From Digital Nomad to Slow Travel to Settling in Portugal with Kathleen Lo

From Digital Nomad to Slow Travel to Settling in Portugal with Kathleen Lo by Expat Empire
Kathleen Lo

From Digital Nomad to Slow Travel to Settling in Portugal with Kathleen Lo – In this episode of the Expat Empire Podcast, we will be hearing from Kathleen Lo. Born in Southern California, Kathleen’s earliest experience of being an expat was at the tender age of five when her family moved to Manila, Philippines. After university, Kathleen returned to the San Francisco Bay Area where she worked in product design.

Following the footsteps of her family, Kathleen and her husband made the bold move to become entrepreneurs, quitting their jobs to focus on their business. After a year, they realized that they had never met with any of their clients. This spurred them on to the adventure of a lifetime. With careful planning, they travelled to multiple countries and cities for two years before eventually settling down in Lisbon, Portugal.

Join us as we chat with Kathleen about her grand adventure. We’ll hear why she chose Portugal as her home and how she managed to turn an instance of inconvenience into a new business venture!

LEARN in this episode:

✔ How to determine what countries and cites to travel to

✔ Tips and tricks on how to manage work and life balance

✔ How to earn while travelling and making an income from your experience

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From Digital Nomad to Slow Travel to Settling in Portugal with Kathleen Lo – Intro

Welcome to the Expat Empire Podcast, the podcast where you can hear from expats around the world and learn how you can join them.

Hey guys, before we get to the interview, I want to remind you that we’re offering free 30-min consulting calls to anyone interested in moving abroad. 

Whether you’re thinking about retiring somewhere warm, starting an international career, or becoming a digital nomad, we’re ready to help you think through the next steps in your journey. 

Send us a message at to schedule your call today!

With that said, let’s start the conversation.


David McNeill: [0:00:47]: Hey Kathleen, thanks so much for joining us today on the Expat Empire Podcast.

Kathleen Lo: [0:00:51]: Hey David, thanks for having me.

David McNeill: [0:00:53]: Yeah, it was great to connect recently and I really love what you’ve been able to do here in Portugal and of course your experience traveling around the world as a digital nomad. I’m really excited to jump into that conversation today and share it with all of our listeners as well.

Kathleen Lo: [0:01:06]: Likewise.

David McNeill: [0:01:07]: Awesome. That’s a good place, I think, for us to start. If you could just give us the highlights of your adventures so far; where you’re originally from, where around the world you’ve traveled to or lived in so far and of course where you are right now, that would be great.

Kathleen Lo: [0:01:21]: Oh, that’s a long one. Okay. I was born in Southern California but when I was five years old, my family moved to Manila, Philippines, which is where we’re originally from. I pretty much grew up there. Then after university, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. That’s the most recent home base that I’ve had. My now-husband and I were there for about five years. Then in 2018 we sold all our things, and decided to do the whole digital nomad thing. We were traveling all around until we finally settled down here in Lisbon, Portugal, which is where I’m calling from today.

David McNeill: [0:02:01]: Awesome. Yeah. That takes us through a lot of adventures there. It’s interesting that you said that you kind of grew up, I think you said from around five years old in the Philippines. How was that experience coming from, I mean, obviously you were quite young, so I’m sure some of it’s a bit spotty in your memory, but in terms of making that transition. Then furthermore, how did you get the opportunity or make the decision to move to the San Francisco Bay Area after your university years?

Kathleen Lo: [0:02:29]: Yeah, absolutely. Well transitioning as a kid, as you said, there’s not too much say that I had in moving at five. Although I do remember it was really challenging learning the language, but as a kid, you adapt really quickly so that was really good. After college, I decided to move to the Bay Area, mostly to experience independence and just live on my own. That’s really what pushed me to make the move. We had gone mostly to California actually when I was younger as a teenager for vacations and stuff. It was cool to be able to experience living there as an adult.

David McNeill: [0:03:11]: So did you go there with a job or how did you actually make that initial transition after university?

Kathleen Lo: [0:03:17]: Oh, that was a really interesting one. My original plan in University was actually to go to law school after college. That was the grand plan since high school. A lot of it had to do with family expectations and all that. Ultimately it got to the point where I applied for law school, got into law school, was supposed to make the reservation for my slot and I told my family, I can’t do it, I really can’t. At that point, it was what, two months before graduation, everyone had things lined up. I clearly didn’t because I was supposed to go to law school.

