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Our Move to Lisbon | The Inside Scoop

Surprise – we’re living in Portugal! Read on to find out why we decided to move to Lisbon after three years of digital nomad life.

Move to Lisbon Tile Selfie

Did you move to Lisbon?!!” We’ve been getting this question from friends who’ve suddenly noticed that we’ve been living in Lisbon for six months.

Our easy answer to this question is YES. Things, however, get a little more complicated when they ask why we moved to Lisbon. We get it. Many of our friends have never traveled to Portugal and some haven’t had the opportunity to visit Europe yet.

It’s not that we don’t have a reason. Rather, we have several reasons for moving to Portugal’s vibrant capital city. We also have a connection to Lisbon that dates back to our honeymoon over a decade ago.

Update

We have now lived in Lisbon for almost two years and are thrilled to be based here during the global pandemic.

Thankfully, we moved in January to an apartment with amazing views, fiber internet and tons of natural light. Talk about good timing!

Since we’re temporarily grounded from travel, we’re focusing our free time on cooking at home, crafting cocktails and learning Portuguese.

Our History with Lisbon

Tile Montage in Portugal
We took these photos during our honeymoon with the intention of creating a tile montage. It took us over a decade but here it is.

Portugal and its hilly capital were far from the spotlight when we honeymooned on the Iberian peninsula in 2007. Way back when we began dating, we often ended our evenings with port wine and… ‘conversation.’ That love for port wine led to an agreement that if a honeymoon ever happened, it would happen in Portugal.

With few blogs espousing Lisbon’s charms back then, we hobbled together an amazing trip based on a lot of research and an equal amount of good luck. As for dining back then, all we had were forum sites like Chowhound and Egullet. We enjoyed some great meals but Portugal, and particularly Lisbon, remained largely unexplored tourist territory.

Port Tasting in Porto
Our love for port wine started in Philadelphia and solidified in Porto during our honeymoon.

We joked about moving to Portugal during our honeymoon. If only we had taken our selves seriously! We could have bought a mansion back in the day – probably even a sweet estate in Cascais. Had we made that progressive decision in 2007, you probably wouldn’t be reading this website right now because we’d be rich.

It took us over a decade to return to Portugal and another six months to commit to the big move, but now, we’re not only living in Lisbon like locals – we are locals. We have an apartment lease, utility bills and residency cards to prove it!

Why We Moved to Lisbon

Lisbon Cable Car
Lisbon combines urban sophistication and old-world charm.

Getting to this place (literally and figuratively) wasn’t simple. After leaving our comfortable Philadelphia lives to answer the call to travel, we gallivanted around much of the earth in three wonderful yet exhausting years that brought us to both coasts of the USA and to distant spots like South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Though we have no regrets about the amazing experiences and life-long friendships we accumulated during 36 months of non-stop travel, we were tired of being tired. It was time to make a change.

Stansted Airport Waiting Area
Have you ever traveled from London’s Stansted Airport at 6 am? Trust us, it’s the opposite of glamorous.

Those who’ve been on tour for an extended period of time can relate. Constant touring means new beds multiple times a month. It also means constantly packing your things before moving to a destination by means of an exhausting plane, train, bus or car trip.

This type of travel makes you a target for theft. In fact, all of our camera gear was robbed in Cape Town and Daryl’s smartphone was pickpocketed on an Athens metro. When you’re in non-stop travel mode, important needs like health and security become secondary considerations to just getting from here to there.

Mindi with Broken Luggage
Mindi is happy after her Briggs & Riley suitcase got repaired in London. Wear & Tear is an issue for full-time travelers.

The nomadic lifestyle can be challenging for those in their 20’s. It’s even more so for Gen-Xers like us.

And while being on the road taught us valuable lessons about overabundant materialism, it’s still nice to have some stuff. Nothing gives us more joy these days than little things like a recent coffee maker purchase and using our Japanese kitchen knives in our kitchen.

Being in a fixed place also allows us to pursue interests beyond the website. Daryl gave up his life as a musician for the three years we traveled. He hopes to rekindle that passion in Lisbon.

Daryl on Keyboard
Daryl is ready to tickle the keys once again. This photo was taken during a performance at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

Once travel started to lose its charm, we began resenting trips to amazing destinations. While we never lost our wanderlust, the constant work of travel caused our sense of wonderment for new cultures and experiences to dim slightly.

