Portugal is not only a beautiful country to live in with many gorgeous sandy beaches along but it is also one of the cheapest destinations in Europe to live in. In this article, we will discuss everything you have to know regarding the cost of living and retiring in Portugal.
Common questions when retiring to Portugal:
- Is Portugal a good place to live?
- How much do you need to live in Portugal?
- Is food cheap in Portugal?
- Is healthcare free in Portugal?
- How much is rent in Portugal?
- Can foreigners buy a house in Portugal?
- Is Portugal safe?
- What visa is available in Portugal?
Now let’s dig in deeper and see if Portugal is right for you
Is Portugal a good place to live?
Located at Europe’s westernmost point it is a common place to move and retire too due to its great beaches and low cost of living and easy visa system. Portugal has a lovely climate with approximately 300 days of sunshine each year from Lisbon and down and a few more rainy days in the north around Porto.
The temperatures in the north around Porto can get down to 6°C or 43°F for the three months in Winter from December to February but quickly warm up again. In Lisbon you are lucky to get any night time temperatures in single digits in the middle of winter and summer highs around 30°C or 86°F. These temperatures continue all the way down to the southern coast.
Portugal was once one of the poorest nations in Europe due to the autocracy that ran the country before 1974. However with the end of the dictatorship and the beginning of democratic governance this soon changed. With Its integration into the rest of Europe in 1986 the country has flourished and become a popular holiday and retirement destination.
The Portuguese people are quiet, courteous and very friendly. Its infrastructure, education and healthcare system are among the best in the world. Despite its location on the North Atlantic coast Portugal it has a distinct Mediterranean style with warm weather and food and lifestyle choices. The sea which runs along the country’s western border plays a significant role in Portuguese culture and gastronomy. All around the country fish and seafood are on the menu of most restaurants.
Music is an essential part of everyday life in Portugal. You will hear both traditional and contemporary music wherever you go. This includes the powerful and emotional heritage of Fado (translated loosely as “fate”) music which was an UNESCO awarded World Heritage status in 2011. This was after it was recognized as an essential and valuable style of music symbolic of Portugal.
How much do you need to live in Portugal?
The cost of living in Portugal is 45% lower in general than the United States. This includes real estate, food and eating out that are all around 50% to 60% lower as well. It depends on where in the country you live with the southern part of Portugal being even cheaper.
In Portugal grocery shopping is relatively inexpensive particularly for local produce such as fruits, veggitables, fish and meat. The general rule is that anything cultivated or obtained in Portugal is inexpensive. Apples for example cost 1.70 USD per kilo in Portugal but 5 USD in the United States.
Due to the abundance of shops and public markets in Portugal, a typical monthly shopping spend for a couple can be as low as $200 USD depending on what you buy and the lifestyle you lead.
Here’s a step by step breakdown of the retirement cost for Portugal:
|Rent for a 3 Bedroom House||$964 USD / €850|
|Rent for a 1 Bedroom Flat||$397 USD / €350|
|Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)||$115 USD / €101|
|Internet||$38 USD / €33|
|Maid Service (Hourly)||$7 USD / €6|
|Groceries||$200 USD / €177|
|Dining Out (2 people) For 4 times||$72 USD / €64|
|Fitness or Social Club Membership||$36 USD / €32|
|TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES (1 bed)||$858 USD/ €758|
|TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES (3 bed)||$1425 USD/ €1260|
NOTE: These rental costs are based on the average price in the heart of Lisbon, Portugal. You may save a lot more if you prefer to stay outside the city center or on the southern coast.
Is food cheap in Portugal?
Whenever it comes to fine food and drinks at an affordable price, Portugal and especially Lisbon is a great place to nurture your taste buds. Portugal has something to offer for everybody from well loved locally run restaurants to high end restaurants that you can visit for special occasions. You will never get hungry in Portugal regardless of your budget!
