Portugal is one of the top three best places to live, according to Expat Insider 2021. The country has favourable conditions for business: there are many modern companies and educational and technological conferences are held regularly. According to the QS World University Ranking, four Portuguese universities are included in the top 500.
However, living in Portugal has its downsides. For example, scorching heat strikes in summer, and there is no central heating to warm residents up in winter. The country also suffers from high unemployment and bureaucracy.
Cost of living in Portugal
Portugal is one of the cheapest countries for living in the European Union. The Portuguese cost of living is lower than many other European countries, such as Italy, France and Germany.
A living wage in Portugal is €775 per month. A dinner for two in a middle‑range restaurant costs about €30, a movie ticket costs €7, and a monthly subscription to a fitness club is €34 per month.
Renting a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon costs €500+ per month. Utilities for an 85 m² apartment are €110—120.
A litre of gasoline costs about €2 in Portugal. Public city transport is provided with buses and trams. The major cities of Lisbon and Porto have a metro.
Further, we compare the prices of food, housing, and transportation prices in different Portuguese cities.
Average cost of staple food in Portugal
|City||🍞 Loaf of white bread||🥚 Eggs||🥔 Potatoes||🍏 Apples||🥛 Milk||🧀 Cheese||🥩 Beefsteak|
|Faro, the Algarve||€1||€1.8||€1||€1.45||€0.5||€7.5||€11|
|Lagos, the Algarve||€1.2||€2||€0.9||€1.9||€0.7||€5||€7.8|
|Ponta Delgada, the Azores||€1||€1.25||€0.45||€1.75||€0.6||€10||€10|
Average rental prices and utility costs in Portugal
|City||🏙️ Apartment rent||💡 Utilities||💻 Internet|
|Lisbon||€500 to €2,600||€115||€35|
|Porto||€450 to €1,800||€108||€33|
|Cascais||€600 to €2,700||€85||€35|
|Faro, the Algarve||€600 to €1,800||€70||€37|
|Lagos, the Algarve||€450 to €1,900||€80||€28|
|Coimbra||€300 to €1,000||€95||€30|
|Braga||€300 to €1,000||€135||€30|
|Sintra||€400 to €1,000||€115||€38|
|Tavira||€500 to €1,000||€110||€30|
|Obidos||€650 to €1,600||€120||€35|
|Funchal, Madeira||€450 to €1,250||€80||€30|
|Ponta Delgada, the Azores||€500 to €1,000||€110||€45|
Average transportation prices in Portugal
|City||🚋 Monthly pass for public transport||🚕 Taxi||🚇 Metro|
|Faro, the Algarve||€33||€4||—|
|Lagos, the Algarve||€40||€2||—|
|Ponta Delgada, the Azores||€45||€5||—|
Taxes in Portugal
Tax residents and non-residents pay taxes in Portugal. Residents live in the country for more than 183 days a year and receive income from work, business or other transactions. Non‑residents include foreigners who spend less than 183 days a year in Portugal but at the same time run a business, buy a property or receive other income in the country.
Income tax can be as high as 48% for individuals, depending on the income level. The tax is levied on any income from labour and entrepreneurial activities, including rental.
New Portuguese tax residents can get a special status — Residente não Habitual. The RNH status entitles to pay a reduced tax of 20% on profits earned in Portugal. The status is valid for 10 years.
Reduced income tax rates for residents with the RNH status
|Tax rate||Income type|
|0%||Dividends and interest on deposits from abroad|
|0%||Rental income, royalties and other types of passive income|
|0%||Income from employment in another country|
|10%||Pension received from a foreign country|
|20%||Employment, freelance and commercial activities in Portugal for highly profitable professions|
Foreigners who spend at least 183 days a year in Portugal can get the RNH status. One must have a Portuguese residence permit or citizenship to live in the country permanently.
