For many, sitting in the office chatting to colleagues over a morning coffee can seem like almost a lifetime ago. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was feared those working remotely were less productive. But it didn’t take long before the opposite was realised, and for many, productivity and hours worked were shown to be on the up.
With an increased work-life balance, more flexibility and less distractions, the ability to work remotely comes with many benefits. Both to the employer and the employee.
At the start of the pandemic, many people living in London decided to flock to more idyllic locations. In October of 2020, Airbnb reported that over half (51%) of UK office workers have thought about living elsewhere during or post-lockdown. They also reported searches for homes with WiFi increased by 10% in September 2020 compared to September 2019, showing the importance of connectivity when looking for a place to work remotely.
“As businesses have adjusted to remote working, many of the barriers to remote working have been swept away and people are embracing the idea that they can live and work anywhere.” - Emmanuel Marill, Airbnb’s regional director of Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The pandemic has shifted many businesses to go remote permanently. A survey by Gartner revealed over two-thirds (74%) of organisations plan to permanently shift employees to remote work after the COVID-19 crisis ends. Therefore, as vaccines become distributed further, it seems working abroad will become an increasingly popular option.
There are two main options when it comes to remote working abroad. These are usually under the terms of a ‘digital nomad’ or as a freelancer. So, what’s the difference?
Digital nomads are those who travel frequently to different destinations and tend to work in a variety of locations including coffee shops, the beach, hotel rooms etc.
Whereas freelancers are often self-employed and work for themselves or as independent contractors for companies. They tend to work in the same place for longer, or just from home.
Some countries that offer remote working visas include:
The Caribbean islands
Many of the Caribbean islands have the opportunity to apply for a remote working visa. However many of these come at a great cost. Bermuda for example has a ‘Work from Bermuda certificate’ which allows digital nomads and remote workers to stay in the country for up to a year. Unlike many visas, this requires no minimum income amount. You are just required to fill out the relevant paperwork and pay a USD $263 visa fee.
The Cayman Islands on the other hand require proof of an annual salary of at least USD $100,000 or $150,000 for couples. The global Citizen Certificate (GCC) allows travellers to stay in the country for up to two years. They also have a substantially higher application fee of $1,469/
Costa Rica remains a very popular choice amongst digital nomads. From beautiful beaches to impressive waterfalls and jungle, it’s no wonder so many nomads flock to the country each year.
Their freelance visa is called ‘Rentista’, and allows those on the visa to stay for up to two years. However, the downside is that those on the visa must establish their own business or work on their own, you cannot work as an employee. You also need to prove an income of at least $2,500 for two years or deposit $60,000 into a Costa Rican bank. The visa fee is only $250 and documents must be translated into Spanish and authenticated in the home country language.
At the beginning of 2021, Croatia began issuing visas for digital nomads, through the introduction of the long-stay visa.
The country is pretty flexible in regard to the company the remote worker can work for. Those on the visa can work as a remote employee or from their own registered company abroad. You can apply for a 12-month period, however if you apply for the visa whilst in the country, you could gain up to 15 months (90 days as a tourist, 12 months on the working visa). You are not allowed to provide services for Croatian businesses.
Spain is a great choice for digital nomads and the self-employed. With great culture, a good location and idea climate, Spain is an incredibly popular destination both for work and holidays.
The Self-Employed Visa the country offers will grant you a year’s stay. When applying you need to prove you have sufficient funds to ‘establish and maintain employment indefinitely’ and there will be a background check. The visa cost is EUR $318 for nationalities outside of the US and Canada.
Germany is another top destination for recreation and work. The country has a ‘Resident permit for a freelance employment’ visa, which allows freelancers and self-employed people to live in Germany for 6-months up to 3-years. Those eligible are expected ‘to have a positive economic or cultural impact.’
To gain this visa, proof of address, health insurance, financial self-sustainability, and work from clients based in Germany, is required. Plus the fee of EUR $100 for the visa.
The states of Australia are a hub for remote workers, plus the climate and laid-back lifestyle make it an incredibly popular choice.
The Australia working holiday visa (417) allows you to work for 12 months. If you wish this to be extended, three months of specific work (typically farm work) is required. However, you must be between 18 and 35 years of age to qualify. The cost of a first-year working holiday visa is AUD $485.
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