Living & Working in Portugal

The days of moving to cheap Portugal to eke out a slender pension while playing a relaxing round of golf on The Algarve have long passed.

Portugal used to rank as one of the cheapest expat destinations in Europe, but Portugal is now level pegging with many of the other Eurozone countries.

Joining the Euro has seen prices across the single currency area gradually equalise, although some are now more expensive, strangely none are cheaper.

Expats strolling around shops in Portugal will notice some startlingly cheap goods - especially some of the staples like wine and food, but other prices, like cars, toiletries and medicines, are more expensive.

Depending on lifestyle, expats will win some and lose some on prices in the shops, with the end result day-to-day living costs are around the same as in Britain.

Housing is where Brits can gain. House prices have toppled by around a third or more from their peak in 2007. Prices are bottoming out, but still falling. It’s the rate of decline that has slowed.

Expats with cash or who only want a mortgage of 60% loan-to-value or less are real winners as they can negotiate a tough deal in a market where no one can sell.

If you do buy, consider saving even more money by transferring the cash from Sterling via a specialist broker. Their commission is far less than any offered by a bank - saving £4,000 or more on switching €100,000.

Rents are also a bargain - and not just for basements. A luxury two bed Algarve apartment with a patio will rent for less than €500 a month.

The win some, lose some rule strikes again over property. Buying and renting is cheap, but utilities are more expensive when most expats run air conditioning and pool pumps. Life can be hard.

Other living costs are reasonable. Local food is good quality and cheap, but if expats insist on a pie, mash and beans diet, imported food is expensive.

Shopping around is the key - if you want to save, buying from markets is the best bet.

The cost of getting around varies. Buses and trains are cheaper than the UK, but cars and fuel are more expensive.

Regular eating and drinking out is affordable, while outdoor living is more fun with guaranteed sunshine.

Shopping in Portugal can come as a culture shock for expats with seemingly inexplicable high prices for some goods that are relatively cheap in Britian, but the reverse for some items that are expensive.

Of course, the explanation is comparing like with like. For instance, white goods and other appliances are a little more expensive, but they come with a two-year guarantee instead of the standard 12 months in the UK.

Just like the rest of Europe, shopping online is a great way to find cheaper goods without trooping from shop to shop around town.