Expense Tracker 2021

Last updated on 16-Apr-2023

Hello everyone! My hubby and I relocated from Toronto, Canada to Lisbon, Portugal in mid-December, 2019. Since we started doing our research for the move a couple of years before that, we have been accessing and sharing information on online forums and groups, connecting with some expats who lived or live in Portugal + others who are in the process of (or interested in) making the move as well. 

People often ask about the cost of living in Portugal, and this is something we can shed some light on. We’ve been tracking our expenses and thought the numbers may be of interest to others, as budgeting for the new life is a very important part of the planning process. Another question we get asked a lot is about how to find a property to rent, so I’ve written a post on this topic as well.
EDIT: The rental/lease market is very hot in many areas, and the process may be much more competitive and difficult in some cities.

So, here are our basic monthly expenses for 2021, by category (for more info, visit the 2022 and 2023 Trackers)

Note 1: We are a couple over 45 with no kids, so these numbers are for two adults. ALL costs in EUROS €. 

Note 2: Rental costs can vary a lot according to the location, size, condition, and amenities of the property. We prefer newer construction.

Initially, we chose to stay in Lisbon (city proper). The apartment we were renting until September 2021 was a furnished 1 bedroom + 1 bathroom condo with a very large terrace, in a modern building with 2 elevators, central heating, and underground parking spot + great access to restaurants, shops, services and subway (Laranjeiras station).

At the end of September 2021, we moved to a neighbourhood just above Lisbon (Colinas do Cruzeiro), but already in another city (Odivelas). This apartment is larger, also furnished, with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, terrace + balcony, in a modern building with 2 elevators, heating and air conditioning + great access to restaurants, shops, services.

Note 3: As residents, we qualify for public healthcare in Portugal, and so far it has worked well. We haven’t purchased private health insurance here, although we have signed up for this FREE plan.

Note 4: We are listing only the basic expenses because other categories (e.g. clothing, cosmetics, entertainment, travel, etc.), are discretionary and subject to personal preferences, shopping habits, and the income available. In that sense, however much you spend on these items now (converted to €) can be your baseline, if you want to keep a comparable standard.

Note 5: For reference regarding transportation, a monthly pass for unlimited travel in Lisbon (city) by subway/tram/bus costs €30 per person. The pass for unlimited access to the system in the larger metropolitan area costs €40.

We’ll update this page monthly, so you can see the numbers in the longer run. If you have any questions or feedback, drop them in the comments below. Thanks for visiting!

These are for general reference only. Other people may choose to spend more or less on these items.

Expenses 2021 = in euros €

Two Cellphones + Home Internet + Cable70.9568.9969.2569.9169.6068.9969.7569.6593.5963.7882.5367.78
Electricity + Gas120.55119.9490.7269.5161.7161.1567.7771.5550.7399.80101.5786.83
Groceries (includes wine and beer)230.82274.31279.71294.21259.56292.39216.00236.82236.52275.03192.79410.02
Dining out/Take away/Food delivery153.8580.9499.45246.90349.37308.09508.84503.01557.74228.95261.42342.87
Car insurance38.2338.2338.2338.2338.2323.8523.8523.8523.8523.8523.8530.75
House cleaning (per visit)25.0025.0025.0025.0025.0025.0025.0025.0040.0030.0030.0030.00
TOTAL (€)1618.231587.811579.771818.191828.261811.761970.022073.662090.991956.561940.292226.25

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Monthly notes:

January 2021 – We had a number of Covid-19 restrictions in place when the year started, and then went into a more strict lockdown on January 15, so our expenses with eating out/entertainment were low, and the only transportation expense was the car insurance.

February 2021 –  We were in lockdown for the entire month, so our expenses with eating out/entertainment were quite low (with more spent on groceries to cook at home), and the only transportation expense was the car insurance.

March 2021 – The weather warmed up and our electricity + gas bill was lower, due to not using the heating as much. Lockdown measures started to ease on March 15, but not much has changed as far as eating out, so our expenses in that category were still low. We took short drives for errands but didn’t need to fill the tank yet and the only transportation expense was the car insurance.

April 2021 – We went out more often due to the pandemic restrictions easing up as well as retail/hospitality and services reopening. As a result, spending on eating out/restaurants has increased, and we needed fuel for the car.

May 2021 – We were eating out more often and spending more time out and about – the weather has been beautiful! As a result, spending on eating out/restaurants has increased, and we needed fuel for the car as well.

