What It Costs to Live in Portugal


cost of living in Portugal

What are the costs to live in Portugal? Lower than most of the rest of Europe, actually. I’ve sung the praises of traveling for cheap in Portugal before. But what is the cost of living in Portugal like there as an expat? Here are some excerpts from A Better Life for Half the Price first posted in 2014 (thus the old comments), with many updates from current expats as of July 2018.

When Susan Korthase and her husband were looking to move abroad from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, they had already lived abroad and moved 17 times. They started diving into the options and considered all the usual “retire abroad” suspects. They decided to go traveling around and check out different options, but they started in Europe, with plans to begin on the Atlantic coast and make their way east.

“The first place we started with was Portugal, but we went to the Algarve and really disliked it quite a bit. We went to Lisbon, and that was better, but at the very end of our two-week trip we got on a train and went to Cascais and said, “Wow, this is it!” We had planned to move on and check out other places, but we never did. We just stayed. We rented out our condo back home and eventually took a trip back to get new visas, but we have been here since January of 2011.”

Unless you’re loaded, it’s hard to imagine moving to Western Europe unless you’re working for a big company that’s posting you there on a job transfer.

Portugal is the odd man out though. Even before the economic debt crisis that started in 2009, it was a country that was drastically less expensive to travel in than its other euro-using counterparts. Since the crisis started, prices flatlined for the next seven years for anything not imported. Plus there’s plenty to see and do. Here are some of the best places to visit in Portugal.

Traveling around to find your own place in the sun, you’ll find lots of lodging options in this warm coastal country: boutique hotels, AirBnB rentals, castle hotels, or timeshare. Once you’re settled it, you’ve got gourmet restaurants, bars, nightclubs, spas, and lazy beaches where you can drink your bargain-priced wine from up the road. The cost of living in Portugal is starting to tick up a little now, but the prices in Portugal are still much lower than its neighbors in Western Europe.

Portugal Living Costs for Housing

Although Portugal’s economy has gotten out of negative growth mode since 2016, it’s still a buyer’s market for real estate in most areas and a renter’s market for apartments—at least outside the university towns and the capital. Many Portuguese people will tell you that €750/$1,000 is a pretty common amount for locals to live on. Sure, several family members will generally pool resources in one home, but still, if you move here as a couple that can bring in $3,000 a month—roughly half the median income in the USA—you’re going to be considered very well-off by local standards.

The secret is out for expats and tourists alike though, with more and more foreigners moving to Portugal. This is driving up the cost of living in some coastal areas, says Kevin Raub. “We pay 672 euros per month rent for a nice two-bedroom apartment 500m from the beach in Parede, halfway along the coastal route between Lisbon and Cascais. We have both sea and river views from our terrace. We beat the expat rush and consider our rent a steal at this point—it could easily be €1000. As for utilities, for us they are not bad at all. I’d say gas ranges from €15-25. Electricity from €25-45. Internet/mobile/cable TV combo for two is around €120.”

Julie Dawn Fox had been teaching English as a second language for 12 years, mostly for the British Council. After living in Spain, Tanzania, and Venezuela, she was getting tired of the transient lifestyle and wanted to settle down somewhere in Europe. “I missed the boat on buying a house in the UK; had an opportunity when I was younger but passed on it to go traveling instead,” she says. “While I was gone, prices skyrocketed and there was no way I could afford it. I looked at Portugal and the prices were much more affordable. I knew I could buy a house there on my own. I got a job teaching, but then I met my husband (also English) there. We only pay a couple hundred euros a month for his place. The drawback of that is we need two cars. We’re about 35 kilometers from Coimbra city where we work. We spend €200-250 a month on petrol. It’s usually more than our mortgage”

Julie and her husband regularly put €1,200 a month (around $1,620) from their teachers’ salaries into a joint account and that covers all their expenses. “If you aren’t extravagant, you can live well on a decent wage. Occasionally there’s enough left over for eating out and a bit of travel. We could probably could do it on €1,000 a month if we had to.” They are living in a modest three-bedroom house, but the low mortgage cost definitely helps. “This house would probably be 700 – 800 pounds a month in the UK,” she estimates. “We wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Gail Aguiar has plenty of places to compare with her new home in northern Portugal. She was born in the Philippines but moved as a toddler with her family to Canada. “I grew up in several regions of Canada, where she spent time in Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, and Banff. In between there was time in Australia, the UK, and the semi-rural northeastern U.S. This is it, though,” she says. “I have no plans to move anywhere else unless my Portuguese husband suddenly decides he wants to try expat life for himself, in which case I would join him.”

village life provides a low cost of living in Portugal for expats and retirees


Gail lives about 10 miles from the center of Porto and while her husband already owned a place, she says rental for a two-bedroom apartment like she’s in starts at around 400 euros per month ($500). In the center of Porto prices would be similar, but the apartment might be older and smaller.

James Cave from travel site The Portugalist says the popular areas are definitely seeing an uptick. “Lisbon is currently experiencing a tourism boom, and this has had a very negative effect on the property market. One-bedroom apartment rental prices start from around €650 per month, but average closer to the €1,000 mark.

