For Kelly and Baptiste, Portugal has become an undeniable feature of their business success. While they don’t know each other, live in the same regions, or even work in the same occupational sectors, they share one commonality: remote working in Portugal!
Portugal is one of the most attractive European countries. More than its established touristic offering, the country is becoming a business hotspot.
Many companies are moving to Portugal, opening new offices and discovering what remote workers have known and experienced for several years. Portugal delivers a great quality of life, along with an entrepreneurial and innovative environment for business. For many remote workers, the only decision to make is finding the perfect workplace based on the desired work-life balance.
No matter if you are a freelancer, startup owner, or run an established enterprise, Kelly and Baptiste’s perspectives may just spotlight the perfect Portuguese location for flexible workspace. Check out their interviews below to learn all about why they initially moved, why the remote work scene is thriving, and why they now love to call Portugal home.
How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?
Baptiste: I’m a 30-year-old, French intrapreneur living in Lisbon. I’m passionate about meeting people and discovering new places in the world. After studying in France, Mexico, and China, I settled in Paris to begin my career in IT consulting. I’ve always been attracted by the oceanic lifestyle, food, and travel.
Now, I’ve been working for EXTIA since 2016 – a French IT digital and consulting company of about 2,000 people that’s been described as a truly “Great Place to Work.” I’m the director of our subsidiary in Portugal, which I proposed inside the group as an intrapreneurial project.
Kelly: My name is Kelly Murtagh, I’m 42 years old, Irish, and run my own Art and Interior Design Studio (Omey Projects) in Vilamoura. My main interests include anything cultural, all outdoor activities, running, walking, hiking, swimming, and cycling. And my three children.
What about Portugal enticed you to move?
Baptiste: It was love at first sight when I came to Lisbon for a holiday in July 2017, with three very good friends. The global ambiance of the city, the beauty of it, all those restaurants, bars, festivals, the good weather, outdoor life, and the kindness of its people made it clear to me that Portugal – also with being located close to France, family, and friends – would represent to me the best place to live in Europe.
Kelly: Portugal and Vilamoura are both very special places – here, we have a wide and varied lifestyle that suits both adults and children. It facilitates and promotes a healthy way of life. Our children play outside almost all year around, and all three children go to the local international school that has both bilingual sections for us to choose from.
We have everything we need here: an award-winning marina which always has international sporting events to enjoy and absolutely everything here is child friendly. The beaches in particular are something that is quite unique to Portugal, and of course the local people who made me feel like I am right at home here.
What does living in Lisbon/Vilamoura have that made you choose it over another destination?
Baptiste: Well, I had the opportunity to attend Web Summit Lisbon in November 2017 for the Alpha Startup program with two friends for an app we created back then.
This event opened my eyes on the innovation, startup, corporate environment that Portugal and Lisbon represent. Even though I was fluent in Spanish, I proposed to EXTIA to settle in Portugal rather than Spain for personal preference, because of all the good reasons I described.
Kelly: Living in Vilamoura, I have the best of both worlds – I would consider that my family have the balance between the more relaxed vibe of the Algarve and with Lisbon only two hours away, both Faro and Lisbon airports offer all the international flights needed to carry out business trips. In the current challenging environment, the technology and wi-fi offered by Lazer Telecom is well and truly way ahead of the game. Having this available in Vilamoura leaves no room for any technological headaches, which is very important.
Do you believe you have a better work-life balance because of living in Portugal? If so, why?
Baptiste: I’m still very busy at work! But here in Lisbon (and in any place in Portugal) I feel more kindness, order, and positivity in the society. The weather is very temperate and I’m going to the beach every weekend, sometimes even before starting my working day, for a surf session. So, yes, my work-life balance is much more pleasant.
Kelly: Yes, I have a work-life balance here that I have not found anywhere else. I spend more time with my kids in the evenings, and I owe this to a vast array of outdoor activities that we can all enjoy.
It really all boils down to having more time, less stress, less noise, less time in the car getting from A to B. Productivity in my business here has increased, as we have the space to create very special projects which is important for my design business. My clients get more time and consideration because of the calm environment.
What is it like to do business in Portugal?
Baptiste: Very interesting! The implementation here has been pretty fast. I’ve done benchmark of lawyers’ cabinets, hired people, found suppliers, and accountants pretty quickly. Lisbon has a lot to offer in term of network and skilled people, even in terms of coworking spaces. We are currently stationed at IDEA Spaces, which I chose because of its location, the building itself, the flexibility of the staff, ability of welcoming interview candidates. But, mostly I chose the space because of the general mindset, events, meetups, and the community, which is totally aligned with EXTIA’s values and our desire to be in continuous amelioration.
Also, we will work in the future on expanding our European market, and Lisbon is a perfect location in Europe for this. However, now we are focusing more on the Portuguese market and the start has been pretty great: we signed our first contract in October 2019, and now, a year later, we are reaching 15 people in the company.
Kelly: I find that most of my business is made from my office here in Vilamoura, and I go to Lisbon to meet clients on a regular basis. Everything has now moved online, so to be connected is 100% a priority for me and my team – we are able to communicate to clients easily and they are always envious of how easy that is and of course of the blue sky. Our work ethic is very much a city work ethic and we work at this pace with all the benefits of Algarve – no long traffic jams, commutes. and straight from my desk to my home. I would comfortably say I have four extra hours in my day for me to split between family and my own interests.
Because of the current pandemic, I have moved the art section of our business online, so people can easily access and purchase art directly from their homes. The production facilities will be based in Vilamoura and we aim to supply European and international markets. We have excellent courier service providers here, with companies such as UPS, DPD and DHL all having depots nearby.
Do you have any pointers for those considering moving to Portugal for remote work?
Baptiste: Just do it! I think that Lisbon adapted extremely fast to COVID-19, people respected the rules very quickly. Businesses pivoted quickly; for example with delivery, protections in Ubers, and online events. And coworking spaces, like IDEA, implemented all measures necessary so we can safely return to some “normality.” I guess that it’s easier now to justify remote work and to me, there is not much more to say than test and learn is the key, just begin with some holiday to see how the city is treating you.
Kelly: I would say it’s important to have good support from a local Portuguese speaking accountant, lawyer, and your local embassy. Portuguese and expats alike are very helpful and forthcoming with advice and information. Wi-fi connection here is excellent in order to facilitate Zoom and Skype calls. Once you have all of this in place, Vilamoura, Lisbon, and Portugal does not need much persuasion. You just have to see and understand that life really does have balance here. We work, but we also live.