June 2021 – Summer arrived in Lisbon! The weather is usually quite warm during the day but cools down at night. Our spending was pretty similar to May. One change was on our car insurance, as we switched companies to get a lower rate.

July 2021 – With warm and sunny days this month, and after getting fully vaccinated against covid-19, we are feeling more comfortable getting around, so our expenses with eating out and fuel for the car went up.

August 2021 – It’s the warmest month of the year! Many people take vacation time in August and a number of businesses close for the month or part of the month. We enjoyed going to a few favourite beaches in the Lisbon area and went on a short road trip to São Martinho do Porto and Figueira da Foz, near Coimbra. Expenses with eating out and groceries were similar to July, but this month we spent more on gas.

September 2021 – We still had great weather, but stayed around the Lisbon area only. Costs with groceries and eating out were similar to August but we spent a bit less on gas. We are moving to a larger apartment, so we had to sort out a few things for that, and the higher cleaning cost was for a good pre-move scrub at the new place (€8/h for 5h).

October 2021 – We moved to a larger apartment and our rent cost has gone up. Our new place is a furnished 2 bed/2 bath condo with large terrace + balcony, in a modern building with 2 elevators, heating/AC, etc., great access to restaurants, shops, services, in a more recent subdivision just outside Lisbon called Colinas do Cruzeiro. With the move, we also changed our utility providers: from MEO to Vodafone (for cellphones, internet and cable), from EDP to Galp (for gas and electricity) and from EPAL to SIMAR (for water). Our utility costs for October were a bit off the average, due to final bills from the previous place + new bills for the new place. We also travelled back to Canada for 12 days, and our expenses in Portugal with gas and eating out were lower. 

November 2021 – This month, our utility bills still had some extra charges due to final adjustments for the cancellations of the previous contracts and inspection costs. We also spent a week in Spain, and our expenses with groceries and eating out at home were a bit lower. 

December 2021 – For the final month of 2021, our utility bills seem to have settled for the new apartment. Our insurance cost went up a bit because we got a newer car. We didn’t travel, so our local eating out expenses were higher than the previous 2 months. Our grocery expenses were also higher due to the holiday season.

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34 thoughts on “Expense Tracker 2021

  1. I appreciate the effort you’ve put into your postings. Thank you. I’m a mid 70’s female with a $3000usd monthly retirement income. Two visits to Portugal left me wanting to return to live my next life there.

    1. Hi Emily, I’m glad you like the content. Relocating to a new country always has its challenges, but for us, Portugal has been a great choice so far.
      If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask and stay tuned for future ports as well.
      All the best with your plans in Portugal! 🙂

  2. I enjoy getting your emails. You put a lot of effort into it and it’s very helpful. I bought you a cup of coffee.Enjoy it while knowing how much you are helping others prepare for their plans of moving to Portugal.

    1. Hi Cheryl, Thank you so very much for the kind words and for the coffee. I’m so glad you find the emails and the content helpful. We try our best to share accurate information and our real experiences here. If you have any specific topics you want to know more about, let me know and I can try to write about them in the future. Take care and all the best with your plans for the move to beautiful Portugal! 🙂

  3. I like your blog and really appreciate your detailed expenses, so I bought you a coffee 😉 . Thanks for this. We’re Canadians from Guelph, in our early 60’s and more than likely looking to retire just outside of Coimbra (Lousã, Poiares, Penela…). We’re going to sell out here and find a piece of property to build a smaller, energy efficient T1+ or T2 this coming year. Going to keep checking in.

    1. Hi Bryan, nice to have fellow canucks coming across the pond. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer. Stay tuned for future ports as well. Lots to talk about regarding life in Portugal!
      All the best with your plans, thanks for visiting the blog and for the coffee, much appreciated! 😊

  4. Now that you are in your new apartment in the Colina do Cruzeiro area on a map it appears there are no Metro stops nearby (closest I see is Odivelas) are you using public transport less? If you have a car this could impact your monthly expenses with more need for gasoline. TIA!

    1. Hi Bill, yes, Colinas do Cruzeiro is not as close to a subway station as the previous place, but the subway system is still accessible using buses that connect the neighbourhood to the Odivelas or Senhor Roubado stations or that go into Lisbon directly.
      That being said, public transportation wasn’t a big consideration for us when choosing this location. We haven’t used transit much since about April of 2020 and bought a car shortly after that. Besides concerns with Covid at the time, we also wanted to have more flexibility to drive to different places outside Lisbon itself, and having a car has worked well for us.
      I mention the cost of transit on the expense post for reference, but I also list our expenses with gasoline and car insurance on the expense table itself. There are also paid parking and road tolls (depends on usage) in addition to the basic costs.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Very helpful!!! I have started to worry I couldn’t afford PT as it was starting to seem like all the posts I read were by people with healthy six figure retirements buying 6-figure homes. I’m single — but lots older, haha — also with no kids and am likely to move to Porto or Braga if I can afford it. Looking at your baseline numbers for two, I’m now thinking, “Yes, it’s doable.” Thank you!

