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A new way to work anywhere in the world

When Matt Haynes decided to become a digital nomad in January 2020, he expected a spectacular round-the-world itinerary.

A 32-year-old marketing consultant from York, England, worked remotely and spent several weeks each in Bali, Thailand, and several cities in Eastern Europe. Instead, the world was closed while he was visiting a friend in Lisbon that March. He stayed at the hostel there for a week, which was a month, seven and a half months. During that time, he was strongly associated with the other 13 people who stayed and worked there.

“It was one of the most surreal and best times of my life,” he says. He is now renting an apartment on the outskirts of Lisbon and applying for a residence permit. “I have no plans to go to Bali yet.”

Digital nomads existed as long as laptops were often working remotely in scenic locations while traveling or living abroad full-time. But Mr. Haynes’s story is A new kind of digital nomad It has emerged since the beginning of the pandemic: those who stay longer, take less flight, and probably take root.

As the world suddenly embraced all kinds of remote work, a wide range of people, including paid employees (not just freelancers and startup founders) and older workers (not just loose young people), You can become a digital nomad more easily. In addition, some countries have introduced new long-term visas and residence permits during pandemics, especially for remote workers.

Matt Haynes, a 32-year-old digital nomad living in Lisbon, will stay in the Portuguese capital much longer than expected.


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Matt Haynes

These trends suggest that not only will the number of digital nomads increase after the pandemic, but there will also be more ways to become one, says Steve King, a partner at Lafayette, California. ..

King’s company studying the future of work helped action 2020 survey Alongside MBO partners, a business management software company, there are 3,457 American digital nomads.

“The scale at which digital nomads grew during the pandemic was a shock to us,” says King.

According to the survey, 10.9 million American workers will be digital nomads in 2020, up 49% from the previous survey in 2019. Most of these increases are due to people working in traditional jobs (96%) rather than freelancers (only 12%). ..

“Another thing that surprised us was age diversity,” he says. Of the digital nomads surveyed, 42% were millennials, 19% were Generation Z, 22% were Generation X, and 17% were Baby Boomers, which were relatively evenly distributed.

Many countries, including Estonia, Bermuda and Mauritius, Introduced special visa and residence permit Bring this ever-growing pool of digital nomads to court during the pandemic.

Margaret Manning, a 61-year-old British businessman who worked in Singapore for 10 years, applied for a 12-month welcome stamp visa from Barbados specifically designed for remote workers last October. She was approved within 24 hours and moved there with her husband in January. She says visa restrictions in Singapore increased during the pandemic. Moving to an island that actively courted foreign workers sounded fascinating, especially when she worked to launch an early-stage artificial intelligence startup.

“I was convinced that it would be a crucible for like-minded entrepreneurs,” she says.

Rent a house or set up a workspace has been seamless so far, and moreover, the island’s social life is “incredibly crazy,” she says.

“You need to be a little careful, otherwise you’ll be out for 24 hours,” she says.

Digital nomads have been criticized in the past for their high carbon dioxide emissions and their failure to engage with locals. The new type may be different. “Digital nomads often want to experience the local culture, but in reality they tend to be separated as subcultures,” says postdoctoral researcher Olga Hanonen, who studies digital nomads at the University of Eastern Finland.

American health coach Cindy Burkhart, 57, hiked this year to a 15th-century fortress near her residence in Split, Croatia.


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Cindy Burkhart

Cindy Burkhart, 57, an American health coach who has lived in Croatia since March 2020, was approved this month for a one-year residence permit launched by the country during the pandemic. She was in the ninth country in nine months when the pandemic pushed her into the seaside town of Split. Long stays urged her to seek long stays and changed her mindset about what the life of a digital nomad would be.

She plans to live in another Croatian city in the fall, perhaps Zagreb or Dubrovnik, and learn Serbo-Croatian.

Digital nomads in Western countries often advertise the low cost of living abroad as an important attraction. However, their finances can be troublesome in other ways. Catherine di Paolo, a Bali-based digital nomadic tax accountant and former Australian tax accountant, said her country’s tax law can change at any time and needs to be proactive.

Last year, many of her American clients had to work hard to get a stimulus check while living abroad. She advised them to keep a close income record in case the IRS followed up on their claims.

Another consideration for digital nomads is Covid-19 vaccination, as vaccination rates and access vary widely from country to country. According to the Oxford University project Our World in Data, Barbados has fully vaccinated about 26% of the population and Croatia about 32%, while Indonesia, which has a hotspot for digital herders in Bali, has less than 6%. Not vaccinated. Burkhardt and Manning were able to be vaccinated in their new country of residence, but Haynes of Portugal was not. (He expects to qualify for a residence permit, but “there’s a lot of inconsistent information,” he says.)

As digital nomadic lifestyles become more accessible, workers can self-classify into different streams. Domestic nomads People who work far from scenic spots in the United States, long-distance transporters with new extended visas, and old school nomads who are eager to resume their weekly or monthly excursions.

33-year-old Italian Saramagna Bosco lived in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for four months.


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Sarah Magna Bosco

Sarah Magna Bosco, a 33-year-old Italian who traveled three and a half years full-time while working in a remote location, says her pace slowed during the pandemic. She spent four months at a time in southern France, Italy and Mexico, enjoying all of them. But now she feels itchy trying to get out on the road again.

She plans a short two- to four-week trip to places such as Kenya and the Czech Republic through Hacker Paradise, a community of about 900 remote workers around the world. She suspects that her age group may not be eligible for a new type of telecommuting visa.

“Freedom of travel is still important to me, and that’s why I chose this lifestyle first,” she says.

Write to Krithika Varagur at krithika.varagur@wsj.com

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A new way to work anywhere in the world

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