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Thinking of Moving to Portugal? How Much Money Would You Need?

Portugal, with its sun-kissed beaches, historic cities, and serene countryside, has become a hugely attractive destination for American looking to relocate abroad.

The country offers something for everyone – from working professionals seeking a better work-life balance, to retirees drawn by the promise of a tranquil lifestyle, to digital nomads in search of inspiration and a welcoming community.

But before you begin mapping out your new life, let’s start off with a practical question: How much money do you need to move to Portugal?

The aim of this article is not just to spell out the costs associated with such a move, but to also unpack the financial landscape in the country.

Whether you’re contemplating the cobblestone streets of Lisbon, the vineyards of the Douro Valley, or the surf breaks of the Algarve, it’s important that you have a sound understanding the financial commitments involved.

From the initial relocation expenses to the cost of living and enjoying the Portuguese lifestyle, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview tailored to working professionals, retirees, and digital nomads alike.

With thoughtful planning and insights, moving to Portugal can be an achievable goal, offering a blend of adventure, relaxation, and a vibrant community. Let’s explore what it takes financially to make this beautiful country your new home.

Understanding the Costs of Moving to Portugal

Moving to Portugal is an exciting prospect, but it’s accompanied by various costs that can impact your budget. This section aims to provide a clear overview of the initial financial outlay required to relocate, covering everything from the move itself to setting up your new life in Portugal.

Initial Relocation Costs

The cost of flights from the US to Portugal varies widely depending on the time of year, how far in advance you book, and your departure city. Budgeting for airfare is essential, with prices ranging significantly.

If you’re planning to bring more than just suitcases, shipping costs for personal belongings can add up. Rates depend on the volume of goods and the service you choose. It’s advisable to get quotes from several shipping companies and decide what you really need to bring, as downsizing can save money.

Upon arrival, you might not move directly into a long-term rental or purchase property. Budgeting for short-term accommodation, such as hotels or vacation rentals, while you house hunt is important. This cost will vary based on location and the length of your stay.

Visa and Residency Costs

The type of visa you apply for (e.g., D7 Visa for passive income holders, Golden Visa for investors, or the Digital Nomad Visa) will have different application costs.

These fees are usually a few hundred dollars but can vary based on the application process and any legal assistance you hire. Contact us here to get started on this process.

Then, once in Portugal, you’ll need to apply for a residency permit. Fees for this process are relatively modest but should be factored into your initial costs.

Finally, navigating the paperwork for visas and residency can be complex, and many choose to hire legal assistance. Costs for these services vary widely based on the complexity of your situation and the level of service required.

Healthcare Coverage

Until you’re a resident and eligible for Portugal’s national health service, you’ll need private health insurance. The cost depends on the coverage level, your age, and health status but is an essential factor in your initial budget.

Setting Up Your New Home

Renting a property typically requires a security deposit, often equivalent to one or two months’ rent, plus the first month’s rent upfront.

Setting up utilities (water, electricity, gas) and internet service may require initial deposits or installation fees.

Living Expenses in Portugal

After settling the initial costs of moving, the next step is understanding the ongoing living expenses. Portugal is often lauded for its affordable cost of living, especially when compared to many parts of the US.

Here, we’ll break down the primary components of day-to-day expenses to help you budget effectively for your new life in Portugal.

Housing (Renting or Buying)

Rental prices vary significantly across Portugal, with larger cities like Lisbon and Porto generally being more expensive. In these urban centers, you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

More affordable options can be found in smaller towns or rural areas, where prices can drop to as low as $400 to $700 for similar accommodations.

For those interested in purchasing property, Portugal offers a wide range of options, from city apartments to countryside villas. Prices per square meter vary greatly by location, with prime areas in Lisbon commanding high prices, while more affordable properties can be found in less touristy regions. Budgeting for property taxes and maintenance costs is also essential.

Daily Living Expenses

The cost of groceries in Portugal is relatively low, especially for local products and fresh produce. A monthly grocery budget for two people can range from $200 to $400, depending on dietary preferences and shopping habits.

Monthly utility costs (including electricity, water, and gas) for a standard apartment are typically between $100 and $200, influenced by usage and the time of year.

High-speed internet and a mobile phone plan are essentials for most, with combined costs usually ranging from $40 to $70 per month.


While public healthcare is accessible to residents at a low cost, many expats choose to supplement this with private health insurance for more comprehensive coverage and shorter waiting times. Private health insurance costs vary but expect to budget around $40 to $100 per month per person, depending on coverage levels and age.


Public transportation in Portugal is both efficient and affordable, with monthly passes for local buses and metro services in cities like Lisbon and Porto costing around $40 to $60. For those preferring to drive, fuel costs and car maintenance must be considered, alongside the initial expense of purchasing a vehicle if needed.

Special Considerations by Demographic

Working professional may also need to factor in co-working space memberships if remote work is not an option, which can range from $100 to $250 per month.

Retirees should consider additional healthcare coverage and possibly higher utility costs for home comfort.

Digital Nomads might have variable costs based on travel within Portugal and the need for flexible accommodation options.

Budgeting for the Portuguese Lifestyle

From savoring local cuisine to exploring Portugal’s stunning landscapes, here’s how to budget for the leisure and recreation that make life in Portugal uniquely rewarding.

Leisure and Recreation

Portugal is renowned for its culinary delights, from fresh seafood to pastéis de nata. Dining out is quite affordable, with a meal at a mid-range restaurant costing between $15 to $30 per person. For those who enjoy wine, Portugal offers excellent value, with quality local wines available at a fraction of the price found in the US.

