Whoever said that a community is a way of life could never be more correct. As human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop. Communities are also rich in resources, that is where their collective aspect comes into play. No matter where you go, there will always be a group of people who share the same passion and interests. If there is none, build one! And that is exactly what Gonçalo Hall does. He builds communities and helps them thrive in remote work life.
In this episode of The New Nomad, Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski joined by Gonçalo in a very passionate discussion about Portugal, remote work, and the importance of communities. While it’s so tempting to just get lost in a new country and find your way by yourself, it is also good to know that there are communities of digital nomads and remote workers who have local knowledge of the place and can help you out. Our trio of digital nomads discussed experiences and gave gold-nugget tips on how to thrive in this laptop lifestyle. This episode is really an episode that is not to be missed out on!
Future of Work Africa: click here
Overlooked place: The Azores
Gonçalo Hall :
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Websites: Digital Nomad Village Madeira Islands, Digital Nomads Caparica & Remote Europe
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[3:41] Building communities in “cold” places
[7:19] Activities that keep digital nomads grounded
[11:01] Fast internet: a non-negotiable
[13:42] All about remote work visa
[18:39] How communities help
[23:55] The future for remote workers of Africa
Welcome to The New Nomad podcast. We have a really interesting guest today, Gonçalo Hall will be joining us. Somebody who's been very active in the future of work conferences, remote Portugal, remote Europe and has his own podcast and he's somebody who will bring a great perspective on that remote worker, you know, location independent lifestyle, and certainly will once again, tell us a bit about Portugal because it Andrew, we've had a lot of conversations with guests on this podcast, and Portugal seems to be an extremely popular place. And I think he might be a big reason for that also.
Yes, you know, as we look at all that's happening and, you know, lockdowns are being lifted, people are planning to go to the Lisbon marathon on, I guess it's October 17, coming up really soon. People are people are looking at the conferences, they're looking at reasons to travel there. You know, what do you what do you think of that, Allen, as as different events are getting back on the calendar?
Yeah, it's interesting to me, because we're working with an event now, that is a marathon. And a few years back that obviously they had an issue with the marathon when was very, very hot. And a lot of people were involved in the marathon, got sick, went to the hospital, but they were from overseas, and they hadn't had any health care coverage. There was no geo positioning, know where people were and certainly this was pre COVID. So there was no interest in obviously COVID protocols, which now were very important. But I also had to go back to something like the Boston Marathon where there was that explosion, is think about if you had been from outside of the home country, and this had happened, and people wanted to find out where you were, you wanted to get some assistance, etc. I still think you know, the learnings of making sure before you go to an event when you're crossing borders that you know, COVID protocols, you know, you have good health care in place, you have maybe an evacuation plan, and a case of emergency plan, etc. And maybe too much detail there. But right, Andrew, keeping yourself safe, you can never have too much detail.
Right? People are ready, they're going. They are buying their tickets, they are planning their events, they're planning their season abroad now. So there's some new places that are coming on the horizon that I think we'll hear about today as well. Because, you know, folks are familiar, they've heard about Madeira, in Portugal, because the government of Portugal brought on Gonçalo hall to lead what was called Digital Nomad Madeira. And I believe there's another one that the government partnered with him and others to stay let's put it on the map and there may be another one outside Portugal. So let's bring Gonçalo in today and hear what's happening.
Welcome to the podcast out So Andrew kind of that's that's quite a lead in there, right? It almost gets I mean, where do you go with that? Tell us what you're up to it. And welcome to the podcast.
Hello, hello. Hello, Andrew and Allen it's a big pleasure to be here with you guys. I'm always laughing to hearing you so just a huge pleasure and just having fun here speaking with your guys. Well, yeah, Madeira that is on the map. Finally, they deserved it. That island is insanely beautiful. They have tourism for a long time. But somehow nomads never found out about it before just very few because there is no structure, there is no community. And that's what we do. We build communities in cold places. So I'm very lucky to have been hired by the government in Madeira, and by the community there and we chose to fill it so we actually launched also these as the digital nomad village, because I have a very strong belief that we should repopulate villages and why not start with digital nomads if we can start anywhere, why not starting with these guys, early adopters, crazy people like myself that would like to go there try it out. They want to make it better they want to community and that's what happened in Madeira.
