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My Journey to Portugal with a Digital Nomad Visa

For years, I thought that to leave the country, I need a Visa Job Sponsorship or a Study Visa, and if you’re like me who is really tired of studying, Study Visa wasn’t in my interest, and it was also hard to get a Visa Job Sponsorship as well, so I was working with little or no options.

Even if I wanted to study, the money to pay tuition fees, renting an apartment, feeding and so on is something I could never raise, to be honest.

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I was an accountant, the job was stable but it wasn’t giving what it’s suppose to give, secondly I had long developed passion to work outside the country but how to go about it was one knowledge that was far from me.

How it all Started..

One day, I was on youtube and saw something about Digital Nomad Visa and I wondered what kind of Visa is that because it was my first time coming across such topic, I swung into action and spent the whole week researching on Digital Nomad Visa, it was like exploring another world, after a while I came to a realisation that Digital Nomad Visa, is a kind of Visa designed for remote workers, who is capable of working from anywhere and that includes from any country.

The catch was, if you have a job that allows you to work from home, you’re qualified for the Digital Nomad Visa but there was a downside because since I was an accountant, I worked in an office. So I needed to become a freelancer to qualify, I needed a remote job because that’s the pathway to actualising my goals – at least the first step I needed to take.

There are over 60+ countries that you can travel to using the Digital Nomad Visa, and I will be listing them in a bit. In fact, you can decide to spend 6 months in a particular country, then spend another 6 months in another country and so on, or you can decide to base in a particular country. So, you can see how flexible this pathway is and MANY people are yet to discover this goldmine.

Countries Eligible for Digital Nomad Visa

1. Georgia: Let me start with why I think Georgia makes an excellent case for the best digital nomad destination. 95 countries can enter Georgia visa-free and stay up to 365 days, tell me one other country that has rolled out the welcome mat this far. Georgia does not have a digital nomad visa per se, but they do allow you to work remotely whilst staying in the country.

  • Cost of program: free
  • Length: 1 year, but if you register a business like the Individual Entrepreneur scheme this can lead to permanent residency.
  • Income to prove: $2000 per month

2. Croatia: The Croatian Digital Nomad Visa got a lot of press in 2021and all the processes, forms and legislation have been worked out. It gives you a low-cost option to stay and work remotely in Europe.

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  • Cost of program: Between €80 to €130
  • Length: Maximum 1 year, can be reapplied for after 6 months away
  • Income to prove: €2,232 per month or €26,790 for 12 months stay. This is for one person an additional 10% is required per partner/family member.

3. Czechia (Czech Republic): Czechia’s capital city Prague is a favourite among digital nomads. 

  • Cost of program: free
  • Length: 1 year, but can be extended
  • Income to prove: €5,587 in the bank per person

4. Estonia: Estonia was revolutionary when it created its e-residency program, which helps foreign entrepreneurs run their EU-based businesses more streamlined and with digital signatures.

  • Cost of program: €80 short stay, €100 long stay
  • Length: 1 year
  • Income to prove: €3,504

5. Portugal: Portugal has the D7 Visa which works well for digital nomads and is valid for 1 year but you can renew this for up to 5 years. After 5 years you have the option to go for permanent residency. You can enjoy living and working in Lisbon, Porto, the stunning beaches of the Algarve, and the Islands of Madeira and the Azores.

D7 Visa details

  • Costs: €83 for the visa and €72 resident permit fee.
  • Length: 1 year up to 5 years.
  • Income to prove: €600 per month (this can come from a variety of sources)

6. Malta: The tiny European island nation of Malta has a digital nomad visa called the Nomad Residency Permit. This program is targeted at NON-EU remote workers and has a length of 1 year which can be renewed. Malta boasts a nationwide 5G network and English as one of the official languages, it also has over 300 days of sunshine a year.

  • Costs Visa: €300 includes family
  • For Non-EU remote workers
  • Length: 1 year and can be renewed
  • Income to prove: €2700 per month plus rental contract or property purchase.

Get the remaining countries..

There are over 66+ countries and I have mentioned 6, this means there are more 60 countries, with different monthly requirement which you may probably be able to provide.

Enter your name and email address below and I’ll forward it to your email address, because they’re plenty and I don’t want to take up space, I just want to discuss the main topic.

Moving Forward…

So since I couldn’t afford tuition fee for Study Visa, neither do I have a job offer that could take me abroad, this digital nomad visa became my only option and the BEST thing is, you can get permanent residency in Portugal should you choose to stay for 5 years.

Although there are other countries which I listed above, Portugal caught my attention because of various reasons, and among the countries I listed, you may also develop interest in another country because we all have different taste and choices.

But to move to Portugal, I need to move to a country that have the digital nomad visa then from that country, I’ll apply for job and move to Portugal.

Choosing Malta as my Transit Country

The Malta digital nomad visa income requirement is €2700 per month and it’s easier to move to the country.

Then from the country, I will spend the next 2-3 months searching for a job in Portugal by using Indeed, Linkedin and you’ll also enjoy the privilege of travelling around EU and getting citizenship in 5 years.

Digital Nomad Visa applicants confirm a monthly income of at least €2700. They also need to buy or rent residential properties in Malta. The Digital Nomad Visa gives the right to get a Malta residence permit for 2 years, subject to extension. Residents must reside in the country to keep their permits.

