Cost of Living in Portugal Vs US

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Cost of Living in Portugal Vs US

Relocating to another country is a rewarding, yet nerve-wracking, decision. One of the most important considerations is the cost of living in the country you wish to relocate to. Portugal happens to be one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe to live in, as well as one of the few locations in the world where expats routinely rate the quality of life as excellent. In general, the cost of living in the United States is 42 percent higher than in Portugal. Real estate, food, and dining out are all cheaper in Portugal than in the United States.

The cost of living in Portugal differs from that in the United States. Expats in Portugal can save money on utilities because the country’s cost of living is cheaper than in the United States. A yearly income of around $26,000 USD is sufficient for a decent existence in Portugal. The cost of living is inexpensive; a single-room flat in the city centre costs roughly $400 USD to rent. A similar-sized house in Lisbon’s posh district can cost up to four times as much. However, when compared to other European countries, this is still a bargain. Portugal’s cost of living is nearly two times that of the United States. In Portugal, a couple can expect to spend $2,200 per year on a quality of living, compared to $4,000 in the United States. This means that a couple in Portugal can spend up to $2,000 on housing while saving up to a third of their earnings.

Cost of Groceries:

In Portugal, grocery shopping is rather inexpensive, especially when it comes to fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, fish, and meat. The general rule is that anything cultivated or caught in Portugal is inexpensive. Apples, for example, cost €1.56 per kilo in Portugal, but €3.87 in the United States. Because there are so many supermarkets and traditional markets in Portugal, a normal monthly shopping expenditure for a couple can be as high as €200. Brand-name products are frequently more expensive in the United States than in other countries. Cereals and toothpaste, as well as foreign-brand name household cleaning items, are significantly more expensive in Portugal than they are in the United States. In Portugal, toothpaste costs roughly €2.5, while a tub costs only 95 cents in the United States. Depending on how you shop, a couple’s grocery budget can be as low as $200 per month. Some items that are considered luxuries elsewhere, such as good wine and olive oil, are produced locally and thus are more affordable. Local wine is reasonably priced, starting at around $4 a bottle.

Alcohol Prices:

These are far lower in Portugal than in the United States. A quality bottle of wine, for example, costs €4 in Portugal but roughly €10 in the United States. Domestic beer costs €1 in Portugal and €2 in the United States.

The Costs of Eating Out:

Meals out do not have to be prohibitively expensive. The Prato do dia (lunch special) in Portugal usually costs €8 to €11 (about $9 to $12.50) per person and is a full sit-down meal. Dinner for two, including wine, starts at around $29. Eating out in Portugal is very reasonable, and many Americans who live there can afford to dine out several times a week. A lunch menu in a pasteleria (bakery) can cost around €5, whereas a lunch menu in a café normally costs between €5 and €12, with wine included. In rural communities in Portugal, a coffee, especially a bica (espresso), may cost €0.50 or less in Lisbon, and a meal rarely exceeds €1. Dinner is a little pricier, although main courses can still be had for less than €10.  These meals are typically served at traditional Portuguese restaurants and cafes with basic decor and ambiance. Expect to pay roughly $80 if you want to eat at a trendy restaurant. A two-course lunch for two people costs €35. A typical dinner out in the United States costs roughly €46.35.

Portugal’s Beer, Wine, and Spirits

In a restaurant in Portugal, a beer can cost as little as €1, with specialty beers costing up to €4. If you prefer to buy your alcohol from a supermarket, you may expect to pay as little as €0.65 for a half liter of domestic beer and as much as €3 for something more unique. A bottle of mid-range wine will cost you between €2.50 and €7.40.

In Portugal, Coffee Is Consumed

Coffee, like practically everything else in Portugal, is much cheaper than it is anywhere in Western Europe. In Lisbon, a standard cappuccino costs €1.80 on average, compared to €2.00 in Madrid, €3.50 in London, and €3.70 in Paris. Outside of the city, the price drops even more: a cappuccino in Porto or Braga will set you back €1.60.

