Cost of Living in Portugal vs the USA

Updated: 30 March 2023

It’s not an easy decision to make to move to a whole new country. Besides starting a completely new life, you try to adjust to a different culture and lifestyle. The most important things when relocating abroad are the quality of life and the cost of living: Doing thorough research on these two aspects will help you decide more easily. 

Portugal is a favorable destination where the quality of life is very high and is considered one of the safest countries in the world. Surprisingly, though, life in Portugal is affordable.

If you’re an already intrigued American expat or a retiree from the USA who’s planning to relocate to Portugal, proceed to read our post about the cost of living in Portugal vs USA.

Cost of Living in Portugal vs US

Living expenses in general in Portugal are considerably lower than in the USA. You can find some of the economic advantages of living in Portugal below:


Public schools in Portugal are free for all foreign residents as well as Portuguese citizens, whereas private schools cost a minimum of $11,000 annually. These private and international schools are much cheaper than in the USA where it costs an average sum of $35,000.


The healthcare system in Portugal is run by the government and although it’s not entirely free, it’s very affordable. Seniors and children, on the other hand, get medical care for free. For example, a GP visit costs $55 in Portuguese private healthcare whereas it costs $110 in the USA, and dental cleaning fees are $30 to $125 respectively. In Portuguese public healthcare, however, most procedures are either free or with minimal co-pay.

Housing Prices

Housing in Portugal costs almost half of the price that it does in the USA. For instance, the average rent for a single-bedroom apartment in central Lisbon is around $900 whereas it’s $2,000 in the city center of Washington D.C. 

Utility Expenses

Utilities in Portugal are cheaper by 36 percent in comparison to utility expenses in the USA. The monthly average expenses including water, heating, and electricity are around $110. However, these expenses go up to an average of $170 in the USA. The only downside about the utility expenses in Portugal is that it gets very hot during the summer and it’s up to you how often you use the air conditioner. 

Transportation Expenses

Public transportation in Portugal is fairly affordable compared to the USA. The monthly pass for transportation costs around $50 in Portugal and $75 in the USA. The cost for the USA pass may vary according to the state. 


Groceries are quite cheap in Portugal, especially if you’re buying locally. Fruit and vegetables grown in Portugal or meat produced domestically are very affordable. Groceries prices are lower by 60 percent in Lisbon compared to Washington D.C. For example, 1 kg potatoes cost $0.95 and one kg beef round costs $9.17 whereas the same fresh products cost around $4 and $15 respectively in Washington D.C.

See the below table for a quick comparison of average groceries expenses in the two countries. We’ve converted the dollar to euro for the US to make it easier for you to compare.

PortugalThe US
Milk (regular), (1 liter)$0.74 $0.95 
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)$1.15 $2.85 
Rice (white) (1kg)$1.16 $3.95 
Eggs (regular) (12)$1.95 $2.56 
Local Cheese (1kg)$7 $11 
Apples (1kg)$1.75 $4.71 
Banana (1kg)$1.40 $1.80 
Oranges (1kg)$1.45 $4 
Onion (1kg)$1.17 $2.88 

Eating out and Alcohol

You can get an average Portuguese beer for $1.10 while an average domestic beer in the US costs around $2. As for eating out, Portugal offers meals cheaper by 43.87 percent.

Overall, living In Portugal is 42 percent cheaper than living in the USA in terms of both daily expenses and housing prices. Let’s make another brief comparison between these two countries to illustrate further the cost of living in Portugal vs USA:

  • Consumer prices in the United States are 58.21 percent higher than in Portugal (excluding rent)
  • Consumer prices including rent in the United States are 74.55 percent higher than in Portugal
  • Rent prices in the United States are 110.67 percent higher than in Portugal
  • Restaurant prices in the United States are 78.24 percent higher than in Portugal
  • Groceries prices in the United States are 98.95 percent higher than in Portugal
  • Local purchasing power in the United States is 108.05 percent higher than in Portugal

To wrap it up, living in Portugal is almost 50 percent cheaper than living in the USA. 

How To Plan Your Move to Portugal

Portugal Golden Visa and D7 Visa are the most popular routes among Americans who want to move to Portugal. Portugal Golden Visa is a residency by investment scheme that allows you to get residency in exchange for an investment in the country. Thanks to its profitable investment options and flexible requirements, Portugal Golden Visa is very attractive.

D7 Visa aims at retirees and those who have a passive income and rely on that income for living. 

Portugal Golden Visa:
The Ultimate Guide Read More >

The Bottom Line

Portugal is a great country that offers a mild climate, deep culture, and rich cuisine. Having said that, if you want to live safely in a country that offers a very high quality of life without being a burden on your budget, take action now and plan your move to Portugal. 

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