It’s cheaper to rent in the Algarve as an expat, although it can be difficult to start a long term rental during the summer months. One-bedroom apartment rental prices start from around €200, and it’s possible to find a nice 1-bedroom or even 2-bedroom apartment for between €300 and €500 per month. These prices are typically for an annual contract, although it’s normally very easy to find affordable winter rentals as so many vacation rentals are left empty.

Outside of Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, the prices can be even more affordable,” James adds.

Jonathan Look lived in Asia for years before doing a 30-day househunting trip through Portugal to find the ideal spot. “We rent a big, modern, 4-bedroom, 3-bath house, with a swimming pool for €1,000/month. The house overlooks the Atlantic Ocean in an area known as the Silver Coast, about an hour from Lisbon. Our cable TV, Fiber Internet, and phone package cost about €35/month. Service for our Smartphones €17/month with 3Gb data and more texts and phone minutes than we ever use.

I would say that I would have to spend at least a third more than I spend in Portugal to live a comparable life back in “Middle America” United States. Living directly on the coast, as we do here, would be substantially more than that, maybe double or triple.”

Buying a place is very reasonable by European standards throughout the country. “In Coimbra, for a reasonable apartment, you would pay 150,000 to 200,000 euros for a nice two- or three-bedroom place. In rural areas, it’s easy to find a place that size for 100,000 euros or less,” says Julie. “There are lots of repossessions and bank sales going on right now. Banks sometimes offer 100 percent mortgages on these so you don’t need a big down payment, but restrictions are rather strict. When I was looking into it, they wanted an additional guarantor for the mortgage. They also wanted us to buy life insurance that would cover the amount in case something happened to us.”

Alicia and her husband paid cash for their home from a sale in England and had enough left over for a fixer-upper project on top. They live near the Silver Coast in Central Portugal, half an hour from the ocean and an hour from Lisbon and the airport. “We have a pool and an olive grove, and gorgeous views. We also bought an incredibly cheap village house in Castelo Branco which is a stunning area,” she says. “We get to experience real village life and the neighbors are very friendly. We are renovating the house and its slow going as we don’t live there now but we plan to rent it out for holidays.

Property prices are incredibly low,” she adds. “For the price of a tiny terrace or flat in, for example, The Midlands area of the UK you can get a lovely three-bedroom house with a garden near the coast or a two-bedroom flat a stop or two away from the center of Lisbon. We viewed a three-bedroom flat with a view of the sea for €35,000 just a ten-minute drive away from the city of Lisbon and only a 5-minute walk to the metro.

They don’t have rent or a mortgage since they own the house outright, but Alicia says, “You can get something decent from about €350 a month in Central Portugal and on the Silver Coast.” For their five-bedroom house near Lisbon they pay €890 per annum in property taxes. For the two-bedroom house in the countryside it’s only €100.

Portugal living costs are rising as the economy recovers and the country gets more popular, but there are still plenty of low  Portuguese costs of living deals when you get beyond the obvious. See this story I did on Natalie Sisson’s purchase of a 3-bedroom house in a town near the ocean for €107,500. She has her choice of several places to go surfing when she’s done working for the day on her laptop. In general, the cheapest places to live in Portugal are where you don’t see hundreds of other foreigners. In rural villages you can buy plots of land for the price of a car.

What It costs to live in Portugal, including Lisbon


Foreigners can own real estate outright in Portugal, but closing costs can be high: figure on 7-8 percent.

Author Alicia Sunday grew up in the Leicestershire countryside in England, moved to London for fifteen years, then to Cambridgeshire for twelve years. “We were attracted to the warmer weather in Portugal and being able to lose the mortgage and buy something with the equity from the house yet have more space and land,” she says. “We also liked the fact we could still afford to be less than an hour away from a fabulous capital city. Since coming here we have also discovered that expats are being encouraged here by lower taxes via the non-habitual residency scheme.

Good Infrastructure, Drinkable Water

This being Western Europe, infrastructure is good as well. “You can usually get broadband or Wi-Fi anywhere so if you can work on the internet then Portugal is a great place to be,” says Alicia. “You can realistically ‘live the dream’ here, be working on your laptop under a palm tree and then a quick dip in the pool in a property that can cost a lot less than 100,000 euros.”

You can drink the water, crime is low, and the infrastructure is very good. The World Economic Forum ranks countries by how developed its infrastructure is and Portugal comes in at a very high #14, easing out Japan at #15 and just behind Canada at #13. (The UK, USA, and Australia aren’t in the top-20.) Some expats who have traveled all over consider this one of the best places to live in the world.

This is a good country for families, with a safe climate and good schooling options, at least in the cities. “The main reason why we decided I would move to Portugal was because we want to raise children here,” says Gail. “Portugal is much more child-friendly than Canada.”

the streetcar trolley is cheap when living in Lisbon Portugal


Transportation Costs in Portugal

The cost of getting around in Portugal has a lot to do with whether you’re driving a car on the highways or not.

