Cost of Living in Lisbon: Everything you Need to Know
I was pleasantly surprised by the general cost of living when I first arrived in Lisbon. In Lisbon, certain things are cheap, and certain things are relative to European cost of living.
To put things into perspective, that average income per month per person in Portugal is just €800. It costs far more to live in Portugal’s major cities, and households in the smaller villages cost a lot less to enjoy.
Here follows everything you need to know about cost of living in Lisbon:
Cost of Living in Lisbon: Housing
Housing is where most of your money will go whilst living in Lisbon. Finding available housing is also somewhat of a nightmare, since most home-owning Lisbon folk have moved away from renting their properties out long term, and prefer making money through Airbnb and other accommodation websites.
Decent housing within the city center can cost upward of €800 for a one bedroom apartment. Areas just outside the center can offer apartments for around €500.
Most newcomers to Lisbon opt to stay in house sharing situations whereby the rent a room in an already established home. This can lower monthly rent spending by a significant amount, though the quality of the homes is not always great.
Cost of Living in Lisbon: Food (Groceries)
Food is wonderfully affordable in Lisbon, as well as throughout most of Portugal. In my opinion, it makes for all the more enjoyment; I never felt like food was a nagging expense whilst there, more like a worthwhile investment.
One can purchase a liter of milk in Lisbon for under €0.70. One kilogram of potatoes retails as just €1, as does a freshly baked loaf of bread. Alcohol will be your most expensive grocery items, with a decent bottle of wine retailing at around €5.
The Portuguese soil is abundant and reaps fresh produce for all the land to enjoy. This produce is sold at farmers markets, at a fraction of the price compared to supermarkets. As you walk through Lisbon, you’ll pass by small produce markets nestled between the different districts.
My favorite market is the Mercado da Ribeira, found on the edge of the Tagus in Cais do Sodre. This market is renowned in Lisbon and has everything on your shopping list, guaranteed. Whether its spices, fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, or chilies, this is a one stop shop.
Cost of Living in Lisbon: Food (Eating Out)
Eating out in Lisbon varies in cost depending on the cuisine. Authentic, local Portuguese food is abundant in any district in Lisbon, and is relatively inexpensive. A fish main with a beverage of your choice (and possibly a starter salad or soup) will rarely cost more than €10.
Eating out at more niche restaurants offering international cuisines will see your bill rising much higher. Lunch or dinner in a Lebanese, Thai, or Mexican restaurant, for example, will likely cost around €15 per person, sometimes more. Vegan food in Lisbon is also quite expensive if you dine at the trendy tourist traps.
If you want to eat super cheap, look out for the kebab and falafel shops around districts such as Bairro Alto and the Alfama. These usually stay open until the early house of the morning, and a full meal can cost under €5.
Cost of living in Lisbon: Transport
Transport in Lisbon is considered some of the most affordable in the EU. The metro, bus and tram systems are all connected and work by loading money onto a metro card. A single ride anywhere in the city costs €1.45.
For tourists, paying per ride makes sense as they are likely not in Lisbon long enough to take advantage of a monthly pass. Locals purchase the monthly pass for just €35, and it gives them access to ride the metro, busses and trams as much as they like during those 30 days.
Taxis are also cheap to use in Lisbon. Getting from one side of the city to the other will rarely cost more than €7, even with traffic. Uber and Taxify are available when metered taxis are not, but they are slightly more expensive.
Cost of living in Lisbon: Utilities
Individuals living alone should budget for around €90 to be put toward utilities. This includes water, electricity, gas, garbage disposal and air-conditioning.
Living with other people will send your usage up, but sharing costs will result in paying less in the long run.
Lisbon, as a city, is lucky in that the winters are never extremely harsh. One can get around spending hundreds of euros on gas during the winter months, unlike other countries in Europe.
For a landline internet connection, expect to pay between €20 and €30 per month. The better the speed, the more you’ll pay.
Cost of living in Lisbon: Entertainment and Going Out
Entertainment and nightlife form a big part of the appeal in living in Lisbon. Housing in Lisbon’s city center is notoriously confined, so inhabitants tend to spend as much time out and about as possible.
In addition to eating out, in Lisbon you’ll enjoy the theatre, museums, bars, markets, concerts and, of course, the beaches.
A beer in a bar will cost under €1, while wine around €2. Entrance into museums and theaters can range between $5 to €20.
Beaches near Lisbon are free to enjoy, but getting to them will cost you some pennies. The best beach village near Lisbon is Cascais, and you’ll pay €5 for a roundtrip on the train departing from Cais do Sodre station.
Lisbon has some notorious nightclubs. There tends to be an entrance fee that comes with visiting these establishments. Most nightclubs in Lisbon charge an average of €7 as an entrance fee. Venues with ‘higher desirability’ might charge upward of €15, and even more the later in the evening you arrive.