Cost of Living in Portugal (2023)

Last updated on May 25, 2023

Portugal is a small yet vibrant country located on the western coast of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula. Known for its picturesque cities, historic landmarks, and stunning natural landscapes, it offers something for pretty much any type of expat or digital nomad.

From the bustling streets of Lisbon—which has become a true digital nomad hotspot—to the tranquil beaches of the Algarve—where retirees have long flocked for sun and good food—culture and nature blend flawlessly in this small southern European country. For those wanting unique scenery, the rolling hills of the Douro Valley are home to some of the world’s most renowned wine regions, while the rugged coastline of the Alentejo is dotted with charming fishing villages and dramatic cliffs. No matter the type of climate or lifestyle you desire when considering where in the would you could live, there’s a pretty good chance Portugal has somewhere on offer that would meet your needs.

And, of course, Portugal’s growing popularity as a destination for expats and digital nomads can be largely attributed to the country’s relatively low cost of living—among the lowest in Western Europe. Portugal offers a high standard of living at a fraction of the cost of other European countries.

Of note is that inflation and the war in Ukraine has hit Europe hard—2023 prices are far higher than just a few years ago for most European destinations, including Portugal. While food and accommodation are still a bargain in Portugal, electricity and some consumer goods are on the rise.

So, although it’s one of the trendiest destinations on all cost of living lists in 2023, it’s actually been on the radar of British and European retirees for years. And while the cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest compared to other European nations, it’s certainly still pricier than moving somewhere like Mexico or Thailand—countries that also have gorgeously temperate climate drawing retirees, digital nomads, and expats. All in all though, several digital nomad friends have moved to Portugal in the past few years alone because it offers a pretty easy visa, a decent tax situation, great weather and food, and Europe in your backyard.

Why Move to Portugal?

Scenes from Porto on a cloudy day.

Rich with culture, overflowing with delicious food, and known for its friendly locals, Portugal offers expats of all stripes a high quality of life. Plus, the weather is ideal, with sunny summers and mild winters, meaning you outdoor activities are feasible all year round. For those hoping to find work, rather than those retiring in Portugal or bringing their work via a digital nomad visa, Portugal also has a growing economy and start-up scene.

Then there are the practicalities. The Portuguese government and people generally have a positive attitude towards expats moving to Portugal. Sure there are pockets where gentrification has soured some on lax visa policies, but overall the country has a long history of welcoming foreigners and a strong tradition of hospitality.

The government has also greased the wheels to make it easier than ever to move to Portugal. It has implemented several policies to attract foreign investment and talent, including the Non-Habitual Resident program, which offers tax benefits to individuals who move to Portugal and become tax residents.

And for those leaving behind friends and family to live in abroad, Portugal offers something you don’t find everywhere: a place welcoming of expats. Many Portuguese people are open-minded and welcoming toward foreigners, and expats generally find it easy to integrate into local communities.

That being said, the country is trendy. It’s topping all of the “best places to live for a low cost of living” lists. When you pair that with the fact that most foreigners can actually obtain one of the government’s expat-friendly visas, there has been an influx of people moving to Portugal in recent years. It has actually overwhelmed some communities, bringing with it the attendant gentrification risks you find anytime there are these type of wealth disparities . But as long as you’re respectful of the local culture and customs and make an effort to integrate into the community, most expats find the Portuguese welcoming and friendly.

Cost of Living in Portugal: $1,200 to $2,600

How much does it cost to live in Portugal? Digital nomads could come it at or under $1,000, while couples should plan to spend $1,600 on a strict budget if they’re living near one of the trendier cities. Digital nomads would be sharing an apartment on that budget, while couples could rent a one-bedroom in the suburbs of a city. A single-person could live pretty comfortably on $1,500 almost anywhere except the city-center of Lisbon. Interior cities are more affordable for retirees and digital nomads. In Coimbra or Braga a couple could live quite comfortably on that same budget of around $1,600 per month.

Living in Lisbon, Porto, or trendy areas of the Algarve is going to cost more, but in other areas you can easily have a nice, cushy life for $2,000—add another $700+ to that for an equivalent Lisbon lifestyle. Hoping to live somewhere solo (no roommates) for under $1,000 per month? That’s doable in Portugal’s interior and quieter towns. Here’s what the cost of living breakdown generally looks like in a nice area of the country, but not the city-center of Lisbon or Porto.

