After a summer in Austin, I’ve been back in Lisbon for a month. I don’t budget, but I track my expenses on Mint, however I recently found a great new tool called Keep Thrifty that allows you to input your expenses. Mint is great, but I have so many transactions that Keep Thrifty was a good way to isolate my Lisbon expenses.
The picture shows how the site nicely sums each category’s transactions. In the picture it shows dollars because that’s the only option, but I spent Euros, so I’ll convert it in my totals below.
We got a great deal on housing through a platform for student housing. It is located in Bairro Alto which is a good part of the city but can get really loud as there are lots of bars. We have our own place with a living room, bedroom, kitchen, patio, and bathroom. In the first five months we were in an apartment with 10 people in seven bedrooms and had to pay $648, so this is really a deal.
If you want to rent a room you could probably find something for $400, even in Lisbon. Every other city in Lisbon is going to be even cheaper.
Total cost: $720
I know this is a category that I could have reduced. My wife is a good cook and she wasn’t here for 3 weeks so I ate lots of cereal and sandwiches. However, very frequently I ate out. On schooldays I get a meal for $4 from the cafeteria and sometimes I buy a half chicken for $4.50 on my way home. It was also our anniversary this month, so we had a nice meal that cost $72.
Food is affordable in Lisbon, but you have to know where to go. Since I live in a touristy area lots of the restaurants are expensive, so I go elsewhere. Lisbon is pretty small, so I can walk many places.
Total cost: $242
Transportation was higher than I would have liked. Uber is really cheap in Lisbon, but one time I used it to go kite surfing, which is many miles away. That round trip cost $50! I used the trip as a Portuguese lesson as well since I talked to drivers. I also use the metro every time I go to and from school. That roundtrip costs $3.50. There is a monthly pass I could buy for the bus and metro for $45, but I don’t think I use public transportation quite enough. That should be all that you would need if you lived here, but I’m spoiled.
Total cost: $117
I spent $84 on kite surfing lessons because I see it as a form of geographic arbitrage. I want to learn so that later I can go with friend and I won’t need to pay for an expensive boat rental. It is better to take lessons before to see if you like it, learn how to do it safely, and don’t destroy your own gear.
I didn’t need any healthcare, but the prices here are around 10% of what you’d pay in the United States.
There were also random things I needed to buy like toilet paper and trash bags. As this is a normal thing, I’ll include it.
Total cost: $120
The total monthly cost came out to $1245, but if my wife were here the entire time, I imagine the cost would be around $1600. A cost of $800 a month to live in a western European capital sounds like a steal to me and I know it could be lower without kite surfing lessons and Uber. A short vacation often costs a lot, but traveling slowly can be quite affordable.