The cost of living in Portugal is one of the greatest attractions to relocate here. In fact, Portugal is considered by many to be one of the most reasonably priced nations throughout western Europe, offering fair prices for essentials, as well as a very comfortable climate to live in.
In some countries, the cost of living can differ hugely depending on what region you live in. In Portugal, prices don’t alter too much between living in local or rural towns and living in big cities such as Lisbon and Porto. You will, of course, pay a premium for living in Lisbon or Porto, but that is understandable. Portugal is the second least expensive country in Europe after Bulgaria.
It is said that the most influential factor about rental prices for property in Portugal is a building’s proximity to the coastline. For example, in the Algarve, rental prices can be more expensive overlooking the coast. However, if you are prepared to live inland, a short drive from the sea, there are plenty of small towns a 10-20 minute drive away and even some that can offer you mountain views at home and the proximity of the beach within half-an-hour.
One and two-bedroom apartments tend to fetch €375-€400 per month outside the major cities and approximately €600-€700 for similar accommodation on the fringes of cities such as Lisbon. Those wanting to live in the midst of Lisbon’s tourist neighbourhoods can expect to pay upwards of €1,000 a month – which is still comparatively cheaper than many other capital cities in western Europe.
If you would prefer to buy your own property when relocating to Portugal, you’ll be pleased to hear that property values are considerably cheaper here than in many other countries in Europe. Values vary across the country, of course, with expats capable of snapping up apartments in more rural, local towns and villages for as little as €30-40,000.
Larger, two-bedroom properties in Lisbon or on the Algarve coast will probably set you back something in the region of €120,000-€180,000. Three-bedroom properties in more modest Portuguese cities such as Cascais and Coimbra are often available for under €180,000 too.
It’s important to note that property sizes in Portugal do differ than some other countries in western Europe, arguably due to the climate and the amount of time people spend outside relaxing and exploring. Apartments that are 550 sq ft in size are deemed adequate for couples in Portugal, while 1,000 sq ft properties are also deemed acceptable for young families.
Dining out in most Portuguese cities, towns and villages is arguably one of the main events of the day. That’s because the locals view their traditional restaurants and pastelarias as part of their community. As a result, the ambience and décor of these establishments is warm, welcoming and typically Portuguese.
Many expats relocating to Portugal are shocked at how cheap it is to eat out here. Most local restaurants will offer a ‘prato do dia’ lunchtime special, which is a set meal costing no more than €10-€11 – wine included. Outside of these set meals, local wines are typically available in restaurants for no more than €10, with the vinho de casa (house wine) usually very acceptable.
Refreshments such as coffee can be enjoyed for as little as €0.50 in some towns and even in Lisbon it’s possible to find a pick-me-up espresso for less than €1. In the bigger towns and cities, overseas cuisines are also readily available, with plenty of affordable Asian and Indian eateries. Interestingly, Mexican food tends to be more expensive than most other cuisines, as it is currently the trendiest option in most Portuguese cities.
Weekly grocery shops can be done in most towns and cities in Portugal for less than €100 a week, even if you enjoy some of life’s luxuries. Local bottles of wines can be bought for around €3-€5 and local beers are also readily available for as little as €1.
Portugal’s coastal location means that it is teeming fresh fish, most of which is fairly priced. Dorada tends to be the best value option, while chicken is typically the cheapest meat option here. Fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown in Portugal also tend to be very good value. It’s global brand name products where you might pay a little over the odds compared with the likes of the UK, the US and Germany.
Getting around the bigger cities of Portugal is much cheaper than public transport in the UK. For instance, a Metro ticket in Lisbon and Porto will set you back a mere €1.45 and €1.20 respectively. Train travel is also much more reasonable in Portugal, with rail fares from Lisbon to the Algarve costing no more than €20-€30 for a three-hour journey.
If you live in a more rural area of Portugal, you may be considering having a car. Interestingly, buying a car tends to be much more expensive than neighbouring European countries, especially second-hand models. Furthermore, fuel is also more expensive in Portugal than Spain, which is why many Portuguese residents that live near the Spanish border will fill up there.
In the warmer, summer months, energy bills can be considerable, particularly if you require air conditioning to run 24/7 in your property. It’s also important to bear in mind that most Portuguese properties are built to cope with the summer months, as opposed to the colder, damper winter months. Central heating is very expensive and somewhat rare in Portugal, with many locals preferring to double-up their aircon unit as a heater or use wood-burning stoves to keep rooms warm.
Modest apartments will typically cost north of €150 a month in terms of utilities. You can also expect to pay between €30-€60 for mobile and broadband internet packages from Portugal’s service providers.
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