We arrived in Porto, Portugal this week.
And, I’m in love.
In fact, I fell in love with Europe when I came to Porto.
The short of it: Porto is beautiful, safe, friendly, hilly (good for my bum!), cheap (for Europe), and has wonderful weather.
Why did we choose Porto?
We chose to live in Porto for six weeks as a digital nomad family for a few reasons.
1) Chasing warmer weather
Portugal has some of the best weather (year round) when it comes to Europe. We could have chosen a region south of Porto that would’ve been a tiny bit warmer, but we chose Porto because it is an up-and-coming digital nomad hotspot.
From what I’ve learned, Porto stays cooler in the summer, being by the ocean, and doesn’t get frigid cold in the winter. For our time here (Nov/Dec) I think we mostly expect high 50s/low 60s during the day and at night usually in the high 40s/low 50s. That’s enjoyable!
2) Like-Minded People
As noted above, Porto is a growing digital nomad area. (Lisbon is, too, and has a bigger digital nomad community, but Porto is cheaper.)
Therefore, living in Porto means two things: we can meet and be inspired by like-minded people and it’s cheap living. Digital nomads chase cheap places. In fact, we’re going to a digital nomad meet-up in Porto this week, and I’m excited to finally meet other digital nomads.
For the past six months, we’ve lived abroad by housesitting for our accommodations (awesome ‘cuz that means “free!”). Housesitting is wonderful for many reasons (especially saving money and getting to take care of cool animals), but it usually puts you in locations that aren’t necessarily digital nomad hotspots.
Living in Porto changes all that!
We’re eager to meet up with like-minded people globetrotting like us. It’ll be inspiring as we trade tips, business cards, and stories about living a laptop lifestyle. Check this link for more co-working options in Porto.
Update: we found (via Meetup.com) a digital nomad meetup that meets monthly at one of the co-working spots. Specifically, this co-working company has various locations around Porto and the monthly meetup moves around to the different ones each month.
We took Kamea two times (November and December) and had a great time. Our digital nomad kid went around chatting about housesitting and our travels, collecting emails from people. She networked more than we did!
Porto is a great value. Although Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is popular and pretty inexpensive, too, Porto is cheaper still.
Both Lisbon and Porto are digital nomad hotspots, with Porto being younger on the scene for that so not quite as big.
Everything seems to be less expensive here than we’ve experienced in France. I don’t have a lot of data points yet because we’ve only lived in France, Denmark, and England so far. Porto is indeed the cheapest of all of them (except for England if I’m shopping at the big stores like Tesco for food).
Eating out in restaurants is less expensive here than anywhere else we’ve gone as well. In my window shopping I see prices where everything seems quite cheap. So it’s definitely a good place to go if you’re looking for nicer weather, friendly people, cleanliness, and cheap living.
If you’re frugally-minded then Porto should be on your list of places to visit or live.
That said, although not cheap, check out this amazing restaurant, MUU, we visited for our Thanksgiving dinner here in Porto.
Porto is wonderfully hilly, like San Francisco (this is good for your bum!) and entirely walk-able. Having everything within a lovely 30 minute (or less) walk is simply perfect if you ask me. It keeps me in shape and gets me outside.
Every street has multiple options for cafés, restaurants, small markets, and stores of all kinds (clothing, halloween masks, Christmas, kitchen appliances, hardware, and more).
There is so much life here – and so much fun.
5) Porto is clean
One of the first things I noticed walking all over Porto is how clean it is. Even in the darker alley-ways, it all appears clean. I haven’t gone down each and every street of course, but our few days of walking has shown us nothing but clean streets.
On top of that Porto is extremely friendly. People smile here, and they love kids. Our first day here, I think five adults reached out to pat Kamea on the head or touched her gently in some way, like a pat on the shoulder. I just love that! As a mom I adore the idea of such kindness being sent my daughter’s way.
7) Many speak English
Although I relish the challenge of a new language and charades, I’m finding it nice that many people here speak English and they’re happy to help me learn Portuguese. I think they even get a kick out of it when I ask them how to say things in their language.
So far, almost everybody we’ve encountered not only speaks some English, but they are happy to do so and to help. Although I aim to learn more Portuguese I admit it hasn’t been the easiest language for me to learn. So knowing that I can communicate fairly easily with people here makes me feel more comfortable.
We went to the butcher one day, and I ordered 3 kilos of carne picada (ground beef). The butcher asked me three times “Tres Kilos???” I think he thought I was making a mistake. Of course, he didn’t know I eat a lot of beef, but he will come to learn that over the next 6 weeks with my repeat business.
