Digital nomads
From Rural Move Facebook page

Digital nomads give thumbs up for experience in rural north east town

Miranda do Douro hosts Rural Move ‘experiment’

Remote workers from all kinds of sectors have given the thumbs-up to conditions created in the municipality of Miranda do Douro, in the north east of Portugal, where they have just spent a week as part of “an innovative experiment where they continued their normal working lives and discovered something about the region”.

Promoted by Rural Move – Association for the Promotion of Investment in Low Density Rural Areas, the focus was on showing people who they could live “in dynamic rural communities with happy people”, explains Lusa.

Manager Andréa Barbosa, in charge of Rural Move Miranda do Douro, explained that “for this to be possible, Rural Move, in collaboration with strongly committed local people and institutions, creates the most appropriate conditions for the promotion of human regeneration, economy and demography of rural locations, in order to promote the reduction of economic and social inequalities and provide rural communities the opportunity to achieve their full potential”.

For a week (ending today) 15 remote workers, from here and abroad, involved in diverse areas including scientific research, translation, consulting, design, and economic and knowledge sectors stayed in the area’s agricultural training centre of Malhadas.

For Sávio Lemos, from Fortaleza, Brazil, who works in consultancy and strategic communication for brands and businessmen, the stay in Miranda do Douro was “a pleasant surprise, as it is a different kind of region where the natural beauty and its unique culture stand out.

“I’ve been travelling around Portugal for a year now, but when I arrived here (Miranda do Douro), I immediately realised that there are various options for working in the villages of this district, ranging from gastronomy to viticulture.

“Another strong point is that Miranda do Douro is very close to Spain, which helps to increase contact with this country”, he told Lusa.

The only “small drawback”, in his opinion, was the fact that Miranda do Douro is a “cold region, and it is important to have “cosier” working spaces”. 

But as for the logistics/ data transmission etc. he said he did not experience any difficulties.

And this is the ‘beauty’ of Portugal’s appeal to digital nomads: they do not have to concentrate in ‘popular areas’, where rents are high/ the cost of living is expensive. Rural, interior parts of the country where life is more affordable can be just as ‘well covered’ by the necessary telecoms infrastructure.

Rúben Oliveira, who came from Oliveira do Bairro, in the district of Aveiro (and thus is perfectly used to ‘cold regions), gave the experience a full thumbs-up, telling Lusa it was “above initial expectations.

“We had the opportunity to carry out our work in a normal way, as if we were at home, and at the same time get to know a new district through a range of after-work activities, from the Mirandese language to other local activities and the natural surroundings of the International Douro”.

Rúben Oliveira works in biotechnology, which is dedicated to the ‘design’ of three-dimensional platforms for cell culture, explains Lusa.

Andreia Proença, from Guarda – another extremely cold region in winter – also has no complaints.

She told Lusa she felt the most important thing “is what we take away, which is the knowledge of the people that are part of these rural communities. It is in this sense that a region like this should invest – like others low population densities. 

“It is important that after working hours there are complementary activities to create bridges between nomadic people and residents, this being a super important factor”, she added.

For promoters of the initiative, the “vicious circle of social and economic imbalance” is one of the “great challenges” of low density regions.

“In recent decades, what has happened is that these regions have lost population, as is the case of Miranda do Douro, which in the last decade lost 17% and has an increasingly ageing population, with only 24% of residents under the age of 24“, said Rural Move’s Andréa Barbosa.

The full picture of the experience of these 15 remote workers is due to be ‘presented’ in the coming weeks.

The government’s new ‘digital nomad visa’ is a cornerstone of the move towards embracing digital transition, and enabling a different kind of foreigner move and experience Portugal.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com