I was at that crossroad where I was like, well since I don’t have anything lined up, I might as well take the opportunity to see what else is out there. I visited San Francisco in my junior year and attended a tech entrepreneurship conference. I was like, oh, the tech could be interesting. That’s something that’s completely outside the realm of possibilities that I was initially thinking about but since I don’t have anything lined up, we might as well give it a try. That’s how I ended up in the Bay Area.

David McNeill: [0:04:23]: What kind of work were you doing there originally? How did you get your start?

Kathleen Lo: [0:04:27]: I started out in the education technology space as a marketing intern and ended up doing a lot of marketing collateral, even though my background isn’t really in design, but that’s kind of how I got into it and got really interested in it. Then eventually I was like, ooh, design is really fun. I really enjoy doing it. I don’t have any technical training in it but was able to get mentorship from one of the designers in the company. I ended up doing a lot more design as a marketer and then eventually transitioned over to the design team. I was then doing product design like UX, UI for that same company.

David McNeill: [0:05:13]: Nice. I believe after that you had an experience of just deciding to essentially start your own business, I suppose, with your now husband. I’d love to hear the story about that and of course where the idea came from, how you made it happen, and how you got the courage to go out there and start your own entrepreneurial journey.

Kathleen Lo: [0:05:31]: Yeah, totally. I forget the year, when was that? At some point after working at that company for a few years…I do come from a family of entrepreneurs, so that’s something that’s been in the back of my head and something that I’ve always wanted to try. Then there was a time when my husband and I had an idea that we wanted to work on together. It was kind of like, I wouldn’t say spur of the moment, but it was a long time coming and I was just like, OK, maybe we just had to take the leap. We were actually working on a different idea. It’s not Designstaq, which ended up being kind of the main business that we ran for a few years.

[0:06:11]: Basically we wanted to work on a digital marketing boot camp. That’s the idea that we got started with. We both quit our jobs, we were working on it. It didn’t end up quite working out how we expected. Six months later we were burning our savings in the Bay Area, which is not the cheapest place to live but we really enjoyed the freedom and autonomy that came with running your own business. We were like, how can we continue doing this? We weren’t surprised that our first idea didn’t work out. We just wanted to kind of keep trying. Then we figured it would be really hard to balance starting your own business with having a full-time job. How can we make money to support ourselves while we try and give this thing another shot?

It really did come down to, what skills do we have that we can make money from? I was a designer, so one of the ideas was, oh, why don’t we try to get web design clients? We basically got started by asking some friends if we could build websites for them. Friends who needed a portfolio or friends who had a business and that’s how we initially got started. Then once we had a portfolio, we were really lucky, I’d say, to get initial success on Upwork and get customers there. Then it kind of just took off from there.

David McNeill: [0:07:33]: Do you have any tips for people to get started on a platform like Upwork? I mean, maybe it’s different today than when you started but these platforms can be challenging, I think, to start out; at least that’s the sense I get. If you have any thoughts about maybe how you were able to really stand out from the crowd, even when it’s or I should say, especially when it’s this global marketplace. It would be great just to hear your thoughts.

Kathleen Lo: [0:07:55]: Yeah. Especially on something like web design. One thing that we did was we were pretty specific. We found a platform called Squarespace, which is now really popular, but at the time I think was still in its, not early phases, but it wasn’t as popular. But basically, we specialized, I think my tip for people who are trying to get started on a platform is to be very specific. For us it was, oh we build Squarespace websites. That’s a differentiator already. We didn’t build on any other platforms but Squarespace. That really helped us. Then eventually I would say that after doing that for a few months, a year, I felt we weren’t even niche enough. To later then find out that there are other people who are like, oh, I do Squarespace websites for dog trainers. Or I do Squarespace websites for specific types of restaurants. I think that helps with recall. We eventually became known as expert Squarespace designers, but very broad, it was pretty broad. We eventually narrowed down into professional services. I guess that would be my tip. It’s easier to start niche and then expand out. It helps you kind of establish a name or become memorable in a way.

