Portugal for Digital Nomads: The Definitive Guide 2021

Originally published at: Portugal for Digital Nomads: The Definitive Guide 2021

There is something magical in this European country. A vast diversity of landscapes, sandy beaches, lush mountains, and vibrant cities are all the eyes from a distance range. Imagine how pleasant it would be to call Portugal your second home! Well, many digital nomads throughout the EU and across the globe have already chosen this country as their workplace. 

So, if you are a digital nomad too, who still can’t figure out which is the ideal country to work from, ‘Portugal’ is your answer. 

Portugal is a safe and expat-friendly nation and has become one of the most preferred destinations for digital nomads. It offers everything that a person seeks while working in a foreign country. Good internet connection, close to nature, curious and delicious food, lovely weather, exciting culture, and cheap rent! 

Therefore, we’ve prepared this definitive guide where you will know everything you need before moving abroad. For instance, places to live and work, how are the banking and transportation system and every other query you have..! 

So, without any delay, let’s dive into the details.

Places to Live: Accommodation in Portugal

Undoubtedly, finding accommodation is the greatest challenge that digital nomads face. To find a place in Portugal, you need to decide whether you require a villa, one-room set, two-room set, or Airbnb. Besides, the type of accommodation you choose further depends on whether you are moving alone or with your family. In addition, you must consider one more factor: the location you choose and the availability of a house.

Since you are a digital nomad, the two best types of accommodation are Airbnb and DigitalNomads.pt. Let’s have a look at them in detail.

Airbnb

With Portugal becoming one of the significant startup hubs of Europe, Airbnb has come across as the most relevant for remote workers. These are available as modern flats with all amenities that most digital nomads look for.

Tips

  • Book for one month at a time to ensure that you can adjust there for your entire stay in Portugal.
  • Do not just agree on the rate quoted by the owner. Negotiate and check whether you can knock down the cost a little. 
  • Lastly, book early. Since Airbnb’s are the most preferred choice of digital nomads, they get booked instantly after someone has vacated or during the summer months.

DigitalNomads.pt

DigitalNomads.pt

DigitalNomads.pt is an online portal that has been created by digital nomads only. They are available in a vast variety ranging from beach-view flats to inner-city apartments in the capital. Since these are made explicitly for remote workers, all needs like fast internet, attractive neighborhoods, comfy beds are well taken care of. 

Apart from these, you have options like villas, apartments, beach houses, etc. 

It is advised that the expats moving to Portugal must start researching for accommodation before they arrive in the country. 

Places to Work: Coworking in Portugal

Working in Portugal is indeed rewarding. Being a business hub for remote workers, there are several co-working places in cities like Porto, Lisbon, Peniche, and many other cities.

Here are some of the best coworking offices in the country.

Porto i/o

Porto i/o in Porto is a great way to meet and socialize with other digital nomads in the north of the city. The offices are situated at four locations: Douro Riverside, downtown, Santa Catarina, and the last one on the seaside. Being a creative coworking spot, they organize regular lectures, workshops, and talks.

Liberdade229

 This one is a significant coworking spot in central Lisbon. Besides, the offices are spacious and reflect plenty of natural light. These also feature a communal kitchen along with posh and hygienic bathrooms.

Largo

Largo is located in a quiet area of the Peniche and is the only co-work hub in the district. The office is friendly, affordable, and provides all necessities for working.

Ocupa Cowork

If you wish to work from a place near the river channels, adequate sunlight, and coffee, Ocupa can be your office. This place also allows you to form networks and grow your business from a professional space.

Factory Braga:

Factory Braga is a modern and functional coworking space. You can work sitting in work pods, communal workspaces, or casually in their lounge area. In addition, you get access to amenities like free use of meeting rooms, Nintendo Wii, ping pong, and other perks.

Apart from these, there are other coworking offices spread all across the country. To list a few more, there is Avila Spaces Lisbon, Base Cowork in Leiria, Typographia in Porto, and many more.

Research a little more about them and get an idea of how your new office will look like.

Places to Meet: Networking in Portugal

There are many networking groups, centers, and professional associations dedicated to digital nomads. You can find more about it if you refer to the Portuguese business magazines and journals. Besides, some influential business groups like the Business Association of Portugal and Confederation of Portuguese Business are great for expats to meet each other and form networks. 

Moreover, several meet-ups and events are organized for digital nomads to network in a particular industry. Besides, there are various community lunches and drinks hosted where the members connect through Facebook groups. 