And it's early the project I'm most proud so far in my life because the I just I was just reading a message before this podcast of a couple thanking me because they just started this their digital nomad journey. And they shows Madeira and they are absolutely stunned with the Madeira community and specifically Ponta do Sol community. So those are the messages that are not waiting for but they can make me smile and see that this was important in a lot of levels not just for the locals, but also for digital nomads that are starting right now. And there are a lot of them. There are millions of them that are just starting now. And this project was very important to them and was very important also to teach them how to be out to be a true digital nomad. They care about social impact care about the locals. This was very important also on my site to be able to share this with them.
Well, isn't it a lot of it's a quality of life issue too. If I'm a digital nomad, I want to go somewhere That I feel welcome, that has that has great food that kind of goes without saying, wonderful social life. Really good Wi Fi. I know as soon as we overlook that, but that's, that's out there too. Maybe you could go into some of the specifics that when you look in support the community, what really attracts somebody? I know I hit a couple there. But it it's is there's something more than just meets the eye, so to speak.
For me, the good thing is community. I know I'll be repeating this every single time. But it's for me, it's all about community, I would travel anywhere, if the community is good. I don't even care what else there is to do. If they told me there is a great community in Iceland, I'm going to Iceland, next I want to meet that community, I don't care. So that's a big one for me, then, of course, the activities that you can do, the more activities you have in a place, the longer you can stay without get bored. So yeah, Madeira have all that. And then the people I think having the sweet spots and nomads files, in my opinion, still nowadays is to integrate the local community, the expats and the digital nomads under the same roof or under the same project. It's something that we really want to do long term in Madeira, I chose not to do it on the start because of COVID. There was some cases in Madeira. And this was a personal choice.
I involved the locals but very not as much as I want to involve now that we extended for three years, I went to hackathons, I went to do a lot of things that I haven't done yet. Because I didn't want to mix too much. But now in the future, that's what we are going we are going to the full involvement of the whole community. So it will stop being only about digital nomads, it will be about Madeira. How can we from digital nomads from the big success that we had? Can we turn this destination, a huge hotspot for people, they don't care if they are nomads if they work remotely if they have something interesting to do come to Madeira. If then if you want to do something physical, I don't care come to Madeira. That's That's why we went to go. So I think on the other hand, by doing this, it also attracts more digital nomads. So it's a whole snowball that we are starting.
Yeah, one thing that I heard you say one time when we were talking is that when you look at a place, and you've been living this remote work lifestyle for quite some time, you have different things that you look for, because we're not cookie cutter people. So I know one of the things you look for is is there a do they play volleyball? Is there a group, you know, or something like that? You know, I think there are a few other things that you look for. I know Allen, he would be looking for, you know, the closest tennis court if he was going to spend three months somewhere. And you know, where where are you with, in guiding people to say, okay, Mauritius is on my mind or Bali is on my mind. Or another place you may have something another place where you want to suggest people to put on their calendar for six months from now. You know, what would you be your guidance to someone who's saying, you know, I've haven't done this before, but I don't know if that place is right for me.
I would go well, I can tell my personal list. My personal list starts with volleyball is there volleyball or beach volleyball, I love to play beach volleyball. So I also loved the ocean. It's something that makes me really happy. I grew up in Lisbon near the ocean, swimming mostly the the whole year round. So ocean is very important to me. Definitely beach volleyball, very important to me and CrossFit. Actually, I always check if there is a CrossFit gym nearby. Those are my top three, and community. So the first thing I do actually is I imagine I want to go to Sri Lanka. The first thing I check everywhere, digital nomads Sri Lanka, is this on the map? Is there anything on Google is there a Facebook group to it? And then Facebook groups are probably the only reason why people still go to Facebook, at least my people. And then I check if there is something there. Even if it's small, it's already a green light. There is already good internet, there is already co-working space. I also look to co-working spaces all the time. I love co-working spaces. I hate to work from home. So I always work from these typical co-working spaces with a lot of people meet locals, etc.
And then in terms of it really depends. So my advice is check, check yourself, what do you really like to do? What would be a perfect life? What would you like to do every day? For example, now I'm in Caparica, I'm learning how to surf and not good at it at all. But because I'm here that was good waves then whole year round, I can go and try serve every day. Also, I mean, the hotel and my hotel has a golf course. So I'm taking this opportunity to both learn surf and playing golf. And this is something I'm trying to connect more and more is going to places that our worlds recommends in something, for example, Caparica is surf. Madeira was scuba diving, for example, and the whole hiking hiking is insanely well. [Inaudible] my next destination is a lot about kite surf. So I really want to stay there for months. Five months and learn to kite surf, kite surf everyday if I can and go leave the island being a pro kite surfer? Why not? So that's the whole thing I'm doing.