David McNeill: [0:09:15]: Did you find that you really loved the work or was it more a mix of, obviously you were fine with it on some level, but it obviously also gave you that lifestyle that you were looking for as well. I’m curious on how you thought about that or balanced your ambitions as an entrepreneur relative to the lifestyle that you were trying to develop.

Kathleen Lo: [0:09:34]: Totally. I ended up loving it. When we first started, we were like, oh, this is going to be temporary. It’s going to give us a source of income while we figure out what’s next. We ended up investing in the business, building up the systems, investing in the client experience, and how we handled all our projects. It was really fun. I would say one thing that we really enjoyed about creating Designstaq was productizing the services, which we felt was pretty different in the space. Having set packages, being very transparent about pricing, doing a lot of our work asynchronously while I felt a lot of other designs should do feedback calls for every single milestone. We kind of played around with those things.

I guess Designstaq went from a side thing, source of income while we try out other ideas to the main business that we worked on for, it ended up being about five years. It also does come with, I guess on the flip side of that while we were trying to grow the business, it was also challenging. I think with a lot of creative services it’s pretty challenging to scale. I was our main designer. I’ve always been our main designer and it was really hard to grow the team. We were always kind of caught in the middle between growing a big agency versus being able to figure out other ways that were more scalable in a way. We ultimately decided maybe at around year three that we would keep Designstaq as a business between the two of us. Then we were like, oh, let’s use Designstaq and experiment with other ideas. That’s kind of led to a few other projects Bordr being one of them.

David McNeill: [0:11:35]: Okay, great. Of course, you’re in this scenario now where you’re able to make your full-time income from Designstaq and you’re, I guess, still there in the San Francisco Bay Area, but of course, you decided to become digital nomads and start that experience. Where did that idea come from and how did you make your first steps?

Kathleen Lo: [0:11:53]: Yeah. After running the business for about a year we realized that we never met with any of our clients. We worked with mostly US-based clients, a lot of them actually from California but everything was managed remotely. After doing that for a year we were like, oh, it would be really fun if we could do the whole travel and work thing. At the time it wasn’t that popular. I think it was actually quite weird that we were doing this. A lot of our friends from the Bay were like, OK, well, that sounds kind of cool for you. I mean we were really excited about it, so we just decided to take the leap. There was nothing really tying us down to the Bay Area, we were both really curious about living abroad. Then we had the means to do so, so we figured we should give it a shot.

David McNeill: [0:12:44]: Do you think that interest in trying to live abroad, as you said, also came from your international experiences across different countries growing up or was it just purely something as simple as well, there’s a lot of interesting cities and countries out there, let’s go see them from almost more of a travel mindset. What did you find to be ultimately your main motivation to make that leap when the people around you, a lot of them are giving you a strange look?

Kathleen Lo: [0:13:10]: Totally. I think a lot of it did come from having moved from Manila to California after graduation. There’s so much that you learn from just being in a new environment and being thrown out of your comfort zone that I was really curious to do that more. California was becoming comfortable. We had amazing friends. It’s a great place but I was personally kind of itching for that next adventure and new challenges.

David McNeill: [0:13:41]: Yeah, it makes sense. You set off on your way and where do you decide to go to first? How do you even think about structuring a trip like that in the absence of, well, real structure let’s say? How do you think about where to go and how long to spend in each of those places?

Kathleen Lo: [0:13:57]: We started just by listing out all the cities that we wanted to experience living in. Of course, that was a really long list. We initially scoped out our trip to one year. We were like, okay, maybe we can plan for a year, let’s shortlist the cities that…it was Richard and I, so then we were like, okay, what are cities you like, what are cities I like, and then let’s kind of find the commonalities here and then do a check to make sure that those cities have good internet, which is the one thing that we needed to run our business remotely. Then that’s kind of how we ended up coming with a list.

I’m a really big planner. Initially, we were like, oh, let’s just start with one city and then see how it goes. But of course, before we left, we already had the first three cities planned. It was a city a month. We kind of had the top places that we individually wanted to experience. I personally really wanted to experience living in Tokyo. Then Richard really wanted to experience Berlin in the summertime after having spent a brutal winter there. Those were kind of two top cities on the list, but our first destination was Chiang Mai, and then based on people’s recommendations it kind of ended up becoming pretty fluid.

