We’re living in the digital dystopia and all that we, working travelers, want to do now is TRAVEL. We’re currently seeing the rise of digital nomad visas worldwide as well as entrenched communities of remote workers and ex-pats settle in hotspots and hubs across the globe. Many destinations are hoping the remote work visas will generate income to help make up for lost tourism revenue due to the pandemic but laws in most countries are not set up to deal with this new class of modern nomads who are living and working remotely around the world. And that’s where Dave Williams comes in.
Dave, a serial digital entrepreneur, is on a mission to revolutionize the way remote work travelers, or “Digital Nomads”, live, work, and travel the world. He joins our hosts, Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski in this episode of The New Nomad to tackle the challenges when it comes to digital nomad accommodations and all that nitty-gritty. Our three travelers also shared their travel experiences and some really useful tips for both new and seasoned nomads. This is an episode you surely don’t want to miss.
From the episode
TOP 3 FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
What You’ll Learn
Welcome to The New Nomad podcast. We have a great guest today. Dave Williams of Nomad X is going to be a serial entrepreneur, also somebody who’s a, I think it’s fantastic to talk about affordable accommodations throughout Europe in the world and slow travel in the remote lifestyle. I think this is going to be tremendous. And many of us who want to get deeper into cultures, and out of the bubble, so to speak, I think this is going to be a great conversation. But before we get to Dave, love to go to my co host, Andrew Jernigan for quick thoughts of the day, Andrew, I know you’ve travelled to many places, I know you and I’ve had conversations about, you know, getting deep into culture. And I love the concept of slow travel where you actually talk to people, you meet people, you spend time with people, what’s your thoughts, my friend,
Great to be on here today with you all, I am a slowmad. And that has taken place because not too long after I decided to get into this lifestyle in the 90s that I got married to someone who wanted to live around the world, and then brought in kids and then we travel with our dog and our cat. And you can’t really speed travel time travel with all that. So yeah, it’s it’s the slow mad lifestyle that often used to be called the expat lifestyle, which is more of a lead this term viewed by many, but others view it just as immigrating, though. Yeah, going slow. Hernia is my enemy. So taking care of yourself taking care of those you travel with taking care of those you leave behind? Doesn’t some of my brief things. Allen, what you what you brought up there?
Well, it reminds me of a time that I went on a business trip to Istanbul, Turkey, one of the most amazing cities, and there was about 45 of us from the same company. And I stayed a few extra days and I said all 45 people, anybody want to stay with me, and they’re all hop in the first plane home. And you know, that experience that city it was just an amazing experience to be walking around for two days myself experiencing the coffee, the food, the whole atmosphere, and that everybody rushed home. And sometimes you wonder like, what did they miss this might have been their one chance. So let’s bring David to the conversation because they I know you’ve you’ve travelled about I know that. You want to share some thoughts on this topic. But you know, you know for you almost using a hackneyed phrase of getting out of the bubble. But let’s let’s just talk to people let’s let’s get out there. How about yourself? What attracted you to travel and influencing, you know, people to spend a little more time experiencing culture?
Um, yeah, so you know, my wife and I, we’ve been living this digital nomad lifestyle really since 2013, after we exited our last company, we have done some global travel before that, but most of it we did one year, we founded and sold a couple companies. The first one we sold, we exited back in 2007. And we travelled for about a year, but that was without smartphones. So it was quite different. My wife, my wife was actually digging up some old copies of where we had were traveling around China and these Chinese symbols of where we wanted to go to the to the taxi driver.
Yep, I remember them. I remember that.
