- Bali and Costa Rica launched their long-awaited “digital nomad visas” this summer.
- They join dozens of countries hoping to attract virtual workers to boost the local economy.
- Three digital nomads from Ghana, the UK, and Canada gave Insider an inside look at the application process.
Bali and Costa Rica recently joined the growing list of countries offering residency visas specifically for remote workers, also known as “digital nomad visas.”
Before the pandemic, the term digital nomad was fundamentally at odds with the corporate 9 to 5 crowd. Now, countries that rely on tourism are hoping that the new wave of remote workers with steady paychecks will create a bigger source of economic activity. trustworthy.
That’s the case for Sean McNulty, CEO and founder of asset management firm XIB International. The 38-year-old Canadian has been living and working remotely from Bermuda with his wife Jana through the island’s digital nomad program since November 2020. He told Insider that they plan to live on the island for at least three years. more and are considering raising a family there.
After applying through the program’s website, the couple were approved “within a week,” McNulty said, adding that working in finance likely helped their application as Bermuda seeks to diversify economic activity on the island.
Applicants must pay a fee of $263, provide proof of off-island employment, and demonstrate that they can afford the local cost of living.
“The lifestyle and work-life balance here, I don’t think you can beat it anywhere else in the world,” McNulty told Insider. “If you’re just a good human being and having fun, then it’s hard not to be happy here.”
Benjamin Rogers, a 23-year-old marketer from the UK, told Insider that he is in the process of applying for a temporary resident visa from Mexico. He said that he plans to work abroad without the permission of his current employer, but hopes to keep his position with the company. Applicants must earn around $2,600 per month in order to apply.
Once in Mexico, Rogers said he plans to stay in Airbnbs in different areas of the country and create content for his travel blog, The Lonesome Wanderer.
“It feels like we’re on the brink of the 1960s, but with less acid and more Microsoft Teams,” he told Insider, adding that he sees the digital nomad community as a “movement” that values creativity.
For music blogger Osei Kojo Enoch, 35, working remotely from abroad was more of a financial necessity than a lifestyle option.
“You really don’t have a choice because unemployment in Ghana is a very serious thing,” he said. “The reason I started [a virtual business] It was the result of not finding a job after graduating from school.
After launching his website from Ghana, Enoch said he wanted to work from a country with better electricity, internet access, and clean water. However, his travel options were severely limited by his West African passport, he told Insider.
“Unlike people in the West who can just take their passports and travel anywhere in the world, people who come from places like Asia and Africa, in most places they go, they will need a visa,” he said. Enoch.
Last year, Enoch applied for the Dubai Remote Worker Visa, a program that launched in 2020. He said he chose Dubai because of the city’s infrastructure, security, weather and lack of personal income tax.
To qualify, applicants must provide proof of employment for the year of the visa duration with a minimum monthly salary of $5,000. The entire application process took a total of six weeks, according to Enoch.
“I needed better opportunities in life, so that’s what brought me to Dubai, and I also love to travel,” he said. “It’s like killing two birds with one stone.”
Even with a work visa from Dubai, Enoch said he was still unable to travel outside the UAE due to his Ghanaian passport, which he said caused him to be denied a UK tourist visa.
The experience led him to apply for the Malta digital nomad visa, which allows travel within the Schengen area, a region containing 26 member countries of the European Union where travelers can move freely without having to deal with border control. For this, he enlisted the help of Citizen Remote, a startup that offers digital nomad visa consultation and assistance.
Enoch said he paid a total of €2,800 in fees throughout the application process, which he described as much stricter in terms of vetting compared to Dubai. However, Malta’s digital nomad program only requires a monthly income of €2,700, approximately €2,300 less than Dubai’s monthly income requirement.
Despite the growing overlap between digital nomads and influencer territory, Enoch cautioned that the lifestyle isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be on social media.
“It gets very lonely,” he told Insider. “The year that I’ve been working in a coworking space, I haven’t really been able to make many friends… a lot of people come and they don’t usually live in that place for very long.” weather.”