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Ask HN: Cheap places to live with a good intellectual atmosphere?
911 points by throwawaygoaway 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 1088 comments
I'm a software engineer in the bay area and have been thinking about moving somewhere cheaper (in USA or aboard) where I can live cheaply and focus on my own intellectual pursuits. I'd love to be in a place where the living costs are low and where there exists a thriving intellectual community (I've noticed cities near top academic institutions tend to create that sort of atmosphere but not necessarily). I'd prefer a place where English speakers are common enough such that I won't feel isolated by a language barrier. I haven't traveled too often and would love to hear from HN community about any places that match this general description. Thank you in advance!





I'd highly recommend the triangle area in North Carolina. In Raleigh, there are a large number of tech companies, RHE, Cisco, IBM, Unreal Engine, just to name a few. It has the second highest % of computer science PhDs, and it's home to NC State, Duke University, and UNC. It's also a cultural hotspot for Blues creativity. Many of the best contemporary blues artists are located here in the triangle. The cost of living is relatively low. The rent I paid for 3 months in Redwood City, would have paid my mortgage here for 14 months. The southern part of NC is an agricultural center and thus food is relatively inexpensive. We usually spend ~500 a month.

In addition, Durham, in particular, is a melting pot of Northerners and Southerners. This has lead to some wonderful conversations where regional and cultural expectations were questioned.

Lastly, there are several startups here that are actively recruiting the best people away from the groupthink and costs that are currently dominating the bay area.


If you think you're going to have a good time living in the Carolinas, then I genuinely hope that you don't plan on being black or gay outside of a major city. There is a ton of bigotry and racism still present there, and the politicians in charge are happy to see it continue.

As a native North Carolinian who grew up in a rural part of the state, I can confirm that there is a substantial difference between the rural parts of the state, and places like the Triangle region, in this regard. There definitely are still racists, bigots, homophobes, etc. and they are more common when you get out into the country areas.

That said, it's not the case that every 3rd person you meet is a KKK member, raging homophobe, or conservative snake-handling fundamentalist who refuses to send their kids to the doctor, or any of those other stereotypes. Those people exist, but even in the rural areas they aren't necessarily ubiquitous - although this will obviously vary from region to region, town to town, and I haven't lived in every part of NC, so there are probably some spots that are especially bad that I don't know about.

But anyway, the conversation about was about living in the Triangle area around Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, and this region seems to be in pretty good shape as far as tolerance, diversity, etc.


Can confirm.

Born and raised in rural North Carolina. The racism and bigotry and religious zealotry is very prevalent there. Durham, Raleigh, and Charlotte are all nice cities. However, you should really stick to those areas if you're not wanting to deal with any trouble.


Some Boston University researchers have taken a recent look at structural racism across the US, and while that's not everything, it's at least a portion. They actually found that NC is one of the lesser structurally racist states.

Their analysis checks out with my memory of recent events, with IL, WI, VA, and MO ranking very highly racist.

City lab article expounds on it here and has a nice graphic: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/02/the-role-of-structura...


Not sure why this user is being downvoted, what they say is true. I lived for 5+ years in the Triangle and there is a lot of racism/bigotry/misogyny present there. Its one of the main reasons I left, so it shouldn't be left out of the conversation.

It’s because they are casting a wide net on people and stereotyping them. What they say isn’t strictly false, but it’s also perpetuating a specific stereotype—the kind that if directed at others would be rightfully suppressed.

Saying that everyone there is racist would be casting a wide net. Saying that a large enough % of people are racist such that it would materially impact your quality of life if you are a PoC is a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

There is, but this recommendation is specific to the triangle area: the rural trends just don't apply.

Except the urban areas cannot make laws they want to improve conditions - the legislators from rural areas work together to override municipal specific laws in the state legislature and further enshrine the rural hold on the legislature by making the gerrymandering better for rural areas and they are working now to stack the state supreme court. A Democrat won the governship last time round and the GOP response was to remove powers from the executive branch before the governor took office. So even if a minority percentage of the people live in rural areas, they have an outsize effect on the running of certain people's day to day lives in North Carolina.

Totally agreed. The Triangle hits a good "sweet spot" in terms of cost of living, business/career opportunity, culture, food, entertainment, etc. And we're conveniently located about 2-3 hours from beaches (depending on which beach you want to hit), or about 3.5-5 hours from mountains (depending, again, on exactly where you want to go).

One thing I really like about this area is that for a moderately sized urban area, there is a lot of nice outdoor "green space" with trails for hiking, running, and biking. Yes, if you're into MTB you're basically limited to just XC here, as we don't have the elevation change for true DH riding... but again, there are mountains about 3.5-5 hours away and you can get your fix of DH stuff there with a day-trip if needed.

It's also nice having nice places for water sports / water based recreation... you've got Jordan Lake, Falls Lake, Lake Crabtree (just don't eat the fish...), Harris Lake, University Lake, Cane Creek Reservoir, and the like.

And as others have pointed out, there are plenty of educated people here to contribute to the intellectual scene. Obviously there are the folks at Duke, UNC, and NCSU, but don't underestimate the impact of the smaller, lesser-known colleges and universities in the area either. Take NC Central, for example. They're a small HBCU located in central Durham, and have a VERY highly regarded law school for such a small school. I routinely meet people from all over the country who come here to attend NCCU Law. And you also have Shaw, Peace, Meredith, Campbell, St. Augustines, as well as Wake Tech and Durham Tech, all contributing to the base of educated people in the area.


> And we're conveniently located about 2-3 hours from beaches (depending on which beach you want to hit), or about 3.5-5 hours from mountains (depending, again, on exactly where you want to go).

This sentence really makes me rethink how much time some people routinely spend on the road. I live in Santa Monica where's it's minutes away from beaches and about half an hour away from mountains. If I just want to go there to relax, I don't want to have to spend hours just getting there.


Sure, all things being equal, being closer would be better. I grew up about 6 minutes from the beach, so I can totally relate to what you mean. But there's still a pretty big difference between being close enough that you can wake up in the morning, decide to jump in your car and go to the beach (or the mountains), and make an impromptu day trip of it, vs. being somewhere where you have to fly or drive overnight to get to the beach/mountains.

I've never been to Santa Monica, but the times I've been in California, I've never been able to get anywhere by vehicle in minutes. :-)

SM is on the beach, so in walking distance. If not, you can take neighborhood roads to get there and avoid most traffic.

I live more centrally in LA. It can take an hour or longer for me to get to the beach in SM, Venice or, for quiter, nicer fare, Zuma. There are large portions of the city that are about the same distance or further so it takes even longer, not to mention the amount of traffic you're sitting in the whole time vs the excellent roads everywhere in North Carolina.

Also, as someone from NC, I'll go ahead an say while I'm a big fan of the dramatic scenery of the West, the coastline and beaches of NC have their own special charm, not to mention are cleaner. Only problem is, with sea level rise, the Outer Banks probably won't exit in a couple decades.


I'd say the XC mtbing is pretty limited. There's only one good trail system.

Interesting. I'd say we have an embarrassment of riches in terms of XC trails, between Lake Crabtree, New Light, Beaver Dam, Harris Lake, Little River Regional Park, Legend, Carolina North Forest, Briar Chapel, San-Lee, the RTP trails, and all the various "bandit" trails near RDU (especially Sludge, 286, and Rocky Road). And you can arguably count Angler's Ridge up in Danville since you can pop up there in a little over an hour from parts of the Triangle. And I'm not even considering some of the newer trails that I've never ridden, like Wendell Falls or Forest Ridge.

I guess it depends on what you are looking for though. For my tastes, I love parking off of Reedy Creek Road behind LCCP, and being able to ride Crabtree (fast, "flow" trails), 286 (slightly more technical than the crab), Rocky Road (very technical and challenging), Sludge (technical in spots), and then go grind out some training miles on the gravel roads in Umstead.

That said, I'm sure there are places with even more variety. But I've never suffered from a shortage of places to ride here. :-)


Totally agree about the triangle. We lived in NYC, SF, and Boston for a cumulative 15 years before choosing the triangle for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I work in tech and wanted greater intellectual and economic diversity. Durham-area coffee-shop chatter is great - in a single sitting recently I heard folks cover ground including christian theology and practice, the upcoming pride parade, backyard chickens getting over the fence, student study group plans, and tech startup challenges.

Spending all our lives, living in a hipster paradise.

yes, the classic "hipster pursuit" of christian theology

Religion is the new hipster pursuit because atheism is the norm. Atheism was the hipster pursuit when religion was the norm.

NC has always been like this. It’s not just hipsterism.

The availability of synchronous 1Gbps fiber internet for about $70/mo in the Triangle area from both Google Fiber and AT&T Fiber doesn't hurt either.

