What It’s Like Living In Setúbal, Portugal, As An Expat

Living in Setúbal means easy access to the most beautiful beaches with the capital city on your doorstep. Want to find out more? Read on

Living in Setúbal can be a great option if you want to live surrounded by nature in a quieter city with great quality of life and a bit cheaper than Lisbon.

In this guide, we will tell you what life in Setúbal is like for expats, the best neighborhoods, the cost of living, and what this beautiful city has to offer to its residents.

Is Setúbal a nice place to live?

Living in Setúbal is to enjoy the countryside and the quality of life it offers. The city has over 120,000 inhabitants and an area of 170 km². It is surrounded by nature reserves and beautiful beaches and lies on the northern bank of the Sado River estuary.

The weather is fairly similar to Lisbon, with above-average temperatures year-round and just a few rainy days per season.

The town centre is small, charming, and picturesque with a beach feel to it, with moored fishing boats, restaurants serving fresh fish, and the Municipal Market – Mercado do Livramento – with local producers selling fresh fruits, vegetables and fish along with all those wonderful typical produces you can only find here.

Geographically privileged, the city of Setúbal is tucked into the Arrábida Hills and bathed by the river Sado and the Atlantic Ocean. To complete a picture worthy of a postcard, Setúbal faces Tróia Peninsula, a sandy beach of crystalline waters perfect for a walk on sunny and warm days.

As for the cost of living, it is lower compared to the centre of other cities in Portugal such as Lisbon and Porto.

Is Setúbal well-connected?

Setúbal is 48 km away from Lisbon, which means it will take you approximately 35 minutes by car to make the journey.

If you go to Lisbon by bus it is about 45-50 minutes. A train journey takes approximately the same time.

Setúbal is not a huge city, the train station is about a 15-minute walk from the city centre. It means it can take you under 2 hours to get to the largest city in the country.

From Lisbon, you can pretty much travel the whole world. So, yes, we can say that Setúbal is quite well-connected.

Amenities in Setúbal

Setúbal has an excellent infrastructure with hospitals and health centres, several schools from pre-school to high school, polytechnic institutions, banks, small and large companies, and a very attractive shopping and commercial area.

Healthcare

Once you get your residency card, all you need to do is register at the health centre closest to your home to obtain the user number, with which you can have access to Portugal's healthcare system.

You can find out more about residency options and how to apply, healthcare in Portugal and registering with a doctor, in our Living In Portugal As An Expat guide.

According to the municipal authorities, there are 4 hospitals (public and private), 2 public health centres and 30 pharmacies in Setúbal.

Private health insurance in Portugal is affordable with plans starting around €40 per person, giving you access to private hospitals and clinics.

Some expats do prefer to have an international health cover. International health insurance can be quite expensive. To make sure you get the best value for money, compare international health insurance options from various providers to find the best deal. 

Is Setubal a good place to retire?

Setúbal has everything one can only want from a perfect retirement destination.

It's well-connected so bringing your grandchildren for a visit won't be a problem.

It has decent healthcare for your retirement needs, all the amenities and shopping you need for a comfortable life, beautiful beaches and nature to enjoy, and is a very pretty and lovely place to show to your family and friends when they come to visit.

The town itself is full of charm and there are plenty of café and restaurant options for food and wine lovers to enjoy.

The pace of daily life is much calmer and far from the stressful routines of Lisbon.

Here you get to enjoy morning walks to the local market to buy fresh fruit and veggies, have your morning coffee for less a €1,00, and say good morning to your neighbours or local merchants as you stroll the cobbled streets of the picturesque centre of the city. 

Things to do in Setúbal

After a long day at the beach, why not hang out at Casa da Baia Cultural Centre. The centre has been renovated to create a multipurpose cultural space. There you’ll find an indoor café lounge restaurant, a wine shop full of delicious regional wines, archaeological finds and a tourist information desk.

Outside, there’s a large outdoor patio dedicated to beautiful bays around the world, Sado Estuary being one of them.

The Historic Centre of Setúbal has fascinating places like the Convent of Jesus, the Cathedral of Santa Maria da Graça and the simple Church of São Julião.

What really stands out in the city are the beaches, such as Figueirinha, Galapinhos and Coelhos beach, which highlight all the natural beauty of the region.

Looking for a nice day out? Take a boat from the port of Setúbal and visit the Sado Estuary, a natural reserve where you can see various sea birds including flamingos, and enjoy a bit of dolphin spotting.

Sado Estuary is a wonderful place to go for a walk and in the protected natural reserve it is possible to see dolphins, storks, flamingos and ducks. Horse or canoe rides are also possible.

One of the most beautiful places in Setúbal is Comporta. It's a village well-known for its local architectural and design style and for being a very artistic place.

Comporta has become a notable design centre and home to a community of famous designers and artists, including fashion designer Christian Louboutin, architect Philippe Stark, designer Pierre Yavonovitch, painter Jason Martin, actress Monica Bellucci and Andrea and Charlotte Casiraghi, members of the Royal Family of Monaco, amongst others.