ExpenseCost $USD
Rent (1-bedroom)$700
Utilities (including fast wifi)$130
Transportation (car + gas)$130
Food (mix of cooking at home + restaurants)$325
Healthcare (local healthcare plan)$80
Extras (coffees, going out, daily small expenses)$75
Mobile phone$15

Fast Facts About Living in Portugal


Euro, 1 USD = 0.92 EUR  (check EUR rate here)

Average Local Salary

According to the Eurostat, the average salary in Portugal in 2021 was a mere €19,300 a year, and in 2022 that number was still under €22,000 (putting salaries on par with some eastern European countries). The government-mandated national minimum wage in 2023 is €822 per month—this is why it’s obvious that the expat cost of living estimates are higher than the cost of living for many locals. Note that salaries vary greatly depending on the region, with Lisbon and Porto having higher average salaries than the rest of the country.

What are the expat communities like?

You’ll find a diverse community of people from all over the world living across Portugal, from retirees to digital nomads and families. The expat community in Portugal is welcoming and friendly, and many expats are happy to share their experiences and tips with newcomers via meetup groups and online forums. These are also good places to make new friends when you arrive. Many expat groups organize events and activities, such as language exchanges, cultural events, and social gatherings. Many expats are also involved in the local community, volunteering and getting involved in local events and activities.

Possible Issues Living in Portugal

Most expats won’t find any major dealbreakers—it’s a safe country with a lot of economic and cultural opportunity. On the food front though, vegetarians and vegans will struggle to find many options at traditional Portuguese spots, and in smaller towns.

How is the wifi in Portugal?

You’ll have no problems with strong, stable internet even on an island like Madeira. Coworking spaces abound, and most furnished rentals also include wifi already connected and included in the rental price.

Buying Property in Portugal

Buying in Portugal means selecting from a wide range of properties—from charming old village houses to modern apartments in bustling cities to nearly empty land ripe for renovations. You can finance your purchase with cash, take out a mortgage, or even apply for the Golden Visa by investing in a property worth at least €500,000.

Although often fairly straightforward, it’s best to use a good lawyer when navigating the legal side of things.

Visas for Expats

Part of Portugal’s appeal is the fact that even Americans can secure a visa to live there. The Golden Visa is a popular option for expats who want to invest in property in Portugal. By purchasing a property worth at least €500,000, you can qualify for a five-year Golden Visa, which gives you the right to live and work in Portugal.

The Digital Nomad Visa is a launched in 2020 for digital nomads and remote workers . This visa is expressly intended for people who work remotely and don’t need to work in Portugal—it has a validity period of one year.

Also, all of the visas offer unique and differing tax advantages. More information in the resources below.

Health Insurance

Healthcare in Portugal is at a high standard and is available to everyone, including tax-paying expats. The country has a well-organized public healthcare system, with a network of hospitals and clinics that provide a wide range of services. The public healthcare system is generally free for Portuguese citizens and legal residents, and for expats it’s available for low cost.

EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access healthcare services in Portugal. Many expats elect to buy private insurance, which can cost as little as €50 per month, but probably averages closer to €80 for the types of services expats add on. This opens up a network of private hospitals and clinics that offer quicker access to specialized medical care.

Child Friendliness

The Portuguese are welcoming and friendly to families, and they have a great sense of community. The country has plenty of kid-friendly activities and attractions, from beautiful beaches and parks to museums and zoos. Plus, the education system is great, with both private and public schools available. Most larger towns and cities have plenty of parks and playgrounds, as well as sports clubs and activities for children.

Pet Friendliness

Many expats move to Portugal with their furry friends, and you’ll see plenty of dogs and cats around the country. There are plenty of pet shops, veterinarians, and pet-sitting services available, so you’ll have everything you need on that front. Many apartments and houses in Portugal allow pets, but you’ll certainly need to disclose that before signing a contract. Public transport usually allow pets in a carrier. And, of course, you’ll need to make sure that your pet has all the necessary vaccinations and paperwork and a pet passport.

What’s the Quality of Life Like in Portugal?

Overall, most expats who move to Portugal find that it offers a great quality of life. Like much of southern Europe, life in Portugal offers a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, a strong culture of hospitality, and a culture that strives for work/life balance. Because the Portuguese people are known for their friendly and welcoming nature, it’s easy for expats to settle in and feel at home at a number of expat-heavy cities and towns across the country. This, coupled with the country’s rich culture and history, makes Portugal a great place to immerse oneself in a new way of life and make new friends. Let’s dive into what life looks like in the most popular retiree and digital nomad hotspots across Portugal.


