Living in Porto as an Expat

Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal and the capital of the northern region. While smaller than Lisbon, its beautiful spirit and busy industrial and commercial centre make it an attractive place to live for many!

What is it like living in Porto?

Living in Porto is great. It is home to one of the best universities in Portugal and it is argued by many that it’s nightlife is better than Lisbon’s! The population is diverse, with a good balance of both expats and locals/Portuguese. I found it easy to develop a social circle here in Porto after just one month. Most people can speak English (especially the younger generation and those in tourism) but learning some Portuguese will help you substantially.

Getting there and away

Flights to and from Porto

Porto is well connected by the airport, which is accessible by the Porto Metro. There are direct links to Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London from Porto which makes it a popular choice for people looking to relocate from UK. They know that it will be easy to visit friends and family from Porto. I recently bought a flight to Liverpool for just £25!!!!

Transport in Porto

Getting around the city is easy. Although there is a metro, you will find that you rarely use it, because most of the central and historical area are very walkable. You mainly use the Porto Metro for onward travel to the airport or Campanha station.

Setting up your Mobile Phone

Get a Portuguese phone as soon as you get here. Most people go for Vodaphone or MEO. You can get a pay monthly or pay as you go top up. Just remember to use it and top up every month or two, because if your phone is unused they will give your number away to someone else!!!! Young Portuguese rarely use landlines anymore.

Roaming is currently working from UK to Porto due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, after March 2022 you will need to pay extra for roaming with your UK number.

Meeting People in Porto

Porto is popular with students and expats coming from abroad and it has a diverse and international vibe. There are several meetup groups and Facebook groups for anyone looking to meet new people in the city. The ones I like:

Wages/Salary in Porto

The current minimum wage in Portugal as a whole equates to approx €665 a month, which is lower than the UK, France, Italy and Spain. Although in Porto itself, the average is higher than this at €871.23. The average yearly earnings within Portugal as a whole are approx €24,521, a decent amount, but still worth noting that it is lower than in Spain, Italy and France. However, one positive is that the general cost of living in Portugal is lower than in many other western European countries!

One popular way to do it (and what most expats and digital nomads do) is to keep their UK or USA jobs if they can work online. Or freelance online using platforms such as

Property in Porto

So the most important questions people have about moving to Porto are about accommodation. The good news is that it’s much easier and cheaper to find accommodation here in Porto than it is in Lisbon. But be prepared – prices have been pushed up over the last few years.

Buy or Rent?

Firstly, you will need to consider whether you are going to rent or buy. But actually I would recommend renting here first so that you can get to know the areas and how things work before you buy a property. Consider renting in Porto for 12 months to see how you get on, and then look at buying a property after that if you feel you can settle or want to invest.

Areas in Porto – where to live

One of the main questions will be where to live in Porto. If you have a very healthy budget and a family eager to be by the coast then you may want to live in Foz, the affluent coastal area to the West of the city. If you are looking to be near the centre of the city, avoid the historical area because although it is beautiful it’s not that nice at night time. Locals who want to be central tend to like the parts slightly North of the historical centre. Bolhao is also a decent area.

Cheaper areas to live in Porto

If you are restricted by budget and look for cheaper areas in Porto that are also quite nice then check out Maia in the North and areas near Campanha station. If you prefer a beach location but can’t afford Foz then head up to Pavoa de Varzim – this is also accessible on the metro. If you don’t mind crossing the river then Vila Nova de Gaia is also an ok area and a bit cheaper than Porto itself. Many locals commute from there.

Cost of Accommodation/Housing in Porto

Housing costs throughout Portugal tend to be lower than throughout other areas of Europe, especially for a second city. In Porto, it wouldn’t be a surprise to be able to find a two-bedroom apartment for €600 or less, especially if you’re happy to live outside the city centre. If you want to be more centrally located, then the average rental cost for a one-bedroom apartment is €670.59.  

If you are looking to purchase property within Porto, the average per square metre in the city centre is €2,935.25, with the average outside the city centre being €1,700. In Vila Nova de Gaia you can piuck up an apartment for around €150k.

Studying at the University of Porto

Porto is a much cheaper place to study than many UK universities because of the lower tuition fees. Porto university is ranked as one of the best in the country. You can study a Bachelors or post graduate (up to PhD level) here in Porto. You can also study Portuguese for foreigners and they currently do an evening course on this.

Portuguese universities are much more affordable on the whole, in comparison to other European countries. There are 13 universities located within Porto itself which offer 293 different programs of study at all levels from Bachelor to PhD. Degrees in education, management and the arts are the most popular within Porto. Tuition fees at public universities in Porto average at approx €800 per year. Private universities, however, are free to set their own rates and these are usually far more expensive with the cheapest starting at approx €2,350.

Check out the University of Porto website here:

Bills, Food and Drink


Porto enjoys a lovely mild climate and as such this helps to lower the general cost of utility bills. The average monthly cost for electricity, heating, water etc, for an 85m squared apartment is €111.38 or £92.97, compared to €239.25 or £199.71 in London for the same size apartment. Monthly internet costs are on a similar level to other western European countries with an approximate amount of €32.07 or £26.77.

Food and drink

Porto has many quaint little market places where fresh produce can be purchased at very reasonable prices. They also have several large supermarkets to purchase from as well. I’d recommend a good amount to set aside for groceries for one person would be €200. Food and drink prices in supermarkets tend to be on par with other western European countries, with many products only being very slightly cheaper than in other areas such as the UK for example. The main savings are with alcoholic beverages, with a mid-range bottle of wine costing only €4.00 or £3.34, compared to £8.00 or  €9.58 in the UK! 

Restaurants in Porto

Of course, everyone enjoys a good meal out now and again. The good news is dining out in Portugal, is relatively cheap compared to other European countries. In inexpensive restaurants in Porto, you can easily get a filling meal for €7-€15. A great example of this is Casa Guedes, described as having THE best pork sandwich in Porto. Their menu and prices can be viewed at with it only costing €4.5 for their amazing cured pork sandwich!

If you’re looking for something a little more fine-dining, then you can easily get a three-course meal for two, with wine, for between €30-€60. Taberna dos Mercadores is a perfect example of this. With seating for only 20 people at a time, this small restaurant provides a small, intimate example of contemporary Porto dining. The menu for this restaurant can be viewed at

If you’re looking for a taste of traditional Porto food, this is an amazing option. For example, a simple classic of sardines done in olive oil and garlic would cost you €6.5.

There are also several fast food options, for when you just want something quick, easy and cheap! A typical McDonalds meal would cost approx €6.75. Perfect for a busy student, looking for a quick meal in between lectures!

Overall, Porto is an amazing city to work and live in. Yes, as detailed the average monthly wage falls below that of many other countries, however, so does the average monthly cost of living, with average rental and property prices being cheaper than many other western European countries! Studying in Porto, if going to a public university is also much cheaper than many other countries, so could prove a good option for young students looking for an international experience!

All in all, a brilliant city, well worth consideration!

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