    1. Hi Amelie, I’m glad you found the numbers helpful. Keep in mind that the minimum wage in Portugal is about €720 per month (less than US$840) and many people living here earn that. It’s not very common to find six-figure incomes around. It’s a matter of adjusting the spending to the income available. The largest expense can be the rent, then groceries/eating out. Rentals in Porto would likely be more expensive than in Braga. The weather is cooler in the north as well, so you may need to budget more for heating. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks for visiting!

  6. HI. great information! Thanks for posting this. We are a couple in Palm Spring, CA. We just started our process applying for our NIF. We just sold our house YESTERDAY and will be closing on Nov 1. As the process moves forward, we are trying to put together a budget and this is very helpful! we looked and were interested in the Campo Piqueno neighborhood, so I am assuming pricing will be similar… difference with us is there will be no cars or housekeepers (DAMN!) but I’m happy to have stumped across your postings. Obrigado! Looking forward to hearing more.

    1. Hi Timm, thanks for visiting! I’m glad you found the information helpful. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.
      Campo Pequeno (Avenidas Novas) is a very nice area and one of our favourites in the city, with lots of amenities and good access to the subway system as well. It would probably be a bit more expensive for a rental there with a profile equivalent to our current place, but you may find similar or even a bit lower rental costs in the more traditional/older buildings.
      Best of luck with the application process and your move! 🙂

  7. This is fantastic… we are planning to make the move in two years and having boots on the ground expenses is very helpful! Many thanks… I will be checking back frequently and sharing the blog with my wife.

    1. Hi Carl, I’m glad you found the information helpful. Please do check back as I’ll also try to share more posts regularly. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer. Best of luck with your move! 🙂

  8. Thanks for the Information. Very helpful and first time I heard about free insurance! I thought it is mandatory to get a private insurance!

    1. Hello there, we’re glad you found the info helpful. In Portugal, legal residents and citizens have access to the public healthcare system (not free, but heavily subsidized). Once you are a legal resident or citizen, private insurance is not mandatory, but many people still choose to have it in addition to the public coverage. For people with temporary status or to qualify for certain types of visas, having private insurance is still required. Also, the free health plan we mention in the post is a simple “pay-per-use” plan, which gives users access to private services at a discount. I hope this clarifies the differences. Thanks for visiting!

    1. Hi Dixie, thanks for the comment. We’re glad you found the blog helpful. We mentioned some details for the apt in “Note 2” on the post, and are still in the same spot. It’s a furnished good-sized 1 bed/1 bath condo with a very large sunny terrace (SW exposure), in a modern building with 2 elevators, central heating, and underground parking spot + great access to neighbourhood restaurants, shops, grocery stores, services and subway (Laranjeiras station). We really like this neighbourhood. It’s very walkable and convenient, but not too busy nor “touristy”. 🙂

  9. I just saw your post on Facebook group. Love this resource. We spent last year in Lisbon just by chance and even with COVID we fell in love. Returned to the US for vaccinations and to apply for our residency permits…Going in the mail on Monday! We have our 6 month accommodations set up but need to locate a long term apartment once there. My question is how did you locate your apartment? It sounds exactly what we are looking for. Did you use a realtor? Thanks for your post!

    1. Hi Sherill, thanks for visiting. We’re glad you found the post useful. We stayed at an Airbnb when we first arrived and after getting our initial bearings started looking at rental options using websites like http://www.idealista.pt and http://www.imovirtual.com. We did not work with a realtor representing us. This was pre-covid and we spent a couple of weeks going around the city, visited a few properties, found neighbourhoods we liked/disliked, and got feedback from people we know who live or lived here, to be able to focus our search. We are both Brazilian and speak Portuguese, so that helps too. I believe we found our place on Idealista, scheduled a visit and after deciding to proceed, the paperwork was handled by the landlord’s agent and the requirements were not too complex. Things do move at a different pace here and the process is not what we were used to in Toronto, but all in all, it worked out well.
      Other people have asked about the process of finding a rental. We’ll probably add a separate post on that subject soon. All the best with your plans for the move to Portugal! 🙂

  10. Thanks so much for the information. We also live in Toronto and are looking to retire part time in Portugal once COVID is sorted out. We are looking at possibly purchasing a small apartment in the Algarve but the prices seem very high. Are you familiar with that region and can suggest areas that may give you a bigger bang for your buck. I’m Portuguese and really want to go back to experience the Portuguese lifestyle but not interested in a very touristy area but really want to be close to the beach.

