Digital Nomadism in Lisbon
Forget the phrase ‘wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home‘. Nowadays, it’s more like: ‘wherever I open my laptop, that’s my office’. Digital nomadism (that is, working remotely from wherever you fancy) is exploding in popularity across the world as young people ditch the stuffy 9-to-5 for a more flexible work schedule abroad. For those who are able to communicate with the office virtually (think web programmers, graphic designers and even traders) digital nomadism offers the chance to get embedded into new cultures and satisfy wanderlust whilst holding down a full-time job. Sound like your dream come true? Read on!
During August, I tested out a digital nomad life in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. As a fluent Portuguese speaker it was my natural choice, but talk of a quiet transformation in the city had me hooked. Having lived in Portugal six years ago, I was already in love with Spain’s unassuming neighbour, whose attitude and architecture is utterly charming despite being rough around the edges. Now, a recent injection of investment is rejuvenating Lisbon, whilst maintaining more than a nod to tradition. A wander around Lisbon these days will reveal lovingly restored townhouses with wrought iron balconies clad in intricate azulejos (colourful tiles) overlooking leafy squares. There is a bustling nightlife in the Bairro Alto’s steep labyrinthine streets, as well as a growing trend of cool (legal) hangouts on the rooftops of shopping malls and car parks. A host of fantastic restaurants nestled around the city means you’ll never have to eat the same dish twice and the beach is only 20 minutes away from the city centre. In short, Lisbon is an exciting, up-and-coming city that is beautiful, affordable and sun-soaked to boot. I loved it!
If you’re thinking of trying digital nomadism and fancy heading to Portugal, here is a rundown of the three coolest co-working spaces to get your taste of digital nomadism in Lisbon.
The first co-work space to be set up in Lisbon in 2005, CoworkLisboa hosts a mix of local and international freelancers in what used to be a sprawling fabric factory. Now, the LX Factory is bursting at the seams with boutique shops, art exhibitions and a mouth-watering array of restaurants and cafes. In a beautiful touch that sums up Portugal’s desire to reference its past, you will see cute fabric bunting displayed at many of these local businesses as a reminder of the building’s former use.
Location: Slightly removed from the city centre, it takes around 20 minutes to reach LX by tram or bus. You will still be spoilt for choice for places to spend your lunch break thanks to the maze of shops and cafes in the LX Factory itself.
Facilities: Open plan office with 1 x meeting room, which can be booked for a maximum of 1 hour. Printing is included and the internet is mostly reliable, although not quite strong enough for important Skype calls. Fridge, microwave and kitchen available for bringing in your own lunch.
Social life: Although the office itself is quiet, plastered on the walls of the rest of the building you will find invitations to gigs, art shows, yoga classes, sample sales and more.
Cost: 12 EUR per day / 40 EUR per week / 100 EUR per month for hot desking. A free trial day can be arranged.
Village Underground Lisboa
Weighing in at an impressive 9.4 on the hipster scale (we made that up, but it seems fitting) this arts and entertainments space made from boldly painted shipping containers and two converted buses doubles up as a co-work space and nightlife hub. Created by the same brains behind Village Underground London, VULisboa has become a destination for creative professionals. Situated in the Museu da Carris, it has a cafeteria, meeting room and several individual containers for teams to work from.
Location: It can be tricky to find VULisboa, and although it is right next to the LX Factory, there is no through access, so you have a slightly longer walk from the bus stop to get here. You will also find the amenities such as toilets and cafes (other than the cafe on site) are a ten minute walk away.
Facilities: The VU shipping container set up suits small businesses best, who can all be housed in one neat unit. All containers have air-con and fast internet. The renovated buses serve as a meeting room and cafeteria. There are plenty of nooks to sit outside to take a phone call (including a swing). Not for fans of the open plan set up.
Social life: VULisboa is best known for its party scene among the hipster crowd. Think ultra cool DJs, theatre performances and wave of young creatives very excited to see this type of space spring up in their hometown.
Cost: 12 EUR per day / 150 EUR per month. A free trial day can be arranged.
The new kid on the block, Surf Office offers the full package for digital nomads, including accommodation with a private room and housekeeping services. Set up by surfer Peter Fabor, this is the place to come if you want to tap into a ready-made community of like-minded international freelancers and entrepreneurs. This is the third Surf Office venture (others are in Gran Canaria, Spain and Santa Cruz, California) that only opened its doors on 15th August. Surf Office also offers short-term company retreat packages.
Location: Slap bang in the central hub of Cais do Sodré, Surf Office is a stones throw from the city’s thriving nightlife. This is also the main tourist track, so beware of the busy surroundings.
Facilities: Two floors of accommodation and one floor of office space. Printer, high speed internet and meeting rooms are all included.
Social life: Surf Office prides itself on the community it fosters and regularly organises events, trips and meet ups. A partnership with a local surf company means residents can be picked up by a van after a quick ferry ride across the river to get to the best surf spots.
Cost: 65 EUR per night (twin rooms are available for those travelling with a friend)
A handy cut out and keep quick London-Lisbon Price Comparison (you’ll have to print it first…)
For more on Lisbon, click here to discover some of the city highlights you cannot afford to miss.