Thousands of people in Portugal have taken to the streets in the capital city of Lisbon and other cities across the country in protest against increasing rents and house prices at a time when high inflation is making it even tougher for people to make ends meet.

“There is a huge housing crisis today,” Rita Silva, from the Habita housing group, said at Lisbon’s Saturday protest, adding, “This is a social emergency.”

The figures released by Confidencial Imobiliario, which collects data on housing, show that rents in Lisbon, which is a tourist hotspot, have jumped 65 percent since 2015 and sale prices have sky-rocketed 137 percent during the same period.

According to another real estate data company, Casafari, rents increased 37 percent last year alone, more than current figures in Barcelona or Paris.


The situation is particularly hard on the young as a study conducted by housing portal, Imovirtual, showed the average rent for a one-bedroom flat in Lisbon is around 1,350 euros ($1,472).

The Socialist government announced last month a housing package that, among other measures, ended the controversial “Golden Visa” scheme and banned new licenses for Airbnb properties. Critics, however, say it is not enough to lower prices in the short term.

Low wages and high rents have made Lisbon the world’s third-least viable city to live in, according to a study by insurance brokers CIA Landlords. The country’s current 8.2 percent inflation rate has exacerbated the problem.

“With my salary, which is higher than the average salary in Lisbon, I cannot afford renting a flat because it’s too expensive,” said Nuncio Renzi, a sales executive from Italy living in the capital.

A year after Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa won a majority in parliament, he is facing street protests and strikes by teachers, doctors, railway workers, and other professionals.

Portugal is one of Western Europe’s poorest countries, with government data showing more than 50 percent of workers earned less than 1,000 euros ($1,084) per month last year. The monthly minimum wage is 760 euros.

Data released by Eurostat shows that the minimum wage in Portugal stood at $681 euros ($830) a month in 2023, making it the 12th lowest among the 15 European Union countries that have minimum wages. It compares with 726 euros ($791) in Poland, 775 euros ($845) in Greece or 798 euros ($870) in Spain. (