If you don’t have to go to the office long term, do you really have to stay at home? Many tourist hotspots are rebranding as ‘workation’ destinations for when lockdown lifts
Remember those remote workers we loved to hate before the pandemic? Bloggers posting from beach bars, entrepreneurs checking in from exotic Airbnbs, influencers and digital nomads ticking off their bucket lists… well, now you too can be like them!
Well, not now exactly — but hopefully in the not-too-distant future, when infection rates come down, vaccination rates go up and it’s safe to travel once again. Remote working is a trend rocket-fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic, and with tourism in collapse all over the world, destinations are racing to attract a new kind of visitor — the long-stay ‘workationer’.
From Barbados to the Algarve, destinations say it’s a win-win. Employees stuck at home get to ditch the ‘boffice’ for the chance to explore beyond their four walls and 5k. And their presence (and cash) helps to sustain hotels, Airbnbs, car rentals and restaurants emptied of their tourists.
Some call them ‘Digital Nomad Visas’. Others have tweaked remote working rules. Typically, workers have to prove that they are employed and meet minimum income criteria. Quarantines may be necessary too. But the idea is a long stay makes all the hoop-jumping worthwhile.
Before you pack your bags, a quick dash of realism. Don’t forget to familiarise yourself with travel restrictions at both ends, and check out any tax issues and what you need by way of health insurance. The Caribbean isn’t going to cut it for everyone — your job may require you to be present, or you may be a parent of school-age kids, or have pets, for example. But for those that have spent a year logging on from tiny apartments or childhood bedrooms, WFH could be a golden ticket.
Swap the boffice for Bermuda? “No need to be trapped in your apartment in a densely populated city with the accompanying restrictions and high risk of infection,” Premier E. David Burt says on the island’s ‘Work from Bermuda’ website.
“Come spend the year with us working or coding on the water.” A $263 fee gets the application process going; to get a visa for up to a year, you must prove employment and income, among other criteria. Bermuda’s Covid control measures are super-strict, with visitors required to spend 14 days wearing wristbands paired to apps on their phones. That may be worthwhile hassle for a long stay, however. gotobermuda.com/workfrombermuda
The Portuguese Island launched a ‘Digital Nomads Village’ in Ponto do Sol this month — as postcard-pretty a WFH destination as you’ll find. Applicants need to register on its website, be employed and commit to a minimum stay of at least one month. They’ll get free workstations, but need to pay for flights and accommodation (what do you think this is, a charity?). Atlantic beaches, great hikes and (Covid-permitting) lively bars and restaurants and local food are a bonus in this Atlantic paradise. The pilot programme lasts to June 30. digitalnomads.startupmadeira.eu
Iceland changed its remote-work visa programme this winter to allow foreign nationals from countries not requiring a visa to stay six months, as long as they are employed elsewhere and earn at least one million kroner, or around €6,400, a month. The visa lasts up to six months and costs a mere €50, providing what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Land of Fire and Ice without the crowds. Downsides? This is one of Europe’s most expensive countries. work.iceland.is
“With first-class healthcare and English widely spoken, it is a perfect place to work from for an extended period,” says João Fernandes, the president of Algarve Tourism. Resorts like Quinta do Lago, well-known to Irish holidaymakers, have been targeting workationers (‘Work & Stay’ packages at its cottages cost from €2,400 a month), with GM Mark McSorley hailing “the ideal destination for young professionals looking to work hard, play hard and experience a change of scene after nearly a full year of taking Zoom calls in their bedroom.” 183 days is a cut-off in Portugal — after that you need to become a tax resident. visitalgarve.pt
Estonia’s new ‘Digital Nomad Visa’ allows location-independent workers to work and stay in the Baltic state, as long as they can prove employment, earn at least €3,504 a month before tax and pay an €80 fee, among other application criteria. Working while travelling as a tourist has long been a grey area in many countries, but as of last August, eligible workers have been able to legally work in Estonia remotely for up to a year. e-resident.gov.ee/nomadvisa
The Canary Islands are hurting without holidaymakers, and several resorts have promoted long-stay rates. Lanzarote Retreats, for example, has a month in apartments or villas around Arrieta with fibre optic cable broadband from €35 a night for two. A ‘workation’ offer with Seaside Los Jameos in Puerto del Carmen offers 10pc off for 22 nights or longer, with one evening tapas dinner, access to the gym and spa, 10pc off laundry and an all-important Espresso machine. As we publish, a twin room for the month of May cost €2,535. los-jameos.com; lanzaroteretreats.com
A new one-year virtual working programme allows you to live and work by the beach in Dubai. You’ll need to earn a minimum of US$5,000 a month, provide proof of employment and have your own health insurance, too. Dubai is currently on Ireland’s list of 20 ‘high-risk’ places requiring mandatory quarantine on return, but there is a potential bonus: all citizens and residents of the Emirate are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in line with the government’s rollout programme. visitdubai.com