How to become a digital nomad in Portugal

digital nomad in Portugal
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Updated 2023-11-05 10:21

Geographically somewhat isolated from the rest of Europe, Portugal is a space of unique culture, traditions and architecture and home to some of Europe's most spectacular natural sights. Moreover, the country's illustrious history, welcoming people, and delicious food leave nobody indifferent.

Why move to Portugal?

No matter what special requirements you may have as a location-independent professional, it's hard to beat the combo of affordable living, beach life and great food that Portugal offers. With the temperatures rarely dropping below 10°C, Portugal is an all-year-round holiday destination and one of Europe's best surfing spots.

Cleverly mixing the quiet rhythm of rural life with urban amenities and a contemporary vibe, Portugal is a very attractive destination for digital nomads, offering a balanced environment for work and life. A good selection of coworking spaces, widespread use of English, and convenient location on the southwestern tip of Europe make the country an easy destination to stay in for the long term.

Visa requirement for digital nomads in Portugal

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA member state, you can work and live in Portugal without a visa or a work permit. However, if you plan to stay in the country for over six months, you will need to apply for a residence permit.

If you are a non-EU national, you will need both a work permit and a visa to live and work in Portugal. In most cases, to apply for a work permit in Portugal, you will need to first secure a job offer in the country. You can also apply for a work permit if you are married to a Portuguese citizen. After you've secured a work permit, you will need to apply for a work visa or a residence permit.

While working in the country as a digital nomad, you can apply for the Digital Nomad Visa, which allows holders to remain in Portugal for up to 1 year, while working remotely for a company based outside the country. Applicants need to present a freelance contract, as well as proof of all the income generated over the 3 months previous to the application. Please keep in mind that, in order to get the visa, your average monthly income must be at least four times the official minimum wage in the country (760€).

On the other hand, if you're looking into starting your very own business in Portugal, you may be eligible for a Startup Visa. This program welcomes foreign entrepreneurs looking to develop projects and grow them into innovative startups while attracting highly skilled professionals. In order to apply for the visa, entrepreneurs need to show proof of their intention to invest and create a business in Portugal.

The best cities to work remotely from in Portugal

Lisbon

Sitting on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon, Portugal's capital, is set along seven hills and offers breathtaking sea views from almost any point in the city. With its white buildings and narrow alleyways, the city creates an intimate environment paired with the laid-back, easy-going charm of the locals' relaxed lifestyle.

Those working remotely will appreciate the city's flavorful foodie scene complemented by a signature strong 'uma bica' (a cup of espresso), easy Wi-Fi access, and a nice selection of coworking spaces frequented by fellow nomads.

On the downside, renting listings may be quite limited in popular areas. Plus, rent prices are high! In fact, news outlets have recently highlighted Lisbon as the single most expensive city in Europe to rent a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center (2,500€/month), surpassing the likes of Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin or Milan. Unfortunately, things aren't looking any better outside the downtown area, where prices for renting a studio have risen 70% in a year, and a modest bedroom in a shared apartment can currently set you back 525€/month (a 30% increase from 2022). Furthermore, and looking at the entire city, new leasing contracts signed in the first quarter of 2023 have shown that rent prices have gone up 23% since the same period of 2022, reaching an average of 1,480€/month.

Regarding property prices, a study from the real estate platform CASAFARI, which compared real estate prices across different southern European cities in the first quarter of 2023, has shown that Lisbon's average price per square meter in the city center was sitting at 5,149€, with the last few months aggravating this stat. According to Portuguese real estate website Idealista, that same square meter rate had risen to 6,000€ in July 2023.

Because of the effect of tourism on property prices and the arrival of digital nomads in the tens of thousands over the past couple of years, public opinion stands largely against them, constantly regarding them as scapegoats for the capital's unprecedented housing crisis.

Porto

As an alternative, Porto, Portugal's second city, is a busy commercial center that has managed to preserve its slow-paced lifestyle through hidden street markets, retro cafes and old bohemian spirit. You can sit down for a working session at any of the city's many coffee shops, and the only danger to watch out for is the famous Port Wine – the city's signature export. Be that as it may, renting prices in Porto are also the highest they've ever been, and you'll rarely find any locals living nowhere near the downtown area. Still, for visitors coming from Western Europe, North America or Scandinavia, chances are they will still find the city affordable compared to what they're used to back at home.

Finally, there is a new wave of digital nomads and expats choosing to live in the countryside. This is especially relevant in the Alentejo or in the Centro region, which, as the name suggests, is smacked right in the middle of the country. On the one side, you'll be perfectly able to mingle with the locals and enjoy a low cost of living in a more authentic setting. However, there's not much going on in smaller towns, so you'll probably find yourself bored quite easily. Plus, since Portugal is a highly concentrated country, all economic, cultural or financial opportunities can be found in either Lisbon or Porto, so most young people live there. Unfortunately, this can also lead to a shortage of essential services, such as medical or childcare, in more isolated villages.

