What is a digital nomad?
The term “digital nomad” refers to those who work remotely and live nomadically. Essentially, all they need is a laptop and fast internet connection to take advantage of working in different places around the globe. Digital nomads are remote workers who constantly change cities and/or countries.
This way of working wasn’t well-known until the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic work and travel ramifications. Before then, digital nomads did exist, but they were rare gems, typically freelancers or entrepreneurs who were rarely spoken about and typically traveled on a tourist visa. During the pandemic workers worldwide were forced to go remote, and traveling was halted. It’s a two-sided story. Countries who relied on tourism were suffering as things were halted, frequent travelers found themselves stuck and unable to travel. On the other hand, a whole new world of work emerged, one which was world changing and life changing for many individuals. Now, in 2024, remote work opportunities are still increasing worldwide in almost all areas of employment. Likewise, the adherence to nomadic life has become increasingly popular, causing governments to adapt migration laws to this new reality.
What is the digital nomad visa?
All thanks to the trend-setter Estonia, the Digital Nomad Visa emerged in 2020. Since, more and more countries are creating new visa pathways to accommodate the era of digital nomadism. Now fifty (50) countries have adopted a specific visa for Digital Nomads, some notable examples are: Greece, Portugal, Spain, Brazil and Argentina. The list is expected to continuously grow in coming years as many countries have already expressed clear intentions to create their own versions of the new digital nomad visa.
Generally, digital nomad visas allow a remote worker, along with their dependents, to legally reside in the country longer than the time allowed for tourism, yet usually less than long-term visas permit. The remote workers and accompanying family members obtain the visa under certain varying conditions. Most commonly, they must be employed by a company, freelancing, or operating a business located outside the country issuing the visa. There is usually a qualifying salary which is often significantly more than the local minimum wage.
To apply for a Portugal digital nomad visa, whether a temporary stay visa or residency permit, the following documents are required:
Additionally, those applying for a long-stay residence visa must submit proof of personal tax residence in Portugal (a 12-month lease contract registered with the tax authority).
For Brazilians applying for a digital nomad visa in Portugal will need to submit the following document:
It is worth pointing out that for member countries of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), such as Brazil, some documents may be dispensable (by signing a Term of Responsibility for a person who has legal residence in Portugal and who can take responsibility for the person who is applying for the visa) such as:
Portugal’s affordable cost of living is very reasonable, it’s considered one of the cheapest countries to live in Western Europe. A major of the many factors attracting digital nomads and expats to Portugal. It’s a great place for foreign remote workers to life comfortably and enjoy a highly desirable city.
Let’s break down some typical costs of necessities in Portugal.
The cost of a one bedroom apartment in the large capital city of Lisbon can range from €600 to €900 per month, depending on the neighborhood and amenities. While prices have gone up in the past few years, it’s still relatively cheap compared to other European capitals. In smaller cities like Porto, Aveiro, Braga, and Coimbra, the cost can be even lower. And Co-living prices can vary from €300 to €600 per month throughout Portuguese populated cities.
Food costs in Portugal are reasonable and there are a lot of locally grown/caught foods accessible. Dining out costs around €10 to €15 in total for typical restaurants, while something more upscale can range from €25 to €40. Grocery shopping obviously depends on your lifestyle, but it’s safe to budget €150 to €250 per month.
Public transportation in Portugal is aplenty and not costly. A single bus or metro ticket costs between €1.50 and €2.50. Daily commuters usually opt for a €30 monthly pass which, depending on the city, allows travelers to travel by train, metro or bus with the same ticket. This makes getting around easier for citizens, especially in major cities. For those who prefer to ride a bicycle, rent one monthly for €30 to €50.
The cost of entertainment in Portugal varies depending on your idea of fun. Catching a movie at the cinema costs €6 to €10 per ticket. Cover to enter a disco or bar can range between €5 to €15 per ticket, and a beer is about €2.50 to €4. However, there are a ton of options for entertainment. Some are more costly than others, but anyone can have fun in Portugal on really any budget.
Foreign nationals usually find Portugal to be extremely affordable, making it an attractive place to live. This is especially true for digital nomads who are employed in the U.S. and other EU countries where salaries are generous. Still, it’s important to remember that the cost of living in Portugal can vary greatly from city to city and depending upon the lifestyle you lead. Researching and planning is a must before you move. On average, an individual earning a salary of €1000-1200 per month can live comfortably in Portugal.
Despite Lisbon being the most expensive city in Portugal, it’s still relatively affordable, especially in comparison to other capital cities. The city is receiving thousands of digital nomads and is increasingly adapting to accommodate the many digital nomads by opening large coworking spaces, hosting lively events and giving opportunities to connect with other digital nomads. The initiatives are creating a huge network and digital nomad community. In Lisbon entertainment and restaurant options are aplenty, plus the city offers a great ease of displacement, to other cities throughout Portugal and even other European countries.
