Is This the Rise of the Digital Nomad?

Protracted lock downs are making our old way off life impossible to go back to. It’s also introduced some great options for digital nomads.

August 31, 2020

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

digital nomad The stay-home and lock down orders in many countries have forced businesses to pivot quickly. Retailers who relied heavily on brick-and-mortar models are making their e-commerce capabilities a priority. They hastily found a way to do curb-side delivery of goods, and partnered with courier services.

In-person services like hair stylists and nail techs are taking the concierge approach: they come to your home.

Services like banking and lending are all happening on apps and platforms where documents are digitally signed.

Many white collar businesses have moved to cloud based applications to get their jobs done.

When it went from two weeks to three months, to now seven months, it clearly signaled to the businesses that they needed to find a more long-term solution. After watching how restaurants were jerked around with all sorts of acrobatic new mandates, it only makes sense that offices took heed, and made arrangements to allow telecommuting where they could.

At first it was, “This is only temporary.”

Then it was, “No word on when we can return so just make yourselves comfortable.”

And then a funny thing happened: businesses and employees alike went from wondering if remote work was sustainable, to asking each other, “Why bother going back?”

Businesses realized productivity was not compromised with a remote staff. Likewise, there was no real rush to renovate the offices to meet ever-changing regulations for public safety, so they decided to pocket the savings of an expensive downtown lease and make the virtual office their new normal.

With Wall Street and universities alike finding ways to move on virtually, that means lower occupancy in commercial and residential real estate. That means restaurants go out of business, forever.

Many of the tech giants like Shopify, Amazon, Adobe, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce, and Upwork are out of the office for good. This sudden flexibility in location drove people out of the expensive cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York into more affordable suburbs or even into more affordable states.

With internet services and bandwidths only improving, and people acclimating to the remote way of life, the rebound for these big cities is going to be rather weak. The corporate real estate market is looking down the barrel of a huge bust.

The emigration out of large cities is due in great part to those cities losing their allure. What brought businesses and people to large cities? For businesses, it was talent pools, prestige, and the robust amount of entertainment and dining experiences they could host their clients to. For individuals, it was opportunity and high class fair. They could go to 5-star restaurants or their favorite local spot, attend critically acclaimed performances, and live in the vibe of a bustling city.

They tolerated the premiums, and turned a blind eye to the deterioration of their city for that lifestyle.

Now what? With indefinite shutdowns, tepid reopening attempts, and entertainment canceled until further notice, the urban decay becomes that much more pronounced.

So people move away. They get used to the affordable cost of living. The savings they see in their bank accounts. The flexible schedules. The corporations are not upset with their savings in real estate and ancillary office expenses.

The increasing number of remote workers who once enjoyed living in big city culture are now in a unique position to experiment with life outside the US. If it doesn’t matter where you work from, why not?

Co-working spaces are cropping up. And what’s more: countries are still offering some great deals on temporary residency for digital nomads! We covered a good number of countries, especially in the Caribbean that are offering special packages for individuals and families for long-term stays.

I’m happy to say my favorite island has joined them! Anguilla is offering an affordable package for both individuals and families to stay up to one year on the island. In fact, they are prioritizing long-term applicants over short-term.

This isn’t just for the single graphic designer. Anguilla is making this very accommodating for families. The incremental costs are not at all steep, and they even offer how-to guides on getting children registered for homeschooling.

Anguilla is an acclaimed destination spot for tourists, but even though it’s only 35 square miles in size, it has 33 beaches that are quiet and remain relatively sparse. It’s actually not difficult to observed distancing out there.

A little good news for your east coast folks, Anguilla is in the same EST time zone. Imagine working from an island paradise for a year!

The fees include two Covid-19 tests that each applicant would have to take upon arrival and while there. It also includes a digital work permit for those planning to stay for longer than three months:

To stay on the island for less than three months, accepted individuals are required to pay $1,000, and a family of four is charged $1,500. Individuals who plan to stay in Anguilla for between three months and a year must pay $2,000, and the fee for a family of four is $3,000.

If you are among the many who enjoys location independence, whether you are new to this space or a long-time veteran, I highly recommend checking out Anguilla. Who knows? You might develop a taste for living abroad.

The commuting to a physical office and 9-to-5 work model were on their way out. The lock downs just expedited the inevitable. Things aren’t going back to the way they were, not for work, or entertainment and leisure. The immutable fact is: there’s nothing to go back to. This is devastating news for some, and a remarkable opportunity for others.

If you are interested in any of the myriad temporary residencies, let’s set up a conference to get the ball rolling. No better time than now to indulge in an island adventure.

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