Enjoy a Low Cost of Living in Portugal

Love Europe but think you can’t afford it? Think again. I recently spent some time in Portugal and was wowed by the low prices. In Portugal, you can enjoy a low cost of living similar to that in Latin America’s more developed countries…with all the benefits of European life thrown in.

For instance, you can get a sit-down lunch for about $15. You can grab a sandwich for less than $5 that’s big enough for two…but why bother? As in many Latin countries, lunch is generally a proper meal in Portugal, and you can get two courses, sometimes with beverage, starting from about $10. Or have dinner in a family-style restaurant for just a little more. Like wine with that meal? No problem. You can get a glass of wine in many restaurants for $4 or so…or half a bottle for about $7. Portugal is a wine-producing country, after all, and the local product is good, plentiful, and inexpensive.

Supermarket prices for groceries are low, but you can also go to traditional markets. Lisbon’s Mercado da Ribeira, right in central Lisbon (the country’s capital), is a standout. Buy your fruits, veggies, and fish here, and catch lunch at one of the gourmet food stalls while you’re at it.

Rent from $600 a Month in Lisbon

Many parts of Portugal have a mild climate, which keeps utility costs down. And even in Lisbon, you can rent an apartment long-term from about $600 a month. If you look around, you can even get a furnished place at that price.

Getting out and about in Portugal is easy and inexpensive, too. Trains, buses, and—in the cities—metro systems connect major destinations. International airports in Lisbon and Oporto connect you to the rest of Europe and beyond. And, as Portugal is a major tourist destination for other Europeans, you can even take advantage of low discount-airline fares from Lisbon, Oporto, and other destinations.

One potential downside to Portugal, of course, is the language: Relatively few foreigners speak Portuguese. Fortunately, many Portuguese do speak English, especially those in the larger cities (Lisbon and Oporto, for instance) and in the tourist areas. Even more of them speak or understand Spanish…so those high-school Spanish classes aren’t entirely wasted.

So if you’ve ever dreamed of a home in Europe, give Portugal a try.


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