As I mentioned in my Living in Portugal post, one of the reasons we chose to live in Algarve was the low cost of living in Portugal. Before coming, we read heaps of blogs that informed us that a couple with a small child could expect to spend 1800 euros a month, everything included. What? 1800 euros? For everyone? Is that even possible?
It turns out that we are exceptional at spending money but it’s not far off, and normal people will probably be able to make 1800 a month work. Read on to get a better idea of some of our monthly expenses and the general cost of living in Portugal.
COST OF LIVING IN PORTUGAL
We currently spend 600 euros a month for rent on a two bedroom, ocean view apartment about 350 meters from the sand. We rented it while we were still abroad, so we might have been able to do better on price, but I’m pretty sure we maxed out on location. This apartment won’t be available for that rate in the summer months, but as we’re hoping to have bought a house by then. However I feel really confident you could rent an apartment or house slightly further from the beach for the same or less year round.
BUYING A HOUSE
We are looking to buy a rather large house so that we can rent a few rooms out. We’ve decided on an area called Vale da Telha on the West Coast, in the Parish of Aljezur, because of it’s got a better value-ratio and people actually speak Portuguese there (read more on that here.) We’re looking at four to five bedroom houses in the 300,000 euros range. Lagos, another really cool city on the south coast, has a similar value ratio, although prices there can go up exponentially when you get into the historical center. Other areas, such as Sagres or Albufeira are more expensive; and of course anything super close to the beach will cost a pretty penny. If you don’t mind being a bit inland, you might be able to find a ridiculously inexpensive country house or a nice plot of land, but note if it’s in the national park area because it means you can’t build anything, ever.
Both eating out and eating in are very reasonable here. For two adults eating dinner out, with wine, we usually max out at 30 euros for the total bill. Our grocery bills run between 70-90/week, but if we drive to Portimão to the big/cheap grocery store (about a half-hour away), we can almost half that.
Admittedly, gasoline is really expensive, and we have a giant car that we like to drive a lot, so this is one of our bigger unnecessary expenses. Filling up our 1989 Isuzu Trooper (who is named ED) costs about 60-70 euros per tank. Since we get about 17 miles to the gallon and we like exploring, we fill up a lot. If you lived near a beach in a town like Lagos, you might be able to get away without a car, as there is a pretty good public bus and train system that takes you between cities – as long as you’re not in too much of a hurry. Or, you could be sensible and not import your three decade old gas guzzling truck and just drive a small, economical car like normal people.
CHILD CARE & SCHOOLING:
This is the part where every parent who isn’t from a nordic country will want to move to Portugal yesterday. The cost of daily, nine-to-five public daycare in Portugal is around 140 euros a month. In our region, the public daycare had a waiting list, so we put Noa in a private daycare for 260 euros a month. It still comes out to less than 2 euros an hour, and they even would feed him if I wasn’t so OCD about what he eats. For comparison’s sake, the bilingual private school is 330 euros a month and the Waldorf School I believe is 400, however Portugal has really high quality public education so you can just opt into that and it’s free.
Want to know more? Just ask, and I’ll let you know what we’re spending on more specific things