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Portugal is the best country in the world for American expats to retire in. A Utah couple who moved there in 2012 gave us a breakdown of how they live on a $2,330 monthly budget.

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 16 Jan 2020


Tricia and Keith Pimental are from Park City, Utah. The couple retired in Portugal in 2012.Portugal was just named the best country to retire in by International Living's annual comprehensive guide to global retirement destinations curated by US expats.Tricia told Business Insider that their life in Portugal is "fabulous" but affordable.She shared a spending breakdown of a typical month with Business Insiderand their monthly budget comes in just over $2,330.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.In 2012, Tricia and Keith Pimental decided to give up their ski passes in Park City, Utah and try living abroad.They were both already semi-retiredshe as a writer and he as a money managerand were looking to embrace a more European lifestyle in their third act. They considered France and Spain, but ultimately decided on Portugal because of the lax vibe and easy accessibility it offered to an array of other countries, including the US.The Pimentals are not the only retirees to choose Portugal as a landing spot: International Living's Retirement Index, an annual comprehensive guide to global retirement destinations, just listed Portugal as the best place to retire this year.The index, which ranks countries "where you can live a healthier and happier life, spend a lot less money, and get a whole lot more" in retirement, was created through extensive surveys of US expats, the magazine said. The Pimentals are two such expatsthey've lived in several different parts of Portugal over the last seven years and now live in central Portugal.What's more, they do it on a monthly budget of just over $2,330.Tricia Pimental gave Business Insider an exclusive look at what a typical month in spending looks like for them. Keep reading for a breakdown of their budget.SEE ALSO:These are the top 10 countries to retire in this year, according to US expats who have already made the moveNOW READ:A Michigan couple who paid off their $200,000 mortgage in 4 years shares the exact budget sheet they used, and it accounts for every dollar of their monthly incomeTricia and Keith Pimental relocated from Park City, Utah, to Portugal in 2012.The decision came after they had considered living abroad for some time. Tricia told International Living that it was a natural choice because of "the overarching sense of well-being we experience here."Part of that well-being is financial: The couple lives comfortably for under $2,330 a month. Here's a look at their typical monthly spending.Note: Percentages in the following breakdown add up to less than 100% because some numbers are estimates.Rent for a three-bedroom home in central Portugal totals '750 ($830) a month, Tricia told Business Insider.Percentage of budget spent on housing:35.7%The couple lives between Castelo Branco and Fundao in central Portugal."I would say we live in a relatively local area, which brings the cost of housing down," Tricia said. She estimates that living in a waterfront property somewhere like Lisbon would raise this figure by 30-50%.They recommend going to Portugal (or any chosen country) on a "scouting trip" and staying in a few different short-term rentals before committing to a long-term rental or buying. In the seven years since moving to Portugal, they've lived in a couple of spots, including Mafra, which is just outside of Lisbon, where there is a more vibrant expat community.She estimated they spend '200 ($222) a month on utilities, including gas, electric, water, and internet.Percentage of budget spent on utilities: 9.5%The couple gets coverage for two cell phones, high speed internet, and cable for roughly 99 ($110), which is "much lower" than what the equivalent plan would be in the US, according to Tricia.Other household necessities, like gas, water, and electric also typically end up in the neighborhood of 100 ($111). While the prices vary from month to month, the approximate monthly breakdown looks like this:Water can be as low as 20 ($22)Gas will fall around 30 ($33)Electric costs around 45 ($50)She also estimated they spend '450 ($500) on groceries every month.Percentage of budget spent on groceries:21%"A lot of people consider it less expensive to eat out, but you can get tired of the Portuguese fare," Tricia said. Typical Portuguese cuisine involves a lot of fresh fish and seafood.She personally loves Italian food, among other comforts, and has no difficulty finding the ingredients necessary to make her favorite dishesbetween supermarkets, mom and pop shops, and farmers markets, she said the grocery shopping options are "just the same as anywhere else."Tricia tries to buy from markets "whenever the opportunity presents itself," which is often. She also noted this would be a good category to trim spending.At '100 ($111), their "entertainment" budget may seem low, but Tricia attributed that to affordable dining.Percentage of budget spent on entertainment: 4.7%The Pimentals spend around 100 on "entertainment," including going to the movies (dubbed in English with Portuguese subtitles), attending cultural events, and eating out. She said they would spend much more in this category in the US and attributes the change to the affordability of eating out."A nice glass of wine in an upscale restaurant is like 3," she explained. "It's unusual to spend more than 10 on a bottleyou can, of course, but it's not necessary."She also said if they go to "a really nice restaurant with a ton of food and appetizers" for dinner with four or five "good buddies who like their wine a lot," the bill comes out to roughly 20 ($22) per person.She also said that they allocate '50 ($56) for household help each month.Percentage of budget spent on household help:2.3%The 50 provides three hours of help cleaning their home, twice a month. This would be a good place to cut costs if looking to shave down the budget a little.While healthcare can be almost free within the Portuguese public system, the Pimentals said they spend an extra '100 ($111) on private coverage.Percentage of budget spent on healthcare:4.7%Residency cards allow them to use public healthcare without a problem, according to Tricia.She said they also pay 100 ($111) between the two of them for extra private coverage through Fidelidade involving dental, eye care, and coverage for serious health concerns like cancer, transplants, and open heart surgery.Overall, Tricia said, they feel comfortable with the quality and price of healthcareKeith was sick this week and the copay for a doctor's home visit was 10 ($11).Tricia estimated they spend '250 ($278) on transportation every month, mostly because they have a car.Percentage of budget spent on transportation:11.9%The Pimentals bought a Skoda last year because they like the freedom of being able to pop in a car and gothey're only 45 minutes from the Spanish border and they even drove to a wedding in Puglia, Italy recently.Tricia estimated that tolls and fuel for the month typically total 250 ($278). She did say, however, that they don't usually recommend bringing a car over from the US or buying a car in Portugal because of the added hassle and expense. She also noted that there are other accessible forms of transportation in larger city settings like Lisbon in Portugal.She also said they account for '200 ($222) in incidentals.Percentage of budget spent on incidentals:9.5%Unforeseen costs are to be expected anywhereincluding life abroad. The extra padding provides for a wide array of miscellaneous unanticipated purchases, according to Tricia.The month generally comes out to a grand total of '2,100 ($2,332).While she can't put a figure on the difference between life in Portugal and life in the US, Tricia said she knows she "spends less on everything, basically" as a retiree abroad.Do you have a similar story or budget you'd like to share with Business Insider' Get in touch with this reporter at tborden@businessinsider.com.
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