It was the realm of the travel blogger, penning their latest post from the lofty heights of a mountainside hotel and getting paid for their stay. Or the lifestyle guru who ran a multimillion-dollar business from their laptop, as they sipped mojitos from a hammock in the Maldives.
Remote working was the exception, rather than the rule. Then COVID happened and suddenly remote work was all the rage. The pandemic forced companies to accept that many (if not most) of their team could be just as effective working remotely than they could in-person. Workers made it through the stress and trauma of maintaining their workload while battling cabin fever and rising anxiety and found they weren’t willing to return to the office. At least, not all the time. Businesses were forced to shift to hybrid or remote models of working to retain quality talent. And after long months and (for some) years of lockdowns, these newly empowered remote workers naturally looked to the horizon and wished to be elsewhere.
Portugal, Digital Nomads and the Uber Wealthy
While the turning tide of remote work gave rise to workcations and new, alternative lifestyles, those looking to escape the confines of their native country were swept away on a tide of location mobility. For many, the ticket to their new life was a Golden Visa, an appealing option for the uber-wealthy enabling them to move to the bright and sun-kissed realms of Portugal, gaining an extra passport or a foothold on the path to citizenship, in exchange for a hefty investment in the Portuguese economy (largely by purchasing real estate or job creation).
Golden Visa schemes have become incredibly popular, particularly in the US, and the desire to gain that extra passport and ticket to a lifestyle of freedom in the sun isn’t abating any time soon. According to Knight Frank’s 17th annual wealth report, 13% of ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals are seeking citizenship in another country or a second passport.
While the report is defining ‘UHNW individuals’ as people with a minimum net worth of $30 million, it’s not only the uber wealthy who have been flocking to Portugal thanks to schemed designed to encourage the cream of the crop from other countries to settle into Portuguese life.
Portugal’s Digital Nomad visa is giving remote workers the opportunity to make Portugal their second (or even permanent home). And while the government has called time on the Golden Visa we were comforted with the knowledge that the Digital Nomad visa wasn’t going anywhere, any time soon.
Despite this, and the fact the boom in digital nomad culture appears to have only just begun, Portugal may not be seeing much more of an influx from this source.
Golden Visa’s End Triggers Mass Exodus
The Golden Visa has proven particularly popular with US citizens over the last few years, as UHNW individuals from the states found themselves facing intense political divisions, rising costs of living and travel restrictions. All of this has fuelled an epidemic of wanderlust driving thousands to Portugal.
At the same time, low living costs and an idyllic lifestyle has proven too tempting for the digital nomad searching for a place to rest. To both the uber wealthy and the wandering remote worker Portugal represented a safety net; a place life could be enjoyed in peace, quite, and paradise-like settings. Compared to their homeland, life was cheap yet luxurious.
The announcement of the end of the Golden Visa has sparked something in this community of expats, which has expanded to include a broader demographic, including those concerned about future border lockdowns, and remote workers looking to move to another country.
While Portugal’s Golden Visa program has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming a kind of status symbol sought by the uber wealthy, other countries have begun offering similar programmes. In the wake of Portugal announcing the end of the Golden Visa, applicants are surging to other countries, including Dubai, Singapore, and Turkey, as well as Hong Kong and Germany.
The appeal of programmes like the Golden Visa and Noman Visa was freedom; a life lacking in complications yet brimming with potential. While it’s understandable the cancelation of the Golden Visa program would force would-be applicants elsewhere, what was perhaps unexpected was that the growing community of digital nomads would join the wealthy in a mass exodus of Portugal.
It would seem there is concern that cancelling one form of visa does not bode well for others, and rather than building a life in a country that may not want them later in the year, remote workers are looking for Wi-Fi hosting and a different way of living elsewhere.
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Um... there's not one shred of proof in this article to substantiate the 'mass exodus' claims made. Not even a few anecdotes from unnamed sources. So this is just what the author *thinks* might be happening then?
By AJ from Madeira on 17 Mar 2023, 17:09
Great News! Hopefully rents and home prices will start to become more affordable for the Portuguese residents who are born, raised, and reside there. Is that too much to ask from these governments, to protect your citizens from wild housing market swings much like other major economic shocks? Look what's happening in Australia now....a perfect example of governments sleeping at the wheel and then it's too late.
By Manuel Branco from Other on 17 Mar 2023, 21:11
'Mass Exodus'? Nonsense! Anyone who's already here on a Golden Visa, can stay. Why would they suddenly leave? It's only closed to new applicants, they're not denying or revoking residency of those already here! No substance to this story at all.
By D W from Lisbon on 17 Mar 2023, 22:35
ridiculous. Where golden visa requesters and where digital nomads. Digital nomads never cared about golden visas. They more care about huge taxes they supposed to pay in Portugal. For example on NHR you have to pay the same amount as in Canada for 100k. But Canada well known for the highest taxes.
By SS from Porto on 18 Mar 2023, 06:02
What complete and total utter nonsense. Based on zero evidence and found nowhere within the conversations among any of the existing expat community.
By Jaime Santos from Lisbon on 18 Mar 2023, 12:39
This doesnt include any data or facts. Not substantiated..
I think if portugal do get rid of the nomad visa, then there could be a potential exodus but it would not be so sudden....
Honestly i think the nomad visas are bot a good idea, not long term anyways. I dont think the gooden visa was a bad idea but the stipulation to simply invest in property would allow them to become residence is a poor plan. I come from ireland where we have had a housibg crisis for well over 8 years now. We have also had a rentla crisis for about 10 or so years. Look after your local population first, ensure theres adequate supply for affordable housing and rentals before thinking about nomad or golden visa plans. All should be scrapped until the housing situation changes.
By Daniel uzice from Other on 24 Mar 2023, 07:53