It was pretty wild to just dug this up, because we had one of our containers delivered here last week. But yeah, we had we travelled about 4+ years or so as around the world. And we just saw that, you know, staying in a place for longer than, you know, around a month or two months was really ideal for us. We found that if we just rocketed to a place, it’s been a few days or a week, you know, it’s nice, but you’re treated much more like the Torah. So for us, you know, we’d like to go to places we’d like to stay there. We’d like to get to know the locals. We’d like to actually experience and do a lot of things in the places we go to. We love like outdoor adventure. So in the winters, for example, we go to Germany and we spent three months there, we were in Innsbruck, Austria, the previous year for a few months we snowboarding. So for us, it’s like, that’s a much more relaxing style for us. And then when we leave and we go home, you know, we’ve generally met a lot of people that were patients we return it’s almost like a second home for us. And so, you know, after a while and start traveling around the world for us, a lot of times we like to return the places that were like the favorite places we went to so obviously Portugal is a hot spot for us. We’d love to share money back there a couple times back Japan a couple times.
So we generally find we’re not always just trying to check the box on new places, but we’re trying to you know, travel, experience places that we really find places that we love. We’d like to stay there and then we like to return so we really see this as the new movement going forward is much more around slow travel, I think especially as people take their time. jobs on the road, every time you get up and move, there’s the rest of the Wi Fi won’t work, maybe you’re going to miss a conference call. You know, it’s just it’s a totally different experience traveling as a tourist versus travellng as a professional. So we think for the professional travellers out there, slow travel is really the way to go. And to really maximize the overall experience and really integrate yourself with that local culture. So, yeah, we really love to do it that way.
That is, it’s really great to hear. And I believe you’re, you’ve got your fingers on the pulse, really, of how the global workforce the remote workforce is changing, and how people are traveling in this lifestyle. In that pace, you’re talking to governments, you’re talking to movement leaders. Can you share a bit into that, since you seem to have your fingers on the pulse at the moment?
Well, I think have you experienced a lifestyle myself, you know, all of us nomads and early adopters, I would say as much as you read about it in the press. I think a lot of people are kind of nomadic, and maybe they’re more local nomads, when it comes down to real global nomads. I don’t think the audience size is that big yet, we think it’s going to be massive. So I think just having experience and live the lifestyle even lived with nomads, we just have a co living space something they said just a small five bedroom space. But I’ve lived with nomads for the last few years. And that stays when we’re not down here that our beach house. So yeah, just living with them. And then also having started a business that caters to them. You know, it’s not an easy audience to sell to because these early adopters are very affordability, portability, they’re very much minimalist, they don’t like to be sold to, you know, they tend to be 25 to 35, 35 to 45. Although we are starting to see a lot more 45 to 50, or five year old segment, that would actually it’s been increasing quite a bit. What we’ve seen in our numbers is actually the little bit of the older demographic that’s starting to filter through a bit more in terms of looking for accommodation. So that’s exciting.
But yeah, we think this is just going to be a massive, massive movement. And so that was how I got in touch with Andrew, as we put on weekly clubhouse sessions are actually now it’s a monthly clubhouse session the first Tuesday of each month with nomads getting back, we have about eight to 10 different nomads from around the world talking about their experiences, not answer questions. I think there’s a lot of people out there that want to experience this lifestyle, they’ve been working remotely, they may be nomadic locally. And now they’re really looking to take their jobs on the road. Like I ran a little poll on LinkedIn, I asked people if they’re excited to go back to work, if they’re excited to stay home, continue to work from home, or they want to work from anywhere. And 56% of all people that responded wanted to work from anywhere. So I think this is going to be a huge movement, maybe not full time nomads, but people that want to be nomadic spending a month, two months, three months down the road, instead of a week long holiday, why not turn into a working holiday for a month, it’s gonna be a much more fun experience. And you’re going to come home, feeling so much more refreshed from the experience. So
you know, Dave, we’ve looked at some numbers, and we feel there might be as many as 5 million digital nomads, we think that number is going to go up as those digital nomad visas come online, or people get a taste of the lifestyle. So maybe looking at the crystal ball a little bit. You know, your your feeling on how the digital nomad visas might affect this, but also, how post COVID You know, there’s a lot of pent up demand for travel. And a lot of people said, you know, we just lived through this period of time, life is short. I need to get out there. I take it you may feel as bullish on this as we do, but also the fact that governments are following in behind saying, you know, we don’t mind somebody staying here for a year if they’re bringing something to our economy. So maybe your thoughts on that, because that’s a that’s a burgeoning trend.
