Portugal’s cost of living vs US is a very important point to consider before deciding to move here. So let’s dive in into the one crucial factor that often tops the list of considerations: cost of living.
In this article, we delve into the comparison of Portugal cost of living vs US, two popular destinations that attract individuals seeking diverse cultures, vibrant lifestyles, and promising opportunities.
While the United States is known for its economic prowess and dynamic cities, Portugal has garnered attention for its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and a growing reputation as an enticing expatriate haven.
Overview cost of living in Portugal vs USA
Living costs in Portugal are generally more affordable compared to the United States. According to recent Numbeo statistics (as of May 2023), the cost of living in Portugal is, on average, 36.6% lower than in the United States.
In Lisbon, the country’s capital, the estimated monthly expenses for a single person can range from €800 to €1,200. This includes accommodation, transportation, groceries, utilities, and leisure activities.
In New York City the monthly expenses for a single person in New York City can range from €2,100 to €3,300 or more. Accommodation costs alone can amount to €1,300 to €2,200, depending on the neighborhood and apartment size.
And in San Francisco the living expenses are also significant. Monthly costs for a single person can range from €2,500 to €3,800 or higher. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can exceed €2,500.
For the purpose of comparing the cost of living between both countries, the following data is relevant for Lisbon and Washington.
Housing costs in Portugal vs. USA
The rent prices in Washington, DC are 101.8% higher than in Lisbon, Portugal. This means that on average, you would have to pay significantly more for rent in Washington, DC than in Lisbon for the same type of accommodation. The rent prices in San Francisco, CA are 160.4% higher than in Lisbon, Portugal.
However, it’s important to note that the cost of living can vary depending on several factors such as location, lifestyle, and personal preferences.
Living expenses in Portugal vs. USA
When comparing grocery prices between Portugal and the US, there are some notable differences to consider. The cost of groceries can vary depending on the region and individual shopping habits. However, here is a general overview:
In Portugal, the prices of groceries are generally lower compared to the US. For example, a kilogram of rice in Portugal can cost around €1,31 while in the US, it can reach almost €4,00.
Similarly, other basic food items such as bread, milk, vegetables, and fruits tend to be more affordable in Portugal compared to the US. However, imported or specialty products may be more expensive due to transportation costs and import fees.
Dining out costs and tips
Eating out in Portugal and the United States offers distinct experiences and price ranges. In Portugal, dining at local restaurants and cafes is often more affordable compared to the United States.
In popular tourist destinations like Lisbon or Porto, a meal for one person at a mid-range restaurant can cost around €10 to €20. In smaller towns or local eateries, prices can be even lower.
Additionally, Portugal is known for its traditional “menu do dia” (daily menu) where you can enjoy a full meal with a set price, including a main course, sides, dessert, and sometimes a beverage.
On the other hand, dining out in the United States can vary significantly depending on the location. In major cities like New York City or San Francisco, a meal at a mid-range restaurant can range from €17 to €30 or more. Fine dining establishments can have even higher prices. In rural areas or smaller towns, prices tend to be more affordable.
It’s worth noting that tipping practices differ between Portugal and the United States. In Portugal, a tip of 5% to 10% is customary, while in the United States, it is customary to tip around 15% to 20% of the bill.
Transport and petrol costs in Portugal vs USA
Transportation expenses in Portugal compared to the United States vary depending on factors such as location, distance, and mode of transportation.
Generally, public transportation in Portugal tends to be more affordable than in the US. In Portugal, you can find cost-effective options such as buses, trams, and trains for getting around.
The pricing for public transportation varies by city, but as an example, a one-way ticket for local transport in Lisbon can cost around €2, while a monthly pass can range from €30 to €50.
On the other hand, transportation costs in the US can be higher, especially in major cities where public transportation systems may be limited. For instance, a one-way ticket for local transport in Washington D.C. can cost around €2.50, and a monthly pass can cost €90.
When comparing utilities expenses between Portugal and the USA, it’s important to consider factors such as location, property size, and personal usage. Generally, utilities costs can vary significantly within each country.
In Portugal, the average monthly cost for basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water) for an 85m2 apartment is around €125. Internet services with a speed of 60 Mbps or more and unlimited data typically cost around €36.
In the USA, the cost of utilities can vary depending on the state and city. On average, the monthly cost for basic utilities in a similar-sized apartment is around €150. Internet services with similar specifications can range from $50 to $70 per month.
