Live Smart in Lisbon, Europe’s Smartest City


Posted 2 years ago
  • Lisbon’s ‘smart city’ status and European Green Capital Award are drawing in new residents from around the world
  • Tech, transport, sustainability, innovation, affordability… Lisbon has it all
  • Moving to Portugal show on 20th October 2022 will support those looking to relocate to Lisbon
Image credit: José Manuel

Lisbon has long been a hub for Europe’s tech scene, with its outstanding international connectivity, abundant conference venues and affordability making it the ideal place to host tech sector events. Now, it’s not just for events that the global community of bright young things are flocking to Lisbon – they’re coming to stay.

For workers who aren’t tied to the office, relocating to Lisbon makes a lot of sense. The city itself is stunning, with lush parks, a beautiful urban waterfront and an impressive range of shops, restaurants and leisure facilities – all of which are within walking distance for those buying in the city centre. The city’s sandy beaches are an added bonus, with the nearest (Praia da Caxias) just a 15-minute train ride from the centre.

Lisbon also ticks all the right boxes when it comes to living sustainably, having scooped the European Green Capital Award for 2020. The city was hailed as a role model in the way it has demonstrated how sustainability and economic growth can go hand-in-hand. It reduced CO2 emissions by 50% between 2002 and 2014, and energy consumption by 23% and water consumption by 17% between 2007 and 2013.

Image credit: Claudio Schwarz Purzlbaum

In transportation terms, Lisbon has one of the largest networks of electric vehicle charging points in the world. It has a bike-sharing scheme, including electric bikes for navigating the city’s hills, with cycling and walking prioritised. This has resulted in a 138% increase in bicycle use in Lisbon between 2017 and 2020. 30% of journeys in the city are now made by bike or on foot.

Car use in the city centre is restricted, while over 93% of Lisbon’s population lives within 300 metres of a public transport service that runs frequently. Residents aged 65+ and students aged 13-23 can use public transport for free. For those coming into Lisbon from the suburbs, as some 400,000 people do each day, a simple monthly fare pass costing either €30 or €40 has contributed to a 30% increase in public transport usage.

For workers, Portugal boasts the seventh greatest high-speed internet coverage of any EU member state, with 90.5% of homes covered. Practicalities aside, it is the energy that the Lisbon community exudes that is a major part of the city’s appeal.

Lisbon is home to a rapidly growing international community of young entrepreneurs, start-up founders and tech and sustainability innovators. It’s an incredibly energising and exciting environment to be part of, and a substantial draw for those considering making the city their home.”

Christina Hippisley, General Manager of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK

Britons made up 10% of the home-owning international community in Lisbon in 2021, according to data from Confidencial Imobiliário, while many more are renting in the city while they settle in. For those looking to buy homes, there’s plenty of choice, with everything from neat studio apartments to elegant duplexes in the city centre, to detached homes further out.

For those currently based in the UK but looking to relocate to Lisbon, the Moving to Portugal Show & Seminars on 20th October 2022 will share detailed insights into life in the Portuguese capital. Hosted by the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK and free to attend, the event will run from 11 am to 8 pm at the Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel in London.

The Moving to Portugal show includes a mix of seminar presentations and panel discussions, along with over 20 exhibitors, meaning that attendees have a huge range of information at their fingertips. Experts will be on hand to cover visa, residency and tax options, as well as how daily life works in terms of business, jobs, schools, health, the cost of living and more.

“Many of those who attend our Moving to Portugal shows do so with a specific purpose or query in mind. They find not only the answer to that query but a whole host of other useful information that will support them to make a success of their business or lifestyle move to Portugal.”

Christina Hippisley, General Manager of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK

The versatile nature of the available expertise at the Moving to Portugal Show encourages would-be movers to consider their relocation from all angles, as attendee Sheila Perera recalls:

“Being here at this event and listening to the various experts speak gave me an opportunity to think a lot deeper. There is a lot of planning involved, so I’m very glad that the different speakers, by virtue of their expertise, shared what they had.”

Lisbon’s ‘Smart City’ prowess has been years in the making. It’s also something that has been baked into the city’s business and education communities, laying the foundations for even more impressive innovation over the years ahead. The Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics, which is one of Europe’s top 30 business schools, is home to the multi-disciplinary Smart City Innovation Lab. The city’s NOVA University, meanwhile, has just opened its first campus outside Portugal – in Cairo. Lisbon’s international school community is also growing, with the latest addition – United Lisbon International School – opening in 2020.

Image credit: Daniel Sessler

Lisbon is using technology to put the needs of its citizens first and building this into the city’s infrastructure as part of its smart city strategy. This saw Japanese tech giant NEC appointed back in 2017 to use its Cloud City Operation Center to integrate 10 services (such as refuse collection) that are managed by Lisbon’s government with 30 external services (such as Lisbon’s firefighters), which are managed by partner agencies within the city. NEC will enable the coordinated management of all these services through one centre of operations. The system uses artificial intelligence, Internet of Things technology and real-time data analysis to enable city services to respond to situations as they arise. 

Innovation, creativity and sustainability are working in harmony in Lisbon, driving the capital forward to supercharge its smart city credentials and lead Europe as an example of what can be achieved.