- Download our Moving to Portugal Guide (PDF)
The reasonable cost of living in Portugal continues to attract expats from all over the world. Though still not as popular as its Iberian neighbour, the country increasingly appeals to Northern Europeans and Brits. Retirees and pensioners looking to invest in overseas housing have taken a particular liking to the affordable property market in Portugal.
As is the case in most destinations, the cost of living in major cities such as Lisbon is much higher than in more rural communities. In the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2023, Lisbon ranked 117th out of 227 expat cities surveyed worldwide.
For expats who can manage a modest way of life, a single person with a steady job earning a moderate salary will be able to attain a decent standard of living in Portugal. Overall, the cost of living in Portugal depends greatly on location and the individual's lifestyle, but generally offers good value to expats and retirees.
Cost of accommodation in Portugal
Except for high-end expat resorts and golf homes, such as in the Algarve, property in Portugal is less expensive than the European average. Unlike most expats elsewhere, a significant number of foreigners living in Portugal actually opt to buy property rather than rent. Renting is also good value, although prices can be high in areas like Lisbon and Porto.
Cost of transport in Portugal
Expats should note that car and petrol costs are considerably more expensive than many other parts of Portuguese life. Some expats find themselves paying thousands of euros for a rust bucket on its last legs. Alternatively, public transport is generally cheap and efficient.
Cost of groceries in Portugal
The cost of food in Portugal is much cheaper than in other Western European countries. Thanks to its vast coastline, Portugal enjoys abundant and affordable seafood. Several regions in Portugal also make and distribute wine, both locally and internationally, making it highly affordable. Meat products are slightly more expensive, however, as are poultry and eggs.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Portugal
Eating out and entertainment in Portugal can be considered relatively affordable compared to many other Western European countries. You can expect to find a meal at a local restaurant for a reasonable price, while dining at a more upscale restaurant can still be affordable but with higher prices.
Entertainment options in Portugal are diverse and range from cultural experiences like visiting museums and historical sites to outdoor activities like exploring the beaches and hiking trails. There are also more traditional forms of entertainment, such as going to the cinema or visiting a bar or nightclub.
Cost of education in Portugal
Expats have the option of sending their child to a public school in Portugal at little or no cost. But given the fact that standards at these schools vary and the continued criticism of the Portuguese public school system, most expats prefer their children educated at private or international schools.
Fees at international schools in Portugal can be high. In addition to school fees, parents will need to budget for extra costs such as textbooks, uniforms, extracurricular activities and school excursions.
Cost of healthcare in Portugal
Portugal offers a well-regarded healthcare system that balances affordability with quality, making it a favourable destination for expats from around the globe. The public healthcare system, overseen by the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), provides mostly free care for citizens and legal residents. Private healthcare is also available and is notably inexpensive compared to other Western European countries. It offers an alternative for those seeking shorter waiting times and access to a wider network of specialists.
While the basic medical costs in Portugal are reasonable, with visits to a general practitioner typically costing less than what might be expected in many other countries, it is important to note that the public healthcare system does not cover dental care and cosmetic surgery. These services must be paid for either out-of-pocket or through private health insurance, which remains quite affordable.
Cost of living in Portugal chart
Note that prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Lisbon in February 2024.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
What do expats say about Portugal's cost of living?
"On average, I estimate that we spend about one third less here." Read more about American expat Bob's life in Portugal.
"Consumer products made in Portugal are cheaper, like shoes. Labour and services are cheaper, everything from the veterinarian to auto mechanics and taxis." Read more about Gail's experiences in Portugal.
►Read more about the price of property in Accommodation in Portugal
Are you an expat living in Portugal?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Portugal. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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