For millions of us, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a dramatic shift from traditional office-based working to working from home. This has not only led to a physical shift, but a mental one too. As the realisation hits that actually, you can successfully work remotely, lots of us are considering this way of life long-term. Some are even pondering working remotely abroad. Bethany Hemsley, property and relocation expert at overseas relocation specialist Property Guides talks through the logistics of the transition to remote working.
No more early morning commutes, getting home late or spending way too much money on an overpriced coffee (well, maybe you’ll still do that!). Remote working certainly has many obvious benefits, both for your quality of life and your wallet.
Now that Britain has left the European Union, working remotely abroad in 2021 and beyond will be different. Brits are now considered “third country nationals”, in the same way Americans, Canadians and New Zealanders are. We no longer have access to the EU’s “freedom of movement”.
Nonetheless, if you just fancy getting out of the country for a few months of the year, you will be covered by the 90-day rule. This allows you to stay in an EU country, within the Schengen Zone, for 90 days in a 180 day period. So, you could easily spend the summer months as a “digital nomad” working from a chic café in France, or overlooking the rolling green hills in Italy.
For those wanting to move abroad to work for a significant period of time, you will need to apply for a visa. A great option is the “digital nomad” visa which allows you to work abroad from your laptop, usually for a year or two. This is a relatively new concept, but countries that have jumped on the bandwagon include Antigua, Barbados, Czech Republic and Germany. There are some conditions to meet – such as a minimum income – however, the visa is fairly easy to obtain.
You can also gain residency in some countries through investment. Portugal, Cyprus and Greece, as well as a few others, offer a “golden visa” to people who invest substantial sums of money into the country. For example, Portugal requires you to buy a property worth around €500,000.
Finally, if you have an Irish grandparent you can actually apply for an Irish passport, enabling you to keep the EU freedom of movement. As many as 10% of Brits could take advantage of this.
Tax and other legal requirements
It is important to remember that if you are spending more than 183 days in a country, you will have to pay tax there. You will need to ensure your UK employer understands how to deal with your overseas tax affairs.
As well as sorting out your tax, it is vital that you draw up a will in your new country. This should include any assets you have in the UK too. If you have children, many EU countries require you to leave your assets to them.
As there are a number of legalities you need to be aware of when relocating, it may be worth hiring a trusted lawyer to make sure you understand everything you need to do.
Why relocate abroad?
Not only will living abroad likely bring a more laid-back lifestyle, your cost of living could be cheaper too. Currently, you can find some great deals for short-term stays. The pandemic has hit the short-term letting business hard, and companies like Airbnb are desperate for business. In Lisbon, you can find stylish flats for just £600 per month in the heart of the city.
Your monthly living costs may also be lower. Taking Greece as an example, the cost of living is 14% lower than in the UK, and rent is around 58% lower.
Top destinations for relocating
Of course, the biggest decision is where you are going to move to. As mentioned, it is definitely worth considering countries that offer easy solutions to working remotely abroad.
Greece is often at the top of many people’s bucket lists due to the idyllic islands, delicious cuisine and rich history. There are 227 islands to pick from, each with their own individual charm. You are sure to receive a warm welcome from the locals whether you choose the romantic Corfu or the ancient mainland. It is worth noting that despite the gorgeous summers depicted in films like Mamma Mia, it can get rather chilly in the winter. To make sure you really love it, why not book a visit in the winter months?
Another great place to consider is Portugal. Offering both the golden visa and a temporary residence visa, allowing digital nomads to live and work there for a year, they really do want you! Lisbon and Porto are becoming well-established tech hubs, and the whole feel is very millennial with a big ‘rent a desk’ culture. Plus, there is no time difference between the UK and Portugal, so your working day would be the same.
Lastly, if time difference is not an issue, Australia has plenty to offer. There are lots of similarities with the UK, perhaps making it feel like more of a home from home than other destinations. Average properties are three times the size of those in the UK, meaning you’ll get more for your money. And, with around 3,200 hours of sunshine in some parts of the country, you’ll wonder what took you so long to make the move. Australia is also one of the few non-European countries that offers the digital nomad visa.