9 Low-Cost Living Destinations in Portugal

Nadia Podrabinek Nadia Podrabinek

Written by Nadia Podrabinek

Porto, Portugal

Eyeing the Spanish border for a place to settle down? Looking for an exciting adventure in a Portuguese city? It’s not as expensive as you think it is!

If you want to live in Portugal and you’re looking for some of the cheapest cities, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you’re a retiree wanting to relax at a low cost, or you want to save some cash living it up in the big cities, we’ve got your back.

Portugal is an incredible experience, even if you’re on a tight budget. Here are 9 of the cheapest places to live in Portugal.

Key Takeaways

  • Santarém is the cheapest place to live in Portugal.
  • Coimbra is the best city for students.
  • Porto is a great city and feels very Portuguese.
  • Faro is the ultimate destination for relaxation.
  • Guimarães is famous for its history.

What people say on Reddit

Portugal faces a huge housing crisis and it keeps getting worse. There’s practically no such thing as “affordable” cities here given the average national salary. All “big” cities have expensive housing, even ones like Aveiro. You could probably move here without a problem with a foreign salary and find everything cheap and still save money, but keep in mind that’s not the average Portuguese experience.


I would suggest any town that is near Porto or Lisbon, like 1 hour by train. You will get cheaper prices and still the flexibility to have the big city experience when you need it.

PS: This is Portugal expats and the gatekeeping is ridiculous. I hate how in these threads the most upvoted never address the question.


We live near a small town about 55km north of Lisbon, near to Santarem. Prices here aren’t that bad and, like everywhere else, you can can get fast internet – a mate has a 1gb connection to his house. We can get to Lisbon by car in 45 mins and there is a train too. Santarem is a decent city with plenty of things to do and some decent restaurants and the coast and countryside are pretty accessible


A secondary city like Vila Nova de Famalicão, Santa María da Feira or Oliveira de Azeméis are nice places to live. Cheaper than Porto but not very far away from it. Viana do Castelo and Ponte de Lima are amazing cities with great quality of life. Everything is expensive now but those cities are a lot less expensive than Lisbon.

You also good options on the Interior. Viseu also has good quality of live and Covilhã is also a very nice city


Breakdown of Your Monthly Expenses

CityExpat costs / monthFamily costs / month1 br studio / monthDinnerBeerCappuccino
Cost of living in Portugal

Useful Video

Map of places to live in Portugal

Factors Determining Living Costs


The cost of housing in Portugal can vary based on several factors. Be ready to pay extra if you want to live in a busy city center! Housing prices differ based on the size of your home, the length of your stay, and whether or not you have a roommate.

A hotel in Portugal costs about $63 per night for one person, which works out to roughly $1,912 per month. The average monthly rent in Portugal for a one-bedroom apartment is $864, depending on the city.

Find a comfortable studio condo or a two-bedroom apartment with a buddy. Keep things as simple as possible. There are some exceptionally cheap apartments in Portugal.


If you want to keep exploring Portugal’s famous cities, you have got to keep your tummy filled. You’d be amazed how much food can add to your living costs. You’re looking at $43 per day on average.

A sit-down restaurant is more costly than a fast-food restaurant. Breakfast is significantly less expensive than lunch or supper. Stick to making your own food or sampling street cuisine if you want to keep your living expenses low.


If you stay in a hotel, you won’t have to pay for utilities. If you plan to spend more than a month or two, it’s better to rent an apartment.

Every month, you’re looking at a national average of $110 on utilities. Water, electricity, and gas are all included. This cost will vary based on the size of your flat, rental fees, and landlord agreement. Central Portugal might be a bit more expensive.


The amount you spend on transportation in Portugal varies based on the method of transportation you choose. Taxis are quite pricey, so avoid them if you can. If you’re staying in a city, the cheapest transportation in Portugal is buses.

These costs vary from about $1.00 to $4.00. Expect to pay around $97 if you intend on traveling between cities frequently.

Leisure activities

In Portugal, entertainment and leisure activities cost about $23 per person. This is if you’re exploring every day. This includes admission fees, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses. Of course, this is dependent on where you go, and how often.

If you choose a one-bedroom rental with utilities, shop carefully, travel on a budget, and keep your leisure activities to a reasonable level, the cost of living in Portugal would be an average of $1,296-$1,620 per month to live in Portugal.

#1 Cheapest Overall: Santarém

Rent, groceries, and entertainment in Santarém are a lot lower than in other Portuguese cities. It’s definitely one of the cheapest places to live in Portugal.

The city is noted for its medieval elegance. It’s an attractive city due to attractions like the Santarém Cathedral, the Castle of Santarém, and the gorgeous Portas do Sol viewpoint.

