Portugal’s Labour Minister Ana Mendes Godinho has described digital nomads as “fundamental” and stressed the vital role they play in the country’s development – particularly in inland areas and regions like the Algarve, one of the main digital nomad destinations in Portugal.
In an interview with RTP3 last week, Godinho emphasised the importance of attracting digital nomads to the country, particularly to live in rural areas, which the minister said have been “rediscovered through new forms of work”.
The minister defended that the country must “invest to attract people to Portugal”, reiterating that the country has already positioned itself as having the “capacity to attract digital nomads”.
As Godinho pointed out, there are 650,000 immigrants working in Portugal, six times more than in 2015. In Social Security contributions alone, foreigners already represent 10% of the country’s working force and account for €1.8 billion, the minister said.
When it comes to digital nomads, Godinho said there is a regime that allows them to “actively contribute to Social Security, even if they work for companies in the US or anywhere in the world”, the minister highlights, emphasising the importance of “having open systems for new forms of work”.
According to the minister, Portugal has issued “around 550 visas” for digital nomads.
The Algarve has become one of the main destinations for digital nomads in Portugal, with some towns already boasting their own communities.
The Portimão Digital Nomads officially inaugurated their very first coworking space in the centre of Alvor. The grand opening took place on March 11 and was a huge success, with over 80 attendees, including Alvor Parish Mayor Ivo Carvalho and members of Portimão City Council.
The shared space can accommodate up to 15 people and boasts modern amenities such as high-speed internet and a communal break area. It is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm, is free to use upon registration, and open to the local community.
Lagos has also stood out as a location to settle for digital nomads, being currently ranked number one in Europe on www.nomadlist.com, a leading platform for the global remote-working community.
Joana Glória, who created the Lagos Digital Nomads project in 2020, says the community currently has 6,500 members and is active between mid-September and mid-May, with Germany and the Netherlands being the main countries of origin for the digital nomads seeking Lagos.
“When the tourist season starts, the prices of accommodation are very high; they can’t afford it, and they go to other cheaper destinations, and then return,” she told Lusa, stressing that the digital nomad is the “new tourist” and that there are also more and more Portuguese opting for this lifestyle.
In the room converted into an office at WOT Lagos Montemar Hotel, one of the places where the Lagos Digital Nomads community usually organises events and ‘coworking’ sessions, several languages can be heard, but mainly English, between video calls to work meetings or phone calls, in what is a normal day for a remote worker.
Seeing that this was a growing segment, the hotel chain opened up to digital nomads during the pandemic when the whole tourism sector had to reinvent itself, says Angélica Carneiro, sales director of the WOT chain.
“We began to realise that it was a growing segment and that it was going to help us combat seasonality, which is a serious problem in the Algarve, and this is a target public that comes more in the low season,” she explains, adding that there are workers who have long-term stays, with access to the ‘coworking’ space, while others go there just to work.
Further east in Loulé, a digital startup created a new platform to attract digital nomads to the borough’s inland regions.
“Rural Digital Nomads was developed to promote the settlement of remote workers in the mountain parishes of the Loulé municipality”, said its promoter.
“There are many digital nomadic communities on the Portuguese coast, but very few inland. The project comes to fill this gap. That is, we intend to create digital nomadic communities in the interior to solve this gap and attract people inland,” said startup founder Fábio Jesuíno.
If you would like to learn more about what it takes to become a digital nomad in Portugal, the country’s tourism authority has put together an article touching upon the steps that need to be taken to obtain a digital nomad visa.