The easiest way to get from Setúbal to Comporta is to take the 8148 bus, which costs €4 – €6 and takes 20 min.

Are you in love with nature and wildlife? Just 12 kilometres from the city centre is the Serra da Arrábida, an incredible place to go hiking and enjoy the views and serene natural surroundings.

You can take a short drive along the narrow winding roads just east of Setúbal to have a day out on one of the most stunning beaches in Portugal – Portinho da Arrabida. The cove here is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful in the country.

Is Setúbal safe?

Setúbal is a safe town where you can enjoy a quiet lifestyle.

The crime levels are low, however, like in any other place you need to be sensible. Take the usual precautions, especially at night time in the centre. Don't leave your possessions unattended and don't risk dark alleyways in the unknown neighborhoods when you are alone.

The cost of living in Setúbal

A couple can live on around €2500 a month in Setúbal, depending on the lifestyle. It is far less costly than living in Lisbon, Cascais or Estoril.

The Forte de Sao Filipe in Setubal and Troia city on the peninsula.

Renting an apartment in Portugal will always have a primary weight on your personal budget. However, rental prices in Setúbal are up to 50% cheaper than in Lisbon.

A furnished two-bedroom apartment in the city centre can be found for around €650 and up to €2750, depending on the area, the size and whether it is a house or an apartment.

Add €125 for utilities, electricity, water, and internet. Mobile phone packages can be found for €60 and up.

While considering renting a property, take a look at the guide “Renting A Property In Portugal”, which will help you understand the process you need to go through.

Transportation costs could run around €200 with a car or a monthly pass for public transport in the metropolitan area of Lisbon for €40.

Dining out varies a great deal by frequency and type of restaurant you choose; therefore, I would advise you to plan of spending around €450 and up per month or if you prefer to cook, you’ll be spending around €250.

Property prices in Setúbal

If you are looking to buy in Setúbal, the prices can range from €230.000 if you are looking for a T2 (2-bed) apartment and €3.500.000 for a T5 (5-bed) house with 416 m2. You can find more information on purchasing a property here and how to do it safely in our guide on Buying A Property In Portugal As An Expat.

The pros and cons of living in Setúbal

The pros:

  • Setubal is only a 40-50 minute drive away from Lisbon.
  • You will find some of the best beaches in the country.
  • Setúbal has affordable prices, from housing to transportation.
  • The town is walkable. It's mostly flat and a pleasure to walk around or bike.
  • The transport links are good, so it's quite possible to live without a car here.

The cons:

  • Beaches in Setúbal can get incredibly crowded in the summer months.
  • Traffic to Lisbon can be rough if you work early mornings in the capital.
  • If you enjoy a metropolitan lifestyle, Setúbal will not be a good option for you.

The best areas to live in Setúbal

It's not a big city, so your options when it comes to choosing where exactly in Setúbal to live are pretty limited. Below you’ll find a few considerations on some of the neighborhoods:

Living in Setubal
Driving to the Serra da Arrabída
  • Monte Belo: one of the most valued regions of the city, the neighborhood is entirely gentrified and has an attractive variety of shops, commerce and leisure options.
  • Bonfim: It is a residential area with good a good shopping area and easy access to public transport.
  • Saboaria: this is a region with great options for restaurants and beaches.
  • Salgado: It has plenty of clinics and hospitals, has many buildings, and a bus station that gives access to most transports to Lisbon.
  • Terroa: It is the area closer to the sea, where you can find more reasonably priced housing options.
  • The Historic Centre: It is the most central location, where there are options of recently renovated properties, a great supply of restaurants, and easy access to transport.

Final Thoughts On Living In Setúbal

If you are moving to Portugal, Setúbal is definitely worth consideration, mainly because it is outside the busy capital, but, at the same time, very close to it. So, you can enjoy a higher quality of life and a slightly lower cost of living than in Lisbon.

Setúbal is a bit of paradise. The beaches are beautiful, and between us, there is nothing more rewarding than being surrounded by nature.

You might find useful:

  • Living in Portugal – The Expats’ Guide – the benefits and drawbacks of living in Portugal, visa options, residency, the cost of living, healthcare, taxes and more;
  • Best Places To Live In Portugal – a detailed overview of the most popular Portugal locations for expats starting from the southern region of the Algarve and its towns and going up North all the way to Porto.
  • Didn’t find what you were looking for or need further advice? Comment with your question below and we will do our best to help.
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Joana Torres Fernandes

Joana is an enthusiast about improving people’s lives with their relocation to her beautiful and beloved country, Portugal, helping expats navigate through the bureaucracy for a smoother life-changing experience. This is why she is a Partner at L.V.P. Advogados, a law firm based in trendy Lisbon, and she is specialised and highly experienced in Immigration. She aims for a trustful, exclusive, and efficient relationship with the individual and family cases she embraces.

Joana loves her dog Balu, really enjoys travelling and trying out new décor ideas.

For help and advice contact Joana here: Enquiry

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