Healthcare Costs in Portugal vs. USA
When comparing healthcare costs between Portugal and the US, there are notable differences in expenses and healthcare systems. Here’s an overview:
In Portugal, the healthcare system is predominantly public, known as Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS). It provides affordable and accessible healthcare to residents.
Under the SNS, individuals may have to pay small fees for certain services, but overall costs are generally much lower compared to private healthcare.
For example, a private appointment with a specialist in Portugal can range from €30 to €50, depending on the physician’s expertise and location.
In the United States, the healthcare system is largely private, and individuals are typically responsible for obtaining their own health insurance coverage. Without insurance, healthcare costs can be significantly higher compared to Portugal.
A private appointment with a specialist in the US can be more than €100. These prices are subject to variations, and costs can increase further if additional tests or procedures are required.
Education Expenses in Portugal vs. US
In Portugal, public education is generally affordable or even free for Portuguese residents. For example, primary and secondary education in public schools is typically free, with minor costs for textbooks and supplies.
However, private schools and international schools in Portugal can have tuition fees ranging from €6,000 to €10,000 per year, depending on the school’s location and reputation.
In the USA, education costs can vary significantly, especially for private schools and higher education institutions.
Private school tuition fees can range from €10,000 to €35,000 per year for primary and secondary education. For higher education, college and university tuition fees in the US can vary widely, with annual costs ranging from €10,000 to €50,000 or more, depending on the institution and program of study.
What are the cheapest cities to live as an expat in Portugal?
Located in northern Portugal, Braga stands out for its rich history, vibrant culture, and relatively lower cost of living. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is approximately €470, which is around 30% lower than the national average.
Outside the city center, the average rent drops to around €350, representing a 40% difference compared to the national average.
Home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, Coimbra offers a charming atmosphere and affordable lifestyle. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around €500, which is approximately 25% lower than the national average.
Looking outside of the city center, the average rent is approximately €400, representing a 33% difference compared to the national average.
Famous for its picturesque canals and colorful boats, Aveiro provides an affordable living option for expats. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is about €550, which is around 10% lower than the national average.
Outside the city center, the average rent is around €400, representing a 20% difference compared to the national average.
Situated in central Portugal, Leiria offers a peaceful lifestyle at an affordable cost. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is approximately €450, which is about 20% lower than the national average.
Moving out from the city center, the average rent drops to around €350, representing a 33% difference compared to the national average.
What are the most expensive cities to live in Portugal?
As the capital city, Lisbon stands out as one of the most expensive areas in Portugal. Rental prices in Lisbon can be significantly higher compared to the national average.
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is approximately €1,200, while outside the city center, it is around €850.
The living expenses in Lisbon are also higher, with an estimated monthly expense of around €950 for a single person, excluding rent.
Cascais and Estoril
Located near Lisbon, Cascais and Estoril are upscale coastal areas known for their luxurious lifestyle. Rental prices in these areas can be significantly higher compared to the national average.
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around €1,500, while outside the city center, it is approximately €1,000.
The cost of living in Cascais and Estoril is also higher, with an estimated monthly expense of around €1,200 for a single person, excluding rent.
Algarve (luxury resorts)
The Algarve region, particularly its luxury resorts, caters to an affluent clientele and commands premium rental prices. Rental prices in luxury resorts in the Algarve can be significantly higher compared to the national average.
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in these areas can range from €1,500 to €2,000 or more.
Living in luxury resorts is also higher, with additional expenses for amenities and leisure activities.
While generally more affordable than Lisbon, certain areas within Porto can have higher rental prices. Upscale neighborhoods near the Douro River, for example, may have higher rental costs compared to other parts of the city.
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around €900, while outside the city center, it is approximately €650.
The cost of living in Porto is also higher, with an estimated monthly expense of around €800 for a single person, excluding rent.
Cost of moving your belongings to Portugal
Shipping costs for moving a 25ft container from Washington, DC to Portugal can vary based on several factors. As an example, let’s consider two options: shipping by sea and shipping by air.
Shipping by Sea
If you choose to ship the container by sea, the cost is estimated to be around 1300€, and the transit time is approximately 15 days. This option is generally more cost-effective but requires a longer time for delivery.
