Spain is on the verge of becoming the latest country to issue what is known as a digital nomad visa, giving residents of non-EU countries, including the UK, the opportunity to live and work in the country.
The deal will be part of a new start-up law aimed at streamlining Spain’s famously convoluted laws governing the creation of new companies, a process that can take up to a month compared to just a day in a country like the Netherlands .
The finer points have yet to be worked out, but it is expected that what is effectively a residence permit will initially be valid for one year and then be renewable for up to five years.
Applicants are offered favorable tax conditions and must be able to demonstrate that they have worked remotely for companies based outside of Spain for a specified period of time and there is a limit to how much of their income can be derived from doing business with Spanish companies.
Other EU countries that already have similar regulations include Croatia, Estonia, Greece and Portugal.
The agreement will give people from countries that are not part of the European Economic Area the opportunity to live and work in Spain and bring their expertise and employability.
Cities like Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona are already hugely attractive to digital nomads from the EU, and the opening should make it easier for people from other countries to get started as well.
“There’s definitely a lot more money to be made in Spain compared to other European countries I’ve visited,” digital nomad Han Talbot, host of business podcast The Remote Life, told travel website Lonely Planet.
Barcelona in particular is keen to present itself as a tech hub, meaning an influx of experienced remote workers would be welcome.
The remote work revolution caused by the pandemic has thrown a potential lifeline to many small towns across Europe that had previously lost their population, as they can now attract immigrants with a low cost of living but the ability to continue working normally.
The Portuguese island of Madeira, which relies heavily on seasonal tourism, has established a digital nomadic community in the town of Ponta do Sol, and the Italian island of Sardinia is offering significant financial incentives for people to move there and revitalize the local community. but on condition that they renovate a vacant lot as part of the deal.
In some other cities, there have been complaints that the culture of digital nomads is causing rents on real estate to be pushed up by outsiders beyond the reach of locals, but associate professor Raj Choudhury wrote in the Harvard Business Review: ” Digital nomads are investing their time and money in the local economy without taking on local jobs and building bridges to local knowledge workers – a win-win for both remote workers and local communities.”