David McNeill: [0:15:15]: Okay. Sounds good. I’m glad to hear that Tokyo and Berlin were top of the list for you guys, because of course I spent some time in those cities as well, so definitely good spots to go to. But as far as your trip overall, how did you also manage your business? As you said, you decided maybe year three to just keep it between the two of you, and at the same time, while that gives you that full ownership and control, you’re also, I guess it’s a month per city, so it’s not you’re moving every couple days. I can imagine balancing that would be quite different from having that home base in San Francisco. How did you make that adjustment?

Kathleen Lo: [0:15:51]: Totally, totally. Luckily I’d say that with our business, we had set things up such that we operated pretty asynchronously. We didn’t have too many calls. A lot of the things were managed on my Google docs and email, which is good. I think that while we were traveling that pushed us to be even better about it. When you’re in Asia and you have a 12-15 hour time difference with the client it’s highly inconvenient, mostly for me, to hop on a call late at night. That was one adjustment. Then I think what we found pretty quickly was after about eight months of hopping around one new city every month, we ultimately decided to slow it down our second year.

I think prior to starting, we were like a month is a really long time when you compare it to going on vacation somewhere, you’re like that’s more than enough time. But when you’re actually trying to live, work, experience a place, figure out all the things, one month is actually really short. You’re kind of just adjusting to the new place then next thing you know, you’re needing to plan for the next destination. In our second year we ended up slowing down our pace to about two to three months at a time per city. That made it a lot more manageable and sustainable.

David McNeill: [0:17:10]: How did you manage your accommodation during that time? I mean, maybe it was as simple as finding some Airbnb, but if you need to find a place for a month, two months, three months, and at those usually inflated prices, I can imagine it gets more pricey. Maybe your cost of living overall is lower, but if you have any tips on or experiences related to that to find maybe the right spaces that also had good workspaces for you, or if you use coworking spaces and so on, it’d be great to hear about that.

Kathleen Lo: [0:17:36]: Yeah. We mostly used Airbnbs but in cities that were more expensive, let’s say in Taipei we actually experimented with co-living, which was very interesting. Where you basically have your own space, but then there’s dedicated common areas. Sometimes that space had limited workspace, you did have the option of working in the common area, so that’s kind of challenging. I would say we got an Airbnb in Tokyo and it was the most expensive we’ve paid in accommodations by far throughout that whole trip. I guess in terms of finding accommodations, searching in advance is helpful.

Then one thing that I learned is that you can actually negotiate on Airbnb. When you’re staying in places for a month or so, owners are likely to give discounts because you basically secure that whole month for them. We’ve found some success in that and have been able to save some amounts here and there.

David McNeill: [0:18:38]: Yeah, no, that’s a good tip. Definitely something I to share with people as well because that’s also come in handy for us. You were doing the digital nomad life, a month a city, then slowing it down a bit. Then it sounds at some point you’ve decided to settle down at least for the time being here in Portugal. What was your thought process around picking Portugal, but also to find a place to make a home base, as opposed to just continuing this slow travel lifestyle for the next few years?

Kathleen Lo: [0:19:06]: Coming up on our third year we were still really enjoying the traveling, but we wanted to find more of a home base where we could stay for more than the three months that typically comes standard with the tourist visa. We were actually kind of deciding between going back to the states potentially or finding another place abroad. We had shortlisted some cities in the US, but we weren’t too crazy about any of them. This was September 2019 around that time when we were just researching, where can Americans stay in the world for more than six months. A lot of what came up…I guess previously we had seen a lot of options for retirement visas, like in Thailand but there’s typically an age minimum.

Anyway, fast forward. In September 2019, we were doing some research and then we came across the Portugal D7 visa. The biggest thing that stood out to us was that there was no minimum age requirement. We were like, ooh, this seems like a really good option. We use the income from our web design business because basically the main requirement is that you’re able to support yourself with income coming from outside of Portugal. It would be a great home base to explore more Europe because as an American tourist you’re only allowed to spend three months, every six months in the Schengen Area. So our time in Europe has been quite limited. Then there was also paths to citizenship or permanent residency, which was really good. We were like, everything sounds great. We should just give it a try.

