Bringing the office with you: digital nomads set the trend for a new way of life

Answer emails while the hammock swings in the warm breeze.

Bringing the office with you: digital nomads set the trend for a new way of life

Answer emails while the hammock swings in the warm breeze. Dip your toes in the sand at a virtual conference. Working from cafés, the view from the window is always different, sometimes the sea, sometimes mountains, sometimes a pulsating city. Christina Leitner has been traveling the world for eleven years, mainly with the seasons.

She often spends the European winter in Cape Town, on the southern tip of Africa. For the ski season, she flies back to her home country, Tyrol, for a few weeks. The rest of the year is planned freely. Last year it was London, New York and Zambia. South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Georgia and Mexico City are on the agenda for 2023.

The freelance translator and travel journalist sometimes works in co-working offices, sometimes in restaurants or Airbnbs. Her clients never really know where she is on the globe, says Leitner, but nobody cares. The next destination of the 47-year-old Austrian is determined either by the next assignment or by personal interest. "I choose countries that aren't on everyone's list, where there's still a bit of adventure and where I add value, either linguistically or culturally," she says. In Mexico City, she takes Spanish courses; Street food is what draws her to Southeast Asia.

Trendsetters instead of dropouts

The corona pandemic has turned digital nomadism from a fringe phenomenon into a trend. More and more countries are offering visas that allow temporary remote work. Recently Namibia, Ecuador, Belize, Malaysia, Albania introduced visa facilitation for digital nomads. Countries in Europe such as Malta, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece and Hungary are also included.

The motives are varied. Countries want to counteract corona-related losses in tourism; Hybrid working has gained acceptance through positive experiences during the pandemic. Some countries want to counteract a shortage of skilled workers and an aging society. Digital nomads are no longer regarded as dropouts, but rather as pioneers of a new lifestyle.

With its European flair and Mediterranean weather, Cape Town is considered the "digital nomad capital" of Africa. Good infrastructure, fast internet as well as beaches, mountains and an inexpensive but high-quality wine and food culture are other attractions. Nairobi, the capital of safari country Kenya, is also popular with digital nomads on the continent.

International sense of community

Finding out where it is best to live and work is now easy. Digital nomads freely exchange tips and experiences on numerous Internet forums. They see themselves as an international community. The company, which specializes in creating resumes, especially for freelancers, has almost 90,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag

Within Europe, London is therefore the top destination with around 47,000 posts - because English is spoken there and the culture and entertainment scene is booming. According to the analysis, those who want to work on the beach often choose the Arab economic metropolis of Dubai or Southeast Asia.

The Indonesian island of Bali in particular, with its relaxed lifestyle and affordable dream accommodation, is at the top of many people's wish lists. In order to attract more foreigners for longer stays, the authorities are discussing offering a "digital nomad visa" to interested parties. Since September, it has been possible to work tax-free in Bali for six months with the "B211A visa".

In Latin America, Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, aims to attract around 22,000 digital nomads by 2023. Therefore, Argentina has been offering a special "nomad visa" for six months since May, which can be extended once. "A city develops better when it is connected to the world," says Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.

Southern Europe as a popular destination

It doesn't always have to be far away. A shorter "workation", a mix of work and vacation, is particularly attractive for digital newcomers. You literally relocate to a vacation spot for a few weeks, with the understanding of the employer that employment is primarily about productivity, not serving office hours.

In Valencia, in the sunny east of Spain, 25-year-old Moritz from Ravensburg works for a US PC and printer manufacturer. He has rented a room from the co-living company Cotown, where, according to CEO Vanesa Esteban, people from 30 different countries live and work. Co-living and working is a new concept that has largely emerged from digital nomadism and is rapidly gaining a foothold, especially in cities with high living costs.

Even after three years in Valencia, he feels like he's on permanent vacation, says Moritz, who now speaks fluent Spanish and English. His drive for a life as a digital nomad was wanderlust, restlessness, the search for meaning, professional freedom and work-life balance, the urge to always meet new people and have new experiences.

In Spain, the parliament is voting on a new law that provides a special visa for digital nomads with a duration of up to five years. Since October 30, Portugal has had a new visa that allows foreigners to work in Portugal for up to a year. Italy also wants to amend a law to enable qualified workers to live as digital nomads and thus attract well-trained specialists. The hope is that at some point these people will also work for Italian companies or revitalize orphaned villages.

Everything fits in one suitcase

The Austrian Sami Demirel ended up in Turkey. A year ago, the 30-year-old freelancer gave up his life in Berlin and rented a hut in the mountains of Antalya on the Mediterranean for the winter. Previously he was in Azerbaijan, next on the agenda is Georgia. Demirel works in online marketing, his clients are based in Germany. In Turkey he gets more for his money, says Demirel. What he pays for an entire apartment in Antalya would cost a room in a shared flat in Berlin. "Instead of a doner kebab, I can go to a nice restaurant here." He enjoys the "freedom and independence" as a digital nomad, only the loneliness gnaws at him a bit.

She can no longer imagine living in a fixed place, says Leitner: "I no longer want to do without the international aspect." In return, she is willing to give up comforts, such as an everyday routine or her own furniture. "Actually, my whole life fits in one suitcase. You don't need more. Everything else is superfluous ballast."