Didn't realize that was a thing there now. Spectrum is definitely not helping my blood pressure charging $60-70 for 100 Mbps here in LA.

I lived in Durham from 10 to when I started college (travelling back during breaks etc), and I loved it. I agree with you on every point, the triangle is fantastic. Just to reiterate: great food, great music, real diversity.

I grew up in Raleigh (born, elementary school through NC State) there and recently moved north to start my first job...IMO, the jobs with competitive compensations just don't exist in Raleigh at the new grad level. Almost all of the top students that I know of move to Seattle, NYC, SF etc after graduating.

Housing is also surprisingly expensive in the nicer parts of town given the necessity for a car. With that said, it's a great option if you're comfortable with the opportunities here and want to settle.


This is not true at all in my experience. What compensation number do you think is fair for new CS grads?

10 years ago new CS grads were getting 60k/yr and moving up quickly. Now that I often hire for the area, it's closer to 70k in my experience. Yes, you can move to SFO and make 90k, or more? But you have to adjust drastically for cost of living. Perhaps you get better RSUs and free lunch?

Once you get more senior salaries the salaries are even more competitive. The only thing that doesn't seem popular is huge pile of RSUs that you'd get working for one of the SFO companies.


90k is considered very low today overall. The average new grad gets like ~150ish, give or take 20. If you get a big signing bonus like they do at Facebook it goes up to 225k+ TC for the first year. My friend graduating this year just signed an offer for ~210k first year at a trading company.

It’s definutely worth it to chase the money out of undergrad IMHO.


What to grads typically do with all that money. I started on about $30k and it was more than enough. Is it all squirreled away for the future? I'd hope so!

Most of them save and have really nice lifestyles. I know a bunch of people who are on track to retire early.

NC really is something special, and not just the triangle either. While it doesn't really have any place with a real big city vibe (and I'm saying that as a Charlotte native), there are awesome small towns and older cities all over and roads to connect to it all. The melting pot thing is true too, almost none of my NC friends have parents from there.

I think the trick is to pick any place with a college (and there are tons in NC) and the weather or lifestyle you prefer. I think Asheville and Boone are amazing for people who love mountains and dont mind colder weather for less humidity, while Greensboro and Winston would give you a lot of bang for your buck with their historic vibe and nearness to other regional hubs, and then there's even Carolina beach near Wilmington for beach fans, which is at least cheaper than some other beaches.


and then there's even Carolina beach near Wilmington for beach fans, which is at least cheaper than some other beaches.

Wilmington is a fun place in many ways. I grew up nearby (Holden Beach) and went to UNC-W and worked in Wilmington for many years. The area has a lot going for it, but in the end, I left for the Triangle region back in 2000 just because there were more business/career opportunities in the Triangle.

I think the tech scene in Wilmington has improved over the last 7 or 8 years, but at least up through 2000 (when I left) it was kind of a backwater from a tech standpoint. Programming jobs were few and far between and there weren't all the user groups and tech events and things you get here in the Triangle.

Anyway, I'd encourage anybody considering Wilmington to really research the job scene and see what's going on in their industry there, before committing.


I came here to recommend the same. I moved from the RTP area to SV a couple years ago and my family were very happy in NC. Among other things, we sold our 4300sqft house in a beautiful suburban neighborhood for $510k ... in order to buy a 1700sqft house in San Jose for $1.35m. <banghead>

I lived in this part of NC for 13 years and am happy to answer questions.


I moved from Seattle to Chapel Hill about a year ago (also grew up in Durham, a lot longer ago). I second everything cbarnes89 said, and I'd add that there's a small but growing Microsoft office in Morrisville.

Damn it! I was looking for ideas...

I've lived in the Triangle for 15 years now, I would recommend you come after we have a light rail.


lol I've been seeing signs for the light rail since I was a kid (in my thirties now). Are they making any headway or is that still a bit of a joke?

My only experience in that area makes me convinced it's not a good choice for exactly this reason. I would hate to be forced to drive everywhere.

I'd second that recommendation. I live just down the road in Wilmington, NC. I would love to move to the Triangle area. There's so much of everything there. But I like my job here in Wilmington and instead of 4 hours to the ocean I'm, like, 15 minutes.

For family reasons we've been considering a move into the area, but looking at job listings things seem scant. Wondering if any commenters here have input of what's available there.

Grep Beat is a local newsgroup that's keeping track of startups.

I looked on Glassdoor not too long ago for AI/ML and there were probably 20-30 postings.


Where are you looking? What kind of position?

Depending on your ability to work remotely, I would make the "case" that you should consider Portugal.

Lisbon and Porto are super popular with ["digital nomad"] remote workers who work for international companies so earn in USD but spend [much less] in Euros for a superb lifestyle.

There's a reason @paddycosgrave moved Web Summit to Lisbon. It's one of the cheapest cities in Europe and [unlike Barcelona] everyone speaks English. There is a good "tech scene" and a fantastic work-life-balance; surf, great food & warm/welcoming people.

A few things to consider that many people over-look: + Socio-Economic and Political stability. + General safety/security and crime levels. + Sanitation and healthcare availability/cost. + Availability/cost of healthy [organic/unprocessed] food. + Lifestyle to actually live in the place: is it "cheap" but a nightmare to live there? + Contract-law for short-term apartment/room rentals.

Portugal will exceed your expectations on all of these.

Portugal is very welcoming to US citizens, you won't have any "visa issues" the way you will in many of the [superficially] "cheaper" Asian countries.

If you want your budget to stretch much further, consider Braga. The cost of living is less than a third of SF, internet is fast and you get most of the benefits of Porto & Lisbon (or can reach those cities with a short train journey).

Note: I am [slightly] "biased", my Wife and I have recently "escaped" from London [after working there in tech for 10 years] and we are busy setting up a Co-living/Co-working House in Braga: https://github.com/dwyl/home We will be opening at the end of this month and our target cost per month [1Gbps Internet, all bills, cleaning & gym included] is $300 (USD).

We chose Braga because it has all the "ingredients" for an awesome place for tech/creative people to escape the bigger cities and focus on their work while still having access to all the amenities great healthcare, superb organic/vegan food and good libraries/meetups/etc.


Yeah, as a Portuguese person living in Lisbon and having worked in the tech scene here, I can say avoid Portugal if you're looking for a SV type scene. The level of anything going on around here is far lower.

Sure the weather is the best I've ever experienced on earth, the food is great, and the cost of living is low. But on the other hand you have an ecosystem that is nothing to write home about, culturally it's good but not great like London or NYC, academia is lackluster (no world-class universities in any subject, bar 1 MBA), not very international, not a whole lot going on in general.

Portugal is a great place to come on holiday, go surfing, go sailing, and retire. It's not an intellectually stimulating place, and the general level of competence in everything from local government to enterprise management is extremely frustrating.

I would say to OP that usually if a place is interesting, it won't be cheap as there is more demand for it. Maybe look at Oxford, UK, Bristol, UK, Edinburgh, UK, or Rotterdam, NL as secondary cities with still enough going on. Apparently Bordeaux is nice but I have never been so can't say.


>I would say to OP that usually if a place is interesting, it won't be cheap as there is more demand for it.

You do have a point there, but I think what skews this picture somewhat is language barriers. Everyone learns English in school and English is the language of academia, so all else being equal, the demand for English speaking locations is bound to be greater than for other destinations.


It happens a lot that foreigners find places awesome where locals find the opposite even given two quite similar persons.

> There's a reason @paddycosgrave moved Web Summit to Lisbon.

Because the tax payers are paying €110m for it? http://www.thejournal.ie/lisbon-web-summit-new-ten-year-deal...


If it pays off by helping make Lisbon a strong European tech scene, which it looks like it could do, it's not necessarily a bad deal for the taxpayers of Portugal.

€110m is an absolute bargain for the value that it has generated. Any public official who was involved in making that decision/deal and facilitating the influx of talent/ideas/energy/capital deserves a medal! Lisbon is buzzing now more than ever, thanks in no small part to Web Summit. It was good before, now it's incredible. Say what you want about Web Summit (that's a whole other rant!) it is unquestionably "net positive" to the Portuguese economy and the lives of tens of thousands of people.

It does indeed appear to have been a very smart choice for Lisbon, but that does not address the question of whether this was the main reason for the location selection.

When Paddy (and the WebSummit Team) decided to leave the Dublin chaos, they had a choice between several cities. Lisbon made the best case on many factors. There must have been an "incentive" for them to move beyond simply having a "better venue" or "sunny weather", we (the public) will never have the full picture of the terms of the original "deal" between Paddy and the Lisbon/PT authorities.