Gail says in Porto a monthly public transit pass for their (outer) zone is €36, with individual trips as needed into the city being €1.50 each. One subway, bus, or tram ride in Lisbon ranges from €1.40 to €2.85, but an all-day unlimited pass is €6 and a whole month is the same as in Porto: €36.

A taxi in the capital for two people is officially €2.25 to start, then €1.60 per km. This can vary a lot across the country though. When I was in Evora it was €3.25 to go two blocks, but only €0.80 per km after that.

“Public transport in Portugal is very affordable, James says. “In Lisbon, a journey on the bus, train, tram, or ferry ticket in Lisbon costs €1.40 (using the rechargeable Viva Viagem card). Cross-country train travel is also very affordable, and there are generous discounts for booking in advance. A single train ticket from Lisbon to Faro in the Algarve costs as little as €11, while a single ticket from Vila Real de San Antonio to Valenca (a 715km journey) costs as little as €38.10.

Frequency of services can be a problem in some rural parts of the country, such as the rural Algarve, and a lot more people drive here. Fuel is expensive in Portugal, and many people living near the border fill up in Spain when they can. Currently, unleaded costs €1.64 and diesel costs €1.44 per liter.”

For buses, the 1.5-hour bus ride from Lisbon to Evora is €12.50 one-way. A 2.5-hour bus ride (Lisbon-Western Algarve towns for example) will run around €20 one-way, while the three-hour one between the capital and Porto is €24 to €42 depending on how luxurious it is.

What can really kill your budget in a hurry here though are the tolls on the expressways. “The highway tolls can really have a big impact on the cost of your trip,” says Julie. “Below Lisbon to Algarve, there’s a short stretch of road that’s 20 euros, for example. But it saves loads of time, so people pay it if they can afford it. The good thing is, the motorways are pretty empty when you’re on them because of the high cost.”

“Motorway tolls are a definite minus,” agrees Alicia. “They are far too expensive and thus not well used.”

You need to check the routes you don’t know in advance because you don’t stop at a booth and pay: you get charged automatically via a sticker on your windshield. You could return from a jaunt around the country to find a hefty bill on your account.

living abroad in Portugal is cheap in the countryside


Health Care in Portugal

The cost of living in Lisbon and other parts of the country is a great value when it comes to your health. The World Health Organization ranks the effectiveness of healthcare in Portugal at number 12 in the world, well ahead of the United States, England, and Canada. Portugal also has the 10th-highest life expectancy for women in the world, at 84. Pregnant women get 120 days of paid leave at full salary and you won’t get stuck with a hefty bill if an ambulance picks you up at the scene of an accident.

Julie and her husband both have health care through her employer, but says if you’re a resident on the national health scheme, you pay €5 to see the doctor and €10 for emergency care. You pay out of pocket for lab tests and x-rays, but then you can charge them back to insurance and get reimbursed 60 to 80 percent.

In general terms, you will be treated like a local in terms of the healthcare system. Some costs are free, while others require a token payment. Dental costs are mostly covered by taxes, plus children, pregnant women and pensioners have the right to receive dental care for free.

To choose your own doctor or hospital outside the national health care system, various insurance schemes are available at a reasonable cost. Is Lisbon the care is excellent and if you ask around you’ll easily be able to find an English-speaking doctor. This also applies to tourist zones like the Algarve and larger cities such as Porto. In smaller towns you may just have a local clinic, which is fine for basic problems, but then you’ll likely want to travel to a larger city for surgery or serious tests.

Visas for Living in Portugal

“For EU residents, the visa situation is quite straightforward,” says Julie. “The most important thing is to be able to prove income, to show that you can support yourself. You need to have ample documentation to show them. Assuming that’s in order, you go to the foreigners service desk and soon you’ll have a residency permit for five years, which you can then renew.”

The cost of living in Portugal is low by European standards, including in gorgeous towns like EvoraFor those without a local spouse or EU citizenship, living in Portugal can be much tougher. “Almost all the articles you read about moving to Portugal talk about Brits or other Europeans,” says Susan Korthase. She and her husband spent around $400 in fees to get their residency visa, then another $3,600 for attorney fees. Each time they renew, they have to do it all again, though this last time they got two years instead of one. “There are a set of steps, with very explicit requirements,” she says. “Then you have to overcome the language barrier, which is where the attorney comes in. You quickly forget how painful it was when it’s done, but it was. Start to finish first time was about six months. If we had tried to do it without an attorney it would have taken longer and they treat you differently. You have to accept that bureaucracy will be a lot more complicated than you’re probably used to and people in the offices will be asking for things they don’t really need.” Next year they’ll be at the five-year mark though and can then apply for a five-year residency permit. At that point the big renewal bill they face each year from the attorney will go away.

For new arrivals, it turns out the prevailing assumption that you can only get a three-month visa is not true. Susan and her husband applied for six months at the embassy in Washington, D.C. before they left and after showing the means to support themselves, it was granted easily. In theory anyway, you could return to the USA for a bit and then do it again if you still didn’t have residency sorted out.

