Is it time to combine work with a refreshing change of scene? And the companies helping to accommodate this new lifestyle.
Before lockdown struck, the term “remote worker” conjured up an image of a young hipster with a Mac and a smartphone hanging out in Bali, Budapest, Berlin or the Bahamas. However, since March, when half of us were forced to work from home, a vast new cohort of people, who had spent their entire careers in an office, realised that working from different locations was a real possibility. In the UK, the Prime Minister's announcement on 22 September of a new set of restrictions, that could last up to six months, may inspire many more people (hipsters or otherwise) to explore the idea of a nomadic, or semi-nomadic, working life.
Several destinations hit by the sudden halt in holiday travel have already started to dangle carrots at the 'work-from-anywheres' to make up for the loss of tourist income. Bermuda and Barbados were amongst the first to launch a “digital nomad” visa, with Estonia, Georgia, Croatia and Anguilla also recently introducing attractive visa schemes to entice visitors to live and work there for up to 12 months. Who isn't temped by Anguilla's invitation to swap "grey skies and jumpers for tropical blues and daily temperatures reaching for the 30s”.
Unless you're already earning pots of money, the downside of some of these schemes is that they require proof of high earnings. For example, Barbados wants you to demonstrate earnings of at least US$50,000 per year. While the new working visas have generated a lot of publicity, it may be that most 'half tourists' would prefer shorter-term periods abroad interspersed with stints at home.
The good news is that there is a growing number of specialists (apart from the likes of Airbnb), catering to the expanding remote worker market. Even campervan rental firms are getting in on the act. Indie Campers is launching a long-term subscription service after experiencing a strong rise in requests by remote workers. The company hires vans throughout Europe and offers portable wifi as an optional (and possibly crucial) add-on.
But, if 4 wheels isn't your style, here are a handful of companies offering mid-to long-term stays:
SpotAHome: Launched in 2014, SpotAHome is an online rental platform with flats in many European cities, but mostly located in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Minimum stay is 30 days.
NomadX: launched in July 2020 to create a place where digital nomads could find low-cost, mid-term accommodation. Based in Lisbon, the company has around 2,000 properties in 16 locations in Portugal.
Vita Brevis Travel: in addition to organising traditional holidays and adventurous sabbaticals, this specialist travel concierge caters to nomads seeking the more luxurious end of the spectrum, and can organise mid to long term rentals almost anywhere in the world.
Flatio: Most of its properties are in Prague and Budapest, but it also offers rentals in other central European cities, such as Vienna and Lisbon. The company is aimed at remote workers and tourists looking to stay for months rather than weeks, and offers everything from furnished studios to six-bedroom apartments.
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