Feels like it's been a "win-win" for everyone (except perhaps the "locals" who have no interest in tourism/tech and have been priced out of their rental accommodation by "AirBnB Landlords"... it's the SF apartment price squeeze all over)

If I were to guess the reason for the selection of Lisbon, it would be this: the Web Summit organising team have to spend much of the year in the city where the event is held. They chose a city they want to be in for their own reasons. e.g: Weather/Climate, Food, Culture, Night Life, Scenery (lots of city parks, cycle/pedestrian areas), Architecture, Surf/Sailing, good International Schools (for those who have children) ... Mostly still "cheap" for visitors.

There's a good reason why people say that Lisbon is like SF but with better weather and more affordable.


[flagged]


Lmao. Spoken as someone who doesn't understand healthcare, education or basic social services.

Eu dominates the US for quality of life and standard of living.


Not for long

Care to elaborate? I would love to see some real plans to change my mindset on where the U.S. is heading.

This is probably considered off, so message me


At some point the bureaucratocracy is going to get top heavy. Already the economy is showing signs of being anemic. Common strategy by bureaucrats for curing anemia is top-down investment, which means stealing from the poor (via inflation) to water the privileged. It's inevitable.

Add the US to that list. Amazon HQ2 is a race to the bottom; I'm sure there's other criteria, but at some level that's also just squeezing the most benefits out of the contending cities or regions. And that's just a high profile example.

I came to the discussion to see if Portugal was mentioned, and was pleasantly surprised to see it as the top-ranked comment.

I will just add my suggestion of a another city to the mix: Aveiro. Small yet not too small, cheap, a short hop from Porto, 2hrs away from Lisbon, with trains and good highways, a very tech oriented university, excellent food, close by the sea and a huge lagoon good for all kinds of watersports.

I work for an US based company from here, and I used to live in Lisbon for 10+ years. Love Lisbon, but my quality of life here in Aveiro is so much better.


You'd still choose Lisbon over Paris right? ;-)

I have had my eye on Portugal for a number of years, but there are a few things that seem less than ideal.

* Cost of living for a good quality of life still being relatively high or rising, especially in Lisbon and other tourist/expat areas. And a second tier city in Portugal is much less of a clear choice since that is comparable to a lot more places.

* The tax system being very complicated. One can always argue about how much tax to pay, but few people want a complicated tax system, especially not as a foreigner. (And is usually an indication that other systems are complicated as well).

* The tech scene not really happening. Despite the usual "next Silicon Valley" it doesn't really stand out from anywhere else as far as I can tell.

There might certainly be things I don't see, but at least initially it doesn't seem like Portugal rise above the competition to the extent that you wouldn't have to consider quite a few other options.


I don't understand the comment about the tax system. Which taxes are you talking about?

As I've said in another comment, IRS is literally filling out an online app for 5 minutes - and all relevant entries are already pre-filled. It's very easy and simple.

As for companies, my girlfriend works at a company run by two Germans and they basically hire an accountant to do the paperwork every year. It's pretty cheap. For a larger company, you'd have to hire a local to do the accounting, though.

Maybe I'm missing something because I don't run my own company, bear in mind that hiring freelancers is cheap here.


Freelancing, starting companies and the NHR scheme (which is sort of an exception but still) seems to have a lot of deductions, conditions and exceptions that require more guidance than some other countries. Maybe this is something one adapts to, but it still seems like an initial hurdle for foreigners.

Spain offers you a mixture of international cities, and technology hubs. There will never be another "Silicon Valley", but as an alternative where you can find stimulating and rewarding work, I'd argue it's better than Portugal.

> I'd argue it's better than Portugal.

Why is it better?


For work we find the technology community more diverse and deeper. Also for internationals choosing to move to somewhere attractive Spain offers a great balance of lifestyle and work. I would argue Lisbon is sort of the exception in Portugal; and even then it is a bit limited with no real domestic scene more people seeking low cost or nearshoring.

We were considering moving the company to Spain after Brexit but the reputation of the Spanish tax office as extremely bureaucratic and unfair is a huge deterrent.

Purportedly they can fine you tens of thousands of euros for tiny honest mistakes even if you don't owe one cent of tax (Modelo 720).


So far so good for us, but that's why we pay our accountant! We'll see what happens end of next year.

If you have questions drop me a line.


I prefer Portuguese people since I speak Portuguese and Portuguese are much more welcoming and friendly. This could change with overtourism which also makes Lisbon comparably expensive. Spain is more diverse and still has cheap big cities. Cheaper than Lisbon.

Has the smoking situation improved any? Remember a lot of it indoors in Iberia.

Smoking indoors is highly regulated now (thankfully).

The next question to that is do people comply with them? From your tone, I'm guessing yes.

None is is better. Both are great.

Good luck getting by on English alone though.

I think it depends what city you are in, we have not found any problems in Southern Spain, but I cannot speak for elsewhere.

The tech scene in Lisbon and Porto IS happening - just take a look at companies like Farfetch, Outsystems, Talkdesk, Feedzai, Unbabel and many other smaller startups w/their HQ based in Portugal. I myself work at a Porto based startup (Bottlebooks) w/American and Slovak founders. Portugal has everything going for it to be the California of Europe - highly educated (and english speaking) youth and a will to conquer the world. We welcome any foreigner willing to work hard and contribute to a creating a great place to live :)

California or Florida of Europe?

* highly educated

Universities are not very good.

* and english speaking

Don't they speak Portuguese?

*youth and a will to conquer the world.

Unlikely. And Silicon Valley is not about guys with laptops creating some websites. It is all about high tech, top universities, supply chains and synergy effects. You may be able to to a technology heavy start-up in the UK, Germany, China, Japan, Korea but in Portugal this is difficult. You lack the industrial supply chain of customized high tech products. Just working on your laptop you can also do in Kenya (which actually is quite innovative in IT).


You left out the most important reason most “next SV” will have a hard time getting there: VC money. Maybe Lisbon can be a different kind of tech hub, not necessarily a copy/version of SV.

Go away troll - Portugal has been growing strong in terms of its people's education and consequent modernisation for the last 20 years and there's nothing you can do about it, so if you've got nothing useful to say: get out of the way and let the Portuguese people show the world how a great country is re-built from the destruction created by more than 50 years of fascist dictatorship.

I am not trolling. I love portugal. But it is not a tech hub and I don't see it being one. IT? Maybe. But for high-tech you need the supply chains. If I call a random B2B supplier and ask "Can you do X?" they often answer: "X? we can do better!" And this is where opportunities open.

Portugal is a nice place. Nice people. But too little high tech, too much debt, demography problems etc.

" destruction created by more than 50 years of fascist dictatorship." Not aware how much damage this created. The Portuguese empire was not important before the dictatorship anymore, so not sure how much time you really lost.

But PT has many good things. I wish RE was cheaper in Lisbon and I would buy immediately.


By the way, maybe you are the troll. Read up how SV became SV https://siliconcowboy.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/the-secret-mi...

Portugal has a complicated tax system? I always thought it was fairly simple compared to how certain foreigners describe theirs.

I agree with you regarding the cost of living but the tax system is similar to a lot of other countries within the EU.

I live in Lisbon and work as a foreigner at one of Lisbon's universities and can confirm that the living quality in Lisbon is absolutely top. It's a fantastic city. And our bridge is similar to yours - looks smaller but is longer!

Caveats:

- If you intend to work within Academia, you may occasionally have to deal with fairly incompetent professors. It depends on the research unit and area, but there tends to be a certain amount of people who got full tenure in the past by connections and self-publications only. Needless to say that there are also some very good people. For example, at our institute about 50% are foreigners with excellent publications in English.

- Rents have skyrocketed during the past years in all beautiful areas of Lisbon. It's still not even comparable to SF, of course, but you need to calculate around 800 for a decent 2 room apartment. Housing prices have also gone up, but if you have the money it would be a safe investment - they'll continue to rise for quite a while. (Is there any major capital where they don't rise?)

- Social hierarchies and "respect" (in the sense of brown-nosing) are generally more important than in the north of Europe. Portuguese are very friendly towards foreigners, but they can be rather unfriendly among themselves. It's a kind of social pressure and artificial politeness/respect that can be very unappealing in the long run. You can never say straightforward to your boss what you think, no matter how right you are. Critique always needs to be very indirect.

I cannot say anything about the startup scene, because I'm not familiar with it. I suppose it's generally harder to obtain VC funding or bank credits than in the US. Starting a company is very easy, though, for a small company it suffices to hire a freelance account. IRS is also outstanding and can be done online within 5 minutes. The only downside is that as a foreigner you don't get a citizen card, which means that you have to go to local authorities in person instead of doing it online, too. Traditionally, Lisboagas (for natural gas delivery) and the Social Security authority suck, every other authority or company I've dealt with in the past 10 years was super-friendly and professional.

Overall, I can totally recommend Lisbon for anyone who wants high quality of living combined with low costs of living. I have no plans of ever moving away again and instead plan to open my own little software company in case my postdoc funding ever dries out - so far it's still going well in Academia though.