Digital Banking in Portugal

Digital nomads planning to move to Portugal are advised to register with one of the country’s international banks. It has an advanced banking system that includes one of the most advanced interbank networks globally through Multibanco. Considering the requirements of an expat, there are now mobile banks in Portugal too. One can open his bank account using his mobile or laptop. The important digital banks are bunq, N26 and Revolut. One significant benefit of using these accounts is instant updates to your banking data and access to your funds, 24 hours a day. 

How can you access mobile banking in Portugal?

If you already have a physical bank account in one of the Portuguese banks, then all you have to do is download the mobile app. Provided that your bank offers this facility. Just register on the app, and you can have digital access to your account.

You require only the standard details for digital banking like the full name, date of birth, address, mobile number, and email address. Also, you will be asked for quick identity verification. In some cases, the banks may even video call you to authenticate your passport or identification card.

Not to mention, digital banking is safer than traditional banking.

Transportation

Portugal has a well-developed transportation system, and so it is convenient to go around in the country. Moreover, the towns are connected through roads and transport is cheap and easily accessible.

Airports

The three major international airports in Portugal are situated in Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Moreover, the New Lisbon Airport will make it even easier to get to Portugal from anywhere in the world. Apart from this, many cities also have domestic airports, which make traveling from one town to another easy.

Bus services

Bus services in Portugal include both regional and local buses. These buses run frequently and provide services between Portuguese cities covering all main towns and local destinations. You will get other bus-related information if you contact the service providers and companies.

Trains

There is a big train network covering the whole of the country with regional, inter-regional and suburban trains. 

Taxi Services

It is reasonably easy to get a taxi in Portugal. The charges in the cities are usually calculated by the taximeter. However, for longer distances, they charge on a per-kilometer basis. Also, note that after 10 pm and until 6 am, charges increase approximately 20%. It is common to tip about 10% of the fare.

Food and groceries

You can buy all the essential groceries, including dairy products, fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat, without creating a hole in your pocket.  While shopping from the supermarkets you are likely to find many discount offers, sometimes even up to 50% off. Almost all supermarket chains give discount cards to loyal customers. Pingo Doce, SPAR, Continente are some of the preferred supermarket chains that operate on regular hours and weekends as well.

In addition, Portuguese food is worth dying for! And the cherry on the cake, it is affordable. Whether you are dining out or getting it delivered, you can munch on your favorite delicacies at cheap rates. Moreover, the seafood and the street food are mouthwatering!

Not just the Portuguese food, but considering the number of digital nomads in the country from all across the globe, there are chains of restaurants offering continental food. 

For instance, if you plan a dinner for two people at an Italian restaurant that includes appetizers, main course, wine, and dessert, it will cost you around €41.

Laundry

  • The best way to do your laundry is to opt for Airbnb that already has a washing machine. It’s not necessary that you stay in an Airbnb for the whole trip, but it would help if you booked it for two days/nights every week. Moreover, you are required to buy your detergent.
  • Choose hotels that offer laundry services to the guests. However, it can be ridiculously expensive.
  • There are several self-service launderettes all across the country. You can search for the nearest ones by simply googling on your phone. 

Charges for 30 minutes self launderettes are: 

  • Light wash at 20 °C- €3 
  • Wash at 30 °C- €4 
  • Wash at 45 °C- €4.50 
  • Wash at 60 °C- €5 
  • The cheapest option is to wash the clothes in the sink. You can buy laundry soap from any supermarket and easily wash them. (Note that they may take a bit longer to dry).

Leisure & Lifestyle

Of course, one cannot just keep working and studying for the entire duration while in Portugal. Therefore, this vibrant country has a lot more to offer to people who love to spend time with family and friends. Since the country is not so expensive, you can easily plan your outings, short trips, and club parties. 

Nightlife in Portugal

While in Portugal, do not forget to make the most of the country’s fantastic nightlife. Cities like Algarve and Lisbon are known for their up-scale nightlife and luxury hotels. There is something for all in the country, ranging from romantic bars to stag-themed party venues and beach clubs. 

Algarve is also famous for its vibrant student-themed Portugal nightlife. Many bars in Lisbon remain open till 3 am, and many discs are open till 6 am. Besides, you can experience the bohemian Portugal nightlife in Porto.

Outdoors Activities

For adventure lovers who usually seek outdoor activities can go hiking, rock climbing, bouldering, kayaking, trail running, camping, and more. This way, you can discover the country’s real beauty that lies amidst the landscapes, deep waters, and cozy towns. Moreover, people into sports can opt for golf, tennis, and even horseback riding.