Costs of Transportation in Portugal Compared With the United States:

With a few exceptions, transportation costs in Portugal are lower than in the United States. A liter of gasoline costs €2.24 in Portugal, while in the United States, it costs €0.96. A new Volkswagen Golf cost 64 percent more in Portugal than it does in the United States, with a car costing roughly €27,936.91 vs. €16,923.35 in the United States. Public transportation, on the other hand, is similarly priced, with a monthly public transportation pass costing €46.93 in Portugal and €55.40 in the United States (depending on the state).

Costs of Education in Portugal vs. the United States

There are a lot of great international schools in Portugal that are not prohibitively pricey. International schools typically cost upwards of $6,000 per year. This charge is determined by the school you choose and, in general, the grade your child attends. All citizens and international residents of Portugal have free access to public schools. Private schools in Portugal, on the other hand, are expensive, averaging between $400 and $500 per month. The national average private school tuition in the United States is roughly $9,394.60 per year, with private primary school tuition averaging $8,492.72 per year.

Costs of Travel

It is fairly inexpensive to travel around Portugal. As one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe, you can spend as little as $80 per day exploring the country’s nature, beaches, and ancient towns, depending on the type of lodging you want. A train ride from Lisbon to Faro, Portugal normally costs around 20 euros one way. Traveling within the United States, on the other hand, is more expensive, with a daily budget of roughly $224 for lodging, food, and sightseeing.

Healthcare Expenses

Portugal has a fantastic government-run healthcare system. While it isn’t fully free, paying medical bills won’t put you in debt. It also happens to be ranked 13th in Europe for healthcare quality. On the bright side, children and the elderly are entitled to free medical treatment. Everyone else must pay a reasonable amount, which is subsidized by Portugal’s National Health Service.


Whether you rent or buy your home, the single largest expenditure on any expat’s budget is making it affordable. Rents in small Portuguese cities and the interior start at around $375 per month for a one- to two-bedroom apartment. Rents in Lisbon, the capital, start at around $650 per month for areas within a half-hour walk of the Baixa, Chiado, and other popular tourist areas. (Rents in these neighborhoods start at around $1,000 per month for a nice one- or two-bedroom apartment—still a bargain for a European capital.) The Alfama neighborhood, Lisbon’s oldest, has slightly lower rents. However, its slopes and cobblestone lanes may not be suitable for all expats.

Portugal’s Housing Expenses

Expat housing expenses are a major determining factor in whether or not you can afford to live in another nation. Fortunately, housing expenses in Portugal are roughly half of what they are in the United States. A one-bedroom apartment in a tiny interior Portuguese city can be rented for as little as €400 per month. Rents in Lisbon, on the other hand, are significantly higher, starting at roughly €670 for a one-bedroom apartment and easily rising to €1,500 for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center.

Purchasing Property in Portugal vs. the United States

If you wish to buy a home in a significant city in Portugal, such as Lisbon, you can find tiny properties for €150,000 on the outskirts, with prices ranging from €150,000 to €500,000 depending on the location, condition, and kind of property. Closing fees on real estate sales in Portugal are typically around 10% of the purchase price. One thing to keep in mind is that apartments in Portugal are significantly smaller than those in North America. This is something that should be considered when purchasing a home.

Expenses for Electricity and Bills in Portugal vs. the United States

A mid-range apartment’s utilities, which include power, heating, water, and waste collection, can vary in cost roughly per month. During Portugal’s relatively mild winter, you may need to heat your apartment. In addition, if you live in southern Portugal, you will almost certainly require air conditioning during the hot summer months, which will raise your electricity bill. Electricity, heating, water, and garbage collection for a mid-range apartment in Portugal cost roughly €100 per month. Naturally, this is dependent on whether you use air conditioning every day during the hot summer months or heat during the mild winter months. Utilities in the United States are around 36% more expensive, costing €170 per month.

