Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In
Along the Tagus Waterfront in Lisbon

Lisbon

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 03, 2023

Summary: The approximate population of Lisbon, Portugal is 552,700. People describe Lisbon as a vibrant, colorful city with a rich history and culture. Expats love the city's mild climate, beautiful beaches, and friendly locals. The weather in Lisbon is mild with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-70s Fahrenheit. The average cost of living in Lisbon for an expat is around $1,500 to $2,500 per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $800 to $1,200 per month, while a two bedroom apartment is around $1,200 to $1,800 per month.

PassportCard
PassportCard
PassportCard
PassportCard

What do I need to know about living in Lisbon?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Lisbon, they said:

"Before retiring in Lisbon it is important to become familiar with the language, Portuguese, as much of the population are native speakers. Having some knowledge of the language will make getting around and communicating with locals much easier. You should also research the cost of living in Lisbon. Portugal has a low cost of living compared to other European countries; however, it is important to figure out what your retirement budget will be. Additionally, familiarize yourself with Portugal's healthcare system as it is different than many other countries. You will need to have an SNS card (Portugal's Universal Health Card) and should research the available doctors, hospitals, and coverage. Lastly, explore the city and different neighborhoods to figure out which areas are most suitable for you. Getting to know the culture of Lisbon will take some time and effort, but it can help you to be more at home when you officially become a resident," added another expat in Lisbon.

"I would tell them to meet as many local people as possible and to learn some Portuguese to get situated quickly. Even though most people speak English, knowledge of the language would help them get settled and find good accommodation deals that otherwise would be hard to find," remarked another expat who made the move to Lisbon.

Answer Question & View More Answers

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.
PassportCard International Health Insurance

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.
GET A QUOTE

What do I need to know before moving to Lisbon?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Lisbon, they said:

"Lisbon is a vibrant and beautiful city with plenty to explore and experience. Before moving to Lisbon, it is important to do some research on the city, so that you can be prepared for the move. Firstly, Lisbon is a large city and its public transport system is well developed, allowing you to easily move around the city. You should also familiarise yourself with the Portuguese language, as this will make life easier for you when living in Lisbon. Secondly, the cost of living in Lisbon is generally lower than in many other European cities, so your living costs should be covered by a steady income. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the local laws and customs, as they can vary from those in your own country. Finally, if you plan on driving in Lisbon, you must obtain an international driving permit," remarked another expat who made the move to Lisbon.

Answer this Question

How do I find a place to live in Lisbon?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"There are many different sources which can help you find a place to live in Lisbon. You can look online on rental websites, using newspapers and magazines, or contact letting agents or local estate agents who can help you find a suitable place to rent. You can also seek advice from expats who may be able to provide helpful advice about living in Lisbon. alternatively, you could attend events such as house hunting fairs or talk to local people to find an accommodation in Lisbon. Many people also find great deals on holiday rental websites such as AirBnb or Booking.com," commented one expat who made the move to Lisbon.

Answer this Question

What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Lisbon?

"A typical expat home or apartment in Lisbon is generally modern and well-designed, with bright colors, high ceilings, tiled floors, and balconies overlooking beautiful views of the city. The interiors generally feature contemporary furnishings, kitchen appliances, and other amenities, such as air conditioning, high-speed internet access, satellite television, and modern bathrooms. Expats typically choose to live in the central city or in one of the vibrant and trendy neighborhoods, such as Lapa, Alfama, or Chiado. Neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city, such as Carnide or Cascais, are also popular, offering more spacious dwellings and amenities such as swimming pools, private gardens and more secure living environments," commented one expat who made the move to Lisbon.

Answer this Question

What is the average cost of housing in Lisbon?

If you are thinking about moving to Lisbon, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The average cost of housing in Lisbon varies greatly depending on the location and type of property. Generally, rents in the city centre start at around €650-700 per month for a one-bedroom apartment with basic amenities, while outside the city centre they can be much lower. Buying an apartment typically starts from around €150,000, but luxury properties can easily cost up to a few million euros," said another expat in Lisbon.

Answer this Question

How do I meet people in Lisbon?

When we asked people living in Lisbon about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Meeting people in Lisbon can be easy and fun, depending on what kind of people you want to meet. Bars and clubs are great places to meet new people, especially if you are looking for a more social group. Going to local events and festivals like RibeiraFest and Swallows Day can also be an excellent way to meet new people, as well as soaking up some of the local culture. Taking part in activities like surfing, sailing, or tennis is another great way to meet others, especially if you join a class or group. There are also plenty of Couchsurfing and expat meet-ups happening all around the city, so look out for announcements in local bulletin boards, pubs or cafes. Don't forget to also check out online forums or meetup.com for more local events," remarked another expat who made the move to Lisbon.

"There are a wide number of groups that you can join in Lisbon that will help any newcomer get situated. For women, I would recommend: Lisbon Girl Gone International. For digital nomads: Lisbon Digital Nomads. For expats looking to make a move to Portugal: Portugal: The good life Meetup.com is also a great site for events and meet ups," explained one expat living in Lisbon, Portugal.

