The cost of living in Portugal in 2021. A complete guide for immigrants.

The cost of living in Portugal in 2021. A complete guide for immigrants

Sunny Portugal invariably attracts the rapt attention of millions of emigrants. It has a mild climate, a stable economy, affordable prices, high-class medicine, and education – everything you need for a happy, healthy and free life. With a high level of development, the cost of living in Portugal is 15-20% lower than in central European countries. In Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto, the cost of living is 70% less than in American New York. The benefits of moving to Portugal to this land of great opportunity become more and more apparent when you consider each cost item in more detail.

What is good about life in Portugal

“The land of three religions: soccer, food and family,” as the Portuguese themselves describe their homeland, is the jewel of the Iberian Peninsula almost without blemish. The state ranks among the top 30 countries in the world for permanent residence. This is understandable:

  • Warm climate. The average summer temperature is +25-27 ˚C, rarely falling below +4 ˚C in winter. The climate is the mild Mediterranean, with no sharp fluctuations in temperature, except in the northern region.
  • Low prices. The country has inexpensive products and manufactured goods, low prices for some utilities, public transport fares, and affordable housing.
  • Clean environment. Portugal is the fourth on the list of EU countries with the most favorable environmental situation.
  • Quality products. Agriculture is excellent, on the shelves in stores and markets are always only fresh products.
  • One of the best systems of medicine and education. Portugal spends 9% of its GDP on medicine and ranks 36th in the world in terms of spending. With a university degree in Portugal, you can easily enter any institution in the European Union.
  • Fine infrastructure. Quality roads, transport, accommodation, and entertainment with a constant high level of service.
  • Accessible conditions for obtaining residency. Get residency by investing in real estate, and after 5 years, you can get a resident status and citizenship.

Economic situation

Economic situation
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As early as 2017, Portugal’s economy, having overcome the effects of the crisis, began a strong recovery. In addition to falling unemployment, exports have skyrocketed, after falling as low as 2%, by a factor of 10. Portugal has attracted the attention of foreign investors, thanks to the rapid growth of the economy. The latter is due in large part to an efficient policy on the European side and the low-interest rates set by the central bank of Europe. In Forbes’ ranking, in the category of advanced states for doing and developing business, Portugal has for years ranked high. The country has left serious competitors such as Germany, France, and Spain far behind.

The cost of living in Portugal: the main expense items

An in-depth look at the Portuguese specifics of all cost items will give you the most accurate idea of the average budget needed to live in the republic.


Cost of Living in Portugal: Housing
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Portuguese real estate is one of the most affordable among other developed world cities. Thus, the average cost per m2 of living space in the country – is € 1200, in the capital it is a little higher – € 1300-1500. The monthly rent of small apartments of 40 square meters in the center of the metropolis would cost €500, in the resort twice as much – €1000. There are no problems and in a short time, you can find a good apartment for purchase and long-term rent in the major Portuguese cities like Lisbon and Porto. If you choose to live in the resort area, it is better to choose your place to rent. It’s very advantageous, because the cost of real estate is the highest, and during the summer period the rates are the highest. Fans of the quiet and measured pace of life can buy a house in the province for €500,000-600,000. A similar price for a spacious apartment of 100 m2 in a luxury house in the center of the capital, Sintra, Porto. . Every resident of the country must pay a real estate tax of 0.3-0.8% of the total price of the dwelling. Inherited homes and automobiles are not subject to this tax.


