The Cost of Living in Portugal vs India

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Rihab Saad

Managing Director
Next Generation Equity

When deliberating on the cost of living in Portugal vs India, it’s imperative to consider a broad spectrum of economic and social indicators that shape the everyday expenses for residents. From the price of housing and utilities to the costs associated with food, transportation, and healthcare, these two countries present stark contrasts influenced by their distinct economic statuses, cultural norms, and public policies.

This comparative analysis dives into the nuanced differences between the living costs in Portugal, a nation with a higher GDP per capita and significant investment in public services, and India, a vastly populated and rapidly developing economy. By examining various factors – including housing, food, transportation, and essential services – we will explore how the cost of living reflects the unique challenges and opportunities within each country’s borders.

Overview of The Economy In Portugal and India

Methodology of Comparison

When comparing the cost of living between two distinct countries like Portugal and India, you’ve got to look at various economic indicators and societal factors. These include GDP per capita, unemployment rates, poverty levels, taxation, and investment in public services such as education and healthcare. Also, demographic aspects like life expectancy, literacy rates, and internet access provide context to the economic environment and can influence the cost of living.

Key Factors Affecting Cost of Living

The cost of living is influenced by many factors, some of which are deeply rooted in a country’s economic structures and social policies. In India, the GDP per capita is $6,100, reflecting a developing economy with a vast population of over 1.4 billion people. The unemployment rate sits at 8.5%, and a significant portion of the 21.9% of the population lives below the poverty line. These figures suggest a lower cost of living but also highlight economic challenges like lower average incomes and limited social welfare.

With a smaller population of around 10 million, Portugal boasts a higher GDP per capita of $32,200. Its unemployment rate is lower at 6.5%, and the poverty rate is 17.2%. The higher GDP per capita in Portugal suggests a higher standard of living, which typically means a higher cost of living. However, the country also has a higher top tax rate of 56.5%, which can affect your disposable income and overall living costs.

Healthcare and education are two critical areas that can significantly affect the cost of living. India allocates 3.0% of its GDP to healthcare and 3.5% to education. On the other hand, Portugal invests a more substantial 9.5% of its GDP in healthcare and 4.7% in education. This difference in investment often means better quality and accessibility of services, which can affect living costs indirectly through the need for private services or insurance.

Demographics also play a role in the cost of living. Life expectancy in India is lower, averaging 67 years, compared to Portugal’s 82 years. This can be due to various factors, including healthcare quality, which is reflected in the higher number of hospital beds and physicians per 1,000 inhabitants in Portugal. Additionally, the literacy rate is significantly higher in Portugal at 96.1%, compared to 74.4% in India, which can influence earning potential and, consequently, the cost of living.

The technological divide is clear in the percentage of the population with internet access: 43.0% in India versus 78.0% in Portugal. Having access to technology can affect job opportunities, education, and even the cost of goods and services, as e-commerce often offers more competitive pricing.

A country’s physical size and geography can influence the cost of living. India’s extensive coastline of 7,000 km and its vast land area support a variety of industries and provide resources that can affect the cost of goods. While smaller, with a coastline of 1,793 km, Portugal benefits from its location within Europe and its EU membership, which can lead to different economic advantages.

Cultural factors such as language, religion, and family structure can also impact living costs. For example, India’s diverse linguistic landscape and religious composition may lead to varied living costs across different regions. Portugal’s predominantly Christian population and the uniformity of Portuguese as the official language can contribute to a more consistent cost of living throughout the country.

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Housing and Utilities

Rent Comparisons Between Cities

Accommodation expenses significantly influence the cost of living. In Portugal, renting a one-bedroom apartment in a city center costs an average of $1,008, whereas in India, a similar property would cost approximately $220.

For larger accommodations, the disparity is even more pronounced. A three-bedroom apartment in the central areas of Portugal is priced at $1,822, which is substantially higher than the $526 you would pay in India. In the suburbs, the rents for one and three-bedroom apartments in Portugal are $775 and 1,300, respectively, compared to India’s more modest $137 and $310.