Answer Question & View More Answers

PassportCard

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

PassportCard

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

What should I bring when moving to Lisbon?

People living in Lisbon were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"When moving to Lisbon, you should pack clothing appropriate for the climate, comfortable walking shoes, personal items such as toiletries, medication, passport, money and any necessary documents, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, and any items that can make your new home feel more comfortable or familiar. You should also consider packing an umbrella and extra layers in the winter. In the summer, it's a good idea to bring a fan and sunscreen, as well as lighter, more breathable pieces of clothing. Depending on the size of your move, you may also want to consider packing books and decorations to make your new space feel like home," explained one expat living in Lisbon, Portugal.

Answer this Question

Where should I setup a bank account in Lisbon?

We asked expats in Lisbon what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"In Lisbon, there are several banks which offer services to setup a bank account, such as Banco Santander Totta, BPI, Banco BIC, CGD, etc. You can easily apply for an account with any of these banks either in person or online. Alternatively, you can consider some of the leading international banks present in Lisbon, such as Citibank, HSBC and Barclays, who may offer expat-friendly banking services. Before setting up your account, make sure to compare fees, services and offers of various banks so that you can select the best one," remarked another expat who made the move to Lisbon.

Answer this Question

Will I be able to find a job in Lisbon?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Lisbon, they reponded:

"There are many job opportunities available in Lisbon. The city is home to multiple industries and businesses, so you should be able to find a job that suits your skills and interests. The most popular industries for jobseekers are IT, finance, and tourism, but the city is also home to a variety of other industries and businesses. Additionally, Lisbon has several universities, making it an attractive destination for students looking to gain both academic experience and find a job in the city. With its vibrant culture, amazing food, and great climate, Lisbon is a great destination for jobseekers and you should have no problem finding a job in the city," said another expat in Lisbon.

"The main industry in Lisbon is tourism. Most opportunities exist in the tourism and hospitality industries. Networking with the locals and business groups would be the perfect way to find new jobs," added another expat who made the move to Lisbon.

Answer Question & View More Answers

What is life like in Lisbon?

When we asked people living in Lisbon what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Living as an expat in my area is quite enjoyable. There is a great sense of community and many different cultures, which makes it an interesting place to be. The cost of living is quite affordable and there are plenty of activities to do, ranging from sightseeing to exploring nearby nature reserves. There are a multitude of excellent restaurants to try, as well as a burgeoning nightlife. Public transport is highly efficient and reliable, making getting around easy and convenient. As an expat, it can be quite easy to settle in, as the people are welcoming and friendly. Overall, living as an expat in my area is a very positive experience," said another expat in Lisbon.

"Lisbon is a great city for socializing. There are many expats and digital nomads here who are always open to meeting new people. It is great for young people, as well as older expats with is wide range of options and close proximity to the beaches and lots of bars, clubs and restaurants," added another expat who made the move to Lisbon.

Answer Question & View More Answers

Quickly and easily find trusted moving, insurance, relocation and other providers with Expat Exchange's Moving Planner. Select which of our trusted partners you would like to hear from and we'll do the rest.

Get Started Now

Quickly and easily find trusted moving, insurance, relocation and other providers with Expat Exchange's Moving Planner. Select which of our trusted partners you would like to hear from and we'll do the rest.

Get Started Now

What do expats in Lisbon appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expatriates in Lisbon tend to appreciate the warmth and hospitality of the Portuguese people, the Mediterranean climate and the relatively low cost of living compared to other European cities. They also enjoy the rich diversity of culture and history, the vibrant nightlife and the abundance of local cuisine and fresh seafood. Many expats find the city to be an inviting and easy place to live and its seaside location makes it a great destination for those looking to experience southern European life," explained one expat living in Lisbon, Portugal.

"My vastly improved diet. Without any actual effort, I’ve lost 25 pounds since I got here, which I attribute to eatting a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables and walking on cobblestoned up and downhill sidewalks. The extreme level of consideration for other people among the Portuguese. Because of an obstruction in the left venticle of my heart, I have to stop and catch my breath about every block, and I had to learn almost immediately how to say “I’m OK. I’ve got water. I just need to take a short rest before I move on,” because people stop all the time to ask," said another expat in Lisbon.

Answer this Question

What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats may find many challenges when moving to a new country such as language barriers, cultural differences, adjusting to a new lifestyle, feeling isolated, a decrease in financial stability, dealing with bureaucracy, and feeling homesick. Other challenges may include finding employment, understanding the legal system, adapting to a different education system, understanding taxes, and finding accommodation," remarked another expat living in Lisbon, Portugal.

"Mastering the language. This sounds silly, but steaks I can afford and no A1. Sizes. I’m built on a much bigger frame, particularly compare to Portuguese my age, and I wear size 8.5 3E shoes. I’ll just have to look for men’s shoe that will fit and pass. CUSTOMS which basically prevents ordering anything from beyond the EU. And Covid of course, though Portugal has handled it beautifully in my opinion," added another expat in Lisbon.

Answer this Question

Is there a lot of crime in Lisbon?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Generally, Lisbon is considered a safe city. While crime does exist in the city, it does not occur at levels that would be considered alarming for tourists. The most common crime in Lisbon is pickpocketing and other forms of petty theft, so tourists should take extra precautions when traveling to prevent these experiences," remarked another expat who made the move to Lisbon.

