Last Updated on November 8, 2023 by Maryam Siddiqui
Every year, more and more expats choose to relocate to Portugal. One of the main reasons: the cost of living in Portugal!
Besides being one of the safest countries in the world, having beautiful landscapes and high quality of life, Portugal is affordable. Aren’t you surprised? This fantastic south European country offers outstanding standards for a very low cost.
But really, what is the cost of living in Portugal? How much do you need per month? Is it expensive to rent a house? How does it compare with other countries? In this article, we’re going to answer all these questions. So stay tuned!
What is the cost of living in Portugal?
The average monthly cost of living in Portugal can vary. Depending on your spending habits and lifestyle, this value can change significantly.
Additionally, different regions in Portugal have different costs of living. For example, the cost of living in Lisbon is much higher than in other areas. While the cost of living in the Algarve is also considered high. However, the cost of living in Porto is known to be low.
So, in this article, we’ll be giving you an average.
A couple living in Portugal would need approximately €1,600 per month to live a good quality life here. Let’s dive into the details for each category of expense.
Here’s what we’ve covered:
- Utility Bills
- Monthly Groceries
- Healthcare & Insurance
House and apartment rental
First, the fundamental necessity–a house to live in.
Rentals in Portugal are cheaper than in most European countries. Although the local population still considers it expensive due to low salaries, most expats agree that renting an apartment in Portugal is a great deal.
Check out the most common rental prices in Portugal’s main cities:
|1-bedroom apartment average rental per month
|3-bedroom apartment average rental per month
All estimates have been updated in November 2022.
- Fun fact: Portugal’s real estate market is booming these last few years! Hence the recent increase in housing prices. Investing In Real Estate is a common expatriate activity.
Beads of light, water, and gas can also greatly weigh your monthly budget. Take a look at the usual costs of house bills in a 1-bedroom apartment in Portugal:
|Television and Wi-Fi package
|Cell phone bill and mobile Internet
|€33 per person
All estimates have been updated in November 2022.
Food expenses correspond to a large part of the monthly expenses of any home. That being said, paying attention to grocery expenses and carefully planning what you need is essential.
You can take advantage of the weekly farmer’s markets to save unnecessary expenses. Nothing beats cooking a delicious meal at home, right?
The table below shows some estimates of the main food costs you’ll find in Portuguese grocery stores:
|Bottle of milk
|Six-Pack of Beer
|Bottle of Wine
|Bottle of Soda
The expectation is that, in a household formed by a couple without children, you spend at least €400 on your monthly groceries.
Healthcare and insurance fees
There’s some good news! From June onwards, public healthcare in Portugal is free! European healthcare is very famous for its quality, and Portugal has really stepped up.
The catch with public healthcare is that you might have to wait a little longer for your turn, but you’ll get treated properly.
If you choose to use the private hospitals in Portugal, costs will rise, and you’ll need health insurance to cover most of the expenses. Here’s what you need to know about the cost of healthcare in Portugal:
|Consultation in public hospital
|Free of cost
|Urgency in public hospital*
|€15 to €40
|Consultation in a private hospital
|Urgency in a private hospital
|Average health insurance
|€700 per year for a 30-year-old
*Please note that public healthcare in Portugal is free of cost for all legal residents since June 2022. However, there’s the exception of unreferenced emergencies that don’t result in hospitalization.
Why do some people choose private healthcare in Portugal? Well, if you’re in a hurry, public services may take too long to attend to you. Also, private hospitals are known for having more availability for specific cases you might want more attention to.
Almost 1 in 3 people in Portugal have health insurance, and more people are opting for private healthcare since the pandemic.
There are more than 230 hospitals in Portugal, of which approximately 127 are private. So, rest assured, you’ll get treated with care no matter which one you go for.
Life isn’t just about work, right? Portugal’s leisure and entertainment options vary according to the city and the time of year. But here we’ll present the main forms of leisure and their costs:
|Ticket to the movie theater
|Gym monthly fee
|Meal at a nice restaurant
|Glass of wine
How you commute also makes a massive difference in your budget. If you choose to live in Lisbon or Porto, the public transportation in those cities is impressive. Many people prefer not to own a car since it’s not needed daily.
But, for your convenience, we’ve estimated the basic costs to get you around the country. Take a look at the table below:
|Type of Transportation
|€1.60 to €2.50
|Monthly Pass (Bus + Subway)
* Please note: Prices may vary greatly from town to town. Here we’ve given an average considering the usual prices in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve.
What are the cheapest places to live in Portugal?
Portugal is a small but diverse country, with many regions different in culture and cost of living.
