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Cost of Living in Portugal

If you’re thinking of moving to Portugal, getting informed about the cost of living in the country is key. Nestled in Western Europe, this marvellous country boasts a lower cost of living compared to many of its European counterparts, making it an especially attractive option for those looking for affordable high-quality living. In this article we’ll go through the cost of living by sector and by region, so that you can make the best decision for yourself and your conditions! Let’s dive deeper.

Frederik
Frederik Pohl, CEO
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What’s the cost of living in Portugal in 2023?

In recent years, Portugal acquired a reputation for being one of the cheapest countries in Europe. Prices started somewhat rising in Portugal in the last years and the reputation of being “super cheap” no longer completely holds. Still, when compared to countries like the USA, UK, or Australia, Portugal is quite cheap. Especially when it comes to the interior regions of the country, in districts like Portalegre, Guarda, and Bragança!

Cost of living by area in Portugal

When you’re immigrating to a different country, you most likely want to be close to some type of community. Naturally, communities are most prevalent in bigger cities. For example, English-speaking communities are mostly located in Lisbon, Cascais, Nazaré, Porto, and the Algarve. Matter of fact, most foreign communities are established in Lisbon where the cost of living in Portugal is the highest.

But if you’re on a tight budget, there’s no need to give up on your Portuguese dream – just explore different options! Most of the time betting on an off-the-beaten-path alternative will grant you a much different and more authentic Portuguese experience. And, of course, cost of living is also very dependent on the quality of life and conditions you desire. 

Housing

As previously mentioned, the housing market in Lisbon has become more expensive due to a rise in demand. The same can be seen happening mostly in Porto, but also in other large cities like Braga, Albufeira, and Lagos. Meanwhile, interior regions like Portalegre and Guarda are much cheaper. Below is a list of the average price/m² in the different districts.

Groceries

There are a lot of brands of supermarkets in Portugal, spread everywhere. They generally don’t vary in price much, so we recommend planning your shopping based on your preferences, dietary restrictions, offers in your area, and discounts of the week. Over time, you will most likely develop a personal preference for grocery stores.

There are many ways to save money and cut the cost of living in Portugal. Most grocery stores have a client card or mobile app system. These memberships are completely free so we recommend you get affiliated to all stores of your interest. This way you can keep up with general discounts and access member-only benefits. Some popular grocery stores are Continente, Pingo Doce, Lidl, Mercadona, Intermarché, and Aldi. 

Eating Out in Portugal

Eating is probably the most economical cost of living in Portugal. Although restaurant prices have also been rising, you can still eat well for quite cheap in Portugal. Even in the bigger cities, you can find a good full meal (‘prato do dia’) for ~8 euros, you just need to look for more local places. This option often includes a soup, main course, and coffee, although some places also include a drink. Be aware that it is only available during lunch hours, though – places, in general, are more expensive at dinnertime.

Transport

In and around larger cities, you really don’t need a car. Lisbon and Porto, in particular, have great public transport connections, as well as their respective surrounding suburbs. In these areas, you have the option of using trains, metro, tram, buses, or even the ferry (if living on the other side of Tagus River – ‘Margem Sul’). Single fares in Portugal aren’t expensive, but they aren’t cheap either, so getting a monthly transportation pass/card is definitely the most economical option.

In Lisbon, for example, the monthly card includes all public transport – including even scooters and bicycles. For traveling between cities, CP trains, Flixbus and Rede Expressos are your best options – the latter, especially for getting to more remote towns. An average bus ticket between Porto and Lisbon, for example, is anywhere between 3 and 20€, depending on how far ahead you buy it.

Utilities

Electricity and gas go together – supplied by the same provider most of the time, since it makes things a lot easier. Water is heavily specific by area; communications companies are country-wide operating.

You should make your choice of providers with your preferences in mind since prices and services don’t vary much. When it comes to electricity, for a two-bedroom, you can expect to pay around 60€ in summer and 80€ in winter. Houses in Portugal are not heated, so bills can go much higher during cold months. Water bills are, for the most part, cheaper than electricity/gas, not usually going over 20€ for a 2-bedroom apartment.

