Where is 'home'?
Human beings are the only animals who can alter their physical environment to make it habitable which is why we can survive at the poles or in the desert or in space or at the bottom of the sea. This doesn't mean we have to and frankly the mess we make and usually leave behind, it would probably be better if we didn't but...
...we can choose to live elsewhere, maybe not snail-like and take our houses on our backs, but more Jack Kerouac style with a pole over our shoulder and a handkerchief dangling at the end with our belongings bundled up in it along with some snacks and a map...plus, of course, our laptops tucked under our arms!
So where might be fun, where could we set up to ride out the pandemic, where do we want to make our home to work from? Here are a few options:
A country that kind of straddles both Asia and Europe geographically but not so much geo-politically. Best known for being the birth country of Stalin and the location of many medieval monasteries and some seriously big mountains, it surprises many to learn that it has it's own alphabet, is home to a second tier (and ascendant) national Rugby Union side, cultivates some great wines and now has a high speed WiFi internet system.
So it should not come as any surprise then that this smallish nation nestling between the Caucus Mountains and the Black Sea is throwing open its doors to the world's digital nomads and offering a new one year 'work-from-home' visa for international visitors who want to live and work remotely there.
"We want to use this opportunity. We are talking about opening the border in a way to protect the health of our citizens, but, on the other hand, to bring to Georgia citizens of all countries who can work remotely,"
says Natia Turnava, the country's economy minister.
It is very affordable with monthly living expenses at around USD 500 in the capital Tbilisi.
Internet speeds are good but not great at around 10-15 Mb/s but then few people are in a hurry there so that matches the mood!
To start your adventure you'll need to register online and provide information about your intended employment and agree to undergo 14 days of self isolation upon arrival (at your own expense!). Frankly, it's a small price to pay for some piece of mind at this time of uncertainty, upheaval and heightened health concerns.
Fun fact: Georgia is known as საქართველო in the local Kartvelian language.
Probably not your first guess and it is not an easy permit for which to apply but if you’re a freelancer, Germany deserves a closer look. The country offers an 'artist visa' which permits freelancers to establish residency for the purposes of self employment. You will need to cough up around €110 along with a fair amount of documentation including your business plan, health insurance (if from outwith the EU) etc.
Obviously, internet speed is not an issue but cost of living could be...
Just next door but a world apart, if you’re an entrepreneur, the Netherlands also wants you.
Anyone with a startup idea can now apply for a one-year residency in the Netherlands. This allows you to launch and develop your business after which you have an option to extend your stay and apply for the standard self-employed work permit. Restrictions may apply...
Infrastructurally, the country is fully wired so no issues there and most Dutch people and many others living there use English as the lingua franca, if that is important to you.
“According to OECD Better Life Index, the Netherlands is the best country in the world for managing your work-life balance”
says Urte Bakanovaite, a community associate at WeWork Amsterdam.
So if you want a sustainable lifestyle as well as some cool outdoors stuff to do from a well managed and central European location, then maybe this is where you should be looking to relocate!
Elsewhere in Europe you could take a closer look at Malta or some of the emergent Balkan nations.
A fascinating country that is easy and fun to live and work in. Still somewhat hampered by red tape and headlong infrastructural development, it is definitely 'doable' and still on the low side on affordability.
Cambodia is hugely popular for expats looking to live and work remotely as the 'business visa' can be renewed indefinitely without requiring an in-country or corporate sponsor.
That said, if your work covers Cambodia, you will require a work permit.
Elsewhere in Asia, you could also take a closer look at Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore.
A potential tropical base for remote work and/or retirement, Costa Rica offers its 'rentista' programme whereby residency can be granted to anyone proving a sustainable income from a remote business.
Visitors can stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa and the 'pensioda' programme grants residency if you have a proven fixed income of USD 12,000 per year.
Neither of these visas gives you permission to work as an employee in Costa Rica. You can own a business but must hire locally. There are exceptions that allow a resident to work in the country, but you must possess some form of specialized skill.
Spanish is the most commonly used language and pervades the culture, food etc. Internet-wise, it's good and getting better but suffers from seasonal weather 'episodes' that can cause disruptions!
If you're after more guaranteed beach weather – you could do worse than Barbados.
This Caribbean island has been offering its own remote work visa since July 12 of this year. The '12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp' gives visitors a full year in which to work and play.
There could be better places to wait out the pandemic but frankly I'm struggling to think of many.
Infrastructure-wise, the Islands is well serviced and since the roll out slogan for their WiFi system was
"from bus stop to rum shop"
they kind of had me convinced I could tough it out there!
Elsewhere in the Americas, you could look at Columbia.
Finally, here's a handy guide to some options and the current requirements. Safe travs to wherever you end up...