The geography can sometimes get confusing, so we’ve compiled a list of the cheapest regions. The following list consists of the main areas of Portugal, ordered from the most expensive to the least:
- Madeira Island
- São Miguel Island in the Azores
The list is compiled based on real estate prices from the renowned Portuguese website Idealista.
- Looking for the cheapest cities to live in? Don’t worry; you won’t compromise on the quality of life. Check out our article on The 15 Cheapest Cities for extra details on low-cost relocation.
The Algarve, Lisbon, and Cascais are much more expensive than the rest of Portugal, as are all tourist spots. Although Porto is also a tourist spot, with generally higher prices, the locals can afford the cost of living.
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The central region of Portugal is one of the least expensive areas. The entire area is almost 300km, with Lisbon to its south and Porto to its north. Caldas da Rainha, Coimbra, Aveiro, and Covilhã are some popular regions.
As the name suggests, the region is pivotal to the country’s existence for economic and cultural reasons. It’s also the most prosperous area in terms of monuments, architecture, history, and picture-perfect towns.
Northern Portugal is the most populous region, covering about 21,278 km² in area and a population of 3.5 million. This region includes the districts of Braga, Vila Real, Viana do Castelo, Bragança, and Porto.
This is the oldest region of the country, essentially where it all began. You’ll be mesmerized by the beauty nearby if you’re just visiting. Don’t miss out on visiting Quinta da Aveleda; it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit.
- Fun fact: Quinta da Aveleda produces 19 million bottles of wine each year. The region’s vineyards are world-renowned, and you can taste-test a few samples for only €13!
The Alentejo region is known as the perfect place to enjoy Portugal’s true essence. It’s made up of five districts; Santarém, Portalegre, Évora, Setúbal, and Beja. These districts are significantly cheaper than living in the country’s Central or Northern side.
Beja is also one of the cheapest cities to live in Portugal, with a very low population density. All in all, the Alentejo region is for people who love their privacy and solitude.
Last but not least, the Azores and Madeira Islands! The Portuguese islands have got a completely different atmosphere than Lisbon or Porto. Here, you can get a small beach house, sip on some wine, and soak up the sun.
Approximately 3.7% of Madeira’s population is foreign, while the Azores has around 1.7%. Why are they such a great place to live? First, they’re beautiful in terms of scenery and quality of life, and it’s significantly cheaper than living in, for example, Lisbon.
What are the most expensive places to live in Portugal?
Now you know how little you need to live comfortably in the country. Let’s also give you an insight into the most expensive places.
But why are these regions the most expensive? Keep reading to find out why.
The sunny Southern side of Portugal is a global favorite for several reasons. Recently, it was ranked as the #4 place for digital nomads to work in. That’s right, almost 37,000 digital nomads earn a living here while soaking up the golden sun.
Apart from being a great place to work, the region is a huge attraction for tourists nearly all year round. The numerous beaches are filled with tourists, especially when it’s summer in Portugal. You’ll see adults having the time of their lives, just lying down, surfing, or eating food at a local cafe.
As you probably guessed, the prices are higher anywhere there are tourists, a basic concept of demand and supply. This isn’t to say that living in the Algarve is unaffordable in any way. It’s still a lot cheaper than in other European countries!
Shopping malls in Faro are crowded, Albufeira’s restaurants echo with laughter, and the enchanting streets of Lagos make it picture-perfect. The Algarve is one of the best options for retirees, and many buy their own beach houses to live here in peace.
The capital of Portugal is, by far, the most expensive region to live in. It was once very affordable to live there and still might be for some expats. However, not so much for the locals. Prices are rising worldwide, and Lisbon is a business hub, so you can understand what we mean.
Thanks to the hundreds of business operations in the city, Lisbon is known to be the new Silicon Valley in Europe. The Business and Entrepreneur Visa encourages many individuals to set up their company’s operations in the city. Moreover, big multinationals have also seen the city’s potential and decided to open offices here.
You’ll see many coworking spaces, individuals pacing quickly to catch a metro, and others working in a cafe. The tech hub has a lot of intellectual capital that people use to grow their businesses and expand their professional horizons.
All good things come with a price, and you can clearly notice the difference in the weight of your pockets.
Is Portugal more expensive than other countries?
Portugal is a great place to live. But is it cheaper than your homeland? Here we selected the countries from which expatriates are more curious to relocate to Portugal.
See the comparison of each country’s cost of living with our beloved Portuguese land, according to Numbeo, the world’s largest cost of living database:
United Kingdom vs Portugal
Brits are longtime fans of holidays in Portugal. So much so that many even decide to move from the UK here in retirement. The cost of living in the United Kingdom is, on average, 37.23% higher than in Portugal. Rent is even worse, with an average increase of 42.65%.
