Cost of Living in Portugal: Your Guide in 2024

Is the cost of living in Portugal within your budget? Our focused guide outlines the essential expenses, offering a straightforward look at housing, grocery, transportation, and utility costs.
April 25, 2024
Ana Fankhauser
April 25, 2024

Is the cost of living in Portugal within your budget? Our focused guide outlines the essential expenses, offering a straightforward look at housing, grocery, transportation, and utility costs. By revealing the typical price tags from Lisbon to the Algarve, we provide a practical framework to determine if Portugal’s living expenses match your financial plans, equipping you with the knowledge for a well-informed leap into Portuguese life.

Key Takeaways

  • Portugal offers affordable housing options, with city center rentals in Lisbon under $1,000 and countryside homes as low as $450, alongside accessible property-buying prospects with incentives like the Golden Visa Program.
  • Utility costs in Portugal are manageable at around €109.78 per month, with seasonal variations affecting utility expenses. Leveraging public transportation with tickets between €1.48 and €1.80 or monthly passes for €36.85 and €45.03 can ease commuting costs.
  • Portugal’s healthcare system provides subsidized service with private insurance averaging €400/year, and education ranges from free public schools to scholarships offsetting private school expenses, reinforcing its status as an expat-friendly country with a high standard of living.

Housing and Rental Costs in Portugal

Housing and Rental Costs in Portugal

The quest for a new home is often the starting point for anyone moving to Portugal. Whether you’re enchanted by the charm of Lisbon’s tiled facades or drawn to the coastal serenity of the Algarve, housing costs will play a significant role in your budget. City dwellers in Lisbon or Porto can expect to pay under $1,000 for a furnished one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the action, while those seeking peace in Portugal’s interior might find a two-bedroom house from as low as $450.

And if you’re not shy about negotiating, remember that a little haggling can go a long way in reducing your monthly rent.

Buying property in Portugal

Dreaming of a place to call your own under the Portuguese sun? Buying property here can be surprisingly accessible, especially when compared to other European destinations. From the bustling streets of Lisbon to the tranquil beaches of the Algarve, expats will find diverse locales to invest in. With mortgage rates starting at 3.3% and the Golden Visa Program that sweetens the deal with residency perks, Portugal’s property market is inviting, whether you’re looking for a modern city apartment or a sprawling countryside villa.

Renting property in Portugal

For those preferring the flexibility of renting, Portugal offers a mix of options to suit any taste and budget. In the heart of Lisbon, a one-bedroom apartment averages €937.38, while stepping outside the city center drops the rent prices to a more modest €726.32. If you’re looking to stretch your euros further, consider smaller accommodations or the suburbs, where the cost of living can be significantly lower.

And in cities like Lisbon and Porto, sharing an apartment is not just a rite of passage but also a savvy financial move.

Utilities and Household Expenses

Utilities and Household Expenses

After securing a roof over your head, the next financial frontier is utilities and household expenses. In Portugal, setting aside around €109.78 per month should cover the estimated monthly costs, including the average monthly utility costs for:

  • electricity
  • gas
  • water
  • garbage collection

Internet, an indispensable tool for both work and leisure, will add an additional €31 to €38 to your monthly outlay. Compared to other Western European countries, these costs are reasonable, but you can always trim them down with a bit of resourcefulness and conservation.

Seasonal variations in utility costs

Don’t forget that utility costs in Portugal can rise and fall with the seasons. The sizzling summer may provoke a spike in your electricity bill as air conditioners work overtime, and the winter chill can lead to increased heating expenses, especially in homes lacking modern insulation.

Being energy savvy during these times can help keep your costs under control, ensuring that you enjoy the country’s climate without financial stress.

Transportation and Commuting Costs

Public transportation in Portugal

Navigating Portugal’s cobbled streets and scenic routes is an adventure, and thankfully, it’s an affordable one. Public transportation costs are gentle on the pocket, with single tickets priced between €1.48 and €1.80 and monthly passes ranging from €36.85 to €45.03. Whether you’re hopping on a tram in Lisbon or catching a train to Porto, the country’s public transport network is an economical way to travel. In fact, it’s not difficult to find affordable taxi fees as well, making it even more convenient for tourists and locals alike.

