Why Digital Nomads like Lisbon? We asked them!
Disclaimer: Please be aware of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus. It is a serious pandemic and nobody should be traveling at the moment unless it is to reunite with their families. We hope you are all safe and healthy. We understand this article may make you fall in love with Lisbon, but save that trip for better days!
No doubt, Lisbon became a very popular city in Europe among remote workers and entrepreneurs. In fact, many Digital Nomads consider it to be the best city to live in Europe.
But we wanted to know why… So we asked them! We asked dozens of Digital Nomads living in Lisbon, why they like Lisbon. We gathered answers from the group of Digital Nomads who stay with NomadX and from the Lisbon Digital Nomad Facebook Group and this article is the result of that.
The lifestyle in Lisbon
“Portugal, in general, is the perfect place for a life of happiness”
A life of happiness sounds pretty good to us. “Why would it be a life of happiness?” You ask. We asked that very questions ourselves to our network of Lisbon-based digital nomads and this is what they said:
“Beautiful weather”, “Lisbon is so sunny”, “Sunny winter”
For sure this is one of the strongest reasons why people love Lisbon so much, ourselves included! Lisbon has 290 days of sun a year and you can spend all of those days outside, making your computer breaks much more enjoyable than they would be in many other places in Europe.
“There are so many beautiful beaches nearby”
Who does not like a good beach? Laying down in the sun, listening to the waves breaking, and the music playing… Lisbon has so many beautiful golden sand beaches nearby that you can’t even count! Carcavelos, Ericeira and Caparica are just some good examples, some closer than others, but all of them are worth the “effort”!
By the way, did you know that in Portugal, unlike the USA, Australia and other countries, it is legal to drink outdoors? Add a nice cold beer to the above and that picture of happiness is starting to look pretty darn good.
“Lisbon is one of the best cities in the world to live if you surf.”
Lisbon, and Portugal in general, is heaven for surfers. In the end, is a small country with a huge coastline facing the Atlantic ocean, how couldn’t it be, right? There are plenty of options close to Lisbon, being the and the nearest ones, Carcavelos and Caparica, both only 20-30 minutes away from the Lisbon city center.
Just over 1h 30 mins drive away lies the world-record village of Nazaré. Between October and December it’s giant wave season, and everyone, surfers and non-surfers, can have the heart-stopping experience of witnessing big wave surfing. The biggest wave ever surfed on record was 80 feet tall! Watch the viral video here.
“Lisbon is historic and architecturally stunning. “
If you are one of those people that don’t like the beach (we think you should reconsider!) there is something for you too. Lisbon’s breathes history and culture. And the architecture is stunning, especially around the old town. From the centuries-old monuments, such as the castle and cathedral, to the typical streets in Alfama where you can listen to the traditional Fado and the several breathtaking viewpoints. Your eyes will be happy in Lisbon, trust us!
Eventually, even in sunny Lisbon, there will be a day of rain. Not to worry, if you are not in the mood for some laptop work you can always visit a museum. These are some of the most recommended:
“Lisbon is fun”, “There’s so much to do”, “Lisbon can dance”
Oh yeah! You have not experienced Lisbon in full if you have not started the night having drinks at a bar in the Bairro Alto or Alfama neighborhoods and finished it dancing around Cais do Sodré. Our modern music will get you moving as it has strong African and Brazilian influences from Portugal’s old colonies. For music that won’t move your body but will move your soul we have the fado, an unmissable experience, it is now even part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
Fado – The word Fado comes from the Latin fatum, meaning “destiny”. It is a music style that only exists in Portugal and is a big part of Portuguese culture. It may sound sad because it normally represents suffering, but the fado beat transmits an upbeat mood and possibly is this contrast that contributes to the fascination of fado! Here’s a playlist to keep you company while you finish reading the article.
“It’s easy and inexpensive to move around”
Buses and metros are inexpensive and will get you everywhere, no need to buy or rent a car and pay for an international driver’s license. Uber (and other similar apps) are also available and have good pricing. This modern city isn’t a crippling super-metropolis where you spend more time commuting than living, like in many other big cities in Europe.
“Lisbon is friendly and buzzing”, “Stress-free city and Laid-back atmosphere”
“Alfacinhas” (Lisbon natives), and the Portuguese in general, are chilled and open-minded people. They already live their life of happiness and that results in less crazy neurotic people around you, can you imagine what that feels like? If you have ever been to Lisbon, you have noticed it for sure! No need to learn Portuguese as English is widely spoken and you can easily deal with everyday things and learn how to de-stress from your newly acquired local friends.
“The community here is f***ing incredible”
Well… Agreed! Lisbon has a great digital nomad community and it’s super active! You’ll hardly feel bored and lonely in this city. There are events and mingling opportunities on most days. You can find them in places like the Meetup app or the NomadX community events page.
The entrepreneurial and startup energy is very energizing”, “I love the tech scene”
Many people consider Lisbon to be the “start-up capital” or even the “tech capital” of Europe. We can say, there is some truth to that, and hosting giant events like WebSummit definitely helps. As a Portuguese speaking, I believe there is a reason for that. Portuguese education is great! We have great universities and Portugal creates top-level professionals in many different fields. However, the economy doesn’t keep up with that and job opportunities are rarely satisfying.
That leaves 2 options to these high-level professionals. The first one is accepting job offers from other western European countries that can deliver another level of conditions. The second one is to stay in Portugal and create their own opportunities.