In general though eating out in Portugal is considered rather inexpensive to what you might pay in the US. Many restaurants in Portugal have provided you with lunch menu deals and can be found for around 9 USD per person. Expect to pay roughly 22 USD for a three-course dinner in a similar restaurant.
Here is the overview of the average monthly groceries:
|Milk||1 Liter / 1 quart||$1 USD|
|Bread||1 Loaf||$1.3 USD|
|Eggs||1 Dozen||$2 USD|
|Beef||1 kg / 2.2 pounds||$10 USD|
|Chicken Breasts||1 kg / 2.2 pounds||$5.5 USD|
|Local Cheese||1 kg / 2.2 pounds||$7.6 USD|
|Wine||1 Liter / 1 quart||$6 USD|
Here are some prices from a local supermarkets that you can check out:
NOTE: Some of these sites are only available in Portuguese. Enable your browser’s auto translation function to see the result in English.
TIP: If you plan to stay in Portugal for a long time, you should join a membership program to enjoy more significant discounts at the big supermarkets.
Is healthcare free in Portugal?
In Portugal, public healthcare is paid through the tax system and for all basic services is free with a small co-payment for larger medical treatments. The name of it is the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) and it is available to anyone that is a citizen or resident. If you are visiting as a tourist the service is available but you will need travel insurance to cover the costs. If you are planning to be a permanent resident you must provide proof of international healthcare coverage before going there.
Private insurance in Portugal will start from $151 USD a month with a $1,000 USD deductible for any major surgeries.
You can check to the following websites of several pricing of International health insurance:
How much is rent in Portugal?
Portugal has one of the lowest living costs in Western Europe. Whether you want to rent or buy a home you can get one for way cheaper than most places in the USA. For a one or two-bedroom apartment in the city rents start at around $397 USD per month. For a 3 bedroom apartment the rent starts around $964 USD.
Can foreigners buy a house in Portugal?
Yes, one of the most exciting aspects of retiring to Portugal is that expatriates who would like to purchase a home there have no constraints. Furthermore under the Golden Visa Program where if you invest 500k Euro in real estate then you can get a permanent residency.
It’s advisable to see a real estate agent before buying a new house in Portugal. These are known as Inmobiliaria in Portuguese. The agents can help you decide the best place to live in as well as keep you informed about the local law and taxes.
Here are some real estate agents to check current prices:
- Portugal Homes
- Portugal Sotheby’s International Realty
- Engel & Völkers Lisboa – Agência imobiliária
Is Portugal safe to live in?
It is one of the safest places to live in the world with a very low crime rate and mostly just petty crime you find in any country there. Just follow the basic safety rules as you do in your home country and be aware of your surroundings. You will feel very safe either during the day or at night alone or in a group.
LINK: Portugal Travel Advisory
What visa is available in Portugal?
There are three kinds of visa available for people who are wishing to retire in Portugal which are the temporary, fixed residency and the golden visa program. Any of these can be used for your retirement but keep in mind the temporary is great to go over and see if you like Portugal but is not for the long term.
There is also a temporary stay visa that starts at 90 days and can be extended for up to a year. In Portugal, the charge for a Temporary Stay visa is €75. Working-age or retired people who can show they can sustain themselves economically for a twelve-month stay in Portugal are eligible for this particular Portuguese visa. You’ll need to show documentation or have proof of your savings such as bank statements.
The D7 fixed residency permit is for anyone that can support themselves financially for an extended period without work or relying on public assistance in Portugal. The current proof of income for the visa is 8,469 Euro and 50% for each extra person. This is not restricted to retired people but your pension payments or draw down from your retirement fund is all you need for this one. It is the cheapest non-lucrative visa in Europe and leads to residency and citizenship within 5 years.
There is also the golden visa residency program which is a unique Portuguese visa program to attract international investment to the country. The Portugal golden visa program expedites the procedure for non-EU investors that acquire Portuguese property or commit up to a particular amount which is currently 500k euro or less under certain conditions.