The cost of living in Azores is an increasingly searched topic on Google. After living here for over 3/4 of the year, I'm here to share insight on the cost of living in paradise.
Living in the Azores is a dream. And the very fact that you’re looking into the cost of living here shows that so many more people are beginning to want to make that dream a reality. I mean, why not? With jobs becoming more remote for many, lifestyles shifting completely for others, and inflation dramatically increasing in city’s all across the world, there’s never been a better time to reinvent your everyday life.
A lot of people don’t know what living in the Azores is like because they’ve never heard of it or visited. Living in the Azores isn’t like living in a completely forgotten place, but it also doesn’t have all the luxuries you could expect in somewhere like Paris for example. But then again, that depends on how you define luxury.
To me, the abundance of nature, and the fruit it bears, the ocean water’s healing ways, and the completely safe environment the islands provide, makes Azores, to me, the most luxurious place on earth.
With that being said, living here on the country’s minimum salary of about 700 euros a month can be challenging, especially for families with kids and if you’re not being as self-sufficient as possible, for example, planting your own food.
It’s all about ratios though. For example, Canada’s average monthly minimum salary of about $2300 CAD also competes with rents of $1000+ monthly for a 1 bedroom or studio apartment or basement suite. Contrastingly, Thailand’s average wage of just $300 might compete with rent of $200.
So if you’re someone blessed and lucky enough to have a foreign source of income that provides you with about 1000 Euros or more in income a month, or you have solid investments that make you extra money on the side, then living in Azores will feel like you’ve hit the jackpot.
& here’s why.
Rent (€150 - €400 Monthly in Pico & €400 - 1000+ in Sao Miguel)
Coming from Ontario, you can expect to find rent costs from about $1000 CAD to over $2000 CAD for a 1 bedroom in a regular neighbourhood, depending on where it’s located and whether it's attached/detached/etc.
So when we set up our rent here of 350 euros a month (about $500 CAD), which is amongst the highest in the island of Pico, we were elated to have those savings added monthly into our accounts.
Oh, and we live in a huge two-bedroom apartment, probably 2.5 times as big as our place in Vaughan and we’re paying 1/4 of the price.
You can find rent in Pico anywhere from 180 Euros to 400 Euros, depending on the size and location. In larger islands like Sao Miguel, you can find rent anywhere from 500 euros to over 1000 in Ponta Delgada, but then again, that is the Azores’ main city and central hub of everything. Still, exchanging that into CAD would mean that for about $850 you have a 1 or 2 bedroom in the main city - and more likely with an ocean view. That’s about half the price of the average place in Ontario (not in the main city of Toronto), and well, there’s no ocean.
Groceries (€240 - €600 Monthly)
Talk about shopping with a view!
For a family of two to three people, you can expect to spend an average of €240 - €600 monthly on groceries. We spend about €400 a month, but keeping in mind that we consume a lot of specialty items including gluten-free, vegan, and organic items, this is an incredible price. We have not sacrificed any part of our regular diet from Canada which for the same amount of food we were spending about $1000 CAD or about €650 - more than 50% of the cost!
Our diet consists of a lot of fruits, vegetables and legumes, which we get from the local supermarket here, Sol Mar (in my opinion they have great produce and the most competitive prices), and specialty items like tofu, oat milk, coconut sugar, oat flour, goji berries, all the seeds and nuts you can think of, lots of peanut butter, samosas, codfish, wine, porto wine, gin, vitamins and supplements, and a lot more. Whatever we can’t find at Sol Mar we get at Continente Modelo, their national supermarket, which actually has one of the best rewards programs I have ever seen, often saving us €15 - 20 weekly on discounts and rewards.
For a single person with a balanced and healthy diet, I think you can get by easily with €250 a month for groceries, which is about $400 CAD. So it’s one of the best places to be able to focus on your health and really incorporate healthy eating at an affordable value.
Another amazing part of the Azores is the ability to a) find wild fruit on the streets which means you always have something to eat, and b) plant your own crop just about anywhere. You only need a little piece of land and you can easily add produce to your pantry within a couple of months' time.
With stats like “The 12th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report released yesterday predicts the average Canadian family of four will pay an extra $966 for food in 2022, for a total annual grocery bill of $14,767.” moving to a remote island on the Azores is sounding sweeter and sweeter with every news announcement.
Transportation & Insurance
It’s hard to put a value on transportation because it really depends on your situation. Whether you buy a scooter or a car in full or you finance a car, this value will be completely different.
Cars are pretty expensive here but you could finance a great car valued at around €16,000 for about 200 - 250 euros a month. I’m sure if you got a decent but older car, the financing would be less. To put it into perspective we bought our scooter in full for €1100, and honestly besides a little restriction on rainy days and bundling up in the winter, we’ve been very happy with our choice. These last 8+ months of savings from our scooters is especially helpful since we are building our own Airbnb Village, so our savings from auto costs have been directed to this new investment.