Yeah, it’s interesting. As you know, I’m here in Portugal, Brazil, I was traveling the world I came back to Portugal a few times. And then when I went home after my last trip to Portugal back in late 2000, I think was 16 or so. My wife I we said we just want to move to Portugal. So we sold her house in the United States. And we were fortunate we were able to get access to Portugal through their golden visa, which is more of a real estate play, which worked out really well for us. But we also started a business here. So here in Portugal, for example, we have the remote work visa, which is called the D seven D so it’s a very easy to use. And again, it only requires you stay in Portugal a minimum of six months each year. And I think it only requires about 700 800 euros and minimum income coming into your account each month.
So that’s very you know, it’s a very good pathway for people to come into Portugal we also have the E residency we have the startup visa, the golden visas a lot of different options. So we’re starting to see is obviously this trend and I’d say it’s a little bit of you know, so a lot of countries are now adopting is remote work digital nomad visas, which allow people to stay longer than the tourist visas. I’m here in Portugal, for example, you can stay three months and then you have to get an extension which gives you last weeks, another few months. But then at some point, usually around six months is when they want to start making you official and collecting taxes on you because what we’ve seen, so they only want you to stay in a country so long, kind of tax free. And then at some point you got to kind of pay your dues.
So the misnomer in this whole thing is that they’re calling it a digital nomad visa. But in my experience, because we work with all the digital nomads, most nomads generally only stay in a location from one to six months. So most of them are operating off a tourist visa. So the idea of in digital nomad visa, I would say, you know, it’s still more of an expat visa, and they’re kind of branding it to be a digital nomad visa. But really, what we see is that the digital nomad visa is really like a visa if you find a place that you really want to stay at for a longer period of time than just three or six months. And that’s going to apply to some nomads. But we don’t see a lot of nomads staying longer in a location longer than six months. I’m kind of curious to see how it plays out because nomads typically like to move around fairly often not not too frequently, but fairly often. So we do think it’s a huge branding opportunity. We do think like the world opening up and allowing people to get access into their economies to be more permanent in locations other than the home country is going to be huge. In the US, we still have to pay US taxes, but you’re in Portugal, they have a 10 year tax hiatus on taxes. So there’s a lot of Europeans moving here, like a lot of French people are moving here for the for the 10 year tax hiatus. I know, in Greece, for example, they have a new digital nomad visa, and I think it has a 50% you know, the 50% reduction in taxes for the nomads.
So, you know, the government’s are really trying to create incentive programs to encourage people to come visit their countries. The other thing that’s kind of lacking though is they are putting a lot of stuff in place. But when you get there, what do you do, you know, you’re not a local, you’re not a tourist, people are really looking for community. So we’ve found and that’s what we’ve been trying to do. For example, in Madeira Island, which is the first Nomad village here in Europe, in fact, globally, which was a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors was the focus on building community first, instead of just saying we have a digital nomad visa, to come to our country. And we saw as a massive response, I think we’ve already had 6200 people have expressed interest in coming to Madeira. I think at the moment they got like 1200 people or more on the island that are digital nomads, and about 2000 people from the states in the UK that I want to come once to, once the once the travel opens up.
So I think if you do it, right, and the other thing about Madeira is it was top, I think it was outside of the top 70 on Nomad lists. And as recently it’s been up around number six, even as high as number four following this project, just after two months of initiating it. So I think there’s a big opportunity for governments not just to talk about their, you know, their the residents, about their digital nomad visa programs, but also to start implementing more work kind of on the ground in, in, in, you know, compelling digital nomad locations, because I think that’s really what a lot of them are looking for. Not all of them. But I’d say a lot of them are starting to look for this. And that’s how they make a lot of their decisions is where are they gonna be able to find other people like themselves, plus a strong community, plus a strong connection locals and a very, very cool destination, that doesn’t cost too much, basically.
