What I’ve learned about being a slomad in Lisbon

Digital nomads in Lisbon like myself are a bit like Russian dolls: at least half are expats, disguised as slomads, disguised as digital nomads. The incriminating factors undoubtedly being Lisbon’s charm and atmosphere luring us into long-term living. That was certainly the case for me arriving from London knowing precisely no-one here, with the earnest belief I’d stay here only for the summer.


Well, it’s been two years now. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Go to digital nomad associated events sparingly

Credit where credit’s due, I’ve met some of my closest friends at digital nomad events, visited some fantastic places I’d never otherwise go to because of them, and they are absolutely great if you are passing through.


However, attending these events (a heady mix of intense networking, mingling and drinking) on a regular, ongoing basis isn’t fulfilling. The little ‘where are you from, what do you do’ dance we all perform becomes tiresome, and promoting yourself like a prized miniature pony all the time isn’t that much fun.


Instead, I’d thoroughly recommend looking at other events in Lisbon where you can meet likeminded people and do something meaningful or creative inexpensively, without the pressure or subsequent hangover. For example:


Hiking groups on Meetup

Life drawing classes at CHOCA House

Print & Drink

Yoga classes on Meetup

Drink & Draw

Language classes at SPEAK

You’ll slow down eventually, and it's wonderful

Fast, anxious living was so inbuilt for me having lived in London, that I’d almost developed the equivalent of Stockholm syndrome, resisting the calmer pace of Lisbon for as long as I could in toddler tantrum fashion.


I hadn’t realised I’d learned to slow down a little until I visited the UK last year, constantly wondering why everyone felt the need to rush around so much and why couldn’t they just chill out? And then, I knew: it had finally happened.

You start to sift through people with militancy

When I first arrived, I was happy to talk the ears off of anyone I met, not completely unlike an overexcited puppy. But, it’s hard to sustain this fervent enthusiasm when people come and go often, the variations of ‘yeah I’m leaving soon’ deepening the dead behind the eyes look I’ve unwittingly mastered over time.


So, these days I find myself trying to quickly yet seemingly casually deduce the duration of someone’s time here. Have I excelled at any point doing this in a not so glaringly obvious way? No. But in any case, I now filter out with what feels to me like reluctant callousness the ones who will only be here for a few weeks.


Trust me, this will be you if you become a slomad too.

You’ll genuinely appreciate the little things in life

The respect for people’s time in the form of long lunch breaks, opening hours organised with wild abandon, kiosks, and ample basking in the sun opportunities all allow for the appreciation of the kaleidoscope of colour and beauty surrounding you.


The Portuguese know how to savour a moment, sometimes with quite exquisite simplicity in the form just a pastel de nata and espresso, as well as wistfully yearn for it, expressed through the untranslatable saudade.

You will fall in and out of love with coworking spaces

Most slomads have a bit of an on-off relationship with coworking spaces. Sometimes I think they are great, providing routine and the stability I crave. Other times, I think it’s a total waste of money, and I’m sick of egotistical freelancers talking loudly about their new project that no one cares to hear of.

You’ll probably hop from property to property a lot

The Lisbon renting scene is a game of chess. In total, I’ve lived in seven different places over a two year period, which isn’t uncommon amongst slomads.


Limited leases, landlords taking the property back or just plain crap properties being the most cited reasons amongst those I know. It hasn’t been the norm for anywhere else I’ve lived in Europe, but it’s definitely made me less possessive about places I live in as a result.