Digital nomads are looking to the Caribbean, and beyond, for the perfect work from the beach opportunity.
The pandemic changed how business is conducted in many ways. It forced millions of people across the globe out of their offices to work from home. Some have even decided to escape their urban apartments or suburban homes in exchange for workations in exotic countries.
While working remotely and travelling the world may be a dream for most; it is a reality for those who can work from their computer and are up for the adventure.
One of the biggest trends to skyrocket over the last couple of years is the so-called digital nomad.
The term ‘nomad’ refers to an individual who travels from place to place with no fixed permanent home. Historically, this encompassed shepherds or traders amongst other groups. While the number of nomads globally has declined over the years, there are still several ethnic groups that uphold nomadism as part of their traditions and cultures. This includes the Romani travellers, the Russian Nenets, and the Arab Bedouins.
With the rise of the Internet came another form of wanderer – the digital nomad. The term was first used in 1997 in a book titled “The Digital Nomad” by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. It describes a group of people who can work remotely from anywhere globally as long as they have access to the internet. It championed a way of life with travel at its core, enabling “global citizens” to explore the world whilst working to finance their lifestyle.
Over the years, remote working has become increasingly popular. However, the profile of a typical digital nomad remained limited to retired or semi-retired individuals, wealthy entrepreneurs, or younger workers in sectors like tech or design.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we live and work has shifted considerably. Many office-goers have been forced to work from home, and employers have been able to see the wealth of benefits of this new normal. Not only did this new policy give many employees a better work-to-life balance, but studies have shown that it has also considerably boosted productivity. The traditional “office” environment has evolved to mean any place with an internet connection.
With that realisation, many have opted to pack up their lives in favour of greener pastures. The profile of the digital nomad has begun to widen to include families and couples.
Nations worldwide have taken advantage of this growing demographic by creating an incentive to drive foreign workers to their shores to boost the economy. This has seen an increase in visas catering to remote workers, particularly from countries that have traditionally relied on revenue from tourism – an industry that has faced an economic downturn due to travel restrictions.
Several countries have leapt at this new trend and introduced new “remote work visas” or “digital nomad visas”. These specifically target foreigners to come work and contribute to their economies.
Many of these destinations hope the remote work visas will help generate income and make up for lost tourism revenue due to the pandemic.
The Republic of Estonia was one of the first nations to introduce a digital nomad visa due to the pandemic. Hailed as one of the world’s most technologically advanced nations, Estonia had all the makings to establish a popular visa for remote workers. Not only does it have one of the best internet connections globally, reaching into even the most rural areas, it also has more start-ups than Silicon Valley per capita. In fact, the popular calling and messaging service Skype was created in Estonia, exemplifying the country’s innovative nature, particularly when it comes to tech solutions. The nation is so digitally advanced that citizens can do most things online, including vote.
The nation launched its digital nomad visa allowing individuals to work in Estonia for up to a year at a time. The principal requirements are that you either (1) have an active employment contract with a company registered outside of Estonia, (2) conduct business through your own company registered abroad, or (3) work as a freelancer for clients mostly outside of Estonia.
Estonia also has an e-Residency programme, which over 70,000 people have taken advantage of. The e-residency provides the holder which a unique digital ID card embedded with a chip that allows usage of Estonia’s public and private sector services, and gives the ability to sign documents remotely and encrypt files. The e-residency, which doesn’t require holders to live in the nation, has gained the attention of big names like Japan’s ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
How to Apply
Dominica’s Work in Nature (WIN) visa offers applicants a simpler way of living in harmony with the environment. The WIN visa presents an attractive opportunity for those seeking a secluded experience that still has them connected to the world. Dominica’s official language is English and the island abides by a common law legal system.
How to Apply
Antigua and Barbuda recently launched its new Nomad Digital Residence Programme to allow remote workers to live and work on the island-nation for up to 24 months. The Programme is designed for individuals whose work can be done remotely and who want to do so from a safe Caribbean country.
How To Apply
Aruba’s “One Happy Workation” programme allows US nationals to live and work on the island for up to 90 days and UK nationals for up to 30 days, and offers remote workers package deals and discounted rates at local resorts, hotels, and rental homes.
