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The Cost of Living in Portugal vs USA

If you are thinking of moving to Portugal it is important to know more about living expenses.

The cost of Living in Portugal vs the USA may bring some questions to your mind, find the answers in this article.



The minimum wage in the United States varies greatly depending on one's profession and geographical area.

According to a survey conducted by PayScale in 2019, the median salary for all workers in the US is around $45,000 - with those working in tech jobs earning an average of $79,000 annually.

The highest-paying jobs include physicians ($190k), lawyers ($145k), software engineers ($105k), pharmacists ($120k), and financial analysts ($84k).


In comparison to the wages found in Portugal where the national statutory minimum monthly wage is €760 (about $810 USD), wages and salaries are considerably lower than those found within the United States.

On the other hand, the "low salary" rule does not apply to the qualified and high-demand workforce. Software engineers could expect to make much more than the average wage, around €54K annually in Portugal. Similarly, earned €76K per year on average in Portugal during 2019.


However, it should be noted that the cost of living in Portugal is much lower than that found in the United States, and those considering moving to Portugal should keep this in mind.

Despite the fact that minimum wages are considerably lower in Portugal than in other European countries, a person's standard of living is usually still higher due to cheaper prices on housing, food, and other everyday expenses.

Thus, it can be said that wages and salaries are adequate enough for people to maintain an acceptable quality of life while still making ends meet.



The education system in the United States is one of the most expensive in the world, with high costs for tuition and other related fees.

According to a report by the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for a four-year undergraduate degree at a public college or university was $9,716 per year for in-state students and $25,620 per year for out-of-state students in 2018-2019.

Additionally, textbooks and other materials can add up to hundreds of dollars per semester while room and board can range from $10,000 to over $15,000 annually depending on where you live.

For those who are unable to cover these expenses out of pocket or through scholarships, loans are often necessary.

Unfortunately, this leads to an increasing number of graduates saddled with debt - according to the Institute For College Access And Success (TICAS), 70% of college seniors who graduated in 2018 had student loan debt - with an average debt amount at graduation of $29,800.

Clearly, obtaining a degree from an American university is not only costly but also presents many opportunities and benefits both financially and professionally. However, this comes at a price tag that many individuals may be unable to afford without taking out loans that they may be burdened with paying off long after they have finished their studies.

The education system in Portugal is highly regarded both domestically and internationally for its affordability and quality of instruction.

The Portuguese government subsidizes public universities, making tuition fees for most undergraduate programs much lower than those found in the United States.

For instance, a bachelor's degree costs an average of €700-€1000 (~$800-$1200 USD) per year which is significantly cheaper compared to US colleges and universities. Furthermore, students are eligible to apply for scholarships that can cover up to 100% of the tuition fees; thus, many students receive free higher education.

In terms of quality, Portuguese universities offer recognized and accredited degrees in engineering, business & management, economics & finance, and social sciences among others.

Overall, Portugal offers affordable yet high-quality education opportunities for those looking for an alternative option that does not require taking out loans or worrying about paying back expensive tuition fees after graduation.

Thus, it is no wonder why so many international students flock each year to study abroad in this beautiful country located on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula.

Note that you can easily find many private and international schools in the country too.



The healthcare system in the United States is one of the most expensive and complex systems in the world. It is also one of the most unequal, with many individuals having limited access to medical care and health insurance due to high costs. On average, Americans spend almost twice on healthcare costs each year compared to other developed countries. While with Portugal's healthcare system, Portuguese citizens and foreign residents can take advantage of great public health services.


Public Transport

The public transport tariffs in the US vary a lot. In Lisbon, the capital and most expensive city of the country, the monthly pass for bottomless use of public transportation costs only 40 Euros.

Lisbon train

Food and Groceries

Portugal is widely known for its low cost of living, especially when it comes to food and grocery prices.

The country's inexpensive yet high-quality produce, dairy, and other food staples make it an ideal destination for those seeking a budget-friendly lifestyle. From fresh fruits and vegetables to cured meats and cheeses, Portugal offers a diverse array of delicious options at affordable prices. Furthermore, owing to the country's vast coastline, seafood is also widely available at competitive costs.


Eating out in Portugal is an affordable and delightful experience. Portuguese restaurants offer a wide selection of delicious traditional dishes at prices that are much lower than those found in other countries like the United States.

In Portugal, it is quite common for people to dine out regularly. Most restaurants offer an array of starters, main courses, side dishes, desserts, and drinks at reasonable prices. For example, a three-course meal for two with drinks can cost around €30-€50 (~$35-$60 USD). In addition to traditional Portuguese food, there are also numerous international restaurants serving up cuisines from all over the world.

Portugal's vibrant café culture also makes it an ideal destination for coffee lovers who want to enjoy quality espresso or freshly brewed coffee for a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere in Europe or North America. Furthermore, many cafes serve delicious authentic pastries made from scratch that go perfectly with a cup of hot joe. All these reasons make Portugal one of the best places to eat out on any budget.

Portuguese restaurant

Bill Expenses

When living in Portugal, one of the biggest advantages is the cost of living. This includes bills such as electricity, water, and gas.

Generally speaking, Portugal’s monthly utility bills are much lower than those found in other EU countries.

For starters, electricity bills tend to be quite reasonable due to the abundance of renewable energy sources available in the country. The average monthly bill for two people ranges from €30-€50 (~$35-$60 USD) depending on usage and the number of appliances used.

On top of that, Portuguese households can choose to opt for green energy plans which offer an even more affordable way to power their home.

Water bills are also quite reasonable with monthly costs ranging from €10-€30 (~$12-$36 USD).

Gas bills are typically higher than those for electricity and water; however, they remain relatively affordable when compared to other European nations. The average monthly bill ranges from €45-€70 (~$53-$83 USD) depending on consumption and time of year.

In short, Portugal offers a fairly inexpensive yet reliable utility system when it comes to bill expenses. This makes the country an attractive destination for individuals seeking a budget-friendly lifestyle without sacrificing quality or comfort.

If you are decided about your future in Portugal, request your call with a GVC expert!