Climbing 15 places since 2014, Portugal now occupies a dominant economic position in the world. Since 2012, the country has experienced a 4.6% decrease in unemployment and a 2.2% decrease in inflation. The growth in jobs accompanies an increase in the average wage as the economy continues to surge. Aiding the country’s revival is the increased tourism thanks to Portugal’s growing reputation as an attractive travel destination. Significantly, 10 million tourists visited in 2016, a number predicted to rise this year. Determined to educate employees of the future, education is free and compulsory in Portugal until the age of 18, and higher education opportunities are extensive, including public and private university systems and polytechnics. Exceeding financial expectations, Portugal’s economic growth is set to reach more than 2% during 2017.
The arrival of the biggest international tech conference Web Summit in 2016 has officially solidified Lisbon’s status among the tech elite as one of the continent’s top tech destinations. It has transformed into an ideal environment for innovation, exemplified by the successful startups Uniplaces, Feedzai and Unbabel, which benefit from an integrated entrepreneurial ecosystem. Significantly, acceleration programs, such as Startup Lisboa and Beta-i, foster the expansion of hundreds of international startups. Surrounded by a highly-skilled workforce, Lisbon offers huge potential for enterprises, who certainly value the city’s investment in new technologies, education and infrastructure. Aside from the tech scene, the city has also experienced a creativity Renaissance, generating over 22,000 creative jobs. These domestic success stories have shown how far Lisbon has come and where they’re headed next.
A forty-hour average working week has driven the country to rapid economic resurgence while a two-hour lunch break enables Portuguese professionals to maintain their sociable reputation. Eager to solidify more personal business relationships, the Portuguese tend to prefer face-to-face meetings, allowing them to engage more informally whilst maintaining a respectful professional environment. They are renowned for arranging meetings over coffee that very same day rather than scheduling far in advance, highlighting their more flexible way of doing business. Their friendly professionalism certainly extends to their international colleagues and clients, who they gladly welcome with open arms. As more multinational companies continue to expand to the capital, the Portuguese work environment will become all the more cosmopolitan and attractive to foreigners.
The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest throughout Western Europe. From accommodation to groceries to eating out, students and professionals can live a very comfortable life whilst on a budget. With unlimited travel for just 36€ per month, exploring the ins and outs of Lisbon is very accessible. The various methods of transport, including buses, trams, funiculars, the metro and suburban trains, are all fairly reliable. As the ninth safest country in the world, Portugal is an ideal environment for foreigners, who can freely and safely immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle. Their public healthcare system also caters to their large expat population, with bilingual employees concentrated in the capital. Europeans in Portugal can access this service free of charge, whilst non-EU citizens will receive treatment at a discounted and affordable rate.
From squares, to outdoor cafes, to festivals, all the way to sandbars and surfing, finding something to do in Lisbon is never difficult. Imagine a perfect Saturday afternoon beginning in Lisbon’s liveliest square, Praça de Rossio, followed by a meander through the winding side streets replete with ginjinha tasting spots, local boutiques and fancy sardine conserveiras. After extensively exploring what Lisbon has to offer by day, wander down to the Bairro Alto and sip on the nation’s favorite caipirinha cocktail whilst supporting one of the city’s Premier League football teams. For a day spent truly soaking up the sun, traverse the beautiful landscapes towards Ericeira. From one of their famous sandbars, surfers can be seen practicing for the ASP World Surf Tour, part of which takes place just 35 km from Lisbon.
Despite its new found growth, the city has still managed to stay true to its roots, never deviating far away from its amiable aura that enchanted its original pathfinders. The works of Rubens, Rembrandt and Renoir can be admired at the museum Calouste Gulbenkian, whilst the famous Belém Tower marks the beginning of Portugal’s Age of Discovery. The Praça de Comércio is home to historical structures of note including Cafe Martinho Da Arcada, Lisbon’s oldest café, where famous writers produced some of their best work. Yet a veritable Lisbon experience is not complete until you’ve lent an ear to the country’s national Fado music, a hauntingly beautiful folk genre that perfectly encapsulates Portuguese identity and history. Every street corner you turn, you can discover a historical element which will live on as the country ascends towards technological excellence.