It’s clear that making fat stacks of cash isn’t your goal if you have your eyes set on the volunteer teacher program in Portugal. You’re looking for an experience, maybe to get a small taste of what being an EFL Teacher might be like, have always wanted to go to Portugal, or perhaps you want to learn the language! It really is a fantastic opportunity, and the perfect amount of time to see and learn so much about this country!
Since you won’t be receiving an income during your three months here, I can give you an inside scoop on how much things cost, where my money goes, and an estimate of how much to save. What’s fantastic is that you won’t need to pay for rent and most likely transportation to and from school and most meals during the week are provided too! So if you’re a big time minimalist, and SERIOUS about cutting costs, then you could get through the three months with like $800, piece of cake.
Now let’s consider what you might want to spend money on while your here. Do you like to shop, eat out, travel, or have a life? Just kidding :) but if you don’t already know, once you’re in Europe it is insanely easy to get around! Want to go to Ireland? I spent less than $100 on flights round trip! I’d take advantage of that at least once while you’re here. Or if you don’t want to fly, take a train and bus to Spain for cheaper. Although it’s wonderful to travel, Portugal is so lively and beautiful that you could easily keep yourself busy staying put.
For me, being a somewhat cautious spender, I’ve spent around $2,000 and I have about four weeks left. That includes a coffee/eating out/groceries a few times week, exploring 5 European countries, added a few things to the wardrobe, and the occasional night out. This is also without budgeting. I tend to be pretty bad at planning and have just gotten in the habit of saving. So if that’s not you, definitely consider looking at how much you have, what’s important to you, and spend/save accordingly.
Things in Portugal aren’t SUPER expensive, but note that the euro is worth more than the U.S. dollar. Meaning, socks that 5 euros are actually something like 7 dollars. Here are some general prices for random things that you may or may not care about. A café (shot of espresso, the most common drink at coffee shops for the Portuguese) is around .70 euros. Hop on the bus without a bus pass for 2 euros. You can find a pretty heftylunch for around 10 euros. Fruit and veggies are CHEAP. I can find a bag of apples or carrots for around 1 euro. Try a glass of port (dessert wine and best drink ever) maybe 4 euros. If you go to a market with souvenirs, the cheapest thing I saw was a cute credit card holder (made of cork, one of Portugal’s biggest exports) for 3 euros. Do something touristy, like a castle tour, for around 10-15 euros. Staying at a hostel in Portugal will cost around 20 euros.
If keeping busy and needing SOME sort of income is important to you, it’ll take some digging but I’m sure you can find an opportunity do to so. Here are some things to consider. After getting to know your school and supervisor, talk to them about if it would be of help to offer tutoring services. Depending on your school, it may or may not be appropriate. If your host family has children that speak a little English, you could possibly babysit. Maybe the parents know someone that would appreciate a native English speaker tutoring or babysitting for them! Do you have freelance skills, like writing, programming, graphic design, etc? There are also a bunch of solid online platforms that allow you to teach English remotely too!
Overall, I think anyone with any type of budget can enjoy Portugal with this program. If I had to say, a safe minimum would be to have $1000 saved, that is if you’re a good planner. If you want to be able to indulge and not worry too much I’d say around $3,000/$4,000 would be plenty. At the end of the day you know yourself and your spending habits much better than I do, but hopefully this ballpark can sort of help you prepare for your time here!