Guide to living in Portugal

guide portugal

Thinking of visiting Portugal? Or why not… Thinking of settling in this country as a digital nomad or entrepreneur? Then you will need first-hand information to take the first steps. Through this guide you will learn everything you need about this European destination: from how the public transport system works to what the price of a coffee is.

We tell you everything!


Basic facts about Portugal

  • Name: Portuguese Republic
  • Government: unitary presidentialist constitutional republic
  • Mild weather
  • Capital: Lisbon
  • Official language: Portuguese
  • Euro coin
  • This country is divided into 18 districts . Each of them has its municipalities, also known as concelhos . These same municipalities, in turn, are divided into freguesias (neighborhoods).
  • The main embassies of the country are in Lisbon. In Faro, Porto or even the Madeira Islands you can find different consulates.
  • Lisbon, Porto and Faro have the main airports in the country.
  • In Portugal there are 15 public holidays (13 mandatory).


How much does it cost to live in Portugal?

It all depends. As it happens in other countries of the world, it is not the same to look for a flat in the center of the capital than to do it in a more remote city with fewer inhabitants. Lisbon and Cascais are the most expensive cities in Portugal.

Although Portugal is one of the cheapest countries in the European Union, working here (at least conventionally) and having a good flat is not easy. The reason is low salary and high rents.

When talking about cost of living, we can divide the country into two main areas: the coasts and the center and east side. Can you guess which is the most expensive area? You’re right! The coast.

Lisbon heads the ranking of the most expensive cities in Portugal. In fact, it is among the 100 most expensive cities in the world.


Rent an apartment in Portugal

The cities of Braga, Viseu and Coimbra are the most affordable for all pockets. Your rent is quite similar to what we can find in Spain (depending on where). It is between €300 and €500 per month.

To give you a better idea, we are going to see the average rental prices in the different cities:

  • Lisbon 1,100
  • Cascais 1,000
  • Port 700
  • lighthouse 600
  • Coimbra 500
  • Braga 450
  • Viseu 400


Food and drink

The cost of food and drinks in Portugal is quite similar to what we can find in any city in Spain . Of course, if you go to buy a dozen eggs at a grocery store located in the center of Lisbon… things can change. 

We are going to show you a list with the prices of the most common foods and drinks:

  • Apple (one kg) €1.50
  • Banana (one kg) €1.10
  • Chicken (one kg) €5.20
  • A dozen eggs €1.70
  • Loaf of bread (500 g) €1.10
  • Milk (one liter) €0.60
  •  Onions (one kg) €0.95
  • Rice (one kg) €0.95
  • Bottle of water (1.5 liters) €0.50
  • Bottle of wine (mid range) €4.40
  • National beer (half litre) €0.90
  • Imported beer (0.33 liters) €1.80
  • Lunch in a cheap restaurant €8



Portugal has free education for all residents at compulsory levels.   Of course, within public education. If you choose private education, the price can range from:

  • Private preschool €300
  • Basic education, private school €400
  • International school €800
  • Private university €3,000



The public system covers most medical care. But as in other countries, you can also opt for private healthcare . In this case the doctor or insurance is the one who will dictate the prices. To give you an idea…

  • Consultation with a private doctor €70 – €77
  • Consultation with a dentist 50 – 55 €



Something very variable and that usually undergoes modifications over time. Today, the prices to move around the city are:

  • Bus or metro ticket €1.50 – €1.60
  • Monthly subscription €30 – €33
  • Taxi start 3 – €3.30
  • Taxi fare (one kilometer) €0.50 – €0.55
  • Gasoline (per litre) €1.40 – €1.50
  •  New car (Volkswagen Golf) €25,000 – €27,500


How are the people in Portugal?

When, for example, meeting or greeting someone, two kisses are usually given (as in Spain). Of course, with everything that has happened due to COVID-19, it is a somewhat contraindicated way of greeting.

In general, kisses are more typical of the female gender and men greet with a handshake. But there are also pats or hugs. The best? Wait for the other person to take the initiative. Everyone usually greets you regardless of whether they know you or not. Something that happens more in small cities or towns.


Portuguese values, family and religion

For the Portuguese family is something very important. In general, young people live with their parents until they are 25-30 years old. (There are also those who never finish leaving).

As in Spain, on many occasions it is for financial reasons, but also because mom’s food cannot be compared to anything. In this country, the bad habit of delegating household chores to women continues (something that is changing).

Religion is very prevalent. Normally, all people are baptized and celebrate communion. It is estimated that 80% of the population is Catholic.



In Portugal the Mediterranean diet also prevails. Olive oil, meat, fish and rice are the staple foods. The Portuguese usually eat 4 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, lunch (a light meal equivalent to afternoon tea) and dinner. It has very similar hours to the Spanish: it is as normal to have dinner at 9:00 p.m. as at 11:00 p.m.


Driving in Portugal

The roads in Portugal are very accessible. In fact, you can cross the country in about 6-7 hours without any problem. Of course, there are tolls and they are not cheap.

All driving licenses from the Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA) are valid in Portugal. However, non-residents had to inform the IMT (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes).


How is public transport in Portugal?

Public transport in Portugal is varied and extensive, especially in the main cities.


The most common means of transport. Bus tickets usually cost between €1 and €5. The schedules (as it happens in many places), are not very reliable. That makes many people opt directly for the metro.


The metro is available in the cities of Porto and Lisbon . Both cities have a tram line that is used more by tourists. Their schedules are extensive and the price of a journey ranges between €1.20 and €5.


In Portugal, the company CP, Comboios de Portugal is the one in charge of this means of transport in the country. There are urban lines in Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra and regional trains that connect the entire country.


In Portugal, taxis are beige or black. The taxi fare (lowered flag) normally starts at €3. But if you prefer to bet by other means: Uber, Bolt or Kapten are available in the most important cities.

Now you know everything you need to go to live or visit Portugal.


READ ALSO: Best destinations to work as a digital nomad in the United States


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