Santarém is particularly well-known for its yearly bullfighting festival, the Feira Nacional de Agricultura, and the National Gastronomy Festival. You’ll be able to sample traditional Portuguese foods and local specialties.

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $918.

If you select Santarémas as your ultimate place to live in Portugal, here are two travel tips:

  1. Take advantage of the Mercado Municipal de Santarém market. Fresh food and authentic Portuguese goods are all available at reasonable costs.
  2. Explore the beautiful surroundings. Santarém is framed by gorgeous landscapes, vineyards, and charming villages. Take a stroll regularly to get some exercise and enjoy the natural beauty.

#2 Best for Music: Lisbon

Lisbon is Portugal’s bustling capital city. It not only provides a rich cultural experience, but it is also one of the cheapest places to stay in the country. Because of the abundance of housing possibilities, the cost of living in Lisbon is quite affordable. With a vast network of trams, buses, and metro lines, Lisbon’s transportation system is efficient and cost-effective.

The city is rich in history, gorgeous architecture, and a thriving arts and entertainment scene. Lisbon is a top tourist destination, from the medieval Alfama area and Fado music to the landmark Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. The tower is a UNESCO world heritage site! The city center is always pumping and full of life.

You can try great Portuguese food in traditional restaurants or relax at one of the numerous gorgeous vistas offering stunning views of the city and the Tagus River. The city museum, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, is also worth a visit.

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $2,548.

If you want to live in Lisbon, here are two travel tips:

  1. Take advantage of the public transport network, and get a Lisbon Card.
  2. Explore the local markets, like the Time Out Market, for fresh and affordable food.

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#3 Best for Wine: Porto

Porto has lower rental and housing rates than Lisbon. It’s a great alternative to the Portuguese capital! The cost of dining out and entertainment in Porto is lower than in bigger urban areas. You can find this traditional city around 75 miles from the Spanish border.

It’s worth seeing the landmark Dom Luis I Bridge, the Ribeira area with its colorful riverbank buildings, and the elegant Porto Cathedral. But the most important thing is the wine!

Porto is famous for its Port wine. Explore the ancient Port wine cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia, located across the Douro River. The city’s rich cultural legacy, gorgeous architecture, and vibrant art scene all contribute to its allure.

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $1,620.

If you select Porto as your ultimate place to live in Portugal, here are two travel tips:

  1. Buy an Andante card for discounted traveling.
  2. Take advantage of free and low-cost cultural events. The city has tons of them!

#4 Best for Students: Coimbra

Coimbra is one of the cheapest cities to live in central Portugal, especially for students. There are several discounts for students, as well as lower housing costs.

The University of Coimbra, one of Europe’s oldest universities, adds to the city’s dynamic and young culture. Coimbra is known as one of the oldest cities for education; it’s alive with student activity, cultural events, and a thriving nightlife.

The University of Coimbra, with its gorgeous Joanina Library and lovely Botanical Garden, is a must-see tourist attraction. Coimbra is also famous for its traditional Fado music, which can be heard in small venues across the city.

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $1,260.

If you select Coimbra as your ultimate place to live in Portugal, here are two travel tips:

  1. Get a bicycle! There are loads of cycling paths in the city. It’s an efficient and cheap way to get around.
  2. Ask for the student menu at restaurants – you’re bound to save a lot of money.

#5 Best for Culture: Braga

Braga is a beautiful city in the Northern region of Portugal with many living historical monuments. The accommodation and tourism costs are a lot cheaper in this deeply cultural city.

It’s one of the oldest cities in Portugal and is known for its history. You should check out lovely sites like the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary and the Sé de Braga, one of Portugal’s oldest churches. This is a very traditional and cultural place.

Braga also has an abundance of historical monuments, like Roman ruins and medieval streets, which contribute to its distinct character. Annual Holy Week events and lively festivals like So Joo add to the city’s cultural appeal.

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $1,330.

If you decide to live in Braga, here are two travel tips:

  1. Check out the nature trails in Braga. It’s one of the cheapest cities to live in Portugal, so enjoy the free views!
  2. Braga also has several universities, so look out for student discounts.

#6 Best for Cuisine: Setúbal

You can find affordable housing and transportation in Setúbal, especially in the city center.

The city is bordered by stunning natural landscapes, such as the Arrábida Natural Park and the Sado Estuary. They offer tons of outdoor activities, and you can enjoy some amazing beach trips. 

The city serves as a gateway to the Troia Peninsula’s magnificent beaches, which draw visitors with their golden sands and crystal-clear waters. You may even see a dolphin or two! 

Setúbal is also famous for its delectable seafood, particularly its fresh fish and the popular local dish, “Choco Frito” (fried cuttlefish).

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $1,500.

