Digital nomadism in the post-COVID-19 era

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Published 2020-08-17 14:00

To boost its tourism industry and revive its economy following the COVID-19 crisis, Indonesia is working on a new strategy to attract digital nomads to Bali. This was announced by Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs Management last week. Estonia, for its part, recently launched its first digital nomad visa, thanks to which you can work remotely for a company or as your own boss for a whole year. While the looming economic is having a significant impact on employment around the world, even for freelancers and digital nomads, here's what you can expect as many countries around the world are lifting their border and travel restrictions.

Had enough of your daily 9 to 5 routine? Many professionals around the world are switching to remote working. What does this mean? Just packing your bags, without forgetting your laptop, and booking your flight to the other side of the world, as long as you have a job that doesn't need you to be present physically. This also that you can work from anywhere, with clients from around the world, on your own terms. Interesting, isn't it? Obviously, there are many things to take into account before starting this brand new adventure, especially with the COVID-19 that is responsible for millions of job losses in many countries. The global economic powerhouses haven't been spared either, so you better have a good planning. 

Daniela is a Portuguese travel blogger and freelance writer. “My husband and I decided to quit our jobs to travel the world and due to this pandemic ended up stranded in Uzbekistan”. Even though she later managed to return to Portugal, the past few months were complicated. “We used to have regular 9-5 jobs, but then we quit to travel the world right before the pandemic. Today, we are rebuilding our lives in a way. For a couple of months, things seemed really hopeless because there were no freelance opportunities and most companies were not hiring. But now everything is better and things are starting to align”. She concedes that they had some months without a paycheck. “But that's because we write mainly about travel and tourism”.

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on digital nomadism

In most countries around the world, companies of all sizes are cutting off their human resources and costs. As the global unemployment rate is on the rise, coupled with wage cuts, more and more professionals are looking for alternatives to earn a living. Remote working isn't everyone's cup of tea, for many reasons, especially today with the COVID-19 crisis. You might not have the budget yet, or many you have a family that you cannot leave behind. But if you're an expat that has just lost their job, this might be an option to consider. Contrary to the common belief, digital nomadism isn't only made for IT professionals, even though you do need IT skills. As we're living in the digital era, many jobs, such as content writing, human resources management, communication, design, public relations, community management and marketing, etc., are increasingly popular. 

It's also worth noting that more and more small, medium and large enterprises are preferring freelancers for temporary jobs to full-time employees, given the current economic uncertainties. So if you have the matching profile and have always dreamed of working abroad while exploring, you should try your luck. 

Digital nomadism: current trends

According to a recent study by Payoneer with 1,000 digital nomads living in more than 100 countries, there was a short-term drop in the demand since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. This is confirmed by 32% of respondents during the survey. However, 17% of them say that there was a slight increase in demand, while 23% concede that there was no change compared to before the crisis. The most significant drops in demand were recorded in North America and Europe, which are the worst-hit regions by the pandemic. In Asia and Australia, nothing really changed, so they expect a rapid recovery after the crisis. Some 53% of respondents believe in a rise in demand after the COVID-19 crisis, while 21% of them expect their activities to resume normally. As optimism prevails, it is unlikely that they will change switch back to full-time work anytime soon.

Steve, an American digital nomad, believes that digital nomadism is a viable option for people who trust themselves first and foremost. "It will continue to be my path as I head into my mid-50s this year. All of my business is done by online banking, including all income and payments I make. I have referred to myself as an Expat living in my home country for some time, and I have felt that way as I have nearly zero attachment to much going on here." For Steve, digital nomadism also means real freedom. "I have not had to ask for a day off, or seek approval aside from my certifications, or been late for work, in almost 30 years. Many everyday workers are experiencing this, or did recently, for the first time. I hope they breathe that in and remember how good freedom tastes, and not the kind they talk about on TV. This is real freedom, where every choice, every day, is your own".

What next?

Today, many countries are relying on remote work to attract visitors and revive their economies. Like Indonesia and Estonia, Bermuda also launched a digital nomad visa. “Work from Bermuda” is a one-year residence certificate which allows digital nomads to work in the country for foreign companies, legally. Besides its pleasant climate and serene environment, Bermuda is also a COVID-19-safe country, so you might consider moving there. In July 2020, Barbados also launched the "Barbados Welcome Stamp" which also allows you to work legally on the island for one year. Moreover, holders of this visa can travel to their home country as many times as they wish during this period, and are exempt from income tax!

Both Bermudas's and Barbados' digital nomad visas are renewable for one more year. Other countries, like Germany, are also welcoming digital nomads. With the Freiberufler visa, you can stay and work remotely in Germany for up to 3 years, as long as you are a registered freelancer, but you still need to pay income tax. 

Which are the best places for remote work?

Before choosing your destination, you have to take into account many factors, such as safety, the cost of living, inclusion, internet speed, availability of coworking spaces, etc. According to a study by Carphone Warehouse, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Berlin, Barcelona, ​​Melbourne, Toulouse, Montreal, Dubai and Oslo are some of the best places in the world for remote work. These cities stand out in terms of employability rate, monthly salaries, coworking spaces, internet speed, affordable rents, cost of living and quality of life. A similar study by CIA Insurance lists Madrid, Istanbul, Budapest, Tirana, Rome, Lisbon, Warsaw, Moscow, Prague and Sofia as the best cities for digital nomads after the COVID-19 crisis.

Planning your move

Planning your move is an essential step toward success. First of all, inquire about your eligibility to move as a digital nomad and conditions to be met with the embassy or consulate of the country of your choice. Do you need a visa or a permit? Do you have the required documents? When you're done with this, subscribe for health insurance that includes repatriation, taking into account the current uncertainties. Also, consider joining digital nomad groups that you can find on social media. Feel free to ask them any questions that you might have. Besides, you will heavily rely on your professional network to get started in this new adventure, so good luck!

1 Comment
DavidB4
DavidB4
last month

Yes, some countries are finally getting the idea but Estonia, Bermuda, Bahamas? Check out the cost of living in those places. As opposed to Georgia which is also implementing a new digital nomad program and the cost of living here is one of the lowest in the world, yet the environment is more European with cheap, decent apartments in abundance.

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