In contrast, wages in the UK are much higher than in Portugal.
Germany vs Portugal
The German expat community is also very expressive in Portugal. The difference in the cost of living is one factor that attracts many German families, retirees, and digital nomads.
Germany has a 38.78% higher cost of living than Portugal, and rent is, on average, 50.58% higher than in Portugal.
Let’s give an example to look at for perspective. You’d need about €2,981 in Porto to live the same lifestyle you get for €4,400 in Frankfurt.
France vs Portugal
The neighboring country also has a higher cost of living, an average of 52.05% higher than Portugal. Rent comes to a more discreet 44.80% higher average.
You need nearly €5,106 to live in France, but only €3,000 to live in Porto with the same lifestyle.
There are also many French expats all over the country, and they are among the best integrated in Portugal.
Netherlands vs Portugal
The cost of living in the Netherlands is much higher than in Portugal. However, many Dutch keep their jobs away and move to Portugal to enjoy the climate and quality of life at lower prices.
The average cost of living in the Netherlands is 60.1% higher than in Portugal, and rent is 93.50% higher! That’s a major difference when you compare the two; nearly double the living expense.
United States vs Portugal
Although comparing the United States to Portugal can be complicated because of the great variety in the bigger country, the average cost of living is still very expressively higher. In the US, the cost of living is 68.71% higher than in Portugal, while rent is 128.67% higher, more than double!
Access to this data makes us realize the advantages of working and receiving a salary in these countries and living and spending in Portugal.
- Read Also: What Americans Need To Know About Portugal to get some more perspective.
South Africa vs Portugal
When comparing the costs of living of these two countries, however, things change. The cost of living in South Africa is, on average, 14.95% lower than in Portugal, and rent is a close 33.11% lower. So living in Portugal turns out to be a bit more expensive than in South Africa.
However, the minimum wage in South Africa in 2022 was approximately €200 (Rand 3,350) per month, while in Portugal, it was €705. Many South Africans see Portugal as a land with more opportunity and peace in which to live.
India vs Portugal
Living in India is also much cheaper than in Portugal. The cost of living there is 46.35% lower, and rent is, on average, 73.34% lower. In any way, many factors affect the quality of life in any country.
India’s minimum wage compared to Portugal is very low, approximately €70 (INR 5,700), which explains why so many Indians decide to work in Portugal or open new businesses.
- Read Also: Moving From India To Portugal for more insights if you’re looking for what Portugal has to offer!
How to make money to match the cost of living in Portugal?
Of course, if you’re living in Portugal, you probably still need an income. But what is it like to work in Portugal? You have a few options depending on your expertise or whether you want to start your own business.
Let’s take a look at what expats usually do to maximize the benefits of the cost of living in Portugal:
The labor market in Portugal
Portugal has quite a competitive specialized labor market, and finding a job without connections isn’t always easy. However, it will be relatively easier for you if you’re in the IT, Digital Marketing, Hospitality, Construction, or Healthcare industry.
Depending on a person’s qualifications, they can earn up to €5,000 a month, which is a lot compared to how less you’ll spend.
Remote working in Portugal
Instead of looking for a job in Portugal, you can also choose to keep your job in your country and work remotely from here. This way, you can keep your career going and perhaps maintain a bigger salary than you would in Portugal.
Actually, the country repels many professionals due to low salaries. While in 2022, in Portugal, the minimum wage was €705 per month, a total of €9,870 per year, the European minimum yearly salary was around €15,693.
Remote working is becoming very popular in Portugal recently. Some regions where remote workers have found the best resources for this lifestyle are Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira.
At least, we can assure you that you don’t need much money to live well in Portugal. The quality of life here comes for free.
Opening a new business
As a way into Portugal, many expats choose to start a new business in the country. While it generates new jobs and can become a profitable source of income, it can also guarantee you a residence permit through a D2 Visa or a Startup Visa.
Before you jump into a new investment, getting to know the market and choosing the best city to start your business in Portugal is advisable.
When are you planning to move to Portugal?
That was almost everything you could possibly know about the cost of living in Portugal. Did we make an accurate comparison to your country’s living expenses? If not, let us know in the comments below, and we’d love to update changes.
Moving abroad to Portugal is one of the most extraordinary journeys someone can have in life. So it’s okay to feel like you need someone to talk to about it. Join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats, and connect with other people going through the same experience. Sharing is caring!
And remember, Viv Europe can guide you to Portugal at every step of your relocation process. Our team of experts loves the country and is always ready to help. Contact Us to make your Portugal dream a reality.