Property Ownership Costs

The divergence in property ownership costs is also noteworthy. The price per square foot in the city center of Portugal is $326, almost twice as much as India’s $183. Moving away from the city center, Portugal’s cost is $207 per square foot, compared to India’s $97.

Mortgage interest rates in Portugal average 4.05%, which is more favorable than India’s 8.81%, potentially making homeownership more accessible.

Utility Expenses in Portugal vs India

The cost of utilities also contributes to the overall housing expenses, with consumer prices, including utilities, being 60.0% higher in Portugal. Consequently, the ongoing expenses for essential services such as electricity, water, and waste disposal are generally higher for residents in Portugal.

Impact of Location on Housing Costs

The location significantly affects housing costs in both nations. In Portugal, areas like Lisbon and Porto have experienced a surge in property values, with Lisbon’s price per square meter reaching 3,736 euros. The proliferation of short-term rental platforms has contributed to this increase, with a correlation between Airbnb’s market share and rising house prices.

In India, the value of a property is influenced by its proximity to amenities and the neighborhood’s overall desirability. For example, in Mumbai’s Goregaon district, urban development and economic progress have substantially increased property values.

Thus, the choice of location within each country can greatly influence the financial implications of renting or purchasing a home, with Portugal offering more attractive mortgage rates despite higher property costs.

City And Bridge In Portugal

Food and Groceries

Average Food Costs in Portugal vs India

While a simple espresso in Portugal is affordable, a light breakfast typically costs around $3.30. The “Prato do dia” offers a cost-effective lunch option at $6.50–8.70, and a complete meal with soup, dessert, and a drink is usually $11–13.

For dinner in Lisbon, the price averages $16.40–22 per person. In contrast, India’s dining scene is notably more budget-friendly. A standard meal at a restaurant is around $3, and a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is approximately $14.40.

Eating Out: Restaurant Prices

A frugal traveler in Portugal might spend about $27 per day on meals, while someone with a more generous budget could spend $44 per day. For high-end dining experiences, such as at Michelin-starred restaurants, expect to pay from $55 per person.

In India, a meal at an unassuming restaurant may cost less than $3.30, and a dinner for two at a mid-range venue average $14.40. A regular cappuccino is priced at $2, which is more economical than in Portugal.

Grocery Shopping: Price Differences

Portugal’s grocery prices for staples like milk and bread are higher. A gallon of milk costs approximately $3.90, and a loaf of fresh white bread is $1.40.

Conversely, these essentials are more affordable in India, with milk costing 31.6% less. Fresh produce such as bananas can be up to 43.0% more economical, and bottled water is 54.2% cheaper than in Portugal.

Influence of Dietary Habits on Expenses

Portugal’s cuisine, featuring seafood and stews, is reasonably priced at local eateries. Street food like “pão com chouriço” or “bifana” is budget-friendly, and snacks such as “pastel de nata” are around $1.10.

India’s diverse food culture offers inexpensive street food and local dishes. The affordability of fresh ingredients and staples also means home cooking can be more cost-effective. Although Portugal’s food and grocery costs are higher, its local purchasing power is 33.4% greater than India’s, which may offset some differences for residents.

Transportation and Commuting

Public Transport Costs

Portugal’s public transportation network is both extensive and efficient, connecting major cities and rural areas with trains, trams, buses, and funiculars. The state-owned CP runs a scenic rail network that serves 145 million passengers annually. CP’s train services include Alfa Pendular, Intercidades, Regionais, and Urbano.

You can bring your bicycle, pets, and luggage on CP trains without any extra fees. If you’re planning your trip in advance, you can snag tickets at up to 65% off. There are also discounts for children, seniors, and young adults.

In Lisbon, the average commuter spends about 45 minutes daily on public transit. But for some, the commute can stretch to two hours or more. The capital’s buses, managed by Carris, run from early morning until midnight. A standard one-way bus ticket will set you back between $1.60 and $2.20, while a day pass goes for $6.50.

