Prices in Portugal for utilities, groceries, education and property are likely to be different to your home country. See if the cost of living in Portugal fits your budget.
Portugal is the most reasonably priced country in western Europe and offers a comfortable lifestyle to many expats. This guide provides an in-depth overview of the cost of living in Portugal and covers essentials such as housings, education, groceries, childcare, taxes, eating out and social security.
With its enviable climate, stunning landscapes and affordable cost of living, Portugal is growing in reputation amongst expats. The Algarve is often cited as one of the best places to retire, whilst the other-worldly charms of Lisbon, Oporto, Coimbra and Cascais offer a peaceful and cultural setting.
Living in western Europe can be very expensive for expats unless you earn a good salary. But Portugal breaks the mould and offers an affordable living for expats that earn a modest salary as well.
Cost of living in Portugal
Portugal does not perform very well in the OECD better life index, although many expats would disagree with the statistics.
Earnings may be lower in Portugal than other comparable western European countries, but this is merely a reflection that the cost of living is substantially lower as well. If anything expats can afford a better lifestyle in Portuguese cities than most other cities in the world.
The average net-disposable income per household in Portugal is €18,198 a year. Many of the locals live off €750 a month. As a couple bringing in €2,000–€3,000 a month, you can enjoy an excellent lifestyle in Portugal.
The only city to feature in the 2018 Mercer Quality of Living rankings is the capital, Lisbon (38th). Having said that, the only other two cities in the country that Mercer actually surveyed were Oporto and Aveiro, neither of which are favourites with expats.
The estimated cost of living in different parts of Portugal are as follows:
Cost of living in Portugal: Lisbon
- 48% cheaper than New York
- 22% cheaper than Munich
- 9% cheaper than Madrid
- 14% cheaper than Brussels
- 33% cheaper than Paris
- 45% cheaper than London
Cost of living in Portugal: Porto
- 52% cheaper than New York
- 28% cheaper than Munich
- 16% cheaper than Madrid
- 21% cheaper than Brussels
- 39% cheaper than Paris
- 49% cheaper than London
Cost of living in Portugal: Coimbra
- 58% cheaper than New York
- 37% cheaper than Munich
- 27% cheaper than Madrid
- 31% cheaper than Brussels
- 46% cheaper than Paris
- 55% cheaper than London
Cost of living in Portugal: Cascais
- 48% cheaper than New York
- 21% cheaper than Munich
- 7% cheaper than Madrid
- 12% cheaper than Brussels
- 32% cheaper than Paris
- 44% cheaper than London
Portugal property prices
The cost of renting and buying a house in Portugal is surprisingly affordable considering how expensive other countries are in western Europe.
Reports indicate that a two-bedroomed property in the Algarve or Lisbon will cost somewhere in the region of €105,000–€180,000. The average cost per square metre is €1,15o. In the slightly less expensive cities of Coimbra and Cascais, you will find a three-bedroom apartment from €150,000–€180,000.
In rural areas, house prices are substantially lower. A three-bedroom property averages somewhere in the region of €100,000–€120,000, but some properties have been known to go for as little as €35,000 in the Portuguese countryside.
Renting a city apartment in Lisbon or one of the charming Algarve towns is possible for under €600, whilst a three-bedroom serviced apartment can be as much as €2,500 a month.
Elsewhere in the country, you can find rental costs for as low €450–€800 for a two-bedroom apartment. Unfurnished apartments are even less expensive. Expats with a family looking for buildings with modern amenities should expect to pay between €1,200–€2,000 a month.
The cost of living in Portugal: Utilities – gas, water, electricity
Portugal enjoys a mild climate which significantly reduces the cost of utilities. According to the 2019 figures produced by Numbeo, the average cost of electricity, gas and water in Portugal is €92 a month for an apartment of 85 square metres. Bills arrive every two months.
The country also has good Wi-Fi coverage and most rented apartments are serviced with broadband and telephone. Packages start from around €30.
For more information about utilities in Portugal and how to get connected, see our comprehensive guide.
Public transport prices in Portugal
The cost of public transport is also cheap in Portugal and the major cities all have a good network of buses, underground trains and in some places, trams. Single fares on the underground are €1.55. You can also get day savers that give you unlimited access to buses and metro for €6.15.
The average prices in Portugal for transport per month are €36. Taxis in Lisbon have a flat rate of €3.25 and €0.50 per kilometre thereafter. For up-to-date prices, use an online taxi fare finder.
