What Is the Cost of Living In Portugal?
With its sunny climate, relaxed lifestyle and affordable cost of living, Portugal has become an increasingly popular destination for expats in recent years. Whether you’re a retiree looking to enjoy your golden years in the Algarve or a young professional seeking career opportunities in Lisbon, Portugal has something to offer everyone. But, what is the cost of Portugal? And more importantly, what is the cost of living in Portugal as an American?
Surprisingly, Portugal is very reasonable, especially when compared to other Western European countries! With affordable housing and low grocery costs, the cost of living in Portugal vs USA is a no-brainer.
Are you planning to move to Portugal in the near future? Make sure you check our updated report on the average cost of living in Portugal as an American in 2023.
If you’re planning to purchase a property in Portugal, the cost will depend on the location, type of property and other factors. However, according to Global Property Guide, the average price of an apartment in Lisbon is €1,929 (US$2,091) per square meter. This may seem like a lot at first, but it’s actually quite reasonable when you compare it to large cities in the USA. For example, the average price of an apartment in New York is an eye-watering €2536 ($2700) per square meter.
Of course, not every expat looking for a fresh start will be able to purchase an apartment. In fact, most of them are digital nomads who want to spend one or two years in Portugal before heading off to a new destination.
How much does it cost to rent a place in Portugal?
According to recent data[AS1] from Numbeo, the average monthly rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon in 2022 is around €760. Sure, prices will vary depending on the specific location and type of property, but overall, rentals in Portugal are relatively affordable.
If an apartment in Lison is still too expensive for you, why not consider relocating to a smaller town? In the interior of the country, it is possible to find a one-bedroom for around $400 a month (though the average price comes closer to $500).
And if you really want to experience life in Lisbon but you don’t think you can spend €760 on rent every month, you can always rent a private bedroom in a shared apartment for around $500 a month. If you were to do this in Los Angeles, you would be looking at closer to $1000 a month. So, as you can see, the cost of living in Portugal vs USA differs significantly in favor of Portugal.
Do you enjoy cooking at home? Then you’ll be able to happily contain your cost of living in Portugal.
One of the main reasons why the cost of living in Portugal is so reasonable compared to other Western European countries is that the price of groceries is surprisingly cheap.
Grocery shopping: Is Portugal expensive?
At €250 per month, buying food in Lisbon (the most expensive city in Portugal!) is $60 cheaper than in New York and other big American cities. This includes staple items such as bread, milk, cheese, eggs, and meat. But it is fruits and vegetables that are particularly low-priced. A kilo of tomatoes, for example, will cost you around €1, while a kilo of apples will cost you around €0.80. This is great news for people who like to entertain their guests with homemade meals, but also for those who just like to lead a frugal and healthy lifestyle.
While not as cheap as food, drinks in Portugal are also accessible: If you do your grocery shopping in a supermarket, a two-liter bottle of water will cost you around €0.50, a one-liter bottle of soda will cost you around €1 and a bottle of wine will cost you between €3 and €5.
So, why don’t you treat yourself to a glass of rosé while you are cooking dinner? That’s one of the great things of living in Portugal as an American: you can treat yourself!
If you’re someone who enjoys going out to eat and drink, you’ll be happy to know that Portugal is a great place for foodies. With its abundance of fresh seafood and traditional dishes, there’s something for everyone there, and not just in the bigger cities!
But, how expensive is it to eat out in Portugal?
The cost of living in Portugal for food lovers
Of course, the cost of eating out will depend on the type of restaurant you choose. For example, a meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost you around €25 per person, while a meal at a more upscale restaurant can cost up to €60 per person.
However, if you’re on a budget, there are also plenty of places where you can get delicious food for less than €10.
In Lisbon, for instance, there are many so-called tascas where you can get a filling meal for around €8. Or, if you’re in the mood for some fast food –or just on a really tight budget– you can always get a Big Mac at McDonald’s for €5.
