Elon Musk may be requiring Tesla's office workers to return to in-person work 40 hours a week or lose their jobs, but he's the exception that proves the rule. Once-fierce opponents of remote work are being forced to admit that going back to how things were before just isn't going to happen, while companies like Airbnb with a remote-friendly outlook are formalizing plans to let employees work anywhere forever.
With so many workers freed from the shackles of the office, it's no wonder interest in so-called digital nomad visas is spiking. These visas allow remote workers to legally live and work in a given country for periods ranging from one month to four years. According to trend tracking site Exploding Topics, searches for the term are up an incredible 1,900 percent over the past five years.
That's interesting news to newly flexible employees, but it's also something to ponder for entrepreneurs in fields like coaching, consulting, and design who can work from wherever they please. With more and more people able to explore longer stays abroad, more and more countries are creating specific programs to lure foreigners for extended stays.
All the countries jumping on the digital nomad visa bandwagon
What started as a trickle of intriguing options for a foreign sojourn during the early days of the pandemic has turned into a flood. As Harvard's Raj Choudhury documented for HBR recently, countries are realizing the economic benefits of attracting revenue-generating, self-sustaining remote workers. Now a full 46 countries have gotten on the nomad visa bandwagon.
Choudhury's article offers a deep dive into the economic advantages of these programs for host countries, if you're interested. But for those intrigued by the possibility of spending a stint living and working abroad, the most interesting part of his piece is his complete list of the countries currently rolling out the welcome mat to remote workers:
Antigua & Barbuda
Cyprus (If you come, get in touch!)
With everything from Baltic chill to tropical paradise on this list, there's somewhere here to appeal to everyone. Choudhury's article offers further details on the visa duration, application costs, tax liability, and income and insurance requirements for each country if one of these locales fires up your imagination.
Whether a long stay in a particular country is right for you is an individual decision, but for those captivated by the idea, I will point out that several founders have written about the incredible benefits to their creativity, mental health, and all around well-being of taking a foreign sabbatical (several also note that time away is probably more doable than many imagine). Meanwhile, academics have shown that substantial time abroad will make you more agile, adaptable, and self-aware.
So if you happen to have the kind of life circumstances that make considering taking one of these countries up on their offer of a digital nomad visa a realistic option, don't be too quick to dismiss the idea as a pipe dream. The pandemic has changed both individuals and the world. Months or years working in an international locale is no longer as far-fetched as it once sounded.