Other requirements for foreigners who would like to get the RNH status:
- a confirmation that the applicant has not been a Portuguese tax resident for the past 5 years;
- a NIF — a Portuguese tax number;
- a confirmed address of residence in Portugal.
Banking fees in Portugal
Account maintenance fees. Opening and using current accounts is usually free in Portuguese banks. But a bank may ask for a minimum deposit of €100—250 to activate the account.
Packaged accounts with extra services are usually paid. The fee depends on a bank policy but usually is between €2.50 to €7.
Service fees for bank cards. Debit cards are usually services free of charge. Credit cards are services with a fee of €0 to €50 a year.
ATM fees. Most Portuguese banks are a part of the national Multibanco system. There is usually no commission when you use a local card to withdraw cash or pay bills using an ATM.
International money transfer. If the transfer amount is less than €50,000, the fee is up to €15. For transfers over €50,000, the fee is €30 or more, depending on the sum. There also might be a currency conversion fee.
Real estate in Portugal leading to a residence permit
Buying property in Portugal allows investors to participate in the Golden Visa Program and get a residence permit.
Obtaining a golden visa is easier than a standard residence permit. For example, investors don’t have to pass a language proficiency test. In addition, they should live in Portugal for only 7 days a year to maintain a residence permit.
The golden residence permit is valid for a year and allows the investor to stay both in Portugal and other EU countries. An investor can apply for Portugal citizenship five years after the first residence permit.
A foreigner can get a Portugal golden visa by investing in the country's economy, business or real estate.
There are two investment options for the purchase of the real estate in Portugal:
- €500,000+ for a new real estate, residential or commercial;
- €280,000+ for a property that requires reconstruction and is built over 30 years ago.
From 2022, it is impossible to invest in housing in major cities such as Porto and Lisbon. Under the new rules, investors are allowed to buy residential properties in the Azores, Madeira and the country’s inland regions.
Immigrant Invest lawyers help choose a property in Portugal for participation in the investment program. They also provide legal and informational support at all stages of obtaining a residence permit.
Property examples for Portugal Golden Visa Program
Medicine in Portugal
Portugal ranks 13th in the Euro Health Consumer Index. The rating considers the availability and speed of obtaining medical services, life expectancy and the quality of patient care. According to these indicators, Portugal ranks better than the Czech Republic, the UK, Italy, and Spain.
The Portuguese use the services of public and private medical institutions.
The National Health Service is Servicio Nacional de Saude or SNS for short. The Ministry of Health is in charge of this system. SNS is designed for Portuguese citizens, including expatriates.
Most services are paid for even in public hospitals. Including, but not limited to:
- a doctor's consultation — €4 to €7;
- a house call — €10;
- a night in a hospital — €25.
Voluntary health insurance is only one type of insurance. To avoid queues and long waits and access to more specialists, you can take out private health insurance.
Insurance is paid every month, even if the person did not see a doctor during this period. In addition to the monthly insurance fee, the holder also has to pay for the appointment: from €30 to €70, depending on the specialist.
The cost of insurance can be calculated on the websites of insurance companies.
Insurance cost depends on the patient’s age and the number of services in the policy
Education in Portugal
Preschool education. In Portugal, there are kindergartens for children from 3 months to 5 years old. They are private and public.
Public kindergartens, unlike private ones, require parents to queue in advance. Groups are smaller in private kindergartens and include no more than 10 children.
Foreigners can send their child to a public kindergarten if they have a Portugal residence permit or citizenship.
Cost and features of kindergartens in Portugal
|Daycare type||Cost||Additional expenses||Peculiarities|
|Public||Free of charge||€40 for meals|
€80 for an after-hours club
|20 kids in a group|
Pre-registration is necessary
|Private||€250—500||Includes into the cost||Up to 10 kids in a group|
English-speaking daycares are available
School education. Portuguese schools are also divided into public and private.
Public schools are free; you only need to pay for lunches: €30 to €50 per month. Parents can also receive financial assistance to purchase school supplies.