Cost of Living in Portugal Meals
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Portuguese cuisine is varied and consists of meat, seafood, fish, vegetables, and fruits. The most common alcoholic beverages in Portugal are port and wine. The largest plantations of grapes for the production of the latter are located in Porto and the Douro Valley. Products are convenient to buy both in the markets and in the markets. Some prices for groceries from the markets, taken at the average, not including local discounts:

    • €0.5-0.75 – milk 1 liter;
    • €0.7 – 500 grams of white bread;
    • €0.6-1 – 1 kilo of rice;
    • €1.5 – 1 kilo of pasta
    • €1.2-2 – 12 eggs;
    • €5-10 – 1 kilo of local cheese;
    • €5 – 1 liter of olive oil;
    • €3.5-5 – 1 kilo of chicken breast;
    • €6-12 – 1 kilo of beef;
    • €15-30 – 1kg ham;
    • €5-10 – 1 kilo of octopus, squid, tuna, dorado;
    • €0.9-1.9 – oranges, apples, bananas per 1 kilo;
    • €0.5-1.35 – potatoes, tomatoes, onions, lettuce;
    • €0.2-1 – water in a 1.5 liter bottle;
    • from €3 – bottle of wine;
    • €0.6-1.5 – local beer in a 0.5l bottle;
    • €4.5-5 – pack of cigarettes.

  The opening hours of Portuguese supermarkets are from 10:00 to 19:00-21:00, depending on the location and area of the outlet. Opponents of walking to supermarkets go to local farmers’ markets, where the freshest produce comes straight from suppliers. Portuguese people love experimenting with home-cooked meals, but they don’t mind going to the restaurant, either. Young people, in particular, can be seen around street food outlets. Dinner at a recognizable restaurant for two people will cost €100-160, and at an inexpensive one – €20-30. Lunch is a snack bar is €5-6, a portion of grilled street food is €4-5 and a stuffed bun is €1,50. A cup of espresso, a Portuguese favorite, costs €0.60-0.70, a milk coffee €0.70-1.20, and a cup of tea €1-1.50.


Cost of Living in Portugal Transport
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The transport infrastructure in Portugal is excellent. All types of public transport, including funiculars and elevators, run in the big cities. Almost all buses have free Wi-Fi, and some vehicles run on secondary energy. All children under the age of 12 are free to use all forms of public transportation, with a named travel card. For adults, significant fare savings will be obtained with the Zapping named fare card, which has fixed fares:

    • €1.35 – one trip on the streetcar or bus (without a card – €2 and €3);
    • €1.35 – one ride on any type of transport, including the metro for 60 minutes (without a card, one metro ride is €1, 45);
    • €1.90 – commuter train ride for 2 hours, with no extra charge;
    • €1.80-2.56 – one trip on the Transtejo/Soflusa ferries;
    • €1.40-4.60 – one trip on the TST commuter bus.

Other transportation prices:

    • €3.70 – two cable car rides;
    • €5.15 – two elevator rides in Lisbon;
    • €6.30 – one day pass for all public transport;
    • there are two trips on the lifts in Lisbon.

and two trips on the lifts in Lisbon.

  • €36.70 – monthly pass for all public transport;
  • €40-65 – high-speed train ticket;
  • €24-40 – normal train ticket;
  • €3-7 – train ticket;
  • €20-35 – Express bus ticket.

You can rent a bicycle in major Portuguese cities for €15-20 per day. The average cab fare per kilometer per trip is €0.90, landing €3.5. From 21:00 till 06:00 the fares increase by 20%. A daily rental car from certified rental outlets will cost €15. Gasoline costs €1,5 – 95, €1,7 – 98, diesel €1,3. A freeway toll, of which there are 24 in Portugal, costs from €1,7 to €19,30.


Cost of Living in Portugal - Shopping
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Portugal does not skimp on shopping, including fans of global brands. Everything that is sold in the EU is also in abundance in this country. Prices for clothing, accessories, and footwear from the world’s famous fashion houses are habitually high. There are high quality and much cheaper goods from local manufacturers. All clothing stores are open from 10:00, with a siesta break from 12:30 to 15:00, and are open until 20:00. For evening shopping you can go to the shopping malls, where the departments with different goods are open until almost 00:00. Prices for mid-priced clothing and footwear in name-brand stores:

    • dresses – €20-40;
    • classic trousers – €50-100;
    • t-shirts €10;
    • swimsuits: €20;
    • sneakers: €50-90;
    • bags: €100.

