Always wanted to live abroad? Now may be your best chance.
More countries are inviting travelers to trade their home offices for the opportunity to live and work abroad during the pandemic.
Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom estimates 42% of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full time. And workers may not be returning to the office anytime soon.
As the pandemic marches on and companies like Facebook announce employees needn’t return to the office until mid-2021 (or never in the case of Twitter), some countries are shifting away from traditional tourism models that rely on a stream of short-term visitors in favor of fewer travelers who are willing to stay for longer periods.
These destinations are enticing this new batch of “digital nomads” with low Covid-19 rates, decreased costs of living and a slower, more relaxed pace of life.
Home office or island paradise?
Starting Aug. 21, remote workers can apply to live and work on the 35-square-mile island of Anguilla, a British overseas territory that has registered only three Covid-19 cases to date.
A press release issued by the Anguilla Tourist Board on Aug. 19 quoted Kenroy Herbert, the board’s chairman, as saying the territory is “targeting a new clientele we call digital nomads, who will come and work remotely from Anguilla on extended stay visas.”
Priority to enter Anguilla is being given to applicants from “low-risk” countries, defined as those with less than 0.2% infection rate, as well as long-stay travelers.
A stay under three months costs $1,000 for individuals and $1,500 for a family of four. Entrance fees, which double for longer stays, cover two Covid-19 tests, a digital work permit and other costs.
Unlike other destinations, Anguilla asks only for a “brief description” of the type of work one will do while there.
Travelers who apply for new year-long work visas to Barbados know within five working days whether their visa request is confirmed.
The visa, or “12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp,” was established on June 30. As of this week, more than 1,350 applications have been submitted, with 40% coming from U.S. residents. The visa is valid for 12 months from the date of arrival, and holders can leave and reenter the island during that time.
“All we’ve gotten from Covid is uncertainty,” said Prime Minister Mia Mottley during an interview with Sky News. “We can give you certainty for the next 12 months that you can come and … work from here.”
There is free Wi-Fi throughout the island, including restaurants, cafes, public libraries and public parks. Visa holders can send their children to private schools or pay a small stipend to attend a state-owned public school.
Bermuda is appealing to those working at cramped home offices by touting its pink beaches, crystal waters and 18 miles of walking paths as reasons to apply for its new “Work from Home” certificate.
Applications cost $263 per person, and travelers must be employed by a company outside Bermuda, enrolled as a student in a university-level program, or demonstrate “substantial means” or continuous annual income.
“These visitors can reside in Bermuda … and will promote economic activity for our country without displacing Bermudians in the workforce,” said Minister of Labor Jason Hayward in a parliamentary address.
Family members and pets (the latter, with valid import permits) are welcome, and children can attend public or private schools in Bermuda. The application website includes booking information for beachfront villas, electric cars and co-working spaces.
Europe or Caucasus for a year?
Remote workers from 95 countries, including the United States, can apply to live and work in the country of Georgia.
Announced in mid-July, around 2,700 applications had been registered by Aug. 5, though the program, called “Remotely from Georgia,” didn’t formally launch until later that month. It allows workers to stay in Georgia for at least 360 days without a visa.
Travelers need to have a minimum monthly salary of $2,000 and agree to undergo a 12-day quarantine in a hotel at their own expense upon entering.
The nation in the Caucasus cites its low Covid-19 infection in a bid to attract remote workers to the program, though cases have significantly risen this month. Slightly less than half of the country’s total infections — more than 1,300 cases — have been recorded in the past two weeks.
Estonia launched a 12-month Digital Nomad Visa last month that may appear to be in response to the pandemic, but the program has been in the works for years.
Known as one of the most advanced digital societies in the world, the Baltic nation — which has earned the nickname of E-stonia — hasn’t made the visa process as tech-friendly as others. Applications must be submitted via appointment at an Estonian embassy or consulate and take 30 days to be reviewed.
Applicants must also show monthly earnings greater than €3,504 ($4,152) for the previous six months.
The new visas cannot be used to bypass Estonia’s border restrictions. Currently, only residents of the EU, Schengen Zone, U.K. and a limited group of approved countries, such as Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea, can apply.
Which country is next?
Last month, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic suggested the country will be welcoming digital nomads soon.
In a Twitter post on Aug. 26, he indicated Croatia would be “one of the first countries in the world” to legally regulate the stay of digital nomads.
The post included a photo of Plenkovic with Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, who published an open letter to the prime minister on LinkedIn two months ago calling for the creation of digital nomad visas in Croatia.
The letter led to the meeting, and de Jong, who has lived in Croatia for 14 years, is now working with the Croatian government to create the new visas.
“Still a lot of work needs to be done, but we aim to complete this entire process … so that Croatia can start welcoming the first digital nomads in 2021,” de Jong told CNBC.