12 Pros & Cons of Living in Lisbon as a Digital Nomad in 2024

Lisbon is consistently ranked in the top 3 digital nomad locations in the world, and with good reason.

The charm of its architecture, reasonable cost of living, fast internet, and warm weather are all extremely appealing! But when you get down to it, is Lisbon as good for digital nomads as it might (at first) appear?

In fact, in the past few years, Lisbon has been overwhelmed by digital nomads, to the extent that property rental prices went through the roof for locals.

While a place might seem comparatively affordable to outsiders, the buying power of local wages can’t always match up to international buying power.

If you’re thinking of visiting Portugal, you may have questions about getting a digital nomad visa for Portugal, how to rent short-term or find out about co-living places.

I’ve worked remotely for over 15 years, and decided to go to Lisbon to find out about remote working there for myself. I took separate trips to Porto and the Algarve region too, so keep an eye out for my travel tips below.

Before you book your one-way ticket to Lisbon, I’m sharing my pros and cons of living in Lisbon as a digital nomad, plus a short guide to the Portugal digital nomad visa.

Remember, I tell it how it really is, and my opinions are based entirely on my personal experience. You’ll enter into Lisbon-life with your eyes wide open!

Living in Lisbon means seeing lots of yellow trams like this one.
Photo by Patrick Hughes – tram in central Lisbon

Is there a Digital Nomad Visa for Portugal?

Yes, Portugal has a visa for Digital Nomads. In fact, Portugal has one of the most-developed Digital Nomad visa systems.

How to get the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa

The Portugal Digital Nomad visa is a multi-entry visa that has a duration of less than one year. To get this visa, you need to meet these requirements:

  • Show an employment relationship, e.g., a contract, with an entity outside of Portugal.
  • Show proof of income for the previous 3 months (total value must be equivalent to 4x minimum monthly salary in Portugal). This works out roughly at €2,800 per month, but as that figure can fluctuate, check at the time of your application.
  • Provide evidence of your tax residency overseas.

You also need to know:

  • If you already qualify for the 180 day tourist visa (because of your nationality), then you only apply for the Digital Nomad visa if you want to stay more than 180 days (and less than a year).
  • Family members are permitted to join you in Portugal when you get this visa.

No Visa Needed: Citizens of the EU & EEA

Due to the EU’s freedom of movement rules, EU citizens can come to Portugal to live and work. Citizens of the EEA also have freedom of movement (EEA = EU countries plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland).

Pros & Cons of Living in Lisbon as a Digital Nomad

Pro: Lisbon is popular with digital nomads

Lisbon is extremely popular with digital nomads and has a well-developed nomad infrastructure. On my last visit, I stayed at a co-living place called SameSame and I struggled to get the dates that I wanted because it was so busy. Saying that, most digital nomads don’t live in this kind of community and just rent via Airbnb or VRBO.

The positive is that you’ll find a community of like-minded remote workers in the city. There’s a few Facebook groups that advertise and organise meet-ups and networking events, allowing you to make some connections.

The fact this all takes place in one of the most attractive cities in Europe is a big plus!

Con: Pushback on Digital Nomad Impact in Lisbon

According to this article, “local people are really fired up” about changes in their city (source: sociologist Guya Accornero). The influx of digital nomads into Lisbon is exacerbating social issues that have long been problematic.

There could be up to 20,000 digital nomads in Lisbon at any one time, and the average income of nomads versus locals gives nomads stronger buying power for short-term apartment rental. In turn, competition drives up the sales market to meet the demand, pushing locals out of their own neighbourhoods.

Nomads need to take this on board, no matter where we stay. Digital nomads have a duty of care to the cities they live in short-term.

There’s a political angle to this that I don’t have a resolution to: Portugal’s digital nomad visa is so successful, it’s impacting local lives. Should they cancel the visa, support local needs differently, discourage the metropolitan elite that travels so much? All valid discussion points.

The very least that we can do in any city is to ensure we contribute to the local economy by buying groceries or coffee or services from local, independent providers.

Pro: Cost of Living is Relatively Affordable

Lisbon offers a relatively affordable cost of living compared to other Western European capitals. You can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without spending all of your savings on rent, for example.

If you come from the US, UK or Australia, rent, food, and public transportation will all feel reasonably priced. Even though prices have been rising, you can still find budget-friendly options for accommodation and dining if you can be flexible with your “must-haves”.

As a nomad, keep back a sum for internet (I use an eSIM when I can’t login from a cafe or my room), social life (well worth it in Lisbon) and nomad insurance.

Con: Nomad life outside the main cities in Portugal is sparse

Lisbon, Porto and parts of the Algarve are very well-developed for digital nomads in terms of infrastructure and networking.