For significant savings on this expense item, you can plan your shopping during sale periods. The Winter Sale is open from January 7 to the last day of February, and the Summer Sale is from August 7 to the first days of October. Good discounts of up to 80% are set for outgoing collections. Outlets near Lisbon and Porto offer clothing from renowned manufacturers at bargain prices all year round.

Payments, internet, communication

The amount of utility bills depends on the total area of the rented or personal property. For example, the maintenance of an apartment of 40 m2 per month will cost on average €70. Of these, including €10-15 – water bill, €20 – electricity. Portuguese people pay monthly for health insurance, which costs €50-70 per person. It is advantageous to pay for telecommunications in the country with a total package including internet, TV, and cellular. Local operators: Vodafone, NOS, MEO. Home Internet will cost €20-35 per month, and the cost of cellular communication, subject to the purchase of an advantageous plan will be €16 per month.


Cost of Living in Portugal Medicine
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In Portugal, health care operates under three systems: the national SNS, a special health insurance scheme for professional associations, and private health insurance voluntarily. According to the level of accessibility of medical services for foreigners, under SNS, the country is in the top 10 European countries. Medical care from the SNS, which is overseen by the Portuguese Ministry of Health, is free and available to all Portuguese immigrants, as long as they participate in the social security program. There are also fees for individual medical services, ranging from €5 to €20. For example, a consultation with a general practitioner costs €4.5, a consultation with a specialist costs €7.5, a house call to a doctor costs €9, an overnight stay in hospital costs €25, and a telephone consultation costs €25. Additional diagnostics and tests are charged separately, with each procedure having a certain percentage covered from the patient’s funds. For example, the amount for the tests cannot exceed €40. Residents reimburse the cost of medical services through deductions by submitting a tax return, but not more than €1000. Residents reimburse the cost of medical services through a deduction column, submitting a tax return, but not more than €1000.


Cost of Living in Portugal Taxes
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There are 3 types of taxes in the country:

    • herbal – paid at purchase, at a rate of 0.8%;
    • annual – rate from 0,3% to 0,8% of property price;
    • in case of registration of the property – as in the case of obtaining it, the property tax is paid at the rate of 6%.

A foreign resident may sell real estate only after 5 years of continuous ownership of the property. A 28% capital gains tax rate is imposed on the non-resident on the sale of real estate. The same amount of income tax is imposed on the rental of housing.


Cost of Living in Portugal Education
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There are 2 educational systems in Portugal: paid and free. The cost of attending public kindergarten depends on the family’s income. If the latter is minimal, the payment is assigned symbolic – €5-10 per month. But even the maximum rate in public institutions is much lower than that set in private kindergartens. There, parents have to pay from € 250- € 500 per month for attendance. . A child starts school with a basic, non-mandatory program from age 6. Tuition is charged in the same way as in kindergartens — the amount depends on the family’s income level. The student can choose one of the directions and “add” to the school curriculum a special one or more courses. Upon completion of school, with a diploma and certificate, it is easier for the student to enter a university.

There are two types of higher education in Portugal – university and polytechnic. The former’s curriculum includes the humanities, the latter includes engineering and technology. The first 3 years at Portuguese universities are the baccalaureate. It is free of charge but with compulsory contributions from €570-920 every year. Afterward, the study continues in the Master’s program, but for a fee – from €920 to €8000 per year.

Study of Russians in Portugal

Education in Portugal is available not only to Portuguese but also to foreigners. The latter is quite welcome, but under one condition – knowledge of the Portuguese language. The Russian student receives a lot of advantages along with a quality education:

    • placement in any EU country with a Portuguese Diploma and therefore an opportunity to work;
    • opportunity to travel freely within the European Union during their studies;
    • graduates have six months to find employment upon completion of their studies.


