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The Cost of Living in Portugal A Guide for Digital Nomads

21. Dec. 2022

The Cost of Living in Portugal - A Guide for Digital Nomads

Key Takeaways

  • The cost of living in Portugal is 42% cheaper than in the United States, while the monthly cost of utilities depends on how big your space is, you’ll find it significantly cheaper.

  • Portugal offers a variety of safe, clean, and reliable transportation options like metros, trams, and taxis that you can use almost anywhere. 

  • The country has a mixed healthcare system, but you can expect quality services at affordable rates. 

  • As a digital nomad, you will have to pay taxes on Portuguese-source income, which is levied at a flat rate of 25%. 

  • Portugaloffers plenty of networking opportunities, so remote workers are sure to find fellow digital nomads to share the experience with.

Portugalis a magical country. It has a mild climate, beautiful beaches, a peaceful culture, and stunning landscapes that will have you thinking about living there for a while. It’s also affordableand offers a comfortable lifestyle which explains why it’s one of the best places to work remotely. So, if you are wondering, “how much does it cost to live in Portugal?” you came to the right place.

This guide provides an in-depth understanding of the cost of living in Portugal so you’ll know what to expect, budget-wise, and can prepare accordingly. 

Why Live in Portugal?

Portugal is an excellent place for digital nomads because of its excellent weather, affordable housing, low cost of living, and great internet connectivity. Plus, about 27% of the Portuguese population can speak English fluently, which bumps it up in popularity for digital nomads who are still finding their way around the language. 

The hip cultural scene is another distinct advantage — particularly in Lisbon, where you can find a vibrant mix of modernity and tradition. The cobbled streets and enchanting castles of Porto are yet another hotspot for digital nomads, supplying plenty of the best wines in the world to keep them in high spirits.

These cultural opportunities allow you to broaden your knowledge, become more creative and motivated, and inspire innovation which can help you advance in your career while having an awesome time! More so, when you factor in that anywhere you want to go, whether it's the beach or a surfing hotspot, it is easy to reach through public transport.

Also, the country is known as a dream destination for expats and digital nomads. Paired with its laid-back lifestyle and several options for adventure, you can relax and enjoy life while making friends along the way. 

"Portugal is the perfect place in Europe to have a wonderful lifestyle, and still be able to save money. Here you will find amazing food, great accommodations, incredible weather, and travel opportunities across the country for a very reasonable cost.”

Pedro E, Remote Year City Manager, Lisbon"

The best thing about Portugal? 

Everything is available here at a cheaper price compared to the U.S. So, make sure to whittle down your possessions into one or two bags to live the authentic nomadic lifestyle. A minimalist approach will give you greater freedom of movement. A lifestyle with few possessions will help you travel around the country at a moment’s notice and can be one of the most rewarding experiences.

So, How Much Does It Cost To Live in Portugal?

Portugal’s cost of living is 42% cheaper compared to the United States.

So, what is the cost of living in Portugal?  

The average cost of living in Portugal is $19,066 a year. Many locals can afford to get by on $870 to $1,060 a month. If you live in one of Portugal’s smaller cities, you could easily live on about $990 to $1,200 a month. This is inclusive of the money you spend on rent, food, and groceries, among other essentials.  

However, if you live and socialize in places with a higher cost of living like Lisbon or Porto, your cost of living in Portugal per month could reach $1,450 to $2,000, possibly more depending on your lifestyle. 

Keep in mind that this is the cost of living in Portugal for one person. 

Do I Need a Visa To Live in Portugal?

That depends on where you’re traveling from.  

The work visa process in Portugal is significantly easier than in most countries. 

If you’re from the European Union, you can enjoy the freedom of movement without a visa. If you’re from another country, you will have two options. 

You can get a temporary stay visa if you plan to stay in Portugal for one year, which can cost around $89.39. You can apply for it here, but keep in mind that you will have to prove that you earn at least $2,941.74 per month, which is four times the minimum wage in Portugal. You can renew it for 2 more years.  