Life outside of the main cities is quite different: you may struggle to get a short-term rental, struggle to get decent internet speeds, and choices to network are much more limited. There’s more long-term expats than nomads, so try expat networks.

Some Portuguese writers say that these parts of Portugal have not seen a fair share of investment, meaning fewer jobs and (comparatively) less infrastructure. That’s a shame, as rural Portugal is so beautiful.

Pro: Good Internet Speed in the cities

Lisbon has good internet speed, which might be the most crucial facility for nomads! At the co-living space I used, it ran from 60-100mpbs and even in coffee shops I was getting 40mpbs.

There are exceptions. Before committing to any particular cafe, double check that it has fast wifi first (this has stood me in good stead in both Portugal and Spain).

Con: Bureaucratic Challenges

Portugal has a reputation for slow bureaucracy. If you need to deal with the state, expect slower appointments and more paperwork than you’re used to.

There’s been a move towards technology, but I’ve read so many complaints that government websites don’t always make processes very clear.

Needless to say, never leave anything requiring paperwork to the last minute, and I always reach out to get help from local experts to help smooth the process.

Pro: Lisbon has a Gorgeous Climate

Lisbon’s climate is a really big draw. The city has mild winters and warm summers, making it a comfortable place to live year-round.

Be aware that a lot of properties don’t have decent insulation but it doesn’t get so cold that you’ll freeze.

That means the city has plenty of outdoor cafes, parks (mainly outside of the centre) and some stunning beaches that are worth visiting most of the year. If you’re becoming a digital nomad to balance work with being outdoors, Lisbon is a great place to do that.

Con: Learning a new language (or is that a pro?)

Portuguese is the official language of Portugal and is classified as a Category 1 language, considered one of the easiest for English speakers to learn. I have to confess that isn’t my experience, struggling as I do with some of the sounds!

However, if you’re visiting for a short period, and not intending to do a course, you should know that many people in Lisbon speak English (especially in tourist areas).

I would strongly advise you that learning some Portuguese will make your experience much better and help with integrating into the local community.

Pro: Good Public Transportation

Lisbon has an extremely efficient and reliable public transportation system.

The metro, trams, and buses can get you almost anywhere in the city quickly and affordably. Plus, the trams are iconic!

So if you can’t get your first choice of accommodation location, look along the transport lines for an alternative, plus getting to know the route maps will help you plan your leisure days more easily.

One caveat: I had to go to my nearest metro station every time I needed a ticket for the tram, as there’s no machine at the stops and you can’t pay on board (without a season ticket).

Con: Limited Green Spaces and the Hills (galore!)

Don’t get me wrong, Lisbon has parks and places to hang out like Eduardo VII Park and the gardens in Belém. But if you’re used to abundant green spaces in Berlin, Amsterdam or Dublin, you’ll need to jump on Lisbon’s public transport to get to some of the best places.

Try out Parque Florestal de Monsanto or the Parque dos Poetas.

If you have a physical challenge (or indeed if you like to run) and you’re staying in central Lisbon, you might find the extremely hilly parts of Lisbon a real physical challenge or a bit of a problem.

Things I *never* forget to pack as a digital nomad:

Pro: Portuguese food is tasty

Portuguese food might not be (sufficiently) renowned, beyond pastel de nata custard tarts, a glass of port, or the Portuguese-African staple of peri-peri chicken!

However, I find it really tasty, if perhaps a little bit meat or fish heavy (you’ll find more vegan/veggie food options in Lisbon than anywhere else in Portugal). There’s quite a few salt-cod-based dishes (look for anything with the word ‘bacalhau’ on the menu).

Portugal produces lovely ingredients, from its olive oil, fresh vegetables, seafood, to local fresh breads. However, some mid-market restaurants have the reputation for overcooking their rice, vegetables or meats compared to other places. Keep an eye on reviews to match your expectations a bit more closely!

Con: Finding Accommodation in Lisbon got harder

Finding short-term accommodation in Lisbon used to be easy. But now it’s tougher and more expensive due to its popularity.

Most younger visitors (and some 40+ too!) want to stay close to the action (day-work, night-party) and the Airbnb market is an expensive mess in popular spots like Bairro Alto, Principe Real and Chiado.

If you’re longer term and want better value, you’ll need to head for the suburbs.

Photo by Patrick Hughes: the gorgeous plaza in Lisbon – Praça do Comércio

RELATED VIDEO – Why “co-living” in Lisbon is my favourite so far

I stayed at SameSame, a co-living place in Lisbon for about 10 days. This video goes over my experience and shares a little about life as a digital nomad in Portugal.  

