Tallinn, Estonia old city skyline.

Working from home and working remotely can be one in the same, but they can also be so much more, in the most exciting of ways.

After months of lockdown, many are looking for a getaway, and while many countries aren’t all that eager for an influx of short term visitors just popping in to catch a few rays; some are going all in to attract the next workplace trend, offering digital nomad visas, which allow travellers to stay and work for up to a year, or more…

With news that Google will allow employees to work remotely until at least summer 2021, it’s becoming more and more evident that the ‘office grind’ as we know it, may not be back for some time, and to many, embracing digital nomads is long overdue.

Grey Areas For Digital Nomads

For years, countries frowned upon people working while traveling, creating grey areas for countries and visitors alike, with those working remotely simply ticking the ‘tourist’ field on passenger forms, even though they planned to work during their travels.

Destinations were so eager to protect local jobs, they overlooked the fact that most digital nomads were typically already employed, and were simply looking for a more attractive place with an internet connection to do their existing work, not to take away local jobs. Destinations including Vietnam and Bali were among the first ultra popular digital nomad choices.

By making the process easier, countries have realized that benefits to the local economy can outweigh traditional taxation and other means, and that it’s better to capture the daily activities of someone already working for a company and paying taxes elsewhere, than to keep them out.

From garage band web startups to multi national corporations, people are learning to work remotely right now, and these countries are offering attractive perks to “work from home” in a new “home”.

Barbados

Ever thought of throwing it all away and living on a gorgeous island, trading the office for long walks on the beach? Who hasn’t! Now, you can have both, with the Barbados Welcome Stamp. The new visa intends to bring vital long term guests to the tourism dependent island.

At $2,000 for individuals or $3,000 for families, it’s not the cheapest option for digital nomads, but a relatively small price to pay for the right to live and work remotely on the island without any grey areas for up to a year. And no, you don’t need to pay any income tax in Barbados. Even better, visitors are allowed to go and come back as they please during the time, once they’ve entered.

So who can apply for the Barbados Welcome Stamp? Anyone declaring an income of at least $50,000 USD per year, and who can provide a negative covid-19 test required to enter the country right now. Mia Amor Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, even has a lovely welcome message for anyone thinking of giving island life a whirl…

We recognise more people are working remotely, sometimes in very stressful conditions, with little option for vacation. Our new 12 month Barbados Welcome Stamp, a visa that allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.

We believe we have something very special to offer on this little rock we call Barbados. Our friendly people, professional services, commitment to education and importantly safety and security, all make Barbados an ideal place to live for both singles and families.

Thank you for considering making Barbados your new home.

Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister Of Barbados

The Barbados offers a fantastic FAQ page for the Welcome Stamp visa, with all the little details on your mind separating you from dipping your toes in the sand, and trading an after work pint for a lovely rum cooler on the beach.

Estonia

Oh, the places people underestimate in Europe. Estonia is all the charm, without the eyebrow raising price tag. Tallinn is a classically beautiful city with much to offer, and wherever you set course in Estonia, there’s now a ‘DNV’, Digital Nomad Visa to help travellers working remotely, settle.

The new visa aims to bring long term visitors to the country during a downtrend in travel, offering those working remotely for a foreign company, and any freelancers the opportunity to live and work in Estonia for up to a year, without grey area.

The soon to launch Estonia Digital Nomad Visa has an incredibly well thought out landing page, with key info on requirements, such as proving at least €3504 minimum gross monthly income, and the digital ability of any work. Even freelancers and self employed are able to enter, as long as things are registered abroad, and work is for clients “mostly” outside Estonia.

For Americans and other foreign visitors, covid-19 has put a temporary pause on what could be a wonderful opportunity. Estonia is adhering to the EU’s covid-19 entry rules, so only Europeans, Canadians and citizens from a few other countries outside of the EU are currently eligible, for now.

Bermuda

Another glistening island with pink sandy beaches and inimitable sea foam tones along the shores, Bermuda is also jumping into the mix, offering paradise to digital nomads for the yearly fee of $263 per visa.

Bermuda’s digital nomad option presents opportunities to work remotely, provided you can clearly demonstrate current employment, and are cool with some basics like getting health coverage.

So when can you apply to work remotely in Bermuda? The remote work visa launched August 1st, and applications are live. Keep in mind, you’ll need a negative covid-19 test before arrival, you’ll need to take one on arrival, and you’ll need subsequent testing in the days after arrival, which seems fair.

Like Barbados, once approved, visitors are allowed to come and go as they please, for the duration of their 1 year visa. Tourist visas have also been extended from 90 to 180 days, but since the country is offering a grey area free way to live and work, might as well go for the real thing.

Dubai

Dubai has launched an exciting ‘remote work’ visa program, which allows visitors to access healthcare, telecom, utilities and all other benefits of being a local in the UAE, while working remotely for up to a year.

The program requires a minimum income of $5,000 per month USD, and you’ll need a letter from employers, or proof of company ownership for at least a year to take part. There’s a $287 fee, and you’ll need to take out a year of healthcare to be considered, but it could really be worse!

It’s exciting to see yet another country jumping in the mix with enticing options for people who want to trade fake web conferencing backgrounds for real bonafide sunshine.

Mexico

Now may not be the time to take Mexico up on the offer, but once covid-19 is more under control, the country does offer a great long term visitor program, via the Mexico Temporary Resident Visa. The program allows you to live and work in the country for up to four years, with a series of one year extensions.

Like other countries, Mexico has a minimum income requirement for these Temporary Resident visas, which is currently circa $1945 USD per month in gross income, with at least six months of proof.

Tourists can typically arrive visa free into Mexico, but if you intend to apply for one of these visas to live and work in Mexico, entering and re-entering as you please, you’ll need to apply in advance.

Georgia

Not the one with the peaches. Georgia is another underrated option in Eastern Europe. Tbilisi, though, thanks to its iconic and deeply historic architecture, dramatic views and fantastic wine regions nearby has become a tourism favorite in recent years.

Now, digital nomads can experience the wonders of Georgia for themselves, after 14 days of self funded quarantine. Prospective applicants hoping to live in this charming country must provide proof of employment and valid health insurance.

While Europe is technically only open to those from within the European continent, or a handful of outside countries including Canada, Australia and Uruguay, any Americans who successfully apply would be granted exemptions, based on the business and residency nature of the trip.

Full details and application hubs are yet to be launched, but are expected imminently. Until then, you can read up on the visa details here.

Jamaica, Vietnam, Costa Rica And Beyond

While the countries above have new visa programs specifically intended to capture this new style of working, many countries have enjoyed digital nomad expat communities for decades.

In recent years, Vietnam’s cafe culture driven scenes, particularly in cities like Hoi An, and low cost monthly living expenses – think $500 for an amazing apartment – have brought thousands of remote working travellers to this Southeast Asian paradise. Co-working spaces have popped up just about everywhere, and with every day, more are on the way.

Croatia Wants In!

With the success of the Estonian program, Croatia is now eager to become a digital nomad hub, launching a series of government initiatives to bring digital nomads to the country with relatively low cost of living and endless charm.

Working remotely isn’t nearly as difficult or cumbersome as it once was, and though the countries mentioned make for the easiest process right now, so many offer longer term visas which allow certain types of work. If none of these are “doing it” for you, there are plenty of others. They’ll just need a bit more digging…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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