Owning a car in Portugal is comparable to other western European countries. The price per litre of unleaded petrol is €1.42. If you are travelling on the highways, you should expect to pay a toll, and more if you are travelling a long distance. Driving long distance in Portugal can add €20–€30 onto your journey.
Grocery prices in Portugal
Staple foods in Portugal remain low in cost, but expats should still budget around €200–€300 a month on grocery shopping if you like to throw in a few luxury items. You can get good wine for under €10 and beer from the supermarkets can be as low a €1.
Given Portugal’s location on the coast, fresh fish is very reasonably priced. Shrimp and tuna are around €8, but you can find cheaper fish such as Dorada for around €5. Meat is around €7–€10, but chicken is much more affordable at around €2.50.
Education prices in Portugal
Schools in Portugal are funded by the state and registered expats are free to send their children to a state school free of charge. However, lessons are conducted in Portuguese and the level of education has come under some criticism over the years.
The majority of expat children attend private schools or international schools, which makes educating your children expensive. Universities are much more affordable compared with other EU countries.
Private schools focus on the Portuguese curriculum but are taught in dual languages. International schools allow your children to take the curriculum of your native country.
Tuition fees vary so you should contact the school directly. However, to give you an idea of average costs, a private school in Lisbon charges €10,000 and €20,000 a year in tuition fees, plus a €3,250 levy and a further registration fee. The British school in Oporto, meanwhile, charges €8,200–€12,100 per year.
Portugal also has public and private universities. Public universities are much cheaper: tuition fees start at around €950–€1,250 per year for a bachelor’s or a master’s programme. Doctoral fees are approximately €2,500–€3,000.
Tuition fees at private universities are significantly higher, starting at around €3,350–€3,900 a year for any level degree.
Coimbra is a popular city for students to study in Portugal and also has some of the lowest tuition fees in the country, with courses costing around €1,500–€1,800 a year.
Healthcare prices in Portugal
Although very little healthcare is free in Portugal, the healthcare system is low-cost for residents enrolled in the social security system. Consultancy fees with a doctor are just €5 and €10 for emergency treatment.
Employers are obligated to appoint employees with health insurance and pay contributions each month. Health insurance can cost anything from several hundred euros to over a thousand. Insurance companies typically only pay around 60% to 80% of the treatment costs, so check your health insurance policy if you take out private healthcare insurance.
If you’re self-employed, you must provide proof of health insurance to register for a residency permit. For more information about healthcare in Portugal, see our comprehensive guide.
Childcare costs in Portugal
Childcare services in Portugal include crèches, nurseries, childminders and kindergartens. Crèches generally only accept children between three months and three years and can cost anything between €100–€400 whilst kindergartens between €300 and €650 a month.
By law, childminders in Portugal have to be a minimum age of 21. Nannies and au pairs in Portugal can demand fees of around €180 a week. If you use an agency to find an au pair you also have agency fees on top of that. Expats should budget at least €200 per week for childminding services in Portugal.
Cost of living in Portugal: Dining out
Expats living in Portugal will probably have the opportunity to eat out more often than their European neighbours. A sit-down lunch will cost around €15, or you can buy large sandwiches for €5 and can feed two people. Fast food is around €5–€6.
The average bill for an inexpensive restaurant in Portugal is €7 including a glass of house wine. For mid-range prices, you will be looking at €20–€40 for two people. A bottle of wine is €7 upwards. Anything more extravagant will be €25–€35 per person.
Tax prices in Portugal
Personal income tax is removed at source from your monthly salary. As a general rule, married couples are taxed separately, although you can choose to be taxed jointly. Self-employed tax returns should be filed online or by paper between 1 April and 31 May. The tax brackets on earnings are:
- €0.00–€7,091: 14.5%
- €7,092–€20,261: 28.5%
- €20,262–€40,522: 37%
- €40,523–€80,640: 45%
- Over €80,640: 48%
For detailed information about the tax system and taxable income in Portugal, see our in-depth guide.
Cost of living in Portugal: Social security and pension costs
Residents that are registered with the social security system in Portugal pay contributions directly from your monthly salary at a rate of 11% of your gross earnings. A further 23.75% is paid by your employer.
If you are self-employed, you are obligated to pay 29.6% per month of your declared income. The social security system in Portugal protects contributors against unemployment, maternity, occupational diseases, invalidity, pension and death.
You can find more details about the social security system in Portugal here.
For economic indicators of prices, such as inflation and tax news see the Portugal Government’s website.