What is ‘home’? Is it an ideal, a state of mind, or a physical place? If home is wherever you’re happy, and your employer allows you to work from “home”, the “digital nomad” lifestyle is an enviable one, with the potential for many passport stamps and priceless memories.
Few destinations have embraced the present and future of the digital nomad lifestyle quite like Portugal, and that now includes the launch of a village specifically intended to draw in visitors tired of their own home office views, wherever they may be. Let’s just say the views in Madeira are pretty breathtaking…
Digital Nomads: The Rising Trend
Being a digital nomad is the concept of living in a country for an extended period of time, but typically working for a company based outside of the one you’re living in, to avoid breaking any laws.
You work online, get paid online, so what’s tying you to “one” place? It was once only a dream for most who don’t work in web design, or other internet based jobs, but with more businesses embracing the benefits of an empowered workspace, the market is expanding.
It’s the idea that if you work for a company in one place, any place should be happy to have you spend your income in their country, and contribute to local economies. This typically fuels jobs for locals, in support of the digital nomads coming into the country.
Good internet, great views, curious and delicious food, nice weather, exciting culture and cheap rent – those are the main draws for digital nomads who wish to trade their current work from home (WFH) status quo for one of adventure, in a foreign destination.
While Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other beloved Southeast Asian destinations ticking “all the boxes” above have always been top picks for nomadic travelers, those countries are currently off limits to most visitors, so people are looking elsewhere. A few European countries are leading the charge, including Estonia and Portugal.
Dubai, Barbados and Bermuda also recently entered the ring, with their own special digital worker visas.
Portugal, as of February 1st, 2021 will take the most significant leap yet, with the islands of Madeira embracing nomads with their very own village. Ponta Do Sol will become the first pilot project village aiming to create a symbiotic relationship between locals and digital nomads, who are actively being encouraged to visit.
Locals will remain, but infrastructure, and help for new transplants will be in place, as will wicked fast wifi. The idea is to create the first community with purpose driven help and amenities for nomads taking up residence, be it a few weeks or a few months.
According to the official website, which has been launched in partnership with the Government of Madeira, Startup Madeira and acclaimed digital nomad Gonçalo Hall, there are a variety of areas in the region where nomads are welcome, and registration is open to ‘reserve your spot’. The Madeira Digital Nomad pilot program will run Feb 1-June 30th, 2021.
The only thing that’s not clear: who’s eligible. In theory, as an autonomous region, this may mean anyone who registers for a spot and completes the steps may join, and that current travel restrictions for Portugal may be side stepped.
Ponta Do Sol will simply be the ‘Nomad Village’ of Madeira, where daily activities and opportunities for new arrivals, will be launched, in tandem with locals. Other stunning areas of the Madeira Islands including Funchal will also take part.
What’s perhaps most unique about this, is that it’s the first known time governments have actually partnered with, and learned from long standing nomads, to create the right solutions. Accordingly, there’s complimentary access to a shared working space, with all the tools of a shared office in any major city.
Madeira offers mild temperatures all year round, and has been called the Hawaii of Europe, thanks to the unmatched drama of its natural beauty. Think: cliffs, waterfalls, lush green and crashing waves. Yeah, that sounds a lot better than my office view right now…