How Madeira brought digital nomads out of nomadism

The Portuguese island of eternal spring, Madeira, has become a paradise for digital nomads around the world. So much so, in fact, that some just can’t bear to leave.

The 2021 Digital Nomad Village project brought thousands of nomads to Madeira. This initiative has secured the island’s place on the map among a new, younger demographic, beyond the traditional foreign communities of British and German pensioners.

The COVID-19 pandemic was another push factor. Strict lockdowns across much of Europe have forced many remote workers to seek refuge elsewhere. Madeira’s balanced approach to tackling the pandemic and its largely outdoor lifestyle have made the island an ideal destination to await lockdown.

By definition, the word “nomad” refers to a perpetual traveler without a fixed address. But many of the original nomads who arrived on Madeira in the past year have decided to settle down and make the island a more permanent home.

Some have invested in real estate on the island, in hotspots like Funchal, Ponta do Sol and Calheta. Others, especially the British, Americans and South Africans, are aiming for Portuguese citizenship, so they can enjoy the many benefits of being citizens of the European Union.

So what makes Madeira such an attractive destination for these globally mobile young digital professionals? A lot of it is about the enhanced lifestyle that Madeira offers.

For starters, the natural environment and landscapes of Madeira are addictive. For remote workers, who spend most of their lives in front of a screen, easy access to outdoor activities – such as hiking along Madeira’s beautiful levada trails, swimming in the sea and paragliding – offers a great way to counterbalance the stress of a life lived largely online.

Combine all of this with Madeira’s fast internet, year-round warm weather, and unusual, award-winning beaches, and you have a perfect recipe for attracting remote workers who want to make Madeira a long-term home.

Plus, being an online entrepreneur can be a lonely life. For many, it is important to live in a place where there is a strong sense of community. Madeira is an easy place to make friends and connect to new networks. Many activities are offered, including entrepreneurship meetups, jam sessions, jazz nights, outdoor sports training, fitness clubs, cryptocurrency investment events and mindfulness circles, among others.

Digital nomads have been accused of “changing the landscape of the world”, leaving a trail of generic cafes, coworking spaces and Instagrammable restaurants in their wake.

But despite the recent influx of international remote workers, Madeira shows few signs of moving in that direction. A long tourist tradition means that the island has retained its original character while elegantly integrating certain elements of the international art of living.

Moving to Madeira – and Portugal as a whole – remains straightforward, even for non-EU citizens. The range of residency options available in Portugal, such as the D7 passive income visa, several starter visas or the Golden Visa, are ideal for global digital professionals.

All of these provide a direct route to becoming eligible for Portuguese citizenship after five years – a compelling prospect for those looking to establish themselves in the EU.

For advice on your move to Madeira, write to us: [email protected]

Samantha North

Founder at digital immigrant

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