“Portugal have a national team called Cristiano Ronaldo and a group of players who run after him.” - Carlos Queiroz
Changing jobs, falling in love, or enjoying the sun are all good reasons to move to Portugal. There are around 60,000 British expats in Portugal. So while there’s a multitude of reasons to move there, there’s always the cost of think about it.
How much should you budget for the move? How much does it cost once you’re living there? What are the pros and cons?
Don’t panic, we’ve got the answers for you right here. In this article, we'll look at what you need to do before you start living in Portugal, how you go about moving your stuff there, what you'll need to do to start living officially as en expat in Portugal, how to budget for your move and arrival, and whether you should learn some Portuguese before you get there.
Plan Your Move to Portugal
Whether you’re moving to Porto, Madeira, or Faro, at some point, you have to take that leap. Making the move can be stressful, even if it’s something you’re certain you want to do.
Be it through paying for movers, renting a van, or putting your life in the UK into storage, there are many costs for you to consider before you can move. As these are your main options, let’s have a look at the costs of moving your possessions into your new property in Portugal.
Hiring Movers for Portugal
Whether you’re heading to a big city or a small village, Portugal is a beautiful country, but it’s certainly not on the doorstep. By land, a removal company will have to get through France and Spain before they arrive in Portugal or possibly take a boat from the UK to Spain or Portugal.
London to Lisbon is nearly 1,500 miles and the cost will vary quite a bit depending on what you’re taking but it can go anywhere from £500 for a few dozen boxes to thousands for larger and delicate deliveries. The cost of these kinds of removal services tends to vary a lot so it depends on how quickly you need your stuff, how safely you want it transported, and the level of service you want.
A full house of furniture and possessions will cost closer to several thousand pounds. This might make up a large part of your moving budget so it’s worth thinking about.
Renting a Van and Moving Your Stuff
You can also move your stuff yourself if you don’t have too much of it by renting a van and driving it there yourself. However, the costs will quickly ramp up if you plan on leaving the rental van in Portugal once you get there.
You could always buy a van to do it and drive it over, but you need to see how much money you’d save by doing it yourself and whether it’d be worth the time and money.
Ship Your Stuff to Portugal
Without movers or a van, you can always ship your stuff to Portugal. While the cost of living in Portugal isn’t very expensive, shipping your stuff could be. The faster you get your stuff shipped, the more it’ll cost you.
The slower delivery services (which are often done by land and sea) will cost you less. Sending stuff by air is usually very costly. Of course, the latter will get there more quickly. It depends on how much you’re willing to spend and how quickly you need your stuff to arrive.
Of course, you can always sell your furniture and less important possessions before moving to Portugal and buy new versions of them once you get there. It can be cheaper buying a new sofa in Portugal than shipping one from London to the Algarve, for example.
The Cost of Living Once You Arrive in Portugal
Once the move is done, you can start your life in Portugal. However, at this point, the work has only just begun. Living in Portugal isn’t free so you’ll need to pay for it.
There are gym memberships, internet and phone contracts, deposits on flats, etc. to consider and they can quickly ramp up. Again, we’ll look at the average costs but they should give you a better idea of how much to set aside.
- A small flat could cost you €800 a month plus one or two months of rent for the deposit and agency fees.
- Internet and a phone contract can cost around €100 a month.
- Budget €350 a month for food.
- Utilities such as gas, water, and electricity average around €150 a month.
- Transport can cost around €50 a month, depending on the town.
- A full tank of petrol can cost you around €60.
- Health insurance averages around €150 (this will depend on your medical history).
While this may seem like quite a bit once you add it up, Portugal is around 50% cheaper than the UK on average. You can save money by being organised, too.
Once you’ve sorted your monthly budget, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to do. Don’t hesitate to make a note of your outgoings and see where you can save money. The cost will be worth it in the end.
Budget For Your Arrival in Portugal
Once you’ve moved and established your monthly budget, you’ll also need to think about the budget for your very first month as you’ll have several one-off purchases.
Your first month anywhere new will be the most expensive. Make sure you set aside some funds.
So what will you be paying for exactly?
- Toiletries and cleaning products will take up a good amount as you won’t have any of them. This can add up to around €150.
- Transport card or pass. In Lisbon, for example, you can get a “Navegante Urbano 30 dias” card for €36.20 a month. Porto has their “Passe Andante” for €0.60 with trips varying between €1.20 and €4 depending on the length of the journey.
- Your deposit. As we mentioned, you’ll need to pay a deposit on rental properties and this is usually the equivalent of two or three months of rent. If your rent is €500 a month, you’ll need between €1,500 and €2,000 for the first month.
- One-way or return flights. In some cases, return flights work out much cheaper than one-way flights and you might want to pop back to the UK for a bit once you’re settled just to see everyone and let them know how you’re doing. Welcome to the life of an expat!
€3,000 is a good amount to start with to cover initial administrative costs and purchases for your big move.
While certain things may be more expensive than you’re used to, the overall cost of living in Portugal is much cheaper so you’ll be left with more money in your pocket at the end of each month, allowing you to live a better life.
Getting Portuguese Lessons
This might seem obvious, but there are still a lot of British expats who don’t speak the lingo. To better integrate into life in Portugal, it’s a good idea to learn the language. Not only will it make everyday life in the country much easier, but it'll also help you from being ripped off, which also saves you money.
So how much do lessons cost?
Foreigners can always learn Portuguese once they get there. The Alto Comissariado Para as Migrações (High commissioner for immigration) offers free online courses from levels A1 to B2.
Not bad, is it?
If you can’t do these classes or find a language school in your town, you can always learn from an online tutor to get the basics down and learn the rest while you’re out and about chatting with the locals.
On Superprof, you can get intensive online tutorials to set you up for the move. This averages around £75 a week or £300 a month. It’s a really good idea and integrating quickly is a good way to deal with homesickness.
There are plenty of great reasons to move to Portugal. Once you’ve sorted out your finances for the move, learnt some Portuguese, and packed up your stuff, you’ll be ready to go.
If you can go with £8,000 to £10,000, you’ll have nothing to worry about. Of course, this is just an estimate and you can certainly go for much cheaper.
There are some excellent tax benefits, too, that are attracting highly-skilled employees, entrepreneurs, and investors to Portugal.
Generally speaking, a few grand in the bank will help make the move much easier. Ready for an adventure? Let’s go!