A Digital Nomad's Dream

A Digital Nomad's Dream

April 2024
With a supportive work environment, affordable living costs, rich culture, and beautiful surroundings, Lisbon is a top choice for digital nomads.

Historic charm with modern conveniences? Yes, please! Lisbon is a city that seamlessly blends old and new, making it a delightful place to live and a productive setting for work.

Buzzing with cultural diversity, from the traditional sounds of Fado music to contemporary art galleries, the City of Seven Hills hosts a variety of festivals, concerts, and events all year round, offering residents countless opportunities for entertainment and enrichment.

Living as a digital nomad in Lisbon

While not the cheapest destination, Lisbon offers a relatively affordable cost of living, especially when compared to other Western European capitals. This affordability extends to housing, dining, and entertainment.

With a Mediterranean climate, its mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers make for pleasant weather year-round. It’s ideal for those who love to spend time outdoors, whether it's for leisure or finding a sunny spot for some outside work.

Living in Lisbon, you're never too far from stunning beaches and natural parks. Weekend getaways to the beach, surfing, and hiking are all easily accessible activities that will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Well-connected locally and internationally, the city’s airport offers direct flights to many European cities and some intercontinental destinations, making it an ideal base for digital nomads who love to travel.

Digital nomads often combine multiple streams of income, working on freelance projects, running their own businesses, or being employed by companies that support remote work.

The key is the ability to work independently, manage time effectively, and maintain productivity while on the move. Lisbon has a thriving community of coworking spaces, offering digital nomads plenty of options to find their ideal work environment.

The city's growing tech scene means there are numerous networking events, meetups, and workshops. These events are perfect for meeting like-minded people and professionals from various industries.

A global tech hub

Lisbon is rapidly transforming into Europe's Silicon Valley, offering a unique blend of affordability, quality of life, and a supportive ecosystem.

A conduit between European, North American, and South American tech ecosystems, the city is a key driver of global partnerships and opportunities. That’s why tech giants like Google, IKEA, Cisco, Unilever, and Volkswagen have established tech hubs in Lisbon.

Portuguese universities are producing a steady stream of highly skilled engineering and computer science graduates, many of whom are choosing to stay in Lisbon due to the exciting opportunities in tech. Plus, a growing pool of developers, designers, and digital marketers are being drawn by its charms. The city is a thriving ecosystem for startups, with government and private sector initiatives creating a supportive environment for new businesses. Incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces, along with programs like Startup Lisboa and Beta-i, provide mentorship, networking opportunities, and resources that are critical for growth. In addition, Lisbon hosts many international tech events, such as this year’s Web Summit where the biggest names in tech will meet in November. It’s set to attract thousands of entrepreneurs, and investors.

Venture capital firms and angel investors are taking a keen interest in Lisbon's tech market. This flow of finance is boosting the development of innovative projects and young companies.

There’s a strong sense of community among tech professionals, with meetups, workshops, and groups that encourage knowledge sharing and networking. Government support for tech innovation and digital transformation is adding fuel to the city's tech boom, by simplifying bureaucracy, improving digital infrastructure, and offering incentives to startups and investors.

There’s also an exciting focus on sustainability, and addressing environmental issues and societal challenges through fintech, healthtech, and greentech.

10 top tips for digital nomads

How to make a smooth transition to living in Lisbon and fully enjoy the unique experiences this vibrant city has to offer

  1. Secure Accommodation Early
    The housing market in Lisbon can be competitive, especially in popular neighbourhoods. Start your search early and consider using platforms dedicated to expats and digital nomads.
    Renting a short-term place (like an Airbnb or a serviced apartment) can give you the flexibility to explore different neighbourhoods before committing to a long-term lease.

  2. Choose Your Neighbourhood Wisely
    Lisbon's neighbourhoods vary greatly in vibe, convenience, and cost. Areas like Príncipe Real, Bairro Alto, and Alfama are popular for their central locations and lively atmosphere but can be pricier.
    If you prefer working from coworking spaces, consider living close to one. It saves time and improves your network-building opportunities.

  3. Be Prepared for Bureaucracy
    Portugal is known for its bureaucratic processes, including for residency, tax numbers (NIF), and opening a bank account. Getting familiar with the requirements and seeking advice from expat forums or a local service can streamline the process.

  4. Learn Some Portuguese
    While many people in Lisbon speak English, especially in the younger generation and service industry, knowing basic Portuguese can greatly enhance your experience and interactions with locals.
    Consider taking a Portuguese language course and using language learning apps, like Memrise and Drops to learn European Portuguese. Some coworking spaces and community centres offer language exchange meetups.

  5. Network and Integrate
    Engage with local and expat communities through social media groups, coworking spaces, and meetup events. Lisbon has a vibrant digital nomad and expat scene, offering plenty of opportunities to meet people and form connections.
    Keep an eye out for networking events, workshops, and seminars that can help you integrate into the local scene and offer professional growth opportunities.

  6. Manage Your Finances
    Plan your budget according to Lisbon's cost of living. While it's more affordable than many Western European capitals, prices in popular areas and for certain services can be high.
    Inform yourself about tax implications for digital nomads in Portugal. The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) programme offers tax advantages for qualifying individuals.

  7. Explore Beyond Lisbon
    Use Lisbon as a base to explore the rest of Portugal. The country offers diverse landscapes, from the beaches of Cascais and the Algarve, the beautiful mainland or island lakes to the vineyards of the Douro Valley, enriching your living experience.
  8. Embrace the Lifestyle
    Lisbon encourages a balanced lifestyle. Take advantage of the city's outdoor spaces, cafes, and cultural events to unwind and relax.

  9. Stay Legal
    Ensure you have the correct visa and understand the requirements for long-term residency if you plan to stay more than a few months. Portugal offers a variety of visas that might be suitable for digital nomads, including the D8 or the D7 for passive income earners.

  10. Healthcare
    Make sure you have comprehensive health insurance. While Portugal has a good public healthcare system, access to it may require residency or specific conditions to be met.

What you need to know about the digital nomad visa

Portugal offers a D8 Visa, or Digital Nomads Visa, for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers. It allows people who earn a stable income through remote work, to reside in the country.

To qualify, you must demonstrate a stable income of around €3,280 per month, and sufficient means to live in the country for at least one year. Proof of remote work, such as contracts or a letter from an employer, is required.

You’ll also need comprehensive health insurance, a clean criminal record from your country of origin and any other countries lived in during the past year. Applicants must provide proof of accommodation in Portugal, which can include a rental agreement or a property deed, and you will need a Portuguese NIF (Tax) number as well as a Portuguese bank account.

To start the process, submit a visa application at a Portuguese consulate or embassy in your home country. Apply for a residence permit upon arrival in Portugal to extend your stay. The D8 visa, known as the digital nomad visa, allows entry into Portugal for up to a year, with a temporary stay visa, or two years with a residence visa, typically renewable for another three-year period, after which you may exchange it for permanent residency or apply for citizenship.

It's important to stay informed about the latest requirements and seek legal advice as necessary, given that immigration policies can evolve.