Yeah, this shift that governments have to enter into, to accommodate the remote worker from outside their country, to take on this revenue of all the spending, these folks are going to do for one to four months that they may be staying is enormous. They’ve got to the governmental shift that’s got to take place of realizing we don’t need to close our borders and make it only tourism. But you can come work here, you can come volunteer here, because even on a tourist visa, you can’t officially volunteer for an organization. So it’s a shift of governmental mentality of Hey, it’s okay if people come work from our country on a short term basis, and then eventually it’s going to change the laws of coming to work there on a long term basis. And so it’s this remote work shift that is finally getting the spotlight by countries is going to have a reverberating effect on the communities and on society as a whole. So it’s exciting to see that but I also love to hear the community aspect of Madeira. I can’t wait to get there. Allen and I both are coming to Portugal hopefully the end of this year. And I speak Portuguese because most of my life I’ve been in and out of Brazil now. Almost half my life so it’s can’t wait to get there. So you mentioned Greece with their recent the list of countries in the sky is snowballing. With everyone wanting to create some sort of incentive for people even cities are creating incentives saying move to Oklahoma, move to this city you know and and move to the state of West Virginia and we’ll give you money if you’re a remote worker, etc. So the governmental shift is exciting. You know what is Other than governments and visas, what do you think is the the side effect on this? From your perspective, another side effect of the change in in its hit the spotlight?
Ah, I mean, I think you’re the tourist business isn’t very sustainable at the end of the day, as we’ve seen by the pandemic. So I think that’s a huge issue is that a lot of countries are so reliant on tourism, but it’s not in a lot of places does it, you know, it’s providing economic benefit, but it’s also creating a big negative impact as well. And especially as you see, with the airbnbs, being a huge culprit in this in a lot of the big cities where they’re getting overtaken by tourists. And so I think there’s there’s a lot going on to kind of fight against this for the look from from local economies. But I think what you’re going to see with the nomads is a lot of the nomads have big clustering in the big cities up to this point. But I think we’re starting to see a breakout from that where people are looking more for mountain locations, beach locations. So the nomads are starting to spread their wings, we’ve got some new nomads that are coming in. Whereas like I mentioned in the past, that these early adopter nomads are very much like minimalists. You know, they’re basically packing with the backpack. And they’re trying to keep the budget as tight as possible, really into affordability. But I think this next generation of nomads, you know, the ones that are working at the Google and Facebook and Twitter, all these different companies, they’ve got a nice paycheck. So for them, where they’re used to paying maybe 5000 a month for rent in San Francisco, and I don’t know how much they pay for coffee and beer these days. Yeah. But I think, yeah, once you get them on the road, I mean, they’re going to be looking for some even, you know, they’re going to be looking to kind of level up a bit in terms of their lifestyle, and actually costing them a lot less same time.
So we’re starting to see a bit of this, and I think you’re gonna start to see a lot more of them arriving at some of these, you know, some of these countries and so you don’t need as many of us You don’t need as many of the tourists, I think maybe we’ll start restricting some of the tourists because I think the tourists are starting to hurt the economy, so that I think everything’s gonna be leaning more towards this digital worker, plus a lot of these economies, they need the digital workers, because like in Portugal, in our populations, I think, a bit of a decline. They’re looking for more people to, you know, to move here, which is one of the main reasons for the golden visa and other programmes that they’ve set up. And they need the tech talent, because there’s all these technology companies are moving here to Portugal, they need people to work at the companies that need people to start companies. And the nomads are great, because they’re very futuristic.