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But you basically won’t spend 2 years in Malta because you need 2-3 months to travel to another country.

Like I said, The Malta Digital Nomad Visa is issued to foreigners who work remotely. Freelancers, employees of foreign companies, self-employed, and individual entrepreneurs can qualify. Visa applications are accepted only from foreigners from non-EU and non-EEA countries, this means people from third world countries are eligible.

7 benefits of the Malta Digital Nomad Visa

  1. Moving to Europe: with a Digital Nomad Visa, applicants can move to Malta with their families and get residence permits there.
  2. Creating a safe haven: With a low crime rate, stable political system and peaceful relations with neighbouring countries, Portugal is safe to live and raise children. The country ranks seventh in the Global Peace Index 2023.
  3. Visa-free travel across the Schengen Area: Digital nomads with Malta residence permits can travel visa-free to other Schengen countries and spend up to 90 days out of 180.
  4. High-quality education and healthcare: Maltese residents get free education in public schools and universities, with their diplomas recognised worldwide. Medical services are also available on the same rights as for the citizens.
  5. European bank accounts: The digital nomad must open a bank account in Malta and transfer sufficient savings to live in the country as one of the requirements for getting a residence permit. Services of international and Maltese banks have become available for keeping money and making transactions in hard currencies worldwide.
  6. Convenient path to a residence permit: Getting a Maltese Digital Nomad Visa is faster than getting a work residence permit since digital nomads have fewer requirements. They do not need to invest in the country’s economy; it is only necessary to confirm the required income amount and rent or buy real estate.

How Did I Qualify for the Digital Nomad Visa?

The problem I needed to solve is to make €2700 monthly, so I decided to join freelance platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, I started affiliate marketing, I joined LinkedIn. I offered web design services, website creation, social media manager etc I was lucky because my sister was into them so I was able to learn from her.

It took me a year to start making €2700+ monthly, and at that point, I had second thoughts leaving the country because now I could afford my lifestyle but I made sure to stand on my initial goal because I was from Nigeria and I needed to stay in a country where human life is valued with good health and security.

Incase you’re unable to make €2700+ monthly, you can get someone to pay the sum or dollar equivalent monthly to your dollar bank account for 3-4 months, so that you can mature your bank statement which you’ll use during your application.

However, you still need to have some money for rents because you need a place to live and also money for feeding because you need to stay at least 3-4 months before you can find a job, if you’re lucky, you may find a job within 2 months.

I applied for the Digital Nomad Visa with all the required documents: proof of income, health insurance, rent, and a clean criminal record.

The process took a few weeks, but eventually, I received the approval. I was ecstatic. I booked my flight and started making arrangements to move to Malta. The excitement was mixed with a bit of anxiety, but I knew this was the adventure I needed.

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Arriving in Malta – the long awaited dream

Arriving in Malta felt surreal. The beautiful scenery, the welcoming people, and the vibrant culture were everything I had imagined and more. I found a charming apartment, close to both the city’s historical sites and the coastline. It was the perfect place to start my new life.

Living in Malta also gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture. I learned to cook local dishes, and made friends from different backgrounds. The sense of community among digital nomads was strong, and I found support and camaraderie in this new lifestyle.

The cost of living in Malta was another pleasant surprise. Compared to my previous city, it was more affordable, allowing me to live comfortably while saving money. The quality of life was higher, with better weather, healthier food options, and a slower pace of life that emphasized enjoyment and relaxation.

Looking back, I’m amazed at how a simple idea of freelancing led me to such a transformative experience. The Digital Nomad Visa opened up a world of possibilities that I never thought were within my reach. My story is a testament to the power of taking risks and pursuing one’s dreams, even when the path seems uncertain.

Leaving my stable job for a life of freelancing and moving to Malta was the best decision I ever made. It showed me that with determination and a bit of courage, it’s possible to create the life you’ve always dreamed of. My journey from a cubicle to the coastline of Malta is proof that when you dare to step out of your comfort zone, amazing things can happen.

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a beautiful place like Malta, consider the Digital Nomad Visa. You don’t need a job offer or a scholarship – just the willingness to work remotely and the desire for adventure. Take that leap of faith, and you might just find yourself living a life you love.

Finding a Job in Portugal… Very Important

Please note that assuming you travelled to Malta using the Digital Nomad Visa, you cannot work in the country, because the digital nomad visa isn’t a work visa but a type of visa that allows you to stay in that country and work remotely, because it’s assumed you already have a job to fund your lifestyle, but here was how I did it.

While in Malta, I created CVs of different job positions and went to LinkedIn and Indeed and started looking for Jobs. It was much easier to apply from an European country or any reputable country than applying from Nigeria.

While looking for these jobs, I was applying to other countries BUT NOT jobs in Malta because the type of visa I had isn’t for work, so I needed to apply to other European countries like Netherlands, Portugal, UK etc

And Job sponsorships will be easy because no Visa is required to travel from Malta to another European country, just book a flight and you’re on the other side.

The Goodnews..

I later found a job offer in Portugal as a Project Manager, I took some classes on Coursera and got some certifications which I added to my CV to boost it.

The company took care of everything including flight, which was affordable around $70 because we’re all in Europe and no need to apply for Visa and start waiting for approval or worse, disapprovals.

Malta indeed was my transit country or rather escape route.

Want to know what my job is like? A day in my life as a project manager in Portugal, Lisbon.

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