Susan writes about living in Portugal for ExpatExchange.com and also does consulting for people considering a move to her adopted country. “I’ve been able to help a few dozen people who are considering Portugal but can’t find a path through the confusing, capacious, and contradictory information about the process, costs, resources, and difficulties. Some of them cross Portugal off the list, opting for a Costa Rica or Belize. But for those of us who seek a first-world, high-culture experience, Portugal is among the most accessible.”

To retire in Portugal is a dream of many and it’s a bit easier to do that than to move there as a digital nomad. If you’re loaded you can basically buy your way in by investing in the country, through the Golden Visa Scheme. For EU residents, retiring in Portugal mainly involves figuring out tax filing requirements.

For American retirement in Portugal, or from most other countries, you’ll generally need to live there five years as a temporary resident before gaining permanent status. There’s no fast track for retirees like you see so often in Latin America or even Thailand.

Portuguese Wine and a Life Lived Well

Drinking good local wine in Portugal is not something you do for a special occasion. Prices are low across the board from the vineyards dotted around the country. This is one of the best values in the country when looking at all the costs to live in Portugal.

Kevin Raub enjoys not having to think about whether or not to order his vinho with dinner in Portugal. “Wine is super cheap in Portugal. We don’t even usually ask the price. A great bottle is 10-20 at any place besides a Michelin-starred restaurant!”

“Wine is very affordable, and a pleasant bottle of wine typically cost between €3-€8 in the supermarket. There are wines above and below that price, but that’s the average,” says James. Plus it’s an expected part of your meal, even with a set menu. “A lunch menu in a Portuguese tasca can cost as little as €5-6, particularly in non-touristy parts of the country, but on average is somewhere around €10. This typically includes the couvert (bread, butter, sardine paste), a main meal, wine, and either coffee or dessert.”

“Believe it or not, a nice bottle of Portuguese wine can be had for as little as €2,” says Jonathan Look.

If you chill out by other means, Portugal has a clear “live and let live” stance on soft drugs. Holland may get all the attention, but Portugal quietly dropped penalties for purchase and possession of any drug and has stuck with it. Despite the conservatives’ fears, crime hasn’t gone up and cities haven’t turned squalid. What’s defined as enough for “personal use?” That would be a 10-day supply. If you want to cut your costs while living in a liberal country with real democracy and no harsh winters, here’s your spot.

While the pros and cons of living in Portugal exist just as in any other country, there are fewer cons here. It may not top the list of the cheapest places to live in the world, but in terms of value for money, it’s at or near the top in Europe for overall cost of living value.

Alicia sums it all up like this: “The health care is good. Foreign investment is going into the area. School fees are reasonable. People are generally friendly and helpful. The scenery is stunning and there is so much beautiful coastline it’s easy to live near the sea and have spectacular views. To know that within half an hour of where we live is the opportunity to go surfing, swimming, sailing, etc. is just wonderful.”

Jonathan says, “We love living here because it feels very genuine. The Portuguese tend to focus on relationships and living a good life rather than having a lot of money, and that is how we prefer to live as well. Since Sarah and I are both passionate travelers, we like to base ourselves in different areas of the world and explore. We love the food and the culture as well as the cultural and outdoor activities.”

Overall, the costs to live in Portugal are not as low as in the former Iron Curtain countries or some of the ones in the Balkans, but for a Western Europe experience without the high prices, this is the best destination.

This article includes excerpts from A Better Life for Half the Price. For more in-depth information on Portugal and other countries where you can drastically cut your living expenses, get a copy of the book or sign up for an insiders membership program.

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  1. Ryan from Jets Like Taxis

    Great excerpt/article, Tim. I never really considered Portugal as a full-time stop because I’m not a fan of the language (haha), but it’s nice to see some expat perspectives here. Maybe I’ll loosen that bias a touch in the future. :)

    • Alan

      We owned a property in the Algarve for several years and couldn’t wait to get out and I’m far from alone! The bureaucracy is a nightmare. If you own a house the cost of water, electricity and council tax etc. etc. is punitive and subject to future big increases as their economy is in dreadful shape.
      Portugal like Spain etc. is run by greedy corrupt officials. You will see police stopping motorists for hardly anything at roundabouts etc…….easy money.
      Ludicrous motorway toll systems causing traffic jams entering from Spain in the summer.
      If you buy a car and then wish to sell it’s the buyers responsibility to change the name, if they don’t then you will be billed for the road tax infinitum.
      A friend of mine asked what advice I’d give him about buying a place in Portugal….easy answer….don’t!
      Portugal is a great place for a holiday with beautiful beaches and wonderful scenery. The people are wonderful and very tolerant considering the misery inflicted upon them by greedy politicians who keep on increasing their taxes.
      If anybody insists that they are still going to go then my advise is to rent for a while and keep your heads under the radar. For as soon as you wave a flag and say here I am be ready for the greed!

      • Alex Mercedes

        Thanks for the report. Helpful to have some “salt” to balance out the mostly sweet reports.

      • Tom

        Thanks for the candid and honest assessment. Too many of these websites funded by real estate pimpers tend to overlook the negatives. Often for many of these countries that are cheap, there is a reason–or reasons why they are cheap, and I’ve heard other people mention pretty much what you have said.

      • ronn

        thank you for some truth-yes, it looks better to rent then to own.

      • Khanh Ho

        I’m not yet retirement age–but I’m of the age where I’m thinking about it–and I just back from Portugal so I’ll give my two cents: I’d consider a retirement there–but a mobile one where I pick up and go on a dime. So, I’d be loathe to purchase a property there. The little bit I experienced of the country makes me know that the paperwork and hoops would be a nightmare. My primary asset is in the California real estate market, so I expect that kind of growth out of a real estate investment (my income property went from 850K to 1.2 million after just three years and I can get a buyer in a month, no problem). I’d probably just sell what I own and keep the money is something much more liquid. And I’d rent at whatever crazy rate they charge foreigners. It doesn’t seem worthwhile to sock your money away in a stagnant investment that is a liability and that is labor-intensive to service. And what if you get sick of the country? Better to rent and make money off a conservative index fund.

  2. Anthony

    Eh? What’s wrong with Portuguese?

    Great write-up Tim. If things go as planned, my future children will likely be educated in Portugal.

    It’s nice to know there won’t be a serious price shock between living in say Florianopolis compared to living in Porto or Lisbon.

  3. Lily Lau

    Thanks for the post, Tim. Tomorrow I’m leaving to Portugal, I’ll live between Lisbon and Coimbra and I really needed to have this little helpful guide with me! You saved the day! :)

  4. Richard

    Susan Korthase and her husband made the usual mistake of thinking the coastal concrete and golf was “the Algarve”. We disliked it too, until we explored the Serra da Monchique. Stunningly beautiful; laid back; & unlike the rest of the Algarve, the local council is solvent. – Portugal is run by a bunch of self-serving interconnected families that milk it for all it is worth, and far more.
    The tragedy of the revolution was the failure to purge the system totally. That is the price of having good guys in charge of much needed revolutions. Such a shame, it’s a beautiful land with many good people. Still, we can’t have everything perfect can we? :)

  5. Crystal

    WOW!!!!!!! How exciting. I am planning a trip to to Portugal and the more I read
    the more excited I am to go. The thought of leaving the winters behind and picking fruit off of trees makes the temptation more desirable. Thanks for the information.

  6. carol joyce

    I am a divorced woman, recently retired – 60 years of age, who is considering the Cascais region of Portugal to live. I love the ocean, the small town feel of Cascais and the proximity to Lisbon. I am now living in New York.

    My net income is $3,600 a month. Do you think that is enough to rent an apartment, live comfortably and put a little away each month for savings?

    I have never been to Portugal and don’t know anyone who lives there, but I’m very outgoing and make friends easily.

    Thank you for any replies. Carol Joyce

    • Tim Leffel

      I think you would live very well on that. Start following local expat blogs and message boards and you’ll get a better idea of prices. Start with the Portugal chapter and resources in A Better Life for Half the Price if you have

      • Jeannen-Michelle Pridgeon

        Thank you Tim I appreciate all of the good information. I’ve always wanted to visit Portugal and possibly live there.

  7. Dr. Smith

    I lived in Lisbon for two years, returning to the States this June. I’m a radiologist and worked remotely, doing some clinical work and some consulting while finishing up a long-overdue medical textbook edit.

    I found Lisbon to be beautiful, friendly, safe, inexpensive, and very authentic.

    The language is difficult, even for a fluent speaker of Spanish.

    I would say that you can live nicely on $3,000/month if you don’t plan on traveling extensively throughout the rest of Western Europe.

    …and it isn’t the Portugal (or the rest of the world) is not “kid friendly” by any means..Portugal in NORMAL. The United States just panders to children and ruins experiences for everyone else with the sprawl and inauthenticity. See also: Disney World

    • Fiona Clarke

      I love you comment about ‘kid friendly’! One of the things we always notice where we live in the Central region is how well behaved the kids are. They sit quietly in restaurants and eat everything the adults do and at the local Festas you never see groups of youths hanging around with bottles of vodka in hand. They are with their families and just have a fun time but behave themselves!

  8. Darla Mathis

    Great article! Quite informative and helpful. I’ve been in Portugal three times on business trips and I love everything about this country and it’s culture. I’m considering moving to Europe, especially ti Portugal to live and work there and your post gives me great basic guidelines to follow while planning. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Kara Curry

    Very interesting article. I am interested in Portugal because I am planning to move with my family there. I am afraid that Europe`s crisis still affect on Portugal. I hope it ends soon because this is a gorgeous country. Greetings!

  10. Maurini

    @ Alan
    What is your comparison point for the utilities price in Portugal ?
    I live in Brussels with a foot in Lisbon and Algarve every second month, and price for water for instance is below 1eur for 1 m3 while in Brussels is around 3,30 euros. More precision is needed. I agree that first you rent, you decide latter what to do. Motorways are indeed expensive like in France for instance at 0,10 cents for Km, but you drive very safe and fast if you need it. if not you have nacional roads for free.