Alternatively, you can opt for a residency visa if you plan to stay in Portugal for more than a year. You can set up your business in the country or prove that you can live on a passive income which should be at least around $9,000 per year. It can lead to citizenship after five years as long as you can prove that you speak some Portuguese. 

The country does not have a specific digital nomad visa, but if you don’t plan on staying long, you can get a tourist visa that lasts 90 days. 

Or, to save yourself time and energy, you can also use a visa service to help you easily research visa requirements and navigate the visa application process as needed.

Remember that you can’t work with a tourist visa, so it’s not the ideal solution for digital nomads. If you want to do remote work, you may want to get a temporary or short-stay visa at the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate. This way, you can enjoy the best of what Portugal offers while earning money in a foreign bank account. 

The Cost of Rent in Portugal 

Housing is cheaper in Portugal compared to the U.S., especially when it comes to rental properties. How much you can expect to spend will fluctuate depending on your budget and what facilities and amenities you’re looking for in your home. 

That being said, you will likely spend less on housing here than in Western Europe or the U.S. 

Small apartments in small cities, and the interior of Portugal cost $315 to $385 a month for one bedroom, with some places coming closer to $500 to $610. These prices are a bargain, as a similar-sized home in a high-end neighborhood like Lisbon could cost four times as much. 

We recommend renting a shared apartment if you are planning on moving there alone. 

Not only will it help bring down the costs, but it will also expose you to a diverse crowd. This is common in cities like Lisbon and Porto, which are known for being major hubs for remote workers and digital nomads. 

Something to remember: The average size of apartments in this city can be smaller than what you’re used to in your home country, so if you want more space, you’ll have to rent apartments and homes with multiple bedrooms. 

Wondering how that will affect your budget? 

Well, for example, a three-bedroom apartment in the heart of Lisbon can cost as much as $1,800 to $2,200 (or more), but unfurnished apartments will typically cost slightly less. If you’d rather not spend so much on rent, you could live in Porto, where you’d get a similar-sized home for about $1,200 to $1,460. If your space has modern amenities like heating, digital nomads should expect to pay more than these prices. 

That said, if you insist on living in a major city like Lisbon, you can lower the cost of rent by living in affordable neighborhoods like Alfama, for example. 

Utility Costs in Portugal 

Portugal has mild, agreeable weather, so you likely won't need to use as many utilities. 

For a 45-square-meter studio, expect to pay around $85 to $95 a month for water, electricity, and heating. If there are two of you in an 85-square-meter apartment, utility costs can go up to $127 to $140 monthly.

You might need to heat your apartment/home during winter due to a lack of insulation typically installed in homes. If you live in the southern areas of Portugal, you might require air conditioning because of the hot summer weather, which can drive utility costs higher.  

Bills are issued every two months, so be sure to factor that in as well. 

As for home services, there are many internet and telecommunication providers, so those shouldn’t be a problem. Portugal has a fast internet connection that should cost you $32 to $42 per month. Note that this can change if you add landline, mobile, and TV services to your subscription.  

The Cost of Transportation in Portugal 

Inexpensive transportation is one of the biggest perks of living in Portugal. Portugal has a well-developed network of public transportation, so you’ll find buses, metro lines, train lines, and even trams. 

Buses are the most common means of transportation. A single ticket can cost less than $2 - anywhere around $1.48 to $1.80. Since some places, like down south, can only be accessed by bus, this is a great option for ex-pats and residents alike. 

Cross-country travel from Lisbon to Porto could cost anywhere between $29.25 and $35.75, according to Portugal’s official rail site. While there aren’t direct routes between Lisbon and Porto, you can still make the trip — with one small change along the way. Get off at Campanhã Station, where you can take another train to reach São Bento Station. Don’t worry about costs — the journey is included in the Alfa Pendular (AP) ticket, which can cost around $10.66 for a second-class pass.

