When it comes to looking at the cost of living in Madeira there are plenty of different things to consider…

It also depends if you’re an individual (maybe a digital nomad) who is coming to Madeira to work, hike, and explore the island or if you’re a family planning to completely relocate here. 

Essentially there’s a big difference, especially in rent between short and long-term stays.

Since accommodation is one of the most expensive parts of travel that does play a big part in how much your monthly expenses are going to be.

We have some tips and tricks to help with that though to try and find some good deals on accommodation further down in this post.

We’ll look at it from a solo traveller (digital nomad) perspective. Then you can get a rough idea of how much things are going to cost.

In most cases, it’s usually always cheaper if you’re a couple or multiple people sharing a space.

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What is the cost of living in Madeira per month like?

🏡 Rent: €1200-€2500 a month (for nomads in Funchal)
📱 Phone bill: €20 for Vodaphone (or 30 GB for $19 USD through Airalo eSIM)
✈️ Travel Insurance: $56 USD a month through SafetyWing
🌯 Food & drink at a restaurant: €20 (per person)
🚌 Transportation: €2-4 per ticket (roughly €40/month)
🛍 Groceries: €320
🚘 Renting a car: €30+ per day
👩🏼‍💻 Coworking space: €130
🎾 Activities: €150 (if you do a lot of guided tours)

Total: €2000 and up!

In this blog post, we’re going to dive into each and every bullet point. It will give you a clearer idea of the true cost of living in Madeira (for digital nomads).

There are so many things that factor into the cost of living in Madeira…

For example, living in the capital city of Funchal is going to be more expensive than living in say Santana or some other smaller cities and towns around the island.

If you’re a digital nomad or remote worker planning to spend a month or two in Madeira this post will hopefully give you an idea of what things cost and how much you can expect to pay. 

One major thing to consider is that things like rent are always going to be more expensive the first time you go somewhere and if you only plan to stay for let’s say 1 month.

Once you get to know some locals or expats, you may be able to get a better deal on renting an apartment. 

The one downside to living in Madeira as a digital nomad is that rent can be fairly expensive. Renting your own flat in Funchal isn’t that cheap.

The good thing is that there are plenty of options so you don’t have to pay the premium if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper.

Everything else (food, activities, coworking space, etc.) is quite affordable and cheaper than in the USA and Western Europe.

Renting an apartment in Madeira

PC: Flatio

Before we dive into renting an apartment both short-term and long-term in Madeira, let’s look at the different options where you can compare prices and see what’s available:

These are the platforms we typically look at before booking our accommodation:

  • Booking.com (great for short-term stays, sometimes has long-term deals)
  • Airbnb (short and long-term stays)
  • Flatio (great long-term deals for nomads)
  • Facebook (good for long-term stays, often from locals)
  • Slack (great way to find co-living with other nomads)

The thing about Madeira is that it’s becoming a digital nomad hotspot 🔥.

At the same time tourism also continues to grow here on the island. Digital nomads + tourists + small island = lack of housing and expensive rent. 

However, this all depends on where on the island you want to stay. Funchal is where most expats live followed by Ponta do Sol.

Funchal is, in our opinion, the easiest place to live if you’re looking for activities, nightlife, and easy access to the rest of Madeira.

Therefore most people want to stay in Funchal which makes the rent is more expensive. 

On the other hand, if you want to live more remotely you can find cheaper rentals in more remote parts of the island. 

Check out areas such as Santana, Machico, Porto da Cruz, and Porto Moniz.

Lastly, we want to mention that the price of $1200-$2500 we mentioned at the beginning of the post is per apartment.

In the past, we’ve found apartments for $1800 a month that have two bedrooms. You split that with a friend or another nomad and you’re paying $900 a month with everything included right in Funchal.

So if there are two or more of you then it will obviously be cheaper per person.

The best option if you’re planning to stay in Madeira for a while is to book a month or so through one of the sites we recommended above. 

Then once you’re actually in Madeira you can network and meet other expats and hopefully find somewhere cheaper if you plan to stay longer.

Once you can avoid using those platforms with crazy fees and rent directly through a local it gets a lot cheaper.

Even though renting a place in Madeira can be expensive there are plenty of ways to make it affordable. Start Up Madeira also sees the expensive housing as a problem and are working on ways to make it cheaper…

They’re doing their best to create coliving houses. Plus they are trying to find other ways to make it more affordable for remote workers and digital nomads to come and live in Madeira.

SIM cards in Madeira

If you’re coming from anywhere in the EU then your phone plan very likely works in Madeira so that’s something you won’t have to worry about!

These days, most European phone plans work in all of Europe. Since Madeira is a Portuguese island which is a part of Europe your European phone plan should work in Madeira as well. Simple as that.

For anyone else, we’d recommend buying a Portuguese SIM card or an e-SIM for Europe/Portugal.

You can go to any shopping mall and you’ll find Vodafone, CTT, NOS, or MEO and they will have pre-paid sim cards or even short-term plans you can jump on. There’s also a Vodaphone at the airport on most days (depending on what time of day you land).

A pre-paid SIM in Madeira shouldn’t cost you more than €20-€25 a month. And for that, you should get around 10 GB of data, 500 minutes/texts in Portugal + 30 minutes/texts out of the country.

They will help you swap the SIM cards and get it all set up for you if you don’t want to deal with an e-SIM. We, however, recommend an e-SIM 100% of the time!

It took us way too long to jump on this one and I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner.

You can get an eSIM for Portugal through Airalo which is the world’s first eSIM store that gives travellers access to eSIMs (digital SIM cards) all around the world.

The cost of an eSIM in Portugal starts at $4.50 USD for 1GB for 7 days or $19 USD for 30GB that lasts you 15 days.

There are almost 10 plans available for Portugal so you can read more about Airalo and see their plans here.

PS: You can also get regional plans that cover multiple countries around Europe. These are a bit more pricey but very convenient!

Travel Insurance while you’re abroad

One of the myths about travelling that we’d like to bust is how expensive travel insurance is.

You can get a digital nomad travel insurance for just $56 a month. That’s less than $2 a day to protect you and your things during your travels.

We have a post that compares two different nomad insurances and what’s included in each of them (but we can reveal to you here that we recommend SafetyWing 😉).

Through SafetyWing it’s so simple to sign up. You make an account and decide on your payment plan. No need to stay on the phone or go anywhere in person to get the insurance.

We know travel insurance isn’t cool to talk about but it’s something we all should have and for $56 a month, getting a digital nomad insurance is a no-brainer. 

Food and drink prices at restaurants in Madeira

The thing about Madeira is you can have both extremes for almost anything.

You can go to local cafes and get a cappuccino for €1.5 or go to a coffee shop and pay €4+ for a delicious, specialty roasted coffee. 

The same thing goes for food in Madeira. In Funchal, you can go to a small local place and pay €5-12 for some food and a drink.

But then you can also go across the street to a fancier place and pay over €25 for food and a drink.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you go out of the center of Funchal to the less touristy places the prices are lower for everything.

As soon as you leave the touristy areas, you will find much more local places and prices.

Overall, the prices of food do vary a lot depending on where you go and what type of food you want.

We hope this will at least give you an idea of what it’s like to go out in Funchal and Madeira.

Meal and drink at an inexpensive cafe: €5-12
Meal and drink at a more expensive restaurant: €25 and up
Cheap coffee and pastry at a local cafe: €3
Coffee and pastry at a specialty cafe: €8
Beer at a restaurant or pub: €2-€4

Check out this list of cafes in Funchal which highlights some of our favourite places.

Most of these are places with specialty coffee so they are a bit more high-end than the small local shops.

Coming from Canada and Denmark we still think it’s a really good price and that you get good value for the quality of coffee you get.

Transportation around Madeira

Stunning viewpoint overlooking the city of Funchal in Madeira.
Viewpoint overlooking Funchal and the ocean

Need a car for your trip?

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One nice thing about Madeira is that you can get to most places by public transport.

I’ll be honest and say that renting a car in Madeira is more convenient but buses are actually pretty convenient to take around the island if you don’t mind public transport.

You can get to most places via public transport and the prices around Madeira are very affordable.

In Funchal, a one-way ticket to anywhere in the city will cost you about €2.

If you’re staying in the center of Funchal, however, you should be able to walk almost everywhere and only need public transport for day trips to other parts of the island.

The downside of public transport in Madeira is that it can be a little confusing at times as there are three main companies that get you around the island. 

Also, the timetables often only show certain stations so it’s a bit of a guessing game to figure out exactly when the bus will be at the stop where you get on.

The three bus companies in Madeira are:

The cost of bus tickets in Madeira:

  • Bus ticket around Funchal (1 hour): Roughly €2
  • Bus ticket from Funchal to the other side of the island: €4 

You can also use Bolt (or take a taxi) in Madeira.

If you’re a group of 2-4 people and depending on how far you’re going then taking a Bolt can be cheaper than taking the bus.

By yourself, the bus is going to be cheaper at all times.

In the city, buses run very often, so that’s easy. But if you’re planning on going on one of the many beautiful hikes in Madeira it just requires a little planning on your part to go by public transport!

Cost of groceries in Madeira

Talking about the cost of groceries in Madeira and trying to compare it to other places is challenging.

What we’ve found (and I’m sure maybe you have as well) is that the more local type of food you buy, the cheaper your groceries are going to cost.

The main difference in Madeira is that the quality of the fruit and vegetables is 100 times better than anywhere else we’ve been (it’s so fresh)!

This was actually one of the things we love the most about Madeira is how fresh and local a lot of the food is!

We ate so many fruits and vegetables while we were there from avocados to anonas to English tomatoes and small Madeiran bananas. They are all so good!

Pricewise it’s not like you save a bunch of money on fruit and vegetables compared to other places in Europe but you’re getting a lot better quality and maybe a little bit cheaper. 

Sometimes you will see good deals when certain items are high in stock or a certain fruit is in season.

The best way to look at it is that you’re probably going to spend roughly the same amount as you would on groceries anywhere else in (western) Europe if you do similar shopping.

Random things will be more expensive and random things will be cheaper (hello Portuguese wine!).

You can see a chart here with how much different grocery store items cost in Madeira.

Pingo Doce is a big grocery store chain in Madeira and here you can see the products and prices of everything at Pingo Doce. 

Renting a car in Madeira

Winding road in Madeira

You can very easily rent a car in Funchal or at Madeira Airport – and the more long-term you rent the cheaper it will be per day.

As you may have noticed by now, a lot of things are seasonal in Madeira and so is the price of car rentals.

The price varies depending on what time of year you come as Madeira gets very touristy, especially in August and September which drives the prices up like crazy. 

It also means during the quieter months cars can be a bit cheaper so maybe try and plan your trip around the less busy months! 😉

You can read about renting a car in Madeira here where we share everything you need to know about it.

If you’re in Madeira for a few months like us, we recommend renting a car in Madeira once you’re actually there and get a feel for public transport and how often you actually think you’ll need the car.

If you’re only going for a week or two and want to explore the whole island, then pre-book a rental car before you go to have that part sorted.

Living in Funchal we found that it was best to rent a car for 1-2 days at a time (maybe over the weekend) to go explore different parts of the island.

We stayed in the old town of Funchal and parking was next to impossible in the city (and expensive).

Renting a car for a day from Funchal: €30-€100 (Yup, the price-per-day fluctuation is crazy)

Picture of a car rental from Madeira Airport in Portugal.

Coworking Spaces in Madeira

If you’re moving to Madeira as a digital nomad, you’re probably going to want somewhere to work from.

One of the main reasons Madeira has been blowing up as a digital nomad hotspot is because of places like Cowork Funchal, Sangha Cowork Funchal, and the coworking community in Ponta do Sol. 

We spent two months at Cowork Funchal and absolutely loved it.

It’s affordable, conveniently located in Funchal, and a great place to make friends and connections in the digital nomad scene in Madeira.

Coworking Funchal monthly membership: €130
Sangha Cowork Funchal: €150
Coworking Ponta do Sol: Free for now (incentive to bring people to Ponta do Sol)

Different Activities to do around Madeira

Make the most of your trip to Madeira with these activities

  • Join this Guided Tour and be amazed by the majesty of the Madeira peaks
  • Experience the natural magic of the Enchanted Terraces on this Guided Tour

❗️ Use Tiqets promo code ‘RWADVENTURES5’, which offers a 5% discount on all products (except City Passes) until December 31, 2024.

There are so many things to do in Madeira and you can literally spend months here without being bored!

Another thing we love about it here is that lots of the activities to do around the island are basically free.

Some of our favourite things to do in Madeira are hiking, biking, going to the beach, and even working out outdoors.

There are lots of other things to do in Funchal like playing tennis, paddle tennis, golf, going to the movies, eating lots of good food, and so much more!

In general, we found that activities and sports are cheaper to do than in Western Europe as salaries and wages are a lot lower in Portugal for locals which means prices for those sort of activities is cheaper.

It really depends on what you like to do but we actually didn’t spend too much money on activities while we were in Madeira since we were always hiking, hanging out by the beach, or even working out at the free outdoor gyms.

Paddle tennis for an hour: €14 for the full court
Movie theatre ticket: €7-9 per person
3 hour Dolphin and whale watching tour: €35 per person (book the boat tour here)
Madeira One-Day West Coast tour: €45 per person (book the day trip here)
Drop in 70-minute yoga session: €12

Other related questions to the cost of living in Madeira

Is it expensive to live in Madeira?

Madeira in general isn’t an expensive place to live. Housing, transport, and food are quite affordable for expats staying in Madeira long term.

On the other hand, if you’re staying in Madeira short term (less than 6 months) then housing and renting cars can be quite expensive.

There’s also a big price difference depending on where on the island you live. Funchal, the capital, is by far one of the more expensive places to stay.

Where do most expats live in Madeira?

There are two main places expats and digital nomads live in Madeira. The first is Funchal since it’s the capital city of Madeira and has basically everything you need.

The second city is Ponta Do Sol which has become quite a popular small city for digital nomads in Madeira over the past three to four years.

This is due to a government-funded program called “Digital Nomads Madeira Island” which is really successful!

Is Madeira a nice place to live?

Madeira is an amazing place to live! The island life of Madeira has everything you need and the lifestyle is very relaxed, outdoorsy, and healthy with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The island of Madeira is also very safe and great for families, digital nomads, and expats. 

Recap of the cost of living in Madeira

We hope you found this guide to the cost of living in Madeira helpful.

Of course, the monthly expenses are going to be different for everyone depending on how they travel, if they are a couple who splits the cost of a rental apartment, and where on the island you decide to stay.

The cost of living in Madeira is also going to be totally different for someone who’s staying here more long term (+6 months) compared to someone who’s renting short term (a week to a few months). 

We hope this guide gives you a rough estimate of how expensive Madeira is when it comes to accommodation, car rental, food, and activities.

We think Madeira is quite affordable once you can get a more long-term apartment that isn’t catered to tourists.

Restaurants, gyms, and sports are all affordable here on the island and of course the hiking and all that is basically free besides the transport that gets you there. 

And of course, everything can be done on a budget so if you really want to visit Madeira but don’t have a big travel budget, you can still make it work!

Madeira is an amazing place to live. If you’re looking for a good work-life balance then Madeira is great!

You’re never far from anything and as soon as you’re done working there’s always somewhere on the island to explore. 

For anything Madeira related feel free to reach us and DM us on Instagram @redwhiteadventures or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

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