Remote Working in 2021

Where and how to work in vacation spots around the globe

Remote Working in 2021

Where and how to work in vacation spots around the globe

terena-bell

Molly Lipson

Molly Lipson is a freelance writer and activist based in the UK.

It’s been a long year since the world was hit by this pandemic and our lives altered dramatically. Some of those changes were short-lived — famous musicians’ Instagram Live gigs quietly petered out while sourdough making was swiftly replaced by sourdough eating — but more significant differences have lasted the duration. Remote working became an emergency default option for many people during lockdowns, and it’s a trend that looks set to stay. Hoping to take advantage of this move are countries around the world seeking ways to recuperate severe financial losses from the pandemic-induced lack of tourism.

For EU citizens, freedom of movement helps facilitate working abroad, and US residents can consider transplanting to a new state or city to try something new. However, for those looking to go further afield, hefty visa restrictions around employment have kept the dream a fantasy. For freelancers, self-employed workers, and business owners it can be easier to obtain a working permit for many countries, but until now it’s been almost impossible for those working remotely on a company’s payroll.

The localization industry has always had its fair share of freelancers — it’s built on the backbone of freelance translators, after all. The past year’s lockdowns has meant many other jobs in the industry became remote, too.

Luckily for would-be digital nomads, the growing trend in remote working has not gone unnoticed by governments all over the world. A host of new visa programs have been launched over the last six months as countries seek to attract foreign nationals following a harrowing year for the travel and tourism industry. Some have high costs, others stringent monthly salary requirements, but there are some unique destinations with no or very low costs and few restrictions. Whether traveling with friends, family, or even taking the whole office abroad, 2021 offers a range of exciting opportunities for seasoned and new nomadic workers.

Remote working on the rise

In the US, remote working had already experienced an impressive rise, having increased 173% between 2005-2018. According to Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, this is likely to rise even higher. Lister has predicted that between 25-30% of the global workforce will be working remotely by the end of 2021. Indeed, companies like Fujitsu and Twitter announced in the summer of 2020 that remote working would remain an option for staff even after lockdown. These early commitments have since been matched by Facebook, Shopify, and Upwork.

This is driven in part by demand from employees who have overwhelmingly enjoyed working from home over the pandemic. An ONS study recently revealed that over 80% of Brits who switched to remote working during the pandemic have said they want to stay working that way and almost half would be prepared to take a pay cut in order to continue working from home. The figures are much the same for the US and companies are taking note. As Tom Harnish, Senior Scientist at Global Workplace Analytics, explained: “Leading organizations are using [remote work] as an attraction and retention strategy.”

The technology to support home working across time zones and languages is also rapidly improving and easing the process. By June 2020, Zoom’s revenue more than doubled in comparison to the previous year. Zoom and other popular videochat tools like Microsoft Teams and Google Hangout aren’t just used by employees — schools and colleges have engaged with online learning to ensure children, young people, and those in further education are able to continue their studies.

The benefits

The advantages of remote working cover myriad categories: environmental impact, health, stress, productivity, and finances. Without retracting from its wider devastation, it became clear early on in the pandemic that there were some positive impacts on the environment due to less commuting and business travel (or any travel). A majority of people report feeling less stressed from work-related activities given the opportunity to work from home, and all other things being equal, this links closely to improved efficiency: fewer sick days, greater ability to avoid brainfog, and fewer distractions (assuming fewer distractions exist in the remote workspace than at the office) all influence remote working productivity.

Financially, both employer and employee greatly benefit from remote working. According to figures from Global Workplace Analytics, companies can save $11,000 annually for each employee that works remotely only half the time. On top of this are savings in office costs — providing home workers with adequate equipment works out as ultimately more cost-effective. Most astonishing of all is the combined savings US companies can make by continuing to expand remote working: a total of more than $500 billion a year, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

On their part, employees working remotely save $4,000 per year on average by avoiding commutes and other expenses. Along with the mental health, wellbeing, and work-life balance benefits, this influences the growing demand of employers offering remote working. As businesses start to rebuild after the pandemic-induced financial crash, they will want to attract top-caliber candidates, so providing a competitive offer is crucial.