A child can enter a public school for free if the parents have a residence permit or citizenship. Parents fully pay for private schools, regardless of their official status in the country.
The most famous private schools in Portugal are:
Cost and features of schools in Portugal
|School type||Cost||Language of study|
|Public||Free of charge|
Meals are paid separately for €30—50
|Private||€200 to €10,000||English, French, German, Russian, Portuguese, and other languages to choose from|
Higher education. According to QS World University Ranking, four Portuguese universities are included in the 500 best world universities: the University of Lisbon, the University of Porto, the NOVA University of Lisbon, and the University of Coimbra.
Portuguese diplomas are recognized in all EU countries. Some universities have programs developed jointly with British colleagues. Students of these programs receive double diplomas from Portuguese and British universities.
The most famous universities in Portugal are:
- The University of Lisbon.
- The University of Porto.
- The NOVA University of Lisbon.
- The University of Coimbra.
- The Catolica Porto Business School.
Free education in a public university is available to foreigners who have residence permits and have lived for more than two years in Portugal. Without a residence permit, you can enter a paid department.
Studying at Portuguese universities is cheaper than in other European universities: €2,500 to €8,000 per year, depending on the institution and program.
Work and salary in Portugal
Portugal has a relatively high unemployment rate, but there are areas in which it is easier to find a job: cybersecurity, IT, data analysis, tourism, agriculture, and healthcare.
The Randstad agency has compiled a list of the most in-demand professions. The fastest way to find a job with a salary above the average level is in the following specialities:
- a data analyst;
- a CRM manager;
- a product manager;
- a company director;
- a chief sales officer;
- a chief financial officer;
- an SEO expert.
Freelancers can also move to Portugal. They enter the country with a Schengen or resident visa and then register their company with the tax office or work as individual entrepreneurs.
The minimum wage in Portugal is €7,800 per year, which is more than in Poland, Estonia and Croatia but less than in the UK, France and Germany.
The average salary is €1,200 per month. Service workers receive an average of €600 per month, while professionals receive up to €3,000.
Average salaries in Portugal
|Job title||Monthly salary|
|Courier, driver, waiter||€600|
Pros of living in Portugal
Portugal is the only European country in the top 10 of the Expat Insider 2021. The country has high living standards, affordable prices, and ease of relocation.
Here are some of the benefits of living in Portugal, which expats often name.
🌊 Good geographical location. Portugal is on the Atlantic coast. There are many beautiful beaches there; you can surf the big waves and even go whale watching by boat. The average air temperature in winter is +15 °C, and in summer, it is +23 °C.
🐟 Fresh local food. It is easy to follow the Mediterranean diet in Portugal: there is always fresh fish and lots of local fruits and vegetables.
🏛️ Rich culture. Portugal is home to many castles, unique cultural sites, and museums. There are 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the city of Sintra, the country's oldest university in Coimbra, the Dominican monastery of Batalha, and the laurel forests of Madeira Island.
👪 Comfortable cost of living. In Portugal, the cost of living is lower than in other developed European countries like Germany, Austria, and France.
🤝 Safe environment and friendly locals. Portugal is ranked third on the Global Peace Index. Foreigners note the locals’ friendliness.
💼 Favourable conditions for business. Portugal ranks 39th out of 190 and bypasses Poland, Belgium, and the Netherlands in the Doing Business ranking. Startups and co‑working centres are actively developing here, and international IT conferences are held, such as Web Summit, and Trojan Horse was a Unicorn.
Life in the European Union. Portugal is part of the EU, which means its residents can work, study and travel without visas within the EU and the Schengen area.
Cons of living in Portugal
A few things can bring discomfort to future cosmopolitans: high temperatures in summer, dampness and humidity in winter, much bureaucracy, and a relaxed rhythm of life are unusual for many expats.
🌞 Intense summer heat. It will not seem like a minus for some, but not everyone tolerates heat well. The average summer air temperature can reach +30 °C in Portugal.
