Ericeira: where the azure waves of the Atlantic meet the charm of Portugal’s coastline. This picturesque town has long been a heaven for surfers, drawn to its pristine beaches and vibrant culture. But there’s more to Ericeira than just its exceptional waves. In recent years, it has emerged as a growing hub for different kinds of travellers – the digital nomads and remote workers. Do you want to work remotely from Portugal, meet interesting people from different countries, and spend a lot of time outdoors? Consider this place and find out more about digital nomads in Ericeira.
For me, Ericeira is (still) one of the hidden gems on the list of destinations that are great for digital nomads. Below, you will find some practical tips for digital nomads in Ericeira that will make your life easier.
What will you find in this article?
1. Renting a flat in Ericeira
Let’s begin with the basics: renting an apartment. This isn’t a straightforward task. Finding an affordable flat can be quite a challenge, even if you’re just looking for a short-term stay of a few months. While searching for apartments on Airbnb, I was surprised by how expensive Portugal can be, especially in this area. The combination of a large number of digital nomads, touristic popularity, and the proximity to Lisbon has caused prices to skyrocket.
For instance, even in November, we had to pay around €1,300 per month for a spontaneously booked two-bedroom flat in Ericeira. However, later on, we managed to get a similarly sized apartment through a private rental for €900 per month. As you can see, the price differences can be quite significant.
Both Airbnb and agoda.com offer some listings in Portugal, including flats and rooms in Ericeira for your first month. However, it’s generally more cost-effective to search locally or extend your rental privately after the initial month. Depending on your negotiation skills, you can save at least the commission fees.
Nevertheless, the most promising option for finding accommodation in Ericeira is to explore various WhatsApp and Facebook groups, such as “Ericeira Area Room and House Rental Find and Seek.” Social media is where most people are looking for flats, flatmates and tenants.
Ericeira in winter
In Portugal, many apartments suffer from poor insulation and lack of central heating. In our first lovely and modern apartment, the rooms on the north side barely reached 12 degrees Celsius during December days. Surprisingly, it was often warmer outdoors than inside our flat. This temperature made it nearly impossible to function or work comfortably. As a solution, we relocated the mattress from the bedroom to the living room, which was the only room with a livable temperature. This was thanks to a fireplace and direct ample sunlight it received during the day.
This experience taught us a crucial lesson: when searching for a winter apartment in Ericeira, it’s essential to inquire about the building’s energy efficiency rating. Additionally, ask about the availability of heating systems or fireplaces. Without considering this, you might find yourself experiencing a real Portuguese-style winter: wearing your winter jacket and boots inside your own home.
Electricity bills & wood supply
There’s one more important factor to consider. Heating in these apartments usually comes in the form of standalone electric or gas appliances. If it’s an electric heater, it’s a good idea to ensure that your electricity costs are included in your rent. These small heaters consume a significant amount of electricity, which can be quite pricey in Portugal.
If your flat is equipped with a fireplace, you should also make arrangements for a reliable source of firewood, especially if you plan to stay in Ericeira for several months. Those 10-kilo bags from Continente or InterMarche tend to get empty quite quickly. What’s more, lugging them back home from the supermarket is anything but convenient. Thankfully, in Ericeira, you can find suppliers who offer home delivery of firewood, making the process much more manageable.
2. Working remotely in Ericeira
Digital nomads form a significant part of Ericeira’s population, and it’s no surprise that this charming “small fishing village” has developed a good infrastructure to cater to remote workers. In the heart of the city, you’ll find four coworking spaces: KELP, Salt Studio, The Base, and Coastal Cowork Collective (opened in 2023). Each of these places comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks, ranging from better desks and comfier chairs to having a more vibrant community. You can dive deeper into the details of each one here.
Additionally, if you’re looking for alternative workspaces, some hostels and surf camps, like La Point, provide suitable environments. Another option worth exploring is renting a room in a coliving space, which typically is an apartment or house shared by digital nomads or remotely working people. Most of these accommodations also feature dedicated workspaces, either shared or available in individual rooms.
While a desk in a coworking space is an excellent choice, there may be times when you crave a change of scenery. You can grab your laptop and head to one of Ericeira’s cafes. However, keep in mind that Ericeira is a tourist hotspot, so not all restaurant and cafe owners permit remote work — occupying a table for hours with only one person isn’t ideal for their business. Nevertheless, a few places are accommodating in this regard. Balagan, for instance, provides a spacious shared table for remote workers. Here, you can find a list of restaurants that are remote-work-friendly.
3. Can I speak English in Ericeira?
In contrast to some other countries in this region, like France and Spain, Portugal stands out for its strong English proficiency among its people. Even if they aren’t fluent, most Portuguese have a grasp of a few English words, making an effort to understand and assist you. This widespread English knowledge makes it relatively easy to navigate Portugal without speaking Portuguese.
However, when working remotely in Portugal, it’s always a good idea to know a few basic Portuguese words. Even if it’s just to bring a smile to the face of someone who doesn’t expect to hear “obrigado / obrigada” from a foreigner.