like workers, and so attracting them and retaining them. I know, here, for example, we have the web summit in Portugal, which is the largest digital conference in the world. And I think they pay them it’s like 11 million each year or something crazy. And maybe it’s even more than that, just to have the conference here in Portugal. So I wouldn’t be surprised in the future. If economies and governments start paying, you know, to actually recruit these into liquid, we’ve seen a bit of this, but start paying to recruit them, because they’re gonna have such a big impact on the economy, because they’re not here for three days. They’re here for three months. That’s right, you know, and you can imagine the impact of that, plus they’re putting on skill shares, you know, they’re living in local neighborhoods, they’re networking with local digital people, they’re, they’re starting businesses together, they’re building relationships together. You know, it’s really like this next generation, The World 2.0, shall we say. And that’s I’m talking about, we’re in the middle of a revolution here at the moment where the revolution in terms of the way people live, work, and travel the world, we’re going to see coming out of this pandemic, a totally different world and economy. So yeah, it’s a very, very exciting time in the industry. I think it feels the same way to kind of like, try to explain this to people, but I don’t think people have really digested it quite yet.
Well, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, as more folks are exploring this, and this is one of the things we cover on this podcast. But on the other hand, there’s a couple sticky wickets, there’s the tax issue, you know, people, all of a sudden, now you have your different tax jurisdictions, I mean, our space in health care, none of these countries want a digital nomad, or a remote worker coming there, and using their health services, and being subsidized. So, obviously, we in our space, we find visa letters to show you a certain amount of coverage, etc. And then there’s the communication issues. I mean, we get requests all the time, and you touched upon it early. Because where’s the Wi Fi? Good. Where’s the infrastructure good that we can make sure that we can continue to do these phone calls. So what would you say? kind of more generally, to somebody who’s who said, they’re saying, I want to follow the path that Dave said here? I want to do this. What do I need to worry about it? You know, taxes, health, Wi Fi, you know, what, are we missing? A big a couple of your tips would would help.
Yeah, well, I think people you don’t want to overthink it. So I would just encourage people like the same way you do when you go on holiday, just head out, do it for a month, you’re not going to get into much trouble over a month, return home and then you can kind of figure out where the gotchas worse. But yeah, I think for us if we were traveling for a year, I mean, just simple things like trying to get your mail or maybe your bills or going to a certain mailbox, just making sure everything is taken care of. Because in a year’s time when you leave home, a lot of things can go wrong. Or you just, you know, for us, we had to go home after a year just to kind of get our get our lives on track, just make sure everything was in place. And we weren’t being kind of irresponsible that our lifestyles.
But I think generally a lot of the nomads, once you’ve experienced it and want to get on the road, I mean, I think about a lot of them, you know, getting rid of your apartment, you’re selling most of the stuff you don’t want, when you do need maybe to put in a storage unit or keep at your parents house. But yeah, I think overall, it’s a very, very simple lifestyle to leave. And if you’re living on a tourist visa, generally, I think you’re going to be okay, maybe every place is a little bit different. But I think a place like Portugal is great for me, because generally everyone here speaks English, when you start dealing with the government. Yeah, you’ve got to be able to speak a little Portuguese not so easy on you watch them while you keep speaking Spanish fluently. And so you can kind of get by here. But that’s the only challenge for me is once you decide to stay long term. And then you have to start interacting with the utility companies and have to interact with the government, you know, everything tends to be in the local language, and there’s not a lot of flexibility. So for us, like I even have to get our attorney to call sometimes just like the under settlement, the topic should be I’d be terrible. I was on my own.