Let’s start with the quality of life in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. It’s a city brimming with history and culture. The architecture is beautiful and the nightlife is on point. It has boasts a pretty mild climate and the economy is growing, so it’s a great place to live and work. It’s one of the more expensive places to live in Portugal, but it’s markedly less any other capital city in the area though (looking at you London, Paris, Berlin). Add to that one of the larger existing expat communities, and the quality of life in Lisbon is quite high for those moving to Portugal for the first time.


Then you’ve got the second-largest city in Portugal, Porto. It’s located in the northwest and is known for its picturesque old town, port wine, and lively atmosphere. It’s a bit more affordable than Lisbon—particularly if you rent a place walkable to the city-center but not in it. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it has historic vibes and everyone you have ever known will want to come for a visit. But seriously, with fresh food available at markets, cultural festivals, and the pretty riverside running through town, most expats who want cooler weather and slightly slower vibes than Lisbon will love the quality of life in Porto.


If you’re looking for a more relaxed lifestyle, look toward the Algarve. It’s a southern region of Portugal known for its beautiful beaches, mild climate, and laid-back atmosphere. It’s particularly popular with retirees—and prices and the cost of living there reflect that—but there’s something for everyone there. If you’ve dreamed of working from a hammock with a warm breeze and beach nearby, than the Algarve offers an affordable version of this dream—not cheap, but significantly more affordable than the French Riviera, for example.

Silver Coast

The Silver Coast is an up-and-coming destination for expats. It’s located in the central west of Portugal, and it’s known for its sandy beaches, historic towns, and beautiful countryside. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a more laid-back lifestyle—and a tad bit more affordability (but you’ll trade warm winters for these cost savings).

Madeira and The Azores

If you’re looking for a quieter and more rural lifestyle, The Azores is a group of nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, they are considered a very unique and special place. It’s becoming a popular destination for expats who want to get away from it all. The Azores have a mild climate, beautiful scenery, and a laid-back atmosphere. Madeira, on the other hand, has some of that same allure as the rural Azores—tropical vibes, lush vegetation, and beautiful beaches—but with a capital city growing in popularity with digital nomads—and all of the attendant coworking spaces and hipster cafes.


Then we have Coimbra. It offers a small-town feel with all the perks of a big city. Expect beautiful architecture, a lively student population, and a rich cultural heritage. It’s the perfect place to live if you’re looking for a bit of history and culture mixed with a modern lifestyle—and a cost of living more affordable than any of the areas of Portugal already name-checked (Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve).

Cascais or Sintra

If you want to be adjacent to all that Lisbon offers, but are feeling a bit more spendy, consider Cascais or Sintra. Cascais is a coastal town located near Lisbon. This place is for those who are looking for a bit of luxury and a more upscale lifestyle. Expect beautiful beaches, upscale restaurants, and trendy shops. It’s a great place to live if you’re looking for a bit of glamour and luxury. Sintra isn’t like Cascais at all, rather it’s ideal for those who love traditional Portuguese lifestyle and culture. You’ll live in sight of stunning palaces and castles, beautiful gardens, and charming streets. It’s a great place to live if you’re looking for a more traditional and authentic Portuguese experience, but with the convenience of Lisbon (and it’s international airport) just a train ride away.

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Portugal?

Rising inflation in the wake of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine has made life cost more nearly everywhere in the world, and that includes Portugal. That said, it’s still comparatively affordable to most everywhere else in Europe. Only Spain comes close to the living costs in Portugal. Like most everywhere in the world, accommodation eats up the largest chunk of your budget, and where you choose to live in Portugal will largely dictate how much you shell out for rent. Note that in December 2022, rents in Lisbon were up a staggering 35% year-over-year, so even by the end of 2023, this data could be a bit under what you should expect to pay.

Also note that real cost of living breakdowns by expats living there tend to be shared by digital nomads more than retirees. If you’re researching costs to retiree in Portugal, you may find costs are lower since you’re not likely paying for a coworking space, and accommodation is cheaper when rented for more than a year (and even cheaper for those able to buy a property and then just have baseline costs stacked on top of that). Digital nomads are also not, generally paying taxes in Portugal since most stay for under six months. So, keep that in mind when reading their cost of living breakdowns.

