What is a Digital Nomad? - The Latest Digital Nomad Visas - Herd Digital

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What is a Digital Nomad? – The Latest Digital Nomad Visas

With the announcement of Spain and Bali’s digital nomad visas, it’s clear that countries around the world are reacting to the widespread adoption of remote working and are seeking to make the most of the explosion of the digital nomadic lifestyle.

As digital marketers, many of us enjoy the luxury of being able to work from anywhere with a good internet connection. And as the world and more countries open back up after the pandemic digital nomads are seeing a resurgence. So maybe it’s time to ask yourself, where would you rather be working? From your bedroom, or on a beach in Bali?

What is a Digital Nomad?

A nomad is someone who travels from place to place and has no permanent home. A digital nomad however is a relatively new spin on a classic, but essentially follows the same principle.

Digital nomads have no fixed address and aren’t tied down to a physical location by their work. This means the nomadic lifestyle lends itself to certain careers and industries more so than others.

Historically, the majority of digital nomads working in digital marketing were freelancers. Unsurprisingly, given that the flexibility of freelance work and choosing your own work suited those who didn’t want to work in a traditional 9-5 in an office.

It’s never been a better time to become a digital nomad

There are two main contributing factors to the surge in interest of the digital nomad lifestyle:

  1. First, is the pandemics effect on the way we view work. Many digital marketers adapted to the pandemic and worked effectively from home. This led to a huge shift in priorities and expectations from employees that employers are now having to adapt to. The majority of businesses that we work with at Herd offer flexible or hyrbid working as standard.
  2. Secondly, more and more countries are now offering ‘digital nomad visas’ to revitalise economies that relied on tourism and suffered heavily due to the pandemic. And digital nomads, who generally stay in one place for longer and spend more money than tourists, are their solution.

What is a ‘Digital Nomad Visa’?

Digital nomad visas are special visas offered with the express purpose of attracting remote workers to live in the respective country, while working for a company outside of the country you reside in. Some of these visas even exempt you from being subject to the tax laws of the country you will be living in. 

There are certain criteria that you need to meet, and there are stipulations to these visas. These differ from visa to visa, so while we can offer a broad overview of what these may entail, it’s important to do thorough research into a visa before you apply. But most, if not all, follow criteria such as:

  • You will have active employment with a company NOT registered in the country you will be residing. So, if you choose to live in Spain, you are only allowed to work for a company outside of Spain.
  • A proven minimum income. Countries only want to attract people that can financially support themselves throughout their residency, and will have spending money to actively contribute to the economy they live in. 
  • Upfront costs for your visa can vary in price from being free, to less than £100 at the low end, up to £1,534.
  • Health insurance for digital nomads that will cover you for the duration of your stay.
  • Having a clean criminal record.
  • Due to the nature of your visa, you must be able to work regardless of your location. This means that you will be able to complete your work using a laptop, wifi and any other telecommunications technology. After all, you’re a digital nomad.
  • How long you can reside in the country: These can vary greatly, ranging from six months, all the way up to five years.

Updated List of Countries Now Offering Digital Nomad Visas

There are 35 countries we found, that offer a digital nomad visa of some variation. Although this is sure to change and this is by no means a comprehensive list: 

Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Bali (Indonesia), Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde), Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curaçao, Czechia (Czech Republic), Dominica, Dubai (UAE), Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montserrat, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Romania, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Spain, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan.

Newly Announced Digital Nomads Visas

Two of the newest additions to this list are Bali (Indonesia) and Spain. Both countries’ digital nomads visas can last up to 5 years.

  • Spain has recently released its digital nomad visa. Spanish Economic Affairs Minister, Nadia Calviño, stated that “The digital nomad visa will attract and retain international and national talents by helping remote workers and digital nomads set up in Spain”. 
  • Meanwhile Bali seeks to revitalise its tourism industry, which suffered due to the pandemic. Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, Sandiaga Uno, announced plans to release a five-year digital nomad visa. As of the writing of this article, the visa has not yet been released.

European Digital Nomad Destinations

Europe is one of the most popular destinations for digital nomad visas. Enticing aspects include the variety of European cultures, the quality of living, the ease of travel between European countries and the ease of communication, with English being commonplace.

  • Croatia is one of the lower cost-of-living options for working and living in Europe. As one of the most popular destinations for those looking towards Europe, its visa announcement was highly publicised. If Croatia sounds like somewhere you could picture spending your summer, then there are extensive guides for most countries, like Croatia’s, here.
  • Estonia announced its digital nomad visa back in June 2020, and was the first country to introduce the visa. This is no coincidence, as Estonia (and in particular its capital Tallinn), has adapted to accommodate remote workers and tourism.

Expensive Digital Nomad Destinations 

Some of the countries on our list have a higher cost of living, meaning they also have higher minimum income thresholds because of this. The most expensive digital nomad visas on our list are:

  • Iceland has one of the highest costs of living on our list. You will have to prove a monthly income of £5,562 (€6,460). 
  • Meanwhile at the extreme end are the Cayman Islands, who are only interested in attracting the most wealthy of remote workers. To attain a Cayman Islands remote working visa, you need to prove a minimum monthly income of £82,571!

Of course, just because somewhere isn’t on this list, doesn’t mean it’s not suitable for life as a digital nomad. 

Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads, but doesn’t currently offer any visas specifically aimed at digital nomads or remote workers that offer long term solutions. Instead, most people looking to stay for a short period of time do ‘visa runs’, staying for the 90 days allowed by a tourist visa, before leaving and renewing the visa before coming back immediately.

So even if somewhere isn’t on this list, it is well worth doing your own research to see if it’s possible. There are usually work arounds, and new visas being announced all the time.

How to Become a Digital Nomad

Before you even consider applying for visas, there are some employment related barriers to be aware of. You need to not just be able to prove your income, but to be able to prove you will have employment for the duration of your stay. 

Digital nomads were traditionally freelancers or business owners, due to the freedom of where to work from these jobs afforded. However the rise of remote working has opened up the possibilities to more industries and more digital marketers. 

The biggest barrier for most aspiring digital nomads is having the opportunity to work completely remotely. If you work completely remotely, then congratulations! Pending visa approval, there’s no employment barriers between you and working on a sandy beach. We would still advise speaking to your employer to let them know that you will be out of the country.

If not, then the first step we suggest is having an honest conversation with your employer. If they are unable or unwilling to offer remote working then that is the time to start looking for a position that will

Some agencies that we work with at Herd Digital offer fully remote working. Or remote working under certain conditions like for a limited number of months of a year, to allow you to work abroad. 

So while your current role may not accommodate a digital nomad lifestyle, there are plenty that will. Have a look at our remote roles here, or reach out to us for confidential career advice on what remote roles in digital marketing are suitable for you.

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