Kate Shifman was working as a Director at a large media agency in Manhattan before she relocated to Ericeira, an old fishing town 48 kilometres north of Lisbon. Her home at the time was a two bedroom apartment in a historical Brooklyn brownstone, yet despite ‘having it all’ on paper, she found herself unfulfilled and stressed – craving a life with more purpose.
“I never bought into the idea of climbing the corporate ladder, I just didn’t see how more of the same would amount to a meaningful life.”
So in 2016, Kate packed up her life in the city that never sleeps and swapped it for a slower pace on Portugal’s wild Atlantic coast. It also happens to be home to some of the best surf and beaches in Europe, attracting ocean lovers from all over the world.
Many people reading this are curious about upping sticks and moving to Europe, what compelled you to make the move?
I’d had the idea of working remotely for many years, not knowing that “digital nomadism” was even a thing. A year prior to my move, I came to Portugal on vacation and immediately fell in love with the quality of light in Lisbon. We often don’t realise how profoundly our surroundings affect us, from the oppressive lighting of the subway to the rays of light coming in through the window basking us in their warmth. I’m a highly visual person and in Lisbon I knew right away it was the right place for me.
Back in New York, I’d spent the last 12 months caring for my grandmother and there came a time where there was nothing else I could do. This coincided with me reading ‘Yoga and The Quest For The True Self.’ Within the first 20 pages I made the decision to move to Portugal. Within 6 weeks I had emptied out and rented my apartment, quit my job and settled all my affairs in New York.
On August 31st, I was on the plane on my way to Lisbon.
What attracted you to Ericeira?
Ericeira is a unique place – it’s a former fishing village with an interesting history. The last King of Portugal fled the dictatorship on his Royal Yacht from the port here and there are a number of Portuguese political elite and celebrities who live here. It’s also the Surf Mecca of Europe and 1 of the 7 World Surfing Reserves (the only one in Europe), so this attracts surfers.
Surfers are often dynamic and entrepreneurial people, so a community formed by people like that is super interesting. Ericeira attracts people between their 20’s and 40’s from all over the world; they settle here, start businesses and build new lives. That makes it a really stimulating environment. At the same time, Lisbon is only 35 minutes by car, so when I crave city, culture and wider food variety, it’s all within reach.
How did you make the transition to working in Portugal?
I’ve been extremely fortunate to never have to look for work. Having spent over 10 years in the media industry in New York, I was able to start freelancing and consulting right away. I was and still am, approached for positions via LinkedIn and those clients stayed and recommended me to their friends, colleagues and partners. I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the biggest and most interesting brands, agencies and people in the US (East and West coast) while staying remote.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty and talk about living costs – how much rent do you pay?
Ericeira and the touristy parts of Portugal are completely overpriced. In Ericeira in particular, you can expect to pay 650-1200 Euro per month for an apartment (1-2 bedrooms) depending on location and amenities. Finding a place to live can be a pain and is mostly done via Facebook Groups. Everything in Portugal is done using connections, it’s still very much an old school society in that way.
Utilities, internet and mobile phone are relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the US. Internet is fast and reliable everywhere (except maybe some super rural areas). You’ll want to have a car anywhere outside Lisbon because this country is so beautiful and the best places are only reachable by car.
If you could give any advice to somebody reading this now who might be considering a move to Portugal what would it be?
Trust in the goodness of people. Except in a very few cases, people are genuine and willing to help. Also, the concept of time here is very different from what we are used to in the US or Northern Europe. Don’t expect anyone to reply to your email within 24 hours, don’t follow up until a week’s passed and when you do, do so gently and in a friendly way (don’t be the Pushy New Yorker :). Don’t ship your stuff and don’t pay money for storage – you can get everything you need here.
What’s your insider’s tip for people reading this interested in relocating to Ericeira?
Stay around São Lourenço and Ribamar – those are the quieter up and coming villages with breathtaking views and nice communities. Less noise, more views 🙂
What do you have planned in the future?
I’m building a co-living space focused on well-being through art and design. It’ll be walking distance from Ericeira in a beautiful sunlit valley, complete with co-working, sauna, pool, art studio and performance space.
Source: Work Is Where Home Is