Portugal Cost of Living versus the UK: A 30 euro Friday Night

The cost of living in Portugal is generally considered quite low – but just how much more can you get for your money?  


The difference between the cost of living in Portugal and the equivalent in the UK is a subject close to my heart, as I’ve spent years living in Portugal and am now back in the UK, for now, at least!

I’ve previously written a selection of articles discussing the costs of individual items in Portugal, but today I thought I’d look at it all in a slightly different way. 

My scenario is that I’ve got €30 to spend in the supermarket to buy a few treats for a Friday night in. Based on current exchange rates, that gives me just £21 in UK money*. Somehow, I can already visualise how this may turn out, but let’s look at the details…

Wine in Portugal

Let’s start with the wine, a key part of unwinding on a Friday night for many of us! In Portugal, I’d reach for one of my “treat” wines, such as a Monte Velho or a lightly sparkling green wine like Casal Garcia. Either would set me back a maximum of €4.

The £2.84 that my €4 currently equates to wouldn’t buy me any bottle of wine in the UK, and bitter experience has taught me that a typical £6 special would only leave me underwhelmed. So I’ll give myself an £8 budget for something half decent. 

With just £13 now left to spend on my Friday night shopping budget in the UK, against €26 in Portugal, it’s clear that drinkable wine is far more of a luxury item in the UK than it is in Portugal!

Food and Wine

At this point I could decide not to cook, and spend the remaining budget on a takeaway, but I’m not going to get a whole lot for £13 in the UK. Conversely, my remaining €26 in Portugal would leave me with money to spare! So, let’s stay in the supermarket and think about what to have to eat.

My leftover UK budget would undoubtedly buy something reasonable enough for a Friday night in the UK, and I would have plenty of choice of “zero effort” meal deals that are now so popular. However, I’d likely leave the supermarket with nothing but a few coins remaining in my pocket.

Things are rather different in Portugal, where ready meals and the like are far less available. However, in Portugal, my cheap wine has left me with €26 to spend. If I wanted to take the “convenience food” route, I could, but pizza, salad and some garlic bread would still leave me with nearly €20 – enough for five more bottles of wine, or a good start on the rest of the provisions for the weekend.

As you can probably see by now, the cost of living in Portugal is considerably lower based on this kind of comparison. However, it doesn’t tell the whole story. There isn’t as much variety in Portugal, and you won’t find a choice of meals spanning dozens of cuisines and cultures. However, that remaining €26 budget leaves plenty of scope to fill the basket with all kinds of extra treats. 

If you’re prepared to sacrifice a little variety, and make the effort to cook from scratch, your food budget will stretch much further in Portugal than it will in the UK. Just don’t expect to find a quick and easy Thai curry to stick in the microwave!
*Rates correct as of 5th November 2015

Further reading for Living In Portugal


Finding work in Portugal

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in Portugal.


Social life in Portugal

The best way to get settled in Portugal is to find out as much as you can about your new community.



One of the first things you need to do once you arrive in Portugal is find out where your nearest hospital is.


Education in Portugal

Are you emigrating to Portugal with school-age children?