    • Tim Leffel

      Most blog and book readers are U.S., British, and Canadian so those countries are the point of comparison.

  11. Al Green

    We have recently purchased a nice house in Madeira, we are both Brits, have lived in Australia, Queensland. But Madeira suits retirees, Funchal the capital is great.
    Standard of living is second to none, people are friendly most folk in Funchal speak English. Property prices are a tad more than Algarve but the property and lifestyle is so much better.
    Approx three hours from UK, the whole of Europe on your doorstep.
    If you like peace, sensible living costs, all year round sunny warm climate, good infrastructure, free motorways, this is the place to live.

    • Tim Leffel

      Thanks for the feedback on your experience Al. Enjoy the sun!

  12. Virginia

    Good points, Mike. As an american living in London and now moving to Portugal I would say you will live well in Portugal if you embrace the Portuguese way of life. Enjoy the cafes, the river beaches, the gardens. Shop in the weekly markets for the freshest food you have ever eaten and you won’t mind that there are no 24hour 7/11’s or Tesco. Live in a smaller house with a big veranda or a tiny apartment in the middle of Porto, get out and listen to Fado, take the kids to the beach, and have a great time talking, laughing and eating great food. Enjoy life.

    • Alex Mercedes

      Thanks! I’ve lived my life as a “struggling artist” in the U.S. so the discussions of mortgages and 24/7 convenience stores don’t apply. Your review is very helpful for someone with my values and income.

    • Heather

      Thanks Virginia! I’m traveling to Lisbon and Albufeira in 36 days and plan to drive around in search of a plot of land for a container home for future living/retirement (that I buy now). I am NOT interested in winter/cold or very wet. Looking for any suggestions of good towns/areas that you might or anyone else might have. I’m looking at a nice plot that is about 35 minutes South of Coimbra, unsure on the weather there (seems ok, dryer and less cold than Coimbra), Silver Coast and outside of Lisbon and Central Areas, all of interest and Algarve, if it’s not touristy and inexpensive ($25k or less).

  13. Sandrine

    Hi everyone,
    Before deciding to move to Lisbon I read a lot of posts. Good and bad. Especially about the bureaucracy. Being worried, I searched for help. And help I found. This great lady helps us foreigners settle in Portugal, anywhere in Portugal. She doesn’t just take our money and takes care of things, she actually takes us along to take care of everything. In my case, I prefer. This way I know what my money is worth. She found me an apartment with the most beautiful view, and took me everywhere for the remaining paper work. I felt like a local with her. She is from Lisbon and speaks all the languages, from English to Dutch, French to German and spanish. She knows her country and know how to get things done. If you need help, I recommend. Here her website http://www.lisbon-living.com Good luck to everyone.

  14. Mark

    Does anyone have experience of moving to Portugal and exercising EU family rights to obtain the five-year residency card for a non-EU spouse? I have done this in Spain and it was relatively straightforward however I have heard other member states can be difficult. There, in Andalucia, they only required my local registration (I’m British), a certificate of lodging, and the legally translated proof of our marriage. No earnings requirements.

  15. Helen

    What are the rules around having a Portuguese relative and being able to settle in the country. I am from Australia so not part of the EU and my great great grandmother (fathers side) came from Portugal and married into a British family which I believe is quite common as the Portuguese traveled widely.

  16. Dennis

    I find this article very informative and I have lived in Porto before. I do have dual citizen and find it hard to get the info. I need. Now I am planning on making the permanent move from Canada to (hopefully) Lisbon. My problem is where do I go to find listings of apartments. Internet is more setup for foreigners who don’t care how much it costs. Talking to the locals is kind of funny since they figure those that go over come from the land of gold and very well off. So if you can help me figure out how I can go about finding a place that would be great.

    • Tim Leffel

      Just because they think you’re loaded doesn’t mean you have to pay what they want. Negotiation is a key part of life in most parts of the world and if you’re not good at it, find a local helper. There are certainly hundreds of other expats there to get advice and connections from too. Trying to do it all passively over the internet is usually not a good solution. Get feet on the ground and start talking to people.

  17. Roy

    I come from San Francisco, CA where the rents are very high so the rents in Portugal seem low. However, I have been living in Alicante, Spain. Compared to my current rent the rent in Portugal is high. I would like to find a 2 or three bedroom 1.5 – 2 bath apartment for 500 -600 euros in either Lisbon or Porto. Is that reasonable? Are there any other large cities besides those two with populations in the 200,000 – 400,000 range?


    re .

  18. JD Long

    Hi All,

    Like many of you, I worked a bit and now have a ridiculously high pension to blow on myself in my old age. That, plus the alimony payments, and my sizeable inheritance (pick your parents well!), and the fact that I got lucky in the real estate market and the house I inherited rose in price astronomically though I did nothing!