> Is there any major capital where they don't rise?

Athens.

I need to leave that country for my own sanity and I'm currently on the lookout for a new one to move to. All this talk about portugal is very tempting :)


I've been very curious about how life is in Greece now. What is the vibe like? Is there any hope amongst the creative youth? Any interesting cultural movements that we generally tend to see emerge in times of hardship?

There's a decent tech scene primarily centered around crypto currency. Most of the issues and roadblocks are government related to be honest. It's an interesting country if you want to invest in a developing country but quality of life is pretty bad.

I would have expected the quality of life to be excellent in Greece. It has all the ingredients such as weather, history, geography....

Thanks. I'd like to consider this seriously - what's a good place to browse places to rent in Portugal?


I'm not really confident about the quality of the cultural life in Portugal (let alone Braga). Do musicians tour there ? What about the classical music offer (a good marker in my opinion of intense cultural places) ? How many art museums, do they host touring exhibitons ?

Also education is not very convincing (considering op might want a family). Universities in Portugal are not that great nor renowned. Many qualified young people go work abroad by lack of local opportunities. I've also heard that healthcare is messy if you can't pay. It doesn't sound like a healthy country to me.

I guess Portugal is good enough if you just want sun, decent food, cheap QoL and good internet, but I wouldn't consider it a thriving intellectual place by any means. But maybe in OP's words, good intellect = finding a sufficient concentration of other engineers. Then it might be enough.


> Universities in Portugal are not that great nor renowned.

I disagree. Universities are not the problem. General school is. As a rule of thumb, public universities are better than private ones and the opposite on general school.


At least in my domain (veterinary, idk about medicine but if the same, that's frightening), they have seemingly no selection and numerous universities are offering the degree (even much more than smaller countries). So their degree is shit (no time for practice, only theoretical and you'll learn more once in the job), there are too many of them anyways and they can't find jobs.

Also can't think of any portugese scientist, or portugese based lab renowned for anything in biology or computer science.


> Also can't think of any portugese scientist, or portugese based lab renowned for anything in biology or computer science.

Fernando Pereira comes to mind: he made significant contributions to the early development of logic programming (e.g. C-Prolog) and natural language processing, as well as other AI research.


> Do musicians tour there ? What about the classical music offer (a good marker in my opinion of intense cultural places) ? How many art museums, do they host touring exhibitons ?

Lisbon is quite good in all of the above since it is well placed on the European circuit for performing arts and has plenty of smallish but very high quality museums. As a music student there I got to hear all of the greats and frankly I got to attend relatively more high-quality concerts there than what I get around to living in Paris, since in Lisbon I didn't have to book everything 6 months in advance. (I'm not complaining about Paris, it's awesome.)

Braga on the other hand has a lot less cultural activity as is normal for a small city. However, it does have an incredibly rich history, plenty of ancient monuments (mostly churches) and is a 45-minute drive from Porto.

If you're talking about the bubbling native culture that you can find in cities like London or New York, than no, Portugal isn't the hottest place. But the SV isn't either.


Fwiw, I went to a free Fado concert at the big castle that overlooks Lisbon. While I was there, the city hosted a Guns and Roses concert. Additionally, there was live music all over the place on the street. It's by far one of the best cities in Europe for climate, beach and culture.

This is awesome. I live in SF, and have a base in Istanbul, which is from what I heard, similar to Lisbon in many aspects — but I would be hesitant to recommend it without at least a willingness to learn Turkish. There are some digital nomads here in HN based in Istanbul, though.

Nevertheless - my point was, you’re living my dream and I’ll definitely give a visit when my life allows for a Portugal trip. Never been yet.


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Posting like this will get you banned here. We don't want unsubstantive comments and we certainly don't want nationalistic slurs. Please don't do this again.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Disclaimer: I am Turkish and I live in Istanbul.

Well, you could say that the United States is run by a similar person. That does mean all of the U.S. is like that?

Istanbul does have a good intellectual atmosphere. Izmir too.

I'm not going to say it's all fine over here, but it's perfect for a digital nomad. Istanbul, especially places like Besiktas and Kadikoy are perfect.


"Well, you could say that the United States is run by a similar person."

No, you really couldn't. While the US democratic system is augmented by a very strong executive position, he still is only the executive of the system with fairly robust checks and balances in place (which seems to be working despite intense tire kicking).

US is not run by the president.

This quora answer seems a pretty good 101 on the issue:

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-the-US-not-a-parliamentary-syst...

Just because a person tweets like an ex-wrestler turned autocrat does not make him so.


I would say that from an European POV, USA's democracy has been compromised way earlier than Turkey's. While Erdogan is somehow a new element in Turkey's democracy, systemic corruption in the USA has been prevalent for almost a century, while Turkey had a somehow solid democracy in place.

Trump is just an error in the system, a person that is incapable of following the rituals and gain advantage of a low-profile attitude.


"Turkey had a somehow solid democracy in place."

The civic quality of the Turkish system has quite a troubled history. Turkey's government has been held at a gunpoint by it's military for decades:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

"systemic corruption in the USA has been prevalent for almost a century"

I think that needs a quotation. US history is filled with genocide, empire building and after the 1970's, funnelling the profits from the economy from the employees to the capital owners. That, however, is not the same thing as corruption.

We're not discussing who is 'good' or 'bad', but comparing the quality and nature of institutions on the national level.


AIUI the Turkish military acts as a safety valve when the government gets more Authoritarian/Islamic; the military step in and a democratic, secular status quo is returned. Is that not the case?

Certainly the couple of military coups there I know of seemed to rapidly result in establishing a strongly democratic constitution and a group of representatives to whom the assumed power could be handed over to.


I lived for a few months in Istanbul and can confirm this. I was surprised by the quality of engineering talent in Istanbul though they are getting hit by brain drain hard these days.

Brain drain is real. I left almost a decade ago, and in the intervening decade most my friends also left - Turkish people of this sort generally do very well in Silicon Valley, New York, London, Berlin, and in others.

Not that this is a bad thing. I don't see any reason for the great design & engineering talent in Istanbul to stay there, while the ruling government treats anybody who's not a part of their clientele (conservative, xenophobic, nationalist, authoritarian) like cockroaches. Considering they're only getting 51% even with the massive, massive practical broadcast power the ruling governments get, that's a lot of people.

So we vote. In the best way. With our feet.

Funnily enough, even Erdogan is realising that Turkey is losing a massive amount of talent on a month-to-month basis, in that it's been in a few of his speeches imploring people to come back lately. Apparently he realised when we're all gone, and when the construction / inflated real estate boom stops (which it did a few months ago, and the economy is in free fall right now), the only people who actually produce value are the people he did his best to alienate and scare out of the country. I believe his literal words in a national speech were: "Like, or leave" ("Ya sev, ya terket").

So we did, and I'm now paying my tax bill to the Internal Revenue Service of the United States, instead of Vergi Idaresi, and you know what? USA treats me with a lot more dignity and respect than Turkey ever did.

Turkey is going to starve (hopefully only figuratively) before it gets better, and I don't have a big problem with that. There's no teacher for authoritarians like it.


Clearly you've never visited Istanbul. Yes, the government is corrupt - but there are many other governments just as corrupt, and even more so. Don't let fear dictate your life.

Istanbul is a beautiful city and I'd love to go back. That being said, I've also traveled to over 30 countries and have a bit more perspective on the matter compared to the average American.


And how is that any better than in the USA right now?

Trump isn't imprisoning 10s of thousands by edict yet, is he?

>"[...] 134,000 people in Turkey have been sacked, including 7,300 academics and 4,300 judge and prosecutors in the nine months since the failed coup in which there is little evidence that any of them knew anything about or were otherwise involved. Some 231 journalists are in jail and 149 media outlets have been shut down, while 95,500 people have been detained and 47,600 arrested under emergency laws." (https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/turkey-erdogan-referend...)


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Please keep nationalistic and political flamewar off HN.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


The country is more than its government. If you’ve been to Istanbul, you would know that it’s a wonderful place. Should we shun the country and its people because they have been burdened with a bad ruler? We should look in a mirror first before passing such harsh judgment.

If you're doing business in a country then rule of law is extremely important. Your life and freedom may depend on it.

No matter where your customers are, you are subject to (at the very least) tax and social security regulations of the country you live in.

Rather than looking in the mirror I would suggest looking at:

https://tradingeconomics.com/country-list/corruption-rank

http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/doingbusiness

As a foreigner you cannot do as the locals do when it comes to corruption (even if you wanted to) or you're going to have a target on your back.


> Should we shun the country and its people because they have been burdened with a bad ruler?

You don't need to shun the people even if you shun the country.

