Lisbon is a major hub for location-independent professionals, or digital nomads, because it is a relatively affordable city, is well-placed geographically, and encourages entrepreneurship, says the CEO and chairman of NomadX.

“I would say Lisbon is like the digital nomad headquarters in Europe,” David Nicol Williams, co-founder of NomadX—a platform offering affordable rentals for digital nomads—told Via News in a recent exclusive interview.

He says digital nomadism is a fairly new trend and the whole idea around it is the concept of geoarbitrage—which means relocating in order to take advantage of the lower costs of a city or a country.

Dave believes that Lisbon is a great destination for digital nomads because the cost of living is lower compared to cities such as Paris, London, or New York.

It is becoming like a “hot spot” and a “base camp” for them as many of them look to travel around Europe because the cost of flying is rather inexpensive, especially now that Brexit is scaring away a lot of companies from London.

He said more and more people are choosing the Portuguese capital for various other reasons, including its pleasant weather, vibrant startup-related activities, the incentives offered by the government, and the developing infrastructure.

“I think Portugal is a great location even for U.S. companies if they’re looking to launch into Europe as it is very well-positioned. It’s in such a close proximity to the U.S., and people here speak English very well. There’s also a lot of encouragement around entrepreneurship, and a lot of people here are really excited about entrepreneurship,” Dave added.

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Nomad List’s Ranking

Based on the January 2020 ranking of Nomad List, which introduces best places in the world to work remotely, Lisbon is among the top 10 destinations worldwide and is 3rd among the European Union cities after Budapest and Sofia.

According to Nomad List, Lisbon is among the top 10 destinations for digital nomads worldwide and is 3rd among the European Union cities. (Photo credit: Nomad List)

Expansion Plans

The co-founder of NomadX—which is virtually incubated in Startup Lisboa, says they are currently offering hosted accommodations for slow-traveling professionals in Lisbon, Porto, and several other cities in Portugal and plan to expand to other top global destinations for digital nomads.

NomadX announced at Web Summit 2019 in Lisbon that it has acquired HomelessNHappy, a Bali-based company created by digital nomads Oli Nold and Lisa Orth with years of expertise in global community building for digital nomads, online business coaching, organic social media traffic, and automated sales funnels.

According to a post published on NomadX’s blog, Oli will “oversee and run NomadX business operating units for affordable housing, global community, and the launch of its educational programs for digital nomads.”

Lisa will “lead the further development of training programs, coaching partnerships, and master classes for digital nomads and entrepreneurs.”

Dave says NomadX will be focusing more on educational programs in 2020 and is formulating a “master class-type concept but with digital nomads teaching other digital nomads their expertise”.

“We’re gonna open up the housing platform in Bali in early 2020,” he noted, adding that they will be expanding to Canggu and Ubud in the Indonesian island, which are among the top digital nomad destinations globally. “The next step would be like Thailand and Spain.”

He said NomadX is contributing to the local economy by bringing more exposure to Portugal and bringing more nomads to the country through offering them affordable options.

“I think Portugal is a great location even for U.S. companies if they’re looking to launch into Europe as it is very well-positioned. It’s in such a close proximity to the U.S., and people here speak English very well.”

David Nicol Williams, chairman and CEO at NomadX

Dave believes that the need for platforms offering services to digital nomads is now being felt more strongly as the number of digital nomads is increasing considerably.

“As people are getting more confident in their ability to actually get their work done [remotely] instead of taking a vacation for a week or two, they are traveling for a month or two months and then working on their holidays as well.”

Rising Trend

NomadX’s chairman says there are millions of people in the U.S. who classify themselves as digital nomads and “that’s supposed to increase significantly over the next couple of years.”

According to the MBO Partners 2018 State of Independence in America research, 4.8 million independent workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads.

It also found that roughly 17 million Americans with traditional jobs plan on becoming digital nomads over the next 2 to 3 years. Around 42 million people said they “may” decide to take that route.

The State of Independence in America report is the longest-running comprehensive look at the independent workforce. 

“The outlook for digital nomadism is quite positive. Continued improvements in mobile and cloud computing tools and technologies will lead to greater levels of remote work. An expanding number of specialized services and products are making it easier to become and operate as a digital nomad, and corporations—large and small—are expected to hire more remote workers—both independent and traditional—in the coming years,” the report said.

It added that demographic trends and changing views towards work will also help drive the digital nomad trend.

“This combination of trends leads to an increase in both the supply and demand for digital nomads,” the research noted.

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