Answer this Question

Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Lisbon accepting of differences?

"Lisbon is considered to be a diverse city, with a population of over half a million people from a range of cultures, socio-economic and regional backgrounds. The city also has a large presence of immigrants, who have come as part of the European Union's freedom of movement laws. This diversity is generally welcomed in Lisbon; the people are welcoming and accepting of differences, and the city has a thriving and welcoming atmosphere," remarked another expat living in Lisbon, Portugal.

"Lisbon is remarkably diverse. The area of intendente itself is home to 87 nationalities! Portuguese are very friendly people and accepting of all people from every background. There is a little India area, little Chinatown, African cafes, Nepalese restaurants and also lots of options for vegan and vegetarian people," added another expat in Lisbon.

Answer Question & View More Answers

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.
PassportCard International Health Insurance

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.
GET A QUOTE

What are the schools in Lisbon like?

"Schools in Lisbon generally follow the same structure as is found across Portugal, with students in primary education learning Portuguese, English, Maths, Science and Social Studies. Secondary schools in Lisbon offer courses in a variety of subjects, such as History, Geography, the Arts, Sports, Languages and Computer Sciences. Higher education institutions such as universities, vocational schools and institutions providing adult education are also present in the city. Schools in Lisbon benefit from a high level of quality teaching in a diverse, multicultural and multilingual environment. Additionally, many of Lisbon's schools offer curricula such as the International Baccalaureate and advanced teaching programmes in the English language," commented one expat when asked about in Lisbon.

Answer this Question

What are the pros and cons of living in Lisbon?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Lisbon responded:

"Almada is a great city to live close to Lisbon and easy to get around by car or public transportation. The cost of living in Portugal is great especially compared to the US. The people are warm and friendly. The food is good but sometimes bland. But I do think it is better for your health:)," commented one expat who moved to Lisbon.

"The weather is generally very good, access to goods and services makes it easy to live here. Covid has impacted everything of course which has made things more difficult. Health care is accessible and affordable. Learning the language has taken longer but English is often understood. There's access to lots of outdoors activities like cycling, hiking, water sports, which is important. There is an old world charm and a lot of history to learn about. Also access to other places in Europe make this location good. Previously lived in several countries in Asia. Europe also closer to the US for trips back- when possible again," said another expat.

Answer Question & View More Answers

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.
PassportCard International Health Insurance

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.
GET A QUOTE

What type of social life can someone expect in Lisbon?

When we asked expats and global nomads about their social experiences in Lisbon, they replied:

"Easy to make friends most speak English but important to learn Portuguese as best you can," commented one expat living in Lisbon, Portugal.

"As retirees, it has been easy to make friends with other expats especially through our language school. Making social connections with the locals has been more difficult as portuguese society is somewhat closed to strangers. However, our upstairs portugues neighbor has been very socialble and has helped us improve our language skills and interact more with the locals. Over time we have made more portuguese friends and expect to make more in the future," remarked another expat living in Lisbon.

Answer this Question

"If you your goal is to really be a part of the culture and social experience, it is necessary to reach a good conversational level of portuguese. Many interesting activities are only in portuguese," remarked another expat in Lisbon.

Answer this Question

What advice to expats in Lisbon have about housing?

"The prices are rising in Lisbon, but there are still plenty of places at reasonable prices. If you need more than 100 sq meters, then expect to pay a lot more. Places outside the city are much cheaper," said an expat in Lisbon.

Answer this Question

What are medical services in Lisbon like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Lisbon, they replied:

"Is a crime what the US charges for same services I get in Portugal for a lot less," commented one expat living in Lisbon, Portugal.

"Finding a specialist takes trail and error. But that is true even in my home country," remarked another expat living in Lisbon.

Answer Question & View More Answers

Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Lisbon?

"The cost of a private plan is half or less than charged in the US. Health insurance can be purchased through banks or a few organizations, such as the Automobile Club of Portugal or 'afpop'. These offer even better group rates than the bank rates," remarked another expat in Lisbon.

"We are required to have a private policy that meets the Schengen Community requirements (go to their website). The highest quality of coverage won't cost more than 3,000 euros a person/year (2017) and most retirees are paying only 2,000 euros annually. This includes dental and eye care, surgeries, private hospital room, unlimited doctor visits and tests," added one expat living in Lisbon.

Answer this Question

PassportCard

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

PassportCard

PassportCard Introduces an innovative approach to expat and digital nomad health insurance with no out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it. Outstanding service validated with more than 2 million customers for over 20 years. Get a quote from our partner, PassportCard.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Along the Tagus Waterfront in Lisbon

PassportCard International Health Insurance

No out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it.
GET A QUOTE

PassportCard International Health Insurance

No out-of-pocket expenses, no paperwork and no long claim processing, facilitating payout on the spot when you really need it.
GET A QUOTE

Contribute to Portugal Network Contribute
Help others in Portugal by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Portugal.

PassportCard
PassportCard

Copyright 1997-2023 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal