Portugal is not only a beautiful country but is also shockingly reasonable to live in. Almost anything you can name is cheaper and affordable in Portugal, from housing to food, healthcare to travel. That is why you might wonder, why is everything so cheap in Portugal?
Everything is cheaper in Portugal because the average household income is 30%-50% lower than in other European countries and the United States. This means that accommodation, transport, and food are all reasonably priced for tourists and residents alike.
Since residents of Portugal don’t have the same spending capacity as an average European, they get to enjoy basic commodities at a much more affordable rate. However, this makes us curious about how low the basic necessities cost in Portugal. Let’s find out!
Cost Of Basic Necessities In Portugal
The biggest reason why Portugal is so cheap to travel around and live in is that the average Portuguese salary is much lower than in other countries. According to the National Statistics Bureau (INE), in 2020, Portugal’s average gross monthly salary was 1,314 euros, which comes to 18,396 euros per year – the sixth lowest average gross yearly salary among OECD states. But that doesn’t mean Portuguese live a poor life. Most Portuguese live a very happy and healthy life due to their lifestyle, positive mindset, and living environment, which is often much better than the average American.
To get a better idea, let’s break down the cost of basic necessities in Portugal and compare it to other European countries to see how much cheaper Portugal is:
Living And Accommodation
Despite the average salary in Portugal being half that of a normal European, Portugal doesn’t boast a poor quality of life for its residents. Rather, Portugal’s living conditions are pretty decent compared to other European countries.
There is a considerable difference in the prices of rent and leases between Portugal and eastern and western European countries. Here’s a table comparing Portugal’s apartment rent with USA’s average apartment rent:
|Particulars||Cost In Portugal||Cost In States|
|The average rent for one bedroom apartment||Starts from as low as $400||$1000-$1200|
|The average rent for two bedroom apartment||Ranges from $800-$1300||$1900|
|The average rent for three bedroom apartment||More than $2000||More than $2500|
Note: Any US costs mentioned in this article vary significantly depending on your state. The costs mentioned are the average expected costs and not the exact figures.
Food And Groceries
The cost of food and groceries in Portugal entirely depends on where you decide to buy your groceries from and where you decide to eat. However, food and groceries are generally reasonably priced for the average person in Portugal. The south of Portugal (the Algarve) is the most popular region of Portugal, so you can expect higher prices in this area compared to other regions of Portugal.
Almost all grocery items fall into a reasonable price point, especially fresh produce like fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and dairy items. Plus, you’ll get them even cheaper if you avoid purchasing them from high-end markets or established brands.
Following is a table highlighting the prices of the most basic grocery items in Portugal versus their price in the USA:
|Products||Cost In Portugal||Cost In The States|
|1 Liter milk||$0.70||$0.97|
|Loaf of bread||$1.17||$3.07|
|1 Kg Chicken||$5.53||$12.16|
|1 Kg Cheese||$7.56||$11.94|
Eating Out Expenses
Eating out is even cheaper if you are on a tight budget. Moreover, Portugal has many options to choose from when it comes to dining out. Cafes and restaurants throughout the country provide reasonably-priced breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Below is a table for you to take a look at and catch up on the cost of fine dining in Portugal:
|Products||Cost In Portugal||Cost In The States|
|Breakfast at a cafe||As low as $5||Around $18|
|Lunch at an inexpensive restaurant||Starting from $8||$25-$30|
|Dinner at an inexpensive restaurant||$21||$35-$40|
|Dinner at a mid-range restaurant||$25-$35||$55-$60|
Travel And Transportation
Just like every other thing, travel and transport are just as inexpensive. Exploring nature, beaches, parks, museums, and other historical places of an enriching country like Portugal has been made reasonable so everyone would thoroughly enjoy the beauty of the country.
Public transportation has been made so affordable that all citizens can use it. Even though Portugal is cluttered with hills and has densely populated urban regions, the Portuguese transport system is well-built and connects all the cities. The country has various modes of public transportation, including suburban trains, buses, boats, and even a metro, to make things easier.
With so many modes of transportation for the locals, Portugal’s roads are less populated with individual cars, and the transportation time is relatively lower too. With that said, here’s a table to give you a general idea of how much traveling costs in Portugal as compared to the US:
|Particulars||Cost In Portugal||Cost In The States|
|One-way bus ticket||$1.56-$2.08 (depending on the distance)||$20-$50 (depending on the distance)|
|A monthly pass for an E-bike||Around $671||Around $1200|
|One-way train ticket||Starts from $20.82||Starting from $20 up to $400 depending on the distance|
When compared to other European countries and the States, public transportation in Portugal is close to costing almost nothing.
While Portugal’s healthcare plan isn’t free by any means, the government-run healthcare still offers a variety of services for its residents. It comprises excellent social service professionals, such as dentists, psychologists, and nutritionists, who can be easily reached if your family doctor recommends it.