I feel it's already very widespread to avoid any visits to Turkey and Russia (among others obviously), though it's hard to say how much of it is because of the political situation, and how much because of perceived instability. Personally, I would like to see Hagia Sophia but I'm unlikely to visit as long as Turkey stays in the current dictatorial road.


You should absolutely visit and see Hagia Sofia. It’s too good to miss out in this limited lifetime of ours.

I hopefully still have plenty of time left, and there are lots of other things to see in this world meanwhile. At some point, I'm sure!

This was in the context of having "an intellectual atmosphere", though.

It's okay to mention this, but not fair to omit comparison with the US while the two were originally compared.

The scale may be different, but the situation in the US is not to good either on these topics, and has been deteriorating lately.


I'm not aware of any journalists or political opponents being arrested or tortured in the US.

You may have heard of Aaron Swartz, "Lock Her Up", Barrett Brown, and https://lawandcrime.com/crazy/doj-seeking-info-on-6000-peopl..., Mumia Abu-Jamal, etc., but presumably you have forgotten. The situation in the US is not as bad as in Turkey, but it is bad and getting worse.

6 more journalists arrested in Ferguson protests

A total of 11 journalists have been arrested during the protests in Ferguson

Most were only held briefly, not charged

German reporter says he's never been treated so badly by police

https://www-m.cnn.com/2014/08/19/us/ferguson-journalists-arr...

I saw something once that credibly argued that the treatment of Chelsea Manning in prison amounted to torture.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_Manning

The current president of the US has called for his political opponent to be jailed. Not readily finding actual instances of actually jailing political opponents in the US, but I'm not trying that hard either.

https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/2/1729104/-Donald-Trum...

We also generally treat Blacks and Natives terribly and generally have crazy high rates of incarceration.


The scale is hardly comparable to the recent purges, arrests, etc in Turkey.

I didn't claim it was. But the comment I replied to unequivocally suggests this happens at a rate of Zero in the US, which is not accurate. Yet most folks are happy to act like it is accurate while my very mild and data backed comment gets push back of various sorts.

Yes, people have been arrested, who happen to be journalists. But no one in the US has been arrested for being a journalist or reporting things that are uncomfortable for leaders. You are making a false equivalency.

Ferguson protests were dangerous and riotous at times. Sure, some people were arrested that shouldn't have been, but they were released. This isn't even comparable to the kinds of journalist arrests and murders we are talking about.


You're really stretching things to force a weak comparison.

Journalists entrenched in violent protests will inevitably get arrested, that's not a break down of rule of law, nor of democracy; are they getting imprisoned for being journalists who are critical of the president? Not AFAICT. In Turkey journalists are imprisoned for not supporting Erdogan.

Has Trump called for his opponents to be imprisoned for not supporting him? Or, did he claim they had committed crimes for which objectively they should be punished? Erdogan has his political opponents actually imprisoned; and 10s of thousands of their supporters.

Trump is a whacked out crazy misogynist, displays the worst traits of capitalist greed, and of self-obsession, he's a power hungry ignoramus. But Erdogan is an evil genocidal fascist.


I'm not stretching anything, nor am I forcing any kind of comparison whatsoever. I'm merely posting readily available data that the comment I replied to dismissed as not existing at all. It had zero qualifiers and made a sweeping statement that is readily falsiable.

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The US is going downhill quickly, and I wouldn't advise anyone to move there.

However it's still a long way away from countries like Turkey or Uzbekistan or Russia.

Compare the US to Brazil or South Africa sure, point out how it's no longer in the same bracket as Canada or Denmark or NZ, but comparing to Turkey or Thailand does a disservice.


It's really not far from Turkey. I agree it's not "as bad", but the US isn't done rotting. Populism, attacking and discrediting the press, running state media (FOX), control over all branches of government, a blind, rabid and xenophobic fanbase...

Like, yeah, Turkey is worse. I think. I'm not even sure, given that Turkey has less power. So no, it's not at that level. Yet.


What's important though is to compare the whole system and not just individuals. The US has very robust democratic institutions, checks and balances and rule of law.

Trump's inclination to reduce everything to ass kissing ("has said nice things about me") and personal vendettas would be an absolute disaster in many countries. But the US is healthy enough to survive him - I think.


> The US has very robust democratic institutions, checks and balances and rule of law.

Does it. A first-past-the-post system which reduces everything to two parties. Low voter turnouts. High gerrymandering. Terrible voter accessibility laws. Three branches of government end-to-end owned by only one party. And a ton of money in politics thanks to Citizens United.

I'm sorry, but "robust democratic institutions" and "checks and balances" at this point are things americans tell themselves to sleep better at night. If you step back, you start seeing just how far gone the country is.


In terms of keeping one person in check, even if that person is the president, the US constitution does a great job. And this is very much borne out by what has happened since Trump was elected (by a minority of voters).

(I'm not American)


The constitution is a document, not a branch of the government. Who amends the constitution? Who enforces the constitution? The answer to both of those is: Branches of government controlled by the same single party as the one in power right now.

These are very baffling claims that lack any relation to reality. The US constitution defines the branches of government according to the principles of seperation of powers.

The constitution also defines the process of changing the constitution itself (article V), and it does not include a way for Mr Trump or his party to do that as they do not have the required two thirds majority in both houses or in state legislatures.

Importantly, there isn't even a way for him to whip up emotions in a referendum in order to change the constitution.

The judiciary is not controlled by any party at all. Supreme court judges are appointed for life to prevent arbitrary interventions by other branches of government.

And in practical terms, did you really get the impression that Trump has unwavering support even just among the legislators of his own party? Did you get the impression that the FBI acts on Trump's say so? How about the courts?

No, what I'm seeing is a wannabe autocrat who is kept in check by an extremely robust set of institutions, constitutional arrangements and by a lot of principled individuals inside those institutions.

I don't see Xi, Erdogan or Putin getting investigated by their own police or courts, having to fear impeachment or face the sort of (well deserved) journalistic onslaught that Trump has had to face.


This reply goes back to the general sentiment I have a problem with: That things have to be as bad as in Russia, China or Turkey for people to take action.

You realize that if they get this bad, it's too late to take action, right?

Here's the same logic, applied to a different field: "Oh, yes, you keep talking about climate change but I only see mild temperature increases and I'm not even sure they're man-made. I don't see the sea level rise and catastrophic outcomes you're talking about. If we start seeing those, we'll take action."

It'll be too late.


I don't find Trump harmless. I'm just saying that the constitution and the institutions matter a great deal when it comes to limiting the damage a single powerful individual can do.

That's exactly why so many autocrats and parties with an authoritarian bent try to change the constitutions of their countries in order to give themselves greater powers.

Trump hasn't done that because he can't. And I think this deserves far more attention than it is getting. It is something other countries can learn from.


You are wrong about White House press access; the current President has been far more open and accessible than his predecessor.

https://apnews.com/f29a23df19214466b226e2cbdec78cbd - AP (As neutral as it gets) - White House press conferences grow rare

https://apnews.com/0a029f0bf678452aa89facb6dfba5f25 - AP - WH restricts AP, Reuters, Bloomberg for KJU summit

http://time.com/5270968/donald-trump-reporters-credentials-m... - TIME, Donald Trump threatens taking away reporter credentials

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/09/donald-trump... - The Guardian - White House won't rule out banning press for 'negative' coverage

Just a couple of examples of what white house press feels like under the Trump era. Talk to me more about "his predecessor".

Edit: Today's bonus article on freedom of speech, press, and assembly: https://outline.com/3TKY5M - CNN - DOJ demands Facebook information from 'anti-administration activists'.

There's like one of these every day at least. So, you know, I don't believe you.


To be fair, thanks to Twitter we do have much more access than before to his unfiltered stream of consciousness at 3AM.

For what it's worth, I think that is one of the very, very, very few good things that will come out of that presidency. We'll see what future presidents make of it, but I have hope that in the long run it leads to increased transparency.

Of course, other checks are being removed left and right, so I don't think it evens out in the case of the Trump admin.


I don’t think this kind of “transparency” is a good thing for any president. It is far better for the head of government to make considered, careful, well-timed statements with the benefit of staff research. You know, like normal governments have always worked...


Please don't do that. If you have a point to make or something to add, please do so. Having actually read the wikipedia page you linked to I'm still not entirely sure exactly which point you're trying to make.

Have you been to instanbul? I agree with everything you said, but a country and its people are more than their ruler.

Yes, and the people are lovely. I've also been to Russia, Egypt and Gaza, on many occasions, and the people are lovely there too. At least to me as a straight white man. I imagine if I was a gay woman I wouldn't feel the same.

I wouldn't move to any of those places though, partly because I don't want to support people like Hamas or Erdogan, and with the justice systems in these countries, that's what you're doing. Same if you set up shop in Colombia or Venezuela.