Hold on. You just said something. You know, people hear Ponta do Sol and Madeira and they hear these things. And they somewhat assume you just said another city in Portugal. Can you expound on that? A little.
So Caparica is in Portugal, but I think you are speaking about comfort. And it's not super. It's not known yet, or at least not to public just inside our little community, and now also in this big community that you have here. But my next project will be in the Cape Verde and Cape Verde is an archipelago of islands in the Africa coast. I think it's in the Gulf Coast, if I'm correct, if I'm correct, and just south of the Canary Islands, and the place is stunning is those place of white sand beach, green ocean. You look like the pictures are photoshopped. They are not. It's really like that. And they were in my mind for a while, actually for four years. But the internet was never good enough. I spoke with them three years ago, at web summit in Lisbon. And I said, Well, this is amazing. I love your place. How is the internet? Oh, it's great. 2030 megabytes? No, that doesn't work. So when are you going to have proper internet? Well, internet is good. But we are now building a cable that connects Brazil to Lisbon to Sines in Portugal and subaquatic cable that will bring 3g, 3g, 3g gigabytes of internet and 5g to the islands. And then it got interesting.
So July was the month where this cable was activated. And now Cape Verde is my next destination. I am working with the government to build a really good destination starting in Saint Vincent Islands, an island that is known by being the home of big artists like society everywhere, but also the home of the culture in Cape Verde. So you can expect white sand beach, kite surf of course, but also the best culture in Cape Verde which is a mix from Europe from Africa from Brazil. It is really cool mix of culture. So it's a small city 45,000 people more or less. So we are staying in the part of the city will have free co working space like in Madeira. But most important of all, we will have a huge community I have more than 100 people that told me already that they are going starting in October 1, I think we'll see a big migration from Europe to Cape Verde the end my opinion it's the first to be the first really interesting and big project happening in Africa. Not the only one of course there is a lot of some small things very interesting things happening in Africa. But the first big scale project that was meant to be huge. So exactly first of October you can buy you can buy a trip there is direct flights to the US there is direct flights to Canada to Europe and to Africa. So it's very well positioned and they have a lot of immigrants everywhere. So it's quite cool that for like in Madeira that doesn't happen so just the ability to fly directly from Boston or from Toronto is huge for us.
Well you sold me I think I'll be taking a trip and but you also there's something else that you mentioned that I think people need to notice is you will go there for four to five months and the government I'm sure makes it easier for you to stay four to five months where some other locations you know they're they're arbitrary time deadlines that the paperwork changes, etc. can you mention to our nomad listening audience here how government is making a big difference and obviously you working together government, but also the government's working together with you to make this easy for somebody to stay there for an extended period of time.
Yes, they have a remote work visa, but it's not great yet but it's a great first step one of my first tasks as soon as I go there actually I'm going there very very soon in one week or two weeks. One of my first tasks is to double check that remote work visa and try to improve it try to make it even easier and there are several strategies we can use for example how to handle it it will be like in Bali where you pay someone to do it for you and you just deliver documents and just easy or will it be a process like in Portugal where you have to go when it's long. I want to be as fast and as detailed as possible. So one of the things governments should do is get a remote work visa so people can work legally legally from your country. We are doing this for a while mostly illegally Bali we work illegally tiling there were several issues with the government where the police raid co working spaces in Chiang Mai. And the rest everyone friend of mine spend the night in prison because of that. And we want to make sure that doesn't happen. So yeah, of course the government is welcoming, but it's very nice to know that you are working legally.
And another thing for me is like I said the remote work visa haven't said digital nomad visa and it was on purpose. I disagree that digital nomad visas are very needed. I think we should focus on remote work visas. Digital nomads usually stay two months, three months, and we should focus if you want people to stay longer. Then is when the visa is really interesting, then is when the visa makes a difference. So we want to make this one is six months plus six months. And we and we are simplifying the whole process to make it like a snap decision, you can do it in 15 minutes, or you can just hire someone to do it for you, you send the documents and it's done. Everything is in process, you can still enter there with a tourist visa and stay for two months for at least two or three months. So most of the digital nomads will not need remote work visa, as some that want to stay longer four months or five months, then I think it will be cool to do the remote work visa because that place is insanely beautiful. And it will make your life much easier. And so you don't have to go to immigration and everything else in between.