This is an overview of common areas of expenses:

  • The overall cost of living in Portugal is about 30% lower than in the United Kingdom, according to Numbeo. That being said, prices in Portugal can vary depending on where you live in the country. Lisbon and the Algarve are typically more expensive than other parts of the country, but they also offer more job opportunities and amenities.
  • Housing costs in Portugal are generally lower than in many other Western European countries. According to Expatistan, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon is around €900 (about $1,100 USD). However, you can find cheaper options if you look outside of the city center or consider sharing a flat with roommates. In other parts of the country, such as Porto or Braga, you can find even more affordable options.
  • When it comes to food, Portugal offers plenty of delicious options at affordable prices. A meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost you around €12-€15 (about $15-$18 USD). If you’re looking to save money, head to a local market to buy fresh produce and cook at home. A kilogram of apples will cost you around €1 (about $1.20 USD), and a liter of milk is about €0.60 (about $0.70 USD).
  • Transportation around the country is also relatively affordable. Public transportation in Lisbon, for example, costs around €1.50 (about $1.80 USD) for a one-way ticket. Taxis are also reasonably priced, with a starting fare of around €3.50 (about $4.20 USD).

Here’s what various expats have reported as their actual cost of living expenses in the most popular expat and retiree hotspots in the country.

Cost of Living in Lisbon: €1,800-€3,000

Joanna and her partner are true expats living in Lisbon long-term who not only rented for a time, but also then bought property in 2021 and saw a steep drop in monthly expenses as a result. Their total comes in at a comfortable €1,335. They spent €700 on rent in Lisbon pre-2021, and the mortgage on their home in Barreiro is now just €250. Bills come in low: just €70 in winter and €40 in summer. Food is less than €350+ for both—€200 toward groceries and they sometimes tip over their €150 goal for dining and drinks. Then they pay an extra €100 per month for private health insurance, on top of the no-extra-costs Portuguese insurance they receive as tax-paying residents.

Bri is also a digital nomad, but popped into Lisbon for two months and broke down the prices she and her partner found there. In short, she paid €875 ($950 USD in Feb 2023) a month for her tiny but nice studio apartment in Barrio Alto (that should provide some context for what you’d pay for a 1- or 2-bedroom) similarly well located. It’s a shame she didn’t list out her total monthly expenses, but it was helpful to see they spent €200+ on co-working (ouch), and share their average meal costs too.

Cost of Living in the Algarve: €2,200 – €3,500

Carrie and Brian popped over to the Algarve at the beginning of high summer season (May and June 2022), and broke down exactly what they found on their vlog.

Sonia and Wojtek spent right around €1,500 ( $1,630 USD as of Feb 2023) living as digital nomads in Albufeira in Algarve & Ponte da Barca in Alto Minho in early 2022. As digital nomads, they didn’t actually move to Portugal, but instead spent a few months there, tabulating their costs for monthly rentals through Airbnb (which are pricier than long-term rentals) and for the attendant lifestyle, which usually includes coffees and a bit more upscale or hipster lifestyle. More than half of that went toward accommodation—they averaged €850, and although they didn’t pay for local healthcare, at €50 for an expat policy through SafetyWings , that’s right around what you’d pay for private expat health insurance in Portugal on the very low end—more if you’re older or want more coverage for dental, vision, and other extras.

Amy and Andrew have an interesting story, they rented a swanky place on a nine-month contract for just €850 a month in 2020—their rental went for €1,500 per week in the high season. All-in though, with utilities, they paid €1,039. Their cost of living breakdown is a good example of the differences in staying for longer. Their total average with food, transport, and life included came in at €1,458 in 2020—expect that to be 20% higher in 2023 and beyond.

Cost of Living in Porto: €1,400-€2,000

The riverside in Porto is both touristy and lovely—even locals brave the tourists for the chance to sip wine on a sunny day with views like that.

Josh and Kalie live in Porto with their young daughter and a dog. In spring 2023 they did a 30-day in the life video to share their precise cost of living as a family. It came in higher than even they were expecting at €3,618, but that did include a vacation elsewhere in Portugal, and some fun nights out on the town with friends. They were able to spend that while not trying to live on a budget, and share that for a family of three (four with the dog) €3,000 is realistic, and you could hit €2,500 if you were living frugally. Their rent is €750 to live in the heart of Porto—it’d a notch higher for those signing new leases in 2023 or beyond.

Melissa shares that inflation has strongly impacted the cost of living in Porto. With rents rising several hundred Euros per month and a red-hot rental market, you have to move fast on the places you do find. Expect €600 on the low end for the city-center, with utilities and internet running another €150, on average. A one-month coworking pass comes in at ~€70. She didn’t share her all-in total average per month, but with rents at that rate, and the average cost of food in Portugal, you’re looking at a minimum of €1,200 to be in location in or near the city center.

