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Portugal: The country with the best cost of living in Western Europe

Check out the main differences among the best cities in Portugal to live in

The decision to live abroad requires a lot of planning, especially about the organization of your finances, the aspect that most influences the choice of the perfect destination. Apart from Portugal being one of the world’s safest countries, full of history, culture, and nature, when it comes to affordability Portugal stands out as one of the countries with the best cost of living in Western Europe.

Several factors influence the final cost, such as the city where you want to live, the number of people in your family, and your standard of living. The cost of living in Portugal is not fixed and may vary depending on the region in which you want to live. When looking for a property in Portugal, the number of bedrooms in a dwelling is represented by the letter “T.” In other words, a one-bedroom apartment will be a T1 and a two-bedroom apartment will be a T2.

Here are some cities and areas to consider.

Bragança

With approximately 35,000 inhabitants, Bragança is located in the northernmost region of Portugal, bordering Spain. The city has a good infrastructure of healthcare and recreation, with museums, gardens, a theater, and all kinds of commerce. Since it has several agreements with higher education institutions that encourage the increase of immigrants in the region, the city has a large student population.

The city has spectacular scenery in a mountainous region with historic villages and rich cuisine. It is no wonder that Bragança has been chosen as one of the cities with the best quality of life in Europe, with high scores in safety and environmental quality.

Bragança has a low cost of living, considered by many people as the city with the lowest costs in Portugal, where you can rent an apartment or a two-bedroom house for between €300 and €400 per month in the city. For students who plan to study in the region, it is possible to rent a room for €150 per month.

Additionally, restaurants and basic expenses are much cheaper than in large centers such as Lisbon, Cascais, Porto, Braga, and Coimbra. Monthly food expenses in Bragança, for example, are around €125 to €175 per person, and monthly costs for energy, water, and gas average €100. The average transportation cost per person is around €24 a month.

Castelo Branco

A city that is simultaneously traditional and modern, Castelo Branco is located in the central region of Portugal, in the countryside, approximately 50 km from the border with Spain. It has about 56,000 inhabitants.

The region has an excellent infrastructure for quality living, such as hospitals, shops, and essential services. Castelo Branco stands out mainly for its gardens, museums, castles, towns, and interesting villages in its surroundings. This city is a great option for people who want to be close to nature and explore the history, culture, and gastronomy of a region, combining quiet with safety.

In the city center of Castelo Branco, renting a T1 apartment, for example, costs around €280 and, outside the center, this price can drop down to €230. Basic utility expenses for electricity, heating, water, and garbage are in the range of €115 per month. Food expenses may vary but are typically around €150 to €200 per month per person. Transportation in the region costs about €25 per person a month.

Braga

Located in the north of Portugal, in the central region of Minho Province (close to the country’s border with Spain), Braga is a very popular region to live in due to its excellent infrastructure and proximity to Porto. Its historical value is very preserved, as well as its culture, traditions, and unique cuisine.

As a very bustling city that meets all of your needs, Braga has a cost of living similar to that of most of the country, especially regarding food and monthly expenses. Renting in Braga is considered highly feasible, because Braga has a much lower cost of living than Lisbon and Porto.

For example, a T1 apartment can be found for €425 and a T2 for €550. In addition to monthly expenses (such as utilities) that are around €100 and food expenses from €100 to €125 per person, weekends offer a good opportunity to discover the local cuisine, explore the city, and enjoy the recreational options, which, depending on your lifestyle, may cost from €150 to €200.

Viseu

With approximately 96,000 inhabitants, Viseu is located in the central region of the country. Apart from being one of the cheapest cities in Portugal, the region provides a good quality of life for its residents due to its hospitals and health centers, museums, parks and gardens, variety of stores, its shopping centers, theaters, and art galleries.

Viseu is a charming city that has been drawing the attention of immigrants in recent years, especially because of its variety of art and culture offerings. DECO, Portugal’s national consumer protection agency, twice named Viseu (including in 2022) as the best Portuguese city to live in, based on cost-of-living, security, crime, city cleanliness and maintenance and other factors, including culture, sports, and leisure.