Cost of Living in Portugal Entertainment
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There is a wealth of entertainment to suit all tastes and budgets in Portugal. This is true not only in the big cities but also in remote villages. Many Portuguese people prefer the buzzing atmosphere of the city to the fun of picnics in the company of their family on weekends in the countryside. Touring the local city, country and seaside roads by car is another way to have fun. If you’re attracted to cultural treasures, we suggest checking out the cities, where you can spend all your free time visiting exhibitions, festivals, and other interesting events. When you’re in the city, we suggest checking out the cities, where you can spend all your free time visiting exhibitions, festivals, and other interesting events. Prices are quite democratic for a European country: a ticket to the cinema costs €7-10, you can see a theater performance for €10-45, a visit to museums and palaces will cost from €5 to €15 per person. Portugal can be conventionally divided into several tourist zones, each of which has its own specifics of leisure:


The capital of the country, is one of the finest examples of old Europe, with a huge number of historical, architectural, and cultural monuments. One of the interesting on-site excursions is a stroll along the Tagus River promenade, which costs €60 per person.


The whole island is a popular beach resort, where people love not only to laze around in the sun, but also to scuba dive and swim in company with dolphins. Spectacular local diving among caves, exotic fish, and corals will cost from €25 for a single dive per person.

The Azores Archipelago

There’s fun to be found in watching the lives of stingrays, sperm whales, mantas, and other predatory fish. A budget tour to experience the diversity of the Atlantic Ocean costs €1250 per person. 


The telling name opens the world to the water for windsurfing, bodyboarding, and kitesurfing enthusiasts. Despite the resort’s location on the mainland, this is where the steepest “tube” waves, which surfers from around the world dream of riding, are located.

Cascais and Monty Estoril

Lovers and lovers of nightlife will feel comfortable in the resorts. There is an atmosphere of fun, youth, and unrestrained dancing.

Sierra de Estrela ski resort

9 excellent quality trails with a total length of 6 kilometers, and 5 elevators. Both professionals and beginners will love it here from only €25-95 per person.

Example: Monthly budget for a family with a child

Example: monthly budget for family with child
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Let’s write down each item of expense for a month, of living in Lisbon, using a couple with a child as an example:

    • €500 – food basket and hygiene items;
    • €120 – utilities;
    • €150 – family allowance;
    • €150 – family insurance, for three people;
    • €48 for cell phone costs, with a preferential tariff plan from the local provider ;
    • €30 to pay for state daycare;
    • €72 for two adults, free for children up to 12 years old;
    • from €50 – for entertainment.

Accumulating the costs for each item, we get the result: the monthly cost of living in Lisbon for a family of two adults and a child starts at €970. If we add the rental costs, for example, a small studio apartment for €500, the sum adds up to €1500 per month.

Tips from MoveToCascais on effective budgeting

  1. Pick your housing wisely. The cost of living varies in different Portuguese regions and cities.
  2. Study the conditions of housing. It is better to compare several options in advance to save on unnecessary costs.
  3. Get health insurance. Do not skimp on this point, so that you do not have to pay huge sums for possible treatment.
  4. Love to cook at home. You always have fresh products from Portuguese farms. It tastes great and saves you money on dining out.
  5. Take advantage of a monthly ticket. It’s a good deal if you take public transportation often.
  6. If you decide to buy a car. Choose a personal vehicle from a range of pre-owned ones for maximum savings.
  7. If you decide to buy a car.
  8. If you decide to sell your home. To avoid paying the high tax rate of 28%, you must first become a tax resident of the country.

Our tips for effective budgeting for living in Portugal are advisory. That is why we advise you to think about your lifestyle within the framework of the economic and social conditions of living in Portugal. Armed with the information in this article, you will be able to adjust your expenses without limiting yourself in meeting many needs. Now you know for sure that the cost of living in Portugal, today, is considered one of the most affordable in Europe. What’s more, Portugal is a country worth striving for as it offers great opportunities for a healthy quality of life as well as a successful business. MoveToCascais