Portugal’s rich history and vibrant culture are reflected in its museums, galleries, and historical sites. Many museums offer free admission on certain days, while regular ticket prices are generally modest. Budgeting around $10 to $20 for entry fees to most paid attractions is a safe bet.

With its beautiful beaches, scenic hiking trails, and world-class golf courses, Portugal offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Many natural attractions are free to explore, while activities like golfing or guided tours may require additional budgeting, typically ranging from $20 to $100 depending on the activity.


One of the joys of living in Portugal is the ease of exploring the rest of the country—and even neighboring countries. The compact size of Portugal makes it possible to discover a diverse range of landscapes and cultures, from the vineyards of the Douro Valley to the surf spots of the Algarve.

Train and bus services provide affordable options for domestic travel, with most inter-city trips costing between $10 to $50 one-way. Renting a car for more flexibility might cost around $30 to $50 per day, not including fuel.

Portugal’s location offers a gateway to the rest of Europe, with many low-cost airlines operating out of Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Budgeting for European travel depends on the destination and time of year, but early booking can secure round-trip flights to many European cities for under $100.

Financial Planning Tips

To fully enjoy the Portuguese lifestyle, allocate a monthly leisure budget. This will help you indulge in the experiences that enhance life in Portugal without overspending.

Take advantage of discounts and loyalty programs for restaurants, cultural activities, and travel. Many businesses offer reduced prices for residents, seniors, and students.

Living like a local – not only in terms of dining and shopping but also by participating in free community events – can enrich your experience while keeping costs down.

FAQs – Financial Considerations When Moving to Portugal

When planning a move to Portugal, numerous financial questions arise. Here’s a compilation of frequently asked questions to provide clarity and assist in your planning process.

How much money should I have saved before moving to Portugal?

It’s recommended to have savings that cover 6-12 months of living expenses, in addition to the initial relocation costs. This ensures a comfortable buffer as you settle in. The exact amount depends on your lifestyle, chosen location, and whether you’re renting or buying property.

Can I live comfortably in Portugal on a $2000 monthly budget?

Yes, a monthly budget of $2000 can provide a comfortable lifestyle in many parts of Portugal, especially outside the major cities. This budget should cover rent, utilities, groceries, healthcare, and leisure activities, though it may be stretched in more expensive areas like Lisbon or Porto.

What are the best ways to transfer money internationally to Portugal?

Utilize international bank transfers, currency exchange services like TransferWise (now Wise) or Revolut, and peer-to-peer transfer services. Compare fees and exchange rates to find the best option for your needs.

Do I need to pay taxes in Portugal if I’m receiving income from the US?

Yes, you may be subject to taxation on global income in Portugal, especially after becoming a tax resident. However, the NHR regime may offer favorable tax conditions for your first ten years in Portugal. It’s important to consult with a tax advisor familiar with both US and Portuguese tax laws.

Is healthcare in Portugal expensive for expats?

Public healthcare is accessible at low costs for residents, including expats. However, many choose to have private health insurance for broader coverage and quicker access, which can range from $40 to $100 per month, depending on the plan and coverage.

What are the hidden costs of moving to Portugal?

Beyond the obvious costs, consider potential expenses like health insurance before you’re eligible for public healthcare, car import taxes if you’re bringing a vehicle, and fees associated with setting up utilities and mobile phone service.

How does the cost of living in Lisbon compare to other cities in Portugal?

Lisbon, being the capital and a major city, has a higher cost of living compared to smaller cities and towns in Portugal. Expect to pay more for rent, dining out, and entertainment. However, it also offers more job opportunities, especially for English speakers.

Are there any financial incentives for retirees moving to Portugal?

The NHR tax regime offers reduced taxation on foreign income (including pensions) for qualifying individuals for the first ten years of residency, making Portugal an attractive destination for retirees.

How much does it cost to buy property in Portugal?

Property prices vary widely by location and property type. As a general guide, prices in Lisbon can range from $3,000 to $6,000 per square meter, while more affordable regions like central Portugal offer properties at $1,000 to $2,000 per square meter.

What should I know about opening a bank account in Portugal?

You’ll need a Portuguese fiscal number (NIF), passport, and proof of address to open an account. Some banks may also require a residency permit. It’s advisable to research and choose a bank that offers services in English and is accustomed to dealing with expat clients.

Ready to Move to Portugal?

Moving to Portugal is an adventure that promises a blend of rich cultural experiences, stunning landscapes, and a relaxed lifestyle.

However, it also requires thorough financial planning and understanding of the costs involved. From the initial expenses of relocating to the ongoing living costs, being well-informed is crucial to a successful transition.

We’ve explored the financial considerations for moving to Portugal, including the initial relocation costs, living expenses, budgeting for the Portuguese lifestyle, and practical financial planning tips.

By setting realistic budgets, saving strategically, and managing your finances wisely, you can make your dream of living in Portugal a reality, whether you’re a retiree, a working professional, or a digital nomad.

Remember, the key to a smooth transition is preparation. Start by estimating your initial moving costs, plan for your first few months of living expenses, and consider the lifestyle you wish to lead in the country.

Embrace the financial planning process as part of the adventure, allowing you to fully enjoy the rich experiences and opportunities that life in Portugal offers.

With the right financial planning, you can turn this dream into your reality, enjoying everything Portugal has to offer from its vibrant cities to its tranquil countryside.

The adventure of a lifetime awaits in Portugal, and with careful planning, you can ensure that your move is not just a leap of faith, but a step into a well-prepared and financially secure new chapter of your life. Ready to begin the process?

David Poole is a South African entrepreneur and businessman, and founder of Consult Immigration.