Internet speeds and coworking spaces in Portugal

Portugal has a modern and solid telecommunications infrastructure that is supported by many internet service providers. In general, these offer high-speed internet.

According to a 2022 report from the OECD, Portugal boasts the 11th fastest internet speed in the organization, with an average Wi-Fi download speed of 116 Mbps. As for mobile data, average speeds stand at 64 Mpbs, still on the top half of the board. Wi-Fi is available in most of the typical locations, such as restaurants and coffee shops, hotels, and public areas. If you want to work from more remote locations, a good option is to get a prepaid 4G or 5G SIM card to have a Wi-Fi hotspot with you at all times. When it comes to mobile internet speeds, Portugal ranks 49th in the world.

It's also worth noting providers usually offer discounts if you take out more than one service with them (TV Wi-Fi internet mobile phone). If you end up subscribing to a package, keep in mind prices in Portugal are lower the longer you commit to a contract. For example, if you sign a 24-month contract with a provider, your monthly fee will be much smaller than it would be if you had signed an agreement on a month-by-month basis. Furthermore, by signing a long-term deal, providers also waive installation fees and usually offer other parks, like streaming subscriptions or premium sports channels, for a couple of months.

Working remotely in Portugal is easy, especially in Lisbon and other bigger cities. There are hundreds of friendly coffee houses and comfy lounges with stable Wi-Fi connectivity and accessible electrical sockets. You will have a choice between familiar international chains and local Portuguese cafes.

Coworking spaces in Lisbon

Avila Spaces

Praça Duque de Saldanha 1 2ºandar, 1050-094 Lisboa

IDEA Spaces - Palácio Sottomayor

Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo 16, 1050-121 Lisboa

Unicorn Workspaces Marquês

R. Filipe Folque 2, 1050-210 Lisboa

Resvés Cowork Space

R. Saraiva de Carvalho 1C, 1250-240 Lisboa

Heden Santa Apolónia

Doca Jardim do Tabaco, Terminal de Cruzeiros de Lisboa - Edifício NE 1st floor, 1100-651 Lisboa

Coworking spaces in Porto

Workin Porto

Via do Castelo do Queijo 395 Piso 2, Loja 22 e 23, 4100-429 Porto

Selina Navis Coworking

R. de José Falcão 199, 4050-215 Porto

Almada Ponto - Bistrô, Cowork

Rua do Almada 544, 4050-034 Porto

Typographia Cowork

Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 144 A, 4050-368 Porto

CRU Creative Hub

Rua do Rosário 211, 4050-524 Porto

Leisure in Portugal

Located in the southwestern corner of Europe, Portugal stands as not only a digital nomad's dream but also a paradise for leisure seekers. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, vibrant culture and welcoming atmosphere, there's plenty to see and do in the country.

For starters, Portugal is famous for its stunning beaches that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean. (The Algarve, in particular, boasts some of the most breathtaking coastlines in Europe). From the dramatic cliffs of Ponta da Piedade to the golden sands of Praia da Rocha, you'll find a wide variety of coastal landscapes to explore.

Along with the fantastic coastline, Portugal's historic cities are a must for history buffs. In Lisbon, you can stroll through the narrow, winding streets of Alfama, visit the historic Belém Tower and explore the Bairro Alto district, known for its nightlife and Fado music. As for Porto, nothing beats a stroll through the colorful Ribeira district and the famous wine cellars on the opposite banks of the Douro River. Also, don't forget to explore the enchanting town of Sintra, with its fairytale palaces and lush gardens.

However, many would argue some of Portugal's most beautiful places are hardly ever visited by the hordes of tourists that pack Lisbon every single day. Places such as the wonderful walled city of Óbidos, the sleepy village of Monsanto or the hidden town of Piódão, where pretty much every single building is made of shale stone. As you can see, there are lots of different places to visit to keep you busy… and we have barely scratched the surface!

For nature enthusiasts, Portugal offers an abundance of natural beauty. Known for their lush landscapes, the Azores and Madeira archipelagos stand out as bucket-list destinations for thrill seekers, while the Peneda-Gerês National Park in mainland Portugal leaves visitors in awe with its pristine lakes and mountain trails. As a seaside alternative, the Rota Vicentina along the southwestern coast offers a long-distance hiking route with stunning ocean views.

Last but certainly not least, one must sing the Portuguese cuisine its praises. Fresh seafood is a highlight, with dishes like grilled sardines and bacalhau (salted codfish) among local favorites. Sample pastéis de nata (egg custard tarts) with a bica (espresso) at a local café, and indulge in hearty stews like “cozido à portuguesa”. Pair your meals with Portuguese wines – including the renowned Port wine and Vinho Verde – and you can call it a meal!

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