It was actually a pretty quick decision. I mean, we had spent a month in Porto our first month of doing the digital nomad thing so we knew we liked it. We hadn’t visited Lisbon before. Richard had a college friend who recently moved there, so we were like, oh at least we have a friend that we know in Portugal. Kind of all those things combined we were like, oh, we should just give it a try. Let’s apply for the visa. It’s pretty straightforward. Then we’ll just try it out for a year, see how we like it. Then we can just decide whether we want to renew or not. We submitted our application January 2020 and then ended up in Portugal in February.

David McNeill: [0:21:22]: Where did you submit the application?

Kathleen Lo: [0:21:24]: In VFS, Washington, DC.

David McNeill: [0:21:27]: Okay. You were back in the US for a bit then before you made the move. Okay. I see. Nice. How did you then decide on Lisbon? I mean, of course, you said you had a friend there, but given that you had experienced Porto for example, but hadn’t spent too much time there exploring Lisbon, how did you decide that would become your new home base?

Kathleen Lo: [0:21:47]: The initial reason was actually because as part of the visa application, we needed proof of accommodations in Portugal and because our friend had an apartment here, he actually did the golden visa and purchased a place and so he had two bedrooms and he was like, oh, you guys can just rent a room from me. We were like, oh, that’s perfect. It’s kind of like a soft landing living with a friend in a new city. We can meet the accommodations requirement for the visa. That’s kind of how we ended up in Lisbon.

David McNeill: [0:22:14]: Nice. Of course, it goes without saying that soon after that the pandemic hit. I’d be curious to hear your perspective on what it was like to be brand new in a country right around the time that happened. Of course, in my case, we moved in November 2019. We had a couple more months on you, but kind of went through, I’m sure, a lot of the same challenges. I would love to hear your perspective on it.

Kathleen Lo: [0:22:36]: For sure. Yeah. We arrived in February 2020 and having traveled for the past two months, we were so excited to have some semblance of a home base that when we arrived in Lisbon we were basically homebodies for the first two weeks. Unknowingly that two weeks later everything would shut down. Yeah, I guess our experience of Portugal pre-COVID has been quite limited. The shutdown was really interesting. We were fortunate to live with a friend. That was quite fun to just kind of have additional company. Richard and I had each other, which was great but then we had a third friend that we could cook with, our main activity during the lockdown.

I think our experience of Lisbon has been very interesting so far. We spent the first five months in Lisbon, but then after that we were like, why don’t we just take this opportunity to see more of the country because there wasn’t really much going on anywhere. We actually ended up living in Porto for a little bit and then doing a road trip down to the Algarve. We spent some time in the Algarve. We spent some time on the Silver Coast back to Porto down to Lisbon. We were kind of nomadic within Portugal for those first two years. It’s only recently that we decided to settle in Lisbon. We actually literally just signed a long-term lease last month.

David McNeill: [0:24:08]: OK, nice. You had all of those experiences around Portugal. What was it about Lisbon that made you decide that was the spot that you wanted to get this long-term contract in?

Kathleen Lo: [0:24:17]: It’s mainly because a lot of people come through Lisbon, so it’s convenient for friends, family who want to visit. Also with Bordr, which we’re running now, it’s just convenient to be here. Then Libon’s a great city. I’d say that Porto, which is where you’re at, has a very special place in my heart. That would’ve been our second pick.

David McNeill: [0:24:48]: Okay. Good to hear. Yeah, of course, I would love to just jump into the new business or maybe not so new anymore, but the business that you have here in Portugal, Bordr and helping people to be able to actually make their moves to Portugal. You’ve done a lot of great stuff with that. If you could just walk us through what the company is, how you started it and how it’s grown over the last couple of years that would be great.

Kathleen Lo: [0:25:10]: Yeah, absolutely. We started Bordr last year, around this time. It came out as a result of our own personal experience. Back when we applied for our D7 visa we only needed to show proof of NIF and bank account once we were in Portugal. We had already gotten our visas. We were preparing for our SEF appointment over here and our first task was to get our NIF. Initially we were under the impression that we could get it ourselves for some reason. We were doing our research, we were ready to do it, then we were like, oh, actually it doesn’t seem we can do this without what’s called a fiscal representative. Any foreigner non-EU resident basically needs a fiscal representative in Portugal to request a NIF on their behalf.