For digital nomads in Portugal looking for something slightly cheaper than Lisbon but still in close proximity, Sintra and Costa da Caparica are perfect suburban locations. The quality of life is just as good, especially for families! Costa da Caparica, located across the 25 de abril bridge, offers cheaper rentals, amazing beaches, and you can easily hop on a train or bus into Lisbon. Sintra is not to be left behind. An authentic Portuguese city home to one of the most colorful castles in all of Europe, breathtaking architecture and enjoyable temperatures all year round. It’s a great option for those looking for a more relaxed lifestyle that’s quickly accessible to the liveliness of the capital.
Portugal’s second largest city. Brings folks a sense that the world is not as troubled as we often feel in other cities across Europe and beyond. With an attractive riverfront, ease of getting there whether on food or by public transport, it’s no wonder Porto has become a favorite for Portugal digital nomads. The weather here is slightly colder and more conducive than in Lisbon, but the city is much more affordable. It’s an up-and-coming tech hotspot and is very well set up with coworking spaces, delicious wine and historical views at the Ribeira, next to the Douro river.
This city on the silver coast is sure not to disappoint a Portugal digital nomad, or anyone visiting Portugal for that matter.
Popularly known as “The Portuguese Venice” — Aveiro is full of canals extending beyond city limits. Take a beautiful canal ride on the famous Gondulas for an afternoon to bask in the city’s beauty. On the edge of the bar, the city is close to Porto. Also a major tech hub on the rise, yet with low cost housing. Depending on the type of place you’re going for, rent prices range from €300 to €800.
Braga, along with its neighbor Guimaraes, is one of the oldest Portuguese cities, dating back to the Roman Empire. Well known for its rich history, cultural heritage and incredible architecture. Braga is one of the main spots for Portugal digital nomads, behind Lisbon and Porto. Braga has the feel of a country town, quieter and more peaceful, and is only a few miles away from the big city of Porto. It offers a great quality of life at an affordable cost to those looking to enjoy the authentic side of Portugal.
Although Coimbra is most known as the student city, home to the renowned University of Coimbra, it’s also a great destination for digital nomads. The city boasts a super affordable cost of living. (Are you seeing the trend of Portuguese cities yet?) Along with a privileged location in the center of Portugal, making it close to both Porto and Lisbon. Coimbra enjoys a lively nightlife and first class infrastructure.
Madeira Island, located 900km from mainland Portugal, has become one of the biggest destinations for digital nomads thanks to the “Digital Nomads Madeira” project launched in 2020. A joint initiative between Startup Madeira and the Government of Madeira during the period of the pandemic meant to attract digital nomads from all over the world to live on the island and promote tourism. The island has surprisingly fast internet speeds, lots of coworking spaces, stunning views, warm and sunny climate year round, and plenty of outdoor activities. Madeira is home to a unique and thriving digital nomad community.
It’s important to note that Portugal overall has some of the fastest internet speeds in Europe. A notable factor attracting remote workers, along with the low cost of living throughout the country.
Co-living spaces are a great alternative for digital nomads in Portugal looking to save money yet still find great inner city apartments. These places are shared living arrangements with furnished private bedrooms and shared common areas such as kitchen, living and remote work spaces. In a co-living digital nomads live alongside other professionals who likely share similar interests and remote work lifestyles. Amenities are usually included, such as high speed internet, cleaning services, laundry facilities and access to communal areas where residents can socialize, network, and collaborate.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most popular co-living setups in Portugal.
Studio spaces are a valid option for single digital nomads or couples who can cozily squeeze in a small space that still offers all anyone needs, but with more privacy than co-living. Studios, depending on just how swanky they are, come at a low price tag in prime locations. Some of these multifunctional spaces even have a small balcony or terrace, which in Portugal is another living area in itself.
Below are some of the most favored Studio residences in Portugal.
Hey — don’t forget about hostels.
Similar to co-living spaces, hostels are less permanent budget-friendly accommodation options with shared living spaces for travelers. Typically the rooms are dormitory-style with bunks beds and communal living spaces, including communal bathrooms. They’re a great option for digital nomads or travelers who want to save money on accommodation, stay for the short-term, and likely meet new people in similar situations. Likewise, they could just be a great starting point for any digital nomads exploring Portugal to find the best community.