Indoors Activities

If you are looking for a casual outdoor hangout, you can head to the country’s marvelous museums, like the Tile Museum in Lisbon. Or, maybe go shopping on the pedestrian walkway, Rua Catarina, in Porto. Moreover, there are many zoos and aquariums to explore. 

And yes! Do take a beverage break at the Belle Époque Café Majestic.

Moreover, the cost of 2 tickets to the theater (best available seats) is €40.

Cost of Living in Portugal

The low cost of living in Portugal is what entices the digital nomads the most to work remotely from this country. In fact, it offers the lowest cost of living in entire Western Europe. From accommodation to groceries, a couple can live comfortably in Portugal’s interior, or in small cities, for about $1,700 a month. Bills are paid once every two months.

The average monthly cost of living for a family of four is estimated at: €2,833

The average monthly cost of living for a single person is estimated at: €1,423

Cost of Accommodation in Portugal

Average monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 sqft) furnished accommodation

In an expensive area €1,136
In a normal area €741
Utilities (electricity, gas etc.) €118

Average monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 sq ft) furnished studio

In an expensive area €743
In a normal area €501
Utilities (electricity, gas etc.) €87

Cost of Transportation in Portugal

Since Portugal has a developed transportation system, it is fairly easy to travel from one place to another. Almost all the cities and towns are connected through roads

One-way Ticket by a Local Transport 1.60 €
Monthly pass 40.00 €
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) 0.50 €
Taxi 1 hour (Normal Tariff) 15.00 €
Volkswagen golf 1.4 tsi 150 cv (or equivalent), with no extras, new 25,997 €

So, to say, a four-hour bus from Lisbon to the Algarve will cost you around €18 ($20). 

Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Portugal

Another critical question that arises in the mind of a digital nomad is which is the perfect city in the country to work from. So, here’s a list of a few cities you can count on.

Lisbon

Considering a range of factors, Lisbon ranks first in the list of digital nomads migrating to Portugal. Besides, after the coronavirus pandemic that compelled all of us to work remotely, Lisbon has been filled with co-working hubs. This means it offers good internet facilities and tons of job opportunities. 

Compared to other European capitals, Lisbon is the cheapest for accommodation, food, and other leisure activities.

The average rent of a one-bedroom apartment ranges between 638.41 € and 829.44 €.

The average rent of a three-bedroom apartment ranges between 1,028.20 € and 1,515.36 €.

Other essential utilities may cost around 140 €

Porto

The second-largest city in Portugal, Porto, has often been overlooked by digital and tech nomads. The town lies on the banks of the river Douro and has been ranked as the second preference of immigrants after Lisbon. Also, it is cheaper for families and students as compared to Lisbon. 

Moreover, you will love the famous port wine, local gastronomy, and colorful streets. It also has an excellent healthcare system.

The average rent of a one-bedroom apartment ranges between 517.00 € and 693.87 €.

The average rent of a three-bedroom apartment ranges between 870.00 € and 1,200.69 €.

Other essential utilities may cost around 140 € to 150 €.

Braga

After Lisbon and Porto, Braga is an excellent option for those seeking a cheaper and smaller city to live in. Despite the fact that it has a rich history, the city is also known for its bright nightlife. Also, it has the oldest cathedrals in Portugal. With a thirty-minute drive to the beach, fifteen minutes to the mountains, and forty minutes from Spain, what’s there not to like about the city? 

Madeira

This Portuguese island is becoming increasingly popular among the digital nomads in Portugal. Especially for those who wanted to experience the island life of the country. Funchal is a significant city on the island that has warm-cozy weather all year round. If you’re a digital nomad in Madeira, you will find a large community of people speaking English. 

Aveiro

If you wish to live near Porto, Aveiro can be your ideal destination. It is an authentic Portuguese city and is famous for its canals, rich history, culture, and charm. There are only a few English speakers in the town, but it offers a high quality of life. Students and pensioners, especially, love this place due to the relaxed lifestyle of the city.

It is a non-touristy place, which means you can enjoy the serene silence of nature while here. 

The average rent of one-bedroom apartment ranges between 391.67 € and 498.21 €.

The average rent of a three-bedroom apartment ranges between 566.67 € and 777.78 €.

Other essential utilities may cost around 110 € to 120 €.

The not-so-great parts of living in Portugal

Despite the low cost and all the perks of living in Portugal, there are some negatives too. Therefore, if you have decided to move here, you need to be very cautious of certain things. 

