The Cost of Living In Portugal


Here are some random examples of what it costs to live in Central Portugal. Lisbon centre will obviously be more expensive.

The exchange rate at 26.12.13 was 1 GBP = 1.19630 Euro (

The exchange rate at 2.9.14 is 1 GBP = 1.25407 Euro (

On a recent trip, water at Porto airport was 1.30 euro a bottle.  The same little bottle at Stansted airport on landing cost me £1.99.  Astounding.  Almost double taking the exchange rate into account.  Nearly got straight back on the plane.

Cafes: Recently we sat outdoors in the sunshine at a typical village café and had three pasties, a cake, a can of iced tea and two coffees which in total came to 6.50 euros.  We’ve often had four drinks and four cakes in the town centre at Castelo Branco which has come to the princely sum of 5.00 euros.


Restaurants: The lunchtime meal in Castelo Branco averages around 6.50 euros and includes a starter, usually soup, a choice of main meals either fish or meat with vegetables and rice or chips, a dessert, a drink which will include wine if you prefer, often enough for several glasses, and coffee.  I know.  Amazing.  Eating out in the evening is more expensive and can cost you a packet if your budget is tight.  A three course meal at our local, rather dull restaurant with passable food cost 60 euros for four including drinks.  So we usually eat out at lunch times.  The decent pizza restaurant has pizzas for around 10.00 euros each.  Plus drinks and any other trimmings.

The Silver Coast lunchtime meal is about  8.50 euros and often does not include drinks.

Groceries: Our grocery bill is around the 150.00 euro a week mark for two adults and two children although we could probably cut that down to 100.00 euros.

Potatoes: 3kg sack of potatoes is 2.99 euros.

Chicken: 3.15 euros for 1.5 kilo chicken

Apple juice: 66 euros for 1 litre, supermarket brand.

Milk: 0.56 euros for 1 litre of standard supermarket UHT cow’s milk.

Telephone, internet and cable:  This costs us around 50.00 euros a month for the basic package with MEO.  Which would be worth it if they didn’t blast my mobile with marketing calls.  Sometimes as late as 10 0′ clock at night.  The costs on top – film rentals, phone calls (free international calls), line rental and any other bits they can think of bump it up to over 100.00 euros.


Roads:  All I can say is watch out for the toll roads on the motorways.  You may not realise you are on one if you are travelling on the A23.  Well you are, there just isn’t a ticket machine but they are still clocking you as you go under the silver barriers across the road.  Having said that it is a fabulous motorway, generally empty (wonder why?) with a great view of the Tagus River at some points and stunning scenery.  You will have to go to a post office to pay within 48  hours, rent a temporary box from a Via Verde office or at the Spanish border you can arrange to pay for a month by credit or debit card.  Hire companies have their own systems.  You can also do it online with Easy Toll, but good luck with that.

Petrol: Cheapest I have found was at Jumbo supermarket in Castelo Branco this month at 1.499 a litre or Intermarche at 1.54 litre.  Obviously it is far more expensive on the motorways, suggest you drive on by if you can make it.

Fuel: An 12.5kg butano gas bottle is 26.50 euros (Intermarche petrol station).  The same bottle from a supermarket petrol station in the Charente Maritime, France, used to cost 33.00 euros. In the winter we get through one a week.  We use calor gas for hot water, cooking and heating.  A wood burning stove is a cheaper option.

Housing in Alcains

Housing in Alcains

Electricity: Our last monthly winter electricity bill came to 65.00 euros which is used for lights, kettle, the occasional kitchen gadget and a couple of electric heaters which we put on at night.  Plus the washing machine, TV, computers and internet.

House Insurance:  We have insured two houses.  The three bed village house costs 45.00 euros a year with contents and the five bed house without contents but with 100% earthquake insurance costs 150.00 euros a year with Montepeio.  We didn’t shop around.

Love the architecture of this typical modern Portuguese house

Love the architecture of this typical modern Portuguese house

Council tax (IMI): These rates vary considerably depending on whether you live in the town or country, by the sea, have a pool, etc.  Our council tax bill in the UK was £1500 a year.  I just got a bill here for 110.00 euros per annum for a three bedroom mid-terrace village house with no garden.  Or pool.  So we can now afford to spend our money in the restaurants and keep the economy going round.  Actually because it is our first house I’ve been told I don’t need to pay anything for six years anyway.  I can’t say I’ve noticed much difference in the services you get compared with the UK.  OK the bins are centralised in the village so we take the rubbish up ourselves but they are emptied regularly as is the recycling.  Plenty of police around if that’s your thing, and a splendid central library in town.  I have no experience of elderly care but everyday the social service van drives around the village, picks up the elderly, takes them…somewhere, and drops them off again later. The streets in our area are as clean as any in the UK.  Well probably cleaner, actually.  We’ll be paying a lot more with the Lisbon house, around 850 euros a year for a five bedroom detached house.

Water: This is metered, we pay approximately 17.00 euros a month for a family of four.  When we filled the pool up it rose to 55.00 euros for a couple of months.


Horse riding:  Expect you are all desperate to know the cost of this.  We are currently paying 20.00 euros for half an hour of private lessons. Our local riding school is fairly complicated because the more you book the cheaper it is but you have to pay a fairly hefty registration fee and insurance on top if you want this option, so not worth it for the occasional lesson.


One more thing, the cost of living is generally cheaper here but check out the tax and national insurance rates.  It’s not quite so amusing.  However an alternative tax for new expats has been introduced called non-habitual residency which can make your tax bill cheaper than the UK.  There are many websites out there which give further information about this if you do a quick internet search.

Finally, if you are looking for the cheapest places to live you could try this link to Tim Leffel’s blog.  Tim has just written a book ‘A Better Life for Half The Price’.



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