Internet, TV, and phone bills usually come in a package, but can also be separated. The main providers in Portugal are NOS, MEO, and Vodafone. Your decision should be made based on your priorities – how fast you need your Wi-Fi to be; the amount of data on your phone; how many channels you want on the TV or even if you want TV at all. 

You can expect to pay around 100€ for the main utilities in a two-bedroom.

Education in Portugal

There are many public schools in Portugal and they are completely free of charge. From 1st to 12th grade, school books are also provided by the state. When it comes to associated expenses, such as supplies and food, there’s a bracket (escalão) system based on financial conditions. Kids on Bracket A (Escalão A) also have school meals for free, while Bracket B pays only half (which comes to ~0,80€) and Bracket C pays whole (~1,60€). 

After you’re all set in Portugal, your children can freely attend public school in Portugal. If they know even just a bit of Portuguese, there should be no issue. However, as this is uncommon, most expats choose to enrol their kids in private – and often international – schools, which are, of course, paid. 

But fear not – private schools in Portugal are still much cheaper than in the rest of Europe. For example, a local private school is usually around 10k/year, while an international school in Lisbon can range from 25 to 40k. The benefits of these are the erasure of the language barrier, smaller classrooms and the building of international curriculum and qualifications. 

University 

As for higher studies, Portugal offers many options. Public universities in Portugal are the most desired and well ranked and tuition is much cheaper than in other countries – around 800€/year. As for private institutions, fees can go anywhere from 3k to 8k/year.

It’s also important to remember that different levels of learning entail different costs. For example, a master’s degree (mestrado) is quite more expensive than a bachelor’s (licenciatura). It, of course, also varies from university to university.

Healthcare in Portugal

Portugal has a national healthcare system (SNS) that’s basically free for everyone legally residing in the country (small fees apply in certain occasions). If you’re working in the country, you’ll get a NISS (Social Security Number) automatically, which grants you access to the SNS. However, in order to book doctor’s appointments through the system, you must also get registered at your local health center (centro de saúde). 

The existence of a national free health system is amazing, yes, but it does come with some cons. For example, waiting times can be a nuisance – particularly in certain specialties. And, if you don’t know Portuguese, there can be a language barrier – although it is mostly common for doctors to know English. 

Consequently, it is advisable for foreigners to get private health insurance, which comes at cost. But thankfully, these costs are still rather cheap, depending on what your priorities and conditions are. Health insurance in Portugal can start anywhere from ~15€/month for one person, to 200€/month for the whole family – it truly is something specific to every situation. You can get more of an idea of the costs on the websites of the most popular health insurance providers in Portugal: Médis, Medicare and Advancecare.

cost of living in portugal 2023
Beautiful sunset from a lookout in Porto

Sample cases of the cost of living in Portugal in 2023

An individual in Lisbon
  • Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the center – 900€/month
  • Groceries – 250€/month
  • Eating Out (2x a week) – 100€/month
  • Transport (Monthly Lisbon Card) – 30€/month
  • Utilities (including Internet and TV) – 100€/month
  • Private Health Insurance – 50€/month
  • Gym – 40€/month

The total cost of living in Lisbon comes to 1420€/month for a rather comfortable life in the city! 

A couple and a young child in a smaller city (e.g: Guimarães)
  • Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in the center – 900€/month
  • Groceries – 350€/month
  • Eating Out (2x a week) – 250€/month
  • Transport (Car Insurance + Expenses + Gas) – 180€/month
  • Utilities (including Internet and TV) – 200€/month
  • Private Health Insurance – 200€/month
  • Private school – 300€/month

The cost of living in a smaller city in Portugal for a family of three comes to 2380€/month.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi ! Starting to looking seriously into moving to Portugal , 2 adults , can I get some info about properties in good ( safe) neighborhoods with action and peace at the same time ?
    Which city is more affordable? At the same time a vibrant vibe

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