The Cost of Living in Portugal

The cost of living in Portugal often comes as a pleasant surprise for those who're planning to relocate to this country. In this overview, we'll talk about the expenditure items that a typical expat is curious about. For the convenience of readers from different countries, the prices will be indicated in US dollars and in euros.



In this country, people like to eat out, be it for breakfast or dinner. However, since the income of most local residents is not too high, they tend to dine out no more than once or twice per week.

Portuguese cuisine is based on three pillars: meat, fish and garlic. In most cities, towns and villages, there are colorful markets that offer the freshest produce. If you prefer supermarkets, keep the following brands in mind: Pingo Doce, Continente and Minipreço (the last one sticks to the express format). As for the large international chains, Auchan is the costliest and Lidl is among the most budget-friendly options.

The product prices in Portugal are very affordable:

  • 1 pack of milk — $3.15

  • Loaf of bread — $1.29

  • Dozen of eggs — $2.33

  • Steak — $5

  • Pastel de nata (popular local dessert) — $1.22

A cup of espresso usually costs a maximum of $0.70. Be ready to pay around $1.30 for one portion of wine or beer at a kiosk in a large city. In a nightclub that is popular among foreign tourists, one portion of spirits can cost up to $6, which is a lot by local standards.

The average price for a bottle of water is $1. Probably, you'll want to buy it only if you don't like the taste of tap water. Tap water in this country is free and absolutely safe for the human body. When you order a meal in a restaurant, you can expect the waiter to bring you a jug of tap water at no cost.


In Portugal, it's possible to rent a stunning villa for just around $2,000 per month. For a price of $600 to $1500 per month, you'll get a nice studio or apartment. Those who like to share apartments should turn their eye to Lisbon and Porto. Other locations might fail to offer this type of accommodation because there are fewer students and young workers there. Landlords typically charge from $350 to $600 per month for a room.

It's landlords and homeowners but not tenants who pay the taxes. The price of the rent often (but not always) includes the cost of housekeeping and Internet.

If you prefer to buy accommodation, the average price of a square meter in an apartment might vary from €2,000 to €3,000, depending on the location.

Families with kids normally invest in private houses located in suburban and rural territories. Most city apartments tend to be compact.

Here are the average sums that the owners of 1-bedroom apartments find in their monthly bills:







TV + Wi-Fi



The terms on which you'll be allowed to use the local healthcare system will depend on the agreement that your homeland signed with Portugal (or lack of it). Locals who enjoy at least a medium level of income rarely get health insurance. They get some parts of the services for free and pay for the others.

Here are a few examples of the local prices:

  • €40 per month can be the cost of private health insurance for an individual aged younger than 55 (for elderly individuals, it amounts to several hundreds of euros per month)

  • Slightly over $5 can be the price of a cold medicine that will last you for a week

  • Slightly over $50 is the typical cost of a doctor's visit

The quality of healthcare services is usually decent. Public hospitals can boast modern equipment and many of their staff representatives are fluent in English. You can easily buy most drugs in pharmacies. The only drawback of the system is that away from big cities, healthcare facilities tend to be limited.


Immediately after your arrival, make sure to obtain a regular identifier of a taxpayer and a social security number. Most likely, you would fail to do it remotely. Before visiting a brick-and-mortar office, try to find someone who speaks Portuguese and can accompany you.

The tax rate for the income that you make in this country can vary from 14.5% to 48%, depending on how much you earn. Employed individuals don't need to take care of it themselves. Their self-employed counterparts can pay their taxes either weekly or annually.

Some companies let their team members get a part of the salary in the format of preloaded food cards. The money that such as card contains can be spent only in selected shops and restaurants. These funds aren't taxed, that's why organizations eagerly distribute such cards.

If you weren't a local tax resident in the previous five years, feel free to apply for the non-habitual tax resident regime (NHR). It will let you enjoy the following privileges:

  • Become exempt from paying taxes on any income that you get from abroad

  • Won't need to pay the wealth tax during this decade

  • Pay a 20% flat rate on the locally generated income (without NHR, this number can rise up to 48%)

If you spend at least 183 days per year in this country, you'll become its tax resident. You'll be required to pay taxes on your foreign income here. To prevent double taxation, the national government has signed treaties with all EU states. If you're not from EU, you might have to pay taxes twice: here and in your homeland.

It's not uncommon to pay your taxes and bills through an ATM. That's why the queues in front of them might be long. You can even make purchases in online stores through an ATM by transferring money to the vendor's number.

It would be smart to always carry cash with you. You might need it to pay for products that you buy at market stalls.

The national banking system is not too modern. Try to become tolerant of bureaucracy. The bank where you open an account can charge you a fee if you fail to earn a certain sum of money per month and get it on your account.


The quality of education in Portugal is, unfortunately, lower than in the US or UK. However, there are two pieces of good news. Firstly, the quality keeps gradually improving over time. Second, dedicated schools for expats often stick to higher educational standards than their public national counterparts. Local public schools teach only in Portugal. After that, it might be more challenging for your kids to enter a foreign university. Besides, the staff of public schools regularly goes on strike.

If you opt for an international school in Portugal, be ready to pay from $25,000 to $40,000 per year. That's not cheap — yet it's more affordable than the services of similar educational institutions in the US, UK and other European countries. You can be sure your kids will prepare for international qualifications and will learn in their native language.

To cut down expenses, consider Portuguese private schools. They charge roughly $10,000 per year.