We knew that it was time for us to settle down, but where???

For various reasons, mostly financial and political, we didn’t want to return to the states. Let’s face it – America is expensive. Don’t get us started on the current state of the U.S. government. Yes, we’ve consistently voted on an absentee basis since we’ve been on the road. Despite our expat status, we consider ourselves proud Americans and will never relinquish our passports.

But why Portugal in general and Lisbon in particular? After you read about our reasons, the answer becomes clear.

Lifestyle

Lisbon Skyline
The City of Seven Hills has amazing views at every twist and turn.

Lisbon’s charms are now far from secret. In fact, it’s difficult to find a travel blog that doesn’t have an ‘ultimate’ Lisbon guide.

After living in Lisbon for six months and counting, we appreciate the city beyond its touristic charms. For starters, the weather is GORGEOUS here. Most apartments don’t have heaters or air conditioners but that’s okay since the climate is super mild for most of the year.

Even after the hottest days, cool breezes grace the city at dusk. Due to our first-floor apartment locale and excellent cross ventilation, we’ve not yet had to use a fan to sleep despite Daryl’s status as an air conditioning addict.

View of Lisbon from Parque Eduardo VIII
Did we mention that Lisbon has amazing views? You can find this one at Parque Eduardo VIII.

The cost of living in Portugal makes Lisbon attractive for ex-pats. While the market for rental apartments has gone up, it’s still possible to eat an affordable dinner for four for under €50. (Yes, that includes wine.) Ubers are cheap and widely available here, and the public transportation is both ubiquitous and cost-effective.

Lisbon welcomes people from all over the world to visit for a few days, making it relatively easy for them and us to stay longer. In the relatively short time that we’ve been living in Lisbon, we’ve made friends from as far away as Australia and as close as around the corner.

Our only challenge with meeting new people is the seemingly non-stop flow of friends who keep passing through Lisbon during their travels. We’re not complaining but it’s a challenge nonetheless.

Location

Portugal Map
Lisbon’s location on Europe’s west coast is ideal for our travel lifestyle.

We’ve lived for substantial periods of time in Southeast Asia and South Africa and, while those locations are ridiculously affordable for Americans, they’re also a good distance from the United States. Traveling home required long haul flights, and the jet lag from countries like Vietnam and Japan proved unbearable.

We can fly direct from Lisbon to New York in under 8 hours and back in under 7 hours. Lisbon’s airport, while crowded, is centrally located (just 15 minutes from our current apartment) and offers flights all over Europe and the world. Since Portugal is especially close to Spain, it’s entirely possible for us to take weekend trips to Spanish cities like Barcelona, San Sebastian, Valencia and Madrid.

Portuguese Cuisine

Bacalhau
Cod is an important protein in Portuguese cuisine. Accordingly, we enjoy countless versions of Bacalhau at Lisbon restaurants.

Loyal readers already know that food is an important part of our lifestyle. Living in a city without an active culinary culture is simply out of the question for us. After dining around the world, we have high standards when it comes to what we eat.

The Lisbon dining scene passes our culinary test with flying colors. The city is filled with great food from the trendy Time Out Market to restaurants, pizzerias and brunch spots at all price points.

For those unfamiliar, Portuguese cuisine is both diverse and flavorful. Not only did Portuguese navigators impact food in countries they colonized in South America, Asia and Africa, but they also brought back spices and ingredients from these faraway places.

Pasteis de Natas in Lisbon
Portuguese egg tarts known as Pasteis de Natas are reason enough to move to Lisbon.

All these years later, we still adore the food in Lisbon. Some days we choose to eat traditional Portuguese food classics like Arroz de Pato, Chouriço, Porco Preto or Bacalhau, while other days we opt for global food like Hot Pot, Ramen or gelato.

And mornings are sweeter when we visit Lisbon bakeries that sell Pasteis de Natas all over the city. Oh, how we love Portuguese egg tarts!

We never go thirsty with the ready supply of third wave coffee at specialty coffee houses around the city. Then there’s inexpensive Portuguese wine available at restaurants, supermarkets and wine shops.