But if you’re considering driving, be prepared for the higher costs of owning and fueling a car, with petrol prices standing tall at €1.89 per liter.

Monthly travel passes and discounts

For regular commuters, investing in a monthly travel pass can be a wise financial decision. At around €40, these passes offer unlimited access to buses, trams, and metros, making them a cost-effective alternative to the expenses of car ownership. Plus, the convenience of having one pass for all your travel needs in major cities like Lisbon cannot be overstated.

Food and Grocery Expenses

Food and Grocery Expenses

Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and in Portugal, it’s also a pleasure for your budget. Fresh produce abounds at reasonable prices, with a meal at an inexpensive restaurant averaging around €10. For home chefs, staples like rice, apples, and potatoes typically come in under $2 per pound.

While brand-name groceries can push your bill higher, the local markets and promotions at supermarkets offer savvy shoppers ways to enjoy the rich flavors of Portuguese cuisine without breaking the bank.

Portuguese cuisine and affordable dining options

The tapestry of Portuguese flavors offers more than just culinary delight—it’s also a haven for budget-conscious diners. The ‘prato do dia’—the dish of the day—is a wallet-friendly tradition that serves up hearty portions of local fare for €5–€10. Dining out, especially outside of the tourist centers, can be surprisingly affordable, with many delicious options available for under €15 per meal.

Embracing the local dining customs not only enriches your cultural experience but also keeps your dining costs deliciously low.

Taxes and Financial Considerations

Navigating the tax landscape in Portugal is an essential part of financial planning. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Residents face progressive tax rates ranging from 14.5% to 48%
  • Non-residents are taxed at a flat rate of 25%
  • Property owners are subject to annual taxes, including property, stamp duty, and transfer taxes
  • Rental income is taxed at 28%

But it’s not all take—programs like the Non-Habitual Residency offer a decade of reduced taxes, proving that Portugal can be as tax-friendly as it is sun-soaked.

Banking fees and services

When it comes to banking in Portugal, expect to encounter fees for account maintenance, debit and credit card usage, and international money transfers. Monthly account fees average €5-7, and while debit cards often come free of charge, credit cards can add up to €50 annually.

Choosing the right bank with competitive fees can help keep your financial affairs in order without draining your resources.

Healthcare and Medical Expenses

Good health is priceless, and Portugal’s healthcare system ensures that maintaining it doesn’t come at an exorbitant cost. The public system, ranked 25th globally, offers subsidized services, while private health insurance plans average around €400 per year, helping to manage healthcare costs. Expats often opt for private insurance for more comprehensive coverage and access to English-speaking providers, balancing affordability with peace of mind.

Prescription medications and pharmacy costs

Managing medication costs is made easier in Portugal thanks to subsidized prescriptions, which can see discounts from 15% to 90%. Pharmacies are staffed with qualified professionals who guide customers to cost-effective alternatives, often available at an affordable cost without a prescription.

This accessibility to affordable healthcare is just another tick in the box for Portugal’s livability.

Education and Childcare Costs

For families, Portugal’s education and childcare offerings range from free public schools to more expensive private and international schools. While the public system doesn’t charge tuition, additional expenses like meals and after-school programs are based on income.

Private schools can range from €200 to a steep €10,000 per month, making it essential to plan and budget accordingly for your children’s educational needs.

Scholarships and financial aid

Scholarships and financial aid are available in Portugal, with numerous organizations providing support for a variety of studies. From low-income scholarships to grants focusing on sustainable development, opportunities abound to alleviate the financial burden of pursuing academic excellence in Portugal.

Leisure and Entertainment Expenses

Leisure and Entertainment Expenses

Portugal’s rich cultural tapestry is reflected in its leisure and entertainment offerings. From exploring historic castles to sipping on fine port wine, there’s an array of experiences to suit any budget. With entrance fees to museums and attractions like the Pena Palace or Lisbon Oceanarium falling in the €8 to €25 range, indulging in the country’s heritage won’t leave you pinching pennies. In fact, the cost for these experiences in Portugal remains quite affordable for travelers.

