Cost of Living in Portugal 2024 - Monthly Budget Breakdown of Expenses

Cost of Living in Portugal

Portugal offers the lowest cost of living in Western Europe, where a couple can live nicely on $2,500 to $3,000 a month outside of the major cities. Bump that budget up a bit for Lisbon, the country’s lively capital, Porto, the city known for port wine, set along the terraced vineyards of the Douro River, or the Algarve, Portugal’s coastal gem. Of course, it is possible to live on less or more, depending on your lifestyle.

This tiny country situated on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula has much to offer. North Americans who choose Portugal as their home can expect to spend one-third to one-half less than they do now in their home countries, depending on where they currently reside. If you live in an expensive U.S. or Canadian city, Portugal will offer you significantly more bang for your buck. For those who live in rural, cheaper locations in North America, Portugal may come in about the same, but still offer you a better quality of life. For Americans, healthcare in Portugal will be far less expensive and will work out to be your greatest point of savings.

Housing will be the largest expense, whether renting or paying a mortgage. In Portugal’s interior, expats can find rents starting from as low as $450 for a two-bedroom, furnished, older home packed with Portuguese charm. In Lisbon, it may be possible to find a furnished one-bedroom for under $1,000 close to amenities and public transport.

Healthcare in Portugal is some of the best in the world, ranked #12 by the World Health Organization. All residents of Portugal have access to both the public healthcare system and the low-cost, private system where many medical professionals speak English. Private health insurance policies start at around $50 per person but do increase with age, pre-existing condition, and the type of policy chosen.

Food costs significantly less in Portugal since its produce is grown locally, fish is caught from its extensive coastline, and delicious wines can be picked up for just a few euros per bottle. Restaurants throughout the country offer delicious meals at a fraction of what you might expect. It’s possible to find meals starting as low as $5 in tiny villages in the interior of Portugal and up to $12 in the more expensive cities and along the coast.


Just like anywhere else in the world, rental prices in Portugal tend to be higher in big cities and less costly in smaller towns. Quaint villages in Portugal’s interior can offer expats furnished rentals starting at just $450 a month. If the big city vibe is more appealing, look to Lisbon, where a one-bedroom, furnished, city-center apartment may be found for under $1,000. A more spacious, two-bedroom, modern apartment can be found for $1,300. In Porto, Portugal’s second city, it may be possible to score a one-bedroom, compact apartment in the city center for around $850 or a detached home outside of the city center for $1,300.

Property for sale in Portugal’s interior can offer a whole lot more house for the money and typically may include some land. In Castelo Branco or along Portugal’s Silver Coast it’s possible to find houses for under $200,000, but they may need some renovating. Be aware that not all homes in Portugal are insulated or come with a heat source but if the price is right these can be added. Do your due diligence and always consult a Portuguese attorney before signing on the dotted line.

Portugal has several popular expat havens where foreigners can settle into life rather easily, without having to know much Portuguese at first. The Algarve, Portugal’s southern coastline, has long received visitors from the UK and around the world, making it easy to befriend English speakers. Boasting some of the best weather in all of Europe, it’s no wonder that so many expats have succumbed to its charms.


Popular expat havens in the Algarve include Lagos in the west, where a two-bedroom, furnished rental can be found for $1,300 a month just a short walk from the beach. In the center of the Algarve, a mere twenty-minute drive from Faro International Airport, is the resort town of Vilamoura, where a two-bedroom furnished rental in a complex with a swimming pool may be available to rent for around $1,000 a month. In the eastern Algarve, just a short drive from the Spanish border, is the historical town of Tavira. Rentals here can be found for $1,100 in the center of town.

Ideally, it’s always best to rent first when moving to any foreign country to be sure that the location is the right fit for you. When it comes time to buy, Portugal offers a variety of freestanding homes and apartments at prices to suit every budget. In Porto, a two-bedroom apartment near the city center can be found for $250,000, while a house in the country can be had for around $400,000. On the Silver Coast, one hour north of Lisbon, surrounded by rolling hills and farmland, sits Caldas de Rainha. Here you could find a large, four-bedroom home in the $235,000 price range. In the city center you can expect to pay around $150,000 for a small, modern apartment. In Lisbon, prices start around $500,000 for a modern, two-bedroom apartment near the city center. Settle easily into Portugal’s Algarve where prices for a two-bedroom, modern apartment in the town of Tavira start around $280,000, while a semi-detached house would go for $400,000. For around $535,000 you could wake up to sea views in a Vilamoura golf community with three bedrooms.

Perhaps buying a ruin to renovate has always been your dream? In Portugal, there is always undoubtedly a reason why the property is vacant and being offered cheap. It may be untitled or tied up in family matters, and renovations in Portugal can take far longer than expected, even for the Portuguese.


Portugal has an assortment of grocery stores in all sizes most everywhere in the country. The largest retail grocery chain is Continente, with over 500 stores, some of which include non-grocery items like clothing, toys, housewares, and more. Other popular chain stores are Pingo Doce, Inter Marche, Spar, Mini Preco, and Auchan. Stores like Lidl and Aldi offer limited stock at bargain prices. Aldi even carries some products that bear Trader Joe’s name, commonly found in the US. Even the tiniest villages throughout Portugal come equipped with small grocery stores that offer a full range of products in a smaller space at the same prices. Most expats who settle in Portugal rave about the low prices and high quality compared to North America. The healthy Mediterranean diet is alive and well here with abundant fish, olive oil, fresh bread, and locally grown fruits and vegetables.