If you select Setúbal as your ultimate place to live in Portugal, here are two travel tips:

  1. Use the affordable Troia Peninsula ferry!
  2. This is a great place to lead a healthy lifestyle. Get away from the city center every now and then, and visit the Arrábida Natural Park.

#7 Best for Water Activities: Aveiro

Living costs on the Silver Coast are much lower than in South and Northern Portugal. This is why Aveiro is one of the cheapest cities to live in.

Aveiro is known as Portugal’s “Venice” for a reason. The gorgeous canals of the city, connected by sophisticated footbridges, provide a magnificent setting for your new home A classic moliceiro boat trip through the canals is a must.

Aveiro is also renowned for its spectacular Art Nouveau buildings, notably in the Beira-Mar area. The city’s position adds to its allure. There are several fantastic beaches nearby, such as Costa Nova.

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $1,280.

If you choose Aveiro as your new home, here are two travel tips:

  1. Try the local specialty, ovos moles. It’s worth it!
  2. Head to Aveiro in July. You can catch the amazing cultural event held annually, the Festival dos Canais.

#8 Best for Relaxation: Faro

Faro is one of the cheapest cities to live in the Algarve region, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an affordable small city, especially when it comes to rent – which is roughly 20% cheaper than the bigger cities like Lisbon.

The Cidade Velha, the city’s well-preserved historic core, has lovely cobblestone streets and outstanding architectural landmarks. The Faro Cathedral is one of these.

Faro is also the entry point to the spectacular Ria Formosa Natural Park. It’s known for its idyllic lagoons and sandbanks. You can hike, watch some birds, or just relax in this beautiful natural park. The surrounding beaches in the Algarve region, Praia de Faro, Ilha Deserta, and Ilha da Culatra, are ideal for swimming, and relaxing.

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $1,500.

If you select Faro as your ultimate place to live in Portugal, here are two travel tips:

  1. Faro is another bike-friendly city. Take advantage, and save on transport costs!
  2. Check out the local markets, and try cooking at home. You’ll save cash that you can spend exploring the city center later.

#9 Best for History: Guimarães

This is definitely one of the best cheap cities in Portugal to check out. The cost of living is a bit lower here, especially due to the cheaper food prices.

The city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features stunning medieval buildings, cobblestone walkways, and lovely squares. Guimarães Castle, commonly known as the Dukes of Braganza Castle, is a significant landmark and a must-see for history buffs.

The city is also connected with the founding of Portugal. It’s where the country’s first monarch, Afonso Henriques, was born. Immerse yourself in Guimarães’ rich legacy by visiting historical monuments such as the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza and the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira.

Depending on your specific preferences, the average monthly cost of living is roughly $1,210.

If you want to live in Guimarães, here are two travel tips:

  1. It’s worth it to spend a little extra and try the local cuisine. “Vitela Assada” (roast veal) is a favorite.
  2. Most people don’t know that Guimarães has some amazing theatre performances. Keep up to date with cultural events.

What you are saving on in Portugal

Food is one of the things you save money on in Portugal. Cheap fresh vegetables are available at local markets and low-cost supermarket stores. This makes budgeting and cooking at home easier.

Rent expenses in Portugal are cheaper than in many other European countries. Finding affordable home alternatives is pretty easy, whether you want to live in a big city or a small town.

Living Cheap as a Digital Nomad

Because of the low cost of living, food, and transportation, digital nomads can live on a budget. Portugal is an appealing and cost-effective option for remote workers due to the availability of coworking spaces, strong internet access, and a welcoming environment.


Portugal has a variety of economical and fun places to live. From the dynamic energy of Lisbon to the historical beauty of Guimares, each city offers unique benefits for people seeking a low-cost lifestyle.

Budget-friendly Places to Retire


The city’s distinctive charm is derived from its Gothic monuments, while the traditional economic activities primarily revolve around agriculture and livestock.


Imagining life in Aveiro, one can picture a tranquil existence enriched by stunning vistas. Despite its proximity to the beach, excellent university, quality schools, and hospitals, the city maintains a cozy small-town ambiance.


Faro, the capital of the Algarve region, is an excellent choice for cost-conscious living in Portugal, being one of the most affordable cities in the country.


Braga is a beautiful city in the northern region of Portugal, and for being one of the larger cities in the country, it offers a good quality of life.  It’s also one of Portugal’s foremost budget-friendly cities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money do I need to live comfortably in Portugal?

Your monthly costs change depending on which city you live in. Average monthly expenses for Portugal are between $1,300-$1,600.

Are there affordable places to live that are also close to the beach in Portugal?

Yes. Setúbal is an affordable city to live in with beautiful beaches.

In which area of Portugal do most expats live?

Lisbon is the most popular spot for expats to live.

What is the cost of living in Portugal compared to the US?

The living costs in Portugal are around 42% cheaper than in the US.

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