Ranked as the best country for remote working in the KAYAK index, Portugal is fast becoming the most popular location for startups. It’s got a durable economy, beneficial tax deductions, and some buzzing cities to boot. In fewer than 10 years, the Portugal startup ecosystem has become highly developed. Let’s delve into the reasons why this is the hottest destination for global entrepreneurship.
It’s no wonder Web Summit keeps choosing Portugal for its annual conference. With its beautiful coastlines, sunny skies, and abundance of tech talent, it’s the ideal choice to attract worldwide interest. It’s safe to visit, too! Portugal was recently cited as the fourth most peaceful country in the world in the Global Peace Index.
Overall, the climate is temperate, with average annual temperatures ranging from 17-27°C. The country experiences four distinct seasons, with cool winters and hot summers. The best news is that there are over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.
In the same time zone as London and only an hour behind Central Europe, you can fly to major European cities from Portugal in only a few hours – without jetlag! There’s only a five-hour difference from New York, too, so you can overlap a few work hours with US clients if you need to.
Coworking is immensely popular in Portugal, with plenty of options for meeting like-minded digital nomads and fellow entrepreneurs. The Portugal startup scene is a thriving community, attracting ambitious travelers and investment seekers from all over the world. Startup Lisboa was founded in Lisbon in 2012 as an incubator to support people in the first stages of their journey, providing mentorship, startup business grants, and networking opportunities. With 40 startups in their coworking space, as well their incubation of more than 100 businesses, they’re the go-to hub for getting your project off the ground in a supportive environment.
If you’re eyeing up Porto as an option, you’ll be in good company, neighboring Farfetch, Blip, and Euronext, among others. In 2015, ScaleUp Porto was launched to support a sustainable startup ecosystem in the city, and they’re all about boosting innovation. They offer funding for startups and investment toolkits, masterclasses, and growth programs for people making those first steps towards being their own boss.
Portugal isn’t just cheaper than the US; it’s the cheapest country in Western Europe. With major airlines flying from the city airports, you can hop on low-cost flights all over Europe to get some exploring in and broaden your horizons.
Including rent, estimated monthly living costs average around €5,000 for a family of four and €2,000 for a single person. Living in cities like Porto and Lisbon is far cheaper than other major international cities – at savings of up to 66% against New York, Munich, and London – and they arguably offer a higher standard of living in terms of climate and living space.
In the years following the global financial crisis, Portugal has pulled out all the innovation stops to encourage startups to set up base there. There are whopping tax deductions of 20% available for people willing to invest up to $5 million, while freelancers who want to operate as self-employed in advance of incorporation benefit from a flat-rate tax of 20%.
StartUP Portugal is a comprehensive, government-backed strategy to support new and existing entrepreneurs. Their goal is to foster innovation and internationalization through accelerators and funding. In Portugal, the startup ecosystem is a healthy partnership of state and private enterprises, all with the mission of making the country as attractive as possible to immigrants.
If you’re willing to make a substantial investment in Portugal (a minimum of €280k), you should be eligible for the Golden Visa program. If you’re a little less flush, the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (IAPMEI) offers a straightforward Startup Visa for those focusing on knowledge and tech-based business. The D-2 Visa is another good option, suitable for non-EU national entrepreneurs, freelancers, and investors. You’ll receive a residence permit for one year, which can be renewed for two more periods of two years. After that, you can apply for citizenship if you wish. Check out our visa information page for more information on all your options.
Education is respected and highly regarded in Portugal, with its universities producing 100k graduates per year. More than half of 20-somethings in Portugal are STEM-trained, so there’s plenty of highly educated tech talent ready to help with your projects. And major international firms have taken advantage of this resource – Google, Mercedes Benz, Microsoft, and many more have set up offices in this progressive country. Thousands of startups have followed, raising over $200 million in funding since 2014.
You might be surprised to learn that English is widely spoken in Portugal, particularly in the cities and ex-pat hotspots. Between the growing international population, social outlook, and numerous supports, you’ll never feel alone if you decide to move to Portugal.
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