6 Things To Consider Before Applying For a Digital Nomad Visa
Countries around the world are launching digital nomad visa programs. These government documents allow you to stay in a country for a much longer period than you could vacation, provided you’re working your regular job remotely. In some cases, it’s up to a year or more in beautiful beach paradises or thriving historic cities. It can feel like a dream, particularly for North Americans that might be fed up with politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. These visas can also be a godsend for people who love to travel but couldn’t due to the pandemic. But before you pack your bags, there are a few things to consider when applying for a digital nomad visa. Wondering where you can get a visa in the first place? Check out our list of countries that offer digital nomad visas.
1 – Healthcare
This is a big one for any travellers, and there are two key issues: healthcare costs and quality. The countries offering digital nomad visas may not have the same resources or capacity in their healthcare system that might be available in the US, Canada, or parts of Europe. This means you might not want to go if you have any chronic illnesses that require ongoing care. Or, if you still want to go, make sure you make arrangements ahead of time so you can stay healthy.
Once you’ve identified the country can handle your healthcare needs, then you have to worry about paying. Insurance is critical for everyone, since no country fully pays for its citizens healthcare needs outside of that country. Many private insurers are available and it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s a matter of jumping through the application hoops. Be careful to specifically check that they don’t have any COVID-related blockages or rules that allow them to deny coverage.
2 – Housing
When thinking about applying for a digital nomad visa, you need to find a place to live. The press releases and websites advertise working from a castle or a white sand beach, but can you really afford that real estate? If not, you may end up in a far less desirable area of the country in an effort to save money.
When doing research on where you want to have a digital nomad vacation, make sure you check up on housing prices so there are no surprises. Adding onto this, you have to figure out what you’ll do with housing in your home country. If you don’t want to lose your lease or mortgage, you may end up having to pay both for housing at home and housing during your visa stay.
3 – Visa and travel costs
Visa applications are not free in many cases. You may not have to spend much (typically it costs around $150-$250), but that’s still money out of pocket. On top of that, you actually have to get to your wonderful destination. Given how much COVID has decimated the airline industry, you may not be able to readily fly out. If you can, the prices might be a bit more than you were expecting.
Part of costs as well is prepping for the unknown. You should carry an emergency fund with you at all times for, well, emergencies. This could be a random taxi you weren’t expecting or that you needed some food or other goods upon arrival. Also keep in mind that many countries operate in cash more than the US or Canada, so it’s not just about having a platinum AMEX card.
4 – Food
You might be able to get a couple fast food favorites in major cities, but if you opt for quiet beach or countryside life, you will be eating like a local. That’s usually a fantastic thing. The countries offering digital nomad visas like Georgia and Barbados have delicious local cuisine. However, it may not be to your taste.
Before moving to any country for an extended period of time and applying for a digital nomad visa, make sure you check the food customs, cuisine, and other traditions around food. You’ll need to eat, so make sure it’s something you are ok with. That said, be adventurous! You might try something and love it. Don’t write it off because it seems weird to start.
5 – Weather
Beaches and castles sound great… until you realize that warm beaches could mean hurricanes and beautiful castles are drafty and leaky in the rain. Don’t just look at what press releases tell you about beautiful weather. If you are planning to stay for a year or more, you will experience every type of weather that country has.
A part of this is simply being prepared. For instance, don’t go to Estonia if you don’t like cold weather and don’t go to the Caribbean if you hate rain and hurricanes. They happen. But at the same time, even setting expectations may not be enough. Emergencies happen all the time, so you need to make sure you have plans to stay safe locally and evacuate if weather becomes a truly dangerous problem.
6 – Transit and local infrastructure
Once you get to your beach paradise or countryside retreat, how do you get groceries? What about a bar? A restaurant? Other local sites like museums and theatres? You need to know what kind of lifestyle you’re getting into. If all you want is the beach or countryside, that’s awesome. But even then, you’ll need some form of transit so you can access basic services as needed.
When you’re planning your getaway and applying for a digital nomad visa, make sure you check out transit and local infrastructure. You might need to rent a car for your stay, in which case check out international drivers licenses. Or if transit is high quality, whether busses or subways, then you’ll be set. The key is simply to know so there are no surprises and you can access what you need.