New visa programs for remote employees

Although travel restrictions remain in place in some countries, long-term travel for work purposes is less affected. As of February 2021, travel was still permitted between most EU countries and between EU and non-EU countries (including the USA, Canada, and Australia). The challenge of a pandemic is that travel bans are subject to last-minute changes, but as we progress through 2021 and see large-scale vaccination programs roll out worldwide, this looks likely to settle as time goes on. In reality, even a substantial quarantine is not much of an obstacle for remote workers: as long as you’re staying somewhere with good wifi, your ability to do your job remains unhindered.

Here is a breakdown of the various visa programs on offer as of 2021 and beyond with key requirements. Links are provided with further details for each country. All information up to date and accurate as of March 2021 and all costs are listed in US dollars.

 

 

Where to work

 

 

Boats floating in Happy Bay, Anguilla.

A beautiful paradise in the Caribbean lined with white sand beaches, employed visitors can spend any length of time here and families are encouraged to join.

Visa requirements and costs
$1,000 for those staying under three months, $2,000 for those staying three-plus months. The cost includes two COVID-19 tests and a work permit.

Other requirements
Families are welcome, but if staying less than three months, they will be required to pay an extra $1,500 altogether. This is increased to $3,000 if they’re staying longer.

How to apply
Apply via the Anguilla Tourist Board: CLICK HERE

Flamingos wade in the shallows of the Caribbean on the Aruba shoreline.

Another Caribbean island, this Dutch and Papiamento speaking idyll close to Venezuela is cheerfully inviting workers to participate in its One Happy Workstation program, aimed specifically at US nationals.

Visa requirements and costs
Open to anyone with a US passport, nomadic workers can stay for up to 90 days. No visa required — instead you have to book with one of the island’s official packages that includes discounted accommodation, food, local activities, and wifi.
Other requirements This visa allows you to work, but it’s also available for non-working family members, children, and retired people too.

How to apply
Book your desired package at: CLICK HERE

Water spray hitting land during sunset at Ragged Point in eastern Barbados.

Birthplace of Rihanna, this was the first Caribbean island to offer a pandemic-inspired work permit for foreign nationals from around the world. Named the 12-Month Barbados Welcome Stamp, travelers can stay for up to a year and are encouraged to relocate with their families.

Visa requirements and costs
Applications cost $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families, but there is no separate cost for the visa itself, and you are not required to pay income tax while staying there. This is open to all foreign nationals.

Other requirements
You must be earning $50,000 per year or more to be eligible for the visa and provide proof of employment.

How to apply Apply
Apply through the government’s dedicated 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp’s online form: CLICK HERE

Bermuda’s Their Majesties Chappell, St. Peter’s Church, is the oldest surviving Anglican church in continuous use outside the British Isles.

Deserved to be known for much more than a triangle of disappearance, Bermuda joins its neighbors in offering its one-year Certificate specifically for remote employees and university students engaged in remote learning. Special arrangements also allow children to be enrolled in local schools.

Visa requirements and costs
Fees are on the low end: it costs just $263 to apply, making this one of the cheapest options for nomadic workers.

Other requirements
Proof of employment is required, and those with previous convictions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis for “moral turpitude.” Certificate holders can apply for a renewal at the end of the year.

How to apply
Use the online form and submit all supporting documents together at: CLICK HERE

A hawksbill turtle swims near a reef off the coast of Grand Cayman.

Offering longer opportunities but only to higher earners, this beautiful paradise is seeking to attract candidates to its Global Citizen Concierge Program.

Visa requirements and costs
Open to individuals earning a minimum of $100,000 per year, or couples with a combined salary of $150,000. For families with children, that increases to $180,000 altogether. The application fee is $1,469 for one or two people, plus $500 per dependent.

