Riding a Global Wave: The Increasingly Popular Lifestyle of The Digital Nomad

Around 23 million Americans live a digital nomadic lifestyle, accounting for approximately 65% of the global population of digital nomads.

The digital nomadic lifestyle has become extremely popular over the past few years. The pandemic changed people's views on what was possible with remote work, and those who experienced the benefits were reluctant to return to the office when the time came. For many, working remotely means they have the ability and freedom to travel and live internationally while still earning an income. This rapid increase in people living and working all over the globe has meant that immigration rules in many countries needed to adapt to accommodate digital nomads. While some countries are managing it, others are falling behind.

Digital Nomads' contributions to the global economy are in the billions. These people are not tourists on vacation; they are not seeking permanent immigration status. This requires a new approach to accommodate their dynamic work and travel arrangements.

Embracing a Borderless Lifestyle

The first and foremost reason that someone becomes a digital nomad is to travel and experience new cultures. For someone who can work remotely from a computer, they can stay for more considerable lengths of time than they would be able to on a short vacation. This flexibility creates an immersive experience for those individuals.

Living in a foreign country helps people better understand their chosen location's culture. They can appreciate local community issues, create authentic connections in unfamiliar places, and gain respect for traditions and a way of life they're not used to experiencing. 

Of course, this way of life is not for everyone — but for some, it has become necessary for their mental health and for creating a healthy relationship with work. 

“If we could be somewhere, experiencing the world in a beautiful setting while working, challenging ourselves, growing professionally, enjoying a community of like-minded people, and connecting locally, what's stopping us?” says Michael Youngblood, founder of Unsettled. “After a centuries-long quest for permanent settlement, we have rather suddenly rediscovered our nomadic roots.”

Navigating Immigration Challenges

Technology means that the availability of working as a digital nomad is a growing way of life. While some countries realized the benefits of welcoming remote workers into their communities and updated immigration policies to reflect this new future, others are still much more strict. 

For example, those non-citizens looking to work remotely in the United States must be careful about their visa type. There is no specific digital nomad visa, and you can easily be turned around at the border if you have the incorrect one. It's essential to do your research.

In the case of digital nomad and freelance writer Evie (name changed), “I started working remotely for a company in New York on a 1099 form, and I was living with friends in San Francisco. I went to visit my home country, but when I came back, I was stopped at the border and told what I was doing was illegal because I was on a tourist visa.”

“Immigration officials stated that I was ‘stealing jobs from Americans,' even though this remote freelance work was available to anyone worldwide,” she explains. This way of life has grown so rapidly that many countries can't keep up.

Where Can You Get a Digital Nomad Visas

There are approximately 66 countries that offer some form of digital nomad visa or permit. This visa allows temporary immigration, usually granting participants around a year to live in a country. In some cases, you must prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself. Tax exemptions are also offered by some countries, depending on where you choose to live.

Canada is one of the newest countries to introduce a visa enticing the digital nomads offering six months in the country. Your employer must be outside of Canada, but you can stay for another three years if offered employment within the country. Australia's and the United Kingdom's immigration laws are similar to the United States' in that they have no specific visa. Provided you're working for a company outside of the place you intend to stay in, you can remain on a tourist visa.

Estonia provides a digital nomad visa for up to one year, while Georgia offers a visa allowing digital nomads and freelancers to stay for up to a year. Mexico's temporary resident visa permits remote workers to live there for up to two years and can be renewed.

Portugal's “D7 Visa” suits retirees, remote workers, and freelancers who want to live and work there. Croatia offers a digital nomad visa for up to one year, and Barbados introduced the “Barbados Welcome Stamp” visa, which allows global citizens to stay on the island for up to one year. 

Costa Rica's “Rentista Visa” is available for individuals with a stable income, including remote workers. At the same time, Antigua and Barbuda's “Nomad Digital Residence” visa allows digital nomads to live in the country for up to two years.

Always check for updates and verify the latest information with official government sources or relevant embassies and consulates, as visa policies may have changed.

Issues Faced by Digital Nomads

Of course, immigration laws are not the only issues with this new global workforce. In addition to types of insurance, legal compliance, taxation, and stay duration pose hurdles, prompting policymakers to reconsider regulations and create new visa categories. 

Societal impacts may include labor rights, social security, and citizenship debates. Digital nomads challenge workplace norms and redefine how people work and live. Finding a balance between their needs and fair integration into host countries becomes crucial. Embracing the advantages while addressing legal, economic, and social challenges will shape the future of this nomadic workforce.

Certain digital nomads may opt for increased mobility, making a 12-month digital nomad visa less appealing. Nevertheless, these visas are ideal for those who desire an extended stay to fully embrace a country's offerings while working remotely. If these visas come with tax and other benefits, it makes sense to take advantage of them.

In the meantime, if a country you would love to live in is missing from the list welcoming digital nomads, check what visas, if any, are available, and ensure you follow the rules of your stay.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.