The Cost of Moving to Portugal

If you’re considering relocating to Portugal, you should consider the true expense of doing so. If you want to ship your goods from the United States to Portugal, you’ll have to pay a lot of money for shipping. A 20-foot container box will cost €1,229.11 and take 14 days to transport your items by ship from New York to Lisbon. It will cost you roughly €2,705 to fly your goods. You must also add in the cost of an airline ticket to Portugal, which costs roughly €382 per person (one-way). To top it off, there will always be additional charges associated with moving, such as putting down a deposit. If you’re renting a home, getting a new phone plan, and purchasing other items, you may require assistance to get established.

What Is the Best Way to Get to Portugal?

To move to Portugal, you must first obtain legal residency status in the nation. Consider the Portugal Golden Visa Program if you haven’t applied for residency yet. You and your family are granted legal residency in the country in exchange for an investment in the country—often by purchasing real estate worth €500K. After five years of retaining your investment, you can apply for permanent residency, and after six years, you can even apply for Portuguese citizenship.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent in Portugal?

In Portugal, a quality one-bedroom apartment costs roughly €670 in the city centre and around €500 outside of it. A three-bedroom apartment in Lisbon can cost up to €1,500 per month.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Lisbon, Portugal on a Daily Basis?

The average cost of living in Lisbon, Portugal varies depending on your financial situation. In general, the monthly cost of living in Lisbon, Portugal, is roughly €1,700.

Social Security and Taxes

Your monthly wage is deducted from your personal income tax. Married couples are generally taxed individually, though you can elect to be taxed jointly. Between April 1 and May 31, self-employed tax returns should be filed electronically or on paper. Earnings tax brackets in Portugal are as follows:

  • €0.00–€7,112: 14.5 percent
  • €7,112–€10,732: a 23% increase
  • 28.5 percent from €10,732 to €20,322.
  • 35 percent of €20,322–€25,075
  • 37 percent of €25,075–€36,967
  • 45 percent of €36,967–€80,882
  • More than €80,882: 48%

Your employer will most likely contribute 11 percent of your salary to your pension, while you will contribute 23.75 percent. If you work in the public sector, you must contribute a minimum of 3% to your pension. Self-employed people, on the other hand, pay 29.6%. In Portugal, the social security system protects contributors from expenditures such as unemployment, maternity, occupational diseases, invalidity, pension, and death.

Portugal’s Private Transportation:

In Lisbon, taxis have a set fare of €3.25 and then charge €0.50 per kilometer beyond that. Use an online taxi fare finder to get the most up-to-date pricing. In Portugal, owning an automobile is comparable to that of other Western European countries. The cost of unleaded gasoline is €1.59 per liter. You should expect to pay a toll if you go on the highways, and you should expect to pay more if you travel a long distance. Long distance driving in Portugal can add €20–€30 to your trip.

The Cost of Child Care in Portugal:

Crèches, nurseries, child minders, and kindergartens are all available for children in Portugal. Crèches typically take children from three months to three years old and can cost anywhere between €250 and €500 per month, according to Numbeo. Childminders in Portugal are required by law to be at least 21 years old. In Portugal, nannies and au pairs can expect to be paid roughly €180 per week. Remember to account for agency fees if you hire an au pair through an agency. Childminding services in Portugal should cost at least €200 per week for expats.


Portugal is gaining a reputation among expats for its enviable climate, breathtaking scenery, and low cost of living. The Algarve is a wonderful place to retire, and the otherworldly attractions of Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, and Cascais provide a calm and cultural backdrop. The cost of living in Portugal is known for being quite low, allowing many expats to live comfortably. Although the country boasts a low crime rate and a low cost of living, adjusting to the slower pace of life can be tough. Most Mediterranean and southern European countries have a similar leisurely pace. Portugal has a much lower cost of living than the United States. In comparison to the United States, its cost of living is around EUR150 per square meter. In a mid-range apartment, utilities cost only EUR 100 a month, depending on whether you use air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter.

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