Other requirements
Children must enroll in local private schools or homeschool-ing. Applicants must provide proof of earnings and employ-ment, a notarized bank letter, and valid health insurance for the duration of their stay.

How to apply
If you’re lucky enough to meet these stringent criteria, apply at: CLICK HERE

A view of Dubai skyscrapers from Jumeirah island.

January’s hotspot for influencers fleeing lockdown (and receiving extensive criticism for doing so), Dubai is now open to those with more traditional jobs with its one-year virtual working program.

Visa requirements and costs
Applicants must earn at least $5,000 per month, which is enticingly not subject to income tax. The program itself costs just $287 plus a processing fee, and holders are eligible for all state benefits like schools and utilities.

Other requirements
Nomadic workers heading for Dubai will need valid health insurance and can apply for renewal at the end of the year.

How to apply
Apply by first expressing interest on Visit Dubai’s online form: CLICK HERE

Street view with gate tower in the old town of Tallinn, Estonia.

This northeastern European country has launched the most simply-named work scheme so far: the Digital Nomad Visa. Open to self-employed and freelance workers as well as traditional employees, this is available for most foreign nationals. Plus, its fees are very low making this an unusual but highly recommended option.

Visa requirements and costs
The application fee is just $94-$117 depending on desired length of stay, which can extend to a total of a year.

Other requirements
You must prove a monthly income of at least $4,130 in the six months leading up to your departure. Visas will be processed within 30 days and partners and dependents will also be issued one.

How to apply
There are a few stages to the application process so start early here: CLICK HERE

Gergeti Trinity Church (Tsminda Sameba), near the village of Gergeti in Georgia, under Mount Kazbegi.

Georgia the country, not the US state, may not be the first place you imagine your nomadic work stay, but those who prefer mountains and quaint historic towns will love the Remotely from Georgia program, open to most foreign nationals working freelance and full time. The best part is, it’s entirely free.

Visa requirements and costs
A minimum monthly salary of $2,000 is required, and you must be planning to stay for at least 180 days.

Other requirements
You’ll need valid health insurance for the duration of your stay.

How to apply
Start the online application process at: CLICK HERE

Iceland’s Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon carrying icebergs into the sea.

It may be cold, but it has some of the most extraordinary land-scapes on the planet. The country’s new 180-day visa is aimed at higher earners with a top-end monthly salary requirement. Its application process is a bit strange, but on the plus side, its fees are very low. The application form also provides the option to select non-binary instead of a gender.

Visa requirements and costs
Approximately $60 application fee per person, and a monthly salary of at least $7,715 for individuals and a combined salary of roughly $10,000 per couple.

Other requirements
Rather strangely for a digital nomad visa, the application must be sent in paper form by mail to Dalvegur 18, 201 Kópavogur. You will be notified of your success and issued your visa on arrival in Iceland.

How to apply
Pay the processing fee here: CLICK HERE then fill out the application form using the payment receipt number here: CLICK HERE

Purchasing fruit and vegetables at a stall in a traditional central market in Port Louis, Mauritius.

This country’s offering, which they’ve called the Premium Travel Visa, is not only targeting the workforce, but also general visitors and retired people who wish to stay for up to a year. This is another totally free visa with almost no requirements, making it an easy and exciting option for all.

Visa requirements and costs
The only requirement is to provide evidence to support your ability to stay long-term.

Other requirements
Just health insurance. How to apply The Mauritian Economic Development Board has clearly laid out the process here: CLICK HERE

Expected in 2021

Some countries have declared their new visa programs for remote workers, but have yet to officially launch them. Take Costa Rica, for example. This unmilitarized country covered in extraordinary tropical rainforest is soon to release its Remote Worker visa eligible for up to one year. Added bonus: nomadic workers are exempt from paying income tax.

Inspired by the success of its neighbor Estonia, Lithuania had originally set to open their new e-residency program in January. It’s taking a little longer than planned, but when it’s up and running, it will allow foreign nationals to work, start their own businesses, open bank accounts and access public services in the Eastern European country. The cost to apply is a measly $108.

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