Night buses, with a more limited range of routes, are mainly found in major cities. Private bus operators like Rede Expressos, Transdev, and Rodoviária do Alentejo extend public transport’s reach for longer distances. You can buy tickets for these services at stations or online.

Owning a Vehicle: What It Costs

Having a vehicle in Portugal means shelling out an average of 1,160 euros a month, ranking the country fourth in Europe for vehicle ownership costs. These expenses include the purchase price, registration, insurance, maintenance, fuel, and depreciation.

Switching to EVs is starting to pay off economically. The total cost of ownership for an average electric family car is 35% less than for a combustion engine vehicle. EVs are also getting more competitively priced compared to traditional cars, with mid-size premium electric cars now boasting some of the lowest ownership costs.

Ride-Sharing and Taxi Prices

Taxis are a familiar sight in Portugal’s larger cities and are handy, especially when public transport isn’t an option. Taxi fares usually jump by 20% at night, on weekends, and during public holidays. After overcoming initial hurdles, ride-sharing services are now up and running in major cities like Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Braga, and Faro, offering a contemporary alternative to traditional taxis.

Regional Variations in Transportation Expenses

Transportation costs can vary widely from one place to another. In Mumbai, public transport is the most expensive in India. Yet, it’s still one of the most affordable options worldwide, with a monthly pass costing about $43. This is quite different from European cities, where a single public transport ticket costs much higher.

Portugal is still working on making its transportation infrastructure fully accessible to those with mobility disabilities, with cities like Porto leading the way in improvements. Cycling is also gaining traction as a mode of transportation, thanks to the development of dedicated bike lanes and long-distance paths.

Boats And Buildings In India

Healthcare and Education

Health Insurance and Medical Costs

Medical consultations in India are priced at $11.8 on average, whereas in Portugal, the cost is $69.9. For over-the-counter medication for common ailments, Indians spend about $2.09, while Portuguese pay $6.58.

Considering the average monthly salaries of $633 in India and $1083 in Portugal, these healthcare expenses must be balanced against earnings and the broader economic context.

Education System: Public vs Private Costs

The financial burden of education varies significantly. In India, parents can expect to pay around $67.3 monthly for preschool, while in Portugal, the fee escalates to $359. Annual fees for international primary schools are $1857 in India, in contrast to $7832 in Portugal.

The choice between public and private education systems can substantially impact household finances in both countries.

Additional Expenses for Families

Other costs contributing to families’ financial load include housing and utilities. The typical monthly rent for a spacious apartment in India is $372, whereas in Portugal, it is $1175. When it comes to utilities, Indian families pay around $43.6 monthly, and Portuguese families pay $121.

Internet connectivity also comes at a cost, with Indians paying an average of $8.55 per month and Portuguese paying $37.6. While transportation expenses are relatively similar, with a monthly public transport pass costing $10.5 in India and $38.5 in Portugal, these outlays can take up a considerable portion of the monthly income.

Quality and Accessibility Consideration

The Human Freedom Index rates India at 6.3 and Portugal at 8.2, reflecting differences in the social and institutional environments. The Corruption Perceptions Index scores India at 40 and Portugal at 62, potentially influencing the reliability of services.

The proportion of English speakers is 10.6% in India and 27.3% in Portugal, which may affect the availability of international or high-quality educational opportunities. Furthermore, the higher education rankings place India at 74 and Portugal at 87. The Quality of Life Index assigns India a score of 43 and Portugal 75, offering insight into the broader context of healthcare and educational services.

Deciding Between Destinations

Choosing between the vibrant landscapes of Portugal and India for living comes with its unique set of financial implications.

India may lead when it comes to affordability in housing, food, and general expenses, making it an attractive choice for those prioritizing budget. On the flip side, although commanding a higher living cost, Portugal offers a higher standard of living and quality of services that could justify the extra expense for many.

The decision ultimately aligns with personal economic circumstances, lifestyle preferences, and the value placed on factors such as healthcare, education, and public services. Both nations offer distinct rhythms of life and rich cultural tapestry, setting the stage for diverse and enriching experiences irrespective of the cost.



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