You can also get metro tickets for getting around in Lisbon for $1.25 to $5.22 or just get a monthly pass, which can cost from $36.85 to $45.03. 

If you’d rather take a taxi, expect to pay a flat rate of $3.39, which will increase by around $0.52 per kilometer. If you own a car, you can expect to pay $1.66 per liter of unleaded petrol. If you’re covering long distances, be sure to factor in the cost of tolls as well whenever you’re driving on a highway.

Healthcare Costs in Portugal 

Healthcare in Portugal is generally affordable, just like its cost of living.

Healthcare services are provided by the Portuguese Servico Nacional de Saúde (SNS), which offers many medical benefits. Most services are free, while others cost a small amount. While medical procedures typically cost anywhere between $5.22 and $20.86, exams can cost upwards of $40. Medical costs can quickly add up if you’re going to a private clinic. Hence, it’s advised that you take out private or international health insurance.  

However, whether or not you can access it will depend on where you’re from. If your home country has a reciprocal system with this digital nomad-friendly country, you can avail the benefits of universal health care. The same applies to legal residents of this country.

To register for services as an ex-pat, you will need to register with the Portuguese Social Security system. For in-depth information on the subject, visit the SNS portal citizen area

Once registered, you’ll need to pay your contribution, which is 11% of your gross earnings. Your employer adds another 23.75% to it. If you’re self-employed, you can expect to pay 29.6% of your declared income each month. You’ll receive a health card, which will make you eligible for free or discounted access to healthcare in Portugal

If you’re considering private insurance, you’ll be paying around $400 to $1,000 a month. However, this will fluctuate depending on the level of coverage you need. 

It can be smarter to get worldwide health insurance rather than coverage for just one country. International health insurance plans vary in cost, with annual premiums typically ranging from $500 to $8,000, depending on the coverage and provider. With such a diverse range of healthcare options available in Portugal, having the right insurance can offer peace of mind and ensure you receive top-notch medical care, all without breaking the bank.

If you are in Portugal for just one month or a few months, you should also look into travel insurance for Portugal which usually covers delays, cancellations and trip interruptions, lost luggage, and emergency medical care costs. There are many affordable options that offer great coverage and peace of mind.

The Cost of Food in Portugal 

How much you spend on food will depend on your lifestyle and where you live. 

Local produce and eating out cost less, so you can get by on a food budget of $200 to $340 a month. Brand-name products, on the other hand, are imported, so they can cost a lot more than what you’re used to in your home country. If you’re a nomad on a budget, we recommend avoiding imported products, which are typically more expensive. 

The Cost of Groceries in Portugal

Grocery is affordable in Portugal with its thriving traditional markets. You can expect to pay $400 a month for two, although you can lower these costs by up to 50% by shopping at discount stores like Lidl, Minipreco, and Aldi or supermarkets like Pingo Doce, Continente, and SPAR.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs you can expect to spend on necessities. 

  • Staples like veggies and fruits cost around $1 per kilogram, less if you know where to purchase them. 

  • A liter of milk costs around $0.60

  • Five hundred grams of bread can cost $1.20.

  • A dozen eggs will cost about $1.80.

If you like steak and meat, expect to pay around $2.18 to $2.66 for one pound of chicken filets. Beef tends to be more expensive and costs nearly twice as much as chicken. As Portuguese cuisine is influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic coastline, you can get high-quality seafood, which has a high price point in many countries, considerably cheap here.

The Cost of Eating Out in Portugal 

Eating out might cost an arm and a leg in the U.S., but it is affordable in Portugal. 

The country offers delicious food at cheap rates, so you can enjoy sumptuous culinary hits like pastel de nata or custard tart for as little as $1.22, sardinhas assadas (grilled sardines) for $4.79, and Francesinha (“Little Frenchie”) for $6.86, without breaking your budget. 