At home, we concoct Porto Tonico cocktails with white port and tonic and G&Ts with Portuguese gin. Let’s just say that we’re rarely thirsty and leave it there.

Our Business

Mindi at Swissotel Grand Shanghai
Mindi takes her publishing responsibilities seriously even when staying in luxury hotels like this one in Shanghai.

Although it sounds mundane, securing a favorable work environment was an integral factor in our decision to move to Lisbon. Since this website is both our passion and livelihood, we need to live in a city that’s conducive to our operations.

Lisbon is an ideal business location in many ways. Logistically, it’s position on Europe’s west coast provides us with easy access to both Europe and North America. We live relatively close to the city’s international airport and can easily fly to many destinations on both first-line and discount air carriers. The longer we live here, the more we appreciate TAP and its Star Alliance partners!

Internet is critical for us since we run an online business. The internet in Lisbon is as fast as cities like Bucharest and Tallinn, We installed 1 Gbps fiber internet in our apartment and can easily access decent internet speed at cafes around town.

Local Experts

Cascais Selfie
Portugal is already providing us with a myriad of business opportunities. This photo is from a video shoot in Cascais that we produced for the Avis.

Living in a set location has created an extra benefit that we didn’t originally contemplate. Companies now recognize us as local Lisbon experts, a situation which is already opening doors and creating opportunities.

What’s Next?

Holland America Selfie in Norway
Our recent partnership with Holland America took us on a luxury cruise from Amsterdam to Norway. As great as the cruise was, it was equally great to return to our own home in Lisbon.

Now that we have a home base, we’re rediscovering our love for traveling with carry-on luggage.

We have loads of upcoming trips on the docket which means that we’ll be creating more food guides and videos. We also have several exciting ideas that we can better implement now that we’re in one place.

Watch this space to see where we go next. We can’t wait to take you along with us on our journey!

Red Beach Selfie in Santorini

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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Learn European Portuguese

Are you thinking about visiting or moving to Portugal?

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Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

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Chris

Wednesday 15th of July 2020

Looking to make my move to Portugal next year when life can return to some normalcy!

Aixa

Friday 19th of June 2020

Hello There!!!

My husband and I; along with our son; have lived in several countries. Including the US, Panama, Venezuela, and since February we re-located to Lisbon!! We are gen-xers as you guys!!! We love the city, the food; and the people!!!. However, for us, it has been a bit of a slow start due to the Pandemic. But hopefully, we will develop strong relationships here fairly soon.

Cheers to you and good luck!!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 28th of June 2020

Welcome to Lisbon! Send us an email if you have any specific questions.

Gary Kelly

Sunday 14th of June 2020

Congrats on your decision. Portugal is wonderful. My wife and I have been to Portugal twice. The Silver Coast interests us a lot. We expect retirement in the next 3-5 years and our finances are in good shape. Looking to Europe for sure.

How are you finding:

1) Filing taxes in both Portugal and U.S.? Or do you outsource that?

2) We have heard disconcerting stories about getting residency. Very slow, bureaucratic. Several we know have used multiple lawyers, have been very frustrated.

Thanks, Gary and Anna

jared

Saturday 14th of November 2020

@Daryl and Mindi Hirsch, shalom: I enjoyed your article and may have a couple of questions for you, as I am researching our move. Have been looking toward the Algarve area, from just east of Faro, west towards Cascais. Please share any comments you may have. thanks

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 28th of June 2020

Residency and tax issues can be a bear in any country and Portugal is no exception. We recommend joining Facebook groups for American ex-pats moving to Portugal. These groups are surprisingly helpful in this regard. You can also email us directly with any specific questions and we can hopefully steer you in the right direction.

Edna

Saturday 4th of January 2020

I am a 60 something black female. I am thinking about retiring in Lisbon. Do you have any suggestions. I will be visiting in june2020.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

Contact us directly when your trip gets rescheduled. We'd be happy to answer your questions.

Amy Askin

Saturday 30th of November 2019

I'm so excited for you two! Congratulations on settling in one of the BEST cities in Europe. I didn't realize you'd honeymooned there. I agree with you--Lisbon's food scene and infrastructure is especially robust. I look forward to seeing one another again soon and enjoying eating together as we always do, my friends!