But I think stuff like bank, bank accounts, paying bills, you know, there’s new services just like Andrew’s created Insured Nomads to help, you know, ensure you while you’re on the road, there’s also other services on the payment front, that are very popular. So like Revolute, or, you know, Wise (formerly Transferwise) and a lot of these new services are kind of popping up. So whereas I think in the last five years, the infrastructure wasn’t necessarily there. But you’re starting to see now as entrepreneurs like ourselves, building the infrastructure to make this lifestyle much easier going forward. There’s even a company called remote.com so a lot of companies are concerned about paying employees benefits, taxes, remote comm takes care of all that for you. So you can hire people in other countries, they don’t have to just be freelancers. So I think Yeah, the whole infrastructure, like all the piping is kind of being built at the moment. And I think the Gen Z is the ones that are really going to benefit from all of this. They’re not going to do any different. Really. Yeah. No, it’s awesome. The millennials just kind of paved the way and we’re kind of, it’s all just kind of, we’re all pioneers at this stage. I feel like
it’s, well, you’ve you’ve obviously travelled about you see some unique things. We’d love to ask you what is your one overlooked person, place, or experience you’d like to share with our listeners as they explore the world?
Ah, well, I love snowboarding so it’s essentially Japan’s an amazing place to go to. And so I really liked the north of Japan, Hokkaido, was really really beautiful. And that’s a great place to go to. The Sapporo. The city of Sapporo is really, really nice. there’s a there’s a ramen alley there. That’s, that’s amazing. So if you’d like ramen to check that out, but I’d say the northern island of Japan is incredible. I also love Cusco, Peru, my wife’s from the Caribbean from Lima. We spend a lot of time in Cusco and even in the Bay City of Machu Picchu and Aguascalientes. Those are both very magical places to go to do some hiking and you really have a magical experience. Yeah, in terms of people in the Nomad scene, you know, someone you may or may not have heard of as a as a lady Kristen Wilson, she runs a YouTube channel traveling with Krista. I just noticed he just did a podcast, I think about why Americans are leaving Costa Rica. And I think it has over a million views already. He just put this one out like a couple of weeks ago. So she’s starting to get really, really popular, I think as this movement takes off, and she’s also usually joins us for our clubhouse event each month with Andrew. And obviously, I really liked Andrew too, but he’s on the podcast I don’t want it’s not paying me to say this. But I think he brings a lot of energy to the movement, a lot of experience, and, and building all of that into his product, which I think is awesome. And that really seems like a very conscious entrepreneur, which I think is also a big trend in the industry. And it’s a movement away from his typical business that’s been done in the past that will be more conscious of how they treat their employees and vendors, the types of businesses that they’re creating. So I think that’s exciting.
Well, Dave, thank you for joining us today. It is really a privilege and an honor tell us if we if you will and this will be in the show notes for those listening to go to our site and check it out. But tell us where we can find you because there’s a lot of good stuff happening in this next season of your life and folks need to keep in touch with you. How can they do that?
Best is to reach out to me on LinkedIn just David Nicols Williams, check me out there or just email me directly Dave@NomadX.com. We’re happy to answer any emails or messages you want to send my direction. So just really appreciate it you guys. Thanks for thanks for hosting this and inviting me on your show. super appreciate it’s been really nice to meet you. And I know there’s some great things in the works and so whatever I can do to support you guys, and this really excited about your business. I know we’ve got some local connections back in the southeastern United States and I keep hearing great things about your stuff congrats on all your success and keep it up.
Thank you Dave. Grateful All right.
Thank you very much. Great conversation today. And and I think that Andrews’ point about us getting to Portugal is is something that we have high on the list. Thank you for joining us today listeners. Please do subscribe to The New Nomad. You can also find us at TheNewNomad.netor InsuredNomads.com. We look forward to hearing from you and have a wonderful day and keep experiencing the world. We appreciate you Cheers.
About the Guest
Dave leads NomadX as its Chairman and CEO, and is a pioneer in the digital marketing, advertising, and ad tech industries as a serial digital entrepreneur over the past 20+ years. He has also experienced multiple exits in the early formative stages of the search engine marketing, social media, and ad-tech industries with prior company headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and New York City. After visiting over 50 countries in their global travels, Dave and his wife, Jen (the company’s Chief Fun Officer), and their dog, Manu, now reside in Lisbon, Portugal, and the Northern Algarve, where they are learning to surf and using as a base for their European travels.