We were like, OK, this is not too easy. We actually need someone to help us. Then we were trying to figure out…just doing some research online, we were part of a handful of Facebook groups and seeing kind of, what do people normally do? It seemed the standard at that time was that there would be threads and people would comment, oh, reach out to this person, this person helped me. We started reaching out to people, asking for price quotes, figuring out, what is this actual process of getting a NIF, what’s involved and all these things and it was just so opaque. We talked to a handful of people, prices were all across the board, all the way from €50 to upwards of €800. We were like, how is this a thing?

Anyway, we ultimately were pressed for time and ended up hiring an agency to help us get our NIF, someone we had worked with before. We were able to get that done. Went through with the other requirements for our SEF appointment, did our SEF appointment. Then fast forward, this is kind of percolating, that was just our experience. Then later that year we were thinking about it and we just had this idea where we were like, Hey, you know how all these people need to get those NIF, why don’t we create a website, find someone to be their fiscal representative, because we can’t be people’s fiscal representative.

We basically find someone and then facilitate that whole process of collecting intake, processing payment, doing the customer support, and just make it really easy. Be transparent about what’s involved, how much things cost, and put that out there. It was really meant to be a small experiment where we were like, I don’t know if people would find this helpful, but it would’ve been helpful to have back when we were going through it. Then we decided to launch it. We basically just made the website live, reached out to a few influencers on YouTube who create content on moving to Portugal because we were like, who can we share this with? The response was really positive. A lot of the influencers that we reached out to were like, Hey, a lot of people are asking for this service. It’s amazing that you created this. Then one thing kind of led to another. Then now we’re here.

David McNeill: [0:28:21]: Sounds good. Are you still managing Designstaq as well? Or has that kind of gone to the side as you worked on this? Or obviously, it sounded like you also had some other projects, so I don’t know what you can share, but I’d be curious to hear where you kind of see all of this going for you and your husband working together going forward.

Kathleen Lo: [0:28:37]: Bordr has grown quite a bit from the NIF. So the NIF thing grew and then a lot of our customers were like, Hey, thanks so much for helping me get my NIF. I actually need to get my bank account. Turns out embassies, a lot of the consulates were then requiring that people have funded bank accounts even before coming to Portugal. Then they were like, how do we manage this remotely where there isn’t even an option to travel to Portugal because of COVID? We decided to take that on, eventually set up our bank account service. Anyway, Bordr has really grown and ended up taking a lot of time also. It’s really exciting because there’s so much opportunity and so much that we can do. I feel like in the past few years, Portugal has really increased in popularity and we do see a lot of people moving. I guess just to answer your question in terms of where Designstaq falls in this now. We’ve kind of put Designstaq on pause because I’m the only designer in Designstaq. Now I’m focusing all of my energy on Bordr and of course, Richard is as well.

David McNeill: [0:29:40]: Nice. How do you see Portugal evolving here as a destination for, of course for nomads like you were at the time, but more importantly for people who want to settle down somewhere, especially in the EU? How do you figure that it’s gotten this prominent in this space? Even I felt it wasn’t even at the point that it was when we came here in 2019. The same kind of thinking that you had about the same timeframe and suddenly it seems like it’s top of mind for everyone. How do you think it’s developed and where do you think it will kind of go from here, if you have any sense of it?

Kathleen Lo: [0:30:14]: Totally. Well, I think, I mean you being here and we having been here for the two years I can definitely see why it’s so popular as a place to live. The quality of life is so good. The weather is gorgeous, I don’t know how it’s 19 degrees in February and sunny and blue. It’s a really moderate climate. The people are so friendly, so warm. I think it’s really expat-friendly. That’s actually one of the most surprising things for me having moved here, how easy it is to kind of just integrate. I’m learning Portuguese very slowly. The level of English is really high, especially in the bigger cities, but then even if you aren’t able to communicate the people are just so friendly and warm and patient and welcoming. Which is so nice as a foreigner moving to a new city. The produce is good. The healthcare is good. I don’t know. Of course, you have to take that with a grain of salt, of course, there are all so cons, but I think generally as a country it’s a very comfortable place to live in. I can see why it’s attractive both for retirees and remote workers alike.

David McNeill: [0:31:37]: So it sounds like you’ve signed onto a long-term lease there in Lisbon. Do you figure that you’ll be here in Portugal for the foreseeable future? What are your thoughts and also do you have any of those, I don’t know, underlying motivations to get back out on the road more so like you used to in the past, or are you pretty satisfied and settled here in Portugal?