However it's also because of corrupt governments means I as a westerner am particularly vulnerable. Canada, New Zealand, Finland, Portugal, Japan, Argentina, sure, you'll be fine (ok maybe not Brits in Argentina).

If all you're doing is a backpacking gap year, and you're willing to get out of these fast, you're probably OK, but look at how quickly Istanbul turned during the attempted coup. Things can get very ugly, very quickly, or they can get very ugly in a boiling frog basis and you won't notice until it's too late. Neither is good.


Isn't US do the same shady things? but they justify them so you can live in your own bubble believing that you are better than everyone else?

This sort of whataboutism is hardly helpful. Sure the US is no saint, but trying to equate them to what's happening in Turkey does a huge disservice to everyone suffering in Turkey and only helps whitewash a brutal dictator.

he criticize turkey based on they leader as not good place for work but he overlooked that his country is considered mush worst and yes if Turkey has dictator USA has terrorist government that allow all kind of shit and misery to innocent people based on hate and racism.

The US is not generally considered in a worse state than Turkey, saying this as a non-American who refuses to visit America.

It doesn't matter what people think, the facts it what matter and if you decide to overlook them that is your problem.

Arresting and torturing journalists and human rights workers? Nope, I don't think so.

If you define that to be the particular metric, then no. Others may define different parameters to judge the badness of what a country has done. If you feel that the US has had saintly behavior towards its own citizens or the rest of the world, pick up a history book.

Didn't US torture people at all? did you know what fucked up shit done by CIA? didn't they kill millions of innocents in stupid wars? oh i forget something you guys think your government is good because it put their people in bubble of safety while killing and torturing non Americans and supporting terrorists nations. and that all matter i live in peace but fuck everyone else.

Rules of ware are very different from laws in peaceful country. Don't mix them, please.

For example, Russia bombs and shells cities in Europe and Africa, uses chemical weapons, bombs hospitals, torture and kills civilians in their own and even in other countries, supports terrorists, spread fake news, and so on. But you can find lot of intellectuals in Moscow.


So it's ok to kill other people but not yours?

> the same shady things

In one word, no


Indeed. The U.S. has tons of problems - more than most western countries, and I wouldn't live there, but it's nowhere near the problems of Turkey, which is down towards places like China and Khazakstan on the repressive regime list

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-... is a good starting point


To other nations which they were mush worst. and more evil.

>"Portugal is very welcoming to US citizens, you won't have any "visa issues" the way you will in many of the [superficially] "cheaper" Asian countries."

Can you elaborate on this? Wouldn't a U.S citizen still be limited to only 90 days in the Shengen zone every 180 days? Or is there some type of freelance visa?


Glad to see this as the first comment I read. Im currently sat in Portugal on 4ha of land I have brought over near Fundão. It is more out of the way, but still has excellent access to cities. Plus it is absolutely beautiful.

I’m a freelance software developer and can happily work out here even on a plot of land which has no power/net connection. The 3G/4G is great, and everything easily runs of a single solar panel.

This isn’t my long term plan, but does me well when I come out here for a few weeks at a time. Long term there’ll be a house etc.

If there was a coworking space in Covilha / Castelo Branco I’d be very keen.

Otherwise I may start a little coders retreat or some such :-)


If no house, what is your solar panel currently attached to? That sounds like an interesting setup.

Simply propped up facing the sun. Sat on the ground. Super simple, but rather effective.

Not OP, but I have done work with literally a camping solar panel charging a 12V battery and a car power -> laptop power adapter. The setup cost me approximately $1000 AUD. I use the solar power for other things as well.

Where do you live if there is no house?

Where's the blog post? :-)

Since you ask:

https://blog.adamcharnock.com

But this reminds me I haven’t posted for ages!


Cool, how much have you paid?

Ask me via email :-) It’s on my site.

> and [unlike Barcelona] everyone speaks English

Do you have any stats proving that? Just asked a portuguese friend living in Barcelona and said that is a quite bold statement.


I agree. Even in the big cities the level of english speaking is pretty low, and definitely lower than in Barcelona. But this shouldn't be a problem. Take the month or two of effort it takes to get started in the local language where you live, make an effort over time, and you'll find it to be no barrier.

I'd second this. Almost everyone in professional circles speaks English in Barcelona. I would say on average Portugal has much better English penetration than Spain, but Barcelona is definitely an exception.

> I would say on average Portugal has much better English penetration than the rest of Spain

I'm sure it's just a slip of tongue but never ever say things like that in Portugal...


I think the GP intended "the rest of Spain" to mean "Spain excluding Barcelona", rather than "Spain excluding Portugal". But I read it as "Spain excluding Portugal" the first time too.

I think you need to read both sentences together. I believe the OP is just excluding Barcelona from the comparison of English speaking between the two countries.

English(Portugal) > English(Spain − Barcelona)

Yeah, Portugal isn't part of Spain.

Weird historical fact: they shared a king for a little while a few hundred years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iberian_Union

"Why havent Spain conquered you yet?"

Stats would be nice, I agree.

I have searched but haven't found anything concrete ... the best data available is: https://www.ef.edu.pt/epi/regions/europe/portugal

in lieu of stats, I'll give you the logic [facts] instead: English as a Second Language (lessons) begins in the 5th grade in Portugal. It's compulsory for all people and generally high quality.

see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Portugal

Students cannot graduate from High school without proficiency in English. So the system is setup to ensure that the next generation [the one you will be interacting with in most situations] is fluent in English.

I know from first-hand experience of going to a "government" school and being taught by a fantastic teacher who studied at Cambridge, UK. The English lessons are predominantly "mechanical" i.e. grammar/vocabulary and sentence structure. But the fact that all television is sub-titled, not dubbed, means that all popular CSI/Fox shows are in English so the general population learn English "in use" much more effectively than in Spain, Germany or France.

All "Top Tier" STEM Universities are taught in English in order to help attract foreign students and help graduates get jobs abroad. This is a "double-edged sward" that has resulted in considerable "brain drain" to other countries. But we are seeing many Portuguese educated people who have worked abroad returning to start their own companies now which is really promising!

In Spain, many people speak English, however - and this is not meant to cause a "flame war" - since all television/media is "translated" [dubbed] people don't practice listening to English nearly as much, so the level of spoken english in the general population [outside of tech] is lower. There's a reason for the "Manuel from Barcelona" Fawlty Towers sketch/stereotype: https://youtu.be/s6EaoPMANQM

I love Spain and Barça [especially] is lovely! I worked there [as a waiter!] for 3 summers as a teenager. Loved it! But again, from first-hand experience, the level of English was much lower than in Portugal. This worked out well for me, because it forced me to learn Spanish. ;-)

The "stats" comparing Spain and Portugal: https://www.ef.edu.pt/epi/compare/regions/pt/es/

Mucho amor a todos los amigos en Barçelona!


Isn't English compulsory almost everywhere throughout the EU? I live in Madrid and it definitely is here in Spain.

It's true, however, that the fact that every TV show is completely dubbed makes it harder for us to develop our speaking (our listening doesn't seem to be so affected for some reason).

When you finish college you're only supposed to have a B2 English level. I don't know about it, but I wouldn't be surprised to know it's a fairly low standard for a European country.


> the fact that every TV show is completely dubbed makes it harder for us to develop our speaking

Same in Czechia. English has been mandatory for almost two decades now, and yet somehow nobody seems to be able to speak it. Grocery store clerks, waiters, even policemen, unless you are in a touristy area, and often not even there, you are basically out of luck.

On the other hand, I'm sure having everything dubbed is a boon to foreigners trying to master Czech. All three of them.


Some description of language proficiency standards here [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_R...


Why did you italicize so many words?

I don't think it's a bad style of writing for a forum like this. In natural speech, we communicate a lot by our use of emphasis.

Consider three sentences which could carry very different meanings:

Polite decline: "No, thank you."

Firm decline: "No, thank you."

Scolding decline: "No, thank you."

Perhaps not the best examples, but if italics helps reduce ambiguity and preserve more subtlety, I'm for it.


Except it seems to be completely random words, with a "few" random quotation marks and brackets [thrown] in the mix. Taken together it has the opposite effect of what it’s supposed to achieve.

On closer inspection I have to agree.

Personally, I only use italicization when I make a digressive sidepoint (for instance, using e.g. or examples given), or offer a different perspective away from the central voice I use. Its a matter of formatting preference though. Italicization helps improve readability of writing if used correctly

I have never really seen anyone in the states use italicization with the "No, thank you" example. Its better to just use emojis instead to get the same message across. Italicization used this way is sometimes treated as sarcasm or passive aggressiveness. Using italicization this way more excessively eventually goes to things like * <bashes away at keyboard> * or writing actions in written form. Those aren't subtle, but they are really awkward to read.


