Lisbon, the final hub that made it into our ranking of top-15 crypto hubs, had a rating of 4 out of 5 which was above average for its crypto regulatory structure. This important criteria in the category of drivers was worth 35% on its own. Lisbon was ranked in the middle to lower half of the 25 hubs on almost every other measure. This included the grassroots crypto adoption criteria (another driver), as well as the opportunities criteria, including crypto jobs, companies, and events per capita. The popular expat destination was elevated to the final 15 by a better-than-average score in the category of enablers, which accounted for 15% of the total.

To learn more about the criteria we used and how they were weighted, please visit: Our Methodology for Ranking CoinDesk’s Crypto Hubs in 2023.

(Ian Suarez/CoinDesk)

I bought a ticket to Lisbon, Portugal, where I planned to stay for the rest of my life.

It was the beginning of my “digital-nomad” three-year journey. Digital nomads look for places that offer both a good quality of life and low costs of living. This is a form or geographic arbitrage. Nomads are drawn to cities that offer high-speed Internet, lively co-working spaces and a vibrant nightlife. They also enjoy culture, sunshine, good foods, and cheap drinks.

Lisbon was the place I chose to start my trip, as it oozed all of these qualities. It’s the digital nomad paradise. Portugal’s government, realizing that they were on to something good, decided to take it a step further and create a digital nomad Visa in 2022. Lisbon is a haven for coders, developers, entrepreneurs and creatives who want to experience Europe at a discount price. Lisbon’s popularity has led to a reduction in the discount. Even in 2017, many digital nomads had a crypto obsession.

In a Lisbon pub, someone said to me: “I want to buy Bitcoin but the price seems too high. I think I missed the bull market.” It was 2017 and bitcoin traded at $7,000 then. Since then, the crypto market has exploded.

Ines Braganca, a blockchain attorney who has lived her entire life in Lisbon, says that the best thing about Lisbon is that everyone’s here. “You’ve got big projects. Small projects. Gaspar says that there are so many events and meetups that she could literally attend one each day of the week. There are Web3 Wednesdays and Crypto Fridays as well as larger conferences such NEAR-Con or NFT Summit.

Cryptocurrency: Tax-friendly

A -friendly tax environment is one of the reasons for the boom in crypto. Gaspar says that until the end of 2018, crypto in Portugal was not taxed. It used to be that Portugal was a tax haven for crypto. Even the new taxes, which aren’t too painful, don’t cost much. If you hold your cryptocurrency over a period of a year before selling it, you will pay zero euros in tax. Your incentive to hold on and not trade is to purchase. Gaspar says, “The government wants us to hold our coins.”

Capital gains on overseas investments are also taxed at zero percent by the Portuguese government. It’s not specific to crypto but it has helped attract businesses and workers to Lisbon. This added more talent to the eco-system. Gaspar says it’s easy to find high-quality tech talent for a low price.

The Web3 excitement hasn’t diminished during the crypto winter. One could even argue that it has accelerated. Many events held after the FTX crash had a “how to build a bear-market” theme, and those serious about their work doubled down. Gaspar says that in a bear-market, community is the most important thing. Even if you want to vent your frustration about the price of your crypto falling.

Jeanhee Kim & David Z. Morris edited the book.