“Living in Porto: A Guide for Foreigners” offers an insightful glimpse into the life that awaits expatriates in one of Portugal’s most enchanting cities. Nestled along the Douro River, Porto is renowned for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, all while offering a cost of living that is attractively affordable compared to other European destinations. 

This guide is designed to equip foreigners with the essential information needed to navigate the nuances of settling in Porto, from understanding the local real estate market to getting acquainted with the public transportation system.

Where is Porto?

Porto is located in the northern region of Portugal, along the Douro River estuary. It’s the country’s second-largest city, known for its significant role as an Atlantic port. This strategic location has historically contributed to Porto’s development as a vibrant trade and industry center. 

The city is approximately 313 kilometers (about 194 miles) north of Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. Porto’s rich cultural heritage, combined with its modern amenities, makes it a key destination within Portugal for both residents and visitors.

Best Neighborhoods in Porto


Nestled in the heart of Porto, Baixa stands as the city’s historic downtown area, celebrated for its quaint streets, lively ambiance, and deep cultural roots. Expats attracted to Baixa can relish in its close proximity to iconic landmarks, trendy cafes, and bustling markets, offering an enticing urban lifestyle experience.

Foz do Douro

Gracing the banks of the scenic Douro River estuary, Foz do Douro emerges as a picturesque coastal enclave, renowned for its pristine beaches, upscale amenities, and graceful waterfront promenade. Expats enchanted by Foz do Douro’s coastal allure can savor the delights of seaside living, panoramic ocean vistas, and a laid-back Mediterranean vibe.


Among Porto’s oldest and most cherished districts, Ribeira exudes an irresistible charm with its vibrant facades, cobblestone pathways, and bustling waterfront. Expats intrigued by Ribeira’s timeless appeal can delve into its charming squares, riverside cafes, and vibrant cultural milieu, immersing themselves in the quintessential Porto experience.

Tucked away in the heart of Porto’s historic core, Sé boasts medieval architecture, labyrinthine alleys, and an enchanting atmosphere. Expats eager to delve into Porto’s storied past and cultural tapestry can wander through Sé’s historic landmarks, traditional eateries, and bustling local scene, embracing the essence of this historic neighborhood.


Located in Porto’s vibrant city center, Cedofeita is a dynamic neighborhood known for its eclectic blend of old and new. Expats drawn to Cedofeita can explore its trendy cafes, boutique shops, and lively street art scene, offering a vibrant urban lifestyle with a touch of bohemian charm.


Situated just north of Porto, Matosinhos is a coastal gem renowned for its pristine beaches, fresh seafood, and laid-back atmosphere. Expats captivated by Matosinhos can enjoy beachfront living, surf-friendly waves, and a thriving culinary scene, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a relaxed coastal lifestyle with easy access to city amenities.

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Cost of Living in Porto

The cost of living in Portugal presents a notable affordability advantage compared to other European capitals, making it an attractive option for expatriates from countries like the US or UK. For instance, rental prices in Porto are significantly lower than in Lisbon and major cities such as London, Paris, or New York.

To maintain the same standard of living in Porto as you would have with €4,100.0 in Lisbon (assuming you rent in both cities), you would need around €3,335.9. This indicates that the cost of living in Porto is approximately 18% lower than in Lisbon.

How much do I need to live in Porto?

According to data from Numbeo, the projected monthly expenses for a family of four are approximately €2,292.3, excluding rent. For a single individual, the estimated monthly costs amount to around €648.1, also excluding rent.

How much does it cost to buy a property in Porto?

Based on the latest data from February 2024 on Idealista, which is the largest real estate portal in Portugal, the average asking price for buying property in Porto stands at €3,546 per square meter. 

When considering the wider Metropolitan area of Porto, the price decreases to €2,581 per square meter. It’s important to note that the final price will always depend on the neighborhood you choose to live in.

How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Porto?

Finding an apartment in Porto presents challenges due to high demand and limited availability, creating a competitive rental market. The city’s appeal, driven by its rich history, cultural vibrancy, and scenic landscapes, has intensified demand, particularly in sought-after neighborhoods.

Rental rates vary significantly based on location, with properties closer to downtown and the Douro River commanding higher prices:

  • 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: €966.51
  • 1-bedroom apartment outside the center: €742.26
  • 3-bedroom apartment in the city center: €1,544.23
  • 3-bedroom apartment outside the center: €1,201.97

Cost of Groceries

In terms of grocery and food costs, Porto is comparatively affordable when compared to other European cities. The city boasts a diverse array of shopping options, ranging from major supermarkets to neighborhood stores and traditional markets, ensuring ample choices for procuring your monthly necessities. Here’s an approximate breakdown of typical prices you can expect to encounter:

Cost of transportation in Porto

Other expenses to consider to live in Porto

Immigrate from Turkey to Portugal

Living in Porto: Pros and Cons

Pros of living in Porto

Rich Cultural Heritage: Porto is steeped in history and boasts a vibrant cultural scene with its medieval architecture, historic landmarks, and traditional neighborhoods like Ribeira and Sé.

Affordable Cost of Living: Compared to Lisbon or other European cities, Porto offers a relatively affordable cost of living, including housing, groceries, and entertainment, making it an attractive option for expats and locals alike.

Stunning Scenery: Situated along the scenic Douro River and surrounded by lush greenery, Porto offers breathtaking views and plenty of outdoor spaces to explore, including parks, gardens, and the nearby countryside.

