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Survey: Where expats and digital nomads live in Lisbon

Living in 5 different cities over the last 10 years I've always been fascinated by the discussions surrounding neighbourhoods and how to choose the best one for you. 

What makes a neighbourhood a good place to live? 

Which are the trendy ones and which are up-and-coming?


It’s been quite a while since I started the Facebook group Lisbon Digital Nomads, but long story short, it’s become an active online community and something of a first-stop for expats and digital nomads searching for information when moving to the city.

Choosing the right neighbourhood has always been a common hot topic, so I decided to run a survey and try to figure out which neighbourhoods are the most popular.

My goal was to create the best compilation on the internet about Lisbon's neighbourhoods to help anyone who’s looking to:

  • Find mid/long-term rental room/apartment
  • Make an investment decision (e.g. buying a property in Lisbon)
  • Book an authentic holiday while visiting Lisbon
  • Get a better overview of the city to open a small business (e.g. a coworking space)
  • Be inspired while making city planning decisions and attracting new citizens


I circulated the survey in the Lisbon Digital Nomad group and also shared it on two other expat groups. More than 200 people filled out the form. Thank you all! 🙏

Below are the results from the survey:

How were the ratings calculated?

The survey contained 15 of 26 total neighbourhoods in Lisbon. 

While I received a few comments (usually from locals) for not including some of the more remote neighbourhoods, after spending the last few years talking to literally hundreds of expats and digital nomads, I felt I had quite a clear idea of what neighbourhoods needed to be included. 

As I wanted to keep the survey as short as possible (I'm sure you agree, long surveys can be a real headache) I made an executive decision based of prior conversations to condense my survey options to include only the most commonly lived-in neighbourhoods.

Each survey question included a screenshot of the map as this survey targeted locals who are not always familiar with the names. And we made sure to note that each neighbourhood often goes by plenty of “sub-neighbourhood” names (Lapa, Graça, Intendente, etc.) which many people use and can make things tricky.

Trivia: Did you know that Campo Ourique has a shape of an elephant?

The calculation of the final ranking was inspired by the Janeček voting method. The main idea behind this method is that you can give a negative vote and this way the winning options are better compromised.

With a few minor tweaks to this method, I was able to to use this process to calculate the rating for each neighbourhood:


Important note: None of the survey responders knew how the ratings are going to be calculated.

Results: Fantastic neighbourhoods to live in Lisbon

Here is the definitive list of the most fantastic neighbourhoods in Lisbon according to the survey results:

  1. Estrela 308 points 🏆
  2. Campo Ourique 215
  3. Santo António 213
  4. Arroios 200
  5. Misericórdia 190
  6. Avenidas Novas 166
  7. Alcântara 157
  8. Belém 146
  9. Santa Maria Maior 145
  10. São Vicente 136
  11. Areeiro 123
  12. Penha de França 66
  13. Ajuda 37
  14. Beato -20
  15. Marvila -47

How accurate is this ranking?

I wanted to conduct this survey in a city that I know relatively well so that I could compare the results with my personal opinion and easily spot if anything went wrong with the results. 

What was very obvious, especially in the Facebook comments, was that the criteria for what makes a fantastic neighbourhood is very different when you compare nomads/expats and locals. Most nomads, for instance, don't have cars and kids, and they work from home or at a local coworking space.

Their lifestyle significantly influences their preferences. While many locals think that Benfica or Parque das Nações (both not included in the survey) are fantastic places to live, nomads wouldn't even consider them.

Personally, I was surprised at how bad the rankings were for Penha de França, Ajuda, Beato, and Marvila. 

While I wouldn’t consider any of these neighbourhoods fantastic places to live, there is a lot of buzz about them as new, trendy and up-and-coming areas.

The city center is not so popular.

The most central areas like Santa Maria Maior and Misericórdia got fewer points than I expected. Tourist density is probably something that impacts people’s preferences in locations like this. 

There are huge differences in one single neighbourhood.

Belém is a great example - it's one of the most touristy areas of Lisbon (negative votes) but on the other hand, a large part of it is calm and a great place to live ("Yes" votes).

‍An authentic review of each neighbourhood

There was another optional survey where I collected reviews of specific neighbourhoods that people love (you can still add your review if you haven’t yet!). There is an option to add a link to your website or social media profile.


UPDATE:

I started to gather more data about Lisbon's neighbourhoods what resulted in this website called Hoodpicker.

You can compare neighbourhoods by your personal preferences, real estate prices, or by finding similar neighbourhoods in other cities.

You can also explore towns near Lisbon that are popular among expats and digital nomads.

I've been sharing progress with this fun project in my newsletter. You can subscribe below.

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Hey 👋 I'm Peter, nice to meet you.

I'm the founder of Surf Office, a one-stop shop for anyone organizing company retreats.

A few side-projects I'm involved in: Hoodpicker, Surfpreneurs Club and Epic Monday.

I write about my experiments that combine hospitality, real estate and tech.

You can reach me out on Twitter and Linkedin.

No Playbook 🤷

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