In Ericeira, the percentage of Portuguese people who speak English is much higher than in other parts of the country. The reason for that is Ericeira’s proximity to Lisbon and the significant number of digital nomads in the area. Still, I was pleasantly surprised when a lady in her fifties or sixties attempted to explain to me in English how to use a bread slicer at Lidl. Similarly, I was happy to discover that the owner of a great auto repair garage spoke fluent English and could explain to me what broke in my car.
4. Useful groups for digital nomads
To connect with fellow digital nomads in Ericeira, the best approach is to join Facebook groups. The two largest ones are “Ericeira Freelancers and Digital Nomads” and “Expats in Ericeira Area“. These groups have a lot of valuable information. You can find in them used surfboards, job opportunities in the area, available apartments for rent, interesting events, and much more. It’s an excellent way to stay in the loop about what’s currently happening in Ericeira. You can see the full list of groups useful to digital nomads in Ericeira here.
5. Walking dogs at AMIRA shelter
If you’re interested in contributing to the local community, you have the opportunity to volunteer at the AMIRA shelter. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can take the dogs for walks. What’s especially great about this shelter is its location on the outskirts of Mafra, surrounded by green hills and breathtaking views. The area offers plenty of scenic trails where you can hike with the dogs.
To plan your visit, it’s advisable to reach out to AMIRA on Facebook in advance to inquire about the most suitable time for a visit. Keep in mind that it’s not an officially state-run animal shelter, so it’s not open at all times.
6. Rent a car
If you’re considering the digital nomad life in Ericeira, renting a car is likely a must, especially if you’re into surfing. The surf spots span a 14 km stretch from Sao Laurenco to Sao Juliao, making it challenging to check the waves without a car unless you’re going to surf with a surf school.
Additionally, having a car may be essential if you plan to live outside the city center. Many residential areas are located in the surrounding villages, such as Cavoeira and Ribamar, which are close to Ericeira but not within walking distance.
You can try to rent a car privately by searching or actively posting on one of the FB or WhatsApp groups. Sometimes it’s cheaper to rent a car from the airport. The downside is that you will most probably need to bring it back from time to time and take a new one as most of them don’t offer long-term rentals. If you plan to stay longer it might be a good idea to buy a small/cheap car.
7. Surfing in Ericeira
Many people come to Ericeira for its excellent surfing conditions. However, a word of caution: these conditions are primarily suited for those who already have some experience. Most of the spots in the town aren’t wide sandy beaches; you need to know them well to understand where and when to go surfing. On top of that, there’s usually a 3-meter swell in the winter and the water is freezing cold, not to mention the crowds you might encounter when the waves are smaller.
In summary, if you consider yourself a beginner or intermediate surfer, it’s best to visit Ericeira during the summer and/or take advantage of surf schools at the beginning. As you become more familiar with the different spots and get to know some surf buddies, you can try going out on your own (though having a companion is still recommended).
Advanced surfers will be thrilled and probably won’t want to leave Ericeira, especially during the fall, winter, and spring seasons! For more information on surfing in Ericeira, whether you’re a beginner or advanced surfer, you can check out the Ericeira Surf House website. It’s undoubtedly the best guide to the local surf spots in Ericeira and around.
What if I don’t surf?
In my opinion, it still makes sense to visit Ericiera! Many people come to Ericeira because of surfing but not all of them. While it’s true that if surfing isn’t your thing, dinner table discussions about it might occasionally become a bit monotonous, Ericeira offers plenty of alternative activities. These include yoga, meditation, surf skating, MTB, hiking, Latin dance classes, and various amazing events.
When I asked a friend about her reasons for repeatedly returning to Ericeira, despite not being a surfer herself, she gave me the following arguments:
- English is widely spoken and understood everywhere.
- There’s constantly something exciting going on, from concerts to workshops and other events.
- You’ll find numerous young, healthy and conscious individuals living an active lifestyle.
- Ericeira is just undeniably beautiful!
8. Ericeira: locals & expats
Ericeira is a place where local Portuguese traditions blend with the latest foreign trends. It’s a home for both old fishermen and young surfers. Despite the differences in age, culture, and financial situation, these two worlds coexist side by side. However, this harmony doesn’t come without its challenges. A quick look at posts and comments on Facebook groups reveals that locals aren’t entirely pleased with the current changes.
Portuguese people openly express their concerns about the soaring housing costs and the prices at fancy restaurants. These expenses are often beyond the reach of someone earning an average Portuguese salary, leading to their exclusion from certain aspects of life in their own village. Consequently, it’s not surprising that, especially online, there’s a subtle aversion towards expats but you mostly won’t experience it in real life. Regardless, it’s essential to approach Ericeira with understanding and respect for these dynamics and the local community.
Here are some videos that will show you the vibe of Ericeira a bit. Enjoy :)!
❓Frequently asked questions
Unfortunately, yes. Especially in comparison to other digital nomad destinations and to other parts of Portugal. I think the two factors that are making it expensive are the accommodation costs and the growing popularity which makes the local companies cater mainly to tourists. Nomadlist.com is listing the high living costs as the main downside of Ericeira. Although their calculation is definitely overexaggerated (3100 EUR/month), comparing the living costs in Ericeira with other digital nomad destinations can give you a better idea.
Yes. Portugal in general has very good internet. We never experienced any major problems. It’s fast and reliable.