And other things that the governments can do co working spaces, please go working spaces everywhere. There was a time I'm not sure if that happened everywhere. Portugal has hundreds of libraries, public libraries, and they are amazing, but nobody goes there. And so many of those can be adapted to be co working space so you can leave the books there. But instead of the silence, just let people speak and embrace the fact that now the world change and this is now a co working space. And different things that the government could do is just make it easy to everyone build a website. For example if you go to digital nomads Madeira, like there is a website for it. If you go to digital nomads Caparica, there is a website for it. On the website you have where to go, where to sleep, how to enter the country if you need a visa. So just make it easy to everyone to get all the information they need. What are the expectations? What is the cost of life? This is super important for digital nomads looking for a place so when I go to Google and try to find digital nomads Sri Lanka, having a website with old information makes my life so much easier.
Another thing is having local contact points we have 1000's of people in working for tourism boards, and most of them are not doing anything. So why not have a contact person from the Tourism Board to answer all the questions from digital nomads. I always build an online community everywhere I go on Slack on Discord wherever it is, why not have a person there just a local person just to answer all the questions. Because even if you hire me, I am not from Cape Verde. I have no idea what's happening there. Besides, it's crazy beautiful that the culture is amazing. If you ask me, where is the supermarket? Where is the best supermarket with local prices? I have no clue. But someone local knows. And this is very important having the local knowledge. Another thing we did in Medeira, that was super successful. And then internet where the co-working spaces, which phone provider if I want to get the phone card, which phone provider should I choose? And why? Well, how much will it cost me? Why should I buy it? Should I make an airport? Or should I buy it in the local star? There is lots of information that should be centralised, if you want to attract digital nomads or remote workers. And if you can make our life easier. Thank you.
So quick question on an issue of housing. So when you're going somewhere for 3-4-5 months, how difficult Do you you know, to the uninitiated, to get housing for a extended period of time like that? And are there some mechanisms that you would suggest to them to find housing because that's something that comes up a lot. They're like, yeah, I want to go there. But I can't afford a hotel for three or four months. How do you go around that and any advice you might give people?
I started with the same place with Facebook groups if there is one. So digital nomads x and I go there and I check if there is something related to house, how much should I buy? This is how I started. So when I went to Bali, I had no idea where to get a room or an apartment, how much would it cost. I checked Airbnb, to be honest, it was not great, super expensive. Most of the places it said good internet, I arrived there. I did my first reservation for Airbnb. They had three modems, but they were all bad. And so I couldn't work from home. And now I spent more money because I had three modems and I couldn't work from there. This happens over and over and over again.
So my first advice is go to the community. If there is a local community go there, ask them probably someone is living the apartment that they love. Or someone knows someone or there is a room somewhere that they know about. And they can share this information with you. And there is also the whole the local businesses usually in these groups that are trying to answer you and give you a come to this co-living come to this place come to that place. If I'm in Europe now I also check [inaudible].com something that is popping up more and more. They were our partners in Madeira because they are more focusing on midterm so their prices are already adjusted to midterm. And they have internet so they make sure that there is internet in the apartments. So it mitigates a little bit the risk of having bad internet it's something they're focusing on. And third but not least, I see more and more hot dogs offering really good deals.
So if it's slow season somewhere, I'll also look for some hotels that may be offering some really cool deals. We had Madeira we had Savoy, here Caprica we have [inaudible], and I see more and more four or five star hotels offering really nice deals for the whole month. So for me now for the first time living in the hotel, it's actually quite cool. I have free breakfast someone comes to clean everyday I have several spaces where I can work from and I think for hotels, we'll go through these, through this process of adjusting to remote workers. So I also will check normal local hotels see to see the reviews about the internet. And if it's good ask for a month, a good monthly price if they offer me a good method price depends on locations, but around Europe is 1600 euros depends of course locations etc. But I would also check the hostels nowadays, because I see them adjusting and doing a really good job doing it. And Selena, if there is a saline in town, there's a high chance that that will go there as well.
