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: 

  1. Anguilla 

  2. Antigua & Barbuda 

  3. Aruba 

  4. Australia

  5. Barbados

  6. Belize 

  7. Bermuda 

  8. Brazil 

  9. Cambodia 

  10. Cape Verde

  11. Cayman Islands 

  12. Colombia 

  13. Costa Rica 

  14. Croatia 

  15. Curacao 

  16. Cyprus (If you come, get in touch!) 

  17. Czech Republic 

  18. Dominica 

  19. Dubai, UAE

  20. Ecuador 

  21. Estonia 

  22. Georgia 

  23. Germany 

  24. Greece

  25. Grenada 

  26. Iceland 

  27. Indonesia 

  28. Italy 

  29. Jamaica 

  30. Malta 

  31. Mauritius 

  32. Mexico

  33. Montenegro 

  34. Montserrat 

  35. Norway 

  36. Panama 

  37. Portugal 

  38. Romania 

  39. Serbia 

  40. Seychelles 

  41. Spain 

  42. Sri Lanka 

  43. St. Lucia 

  44. Taiwan 

  45. Thailand 

  46. Vietnam 

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.