Italian heritage.

exactly! but seriously, it's just a [bad] habit ... thanks for pointing it out. hope it did not detract from my message.

You wrote a great response! Assuming you genuinely want feedback on it; your writing style does detract a bit from what you're saying - the emphasis and braces don't read like native English. My advice is try not to use quotes, italics and braces at all - go cold turkey! Then you'll probably find yourself using them when you actually _need_ them. :)

A bit OT: "Using an exclamation point only serves to call attention to the writer."—Miss Steiger, 10th grade English, Washington H.S., Milwaukee, 1964

I find it hard to read, because I find myself mentally pausing and stressing those words in my head and there are a lot of them! Also the square brackets and the quotes around words that don't seem to warrant them - I'm not sure what you mean by them and so I'm not certain whether I'm getting the same message that you're intending to convey.

If I can just ignore them it seems to read better but it's hard work to do so, but maybe that's just me :)


Hey, I like it. Yes it takes longer to read, but people don't speak at one cadence all the time. We make words longer or take short pauses to emphasize our point. I like the creativity.

What's with all the square brackets also? Such an unusual writing style

Half of that github doc is in italics too.

I wanted to buy an apartment in Lisbon (I speak Portuguese). Forget it. You don't get anything decent below 500k (speak Golden Visa Program). Big chunk of change for a comparably poor country.

"visa issues"? Portgual is Schengen. You need a residence visa if you want to live there. Possibly but far from trivial. On the other hand, if you want to buy real estate anyway and can cough up 500k you can go the golden visa route.

You may be too late for Lisbon. Also, Overtourism becomes a problem.

Braga sounds interesting. Had not time to go there. Wanted to check out rafting. Also, summers may be milder.


You can also get a Golden Visa if you buy property in an urban rehabilitation area (or any property with more than 30 years) for 350k.

If you don't need a golden visa, you can buy a very decent flat in the outskirts (within 30 mins - 1 hour commute) for less than half of that.


Golden Visa is irrelevant for me. Trust me, I checked the prices in Lisbon for some time. What do you consider "outskirts" of Lisbon? Sentubal?

As a born and raised in Braga I can confirm all of this. Also Braga as a background in IT sector for a few decades now. Mainly because of University of Minho.

+1 for portugal, i was actually in lisbon for a few days this summer, first time, i really liked what i saw, was more on vacation than for work, but definitely had a few escalations that forced me to get on the internet and everything was fast. people are friendly, costs relatively low, i stayed in 2 different parts, but near my hotel there was a large huawei office (not that i'd ever consider working there), but it tells you that some big, multi-national companies are there.

i also heard that if you buy a 600k usd house in portugal, you could register for eu citizenship, please someone confirm.


I think what you are referring to is the golden visa program (or Resident Permit for Investment program): https://www.expatica.com/pt/visas-and-permits/golden-visa-po...

From what I heard from Portuguese people, it's 500k investment and you can get the visa.

500k EUR (roughly 575k USD)

Yes I meant Euros ;)

Yes Portugal is a good choice now, I moved here 1 year ago from UK because of various factors, Brexit, tax, quality of life etc also because I believe it will be a great location to recruit IT talent to. I live in Cascais which is a bit expensive, (still much cheaper than San Francisco of course) but has wonderful quality of life for family, Capital city amenities next to beach. Great infrastructure, motorways, ultra fast cheap fibre to home, good IB school for kids, quality cheap fresh food, esp fish and veg. Retail items are expensive, high VAT, no Amazon (yet rumers will come soon) Services cheap, private medical cover including dental, for family of 4 unbelievably cheap, less than 200 Euro pm, i paid nearly that much for just dental in UK, the free public healthcare and schools are also apparently good. Property prices going up v fast, many Brazilians moving here to avoid crime and Scandinavians to avoid Tax. Dividends are Tax free from the UK for 10 years, 20% on local income. EU passport if you spend 500k on property - 1 or more units, inc home or investment - is booming as a result - they collect lots of VAT so is good strategy for Portugal considering it was like Greece 4 years ago. 1 downside is insane price of large or fast cars, so lots of dangerous small old cars, also they are totally inept drivers for some strange reason, you see accidents nearly every journey, feels 100 times more often than UK, though stats show only 10 times worse, similar to US apparently - apart from that feels like a very safe country, locals are v friendly and welcoming and most speak English. Oh and I forgot to mention nearly 300 days sunshine pa vs 120 in Wales is so nice, hard to feel down in Estoril with Azure sky and ocean, sea is a bit chilly but stops it getting to hot.

> private medical cover including dental, for family of 4 unbelievably cheap, less than 200 Euro pm, i paid nearly that much for just dental in UK

Almsot 200 EUR a month on dental seems outrageously expensive.

Getting a simple figure on the prices is difficult but it seems like the going-rate is appox £16-21 pm (lets say 20-30 EUR): https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/insurance/dental-insurance...

The amount I have to decalre to the tax man for the "benefit in kind" value my health insurance through work (which is private health & dental for me, my spouse, and all dependants - includes private GP appointments, physio etc etc) is about £1600 for the entire year, or £~135/month or ~155EUR/month. I apprecaite that is just from my P11D form [1], but there are some other sources that are in the same ballpark: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/insurance/cheap-health-ins...

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P11D


Your company had a good deal, cheaper of course in corporate plan, but I suspect your dental cover is very limited. Most dentists in UK now will only accept patients on Denplan, is very comprehensive but is very expensive cost me £160 pm for whole family.

PMI is a scam in the uk you ending up losing on tax and if you have a medical problem it has ZERO value.

You would be better off saying ok put the benefit into my pension instead.


Just in the past couple of months I had a private GP appointment (£65), a MRI (£800), followed up by 2 consultant visits (£170 each) and 6 physio (£35 a go). About £1400 of treatment all for free.

I might have been able to get the same treatment on the NHS (this was for a running injury, so not a life-critical illness), but the doctors, MRI, and two consultants visits were done on consecutive days - i.e. within a working week I went from "ow my knee hurts" on a Monday morning to having seen a doctor, a consultant, getting an MRI, and then seeing the consultant again who prescribed a course of physiothearapy by Thursday afternoon (the physio was also booked the same day).

With the NHS it probably would have taken two or three days to call at precisely 08:30:00 to get an appointment before they book out, then I'd be waiting minimum two weeks before I even went to that first GP appointment, and I am sure their response would have been "stop running and see if it gets better in 3 months - come back if it hasn't. NEXT." (based on experience)

Seems like a good deal to me.


Depends on how much a year your losing in tax and how often you need it might be cheaper to self insure, much more so if your a higher rate taxpayer.

I certainly got no value from BUPA when I had major transplant operation - just a £500 tax bill.


> no Amazon

Really? I live in a developing country middle of the Pacific Ocean and I regularly buy from Amazon with no issues. How come Portugal doesn't have Amazon?


[Off-the-record] Amazon is opening a distribution centre in Portugal "very soon". Portugal was not seen as a "priority" for Amazon because there are much bigger markets to "conquer". But since Google announced their intention: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-portugal/google-to... Amazon has "re-prioritised" Portugal ...

Meanwhile as others have said, we get our deliveries from UK amazon here in less than a week. It's not "Prime" or "Same Day Delivery", sure, but we can be patient for a few days and it just means we don't buy crap on impulse.


No local amazon. You can buy electronics from Amazon Spain and books from Amazon UK. They'll arrive in about a week. No idea what will be the new solution for books in english after brexit, though, since customs here are horrible.

No distribution centre in Portugal, so no Prime free delivery. Also many items don’t ship here, in UK we used to literally get at least 1 delivery per day (courtesy of my good wife bless her) now only twice a week mainly from German site, which is much better than Spanish Amazon and has English option (unlike Spain) delivery costs soon mount up though.

I think that has to mean no Amazon Prime or similar?

I buy things from Amazon.de to Finland very often - often no extra cost for shipping and good prices. Also EUR prices without extra taxes for me.

So while Finland does not have "Amazon" (amazon.fi is a redirect to amazon.de) - I can still buy things from there very easily.


Amazon Spain delivers in 3 days.

> Dividends are Tax free from the UK for 10 years, 20% on local income. EU passport if you spend 500k on property.

Our government is learning from China and Cuba: we have 2 systems, one for locals (ultra-socialist) and another for foreigners (ultra-liberal).


"Dividends are Tax free from the UK for 10 years" - can you share any more info on this?

Search for Portugal non-habitual residence scheme

Thanks for this - been to Portugal a few times on holiday and love it, seems a perfect place too from which to work remotely given decent internet speeds etc. Not familiar with the towns and cities so good to have Braga now as somewhere to look at!

I understand skipping Porto and specially Lisbon as prices literally skyrocketed in last years. I also understand that Braga is maybe the cheapest relevant city in Portugal, but despite that I would pick Coimbra for the intellectual vibe.

