The Impact of Digital Nomads on Portugal’s Economy and Housing Market


As Portugal continues to attract many digital nomads, the country grapples with the socio-economic implications. According to a sociology researcher at the University Institute of Lisbon, Guya Accornero, the influx of remote workers has increased discontent among locals due to rising prices and a housing crisis.

The Portuguese capital, Lisbon, is home to about 16,000 digital nomads. The number of such professionals may increase further despite introducing a new visa scheme for remote workers. The appeal of Portugal lies in its vibrant lifestyle, stunning landscapes, and historically low cost of living.

However, the high salaries earned by digital nomads, who must earn at least €2,800 per month to qualify for the special visa, have resulted in higher prices, contributing to inflation. Property values and rent have been particularly affected, with house prices doubling since 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund. This has further exacerbated the housing crisis, with prices significantly outstripping incomes.

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Catarina Viegas of Climáximo, an anti-capitalist collective, points out that the situation is worsened by the flights required for digital nomads, contributing to significant carbon emissions.

While tourism has been a significant revenue source for Portugal, one of Europe’s poorest countries, it has also led to gentrification, making housing unaffordable for many locals. Yet, there are also benefits, such as the renewal of decaying parts of Portuguese cities and the emergence of new urban identities.

In response to these issues, the Portuguese government recently announced a series of measures to address the housing crisis, including the termination of the controversial Golden Visa scheme and a ban on new licenses for Airbnbs. These actions signal a recognition of the need to carefully consider policy decisions, particularly concerning city planning and economic liberalization.
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