This month marks the first anniversary of Portimão Digital Nomads, one of the fastest-growing digital nomad communities in southern Portugal.
Over 1,100 members have joined the group since it was founded in December 2021, making it one of the largest groups of its kind in the Algarve.
It was formed by local couple Manuela Defrancesco and Alex Freire, who were inspired by the soaring number of digital nomads choosing to settle in Portugal to develop an online platform that unites the local and remote-worker communities in Portimão, while also fostering regional commerce, especially during slower times of the year.
They joined forces with three of the group’s earliest members, communications manager Jenifer Messina, tech entrepreneur Eduardo Pinillos and community growth officer Kat Logan, who contributed their expertise to shape the online group into the recognisable brand it is today.
Lively meet-ups take place every two weeks and frequent events including seminars, workshops, and volunteer opportunities are planned. Additionally, partnerships have been formed with other Portimão businesses to benefit members and stimulate regional trade.
Group founder, Manuela, explains that the goal is to help make nomads feel at home, and assist them assimilate into the neighbourhood.
“We also boost year-round economies by bringing activity to nearby companies during the slow season. We foster networking opportunities for locals as well, and we give back by sponsoring activities like beach clean-ups, animal shelter volunteering, and financial education.”
The group’s efforts are paying off and have placed Portimão on the map, quite literally.
At the beginning of 2021, website NomadList.com ranked Portimão as the 105th best city in the world for digital nomads. Since then, it has climbed to 10th position and has been mentioned in news stories across the globe.
Notably, Portimão Digital Nomads will open its first co-working facility in the town of Alvor in early 2023, with the support of the Alvor Municipal Parish, which will have space for up to 20 workers.
Umberto and Tatiana, remote digital designers who relocated from Italy to Portugal a year ago, had originally intended to live in Albufeira but changed their minds after attending a Portimão Digital Nomad meet-up and decided on Portimão instead.
“It was clear in our minds that we wanted to live in the Algarve but knew nothing about it,” they explain, adding: “We attended a meeting and fell in love with the spirit shared. After many years of travelling and living in different countries, we have found the community we were looking for.”
Fellow group members Johanna from Finland and Gina from Hungary, both content writers and translators, said: “We chose the Algarve for the climate, kind people and relatively low cost of living. We chose Portimão as it’s an ideal-sized town with all the necessary services and good possibilities for outdoorsy hobbies. Through the group, we have been able to meet and connect with a lot of people whom we otherwise might not have met.”
Future-wise, Portimão Digital Nomads is seeking more opportunities to integrate with the local community and promote Portimão as a unique and desirable place to live, work and have fun all year round. It hopes to draw support from local government, entities and businesses to create large-scale events and attract even more visitors.