound like a hater, after all I am a guest here in Portugal even though I am spending my hard earned money.

    The nature, sea, mountains, forests, beaches, all make up for the annoyances and the not-so-cheap anymore cost of living.

    Reply

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