How much does it cost?

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery” Charles Dickens

I thought it might be useful to try to address a question which we found very difficult to find information on before we bought our house – “how much does it actually cost to live here in Portugal?”

Although it is difficult to generalise – and the costs will be different in each case, depending on a number of factors, all we wanted to try to find were some ‘ballpark figures’ to give us an idea how much things cost – and especially how expensive it would be to have a house over here. In other words – would the budget we have planned be enough?

I am deeply grateful to the members of the forums listed at the end of this post for their willingness to answer my recent post and share with me their household bills and costs. They are anonymous here – but they know who they are – ‘thank you!’

I have coded each response A B C etc and you can see below what each letter relates to – each situation is very different, we range from an apartment, through to a 3 bed villa, and also a large household with pool. We cover rural and Algarve properties, and although each respondent completed only the information they wanted to share (which was absolutely fair) nevertheless the overall responses should give you a pretty good idea of how much a house will cost to run out here. We also have an example of a family with children in a Private school, and also another family with children in a State school. 

All the amounts have been calculated as a MONTHLY amount – with an annual total at the end for you. It seemed the easiest way to write it all out as most of us probably live on a monthly income. (Some of the responses did not fill in every column so take care when you read the monthly amounts – try filling in the blanks if there are some gaps in the column you are particularly interested in)

There are six different properties listed below, and I have also added an ‘average’ of the answers -which does seem to be pretty representative overall. I have also added some more information and notes at the end for you…

So here are our six responses for you – you could either pick the one closest to you in size and family, or have a look at the ‘average’ one listed at the end:

A:           3 bed villa; 2 adults; 0 children.

B:           3 bed apartment; 2 adults; 2 children; 1or2 guests around 30-50% of the time;                      and working from home; State school.

C:           V large 3 bed villa; 2 adults; 2 dogs, in the countryside with ‘too many visitors’!

D:           Large 4 bed villa; 2 adults; 2 children; 2 dogs; pool; Private school.

E:            4 bed, 3 bathroom villa; 2 adults; 0 children.

F:            Family of 5.

BILL A B C D
Mortgage/Rent 600€
Water 35€ 15€ 9.85€ 50€
Gas 35€ 35€ 2.71€ 41.66€
Electric 50€ 60€ 63.72€ 250€
Phone+Broadband 20.99€ 20€
Phone+Broadband+TV
Phone 22.57€ 18€
Skype/VOIP 5€ 3.72€
Broadband 19.99€ 15€
Mobile Phone 2.50€ 9.17€ 20€
TV 10€
Property Tax (IMI) 70€ 17.29€ 133.33€
House Insurance 18.75€ 19€ 21.74€ 40€
House Maintenance 50€
Car (Tax & Insurance) 40€ 17€ 30.59€
Via Verde tolls 35.28€
Gardener 200€
Swimming Pool 65€
Private Medical Insurance
Savings 50€
Petrol 80€ 50€ 218.10€ 100€
Food Shopping 450€ 275€ 400€
Leisure/Eating out 50€ 25€ 150€
Airfares/Travel 85€ 416.66€
School costs (Private school) 500€
School costs (State school) 35€
School dinners (State school) 75€
Summer club (1 month 1 child) 150€
MONTHLY AMOUNT 1,042.24€ 786€ 454.73€ 2,399.65€
ANNUAL AMOUNT 12,506.88€ 9,432€ 5,456.76€ 28,795.80€

here are the rest of the responses – and a picture of a great statue in the Monchique of a little beggar (hope the figures so far haven’t made you resort to anything so drastic to supplement the budget!)

BILL E F AVERAGE
Mortgage/Rent 238€ 700€ 512.67€
Water 18€ 25€ 25.48€
Gas 21€ 25€ 26.73€
Electric 35€ 100€ 93.12€
Phone+Broadband 30€ 23.66€
Phone+Broadband+TV 100€ 100€
Phone 20.29€
Skype/VOIP 4.36€
Broadband 17.50€
Mobile Phone 20€ 12.92€
TV 10€
Property Tax (IMI) 73.54€
House Insurance 16€ 23.10€
House Maintenance 50€
Car (Tax & Insurance) 27€ 45.83€ 32.08€
Via Verde tolls 35.28€
Gardener 200€
Swimming Pool 65€
Private Medical Insurance 150€ 150€
Savings 48€ 49€
Petrol 75€ 104.62€
Food Shopping 250€ 343.75€
Leisure/Eating out 150€ 93.75€
Airfares/Travel 250.83€
School costs (Private school) 500€
School costs (State school) 35€
School dinners (State school) 75€
Summer club (1 month 1 child) 150€
MONTLHY AMOUNT 928€ 1,145.83€ 969.74€
ANNUAL AMOUNT 11,136.00€ 13,749.96€ 11,636.90€

Other useful things we have found out:

  • Water bill includes sewerage
  • Gas – most houses don’t have mains gas, so you have to buy gas bottles – the price seems comparative to mains gas
  • TV licence for Portuguese TV is included in your electric bill
  • Electric – there are rumours that this is going up in October – anything from a 15 – 30% increase has been quoted but nothing has been announced yet.
  • Rubbish is often collected daily from large bin areas at the end of most main roads. There are recycling bins in most towns and villages and the Portuguese have bins for many forms of recycling (tins, glass, bottles, plastics, paper and card, even food)
  • Medical Insurance (Private) can range from 500 – 2,000 per year (not sure if this is £ or €) – and some prescription items which would be free in the UK (e.g. statins, hydrocortisone, thyroxine, etc) are expensive to buy over here. Many expats seem to mix and match private medical insurance with public services.
  • If you qualify for social security assistance you can get your books, stationery and food costs significantly discounted (almost free on the most subsidised level) but this is unlikely to apply to expats who would be less likely to be earning the kind of Portuguese wages that qualify for these subsidies.
  • It is sensible to factor in household costs like maintenance and re-painting (average cost for a medium size house to be re-painted outside is about 4,500€ and will last 5-7 years)
  • It is worth checking out forums for more detailed costings associated particularly with buying and running a car out here (the cost of buying a Portuguese car is likely to make your eyes water!)

I will cover how much other items cost in a future post – things like food items, white goods etc – so if there is anything you would like to have researched then just add a comment on the bottom of this post and I’ll see what I can find out!

Overall I think things are very different here than even a few years ago – we used to enjoy an amazingly good exchange rate and now prices seem to have risen alongside other UK prices, however the overall comments I have received from people are similar to the following:

“We don’t live an extravagant life but we do very much enjoy life”

“Luxury lifestyle? –  no but we enjoy ourselves and don’t really stint”

Hope these costs have helped give you some idea of how much it costs to live over here – and I will add more soon…

And thanks again to the readers of the following two forums for their help:

Expat Forum

British Expats.com


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3 Responses to How much does it cost?

  1. Hi,

    I wish to congratulate you for compiling these results.
    I wish to move from Canada to Algarve and it’s really difficult to find this kind of real info which are
    so important, not to say vital.
    I’m french, my wife is from Alagarve (but moved to France when she was 4 and only went there for holidays) but we need to come back to Europe and Algarve seems our best choice.
    Since we are retiring, we need to calculate precisely the cost of living and such.
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep on adding info as you get them and also as the situation in Portugal unfolds with all these raises and government new measures which affects people’s lives.
    Thanks again
    Philippe Picard

    • ferragudofan says:

      Thank you for your kind comments on this post Philippe, and I am glad you have found the post useful.
      I will indeed keep updating this one as we move forward – and if anyone else has anything else which may help please feel free to post a comment.

  2. Pingback: 2011 in review | Algarve Blog

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