Alex lived in Porto in 2019; although prices have spiked since then, the breakdown of the costs and life for retirees is still incredibly detailed and helpful. Rent estimates of €600-€1200 are still actually on par with what you’ll find in Porto now, but it’s just that what you get for the bottom rung is a lot less. They note that utilities were ~€60 on the low end for a small place, or €120 for a 3-bedroom. As a resident of Spain in 2023, I (Shannon) can assure you that electricity and gas is easily 20% more than it was then—prices here in Barcelona are up over 30%.

Cost of Living in Madeira: €1,500-€2,200

Josefine and Dominik, a Danish-Canadian couple, logged the expenses they chart while living in Madeira, and it’s a bit more than you’d find on the mainland in the smaller cities, but on par with life in Lisbon—which may surprise some. If you live in Funchal, right in the thick of things, rent is going to set you back a hefty $1,200-$2,500. Count on less as you go further from the trendy area (and also from the coworking spaces and digital nomad community). Although they never share their total average cost, it’s safe to assume it’s a good clip over $2,000, since it includes €130 for coworking and a budget for hipster coffees and the digital nomad lifestyle (a hipster coffee, for example, averages €4 vs €1.50 at a local spot). If you move to Ponta do Sol, the cost of living will be less for a time since the government is helping subsidize digital nomads living there.

If you’re still researching various expat spots, check out our other Cost of Living Guides for a look at what it takes to move to the world’s most popular expat spots.

Links & Resources For Moving to Portugal

  • You will need comprehensive worldwide expat insurance and separate property insurance policy once you’re living overseas—I’ve used IMG Global and Clements for many years now with great success and highly recommend both. IMG can work as long-term expat health insurance, or for the first year while you suss out which private Portuguese insurance you want.
  • Portugal from Scratch: I’ve known Kirsty for more than a decade, and once she decided to no longer live as an expat in Rwanda, she bought a rural property in Portugal and has been rehabbing it from scratch, sharing the journey along the way. She’s candid about all of the highs and lows of buying property in Portugal, and the process of DIY renovations.
  • A Better Life for Half the Price: A Mexican expat breaks down all the major expat spots in the world with costs, quality of living, and resources. I learned a lot and found a couple of countries I hadn’t previously considered. It’s worth buying if you’re still searching out which country is best for the life you want to live.
  • Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America: There are a lot of these general guides. The book above, Better Life is about where is a good culture fit, whereas this is the better of the lot of “move overseas” books that covers the practicalities and very hands-on information you need as someone considering living anywhere outside the U.S. If you’re new all the researching, this can kick-start your process. And if you are laser-focused on the retirement topic, versus moving overseas at a different state in life, this retirement guide has great advice.
  • The Tax Book for U.S. Expats: This is well-priced and unique to expats and retirees filing abroad. It gives a granular look at forms, terms, and sorting out exactly how to file—good for those with complicated tax situations. More recently released, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans goes broader and is aimed at younger expats and digital nomads still working and handling how to earn income overseas, pay taxes, and live a nomadic life. It doesn’t explain the terms or niche situations/forms as well as the other book, but instead acts as a guide for younger travelers. Depending on your situation, pick up a copy of one of these guides before you leave so that you will have a tax system in place that maximizes the opportunities to easily file.

Planning a Research Trip to Portugal?

I highly recommend that you take a research trip to Portugal before you decide to go through the process of moving your life there.

  • Tourist visas are the standard 90-day European Schengen visa issued on arrival.
  • Pick out a good travel insurance policy like IMG (I’ve used the company since 2011) to cover you while you’re either in transit visiting your future homes—or the insurance policies work well as expat insurance too (that’s what I used my first year living in Spain).
  • If you’re visiting Lisbon, Lisbon Serviced Apartments and Apartment Liberdade are both well priced and located near the places you’ll likely need to research.
  • If you’re visiting Porto, it’s a smaller city so you can’t go wrong with most of the central places. I recommend Arco Apartments, Oporto Chic&Cozy Ribeira, or Virtudes City Lofts for affordable prices and good accessibility.
  • Rent a car if you’re unsure of where you’d like to live. While you certainly don’t need a car to explore Lisbon or Porto, rent a car if you’re unsure which areas you’ll like. Portugal is not that big, so you can cover a lot of ground in a car. Find a good price through Expedia or—between those sites I always find a good deal.

Cost of Living Comparison

Still researching the right spot to live? Our Cost of Living Guides share extensive resources on all the major expat spots around the world. These guides include thorough breakdowns of the culture, quality of life, vibe, and—importantly—budget breakdowns so you can better plan which spot in the world best meets your needs.

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