If you’re an entrepreneur who can work remotely, or one of the lucky ones whose employer isn’t requiring you to return to the office full-time, you may be interested in becoming a “digital nomad”—someone who’s able to legally live and work in a foreign country longer than a tourist visa would allow—for a period of one month up to four years.
And you wouldn’t be alone. The rapidly expanding trend saw a growth of 42% in 2021 among Americans with traditional jobs, growing from 6.3 million in 2020 to 10.2 million in 2021, according to the trend-tracking firm Small Business Labs. If you have the flexibility to work from anywhere and would love the freedom to explore other cultures while doing it, there are 46 countries currently willing to host you for an extended stay (many which may be already be on your travel bucket list).
The good news is: Working digitally from another country is advantageous to both you and the host country. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), “… digital nomads invest their time and money in the local economy, without taking local jobs, and build bridges with local knowledge workers—a win-win for both remote workers and local communities.”
Now, we want you to get excited about these possibilities (my pre-kids brain can’t stop imagining flying to new lands with nothing but a laptop, a suitcase, my rusty cross-cultural social skills, and an open mind). But there are several key things to figure out before becoming a “techpat” (remote technology worker). We previously wrote about checking with your employer and verifying the income tax situation, among other important considerations before taking the plunge.
If it doesn’t violate any of your employer’s rules, and you can do so without paying excessive taxes, the next step is to decide where you want to go. There are a host of tropical locales (Ecuador, Barbados, Costa Rica, Cayman Islands), European heavy hitters (Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal) and Southeast Asian tourist destinations (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia). According to HBR, “The visa programs generally cost around $1,000 and exempt visa holders from local income tax for their six-month to two-year stay. They also have income and employment requirements, ensuring that these visa holders can support themselves without taking local jobs.”
See below for the complete list. (And see this article for more details, such as visa cost and length of stay for most of the countries.)
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Cape Verde
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dubai, UAE
- Sri Lanka
- St. Lucia
A simple Google search on the country and “digital nomad visa” will bring you to a host of sites explaining how to apply to each one.
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