Photo by Patrick Hughes: the tram in central Lisbon

The 5 best cities for digital nomads in Portugal

I appreciate I’ve made the pros & cons section of this entire post about Lisbon, but it’s not the only place that I’ve stayed as a nomad (Porto, Madeira and Vilamoura in the Algarve). The digital nomad visa works for the entire country, so keep your mind open:

  • Lisbon – most people will pick Lisbon as their hub in Portugal, as it’s the capital and easiest to get around if you don’t speak Portuguese. The concentration of nomads in the city opens up great chances for community and social life, plus co-working and co-living places. It’s more expensive than most other parts of Portugal, but comparatively cheaper than much of Europe.
  • Porto – as a smaller city, Porto packs a serious punch in terms of food, creative arts, social life and beautiful location. The city centre is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, but it wears its history a little more lightly than Lisbon, and the young more artsy crowd gives Porto a lively reputation for its social life.
  • Madeira – the city of Funchal on the Atlantic island of Madeira has a big digital nomad community. The island has a stunning coastline, but know it’s quite expensive compared to the mainland. I stayed for two weeks at a sensible hotel with excellent wi-fi and enjoyed the half-being-on-holiday nature of it all!
  • Algarve – the bastion of Northern European golfers, the Algarve is studded with tourist towns from Faro to the West (Albufeira, Vilamoura, Quarteira). In high season, I wouldn’t bother visiting as a nomad as accommodation and eating out rates will be expensive and it’s mostly a tourist vibe. However, I spent a month in Vilamoura in the winter and had a nice apartment with fast wifi for around €1200 (much lower than summer rates) – here’s my video about digital nomad life on the Algarve.
  • Coimbra – I think this ancient university city gets overlooked for Lisbon and Porto. It’s a smaller city, so if the quieter, more academic vibe works for you, Coimbra will give you a lot of bang for your buck, as it’s cheaper too.

Things to Do in Lisbon

  • Get out and enjoy traditional Portuguese food at a peri-peri restaurant (I enjoyed the spicy chicken at Restaurante Bonjardim).
  • Take a fun day trip to the romantic Sintra on this private tour.
  • Get out and about on public transport – I loved Belem Tower and the promenade along the River Tagus. Also check out the nearby Monasterio de los Jerónimos de Belém and go to Monument to the Discoveries.
  • Go visit some of the main Lisbon landmarks while you’re in the country:

RELATED VIDEO – Life on the Algarve (Portugal) as a Digital Nomad

If you wanted to see how I lived for a month in an Airbnb in Vilamoura, in the Algarve Region of Portugal, this is the right video for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you meet local people?

The short answer is: it’ll be hard if all you do is work! Plus you’re likely to meet other nomads or expats at co-working spaces. But it is possible and Portuguese people are generally friendly.

I met most people at events, particularly at small concerts (both jazz and fado are very popular).

But you won’t meet anyone unless you try and go out to a gig or an event.

What’s the best time to live in Portugal as a Digital Nomad?

One reason that Lisbon is so popular is that the weather never gets *really* cold in the winter. However, if you come in the winter, some apartments will not have powerful-enough heating for cooler spells (at least for me).

I think the best time to visit is from March until November each year. During the summer, it will be quite hot and tourism is much higher so Spring or Autumnal months are – in my view – the best. Of course, if you’re staying for a much longer period, you’ll get to encounter it all!

Can I find digital nomad jobs in Portugal?

The idea of Portugal’s digital nomad visa is that you’re proving you can afford to live in Portugal, while working for a company NOT in Portugal.

However, if you’re looking for additional work and you are a citizen of the EU then you can, of course, find work in Lisbon. However, you’re likely to require fluent Portuguese for most longer-term jobs.

Is Lisbon safe for digital nomads?

Lisbon is considered quite safe for digital nomads. You’ll find the usual petty crime (robberies, scams) around the main transport hubs and tourist sites. Some areas might also feel a bit sketchy to some visitors, but you should not always equate somewhere being underdeveloped with danger.

However, with some simple safety precautions, most people will feel pretty safe, including on Lisbon’s public transport.

What is Portugal like for solo travel?

As a solo traveller myself, I think Portugal is one of the easiest countries in Europe to navigate. The train network CP is excellent (watch my experience in first class) and public transport in the main cities is extensive and well-priced.

Conclusion

Lisbon is popular with digital nomads for two clear reasons: it’s well-priced and generally warm!

If I can sum it up, the pros include a good visa system, a reputation for welcoming digital nomads, and good infrastructure for getting around. On the con side is the impact of digital nomads on local communities, a language barrier (for some) and lack of investment outside of the main hubs.

What I want as a digital nomad is some decent weather, the chance to meet up with people, great internet speed and affordability. Portugal offers most of that, and I think visiting in shoulder season will give you the perfect balance of warmth while avoiding overcrowding.

If it’s your first time visiting, go for a long weekend if you’re already in Europe, or schedule 2 weeks if you’re coming from further away. That will give you a sense of whether it’s worth investing a substantial sum in a longer stay in Portugal.

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