The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Future Of Digital Nomads

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how people work. With more and more companies embracing the concept of “work-from-home,” the digital nomad lifestyle has been on the rise. As per Google Trends, the following countries have been searching more vigorously for “digital nomads” over the last two years, probably to reinvigorate their tourism industry.

digital-nomad-search-volume
However, all this is merely the tip of the iceberg. The freelance economy was growing strong regardless of the pandemic. Here is some data we have sourced from skillscouter.

  • 64% of the freelancers they surveyed have no intention of going back to 9-5 jobs.
  • Over half of the United States population is predicted to take up freelance work in the next five years.
  • An overwhelming majority of freelance workers (91%) believe that the future of freelance work is positive.
  • 67% of freelancers working full time expect their income to rise in the next year.

However, before we get deeper into the merits and demerits of the digital nomad lifestyle, let’s take a step back and understand what this lifestyle really is.

What Are Digital Nomads?

digital-nomad-hammock

The idea of a “digital nomad” has been adequately romanticized over the last half a decade. The term was first heard in the book by the same name, written by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners in 1997. The usual mental picture is that of someone sitting with their laptop next to a beach. The idea is to work remotely, live in a nomadic manner, work out of coffee shops and co-working spaces, and staycationing in different countries. The allure of travel and working from anywhere is what made the concept so romantic in the first place.

Traditional Digital Nomad Hotspots

So, what are the places that are most open and welcome to digital nomads? According to “Nomadlist,” here are the top 8 hotspots:

nomadlist-example

While the scoring system takes multiple factors into account, the main attributes are:

  • Cost of living.
  • Internet quality.
  • Fun.
  • Safety.

So, according to their scoring system, Lisbon, Portugal, is the best digital nomad locale in the world. Inge Hermann, head of international office at ROC van Amsterdam-Flevoland, says about these places. “[They] are really good at offering the needed facilities in terms of quick broadband connections, and they have an array of additional facilities for digital nomads, ranging from yoga classes to entrepreneurial workshops. They offer all the amenities that digital nomads are looking for and at a much lower cost of living.”

Many Aspire The Digital Nomads Lifestyle

As per research by MBO, it looks like the digital nomad lifestyle has become more alluring than ever before. MBO asked adult Americans who aren’t currently digital nomads if they plan on becoming digital nomads over the next 2-3 years.

  • 19 million said “yes.” That’s an 18% increase from 2019
  • 64 million said “maybe.” A 10% increase from 2019.

The COVID-19 induced shift to a “remote-first” model has made the idea of becoming a digital nomad more popular than ever before.

total-digital-nomad-graph

There is another interesting thing to consider here. Of the digital nomads surveyed by MBO Partners:

  • 12% work in IT, more than any other profession.
  • 71% are tech-savvy.
  • The nomads are mostly technological early adopters.

With companies adopting a remote-first workforce, digital nomads could be an affordable source of in-demand technology skills. ROC van Amsterdam-Flevoland’s Hermann, says:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has sped up the process of becoming location independent. Before, many companies, especially outside tech, were still hesitant about working remotely due to all sorts of issues – related to trust, technological [factors] or a lack of facilities there were available at home.”

In fact, let’s go a bit deeper.

How Will COVID-19 Affect The Future Of Nomadism?

The following is the immediate effect that COVID-19 will have on the future of Nomadism, as per the MBO report.

#1 Traditional employees will become nomads

A large and growing number of companies have announced plans to allow a much greater degree of remote work long term. As a result, many employees have already started nomad-ing, and many more are set to join them.

#2 Less Adventurous

According to the report, it looks like nomads will initially travel to different cities within their own country before flying out. Nomads will also choose relative proximity due to a need to be in a similar time zone as coworkers.

#3 Longer Stays

As a direct result of the pandemic, it looks like nomads are more likely to stay put instead of drifting about, with more extended stays in lesser countries as opposed to shorter stays in more countries. In fact, Airbnb has already reported stays of >28 days as one of their fastest-growing rental segments.

How Are Countries Attracting Digital Nomads

digital-nomad-estonia

Countries like Barbados and Estonia have started launching new visa regimes hoping to lure nomads and stimulate local economies hit by the pandemic and make up for some of the lost tourism.

Barbados
Barbados launched a 12-month Welcome Stamp Visa in July to allow remote workers to relocate for one year. Mia Mottley, the Barbados PM, wrote in a welcome message on the page, “Our new… (visa) allows you to … work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.” The whole process costs around $2000.

Bermuda
Bermuda has a “Work from Bermuda” Certificate Program. Visitors only need to show valid healthcare insurance and pay an online fee of $263. After getting into the program, you can work in the country and leave as often as you like for a year-long period.

Estonia
Estonia’s Digital Nomad visa has been explained as one of the first in the world to target remote-working employees, as well as freelancers and contractors. Applicants must prove that they earn at least $4,100 a month.

Georgia
Georgia has announced plans for a digital nomad visa. Economy minister Natia Turnava said she hoped to shore up the country’s real estate and hospitality sectors via the visa.

Crypto-Friendly Nomad Hotspots

Let’s look at the top 10 crypto-friendly nomad hotspots as determined by Nomadlist and see if they are crypto-friendly or not.

Nomadlist Rank City Country Crypto-Friendly?
1 Lisbon Portugal Yes
2 Prague Czech Republic Yes
3 Belgrade Serbia Yes
4 Canggu, Bali Indonesia Medium
5 Berlin Germany Yes
6 Warsaw Poland Yes
7 Mexico City Mexico Medium
8 Saint Petersburg Russia Medium
9 Istanbul Turkey No
10 Budapest Hungary Medium

Digital Nomads: The New Normal?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways. The scary part is that we probably haven’t experienced more than 50% of its potential implications. We believe that digital nomads are not only going to be more prominent than ever before, but they will form a significant portion of a country’s overall economy. In many ways, digital nomads will become the new normal.