Visitors and expats both are amazed at how inexpensive it can be to eat out in Portugal. A meal of fresh fish caught earlier that day served with vegetable soup, rice or fries, and wine will only set you back around $12 in most places. Savor a cup of espresso for less than $1 and add one of Portugal’s famous, delicious custard tarts, called pastel de nata, for the same price. Sip glasses of $3 local wine all afternoon with friends and the waitstaff will never hurry you out.

Whether it’s local cuisine you crave or Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Italian, vegan, or most any other type of food, you can find it in Portugal.


Portugal has one of the finest highway systems in all of Europe, so driving here is easy and the best way to explore the country. Hybrid vehicles account for 36% of all cars registered in Portugal although fully electric cars are gaining in popularity. With gasoline and diesel prices averaging around $7 a gallon at today’s exchange rate car ownership can be expensive but does offer more freedom.

In 2020 the average price of a new car in Portugal was $34,000 due to high taxes, but importing one from North America can prove even more costly. Most expats instead opt to buy a used, newer model vehicle and spend less than $20,000. Popular brands include Renault, Toyota, Peugeot, Citroen, Dacia, and BMW. Buying directly from a dealer offers a two-year guarantee, and they take care of all the paperwork such as insurance, registration, and inspection.

In larger cities like Lisbon and Porto most residents take full advantage of public transport. The price of a day pass for public transport is $6.82 in Lisbon and $7.35 in Porto. Uber and Bolt are reliable and inexpensive too.

Long-distance trains called comboios crisscross from one end of Portugal to the other and offer reliable and inexpensive transport. Options include regional trains for shorter distances, intercity trains that only stop at bigger cities and towns, and the alfa pendular high speed train that runs the entire length of the country. Prices vary by day, time, and discounts are offered to seniors. Prices for Lisbon to Porto are: $26.75 (inter-city train), $34 (alfa pendular), and for Lisbon to Faro, $23.45 (inter-city) and $25.58 (alfa pendular).

Bus travel in Portugal offers regional, local, and international options in comfy coaches. Options include express buses that make no stops but cost more, or slower ones that stop more frequently. Prices depend on the day and time but usually range from $5 to $22 per journey. Rede Expressos is the largest bus company in Portugal, others are Rodonorte and Eva Transportes.

Popular retirement havens in the Algarve can be accessed by trains that go from one town to the next. Once you arrive at your destination, the choice is yours to travel by foot, Uber, taxis, or local buses. The ever-popular expat haven of Cascais has easy access to and from Lisbon via train number 19001, a 40-minute ride that costs just $1 to $3. Getting around Cascais by foot is easily doable, but hop aboard the number 405 or 415 bus for further distances.


The monthly cost of utilities in Portugal will vary by the size of the dwelling and the number of people living in the space. Electricity or gas, water, and garbage disposal for one person can run between $85 to $95 in a small apartment, while a couple living in a larger space can expect to pay between $130 to $140. Plan to add another $50 to $75 for a high-speed internet (often fiber) cell phone package.

Prices throughout North America will vary by city and state, but as an example, monthly expenses in Lisbon are 90% less than New York City, where even rent prices come in at almost half. Even in small-town America, the overall cost of living in Boise, Idaho comes in at 35% more than Lisbon.


Portugal offers some of the best healthcare services in the world, and at astoundingly affordable prices. Fourteen facilities boast the Joint Commission International prestigious gold seal of approval. Residents can pick up affordable private health insurance plans with no deductibles starting at just $30 a month for a couple in their 40’s while a couple in their 60’s will pay around $300. Many medical professionals, especially in the private sector, are fluent in English. Expats also have access to the public healthcare system where some services and prescriptions are offered at no charge while other costs are minimal.

Even medical tourism costs far less in Portugal where foreigners can take advantage of cosmetic surgery procedures like face lifts, breast augmentations, and tummy tucks for a third to half of what it would cost in the U.S.

Expats find themselves paying next-to-nothing for life-sustaining medications such as insulin in Portugal compared to costs escalating as high as $1,000 per month in the U.S.

Sample Budgets


The following is a sample monthly budget for a couple living close to but outside of a major city like Lisbon or Porto. Private health insurance is required for all foreigners who choose to live in Portugal and prices vary by age, health condition, and type of policy.

ExpenseU.S. $
Rent (two-bedroom, furnished apartment)$1,100
Utilities (Electricity, Water, Gas, Trash)$150
Internet/Cell Phone/Cable TV Package$70
Private Health Insurance (per couple)$150
Transportation (Car Maintenance or Public Transport)$300
Household Help (4-hours, 1 x week)$125
Entertainment (Dining Out & Other Activities)$300
Miscellaneous – Incidentals$300

Below is a sample budget for a single person living near but outside of a major city like Lisbon or Porto.

ExpenseU.S. $
Rent (one-bedroom, furnished apartment)$700
Utilities (Electricity, Water, Gas, Trash)$75
Internet/Cell Phone/Cable TV Package$35
Private Health Insurance$75
Transportation (Car Maintenance or Public Transport)$300
Household Help (4-hours, 1 x week)$125
Entertainment (Dining Out & Other Activities)$150
Miscellaneous – Incidentals$300

Miscellaneous Expenses

Those living on a budget may prefer to dine out less and cook at home more to save money. Although Portugal’s cinemas do run movies in English with Portuguese subtitles, many people prefer to stay at home and enjoy movies on Netflix which can reduce your budget even more.


Retirement in Portugal can offer you a high quality of life in one of the safest countries in the world, with top-notch healthcare, delicious food, and warm welcoming people. And you can have all of this and more at a fraction of what retirement in North America could cost.