Kathleen Lo: [0:31:58]: Yeah. Portugal is definitely home now. I do see us being here for the foreseeable future. I do miss traveling. I will have to say. The original intent was to spend six to eight months in Portugal and then travel the rest of the time. Both Richard and I have family in the US and in Asia. Being in Europe is kind of nice, being right in the middle. There’s a lot of Europe that I’d still like to see, kind of going back to earlier where we’ve been pretty limited in the time that we’ve been able to spend in Europe. Definitely those will be more week-long trips or two-week-long trips while having Lisbon as our home base for the next few years.

David McNeill: [0:32:42]: Sounds good. Definitely have the same feeling here about Porto and looking forward to more travel, but at the same time very happy where we are now. I was just wondering in sort of conclusion, if you have any final thoughts as far as people, any advice that you’d give for people who want to try to maybe move to Portugal or just to become a digital nomad and maybe scratch that entrepreneurial itch that they have. If you have any last thoughts or advice we’d love to hear it.

Yeah, totally. I guess, for moving to Portugal one thing, after having seen a lot of the country, there are so many different options based on what you’re looking for. You can have the bigger city feel in Lisbon. You can have kind of the smaller city feel in Porto, which feels like one big cool neighborhood. You also have the smaller villages if you’re looking for more of an escape from the city. Portugal has a lot to offer. If you are curious about it, it would be great to kind of just, I would recommend coming to Portugal, renting a car and just seeing the country and seeing what options there are for you.

If you’re looking to start a business and curious to try, kind of just jump into it. There really is no better way to learn how to run a business than to learn through experience. Of course you don’t have to quit your job and do everything. It could very much start with a small project that you’re doing while you have your full-time job, or you can try your hand at freelancing starting by doing some projects for friends, but anything that you can kind of do to dip your toes into it. You never know how one thing leads to another.

David McNeill: [0:34:26]: I did have one other question, as you were saying before back, I think 2016 or something when you were thinking about starting as a digital nomad or no, maybe it was 2018. Anyway, when you were thinking about that and people were giving you kind of a strange look there in San Francisco, have you found that now those people that are in your network or that you otherwise knew in San Francisco or anywhere else around the world or the United States that are now thinking about trying to come to Portugal or to become digital nomads. Do you feel like the sentiment and the view of this type of lifestyle have changed in the last few years?

Kathleen Lo: [0:35:01]: Totally, totally. I feel COVID has really accelerated that. I think that working remotely and living abroad, having distributed teams is really cool now. Which is amazing and exciting to see. We have had friends that have come through and have told us that they’re considering. There are a lot of programs now like Remote Year and other structured programs that help people kind of manage the work and travel so that you don’t have to handle all the logistics. It is really cool to see that evolve. With COVID a lot of people left the big cities. Ironically, a lot of our friends have actually left the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of them have moved around within the US. Yeah, I think we’re definitely seeing that companies and individuals are a lot more open and interested in living and working abroad.

David McNeill: [0:36:03]: Nice. It sounds you’ve been a good influence on them then. Happy to hear that. Yeah, in closing I would love just to know how people can find out more about you and what you’re doing about Bordr and other projects that you have going on as well. I know that we’ll share a link in our show notes for people to make use of the Bordr service and get €10 off of their offer as well. We’ll definitely include that, but if you have any other places where people can follow you on your travels and adventures, that would be great.

Kathleen Lo: [0:36:31]: Totally. Unfortunately, I’m not very big on social media. In terms of sharing our adventures and personal journey, there isn’t too much on that. I would say that Bordr’s probably the best place.

David McNeill: [0:36:50]: Perfect. Well, we’ll have that link in the show notes. Thanks so much again for sharing all of your insights and your experience. I look forward to seeing how things play out for you with Bordr and here in Portugal.

Kathleen Lo: [0:37:00]: Thanks again, David. It was so much fun.


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As the founder of Expat Empire, David McNeill is focused on inspiring people to move abroad and showing them how to do it. David started Expat Empire because he has a genuine passion for living abroad. He left the United States in 2014 and has since lived in Tokyo, Berlin, and Porto.