Awesome. Well, you've obviously you've travelled, you've seen the world, you've also got great feedback from many people. In this location independent lifestyle area, we ask our guests, could they name an overlooked the person, place, or experience that you would suggest our listeners discovered? Now you've already helped us a lot, because you put a couple of things on the map here. So I'm going to ask you if you could stay away from the ones you've already suggested. Because you've actually given us a good shopping list. Is there another overlooked person, place, or experience that people should be discovering right now that would help them?
Well, besides of course, good for the Madeira because I think was covered by Cape Verde will be next, nobody actually knows what is covered. I think the next one will be Azores, I think Azores this has a huge potential there are somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic between Lisbon and New York, and they are volcanic Islands. And for example, you have heated pools, the whole year round volcanic heated pools, in the middle of the nature super green really nice foods. And they are somewhere like three, four hours from New York or even less, because it's really in the middle of the Atlantic, I see them with their location with the good internet, and with some pop up co-living spaces that are happening. But unless it's right going there, and other people going there, I see it exploding, and it's not on the map at all for most nomads. So I think Azores will be one of the next kids here in, mostly in Europe, but also around the world in the Nomad community.
Okay, that is on my list, I want to go there, I used to live near some volcanoes in Northern California, and go on walks out there just because it was, you know, it's just incredible to hike amongst them. And I learned so much about volcanic activity. It fascinates me. But okay, our time has come, folks, I've heard some great places, we're gonna have links to remote Europe and different things you're involved with in the show notes. But if somebody wanted to contact you or follow you, where would they go? You know, what's, what's the best place to figure out what you're up to next.
100% LinkedIn, LinkedIn, is my second house where I shared the most my opinions that are not always popular. And that love it. I love in my opinion, not popular. But LinkedIn is where I do most of my work. Most of my writing most of my thinking. And even if I'm not writing the right sending is not right is where people come and discuss with me if I'm right or not. So it's the best place to follow me and see what's what's happening in the world. Every everything will be always on LinkedIn.
Sweet. We'll have that link in the show notes.
One other one other question is wonderful job with the future of work conferences. Is there one scheduled coming up and really enjoy the dialogue that you have there? Could you comment quickly about folks that want to learn more through through that mechanism?
Thank you so much. Yes. So the future for conferences are more localized online conferences for now, although we were speaking about conferences beforehand, I was like, I should really do something physical enough these days. But for this year, at least 2021, they will all be online conferences. And the next one I'm very proud of because it was a dream. And I thought that we would never pull it off. It's being super hard so far. But it's the Future for Africa happening on the 19th of August. So Africa.futureofwork.co. We are just launching it this week. And it will be it will be insane. So it's just little bringing some of the smartest people in Africa, think about African the future. Some remote workers send people like Google doing an amazing work there for the past two years, right to educate the population. So basically seeing how Africa can develop, I strongly believe that remote work will unlock the African knowledge of the world, and that Africa will be the hit of the next 25 years. So basically, how can we empower them? How can we empower everybody in Africa to be huge, and to do something amazing with this tool that is remote work, basically. So that's what we're up to on the 19th and we have future for Portugal and hopefully still this year, same conference around about Europe because I also have remote Europe and I would like to connect both.
Fantastic. Well, thanks for joining us today. I learned a lot Andrew, let's let's bring you back in the conversation. We always like to wrap up with what we learned today. I'll let you go first.
Well, I know that Cape Verde has been one of those places that I want to experience. But now that I hear that high speed internet is coming, you know, it's definitely higher on my list. I've spent many years in and out of different countries in Africa, and we're, we're expanding across the continent. And, you know, whether it's through our, you know, partnerships in Rwanda, South Africa, different places, you know, I'm encouraged that the spotlight is going to be in Cape Verde. So that is really cool.
You know, every time we talk to Gonçalo, I've learned different places, and I'll be honest, I'm trying to get to 100 countries. And I'm at 75 right now. And he's added a few more to the list. But the Azores was an interesting call out because I've heard different folks that have actually travelled there. I know it's, it's from some locations, it seems quite a trip, but it really is not and it's been wonderful when people get there. So every time we chat with him, unfortunately, he gives me another place on the list to go, I got to catch up on these and hopefully when the pandemic is over, we can travel quite frequently, can spend some time at these locations. So I really appreciate his conversations today. So just want to remind our audience The New Nomad is not just a podcast, it's a community of people, ideas and spirit, helping you take advantage of that location independent lifestyle. We hope you travel well, travelled informed and we look forward to talking to you again soon. Have a great rest of your day.