    Anyway, I’d like to live in a nice Lisbon apartment and drink lots of good wine and eat chorizo and cheese until I pop. Do you think a budget of USD 8,000 per month will suffice?

    Many thanks.

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes after the near-unlimited wine and cheese budget, you’ll have at least $7,500 for the rest of your living expenses. You’ll feel like a Portuguese king!

    • Pedro Martins

      Hi Long,

      8000 euros in Portugal you would be a King for sure.

  19. Leo

    I am Portuguese,
    moved to London 4 years ago.
    used to work as hotel Receptionist,earning 900 euros per month
    could live a good life even paying 320 euros rent for one bedroom flat at the Algarve
    had a car,diesel,and was single,used to travel twice a year.
    since I am in London even with an high wage,life it is much diferent and dificult
    much more expensive and the weather doesn t help.
    So ,for anyone who wants to life the life ,dont esitate to move to Portugal or Spain
    just stay outside big cities or Touristic place and you will have a wonderful life.


  20. Kevin crook

    Hi, I’m a Brit who is looking to escape to the country!
    I have no problem living it rough for a while… I’ve been looking at small holdings / farms in fundao near caste lo Branco , I have only a very small budget 10 -15 k £ .
    I’d like to buy a plot of land that I can come back to in the future, and maybe put a small dwelling on.
    Is this buy now live later idea feasible?
    I understand that farm land / smallholder plot of say an acre would be liable for some kind of tax?
    I’m happy to camp out under the stars , just to get away from it all!

  21. Francis(co)

    Hello, all–

    My wife and I spent four years in Porto, returning to the US five years ago. While I appreciate most of the article, I am confused by the part about the high attorney fees paid by Susan Korthase for getting her legal residency.

    The first time I applied, shortly after arriving, I had the assistance of a Portuguese friend– I think I bought her coffee in exchange, which was a lot less than $3600 in legal fees. The following times, I just went in and handled it myself. Ms. Korthase said that she hired the lawyer because of the language difficulty. Granted, I arrived in Portugal already speaking some Portuguese, but still! Over the first year in country, it should be easily possible for an American to learn enough Portuguese to fill out the forms, and certainly over two, three, or four years!

    It sounds to me as though she was being taken advantage of by the attorney. No one should be charged that kind of money to fill out a form and hand it in.

    Portuguese can be a difficult language for English speakers to learn to converse in, as some of the sounds are quite dissimular to English. However, the instructions for filling out each box on the form are printed out, and reading Portuguese is not as difficult as speaking or understanding the spoken word.

    Do you know all those lawyer jokes that were so popular a few years ago? Well, apparently they translate pretty easily into Portuguese, too!

  22. Christine

    And with google translate everything is simple. The lawyers use it too!

  23. Cheryl Leighton

    Hi, I am a nurse in northerm California and want to consider moving to Portugal. I am 62 and have a small retirement since I became an RN in later life. I like a simple life, want to live in a small ocean town in the north of Portugal near a larger town to visit. I have a small retirement of $1100.US dollars per month. I need a small but nice apt. only Any suggestions?

    • Pedro Martins

      Hi Cheryl Leighton
      My name is Pedro Martins and i have a Construction/Reconstruction company in the North of Portugal.
      I can help you if you need. I live in a small city near Porto, Esposende, a seaside city.
      You can reach me on my email:
      [email protected]

  24. Tim Leffel

    I’m hearing from expats outside of Lisbon that it’s a better deal than ever for those spending dollars instead of euros. Of course though purchasing property in a major European capital city is going to be expensive almost any time you look.

    • Donna

      Tim, I appreciate the effort you have put into your articles, great info.

  25. Donna

    I’m a non-eu, and a US citizen. I have limited funds, I’m concerned with getting a visa from San Francisco consulate. I sent a message with a question about financial means. I told them what I earn per Social Security each month and the amount of my small savings. The reply I received was the amount should be sufficient, however, they are not the ones to make decisions.
    Anyone here have success through San Francisco consulate?
    I’ll be sharing an apartment or house with my sister.
    I’m 66 and retired with guaranteed Social Security.

  26. PG

    Portugal is a resonably cheap place to live , but cars are expensive by European standards due to an illegal tax added by the government to all car imports . Also it is very difficult to get quality material and a choice in many domains . Getting health care if you do not go private is very slow . Outside major towns and cities , there are less and less facilities and shops , the biggest shops being Chinese ones selling cheap goods ( not good quality) , motorways are expensive . Most Portuguese houses are badly insulated , and badly ventilated .

  27. stuffy

    ALENTEJO is the best area!!!

    • Heather

      How cold and wet does it get? I’d love to know more, going in 36 days and looking for land in a village or close by, with a larger city within 45 minutes without SNOW AND COLD/TOO WET. :) I live in Phoenix now! (too hot)

  28. Melvin J Briggs

    For U.S. retirees, the U.S. Dep’t of Treasury I.R.S. website states that if you live in Portugal less than 183 days you do not acquire residency, remain the status of a visitor, and continue to pay U.S. income tax on income earned in the U.S and none to Portugal (unless you also earn income in Portugal). So being a U.S. retiree if I decide to move there I will move every six months to a nearby town in Spain (also 183 day limit), then move back to Portugal – back and forth every year. Of course that means that I will probably rent rather than buy. But will I save money in the long run?