🏠 Lack of central heating in winter. Like many other European countries, Portugal does not have central heating. Therefore, houses can be damp and cold in winter. People install electric heaters, but electricity in Portugal is expensive. On average, owners of small apartments pay €100 per month for utilities.
👩🏫 The need to learn Portuguese. English is spoken in tourist places in Portugal, but those who decide to move to the country have to learn Portuguese. The language is needed for study, work, and contacting banks, hospitals and other institutions. You can look at this as a plus: learning the language will help you better understand the culture and the local mentality.
⌛ Bureaucracy and queues. You can spend several hours in line both in public and private institutions. Usually, you have to collect and fill out many documents. In addition, everything closes quite early in Portugal: banks stop working as early as 3:00 PM, and other institutions close at 6:00 PM.
💸 Cash payments. People pay by card in supermarkets and large museums, but small shops, restaurants and transport often do not accept cards, so you should always have cash.
🦥 Relaxed pace of life. Although the steady pace of life like a plus, it has drawbacks. The Portuguese are not distinguished by punctuality and are often very late for friendly and business meetings. Also, this factor contributes to the prosperity of the bureaucracy.
Infrastructure in Portuguese cities is constantly developing. There are good transport links, quality medicine, prestigious universities, museums, parks and restaurants.
Moving to Portugal allows cosmopolitans to live in a warm climate by the ocean, travel freely to other EU countries, get a European education and develop international business.
The Portuguese government has simplified obtaining a residence permit for those who participate in the investment program. In addition, the investor has the right to apply for citizenship five years after receiving a golden visa.
Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent that works with the Portuguese government program. Our lawyers help collect documents to apply for a residence permit, choose real estate and provide legal support at all stages of the move.
Frequently asked questions
A living wage in Portugal is €775 per month. It is enough to cover basic needs such as housing, utilities, transportation and food. But the average cost of living is between €1,000 and €1,500, depending on the city.
A single person needs at least €550 a month to live in Lisbon. A family of four require at least €1,950 a month. The amount doesn’t include rent.
The average cost of living in Lagos is €1,300 a month, including rent for a single person. A family of four spends about €2,600 a month, including rent.
A couple spends about €2,500 a month living in Obidos, including renting a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment. A single person is expected to spend a third less.
The cheapest town to live in Portugal might be Bragança: a couple needs about €600 a month, including rent. Spouses will need about €800 a month to live in Braga and Evora. The average cost of living in Faro is €900 a month.
Yes, you can. A living wage in Portugal is €775 a month, which is enough to cover basic needs such as housing, utilities, transportation and food.
For example, a single person needs about €550 a month to live in Lisbon, the capital city. But that’s the cost without rent. You will need at least another €500 a month to rent an apartment in the city.
A couple can live comfortably in small Portuguese cities spending €1,600 a month, including rent. €2,200 might be enough to live in Lisbon. However, you are always free to spend more.
The average salary is €1,200 per month in Portugal. In the service sector, employees receive €600 per month; specialists can receive up to €3,000.
The minimum annual salary is €7,800.
The quality of life in Portugal is high. The country is in 10 best countries for expats: 84% of cosmopolitans are satisfied with their living conditions in Portugal. They especially note safety, many vacation destinations and the warm, pleasant climate.
Foreigners with a Portugal residence permit can use public or private medical services.
The public health system is called Servicio Nacional de Saude, or SNS. It is considered free, but some services are paid. The prices are €4 to €10.
The private medical system implies a monthly insurance payment of €30 to €80, depending on the payer’s age. Doctor’s appointments are also paid separately.
Foreigners with a Portugal residence permit can enter and study at public universities free of charge. Foreigners without a residence permit can enter a paid department.
Studying at Portuguese universities is cheaper than in neighbouring countries. The average cost of education is €2,500 to €8,000 per year, depending on the university and program.