Lisbon: The Best City for Digital Nomads

One of the unintended upsides of unemployment is that it frees you to explore other avenues in your life. And may mean finding a job or starting a business that will allow you to travel the world untethered. And if you get that chance, one of the first places on your list should be Lisbon, Portugal.

When I first moved abroad, I was in search of a permanent new home. The main criteria were that it needed to be cheap, yet, was highly accessible should I choose to travel more. Suffice it to say, Lisbon more than fits the bill.

Lisbon has everything you could possibly need to feel fulfilled–a vibrant nightlife, cheap digs, and a chill vibe. It is also within minutes of some of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the world. So in the summertime, you can take off work and go take a dip in the ocean. What could be better than that?

If you are worried about the language barrier, don’t be. While it is true that Portuguese and Spanish are not mutually intelligible, so don’t expect your high school classes to come in handy there, nearly everyone in Lisbon speaks English. While this is due in part to the high number of tourists and expats, the local population itself has learned the language to a level of near fluency. As a result, you’ll be able to speak to anyone, anywhere about anything with little to no hindrance.

The Portuguese are also extremely friendly and open to visitors but don’t worry about making friends. They will be in ample supply. Why? Well, the city is already filled to the brim with others of your ilk. That’s right. There will already be a community of like-minded and like-lifestyle people ready to welcome you in.

Portugal has a long and interesting history, so there is no shortage of local history and culture to absorb. From Sintra Palace to the Monastery of Belem, there is plenty to do, see and explore. So if you happen to find yourself in the unemployment line, don’t fret. There may be adventure and community waiting for you on the other side of the pond.


The Benefits of Being Fired

The first time I was fired, I deserved it. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever deserved anything more. In a sense, it was a blessing. Being fired was clearly preferable to the other option—being in jail. The second time couldn’t have been more different. It had come as a shock. And to this day I can’t decide what had astonished me more, the fact that I had been fired, seemingly without cause, or the fact that I had been notified of it via an email form letter

Now, at this point, I know that you are thinking. But before you click out of this article let me assure you that you that I am not crazy. And if you are honest with yourself, you have probably been in similar situations. As you well know, there are few events in life that are more humiliating than being fired. It is the ultimate form of rejection mixed with a sense of panic over one’s future career path and livelihood. It combines the heartbreak of a love gone wrong with the anxiety of now considering where your next meal comes from.

Walk Into the Storm

Furthermore, in my case(s) it seemed as though I was fired right when I needed the money the most. I’m terrible at saving. And both times, the firings occurred right before I was about to embark on a major life change. And in both cases, I thought I needed that job to fund it. On the surface, it seemed as though these events couldn’t have occurred at a worse time. But funnily enough, both gave me a push that I never knew I needed.

Oprah says, “failure is a sign that you should be doing something different.” Now, while that isn’t always true, it is almost always the case if you are getting fired. Why? Because if you have been terminated from your job, it means that either you weren’t performing your duties correctly, or you were working for individuals who didn’t value what you had to offer. Either way, being fired liberated you from a situation that clearly wasn’t healthy—or at the very least, it wasn’t helpful to you in the long run.

The reality is getting fired is never easy–but staying stagnant is worse.

Sometimes, either by circumstance or by necessity, we take positions that don’t really suit our unique set of skills. Perhaps money is running low and we are desperate for an income, or the job market is slow and we need to take what we can get. That was certainly the case for me in both situations. However, there comes a point when you have to let go of the safety rail. Where you have to put actual time and energy into building yourself up—not just maintaining the status quo. Staying stagnant will lead you into a prison of your own making; where you will cease to grow and evolve. Instead, you spend your days wasting away in drudgery watching life pass you by.

I know that this can be hard to hear. No one wants to hear platitudes when they are standing in line for unemployment. But the reality is that you probably ended up here because you tried to stay too long in the wrong place. It was time to move on and because you didn’t make the decision to leave, the universe did it for you.

Take Time To Make the Change

If you are still unsure consider this. A month after the first time I was fired, I boarded a plane for Madrid, free now to start life over again. The second time I was fired was a week before I was meant to take a solo trip to Italy. In Madrid, I became a teacher and in Italy, I sought out freelance work. While neither was easy, it was better for me in the long run. Why? Because In both cases I had no choice but to rely fully on myself and make use of skills that would have otherwise remained dormant.

The reality is getting fired is never easy–but staying stagnant is worse. So, take this time to learn about yourself. Brush up on some old skills or acquire some new ones. Take temporary or need-based work if you have to. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Everybody has to eat. But while you are in the midst of doing what you have to do, don’t forget about doing what you are supposed to do—setting long and short-term goals for yourself. Make this time the last time that you find yourself in this situation. And just remember, while you are working towards your goals, don’t get too comfortable or waste your skills on the unworthy. That’s what got you in the unemployment line the first place.