How to Apply
Barbados entices digital nomads and remote workers looking to escape the pandemic with the Barbados Welcome Stamp. This special 12-month visa allows one to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.
How to Apply
Bermuda’s new Work from Bermuda certificate invites digital nomads to spend up to a year working from the island. The programme is aimed at professionals who normally work from home. They hope the new visa will attract long-term travellers who want to base themselves in an island destination.
How to Apply
The Global Citizen Concierge Programme is an initiative launched by the Cayman Islands. It allows persons employed outside of the Cayman Islands with the financial independence to work remotely to relocate and live in the Cayman Islands for up to 24 months.
How To Apply
Romania is the latest country to jump on the digital nomad visa bandwagon. The Southeastern European country has submitted a draft bill on introducing the visa. If implemented, experts say that it could be the most accessible option on the market with a required minimum monthly income of just over 1,100 euros. Coupled with the country’s low cost of living and high-speed internet, the visa is sure to attract many people outside the typical “wealthy” demographic. Like other initiatives, an applicant must be employed by a company outside the country to be eligible.
It is safe to say that digital nomads now have more options than ever before. The lifestyle is now accessible to a growing number of people who can carve out the life they desire that prioritises their specific needs – from access to quality healthcare and education to proximity to nature.
Remote workers looking for a more permanent move can also begin researching their second citizenship options through citizenship by investment programmes.
Many Digital Nomads are applying for a second citizenship because of the range of benefits on offer, such as ease of travel, economic opportunity, and domestic well-being.
CBI programmes offer the opportunity to legally acquire a new citizenship in return for an investment in the host country’s economy. Most CBI programmes provide citizenship status without causing any major disruptions to an investor’s life, provided they submit the correct documentation, pass all the due diligence checks first, and make a qualifying investment.
Just over a dozen countries in the world currently offer economic citizenship. There is a higher concentration of CBI programmes in the Caribbean – a region considered the cradle of second citizenship by investment.
Those who pass Dominica’s stringent due diligence checks can obtain citizenship by either making a minimum contribution of US$100,000 to the so-called Economic Diversification Fund or investing at least US$200,000 in pre-approved real estate. The latter includes branded and boutique hotels and resorts that establish a burgeoning ecotourism sector in Dominica.
St Kitts and Nevis’ CBI Programme is the oldest globally and one of the industry’s most successful. Second citizenship in the dual-island nation is an excellent solution for large families to gain mobility, secure their future, and build their legacy.
There are four ways to invest in St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Programme. The fastest way is to contribute a minimum of US$150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF). There is a Limited Time Offer (LTO) on the SGF option that’s running from 1 January to 30 June 2023. This permits applicants to submit a reduced minimum contribution with no additional costs. For a single applicant, the starting donation is US$125,000.
The Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme offers many benefits.
Established in 2013, the scheme grants citizenship in exchange for an economic contribution. As for other Caribbean CBI nations, successful applicants can then also apply for a passport. Some of the benefits of the Programme include citizenship for life, with the right to live and work in the country, entitlement to dual citizenship, ability to pass on citizenship to future generations, global mobility and travel to around 150 countries and territories.
Antigua and Barbuda’s investment options include a minimum contribution of US$100,000 into the National Development Fund or, for families of six or more, US$150,000 into the University of the West Indies Fund. Applicants can also choose to invest in qualifying real estate or in a business that has been pre-approved by the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda.
Grenada most appeals to large families and was the first CBI jurisdiction to allow siblings to be included in an application. However, in Grenada, siblings are only eligible if over 18. They must also be single and have no children of their own. Spouses, children up to 30, parents and grandparents can also form part of an application.
CBI in Grenada is available through two options: a contribution to the National Transformation Fund, or an investment in a Government-approved real estate project, which itself presents two choices. Applicants can invest US$350,000 in any pre-approved project. Alternatively, applicants can jointly invest US$220,000 in pre-approved tourism developments to which the developer has already committed 20 percent of the total expected cost. All applicants must hold their real estate for five years.
Choosing the right CBI programme is vital and requires careful consideration by the individual regarding what they want from their investment. We recommended speaking to an expert at CS Global Partners before starting your journey to a second citizenship.