Crime: Pickpocketing and Bag Snatching

Pickpocketing and bag snatching is one of the most reported crimes in the country. The thieves are well-trained and often use little kids to distract people. Public transportation, airports, and hotel lobbies are the most targeted hotspots as they are crowded and usually full of tourists.

Moreover, anyone carrying a bag must keep away from public sight if possible. Or keep it very close to you. Therefore, make sure that your valuables are appropriately concealed whenever you are in a crowded place.

Portugal Weather

Although we always associate the country with serene landscapes and sunny beaches, the truth is that the winters can be teeth-cluttering cold. Especially northern Portugal can be very damp and wet in winters. This can be a problem for digital nomads who belong to countries with a few winter months. 

Visas & Entry Requirements: What type of visa do I need to live in Portugal?

Being a part of the European Union, you require a Schengen visa to enter Portugal. However, if you are already a citizen of one of the EU countries, you don’t need a visa entry. Besides, there is no specific remote work visa, and startup founders opt for the Golden Visa or the Non-Habitual Residency schemes. 

Well, you don’t need to get disheartened if you do not belong to the EU because Portugal has made agreements with countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It has been agreed that citizens of these countries can stay in Portugal for 90 days in six months without any additional visa.

Furthermore, citizens of other countries who want to stay in Portugal like digital nomads have to consider extending their stay in Portugal.

Portugal Digital Nomad Visa

There are two types of visas, namely, Temporary Stay Visa and Residency Visa.

Temporary Stay Visa

This is for the digital nomads who want to stay in the country for one year. To be eligible for this, the applicant has to prove that he earns or will earn a minimum of €635 per month during his stay. The only motive of this requirement is to ensure that the person can afford his accommodation and other necessities. 

This visa is issued for one year and can be renewed for two more years. Moreover, a temporary stay visa is perfect for digital nomads who are not seeking permanent residency.

Documents required

  • Official form
  • Passport and travel documents
  • Clean criminal record
  • Valid travel insurance
  • Proof of means of subsistence

Residency Visa

If you plan to stay there for more than one year working as a digital nomad, this visa can be an excellent option for you. The visa’s validity is four months, and during this time, you need to apply for a residency permit with the Immigration and Border Services (SEF). The residency permit will be further valid for two years.

Again, there are two types of this kind.

Portugal D2 Visa: This is for the nomads who wish to set up a business presence or carry out business activities in the country.

Portugal D7 Visa: This is for those who do not want to indulge in any business or investment activities and instead wish to work independently. To acquire this, you need to show that you earn at least €7200 per year.

Internet Connection: Wifi Speed

Portugal ranks seventeenth in the list of countries that have the fastest internet connection in the world. The access speed of the internet is 34.5 megabits per second. Some of the well-known internet service providers are NOS, Meo, ARTelecom, and NOWO. 

To be able to subscribe to the internet package, the person has to be a resident first. It is also advised that you open a bank account to avoid high fees in some deals. Moreover, these services are provided on a minimum term contract basis. 

Furthermore, high-speed broadband packages are available in Lisbon or Porto.

Apart from the internet connection, there is an extensive network of wifi hotspots spread across the country. You can find these at hotels, football stadiums, green public spaces, and airports. Besides, if you have just moved to the country and do not intend to subscribe to a connection, mobile internet is a great alternative.

Quick Tips for Digital Nomads in Portugal

Here are some tips that every digital nomad must follow before boarding a plane to Portugal.

  • As Portugal is building a wholly socialized healthcare system, the facility is also extended for digital nomads. So, if you have qualified for all residency formalities, you can access the healthcare system.
  • It’s easy to buy a property in Portugal. Yes, even if you are a digital nomad! This can be a good idea if you are thinking of making it your long-term work base.

How to save money in Portugal

  • Do not spend on imported products: When in Portugal you must avoid buying your favorite brand of British food and drinks. (Unless you want to surprise yourself with a huge bill).
  • Avoid fancy bars: While it’s okay to enjoy a cocktail or two in the swanky bars, do not go there every weekend. These plush restaurants can make you lose a ransom amount from your savings.
  •  Explore country markets and stalls: Do not just barge into the supermarkets to purchase everything. You will get the same things even in the local markets and stalls. This way, you will access the food and other things that are not readily available elsewhere.

What type of Digital Nomad is Portugal for?

Portugal is indeed a great place for a digital nomad to work remotely. Especially with all the amenities it provides, the country is gaining popularity. 

Anyone seeking a place with perfect economic conditions, good food, safety, fast internet, etc., must not overlook this unique European country.