Renting a T1 apartment in the city center costs around €435, and outside the center costs around €300. Expenses for food and other kinds of expenses are similar to other regions, ranging from €100 for monthly expenses and €150 to €200 for food per person. Public transportation costs around €30 per person per month.

Lisbon

Situated on the coast, the capital of Portugal amazingly combines the old with the new and has become one of the best destinations in Europe. The region is highly praised for its architecture and low crime rates. It has a higher cost of living, especially when compared with other regions of the country, but it also has higher salaries. Lisbon also offers more job opportunities, due to its large number of companies. It is a vibrant region with stunning landscapes, a unique infrastructure, and its excellent transportation system.

Renting a T1 apartment in the city center costs on average €860 per month, with rents outside the center costing approximately €630. Monthly utility expenses are around €130 and food expenses are around €150 to €200 per person; in general, supermarket prices in Lisbon are considerably lower than in other major European cities.

Lisbon is full of entertainment and tourist attractions, with theaters, museums, concert halls, restaurants, zoos, squares, and parks to relax in. Restaurant prices near tourist areas are higher than those near residential areas.

In general, total monthly expenses in Lisbon vary between €1100 and €1300, depending on one’s standard of living.

Porto

Located in the north of Portugal, Porto is the second largest city in the country, with approximately 215,000 inhabitants in the central area. Porto has all the characteristics of a big city with the advantages of a small town, being very safe and quiet. Since it is one of the largest cities in the country, the cost of living is higher than in other regions.
Porto has a very vibrant cultural life, with a wide variety of restaurants, things to do all week long, extensive public transportation, and great infrastructure for its residents. There are incredible tourist attractions, including museums, theaters, and a medieval district on the waterfront.

The cost of living in Porto, like everywhere else, depends a lot on one’s habits and lifestyle. It is possible to find a T1 apartment in the city center costing around €688 per month, and outside the center for around €508. Food in Portugal, for example, has similar costs across the country: monthly supermarket expenses in Porto average €125 per person, ranging from €100 to €150. Monthly expenses like utilities are very similar to other regions, ranging from €130 to €150, with expenses at the higher end in winter due to energy usage. For transportation, the city offers a monthly pass for €40 that allows users to move around the entire metropolitan area.

Coimbra

Considered one of the most famous Portuguese cities and an important university center, Coimbra is located in the central region of Portugal and has approximately 140,000 inhabitants.

The city allows a flexible lifestyle, with opportunities to work, study, and enjoy leisure time. Considered a real adventure in time travel, Coimbra offers the best of traditional and modern Portugal, with many tourist attractions, important places in the history of Portugal, modern shopping malls, bars, restaurants, a lot of entertainment, and stunning landscapes.

Living in Coimbra means having a lower cost of living when compared to Porto and Lisbon, especially in rental costs. It is possible to find a T1 apartment in the city center for approximately €460 and outside the center for €322 per month. The average monthly cost of food in Coimbra varies from €100 to €125 per person, and monthly utility expenses are around €120.
A great advantage is that the city allows you to do almost everything on foot, since it takes about an hour to cross the city as a pedestrian. However, it also has good public transportation, with a monthly pass costing €30 that allows you to move around the whole city quickly.

Cascais

Located just a few minutes from Lisbon, Cascais is the fifth largest city in Portugal, with over 200,000 inhabitants. It is a very sought-after city to live, work, and relax, because it provides the tranquility of a small beach town with the convenience of a big city. Cascais is famous for its peace and quiet, very beautiful beaches, great infrastructure, and high-quality lifestyle.

The cost of living in Cascais, such as water, electricity, telephone, the internet, and food is similar to that of Lisbon and other Portuguese cities, ranging from €130 for monthly expenses and €100 to €125 per person for food. However, according to Numbeo, rents may be almost 50% higher than in Lisbon, in that a T1 apartment located in the Cascais city center costs around €1050 per month and outside the center around €783.

The city has a unique location and excellent public transportation, with easy access from the region to the capital. Its proximity with Oeiras, one of the main job centers for technology and startups, also attracts locals to the region. The price for a monthly public transportation pass is €40.

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