As the ex-pat population is fairly large, digital nomads can also expect to find a wide range of restaurants offering mouthwatering continental foods to give them a taste of home away from home — just another reason to pack your bags and head to this gastronomic heaven. 

For example:

  • A cup of cappuccino could cost anywhere between $1.31 and $1.61.

  • Prato da dia – a lunch special — costs between $7.37 and $15.64 in an inexpensive restaurant. 

  • Light lunch and simple fare — say, a sandwich could cost about $5.21, while a typical McDonald’s meal could set you back around $7.04. 

  • A three-course dinner with an appetizer, main course, and dessert with wine for two could cost anywhere between $31.28 and $62.57. 

Wine, beer, olive oil, and other luxurious items are locally produced in Portugal, meaning they’re more affordable than what you’re used to. You can expect to pick up a bottle of specialty brew for $3.68 to $4.50 or domestic beer for $0.98 to $1.20. Stay away from tourist traps and fancy bars as they have marked-up prices. 

The thing about Portugal is you can enjoy the finer things of life while paying less — provided you know where to go. 

For example, cafes and restaurants in trendy neighborhoods like Lisbon would probably cost more, but establishments in affordable locations like Leiria, Aveiro, Coimbra, and Portimao will be more pocket-friendly. You can also stock up on wine or beer at a supermarket to pay less. 

The Cost of Sightseeing in Portugal

Portugal has a slow-paced environment that allows digital nomads to enjoy the best of nature and adventure without feeling the constant need to rush from point A to point B. 

What's more? There’s a plethora of activities you can indulge in for an enthralling experience. We’ve listed some ideas so you can see just how fun Portugal can be!

Explore Hidden Caves and Beaches

Portugal’s hidden caves by the beach are breathtaking natural attractions where you can indulge in activities like surfing and diving. You can reach the beach by swimming or by renting a spot on a boat. Don’t forget to go on cave tours which start at around $18.60 per person.

Explore Lisbon’s Nightlife

Digital nomads can explore a wide range of dining and clubbing options in Lisbon once the sun goes down. Here, you can satisfy the party animal in you while sticking to your budget. 

As to how much you can expect to spend on a night out, that will depend on the kind of establishment you visit. The Urban Beach, for example, will cost you around $17, while the Cais Do Pirata luxury nightclub can cost as much as $90.88. 

Friendly tip: Portuguese nightlife can get quite wild, so be sure to research a place before visiting.

Meet Sea Creatures at Oceanário De Lisboa

The Oceanário de Lisboa is an aquarium where nature and beauty collide. It is home to around 8,000 marine creatures like sharks and sea otters. The coolest thing is it’s focused on marine conservation, so it can be a wonderful learning experience as well.

The entry fee to this aquarium starts at around $10.63 per person. 

See Nature At Its Finest At Peneda-Gerês National Park

The  Peneda-Gerês National Park is the ideal spot for nature lovers. 

It has a wonderful collection of flora and fauna and is the ideal spot for birdwatching in Portugal. The park also has plenty of fun-and-frolic opportunities to please the adventurer in you, like gorgeous trails where you can challenge yourself. 

Entry is free, but if you want to spice up your workation, you can get a private experience of the grounds for $101.87, which includes entry to the ancient Mata de Albergaria forest. The tour is conducted in a language you understand, which makes it all the more memorable.

Try Portugal’s Famous Egg Tarts

Egg tarts are a popular dish in Portugal, and many places serve this luscious treat. This dessert, which will satisfy your sweet tooth, features a thin crust filled with amazing cheesy fillings and egg yolks to give you a mouthwatering gastronomic experience. 

A single egg tart, also known as (Pastéis de Nata), can cost $1.17. You may want to take two, though, because it’s, frankly, too difficult to stop at one. 

Digital nomads can go to museums, zoos, and aquariums for casual outdoor hangouts and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and more to discover the country’s natural beauty. At night, its cities come alive with vibrant nightlife. 