    1. Hi Anna, yay for Toronto! 🙂 We have been to the Algarve, but only visiting, and are not too familiar with it in terms of real estate. Out of the places we visited, we quite liked the feel in Portimão and Quarteira. They seemed to provide a good combination of amenities and proximity to the beach, appeared to have “life” outside of the high season, and didn’t feel too “touristy” (except Praia da Rocha itself). I would suggest you spend a little time getting to know the region when you are able to visit, to identify some towns where you may want to focus your property search and go from there. Being Portuguese, I think you’ll be able to recognize the lifestyle you want when you see the places. You will find better prices further from the beach or outside of the main tourist hot spots, and still be able to easily get to the ocean. All the best with your future plans, and hope you can come back soon!

  11. Greetings! Just found you on Facebook post. Congrats on your site and sharing info. Have you posted anything on how you finally picked a rental? So many choices and how not to be taken advantage of. Your food choices are smart! Right? We two are retired teachers from the the West coast US, and have been planning to move to Portugal, then COVID…Can’t wait to experience and be part of the community and culture
    Any recommendations you have are most beneficial. Wanting too to start internet exposure and avenues of income too. Stay safe! Blessings, Douglas and Jennifer P.S. So sorry about your doggie, we had to say good bye to ours 2 years ago. They are the love of our lives!

    1. Hello Douglas and Jennifer, welcome to the blog and thanks for the comment. Yes, our furry buddies really are part of the family! Sorry for your loss. Regarding picking a rental, it’s kind of a long answer, so I’ll try to write a post about that soon. Stay tuned! 🙂

  12. Do you have categories for the following?

    Gym, grooming, household supplies (cleaning and cosmetics), subscription service (spotify, icloud, netflix, dropbox, etc…), clothing, entertainment, travel, (mail service such as traveling mailbox)

    These categories are often left out and they are quite essential

    1. Hello mmfresh, we listed only the basic expenses on the post because other categories are discretionary or subject to personal preferences, shopping habits, and income available. What’s basic for some may be luxury for others, right? In that sense, however much you spend on these items now (converted to €) can be your baseline, if you want to keep a comparable standard.
      We don’t have a travel mailbox nor a gym membership and I don’t know how much they cost. For grooming, I’ve seen haircuts from €5-40+, mani-pedi from €20-50+. Our cleaning supplies and cosmetics are included in our grocery expenses (we find a good variety at the larger supermarkets and don’t shop separately for those). For people who buy these products from specific stores/brands, they can count on paying similar prices (if international/European brand) or more for a brand not commonly found here. For the subscription services mentioned, we only have Netflix, and we pay the same rate as we did in Canada. It should be similar for other online services as well.
      Clothing again is based on personal preferences. You can get haute couture to popular brands and everything in between. Whatever your habits now, use that as a reference.
      Entertainment and travel are very difficult to compare as well. First because due to Covid, we haven’t done much of either. But beyond that, like in most other places, you can choose from budget-friendly all the way to high-end, how often and where to go. And a bottle of wine can go from €1.29 to €1000+. 😉

  13. This is great! Thank you for doing this. I’m moving solo w/ dogs this fall…what neighborhood did you decide on? I’ve been looking at Saldanha and Arroios area. Your expenses are very close with my availability budget.


    1. Hi Crystal, we are in the Laranjeiras neighbourhood. We looked in Saldanha too – we like that area, it’s very nice – but the prices can be higher and at the time we were looking, we didn’t find the combination we wanted there. We also like the Avenidas Novas/Praça de Espanha area. Arroios has more traditional buildings, older construction and is a bit more “hilly” in some spots but the location is quite convenient as well. Overall, good choices IMHO. We came with our dog as well, but unfortunately, he passed away last summer. Let us know if you have any questions and all the best with the move! 🙂

  14. Thanks very much! Very helpful. We will head that way as soon as we are able, although as non-residents and for shorter periods of time. Congrats on the move.

    1. Thank you, Andrew! I’m glad you found it helpful. If you have any questions, let us know and we’ll try to answer. All the best with your future plans and visits to Portugal. Hope we can travel again soon. 🙂

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