I have lived in both cities so I have a rough idea about the living costs. For the purpose of providing you with more accurate information I have carried out a thorough research on the cost of living in London vs Lisbon. If you are considering living in one of these two cities this information should be helpful.
The minimum wage in the UK is roughly £1300 (1430€) and in Portugal it is 650€ (£591) per month. Please note that for the Portuguese minimum wage I have included the extra salaries you get in the Summer and in December. These amounts are both before taxes.
In Portugal it is very common to be given an extra daily allowance (not taxable up to a certain amount) usually in vouchers to help with the costs of any meals during working hours. This is currently set at a minimum of 4.52€/£4.11 per working day. As this is not mandatory I will not be taking it into consideration. If you want to do so just add roughly 100€/£90 per month to the available budget.
You need a place to sleep:
London: 1210€ or £1100 (to this amount you should add about £100 / 110€ of Council Tax)
Lisbon: 700€ or £636 per month
I have looked at 1 and 2 bedroom apartments with good transport links not more than half an hour away from the city center.
And you might have to pay bills:
Electricity: 39€/£36 in London and 45€/£41 in Lisbon
Gas: 30€/£27 in London and 45€/£41 in Lisbon
Water: 30€/£27 in London and 29€/£26 in Lisbon
Utilities’ Total: 98€/£89 in London and 118€/£107 in Lisbon
I have estimated the usage at 2200 kWh a year for electricity, 8000 kWh for gas (686 m3) and 125 m3 for water.
If you want to watch TV in the UK you need a TV license which will cost £12.25/11€ per month. In Portugal this is not optional and even if you don’t watch TV you have to pay 3€/ £2.7 per month (this will show up in your Electricity bill).
Also in the UK you have different options when it comes to cashback, you get a percentage of what you spend in certain places as a discount on your bill, at the moment this saves me about £20 a month. I have not taken this into consideration on the numbers shown here.
Can’t forget you need Social Media in your life
Phone and Broadband: 32€/£29 in London and 23€/£21 in Lisbon
Mobile Plans SIM only: 20€/£18 in London and 23€/£21 in Lisbon
So the basic bills (including 2 mobiles) will cost you around 1502€/£1365 in London and 887€/£806 in Lisbon.
Maybe public transports too. Unless you can afford a car
If you don’t want to be at home all the time and assuming you are commuting to work a monthly travel pass will cost you 164€/£149 in London and 60€/£55 in Lisbon.
These costs are for zone 1 to 3 travel card in London and zone 1 to 2 in Lisbon. This is because the zones in Lisbon cover a bigger area than in London.
So far (without food, clothing, toiletries and household items) these are the figures you will be looking at if you are a couple living in one of these two amazing cities and earning the minimum wage:
London: Take home 2546€/£2315, spend 1666€/£1514 and have 881€/£801 left
Lisbon: Take home 1156€/£1051, spend 947€/£861 and have 209€/£190 left
In conclusion, things are looking pretty grim for Lisbon with not much money left after covering the basic living expenses. London does have the fame of being a very expensive city but in this comparison it doesn’t look too bad after all.
Food, toiletries and household items are covered in this post. Might even write a post on the health services for both cities. It will be interesting to give you (and myself) a good picture on how these two cities compare.
Note: I have used the current exchange rate of £1 = 1.10€