Friendly Atmosphere: Porto is known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere, with friendly locals and a strong sense of community. Expats will find it easy to integrate into Porto’s social fabric and make new friends.

Vibrant Expat Community: Porto has a thriving expat community with people from all over the world, creating a diverse and cosmopolitan atmosphere where residents can connect with like-minded individuals and enjoy cultural exchange.

Cons of living in Porto

Hilly Terrain: Porto is known for its steep hills and uneven terrain, which can be challenging to navigate, especially for those with mobility issues.

Limited Job Opportunities: While Porto’s economy is growing, job opportunities may be more limited compared to larger cities, leading some residents to seek employment elsewhere.

Public Transportation: While Porto has a public transportation system, it may not be as extensive or efficient as in other European cities, leading to potential commuting challenges.

Tourist Crowds: As a popular tourist destination, certain areas of Porto can become crowded, particularly during peak tourist seasons, impacting locals’ quality of life.

Climate: While Porto enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, it can experience frequent rain showers, particularly in the winter months, which may not appeal to everyone.

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Residence Permits and Visas to Portugal

Whether you’re a non-EU national eager to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and sunny climate of Porto, or an EU national looking for a smooth transition into the city’s laid-back lifestyle, understanding the various pathways to legal residency is crucial.

Living in Porto as an EU Citizen

For EU Citizens planning to reside in Porto for more than three months, the process is straightforward. You’ll need to apply for a Registration Certificate (Certificado de Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia, CRUE) at the city hall of your residence area, with a fee of €15. This certificate is valid for up to five years and requires renewal thereafter.

Living in Porto as a non-EU Citizen

Non-EU nationals intending to live in Porto must apply for a Portuguese residency visa prior to arrival. Upon entry, obtaining a residence permit is necessary. There are multiple pathways for non-EU citizens to secure residency in Portugal, such as the D3 Visa and Work Visa. Below, you’ll find the most relevant options.

D7 Visa Portugal

Ideal for retirees or individuals with passive income, the D7 Visa requires proof of regular income or savings to support oneself without working in Portugal. It’s perfect for those seeking a relaxed lifestyle and the country’s natural beauty.

Digital Nomad Visa

Also known as the D8 Visa, this option caters to remote workers and freelancers, allowing them to live and work in Portugal for up to a year. Digital nomads can enjoy the Portuguese lifestyle while maintaining their income from remote jobs or businesses.

Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa program, also referred to as the Residence Permit by Investment Program, offers residency and citizenship rights to foreign investors who make a significant economic contribution to the country. It’s a pathway to residency and citizenship for investors seeking to invest in Portugal’s economy.

International Schools in Porto

As a legal resident in Porto, you have the opportunity to enroll your children in a public school within your residential area, free of charge. These schools offer accessible education options; however, it’s essential to note that Portuguese is the primary language of instruction. This may require additional language learning support for children who are not fluent.

Alternatively, if you prefer an international educational environment, our guide provides detailed insights into the various international schools available in Porto. Below, you will find information on some of the most well-known international schools in the city, designed to cater to diverse educational needs and language backgrounds. 

These schools allow your children to continue their education in languages such as English, French, or German, among others, ensuring a seamless transition into their new surroundings.

international schools in Portugal

Why work with us?

Local Expertise

Our deep understanding of Portugal sets us apart. We focus exclusively on this vibrant country to offer in-depth and practical advice. By concentrating our expertise here, we ensure you receive the most detailed and relevant guidance.

Holistic Approach

Your journey, streamlined through one point of contact. We offer an all-encompassing service, guiding you from choosing the right visa to finding your perfect home and easing your transition.

Transparent Service

Our advice is tailored to your best interests, drawing on years of experience to save you both time and money. Our fees are straightforward and competitive, without any hidden costs or upselling.

Simple Process

Our innovative use of technology simplifies your involvement in the bureaucratic process. We understand the customer experience firsthand and are dedicated to making your journey as smooth as possible.

Frequently asked questions about Living in Porto

What is the cost of living in Porto compared to other European cities?

Generally, the cost of living in Porto is lower than in many other European cities, particularly in terms of housing and dining out. However, it can vary depending on your lifestyle and preferences.

Is it easy to find accommodation in Porto?

Yes, it’s relatively easy to find accommodation in Porto. There are various options available, including apartments, houses, and shared living spaces. It’s recommended to start your search early, especially during peak seasons.

What is the transportation system like in Porto?

Porto has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the metro. The city is also quite walkable and bike-friendly, making it easy to get around without a car.

What are some popular neighborhoods to live in Porto?

Some popular neighborhoods in Porto include Ribeira, Cedofeita, Foz do Douro, and Boavista. Each neighborhood has its own unique charm and amenities, so it’s essential to consider your preferences and needs when choosing where to live.

Is Porto a safe city to live in?

Yes, Porto is generally considered a safe city to live in. Like any urban area, it’s essential to take common-sense precautions and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded or touristy areas.

What is the healthcare system like in Porto?

Portugal has a public healthcare system that provides basic medical care to residents, including foreigners with residence permits. Additionally, there are private healthcare options available for those who prefer or require additional services.

What is the weather like in Porto?

Porto has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. The weather is generally pleasant throughout the year, making it a comfortable place to live.