Portugal Through The Eyes Of Digital Nomads



Created in collaboration with TravelB4Settle

As Digital Nomads, you would think we don’t spend much time at home, right? Well, things are not really like this, but let us explain from the beginning. 

Two years ago, after graduating, we thought we would follow the ‘’normal path’’ society has designed for us. We had a plan to look for a 9-to-5 job in our areas (chemical engineering and occupational therapy), but we always knew we wanted it outside of Portugal. We always loved to travel and experience to live abroad (as we previously did while studying) was a desire. ‘’We thought’’…. 

You wanna know what changed everything? You will laugh! Well, all our plans changed because of a Facebook advertisement (we told you, go ahead, you can make fun of us). Yes, a Facebook AD of a travel blogger explaining how he and his girlfriend were traveling full time for 3 years already and living off money they were earning online. That made us completely rethink all our life and plans. We ended up watching a webinar and then enrolling in his online course. Fast forward two years, here we are, doing the same! Living as digital nomads happier than ever. Working online and travelling full time without owing explanations to anyone!  

As you can imagine, things took time to take off. We booked a one-way ticket to India and ended up staying 8 months in Asia spread between India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. At the beginning we had no clue of what we were doing. We started our own website (travelb4settle.com), and developed our social media channels creating content consistently  (photography, videography, articles, etc) and after a while we started doing some digital influencer and freelance jobs. 

The experience was incredible, but we felt like we needed to come back to Portugal. Not only to see our families but also to see how would be to be back in Portugal as remote workers. The truth is those months were super important to our business. We did some really important networking and started to work with some Portuguese companies that we still work today. We looked at our own country with other eyes and it was amazing to realize how Portugal is embracing the new Digital Era of remote workers. Many coworkings and colivings all over Portugal and we totally understand why! Good weather almost all year around and of course the huge (832 Km) coastline that attracts surfers from everywhere in the world. Plus there are tons of events around Lisbon which is critical for networking. Something we value a lot! 

All this combined with the desire of exploring more of our own country made us stay in Portugal for 7 months. It may sound biased but Portugal is not only our home it is also our favorite country in the world. So we know, no matter where we are in the world, we will  always come back and spend some months in our own country. However, Matilde starts freezing below 15ºC we had to try other places and we finally had the chance to visit the Portuguese Islands (Madeira and Azores) and we ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. These and the Canary Islands in the neighbor Spain are a great option in the European winter. That’s the reason the Digital Nomad scene is growing so fast there. Tenerife stayed in our hearts, once again, because of all the network we did in an amazing Coliving we stayed in. Right after we visited Poland in the peak of the winter for some snowy experiences. Matilde hardly accepted it but even though she looked like an advertisement for Michelin, with so many layers of clothes on, she ended up liking it. 😀 

Months passed and it was only after a year, that we saw our income stabilizing. We always  knew we could make it work! We never stopped to work and grow our brand and the contacts in Portugal continued to grow. At this point, we made a huge shift in our business and made our website and social media channels bilingual and started to create a lot more content in Portuguese. 

Portugal has such an enormous potential for the remote workers community. It is a developed country with low prices and a huge variety of nature, landscapes and activities. The food is unexplainably good, the weather is one of the best in Europe and, of course, the surf is world class level. The Internet speed is super fast in most places, which helps as Portugal became a big power in the Startup world, and now it is full of quickly growing projects and ambitious entrepreneurs. 

We understood Portugal is still in the beginning of this Digital Era and we wanted to help our country to grow in this direction and to help other Portugueses to achieve this lifestyle that we love so much! Imagine, it took one and a half years for us to realize what exactly we want to do from now on. 

Even though there are so many attractions for remote workers in Portugal, we have the Digital Nomad disease, which is… We can’t stay for too long in one place! So, with this new focus in mind, we decided to explore a new continent, a new culture and see what South America had to offer us. And without any expectations we arrived to Colombia and it was such a happy surprise for us. It is an enormous country full of nature, paradisiac beaches and, more importantly, amazing people and energy in the air! 

The Colombian people made us love the country, the happiest people we’ve ever seen, it was contagious! That’s probably why we ended up staying for 4 months in Colombia and only had the chance to visit Ecuador and the beautiful mountains around for a couple of weeks before heading back to Portugal. 

This time things changed a bit. We decided to ”settle” for a while in Portugal in order to get some projects launched and prepare the next year for our business which is going to be big. However, this time, we decided to make our base in Santa Cruz, a little village next to the ocean where Matilde spent her summer vacations every year. It was also the place we met each other and fell in love, like ‘’next to the ocean’’ wasn’t convincing enough to be our perfect base in Portugal. 

We loved it and we got to work like we have never before, even though we had to visit Lisbon more than we should. As we said before, Lisbon the capital, is where everything happens. All these events are super important for networking and with networking, amazing things can happen. And they did! A couple of months after being in Portugal, another travel blogger invited us to do a workshop to help others starting to work online and become digital nomads as well. 

The workshop went so well that we quickly planned to do the workshop across the country (south, center and north). We understood immediately that people were interested in knowing how they could do the same as we were doing, to achieve this freedom we have. And luckily we got invited to reproduce the workshop in Lisbon in the first Remote Work conference in Portugal. Mind blown!

This conference made us realize how big this remote movement is going to be and that Portugal, even if a bit behind, is going to become a superpower in the online world. And we have to be part of this implementation! 

It was unanimous that Portugal is a perfect place for Remote Workers & Digital Nomads. From the insane coast with beautiful beaches for the surfers to the snow in the highest point (1993m) of Portugal for the winter sport lovers; unique cities full of history and activities to do; awesome rural areas for the nature and peace lovers, and so much more. Connection won’t be a problem and you’ll hardly be the only Digital Nomad in the room. 

Apologies if we sound biased, but you’ve probably understood how much we love this country. And if you ever decide to give it a try, you’ll definitely see why. But be careful, you may never leave again! 

Com muito amor (Much love, in Portuguese),

Matilde & Miguel.