One of the main elements that significantly influence the decision on a new place of residence is the cost of living. Undoubtedly, before making a final decision concerning moving to Portugal, it is necessary to compare the volume of essential expenses and salaries in the country as of 2022. In this article, we will discuss the cost of living in Portugal and determine what affects the budget of an ordinary resident of the country the most.
Purchasing power in Portugal
The cost of living in a country depends directly on purchasing power. Unfortunately, purchasing power in Portugal is considered one of the lowest in Europe. This is due to low salaries in comparison with other countries of the European Union. So, the minimum wage in Portugal has increased to 705 euros in 2022. This happened because the country's government approved a plan for the annual increase of the minimum salary in 2015, which should reach 750 euros by 2023. And even though the Portuguese economy was shocked by the pandemic and the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the goal remains unchanged. As for the average salary in the country on January 1 of this year, it increased by 3.4%, to 1,361 euros. According to the data provided by the Portuguese National Institute of Statistics (Instituto Nacional de Estatística, INE), the average salary in the country is higher in such areas of activity that are related to electricity and natural gas (3,091 euros), as well as in financial and insurance activities (2,602 euros). In turn, the average salary is much lower in areas related to agriculture, livestock, forestry, and fishing (855 euros) and in the field of catering (881 euros) in Portugal.
Cost of living in Portugal
Many people may disagree that the cost of living in Portugal is one of the lowest in all of Europe, but this is true. For example, the average monthly cost of living for two people is 1500-2000 euros in Portugal. In turn, the final cost of living in Portugal will depend directly on several factors, such as where you arrange to live, the number of people in your family, living in own or rented real estate, etc.
Based on the preceding, the cost of living in a country primarily depends on the city where you intend to live or are currently living. This is because one of the aspects that most affects the costs is the rental of housing. According to research by Idealista, rental prices in Portugal continue increasing, registering an increase of 2.6% in the first half of 2022. As of June 30, 2022, the average property rental is €11.3 per square meter (€/m2). The cost of renting real estate in the first half of 2022 increased almost in all regional centers, while Leiria became the region of the country where the price of real estate increased the most, by 10.9%. It is followed by Viseu (7.6%), Funchal (7.0%), Aveiro (6.1%), Lisbon (4.8%), Santarenyi (4.7%), Porto (4.1%) , Braga (3.0%), Faro (2.9%) and Setúbal (0.7%). To better understand the average cost of renting a house in Portugal in 2022, we have created a table indicating the current prices for renting a house.
But there are also several regions of Portugal where the cost of renting accommodation has fallen, such as Coimbra (7.7%); Viana do Castelo (-0.7%). In a word, without a doubt, in the most prominent Portuguese cities, property rentals are much higher than the national average, which significantly increases the cost of living. In turn, in small towns, it is usually much more affordable. Thus, living on the outskirts of major cities or in the central part of Portugal, and not on its coastal territory, can significantly reduce your costs by saving on rental housing.
In addition to all of the above, it is necessary to clarify that in Portugal, most real estate is rented unfurnished. The lack of furniture allows residents to equip a house or apartment according to their preferences and requirements. However, furnished apartments or houses in Portugal are also rented, but their rent is higher. Even though it's a little more expensive, the main advantage of a furnished property is that you don't have to spend money on furnishing the whole apartment or the whole house. This aspect is vital for those who have just arrived in the country or are not yet sure that they will continue to live in this property for an extended period.
Expenses related to housing and communal services in Portugal
Of course, other aspects, such as utility bills, affect the cost of living in Portugal. Some time ago, we discussed tariffs for housing and communal services in the country. In general, they don't differ much from one city to another, except for water and garbage disposal, which are at the full disposal of each municipality. In Portugal, the electricity market is free. That is, you have the right to independently and, based on your preferences, choose a company that will supply you with electricity following the established prices. Thus, the costs for this type of utility service may differ from one company to another. Most electricity providers also supply natural gas to the homes of Portuguese residents so that this service can be connected immediately with electricity. The average bill for these two services in the country is 80 euros, and this value varies depending on the time of year, given that electricity and gas consumption is higher in winter. In addition, the size of the house and the number of occupants also directly increase the amount of the bill.
In turn, the average water bill in the country is 25 euros. This value may vary depending on the time of year, the number of people who live in the house, and other factors. Naturally, today it is impossible to imagine our life without a TV, the Internet, and a telephone. There are at least three major telecom companies in Portugal - Vodafone, Meo, and Nos (there is also Nowo in the country's interior regions). Prices don't differ much, and the choice will depend on the fiber availability in the area where you decide to live or already live. The basic plan starts from 35 euros, and the price will increase directly to the number of features you want to include in your plan, such as the availability of sports channels, etc. Cell phones can even be included in the plan. But we want to warn you, carefully read the agreements with the companies providing such services because ignorance of its clauses or the absence of Portuguese language knowledge doesn't relieve you of responsibility and obligations to the company.