Moreover, all the medical assistance offered is pretty economical, especially when you compare their costs with other countries offering a similar quality of service. Plus, public healthcare is offered either completely free or at a very subsidized rate. Private Insurance can also be obtained for as little as $50 per month, depending on your age and health condition.
Below is a table providing a comprehensive comparison between public and private healthcare in Portugal as compared to the US:
|Particulars||Cost of Public Healthcare in Portugal||Cost of Private Healthcare in Portugal||Cost of Healthcare in The States without insurance|
|Doctor’s visit||Starts from $7||$50 to $75||$100-200|
|ER Visits||Minimal co-pay||$100-$150||$150-20,000|
|Labor and Delivery||Small co-pay||$90-$130||$2700-40,100|
Utilities And Bills
Finally, the expense of utilities is also incredibly affordable and budget-friendly. On average, utilities like electricity, water services, gas, and garbage collection costs range from $120 to $150. Additionally, bills are issued after every two months, which makes the payments of these bills even more manageable.
With that said, keep in mind that these prices are in no way, shape, or form set in stone and may vary depending on how much you use these utilities and how big or small your house or apartment is. We’ve listed a utility bill price comparison between Portugal and the USA below:
|Particulars||Cost In The States||Cost In Portugal|
|Basic utilities (electricity, water, gas, trash)||Starting from $150||$100-$150|
|Internet/mobile||More than $65||$35-$65|
|Cable for television||Between $20-$250||$30-$80|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are a few commonly asked questions about why everything is cheap in Portugal:
Is the quality of life there bad if everything is cheap in Portugal?
Absolutely not. The quality of life provided to Portugal’s citizens is exceptionally good with its warm climate, stunning scenery and beaches, excellent ecology, rich culture, stable economy, and high-quality medicine and education.
On average, how much does it cost monthly to live in Portugal?
On average, it costs around $1000-$1200 to live in an affordable city or town in Portugal, and in an expensive city, the cost ranges from $1500-$2000.
How much money will I need for my trip to Portugal?
It would be best if you planned to spend around $100 per day on your vacation in Portugal, which is the calculated average daily cost. On average, former travelers have spent $30 on meals for one day and $20 on local transportation.
Portugal is one of the cheapest countries to live in. Due to the low wages, the average foreign person can easily afford everything from food, a place to live, utilities, healthcare, and more. Though everything in Portugal may be cheap, the country itself is exceptionally beautiful and provides its citizens with a good quality of life. We hope our guide helped you clear any questions or doubts you may have had about what the cost of everything is and why it’s incredibly low!
Portugal Travel Planning Guide
🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Portugal?
100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $2 USD daily, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from Safety Wing, one of the biggest names in travel insurance.
💧Can you drink tap water in Portugal?
Yes — However, drinking bottled water in Portugal is generally recommended. Most locals drink bottled water, which is readily available and affordable throughout the country. Tap water is safe for drinking, showering, and brushing teeth, but tap water in Portugal contains a lot of chlorine. So the taste is not good, and if you decide to drink tap water, make sure you use a water filter that can filter out the chlorine and other contaminants. When we’re on the road, we always use the Zero Water Filter, which we can easily take with us.
🚗 Is it safe to rent a car in Portugal?
Yes — Renting a car in Portugal is one of the best ways to see the country. I always rent with Rentalcars, which checks international and local Portuguese companies, so you get the best rates.
🏩 What’s the best way to book places to stay in Portugal?
For Portugal hotels, Booking.com is the best site.
🛫 What’s the best site to buy Portugal flights?
Lisbon International Airport and Faro International Airport offer many connections throughout the day. To find the best flights to Portugal, I recommend using Skyscanner.
⛵️ Where to book the best tours in Portugal?
For the best tours in Portugal, I highly recommend booking your trips at Get Your Guide.
🛂 Do I need a visa for Portugal?
Maybe — When you don’t hold a Schengen Passport you need to apply for a Portugal Schengen Visa. Most travelers receive a 90-day (single entry) or 180-day (multiple entry) visa that allows you to visit both Portugal and all the countries within the Schengen Area for as long as your Visa is valid. When you hold a Schengen Passport you are allowed to travel free within the Schengen Area. Find more information on the government site of Portugal.
😃 Is Portugal safe to visit?
Portugal is considered a safe country to travel to, just like in every country, you must be aware when you visit larger cities.
🗣 Do they speak English in Portugal?
Yes – but not in all parts of the country. The Algarve region, the most southern part of Portugal, almost everyone speaks English. Lisbon and Porto region you’ll also find many people that can speak English. However, when you visit the Portuguese countryside you’ll find that most people only speak Portuguese. Read more in our article Is English Widely Spoken in Portugal?
⭐️ What is the best time to visit Portugal?
Portugal is a great destination all year round. The southern region Algarve has the most sunshine days of Europe. During the winter months, it gets 18-20°C on average. When we’re in Portugal during winter we celebrate NYE always on the beach!
If you want to visit the countryside and northern part of Portugal best time to visit is between April and September, since the winter months can be very rainy and cold in that area of the country.