Lagos Digital Nomads has 6,500 members and is active between mid-September and mid-May, with Germany and the Netherlands being the main countries of origin.
Digital nomads from other European countries, but also Portuguese, are surrendering to the delight of Lagos, in the Algarve, a city where there is a significant community of these remote workers, who are considered the new tourists.
Most of these people work in IT, are between the ages of 30 and 40, and settle in the Algarve during the low season, when accommodation is cheaper, to spend a season and then go on to another destination, returning the following winter.
Dennis Franz, a 35-year-old German who runs his own online marketing company, told Lusa that it was in Portugal that he started his journey as a digital nomad in 2014. Two years later, he has started spending seasons on a regular basis in Lagos, which he considers “the place” to be.
“I don’t have a flat, I don’t have what you might call a house, I usually stay in hotels or Airbnb [local accommodation]. I’ve been doing this since 2015, and I usually try to visit 12 to 15 countries a year,” he said, adding that he considers Portugal his home and the “best country in the world”, where people are friendly and fun: “And they help you if you need it.”
Dennis says he stays in Lagos for a maximum of five months, although for the last two years, only two to three months, and usually in winter because in summer, “there are too many people and it’s too expensive”. The cost of living is “almost the same as in other countries, especially the rents, which are very high”, although restaurants are “on the cheap”.
For digital nomads who work according to European time zones, “there is a financial advantage to being in Portugal”, although the cost of living is “increasing”, which makes many of these workers opt for cheaper destinations, especially on the Asian continent, he notes.
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.
This is the case of Marco Teixeira, 30, born in Cascais (Lisbon district), who had the opportunity to move to the Algarve two years ago for the company he worked for, with offices in Faro. A year ago, he chose the city of Lagos to live in – where he enjoys a calmer life, without the hustle and bustle of Greater Lisbon or the stress of public transport and traffic.
The SEO manager says that the lifestyle he now leads has even translated into an increase in productivity, as he has “more space to think”, and, despite working the so-called “normal” hours, from 9 am to 6 pm, he does not have to follow them, as long as he presents results.
It was in the breakfast area of the WOT Lagos Montemar Hotel, converted for a few hours into a workspace for dozens of remote workers, that Marco met a professional colleague, Débora Rocha, from Almada (Setúbal district), also in her 30s, who began spending time in Lagos to work during the winter.
“I love the Algarve, and I think that down here, you can create a sense of community that you can’t get in Lisbon – or at least, I haven’t felt you could because down here, people are more open and available”, saying that her next destinations are Holland in March, followed by Germany, and Greece in June.
Besides the greater freedom and a less accelerated lifestyle than in the big cities, these workers also praise the ease of establishing professional and other contacts that this new way of working brings them, made possible by the fact that they travel a lot.
“Normally, what I do is: I stay in one place for a while, then in another place, and I travel, for the time being, within Europe. This type of work allows you to get to know many places, many different people, and I wouldn’t change a thing about what I’m doing”, Débora added.
In the room converted into an office at the 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, this hotel chain began to bet on digital nomads when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, forcing the entire tourism sector to reinvent itself, says Angélica Carneiro, sales director of the WOT Hotels 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 notes, adding that there are workers who have long-term stays, with access to the ‘coworking’ space, while others go there just to work.
Prices to use the workspace range from €15 a day to €160 for a month, with the possibility of using the coworking room for three days (€40), five days (€60), seven days (€80) or two weeks (€120).