Our auto insurance is €8 a month.. let me say that again, €8 a month! In Canada, you pay around $275 a month for insurance on a good car once you’ve been driving for a few years, because otherwise as a beginner you pay around $400+ (not super high-end because those can go to over $1000 a month). UPDATE: We recently bought a mini cooper and the insurance is about €28 a month. A pretty high-end big engine Audi here has a monthly insurance rate of about €58 a month - so still very affordable on a foreign income source.
Funny story, when I went to sign up for insurance the guy looked at me and said “I’m sorry, it’s going to be a little more because this is your first policy with us” and I was like okay, what’s the damage. He said €100. I said oh okay, €100 a month, right? (Still a $125 savings to me) He’s like wait what? No, it's €100 a year! I literally thought there had been a mistake but just in case anyone decided to change their mind l was like okay great where do I sign? 😂
Gas (€20 - €200 Monthly)
With a vehicle comes the juice. When we go to the gas station now, we still laugh. Now I know a scooter isn’t the same as the BMW we drove back in Canada, but for those of you who would like a little extra budget-saving, a scooter is the way to go here. We spend no more than €5 a week on gas (about $8). For a v8 engine Audi, for example, you can spend anywhere from €200 a month which is $300 CAD.
Utilities (€41 - €200)
Depending on your lifestyle, utility bills will differ. For two people with no air conditioning, a humidifier running all day, no drying machine and two grow lights on all day, we spend about €18 a month on electricity. Our water bill, doing a lot of laundry, is about €3 a month. And we use 1 gas tank a month which costs about €20. For those of you confused about what a gas tank is, in the Azores the gas isn’t part of your home, you purchase refillable tanks of gas and use it until it's empty. This makes a total of €41 a month in utilities (based on 2 people).
However, let’s say you have a few air conditioning consoles, a dishwasher, a drying machine for clothes, and more people in the house, you can spend anywhere up to €200 a month.
Dining Out (based on 2x/week for 2 people: €120 - € 450)
The Azores itself is an entertaining attraction. I mean, you can easily spend days doing fun things without spending anything. From chasing waterfalls and hiking in the forest to swimming in the ocean and playing with friends on the beach.
And thankfully, dining out isn’t gonna break the bank. I’d say the average meal for 2 people is about €36 which is about $50 cad. But again, you can find multiple places will meals way lower than that. Sometimes we eat at buffet-style restaurants that charge €8 per person and it’s delicious traditional Portuguese food. You can even get 2 filling falafel wraps for €13 at Caffe Cinq. Obviously, there are fine dining places that can jack up the price to €70-80 for the meal - which I believe is the highest bill we’ve paid here.
Beer here is about €1 or $1.50 CAD per half-sized bottle and cocktails/gins are normally around €4-6 or $6-8 CAD per glass.
If you go out let’s say twice a week, you can add a monthly expense of €120 - € 450 for two people.
Phone bill - €9 - €35 per phone
When you take a look at the phone bill expense here, you can see how much western culture has jacked up prices based on the things that we are most attached to.
The lowest phone bill here is something like €9 a month (about $15) - that’s insane considering your phone bill in Canada is AT LEAST $75 a month with most major carriers. The highest plan here for unlimited talk, text and data is €35. This is at least for MEO - one of their carriers here.
One thing I find weird is that sending photos through texts costs extra and isn't included in any plan -so if you don't have iMessage, I'd recommend getting whatsapp.
Healthcare here is good - but it could be better. The wait times for more than your regular cold & flu or anything nurses can do, are very long. Then again, it seems this is becoming increasingly true even for countries like Canada who are reknown for their Healthcare system. I’d suggest health insurance here which you can find from as little as $1-3 dollars a day online or you can use an insurance company here. I’m not too educated on the average cost but I’ll update this blog once I have more entail.
Amazon Prime (€4.99 monthly)
You know that where you live is remote when… the delivery guy stops you at restaurants, while you’re driving or even in the grocery store and says “WAIT! I have a package for you” 😂 I couldn’t make this up if I tried. You’ll probably see it happen to someone around you in a public space here in Pico. The mailman will just be like “oh perfect I was going to bring this to your house but since you’re here, well, here’s your package.”
Amazon here is great. I pay €4-5 a month for a prime membership which saves me tons in shipping costs on prime items. Then it’s shopping as usual.
It’s easy to set up, you simply make an account on amazon.es and voila. The only thing is you need a European credit card or they don’t seem to allow you to use a CC with an international billing address.
Taking the lowest possible expenses mentioned above, two people can live in Pico for about €650 a month or $950 CAD. Now more likely, the expenses will be more towards the average which I think is at least €1000 a month per couple, or about $1500 CAD and the bigger the island you’re in the more this is bound to be true and I’d say to probably add a couple extra hundred euros in you live in one of the bigger islands.
I hope this article has covered everything you’d like to know about the cost of living here, but if I missed anything, comment below or DM me on Instagram!