  29. rilme

    Loved your rant, Leslie. U krak me up! Hope it all works out for you.

  30. Thomas C Riccardo

    IN Germany one could live on $800 Euros a month bare minimum ! Germany is about 45% cheaper then the USA overall and Portugal is cheaper then Germany! If the locals are making $1200 Euros a month in Portugal then obviously an expat can live on the same amount!

  31. E

    Just wondering what is happening to the Brits with the Brexit breakup? Does Brexit mean there will be a lot of empty properties as they lose their EU ability to become expats on the continent?

    • Tim Leffel

      Eventually that could happen, but something tells me they’ll grandfather people in somehow to keep them around.

  32. Saulo Selga

    Spend 20 years in the great US BOSTON learning, working. As a Brazilian men now my Portuguese can ask for wine & bread
    Thanks Tim for the words trully can help whoever wants to take Lisbon as home.

  33. Paul Flynn

    Great article and very helpful. I have visited lagos and faro. Loved the places and fantastic beaches.

  34. Hugo Mendes

    Good article Tim!
    I’m Portuguese and used to be an expat myself, lived in Switzerland, France, China, Hong-Kong and Taiwan.
    After all the travels I did, I still find Portugal to be one of the best place to live/retire in the world, therefore decided to settle in Portugal 3 years ago and help foreigners to invest in real estate here. For most of them, it has been a fantastic live experience and investment.
    If anyone need help, feel free to reach me: [email protected]

  35. Andrea

    Could you post a link to a good real estate website for house to buy or to rent?
    Also, if you know of good schools, either international schools or montessori/waldorf or similar at primary and secondary level with reasonable (not too high) fees.

  36. Helen Vitte

    Portugal is not expensive at all in compare to Germany or France for example. Just looked at the prices of real estate for sale in Portugal https://tranio.com/portugal/ and it’s very affordable. Especially if you buy a house in Lisbon and rent it out later on to tourists, you can get a lot of income. I have a friend who did it and now he wants to buy a bar in Porto.

  37. Maria

    Curious about safety for a single middle aged woman

    • Tim Leffel

      Why? Unless you’re coming from Japan or Scandinavia, it’s hard to imagine Portugal is more dangerous than where you live now.

  38. Jillana

    How difficult is it to retire to Portugal, from US, with animals? Plan is to purchase a home, with land, not too far from big city (in case of needed healthcare for the animals and/or myself). I know no one there. I was there some 45 years ago. It was one of the most loving memories of my life. Single female, traveling alone, being cared for, one evening, by an elderly woman, whom I met through her grandson on the train) who was worried for me and left me with her metal keepsake of Recordacao de Fatima, to keep me safe. I am not wealthy, in dollars or euros. But, rich in all else. If you have any advice on the retiring there with animals, visas…I would greatly appreciate your input. I am just now beginning my research. Thank you.

    • Tim Leffel

      Not sure, you’d need to check into local regulations for quarantine and such. As a person who travels a lot, I don’t have pets.

    • Tobi

      Please I will really appreciate if you can help me on how to relocate to Portugal. [email protected].

  39. Lou Beelou

    what about the job possibilities? How easy is it to find empolyment for someone with not a lot of qualifications…..

    • Tim Leffel

      If you don’t have qualifications or skills, you are competing with the locals who have no qualifications or skills, so you’re earning migrant worker wages at best. There’s no price advantage because your wages go down by at least as much.

  40. Jacques

    Hi everyone thinking of settleing down in Portugal,

    have plans in the making for an inclusive, sustainable and organic settlement just outside the centre of Torres Vedras, a touch up north from Lisbon centre, 20 minutes or so from the airport.
    The website, blog or a full spec presentation is not in the making yet but will be during 2019.
    We are interested in peole, pensionados, who look for affordable living, easy rents or sales prices but with all the specifics needed for a life into a higher age, even if that would mean some care.
    Most EU , and UK, nations allow their citizens using their pensions and health care cards in Portugal, but that should be checked by every person in your home country.
    It would be great to hear what people expect, what budget they would like to spend on rent or purchases and if they hope for neighbours, or not at all, if they like a proper, organic, restaurant in walking distance and any other topic one could think of.
    Thanks in advance,
    Jacques De la Haye

    • Paulo Veiga

      Hi Jacques, welcome to Portugal and Torres Vedras is such a nice city. I was born and still living there. Visit the castle and also Santa Cruz (beach area)!
      Paulo Veiga

    • Cynthia Baena

      Hi Jacques,
      I’ve been researching cheap places, not far from main cities but far enough in order to afford the rent in Portugal. I came across your post and would like to find out more about it. I’m thinking of travelling there beginning of next year 2020 from Canada with my toy poodle.
      Is the website up and running?

      Thank you.

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