If you plan to stay in Portugal for the long term it’s wise to consider investing in a property of your own to call home. Unfortunately the Golden Visa program is closing, but there are still benefits to owning property in Portugal. As with anywhere, there’s always the quintessential argument of why rent when you can own? Understandably, setting roots is not the typical nomad style, but in the case it strikes an interest, we can set you up.
Lincoln Global Partners has an exceptional property portfolio which offers a range of property investment options throughout Portugal.
For digital nomads looking for flexible and adaptable co-working spaces in Portugal, here are some of the best options:
Second Home Lisboa: Located in Mercado da Ribeira, Second Home Lisboa is a stylish and innovative co-working space. It has a plant-inspired decor and a wide variety of events for members.
Heden Lisbon: A warm and modern environment. It offers a variety of services, including meeting rooms and private call spaces.
Creative Hub Lisbon: Located in Santos in Lisbon, Creative Hub Lisbon has a creative and dynamic environment, ideal for digital nomads looking for inspiration and collaboration. The space offers flexible co-working services and a program of cultural and artistic events.
Cowork Central: Located in Porto’s historic center, Cowork Central is a modern co-working space with flexible services and an international community of digital nomads. Cowork Central also organizes regular networking and training events.
Founders Founders: Located in Porto, it’s one of the largest coworking spaces in Portugal. Founders Founders is ideal for digital nomads looking for an entrepreneurial and networking environment of international community of startups and entrepreneurs. The space offers flexible coworking services, as well as acceleration and training programs.
IdeiaHub: Located in Coimbra, IdeiaHub enjoys a relaxed and friendly environment. It offers virtual office services, shared workspace and private offices.
Cowork Central: Located in Faro, Cowork Central is a modern and cozy coworking space. It has several membership options, including shared workspace, private offices and meeting rooms.
Nomad Village: Located in Lagos, on the Algarve coast, Nomad Village offers flexible coworking services, including monthly and daily plans. This is a perfect place for digital nomads looking for a relaxed and inspiring environment by the beach.
Quality of life
Portugal is known for its excellent quality of life with a pleasant climate, stunning beaches, stunning landscapes and a rich culture. Being a digital nomad in Portugal allows you to enjoy all of this while working remotely. There’s certainly no downside here.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Portugal is relatively low compared to other European countries, which means that digital nomads can live well in Portugal on a smaller budget. If you compare Portugal to North American countries like the U.S. and Canada, the cost of living is even better. Especially if digital nomads are living in Portugal yet enjoying higher salaries offered by such places. However, nomads from countries like Mexico and parts of South America may only find the cost of living to be the same or slightly higher. Essentially it’s all relative to where digital nomads are coming from and where they are employed, but overall the cost of living is more than fair.
Portugal has an excellent health system. If you have met all of the residency requirements, you’ll be able to access the healthcare system in Portugal. While government healthcare in Portugal is not totally free, it’s offered at very low costs and some services are indeed free. Still, most expats and digital nomads opt for private health insurance. You will find private health insurance in Portugal at very affordable rates, so it’s worth it just in case.
Although Portuguese cities are very historic, the quality of infrastructure overall in the country is very good. Buildings have either been restored and preserved exceptionally well or rebuilt. Most applicable to digital nomads and remote workers is the excellent digital infrastructure offered throughout Portugal, even on the island of Maderia. The Internet is fast and reliable, a true essential for anyone working remotely. Still, expect the occasional elevator breakdown.
Portugal is considered to be a safe country. Lisbon is often called the safest city in Europe and Porto is right up there alongside it. Still, keep an eye on your bags, purses and expensive items. Pickpocketing is common in crowded areas.
Although Portugal experiences an inviting climate most of the year, the summers can be very hot and dry. Temperatures are rising yearly in the summer season and this can be uncomfortable for some Digital nomads. Winter can get colder than one might expect in some parts of the country and not all homes are equipped with a good heating unit. Those who flock to Portugal to escape winter might find this to be an unexpected deterrent.
Although many Portuguese people speak English, the official language is Portuguese. Posing a challenge for digital nomads who don’t speak the language. It certainly pays to learn some basic Portuguese to get around without hassle and explain things.
This visa is intended for entrepreneurs who wish to establish a business in Portugal, create a Portuguese branch of an existing business, or move to Portugal to run an existing Portuguese business.
Portugal’s D7 Visa offers non EU citizens with passive incomes over €800/month (€9,600 annually) the chance to obtain residency in the country. The D7 visa is issued for 2 years and can be renewed for an additional 3 years. After 5 years of total residency, visa holders are eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. The low qualifying amount and speedy route to citizenship make the D7 visa one of the most accessible options in Europe.
Portugal is well known for its successful golden visa program. Investor can acquire residency with an investment of 500,000 EUR into investment funds and work their way towards citizenship without the need to live in the country.