Shipping by sea involves loading the container onto a cargo ship and transporting it across the Atlantic Ocean to the designated port in Portugal.
Shipping by Air
If you prefer to expedite the shipping process and send the container by air, the cost increases to around 2750€, but the delivery time significantly reduces to approximately 5 days.
Shipping by air is faster but more expensive compared to shipping by sea. It involves transporting the container via airfreight on cargo planes to the nearest airport in Portugal.
How to move from the US to Portugal
If you’re considering moving from the US to Portugal, there are several steps you’ll need to take to make your relocation as smooth as possible. Here’s a general guide to help you get started:
Portugal D7 Visa
D7 Visa, which is perfect for retirees or those with passive income. This visa requires proof of regular income or savings, and the ability to support yourself without working in Portugal. It’s a great option for those looking to enjoy the country’s relaxed lifestyle and stunning natural beauty.
Portugal Digital Nomad Visa
Digital Nomad Visa for remote workers and freelancers allow them to live and work in the country for up to a year, enjoying all the benefits of the Portuguese lifestyle while earning an income from their remote job or business.
D2 Visa Portugal for Entrepreneurs
D2 Entrepreneur Visa in case you are an entrepreneur looking to start or develop a business in Portugal, which allows you to obtain a residence permit for up to two years.
Why work with Portugal Residency Advisors?
We know Portugal. Due to our extensive local knowledge, we believe that concentrating our services in a single country destination is the best way to give you the most thorough and useful information.
One single channel of communication for the entire process. We provide you with a comprehensive service that covers all aspects of your move, from identifying the ideal residency visa to finding your new home or helping you to settle.
We recommend what’s best for you based on an extensive process experience that saves time and money to clients. Our pricing is clear and competitive, and we don’t sell services that make us more money.
Technology plays a very important role in our company. We minimize our clients’ involvement in paperwork. We are customers ourselves and we know how to serve you.
Frequently asked questions about Cost of living in Portugal vs. USA
Is the cost of living in Portugal lower than in the USA?
Yes, the cost of living in Portugal is generally lower than in the USA. According to Numbeo data from May 2023, the Consumer Prices Index in Portugal is 42.65% lower than in the USA.
How do housing prices compare between Portugal and the USA?
Housing prices in Portugal are significantly lower than in the USA. The average price per square meter to buy an apartment in the city center of Lisbon is approximately €4,984, while in New York City, the average price per square meter is around €16,500.
What are the pros of living in Portugal?
Portugal offers a great climate, stunning natural beauty, and a relaxed lifestyle. The cost of living is relatively affordable, and the country has a strong healthcare system.
You can find out more in our Guide Pros and Cons of living in Portugal.
Are groceries cheaper in Portugal or the USA?
Groceries tend to be more affordable in Portugal compared to the USA. For example, the average price of a loaf of bread in Lisbon is €1.28, while in New York City, it is around $3.16 (approximately €2.77).
How do healthcare costs compare between Portugal and the USA?
Healthcare costs are generally lower in Portugal compared to the USA. For example, a visit to a doctor in Portugal can cost between €30-€50, while in the USA, a similar consultation can range from $100 to $200 (approximately €87 to €175) or even more.
How can i relocate to Portugal?
There are several visa options available: The D7 visa is ideal for retirees. The D2 visa is for those who want to work or start a business in Portugal and for digital nomads, Portugal offers the Digital Nomad visa, allowing individuals to live and work remotely while employed by a foreign company.
Is there any tax benefit for Americans?
NHR is a tax regime that offers attractive tax benefits to eligible individuals, including Americans. Under this program, qualifying individuals can benefit from a flat income tax rate of 20% on certain types of foreign income, including pensions, capital gains, and rental income, for a period of 10 years.
Is Portugal a good place to retire?
Yes, Portugal is often considered a great place to retire for several reasons. The country offers a warm climate, beautiful coastal areas, and a relaxed lifestyle. It has a low cost of living compared to many other European countries, which can make retirement savings go further.
Where do expats retire in Portugal?
The Algarve region in Portugal is a highly sought-after destination for expats looking to retire. Its stunning coastline, warm climate, and relaxed lifestyle make it an ideal place to enjoy retirement. Cities and towns like Faro, Lagos, Albufeira, and Tavira in the Algarve offer a vibrant expat community.
You may would like to read Why do expats retire in the Algarve.
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