Cost of living in Portugal with children
For those who have children, when calculating the cost of living in this European country, it is necessary to add such additional expenses as kindergarten, school; university, and development sections. Concerning kindergartens, there are three types of kindergartens in Portugal: state, those belonging to the Private Institution of Social Solidarity (Instituição Particular de Solidariedade Social, IPSS), and private. All these kindergartens are paid, but the difference between them lies precisely in the amount of monthly payment for them. According to the Portuguese state budget for 2022, state kindergartens, as well as those belonging to the Private Social Solidarity Institution, are free for those children who go to nursery school for the first time in September 2022. However, despite such favorable changes in preschool education for children, getting into kindergartens in Portugal, where the government subsidizes part of the monthly fee, is problematic. This is why parents, while waiting for their children, try to enroll them in kindergarten in advance. Those families who already have children in this kindergarten or children of volunteer firefighters (bombeiros voluntrários) have priority access to kindergartens in Portugal. Nevertheless, the situation with the availability of places in Portuguese state or semi-state kindergartens is heterogeneous and depends directly on which city or region of the country you live in or plan to live in. In other words, if you live in the center of Lisbon, then the likelihood that your child will be able to get a place in one or another state or semi-state kindergarten decreases. But if you live in central Portugal, away from its coastal part, the opportunity to arrange your child in kindergarten increases significantly.
In turn, schools in Portugal are state and private. You will have to pay a monthly fee for your child to attend a private school, but parents don't pay for state schools in this European country. The only costs associated with public schools in Portugal are the payment for the child's meals in the school cafeteria and educational materials. However, if you are a low-income family, you have the right to request additional assistance from the state and, in extreme cases, from the school where your child studies or going to study. In addition, several steps have been taken by the Portuguese government to make schooling for children in Portugal even more accessible. For this purpose, a program was created through which you can get school books absolutely free of charge. To receive a special book voucher for school education for the 2022-2023 school year, parents must register on the MEGA platform or the Edu Rede Escolar application by filling in all the necessary information that is requested on these two platforms.
Previously, on the WithPortugal portal, we have already talked about various aspects of higher education in educational institutions in Portugal. Getting higher education in both public and private Portuguese universities are paid. But the amount that will need to be paid monthly differs. Parents need to consider such expenses as helping their student children with the monthly university fees. In this article, we will not go into detail about higher education in Portugal.
Supermarkets in Portugal
Prices in the country's supermarkets don't differ much from city to city. On average, a family of two spends 400-450 euros per month.
The cost of lunch in a restaurant
Unlike fixed prices for food in Portuguese supermarkets, the cost of eating in certain places of public catering varies not only from city to city but also from region to region of the same city in Portugal. So, for example, in the city of Porto, lunch or dinner in a restaurant in the Baixa area (the most touristic region) is much more expensive than food in places far from the center. According to Numbeo, inexpensive lunch in Portugal will cost about 8 euros, and a dinner for two in a restaurant will cost about 40 euros. But, of course, these are averages. Thus, following your capabilities, you can easily find a catering establishment that is right for you.
Transport in Portugal
Anyone intending to buy a car in Portugal must remember that in addition to the cost of buying a car itself, there will be other significant costs.
Other factors will affect the cost of your life in the country, namely: parking fees; a monthly garage, because not all houses in Portugal are equipped with their own; maintenance; payment of toll roads, etc. Thus, on average, owning a car in the country will cost 400-500 euros per month. It is for this reason that more and more people in Portugal prefer to use public transport.
Public transport in the cities of Portugal is well-developed and affordable. A monthly pass for Porto and Lisbon, which allows you to travel throughout the region on all public transport, will cost 40 euros. In turn, if you don't need to travel to different parts of the city of Porto, it is possible to issue a travel card for specific areas of this city, the cost of which will be 30 euros per month. To take advantage of the benefits that exist with transport companies, at the time of issuing a travel card, you need to provide your accounting report for the last year in Portugal. In Braga, a monthly pass costs 18 or 30 euros, depending on the areas of the city where you intend to travel. In Faro, monthly passes range from 10.70 euros to 40 euros, depending on their type. The cost is slightly lower in medium-sized cities, from 10 to 40 euros. In addition, in almost every city in Portugal, transport companies have a social tariff, which provides discounts to low-income families, students, pensioners, and other groups.
Healthcare in Portugal
Healthcare costs also differ depending on your priorities, that is, whether you prefer public or private healthcare. As for public health, there have been significant changes since 2021. Until that date, all country residents paid for general healthcare (a visit to a family doctor - about 4.5 euros, and a specialist doctor - about 7 euros, etc.). However, these fees no longer exist. Residents of Portugal need to pay approximately 18 euros only in cases where they need an ambulance service. Examinations and procedures requested by the family doctor are also free of charge, and the cost of medicines he prescribes is much lower than the market price. All these benefits are because the Portuguese government has a co-payment system that covers part of the medical tests, examinations, and medicines, and the patient takes care of the rest.
If you prefer private medicine, you will undoubtedly need an insurance policy because it is pretty expensive to pay for private treatment in the country on your own. The cost of health insurance in Portugal starts from 15 euros per month per person. The sum insured depends on several factors, such as the insurer, the patient's age, and the services included in the insurance policy. One of the essential advantages of having an insurance plan in Portugal is that the patient can quickly go to a specialist doctor and not to a family doctor, as in the state system.
Holidays in Portugal
Perhaps this is the most personal part of the cost of living in Portugal in 2022 because the costs associated with recreation differ significantly from person to person. For about 250 euros a month, you can conduct a reasonably active life, go to cafes, dining out, concerts, etc. Those who usually don't go out so often can certainly save on this part. As we have already said, these are the most personal expenses, which largely depend on your lifestyle and the type of leisure you like.