2023 Cost of living in Portugal: An overview of how much it costs to live in Portugal

2023 Cost of living in Portugal: An overview of how much it costs to live in Portugal

Cost of Living Portugal vs UK & USA

Is living in Portugal expensive? No - in fact, Portugal is one of the cheapest places to live in Western Europe. The cost of living in Portugal per month is lower than almost half of the other countries around the world.

And if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life, the cost of living in Lisbon is about 45% lower than in London, 37% lower than in Dublin and 54% lower than in New York City.

Thinking about moving to Portugal from the UK? You’ll be pleased to learn that the cost of living in Portugal is around 25% lower than in the UK.

And when it comes to renting a property, you can expect to pay about 27% less than you would in the UK, although prices vary according to location and the size and style of the property.

So just how much money do you need to live in Portugal comfortably? As a family of four, you can expect to pay monthly living costs in the region of €2055 (excluding rent). And if you’re single, you can expect to pay monthly living costs in the region of €600 (excluding rent).

Let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Portugal.

Buying a House

Many properties in Portugal are offered for sale with land, so you can often get more for your money than you would in the UK or the US.

Property prices vary by region, but you can generally expect to pay more for a city-centre property than a home in a rural location. For example, Lisbon and Porto are two of the most expensive places to buy property in Portugal.

If you want to be close to some of Portugal’s most glorious beaches, take a look at properties in the Algarve. 

Renting a House

The average rent in Portugal is around 28% lower than in the UK. So how much is rent in Portugal? As you’d expect, city rental costs tend to be higher than if you choose to live in a rural location. Your monthly rental costs will vary, depending on where you want to live and the size of property you are looking for.

You can expect to pay in the region of €1300 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon. If you choose to live in Funchal, Madeira, the same budget could get you a two-bedroom two-bathroom apartment.

Household bills

The total cost for household bills in Portugal will vary according to the size of your home and how many people are living there.

For example, if you are living alone in a one-bedroom studio apartment, you should aim to budget about €90 per month for the cost of electricity, water, heating and waste disposal. If you are living as a couple in a two-bedroom flat, you should aim to budget around €130 per month.

You will also need to consider the cost of maintaining an internet connection. A fibre internet package will cost in the region of €50 per month.

In Portugal, utility bills tend to be issued on a bi-monthly basis.

Remember, if you choose to live somewhere hot such as Lagos, you will need to factor in the additional cost of electricity to run an air conditioning unit.

Food and drink

On the whole, food and drink costs in Portugal tend to be lower than in the UK or the US.

Here is an overview of what you can expect to pay for basic food and grocery items in Portugal. The prices listed below are according to Numbeo in 2023.

Milk (1 litre) - €0.78
Loaf of bakery bread (500g) €1.20
Eggs (pack of 12) - €2.24
Cheese (1kg) - €7.86
Apples (1kg) - €1.70
Bananas (1kg) - €1.17
Bottle of wine (mid range) - €4.00
Local neer (0.5 litre bottle) - €1.09

Eating out at a restaurant tends to be cheaper than in the UK or US. For example, a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range will probably cost in the region of €40.00.

If you enjoy grabbing a coffee on the go, you can expect to pay about €1.45 for a regular-size cappuccino. 

Entertainment and leisure costs

Whether you’re thinking about retiring to Portugal or working in Portugal, you’ll need to think about setting a budget for leisure activities. Planning to join the gym? You can expect to pay in the region of €35 per month for a fitness club membership.

If you want to stay up to date with the latest blockbusters, an adult’s cinema ticket will cost you about €7 for an international movie release.

Theatre tickets might cost anywhere between €10 and €40, depending on your chosen seat and the show you want to see. And if you want to go to a concert, ballet or opera show, you can expect to pay anywhere between €15 and €90 per ticket.

Admission costs to museums and tourist attractions in Portugal vary. In Lisbon, entry to the Parque da Pena Palace and Gardens costs around €10, while a sightseeing tour of the city costs in the region of €75 per person. 

Travel and transport

The cost of travel and transportation in Portugal is generally lower than in the US and the UK. Intercity trains and buses are an affordable option, with monthly tickets available for under €50 in many major cities.

For example, a monthly pass for travel in Lisbon is available for €40. In contrast, a monthly transport pass in London will set you back more than €150. In New York City, a 30-day unlimited pass for the subway and buses costs $127.

Most of the major cities in Portugal offer excellent public transport links. So if you don’t want to drive, it’s pretty easy to get from A to B. Bigger cities such as Porto and Lisbon offer a variety of great value public transport options, including buses, coaches, metros, trains and trams.

In Portugal, there are a couple of popular car sharing services, including Boleia, BlaBlaCar and CarpoolWorld. These are useful if you live in a rural area but don’t have your own car. It’s not always the cheapest way to get around, but it’s good for the environment and a great way to meet new people.

There are several major airports in Portugal, including Faro, Porto and Lisbon. Madeira and the Azores have their own dedicated airports, but some of the smaller islands only offer direct flights to mainland areas of Portugal.


Portugal offers one of the best healthcare systems in the world. In 2019, it was ranked in 12th place worldwide by the World Health Organisation. Generally, medical care in Portugal is not expensive. However, if you do not have health insurance and are faced with an ongoing medical problem, the costs can be very high.

If you are moving to Portugal from the US, you can expect significantly lower healthcare costs. If you’re registered as a Portuguese resident, you will have access to the Portuguese national health service (SNS), which is funded by taxes and social security payments.

Like the NHS in the UK, most essential healthcare services are available to residents free-of-charge, but you may need to pay standard user fees (taxas moderadoras) to access some state healthcare services. The amount you will need to pay varies - for example, you may be expected to pay €15 if you need to attend the Accident and Emergency Department at your local hospital, or €5 for a basic GP appointment.

There are around 241 hospitals in Portugal, and around half of these are private hospitals. 10 of these institutions have been awarded the prestigious Joint Commission International gold seal of approval.

Most healthcare providers employ both Portuguese-speaking and English-speaking staff. Free healthcare is available to all residents who contribute to the social security (seguranca social) fund, as well as pensioners, children and pregnant women.

Other costs to consider

The other costs you will need to consider will depend on your circumstances. For example, if you’re planning to move to Portugal with young children, you’ll need to factor in the cost of schools and childcare.

There are a variety of childcare settings to choose from In Portugal. These include nurseries, childminders, creches and kindergartens. In general, creches in Portugal will only care for children aged between three months and three years.

Monthly pre-school fees are usually between €250 and €500 for a full-time place. And if you need to use a childminder, you should allow a minimum of €200 per week to cover this.

School fees in Portugal are funded by the state, so your children can attend a Portuguese state school free of charge. If you want your child to attend an international school or a private school, you will need to pay the appropriate fees. These vary between schools, so it’s important to consider all of the options before you make a decision.

University tuition fees in Portugal are generally affordable. At the University of Algarve, international students can expect to pay between €3000 and €4000 per year for undergraduate tuition fees.


So is life cheap in Portugal? Well, the overall cost of living in Portugal is significantly lower than living in the UK or the US. And when you consider this alongside the climate, culture and lifestyle, it’s easy to see why so many expats choose to live here. 

by Hannah Denby


Finance & Law

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