8) Porto is beautiful!
This is a beautiful city and the southern part of it is situated near the mouth of the Douro River. Gorgeous! This makes for a fabulous area to explore. I can’t help but want to turn down every pretty street I see with buildings covered in tile, bright colors, and Vespas parked out front. I’m simply enchanted with Porto.
There are so many lovely cafes and restaurants right along the river, too. Touristy, yes, but still amazing.
Is there anything I don’t like about Porto?
One of the reasons we’re traveling around the world, other than cultural immersion and brain-n-soul expansion, is to see if there are places we can imagine spending many months (or years) at a time.
With that in mind, we’ve only been traveling 8 months which was divided with about 4 months in the UK, 2 months in France, 1 month back in the USA, and few weeks in rural Denmark. We don’t have a lot of date points especially given that much of that time was housesitting and in areas where we never planned on staying long term.
Porto is the first place I’d go through the mental exercise of “what if… we lived here for a year?” This is because Porto has a climate that I would enjoy year round and it ticks many boxes noted above. Therefore, yes, I would consider living here for a year, maybe even more.
I would want a larger living space with a few more amenities, which could increase our costs and therefore change my position. However, if it was still affordable, I find Porto a lovely city that is very livable and friendly. I haven’t been here long enough to explore the medical facilities or more things for Kamea to do, but so far so good.
I can’t think of anything that I don’t like about Porto.
How did I find our Porto apartment?
Check out our apartment in my latest YouTube video.
I found our apartment by contacting the local co-working spaces and inquiring whether they knew of places to rent for digital nomads. I figured they were experts in digital nomad living (and the area). They would have some ideas or at least some recommendations on what neighborhoods to look for if I used AirBnB.
Turned out one of the co-working spaces also offered apartments for rent. So, although we normally use AirBnB to rent apartments, this was our first time not going to AirBnB directly. I felt comfortable doing it though, because I was working with a company that had a co-working space. It was not just an individual I found online.
The cost of living in Porto as I mentioned earlier is quite inexpensive and perfect for frugal living, when you’re living in Europe. We opted for a one-bedroom apartment that also has a couch which folds out into a bed. This apartment for six weeks costs us about $800 a month ($1200 total). It includes everything: utilities and internet access plus has a washing machine on the patio and a kitchen good enough to make all of our meals (home-cooked meals saves money).
The apartment is clean, safe, and as I mentioned earlier… it is walk-able to anything we need. I do however have to unplug the electric heater when I boil water in the kettle or I trip the circuit breaker.
If/When we come back to Porto, I would look for a two bedroom apartment. This would increase our costs slightly unless I could score a good deal since it’d be for many months.
When I originally planned on staying here I thought Greg and I would have the bedroom and Kamea would sleep on the couch (opened into a bed), but my dear friend (Robyn!) shared that it might be a good idea to put Kamea in the bedroom. She had seen other families of three and four people doing that very thing with success.
Giving Kamea the bedroom makes it more home-like for her (that’s important). It also allows Greg and I freedom for the kitchen and bathroom, etc without having to worry about waking Kamea if she’s sleeping.
So if you’re a digital nomad family, and you’re in a one-bedroom apartment, I recommend the parents sleep in the living room. Turns out that most of the air B&B rentals I’ve looked at that are one-bedroom have coaches that foldout.
Things we have yet to do in Porto
- Near the ocean! Porto is also close to the ocean, although we haven’t experienced that yet. I think we will get an Uber (or a bus ride) about 15 minutes and check out the ocean next week. It’s also a place where a lot of people surf in Portugal. We definitely want to come back in warmer months to see about surfing.
- Short Trips to Lisbon and the Algarve! It’s the off season (November/December) and we can score cheap flights on RyanAir to the Algarve region, which has lovely beaches and the reputation of being inexpensive, too. It tends to be a popular holiday place. It’s also a bit warmer down there.
- Spend time at a co-working space. I would like my little digital nomad family to get spend time working in co-working spaces to show Kamea what they’re like, change the scene from always working in the apartment, and get to know others.
In conclusion I am in love with Porto and would happily come back here.
Notable Porto things:
- Water is safe to drink from the tap.
- The weather in November can be rainy at times (maybe), but also plenty of sun with temperatures reaching high 50s and low 60s during the day. Our apartment has an electric radiator for heating so we’re typically bundled up even indoors with wool socks, sweaters, and pants this time of year.
- Did I say that people are friendly? They are and they love kids!