The government knows that and many people think Portugal “survived” the 2009 economical crisis through start-ups. For that reason, start-ups have some incentives and the entrepreneurial mindset is installed in this little country.
The costs of living in Lisbon
“Everything leaves me extremely content without breaking my bank”
“It’s cheap to get to and cheap to live in”
You have to agree, it is not possible to enjoy a place at its fullest if you feel your bank is crying behind you. Lisbon (and Portugal in general) is very “wallet-friendly” especially compared to many other European countries or the U.S.A.
Before anything else, let us tell you that, according to the answers we got, it was easy to understand what really conquers people that visit Lisbon. Good and cheap food. Good and cheap wine. Good and cheap coffee. For the sake of the readability of this article we won’t list those answers here, but trust us, there were many!
These are the normal costs of everyday living in Lisbon:
- Public City transportation: ~2€
- City Average Taxi/Uber Drive: 7-10€
- Rent-a-car: 15-30€/day
- Long-Distance Bus: 20-30€
- Fruit (average): ~ 1-2€/Kg
- Coffee: ~ 0,60-1€
- A meal in Local Restaurant: 6-10€
- Bottle of medium-range wine: 4-5€
- Beer at a store: 1-1,5€
- Private room rent: 500€+ (See options at NomadX)
Most budget airlines offer daily flights to Lisbon and you are sure to find yourself a good deal. The airport is close to the city center and well linked.
So far your mental picture of your digital nomad life in Lisbon should be of an amazing old European city where you can have fun in the sun, relax at the beach, live stress-free and party the night away dancing in the streets at the rhythm of local music without going broke.
But there’s more, let us tell you in the next section, why we really miss home every time we travel for too long.
Read also: What Does It Cost to Be a Digital Nomad?
The food and drink in Lisbon
“Lisbon is gorgeous and the food and wine simply overwhelming. Definitely not a healthy place for me, but really good for my soul!
We don’t know about you, but our bellies are who decide if we like a place or not. Food is such an important factor for us, and let us tell you, that many digital nomads living in Lisbon are on the same page!
“The seafood, Vinho Verde, sweet potatoes, the octopus is incredible, the fresh-squeezed orange juice”
“Can’t choose between Pastéis de Nata and Canhão da Nazaré”
We don’t want to brag, but we have to agree. We have been to more than 30 countries and Portuguese cuisine is hard to beat. It’s not easy, but these are our top recommendations:
- Soups: Caldo Verde, Canja de Galinha, Sopa da Pedra
- Main fish dishes: Arroz de Marisco (Seafood rice), Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato, Pataniscas, Bacalhau com Natas (or any other of the 1000 recipes of Codfish, seriously) and Sardinhas Assadas (very typical in festive days)
- Main meat dishes: Francesinha (a.k.a. heart-attack in a plate), Cozido à Portuguesa, Feijoada
- Sweets – Pastéis de Nata (Heaven’s invention. DELICIOUS. Eat as many as you can and send us some)
If that’s not enough for you, here are more Portuguese food recommendations.
Of course, you can’t eat all of that without getting thirsty. Neither could the Portuguese people. That’s why they have a two-millennium long tradition of making wine. Portugal has the largest variety of grapes in all of Europe. You will find a wine you love and, great feature, it will be cheap. A mid-range bottle of wine sells for €4. That makes us very happy and we bet it will make you happy too.
Hot tip: Vinho Verde. It does not mean “green wine”, as it translates. Verde refers to the age of the wine and it should be translated as “young”. These wines are released 3-6 months after harvesting. Because of the short bottling time it is sold at a great price and it’s vibrant and refreshing taste makes it very versatile and popular.
Portuguese people not only love wine but also beer. Both of them have an equally long history and the craft beer making has recently regained momentum in Lisbon. You can now find many alternatives to the traditional Super Bock and Sagres brands or you can stick to these two and have them for as cheap as 1€ in some places.
Coffee is a big part of Portuguese culture. Many people drink it 2 to 5 times a day, good thing that it starts at only €0,60. Even if you are not a coffee person you will end up joining in the cultural tradition of getting a bica (espresso-style coffee) at the local café (coffee shop). It makes for a cheap little break in your digital working routine and the most common day hang-out.
If you want to impress your local friends, order a Ginjinha (Lisbon’s answer to Port wine). It’s slightly sour as it’s made from sour cherries, aguardente (firewater), sugar, cinnamon and water infused for around 5 months. Even being a tradition originated in the city of Óbidos, you can also find places in Lisbon that will serve it in a chocolate cup that you can eat after. Freaking delicious!
“It’s the most amazing country I have even been to in the world. That’s why I moved here after visiting several times. “
NOMADX is a real estate technology platform developed to meet the needs of the rapidly growing global community of location-independent remote workers, or “Digital Nomads”.
As Digital Nomads ourselves, we know what the market is looking for: trusted, affordable accommodations in highly-attractive locations worldwide at 45% less than AirBNB. We also offer educational masterclasses to help master the lifestyle as well as community events to help foster new friendships.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matilde & Miguel are a Portuguese couple who combined the passion for traveling with entrepreneurship and became Digital Nomads. They created the TravelB4Settle brand in late 2017 and since then they focused on Content Creation and Digital Marketing. Their main goal is to inspire and educate others to become Digital Nomads and help businesses all around the world to grow their presence online.