Is Portugal expensive, then? Not if you know where to look and how to save money!
If you’re planning on living in Portugal, it’s important to know that the cost of public transport can be relatively high, especially in bigger cities.
Here is a how much public transport can add up to the cost of living in Portugal:
Moving around Portugal
In Lisbon, a single bus ticket costs €1.45, while a monthly pass costs €50. Not precisely cheap, right?
And that’s the cheapest it gets! For, as in most cities, the cost of transport in Portugal will depend on the mode of transport you choose. If you’re someone who takes taxis frequently, for example, you will need to earn a lot of money. In Lisbon, the cost of a 5km ride in Lisbon is around €12!
Never fear, though. Nowadays, you can always get a ride with Uber. At around €0,7 per kilometer, it’s a much cheaper (and for some, safer) way to get home.
Finally, car owners should be aware that petrol is also quite expensive: a liter costs, on average, €1.40, which explains why many expats (and Portuguese people!) choose to buy a bike instead. Having a bycicle to ride around Lisbon is a great, eco-friendly way to reduce the cost of living in Portugal as an American.
If you’re thinking about moving to Portugal, one important cost to consider is health insurance. Unless you are a citizen of an EU country or have a valid residency permit, you will not be able to access the Portuguese public healthcare system and will therefore need to take out private insurance.
The average cost of a basic policy
The cost of private health insurance in Portugal varies depending on the insurer and the type of coverage you choose. However, as a general rule, you can expect to pay around €50 per month for a basic policy.
While this is not precisely cheap, it’s worth mentioning that, in Portugal, even “basic” insurance will usually cover most medical expenses, including hospital stays and consultations with specialists.
Even with relatively high-priced bus tickets and costly health insurance plans, the cost of living in Portugal as an American is still one of the lowest in all of Western Europe.
Finally, another cost to consider when moving to Portugal is banking. If you’re planning on opening a bank account in Portugal, there are a few things you should know.
First of all, most Portuguese banks charge monthly fees for their accounts. These fees can range from €2 to €12 per month, depending on the bank and the type of account you choose. In the United States, on the other hand, most banks don’t charge fees, so this is something to consider.
In addition, many banks also charge fees for ATM withdrawals and international transfers. So if you’re planning on using your Portuguese bank account frequently, be sure to shop around and compare the fees of different banks before choosing one.
All in all, the banking system is on of the aspects of the cost of living in Portugal that expats should consider carefully. At least in this regard, the cost of living in Portugal vs USA can differ significantly.
Hidden costs of living in Portugal
While the cost of living in Portugal is relatively low, there are a few hidden costs that expats should be aware of.
Here are a few things you should consider within your budget.
Gym membership: around €40
Electricity: around €80
Internet: starting at €25
Phone plan: from €15
Cable TV: from €30
*The figures are monthly and based on Lisbon costs.
As you can see, the cost of living in Portugal is quite affordable, even when taking into account some of the hidden costs.
So, is Portugal expensive?
The answer is: not really. The cost of living in Portugal is one of the lowest in Western Europe, and many expats find that their overall costs are quite affordable.
That said, it’s worth noting that the cost of living in Portugal can vary significantly depending on which city you live in and how you choose to spend your money.
Of course, if you’re thinking of relocating to this fascinating country, it’s important not just to study the cost of living in Portugal as an American but also to learn the basics of the Portuguese language before you go. While you may get by speaking in English at the beginning, you will soon realize that learning Portuguese is the best way to find work in Portugal, make friends, and connect with the local culture.
And, how can you learn Portuguese fast? With our tailor-made courses lessons, of course. Portuguese may not be the easiest language to learn, but with our customized courses for travelers and expats, you’ll be speaking fluently in no time.
All you have to do is send us a message and we’ll pair you up with a Portuguese teacher for a completely personalized course based on your needs and objectives. Oh, and if you mention this article, you will be able to access a free trial online lesson!