This article appeared in the December 13, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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For young digital nomads, the lures get more global

Natacha Pisarenko/AP
People gather near the Floralis Generica sculpture – a 23-meter-tall steel flower that mechanically opens each day – at a park in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 6, 2021. The city has been touting Argentina’s weak currency in promoting a new visa for workers with foreign-based income.
Clayton Collins
Director of Editorial Innovation

Ever think about pulling up stakes and setting up somewhere new?

There has long been a small, robust community of new retirees considering life abroad in relaxed countries with cheap health care. Today it’s not just expat pensioners feeling footloose. As a young Monitor writer remarked recently in a meeting, some in his cohort see the unmatched “land of opportunity” label on the United States as fading.

While voluntary migration is sometimes oversold – and, for many, unaffordable – mobility seems more real. A recent national survey of some 6,000 U.S. workers had 78% indicating a desire to keep the option to work remotely for good. They point to pandemic-era evidence that knowledge work can be done well at a distance. Workers have leverage.

If they’re feeling a little ambivalent about American opportunity, younger workers are also willing to rethink success and where to find it. First came a turning away from urban centers. Digital nomadism showed up in the forms of van-lifers and people lighting out for rural Zoomtowns. Vermont offers a relocation grant program. So do Tulsa, Oklahoma; Topeka, Kansas; and other U.S. cities and regions.

Next, perhaps: a broader definition of home. As travel eases, borders blur, and not only for American prospectors. The knowledge-worker traffic is omnidirectional. Estonia welcomes innovators to its old world but highly digital hubs. Some European countries are seeking a return of top talent that had left.

Now Buenos Aires is touting Argentina’s weak currency to appeal to foreigners’ buying power – and offering a special 12-month visa to remote workers with income from abroad. The aim, according to Bloomberg City Lab: Attract 22,000 nomads by 2023. 

This article appeared in the December 13, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 12/13 edition
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