Agreed, Lisbon and Porto have become more expensive in the last couple of years but still way more affordable than SF/NY etc.

[Sadly] while AirBnB has made it easier for "tourists" to visit the cities it has accelerated the [ridiculous] house-price inflation, especially in short-term apartment/room rentals often pricing "locals" out of the market completely.

Coimbra https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coimbra is a lovely city. It was second on our list precisely for the "intellectual vibe" (as you say).

What "swayed" our decision toward Braga was:

+ Much Closer to the Porto international airport via Bus, Train or Uber/Taxi. So getting to London/Paris/Frankfurt/etc. is a lot easier.

+ More existing companies both tech and traditional e.g: Bosch & Primavera. So the MeetUps are more "practical".

+ Lower latency and generally faster Internet.

Our plan in Braga is to "recover" abandoned buildings (which are currently empty/unused) and renovate them into amazing places to live & work for "location independent creative/technology professionals".

We are morally against Landlords/investors who are simply buying up the stock of available "rental" property and jacking up the prices so locals can no longer afford them.


> Much Closer to the Porto international airport via Bus, Train or Uber/Taxi.

It's 50mins train and 15mins uber, from Coimbra to OPO.


Yes, the train from Coimbra to OPO is a good option. But having to use two forms of transport when there is a "Get Bus" (direct airport bus) between Braga and OPO for €8 which is basically door-to-door for us.

For reference, the car journey time at the 120kph highway speed limit between OPO and Coimbra is 125 mins see: https://goo.gl/maps/xosQureNf3x

By comparison the journey time (by car) between Braga and OPO is 39 mins i.e. less than half. see: https://goo.gl/maps/bN8GFy2UJoq

Trust me, we have done our homework on this. This was a major deciding factor. We still have a company in London and we need to go there frequently for in-person client meetings. Otherwise Coimbra would have been a no-brainer.

Our "sister company" has just opened a Student Residence in Coimbra: https://www.studentville.pt/en/cidades/coimbra We would have benefitted hugely from being there.

Much love to our Coimbra friends! :-)


That's interesting, as the USD is cheaper than a EUR and generally speaking life is more expensive in Europe than in the US. Would be curious if there are stats on how much a remote worker gets in USD in Portugal.

I think there is something missing in your story. My Portuguese friends who fled Portugal to London paint different picture of their lovely country. Maybe there are different rules to foreigners there?

Problem being that they are portuguese. Things look a lot better if you're foreigner, keep work connections to the outside can avoid the new crazy renting laws that make it easier to put people out. For a lot of locals living in the big cities gentrification context is pretty much 2008 crysis part II.

What do you think of the bicycling culture in Braga/Lisbon/Portugal in general? Are there a lot of protected lanes, do you feel like bikers are respected on the roads, etc.

Hi,

I'm living a bit north, Galicia, and I still think that Braga is one of the most undervalued cities in Portugal, it's kinda cute, warn, has a lovely downtown. You made an awesome decision. :-)


>"Portugal is very welcoming to US citizens, you won't have any "visa issues" the way you will in many of the [superficially] "cheaper" Asian countries"

Could you elaborate on this? Are there options that exist that Non-Portuguese tech workers can look into? Something like a freelance visa or a start up visa? Do such things exist? Cheers


>and [unlike Barcelona] everyone speaks English.

I was only in Lisbon for 4 days (loved it!), but did run into some off-hand issues with language barriers. Cab/uber drivers in particular seemed to know little to zero English.

With that being said, once we got a rental car I greatly appreciated the cutthroat driving style of the Portuguese - damn they are good drivers.


You could say all of this and more of a number of Spanish cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, and Seville.

International cities, thriving technology hubs, connected airports, visa issues really are not a big issue. We have a completely international team based in our Spain office.


Presumably (as a non EU citizen) one would need a self-employed visa and residence permit.

It's easy (currently) for those of us in the UK, but from April, or for people from outside the UK, countries just haven't really caught up to the remote working situation.


"@paddycosgrave moved Web Summit to Lisbon"

The wanton incompetence of the RDS and Dublin's general inability to get anything done, not to mention mediocre transit and eye-wateringly expensive accommodation?


Not sure you will get sv salary in dollars working in Portugal :-) having said that I got pitched a 100K (euros) Job in Portugal a couple of months ago so it looks like tech skills are in short supply

The GP is talking about remote work.

I did realise that the GP wanted to have their cake and eat it -but why would anyone pay full SV rates for a contractor in a different country.

If they are cool with remote working why not hire much cheaper remote workers at eastern European rates.


Clearly, they're really efficient, especially Poland.

I can't agree more. I worked in both Chicago and London; Portugal (perhaps Lisbon) seemed like the kind of place I would go to do remote work from if I were to move in Europe.

> Portugal is very welcoming to US citizens

What about people from other part of the world? Asking since you live there. Any resource you would recommend to have a general idea?


Good question! I'm simply highlighting the fact that US citizens are welcome in PT because there's always been a "special relationship" between the two countries for various historical reasons.

Portugal is one of the most welcoming countries to people of all nations. You will never be unwelcome here regardless of where you are from. There are communities of people from the Middle East, Nordics, Indian Sub-continent, China, Africa (South America, obvs) and if you go out to the "trendy" parts of town and listen to the range/variety of accents it's every bit as "cosmopolitan" as London's Shoreditch/Soho! Just book a trip and see for yourself! ;-)


Thank you :-)

> Just book a trip and see for yourself! ;-)

Yeah, it's been pending since college. My Euro Trip. Now I can't even blame affordability :)


How hard is it get a remote working visa or something similar to Germany's freelancer visa?

How is the income tax situation in Portugal?

If you're not already a tax resident of Portugal and you decide to legally move there, you can apply for a special tax rate as a "non-habitual resident" that gives you a lower tax rate for ten years.

https://www.livinginportugal.com/en/moving-to-portugal/tax-r...


Interesting. I wasn't aware that it was already valid or so lax (20% vs 48%!). This measure was sold by government as a way of bringing back our emmigrants.

Good question. If you work for a local company income tax is "steep". see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_Portugal

Portugal has followed the "Nordics" model when it comes to taxes; income is taxed higher but services (healthcare, schools, roads and other infrastructure] is much better than in the US [or most of the rest of the world for that matter!].

The much cheaper lifestyle in Portugal more than makes up for the higher taxes.

I'm not a "tax adviser" and HN is not the place for that "tax efficiency" advice. But you should consider setting up a Ltd Company and paying yourself/co-founders [Tax Free] dividends.

I would [highly] recommend watching "Startup Legal Mechanics" [YCombinator Startup School]: https://youtu.be/BTShgZxiNV8

tldr; start a company [separate legal entity].


> paying yourself/co-founders [Tax Free] dividends.

I'm not a tax expert but I don't think you can do it. Dividends are not tax free. You have to pay 28%(IRS) + ~20% (IRC) so in the end you pay more than a regular freelancer (for salaries below €80K).

edit: except if you are a non-habitual resident..


As a non-habitual resident in Portugal or Spain, it seems that the dividends are tax free if they come from a foreign source but you still have to pay taxes in the country of origin [1].

So maybe if you set up your company in another tax friendly country, you would be able to pay your corporate tax and taxes on your dividends there.

[1]: http://www.newco.pro/blog/en/portugal-or-spain-two-tax-regim...



So basically, if you make more thank 50k euros per year, you start working for your own benefit around mid-june. Yeah ... pass.

Yes. Unless you live alone in the woods drawing no benefit from the democratic, rule of law, first-world country you live in, paga e não bufes, which translates roughly to "cough up".

There are democratic, rule of law, first world countries that work way better than Portugal in pretty mcuh all areas you care to look at and where the top income tax bracket is less than 30%.

This is not about paying taxes, it's when those taxes are essentially wasted by the giant administrative leeches that runs countries like Portugal.


If you're saying that mismanagement and corruption are issues, then yes, of course you're right. But then again, remind me how much is the top bracket in Belgium? Austria? Germany? Denmark? Sweden? Much better run countries (in superficial evaluation at least), yet all have 50%+ tax rates at the top.

Top income tax bracket in Belgium is 50%, but this is after the employer has paid ~30% of that in social security contributions. So your 35K EUR net salary costs your employer roughly 100K (I rounded up, so this is an exaggeration). And you get a whopping 21% VAT rate, a dividend tax of 30%, several other taxes which are seemingly aimed at dissuading people from investing. Oh and there's a corporate profit tax of ~33%.

Long story short: run for the hills, don't come to Belgium.


FTFY

>Long story short: it's one of the best countries in the world to live in, by almost any metric.

Yeah, I'd take that deal.


Yup.

How do I sign up?

WOW.

Went through rabbit hole.

So much love ! ! !

(beautiful home)

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