So you are thinking about moving to Lisbon? The first thing that people usually want to know when travelling or moving to a new city is how much it will cost. Sop what is the cost of living in Lisbon?
Lisbon is not as Cheap as you might think!
The first thing you should know is that the Cost of Living in Lisbon is not cheap as people say. Lisbon is a very big and modern city, with all the infrastructure of such a complex metropolis, so it tends to be more expensive than other European capitals.
You should know that Lisbon sometimes has two prices: one for local people and another way higher than locals usually pay for visitors (so don’t be surprised if you see a big difference between menus).
This means that is not as easy to live here as it seems, specially because of the higher prices. However, Lisbon is still cheaper compared to most UK and US cities. It is important to find out exactly how much it costs to live here and adapt your budget.
This way you’ll be able to plan your expenses and adapt them without having any surprises.
How much do Portuguese people earn?
To calculate the cost of living in Lisbon first of all you need to know how much Portuguese people earn. A very common mistake is that thinking that they are similar to Spaniards or Italians, but this is not true at all.
The average salary in Portugal is about 1,000 euros net per month. That means that if you have income of anything more than that, you will be better off than the average Portuguese worker. The key is to earn a British or American salary while you are living in Portugal. However, in this case, you will need tax advice and you may need to go on the Portuguese payroll. You would at least have to declare your international income whilst living in Lisbon.
On Average How much Income do you need to live comfortably in Lisbon?
If you don’t mind a small apartment or even a house share, and cook for yourself then you can survive easily on around 1200 EURO per month (per person). However, you would need closer to 2000 if you enjoy eating out, drinking and a lot of travel!
- 1200 EURO per month – comfortably live in shared accommodation and cooking for yourself
- 1500 EURO per month – a small apartment for yourself plus the odd meal/drinks out
- 2000 EURO per month – this will cover eating out, drinks and coffees without worrying and weekend trips to other parts of Portugal.
Cost of Living Lisbon – Accommodation
66% of Portuguese people have incomes between €500 and €1000. This means that only 1/3 of the population can afford to pay for a flat in Lisbon (and most of these flats are one bedroom). In this case, you will need to share an apartment with other people, which is not as cheap as it seems.
House Shares and Studio Apartments
The average rent of a single room or small studio apartment in Lisbon is € 500-900 . This means that even with €1000 you will not be able to afford it. These prices vary depending on the area of Lisbon, but this number will help you understand how expensive renting an apartment really is here.
In order to rent an apartment you will need to pay the deposit and the first months rent, plus a contract of at least one year. Remember to check the credibility of all agents and landlords – there are a lot of property scammers in Lisbon who will take your money and run.
1 or 2 Bedroomed Apartments
If you are looking for a decent 1 or 2 bed apartment, be prepared to pay anything up to 1200 EURO per month depending on the quality and area. If you want to know more about areas, read my article on ‘What is the best area to stay in Lisbon?’.
While looking for an apartment, keep in mind accessibility and speed of the internet. If you are renting, you will need to pay this on top but in most shared accommodations it is included.
The cheapest monthly offer is from Vodafone at around €21 per month (you can activate the contract here ). An alternative would be Oi and You Online that use to charge €20 per month (here and here ).
Besides that, an internet connection can be expensive in Lisbon. The first thing to do is to look for the cheapest offer. I recommend comparing Plans like this one. You can also choose from MEO , NOS and Vodafone, which have similar offers but slightly different prices.
Mobile and Mobile Data
You probably have heard that mobile internet is very expensive in Portugal, but it’s not as bad as people say. You can get cheaper plans like the one above: €15 for 5gb of data and €5 for the rest (this deal is not available anymore, but you can still check it out here ). Also, most of these plans are for two years so you will save money.
Cost of Living Lisbon – Going out
A beer in Lisbon will cost between €1.30 and €2.00 at a normal bar or café . Even if you drink every day, this won’t be your biggest expense of the month – unless you get really drunk and keep having beers to avoid hangovers. It will be cheaper when you go further away from the main eating and drinking areas such as Bairro Alto and Pink Street.
You can also buy cans of beer in the supermarkets that will cost between €0.80 and €1.50 . But you should not underestimate the bars and pubs: there are many offers, beers for €0.60 or better (but this depends on the place). Some beers are even cheaper if you drink sitting outside in the park or at the beach.
Cost of Living Lisbon – Transport
Buses, trains and the Metro are all very cheap in Lisbon compared to UK and US prices. Remember that if you are using public transport for more than 100 times a month, it might be cheaper to buy a monthly or multi-users card.
The best way to get around Lisbon (and Portugal) are the buses. You can buy a ticket from just €0.50. You can take the bus pretty much everywhere: inside Lisbon and outside Lisbon. Just be sure that you are getting off at the right stop if you’re using the bus to go around the city, it can be confusing. Google Maps is a big help here!
Trams and Metro
The tram and the Metro are also very useful (especially the first ones), but they are slightly more expensive. You have to validate your ticket before getting on a Metro or tram (or you will get fined). A one-way trip in the Metro costs around €1.15 (€0.75 if you are using the 10T rechargeable card), and in a tram it is €1.50, unless you buy tickets from a machine (€1.00). You might find this Lisbon Metro Guide helpful.
You can also use a bike to get around in Lisbon, it’s very fun ! That’s why we made a map of the best places where you can park your bike and ride from there . A lot of bikes are free because they belong to companies that offer special deals to people who work in certain areas (and that’s why you can rent / return them everywhere).
The most famous bike companies are Yellow Bike (yellowbikes.pt) and Bike In (bikein.pt). But don’t forget Anjos Bike (anjosbike.net) where you can check if there is a free bike near your location! Finally, be aware that Lisbon has a lot of hills, so biking (especially going uphill) is hard work.
More Tips for Saving Money in Lisbon
Going out is expensive in Lisbon, and this means that if you do not have a monthly budget for partying (or any other activity) this will destroy your bank account every month. The best way to go out in Lisbon is by having a dinner or drinks at home with friends. Or meeting friends at the park and go from there.
The cheapest option is to make lunch or dinner at home and take it with you: this way you will save a lot , especially when going out more than three times per week . If this does not work for you, find cheap restaurants near your house and bring some friends so that eating together is cheaper for all of you. This can work out cheaper if you live somewhere like Campolide rather than Baixa or Cais do Sodre.
You may prefer going to the supermarket in the morning when it’s less crowded. There are many options for sandwiches or simple meals (like pasta) that will save money too. Buy fruits and vegetables only once per week, when they are at their best price.
It’s easy to drink a quick espresso before eating something or going to the bus station, but it’s not so good for your wallet. The cheapest option would be to keep some money for the morning and go out with an empty stomach. It’s usually around €1.50 for one cup of coffee and so if you add these up daily it does push your budget up.
If you’re driving a car into Lisbon, your best option would be to park it for free and leave the car at home, even if you can afford it. Driving in the city centre is very stressful and most people do not know how to use the crossings. If you don’t know how to park your car, don’t try it: just leave it in a safe place and take public transport (see above).