The Ultimate Remote Working Destination
Five years ago, I decided to leave the corporate rat race behind and start a new life in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. In the half-decade since, I have not regretted this decision once. As an online coach, I’ve found the city to be the ideal remote working destination.
Home to just over half a million people, Lisbon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe (or at least, it was pre-coronavirus). It is also a big draw for digital nomads and retired expats, thanks to its affordable cost of living, 300 days a year of warm, sunny weather, and thriving cultural environment.
Part of the appeal for remote workers is the country’s excellent communications infrastructure. This is something I can personally vouch for. I have to regularly conduct video conferences with clients all over the world. In my experience, not only is the internet service high-quality, it’s also very affordable. For less than €50 per month (US$60), you can get a package deal for cable TV, cellphone service, a fixed phone line, and high-speed internet.
Outside of working hours, Lisbon is an amazing place to explore, offering gorgeous riverside walkways, nearby beaches, narrow cobblestone streets, medieval castles, baroque monuments, and lavish green parks where you can do all sorts of outdoor sports. All of this within a radius of 13 miles.
One of the key attractions for foreign freelancers and retirees is the cost of housing. You can rent an apartment in the city from €650 ($770), with prices in sought-after districts such as Belém, Alcântara, or Campo de Ourique rising to about €1,500 ($1,770) a month for a two-bedroom place. But no matter where you stay in Lisbon, you’ll be close to excellent cafés and restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets.
Food is one of Lisbon’s main draws. The food culture is based on a fresh, healthy Mediterranean diet, and local restaurants are very affordable by international standards. The city offers countless homely neighborhood eateries where you can have a stunning lunch for less than €10 ($12).
With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare is foremost in the minds of many people. And in this regard, Lisbon again excels. Private healthcare is quite inexpensive, especially when compared to prices in the U.S. Comprehensive health insurance costs up to €150 ($176) a month for someone over 50 years old. Portugal also has a universal medical care system. This means that all residents have access to public healthcare, which is not completely free, but unbelievably cheap.
Being on the edge of Europe, Lisbon offers direct flights to the U.S., so in normal circumstances, you can fly from Lisbon to Miami, New York, Boston, and other North American destinations. Since Portugal borders Spain, you can also explore Europe by car; it takes about six hours to drive to Madrid.
To me, one of the most appealing aspects of life in this booming city is its safety and openness to foreigners. Portugal is ranked as the third-safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index. The people are welcoming, and most speak English or will do their best to communicate with foreigners.
If you long to work from a culture-rich destination with a slower pace of life and affordable cost of living, Lisbon is definitely the place to be.
By Deborah Dahab