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How it all began - Digital Nomads

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Have you ever dreamed of working from a beautiful location while having lunch in a charming Spanish square or going to a mediterranean beach during the weekends? Well, that dream can be a reality with the rise of digital nomads.

My journey recognising the potential of Digital Nomads started when I met Tim (now a great friend) who was working as a freelancer for a contractor Association in the UK. It was 2009 and Crunch had only just launched. 

We had dinner together and it turned out that Tim didn’t live in London, he lived in Pollença, Majorca. He was only over for meetings 2 to 3 times a month, the rest of the time he lived and worked in this beautiful old mediaeval town in North Majorca. He even had a London telephone number so he looked and acted as any normal UK firm. 

I was completely in awe of his set up and the beauty of being able to work in such a beautiful place and yet run a super successful marketing and content business. I think Tim was proud of what he had achieved. I got invited to go and stay with him and his family so I could check out this remote freelancer’s life from his perspective.

It was January and the evening I arrived Tim took me to one of Pollenca's most intriguing festivals, the Devils. I was amazed by the way Majorcans do festivals. They had devils coming out of an altar in the square, firing firework rockets from their shoulders into the crowd. It was a classic Spanish lack of health and safety but an incredible experience.

After the most delightful weekend I realised that I could work like this, so on one ‘test’ trip I spent six weeks in Pollenca, living in a bed and breakfast and working with my team, just remotely. I was also able to have beautiful lunches in the square, go to the beach, and have amazing weekends in the sun. This was an incredible way to operate as a small business, and I loved it.

So how did Tim run his business? He had a UK Limited company, paid corporation tax in the UK, and his personal tax in Majorca. This simple arrangement gave him the ability to work and live in a beautiful place in the world.

The rise of the digital nomad movement has been astounding. There are now 35 million digital nomads across the world, and about 46% of them are self-employed and 8% are Brits. Lisbon, Portugal is one of the top locations with Madeira, a Portuguese island in the Atlantic often cited in the top locations, even sporting its own dedicated Digital Nomads village and Bali, Indonesia coming in the top 10.  

Digital nomads live amazing lives, and some are truly nomadic, moving around every three months. For Europe, if you're a Brit and now outside the EU (unless you have another passport), you can only stay in the Schengen Zone for up to 3 months in any 180 days, however there are a mass of amazing places around the world where you can stay longer and live very cost effectively. The number of countries delivering Digital Nomad Visas (DNV’s) are increasing, each have their own rules, often limited to 1 or 2 years and all requiring that the Digital Nomad have a certain level of earnings and specifying that they are employed by a company or must have their own company, like a UK Limited company to comply with the rules. Essentially you pay Corporation Tax on your profit, 19% if it's under £50k of profit and the personal tax, if required, for where you spend the most nights in any one year period. If you are curious about how your own nomad life could take shape, simply contact us for both sole trader accounting and limited company accounting support.

I love this life, and I can see many millions more capable digitally and savvy freelancers leaving the UK and becoming a digital nomad. This is the future of work, and we’ll be writing lots about it to enable more freelancers to combine their businesses with a life of travel and exploration! Find out more, including how you can run your limited company when you're not a resident in the UK, online now at Crunch. If you have any amazing stories or want to share your digital nomad experiences, please feel free to share it with the great community at Crunch.

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Updated on
March 6, 2023

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