What It’s Actually Like Living in Portugal

Portugal, with its growing digital nomad community, thriving startup scene, modern amenities, amazing gastronomic experiences, and low cost of living, is a great option for digital nomads who want to enjoy a high-quality life while working remotely. 

It is famous as a digital hub with co-working spaces available 24/7 to give you great flexibility over your working hours. As it has a huge ex-pat community, the country has minimal language barriers. Digital nomads who are unfamiliar with the local language will find it easy to get around while enjoying a better overall experience. 

Plus, it’s home to the wonderful Digital Nomad Village Madeira. The project has received around 4,670 digital nomads since it started, possibly in part because Portugal was dubbed the fourth safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index

This digital nomad-friendly country is nothing short of paradise which explains why most remote workers end up extending their stay for years. Owing to a better quality of life, low taxes, and affordable housing, some even make this blissful country their forever home! 

“Lisbon is the type of city that people go to and then find a way to never leave! When I think Lisbon I think of amazing wine, cheese, Pastel de Nata, ginjinha, and friendly locals. 10/10 - would recommend it.”

Amanda C, Remote Year Traveler

Seal the Deal and Visit Portugal

The benefits of moving to Portugal as a digital nomad cannot be overstated. Before you make the move, learn how to become a digital nomad and how to pack for minimalist travel. Then, you can link with Remote Year for an incredible life-changing experience!

With our one-month trips, we can help you bring your job to Portugal and enjoy the vast country with a community of fellow digital nomads. We take care of everything from accommodations to transportation and also arrange authentic local excursions and experiences so you can get the most out of your visit while holding on to your job. 

It’s a fantastic way to explore new citiesand cultures while working remotely.

Final Thoughts

You can live a luxurious lifestyle in Portugal at a surprisingly low cost of living compared to most western countries, which is what entices many digital nomads to make the move. 

To top it all off, the country also has a nice warm climate and gorgeous landscapes with features like sandy beaches, magnificent mountain ranges, and dense forests. It also has top-tier co-working spaces with reliable internet connections and diverse options for explorations where you can meet like-minded ex-pats and locals.

Are you sold on Portugal’s irresistible appeal? If you are, join Remote Year. Explore the world with us, one city at a time, with a community that shares the same interests as you. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are taxes in Portugal high? 

The tax system in Portugalhas two models. Residents are taxed on their worldwide income, and the tax model is progressive, so you can expect to pay anywhere between 14.5% and 48% on the money you earn. Non-residents, on the other hand, have the option to pay only for Portuguese-source income and are taxed at a flat rate of 25%. 

Where do most ex-pats live in Portugal? 

Most ex-pats live in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city — which is home to people of 87 different nationalities. The thriving city is diverse, has the buzz of a big city, co-working hubs for digital nomads, and is within close range of gorgeous beaches, which explains why Lisbonis such an appealing prospect for ex-pats. 

Can ex-pats get healthcare in Portugal? 

Yes, ex-pats receive the same healthcare facilities as residents in Portugal. However, you may want to keep in mind that some services can require patient contribution, so you might have to take out an insurance plan to keep yourself covered. 

How much does it cost each month to live in Portugal? 

The monthly cost of living for a single person can cost $591.28, while a family of four can expect to live on a total of $2,080.01. This price will depend on what utilities you use and how much you spend on childcare, among other things. 

What is the cheapest part of Portugal to live in? 

Castelo Branco, Santarém, and Viseu are some of the cheapest cities in Portugal. Expats can also enjoy a lower cost of living in the cities of Viana de Castelo, Figueira da Foz, Ponta Delgada, Alcobaça, and Évora.

How much is an electric bill in Portugal? 

Electricity in Portugal can cost $0.23 per kWh, and the high price point might have something to do with taxes. Electricity here is cheaper by a whopping 36% compared to the U.S. So, you can expect to pay $110 to $115.15 per person for a combination of basic utilities like electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage.