Cost of Living in Dublin vs. Lisbon for International Students: What to Expect

Which study destination is most affordable? Cost of Living in Dublin vs. Lisbon

Studying abroad provides life-changing experiences, new connections and appreciation for other cultures. A 2022 Institute of International Education report states 83% of international schools have seen rebounding study-abroad numbers for the 2022-2023 academic year. Naturally, two popular destinations — Dublin, Ireland and Lisbon, Portugal — are at the forefront of many students’ lists, but costs of living have some worried about affordability. Here’s what you can expect to pay when studying in Dublin or Lisbon.

Cost of Living in Dublin, Ireland

Ireland is stunning with its crumbling castles, endless views of land and sea and fun-filled cityscapes to keep students occupied between classes. It’s also one of the most expensive places in Europe, as the October 2022 Consumer Price Index shows a 9.2% year-over-year (YoY) increase — up from an 8.2% YoY in September 2022. Therefore, Dublin-bound students must assess their finances in advance.

Read so 10 reasons why you should study in Dublin, Ireland


Students must cover room and board when studying abroad. Nowadays, accommodations are enough to give anyone sticker shock. In Dublin, you can expect one-bedroom apartments to cost about €1,550 per month — roughly $1,600. Housing shortages and long waiting lists have driven rentals up, leaving many wondering if they can live and study in Dublin long-term. As such, housing should be the first expense you factor into your budget.

However, you can check the American College Dublin website for support if you study in Dublin, Ireland, with Beyond Abroad. They are experts and understand the difficulties in finding accommodation for international students. The student support considers several living options that provide multicultural social experiences, familiar comforts, independence, or anything in between, according to your needs and wishes. Moreover, they offer affordable prices, such as student accommodation in Dublin for €165 per week. 

Finding affordable accommodation in Dublin can be tricky, but ACD’s student support offers affordable prices, such as student accommodation for €165 per week

Food and Entertainment

Dublin’s pubs are a significant draw. Although still cheaper than a night out in New York City, you can expect to spend between $70 and $86 for dinner and beers for two — nearby towns might be about 10% cheaper than city eateries. Students should also consider entertainment expenses — two movie tickets may cost €27 or $28. Asking locals for recommendations is a great way to scope out affordable lunch spots and amenities. Of course, an apartment with a kitchen will help you save money by cooking at home.


Since you probably won’t have a car — unless you plan on staying in the country for an extended period — you will likely use public transportation while studying in Dublin. Typically, bus fares cost $6.40 for the day. A taxi ride around the city center should cost $14. While planning your trip, look into student discounts to help offset expenses. For example, students can get a 50% discount on public transportation with a Student Leap Card. There is even an app for greater convenience.

Find out How much it costs to study abroad in Mexico!

While planning trips, look into student discounts to help offset expenses (e.g., 50% discount on public transportation with a Student Leap)

Cost of Living in Lisbon, Portugal

Students on a tight budget might consider studying in Lisbon, Portugal. Whereas Dublin’s cost of living is exceptionally high, Lisbon is much more affordable in terms of housing, food and getting around. Perfect for language immersion, Lisbon has much to offer. Whether relaxing at the beach or strolling through the city, you may even call it your second home. Factor in these costs when considering studying abroad in Lisbon.

You might also be interested in 10 reasons to study in Portugal


Although Lisbon’s housing costs are up, they’re not nearly as expensive as Dublin’s. Apartments in Lisbon have increased, but you can save money by moving to a smaller unit. Some students might instead live in a dorm, in which you’ll have to account for university fees. Nevertheless, students who stay a full year will find Lisbon’s rents more reasonable than other European cities. Airbnb is a popular option in Portugal. There are many offers for month-long rental contracts for private rooms or 1-bedroom apartments. Moreover, we suggest checking out student facebook groups for Portugal. Many international students are looking for long-term accommodation or a roommate there.

In addition, you can get help from the European University, Beyond Abroad’s partner university in Lisbon. Even though they don’t offer on-campus accommodation for international students, you can check their website information for support!

Lisbon Portugal
Airbnb and Facebook groups are popular options to find affordable housing in Lisbon, Portugal

Food and Entertainment

The cost of eating out in Lisbon is also less than in Dublin. You can generally purchase lunch for $9 to $12, while dinner might cost about $35. Groceries should also run about $250 per month. Otherwise, Lisbon delivers affordable entertainment, from street musicians to outdoor markets and music festivals. Be sure to visit the stunning ceramic tile facades, a free activity worth the price of admission to one of Lisbon’s many museums.


Although hilly, Lisbon has excellent walkability. However, those seeking quicker transport can utilize city buses, taxis and trains. Buses cost about $2.25 per ride, while trams run about $3.50. A more cost-effective option might be the subway — day passes cost $8 and trains come through every six to nine minutes. Remember that Lisbon’s public transport system is busier during tourist seasons, so students should time their trips accordingly for class.

Dublin or Lisbon — How Deep Is Your Wallet?

Studying abroad is one adventure you will want to take advantage of during college. Think about the experiences and world perspectives you’ll gain that’ll carry you throughout your life. Of course, choosing between Dublin and Lisbon is difficult, as both places have rich histories and cultures. Examine your current funds and spending habits to determine whether or not you can afford the cost of living overseas. Investing right in your education is most conducive to securing your financial future.

Portugal Lisbon
Investing right in your education is most conducive to securing your financial future

Do you want to study abroad? Find out more about studying in Lisbon, Portugal or  Dublin, Ireland!

Beyond Abroad is a is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Latin America and Europe for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact usWe’ll get back to you as soon as possible.