Free and low-cost activities

Even on the tightest of budgets, Portugal offers a wealth of free and low-cost activities. Stroll through open-air markets, enjoy a free concert, or take in panoramic views from Lisbon’s many miradouros—all without spending a euro.

Embracing these cost-free experiences can enrich your life in Portugal while preserving your budget.

Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal

As with any destination, living in Portugal comes with its own set of pros and cons. The safety, sunshine, and diversity of landscapes are undeniable draws, as is the connectivity to other European locales. However, expats might find the relaxed pace a double-edged sword when it comes to efficiency and bureaucracy. And while the cost of living remains attractive, utility bills can soar during the height of summer and winter.

Expats' experiences and testimonials

Expats in Portugal often sing the praises of their adopted homeland, citing the high standard of living, friendly locals, and irresistible pull of Portuguese cuisine. The straightforward residency programs sweeten the deal, making Portugal not just a place to visit but a place to call home.

English is widely spoken in the cities, easing the transition and allowing newcomers to quickly feel part of the community.

Sample Monthly Budgets

While the cost of living in Portugal can vary widely depending on location and lifestyle, a single person might expect to spend around €662.2 per month, excluding rent, which is a considerable portion of the average monthly salary. For a couple in a smaller city, a sample monthly budget of $990–$1,200 might suffice, while Lisbon’s urban charm might command $1,450–$1,770. The living cost, therefore, depends on various factors.

With careful planning, even a modest income can afford a comfortable Portuguese lifestyle.

Tips for saving money

To make the most of living in Portugal on a budget, consider cooking at home rather than dining out and choosing in-home entertainment over pricier outings. These simple changes can lead to significant savings, allowing you to enjoy the Portuguese experience to its fullest without financial strain.


From the golden stretches of the Algarve to the historic quarters of Lisbon, Portugal offers a lifestyle that blends tradition with modernity, all at a cost that’s manageable for many. Whether you’re renting in the city, savoring the local cuisine, or enjoying the country’s cultural offerings, Portugal proves that a life well-lived doesn’t have to come at a premium. With the right information and a bit of savvy budgeting, the Portuguese dream is well within reach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Portugal expensive?

Portugal is not expensive, in fact, it's one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe, with reasonable costs for food, accommodation, and transportation. Many people find it an attractive place to live due to its affordability.

Can you live in Portugal for $1000 a month?

Yes, you can live in Portugal for $1000 a month, especially if you choose to live in an affordable area. However, it may be challenging in more expensive cities like Lisbon.

Is it cheaper to live in Portugal or the USA?

Living in Portugal is much cheaper than living in the United States, with the cost of living being 39.2% lower and rent 54.2% lower. So, Portugal is the more affordable option.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Portugal?

To live comfortably in Portugal as a couple, budget around $2,500 to $3,000 per month. If you're aiming to live in the city center, plan for closer to €3,000 per month.

What are the average rental prices for apartments in Lisbon and Porto?

On average, the rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon's city center is around €1,238 and about €896 outside of it. In Porto, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center ranges from USD $900 to $1,100, which is lower compared to Lisbon.

About Movingto

Movingto is a leading immigration law firm that specializes in helping individuals and families navigate the complex process of relocating to Portugal. With a team of experienced lawyers and immigration experts, provides tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each client.

Why Choose Movingto?

  • Expertise and Experience: Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of Portuguese immigration law and years of experience assisting clients with various visa applications, including the D7 Visa, Golden Visa, Startup Visa, and Family Reunion Visa.
  • Personalized Approach: We understand that every client's situation is different. Our lawyers take the time to listen to your goals and provide personalized advice and guidance throughout the process.
  • Comprehensive Support: offers a comprehensive range of services beyond legal advice, including assistance with document preparation, property search, and relocation planning.
  • Competitive Fees: We offer competitive fees and transparent pricing so that you know exactly what to expect.
  • Exceptional Client Service: Our team is committed to providing exceptional client service. We are responsive, attentive, and always available to answer your questions.

Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to establish a business in Portugal, a retiree looking to enjoy the country's favorable tax regime, or a family seeking to reunite in Portugal, is here to guide you every step of the way.

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