The number of digital nomads has been steadily growing over the last decade worldwide.
The key benefits digital nomads bring to host countries are financially stable individuals who tend to stay for a few months and spend their money locally.
No wonder some countries have been welcoming digital nomads for a few years. The most recent example is Estonia that launched Digital Nomad Visa for remote workers in August 2020.
Croatia is fast-tracking steps towards formalising digital nomadism. The idea is simple: attract and take advantage of these lucrative visitors most of the year.
Croatia as a regional digital nomad visa front runner
Digital nomad visa – somewhere also called a Residential Certificate – is a fixed-term permit to stay and work in a host country. To get such a permit digital nomads must meet some requirements, in most cases pretty straightforward.
For example, you may have to prove you are hired by a legitimate employer, have not been convicted or indicted for a criminal offence, that you possess valid health insurance or demonstrate that you have a continuous source of income to keep your bills under control. In Estonia, you should aim above the monthly income threshold of €3504 (gross of tax).
The digital nomad visa initiative has been supported by Croatia’s Government. By the end of August, changes to the Foreigners Act will be put forward to Croatia’s Parliament for adoption. Once approved, the new legal framework would allow digital nomads to arrive and start working in Croatia.
Croatia is betting on its relaxing lifestyle, overall safety, wine and dine experiences, affordable housing and infrastructure. And a beautiful country, especially the Adriatic seaside.
Is everything really so rosy in Croatia?
It depends on who you ask.
For governments around the world, such interventions are always a nifty way to push for some cheap PR. Politicians are quick to promise around the Balkans, but not always so quick to deliver.
Croatia is interesting to digital nomads because they tend to pick low-cost countries with stunning natural sights and relaxed lifestyles. That’s un upside.
The reality is somewhat different. Namely, Croatia’s legal system is pretty complex. For example, there are several laws and bylaws that regulate foreigners’ living & working. It means that Croatia’s Government will have to amend several pieces of the legislature which may not be so easy.
Either way, this is a very much welcome move that can motivate other governments in the region to consider similar legal changes.
Digital nomadism in the post-COVID world
The digital nomadism trend is likely to continue in the future. The Covid-19 pandemics is changing everything. Many businesses are going bankrupt and work stability already sounds obsolete.
Employers have learned that their creative workers need not sit in expensive offices to deliver what they’re expected. Companies will resort more and more to hiring freelancers they can pay directly via Pay Pal and evade full-time employees’ payrolls.
Expect more gig-work and less work security in the coming years.
Naturally, the number of freelances competing for flexible and temporary jobs is likely to increase. A whole new industry based on offering cheaper services to companies around the world will evolve. Expect companies like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer and the likes to evolve their business models or be run over by newcomers.
Digital nomads are a special sort of freelancers freed from constraints of time and location.
These freelancers work remotely or run their businesses while travelling around the planet. In most cases, all digital nomads need is a reliable wireless internet connection and a laptop. More recently, just a smartphone.
Studies have shown that digital nomadism is a consequence of “globalization, individualization, increased international experiences and mobility, ease of movement, wireless communication technologies and advancement in transportation systems, the digitalization of real estate, flexibility of working lives and increases in global relative wealth”.
In most cases, they offer services in tech fields such as copywriting, programming, managing social media, affiliate marketing, graphics design or translating.