A taxi from the airport to the center of the city will cost you around $25. The price of a single journey metro ticket in the capital is $1.65. $2,000 should be enough to purchase a second-hand car. One liter of gasoline costs less than $2. When you call a taxi, it will charge you $3.50 for the fact of picking your up — and then, 1 km will cost you around $0.70, according to the normal tariff.

The local public transport system is affordable but not always reliable. It's a norm if buses and subway trains are a few minutes late. Nevertheless, if you lack a car, you'll be able to reach nearly any destination without a taxi.

In the North of the country, trains are the most common means of transport for intercity communication — and in the South, buses.

Difference in Prices in Various Locations

The average cost of living in Lisbon is predictably higher than anywhere else. This table should help you understand the price gap between different cities and regions:


Price of a monthly rental of a 1-bedroom apartment









According to statistics, it's enough to earn €562 per month to sustain yourself in this country if you don't need to rent the accommodation.


If you'd like to land a job in Portugal, here are a few informative numbers to remember:

  • The average monthly salary here is €2,750 EUR

  • The average annual one is €33,000

  • If you're planning to get employed, you'll be required to pay an 11% social security contribution for yourself

  • The employer will pay a social security contribution for you that will fall within the range of 22% to 34%

When you'll be signing the contract, the employer will offer you no less than €822 per month — that's a legal requirement.

Retiree Lifestyle

The cost to retire in Lisbon can range from $2,000 to $3,500 per month, depending on your demands. In this country, both men and women quit their work at the age of 66 years and 5 months. They start receiving the local pension if they had a minimum of social security contributions in this jurisdiction. Alternatively, they can opt for private company pensions.

If you're from the EU, you'll be allowed to transfer your contributions from your homeland. If you come from outside the EU, you might be able to do so as well — but only if your state and Portugal have agreed on that.

If you'll be receiving a pension from abroad, it will be taxed in Portugal. However, an offshore pension scheme or the NHR that was described above can help you reduce the expenses.

Retirees from the EU will immediately get access to free healthcare services. Only selected medical interventions will require additional payments. All the others will need to obtain local residency first. Before that, they should be ready to pay for healthcare services from their own pocket.

Private health insurance for elderly people can cost a few hundred dollars per month. Only selected service providers cater to clients from this age group. Make sure to insure your health before the relocation. After you settle down, consider discarding your international insurance for the sake of a more cost-efficient private local option.

To make the lives of your family members easier, it would be smart to draft a will before the relocation. If you're planning to buy real estate in Portugal, your heirs won't need to pay a tax on becoming its new owners. Instead of this tax, there is a flat-rate stamp duty of 10%. Your better half, kids and parents will be exempt from it, while other heirs won't. The process of inheriting the property will be regulated by the legislation of your homeland. Only if your better half is a Portuguese resident, the local laws will be applied.

Portugal vs Other Countries

Now, we'll compare Portugal vs USA, UK, Spain and Greece. You'll understand at a glance whether the cost of living in this country is more or less affordable than in your homeland and the two most popular relocation alternatives to Portugal.

We'll focus primarily on the following parameters:

  • Accommodation

  • Utilities

  • Meals (buying products and eating out)

  • Transport

  • Healthcare

  • Education

  • Style

Let's start with the most basic information:







Cost of living per single person per month






Cost of living per family of four per month






Monthly rent per person






Monthly rent per family






Food expenses per person per month






Transport expenses per person per month






As you see, Portugal is slightly more expensive than Greece and a bit more budget-friendly than Spain but the difference isn't too drastic. Moreover, these are statistics. In reality, you might find out that the prices in these three countries are identical.

Compared to the UK and the US, Portugal is twice as cheap. Even if your income in your homeland isn't too high, you'll feel very comfortable in Lagos, Madeira, Porto or Algarve Portugal.

Let's have a detailed look at how much the most common products and services cost in these four countries:








Monthly rent of a 1 bedroom apartment, 40 m2 or 430 ft2

From $438 to $565

From $843 to $1,107

From $1,088 to $1,410

From $470 to $620

From $438 to $565

Monthly rent of a 3 bedroom apartment, 80 m2 or 860 ft2

From $804 to $1,025

From $1,547 to $2,116

From $1,870 to $2,466

From $767 to $1,021

From $804 to $1,025

Buy an apartment in the city center, price per 1 m2 or 10 ft2






Buy a house in the suburbs, price per 1 m2 or 10 ft2






Monthly utility bill per person






Monthly utility bill per family






Internet plan, 50 Mbps+ unlimited, per month







Public transport ticket






Monthly ticket for local transport






Taxi ride, 8 km or 5 mi






Gasoline, 1 L or 0.26 gal






Eating Out

Dinner in a restaurant, for two people






Lunch Menu






Fast food meal






Beer in a pub, 0.5 L or 16 fl oz













Milk, 1 L or 1 qt






 Bread, 0.5 kg or 1.1 lb






Rice, 1 kg or 2.2 lb






12 eggs







Cheese, 1 kg or 2.2 lb






Chicken Breast, 1 kg or 2.2 lb






Banana, 1 kg or 2.2 lb






Potato, 1 kg or 2.2 lb






Water, 1 L or 1 qt






Mid-priced wine, 750 mL







Cigarette pack






Toilet paper, 4 rolls







Daycare or preschool, 1 month






International primary school, 1 year






Sports and Healthcare

Doctor's visit






Cold medicine, 1 week






Gym membership, 1 month






Style and Beauty

Simple haircut






Brand sneakers






Brand jeans






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