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Telecommuting: How the rise of digital nomads is pricing communities around the world


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I have taught for eight years digital nomadism, the millennial trend to work remotely from anywhere around the world. He often asks me if he is Driving improvement.

Before COVID upended the way we work, I usually told journalists that the numbers were too small for a definitive answer. Most of the digital nomads were traveling and working illegally on tourist visas. It was a specialized phenomenon.

But three years into the pandemic, I’m not so sure anymore. The latest estimate puts the number of digital nomads from the US alone at 16.9 million, which is a staggering number 131% increase From the year before the pandemic 2019.

The same survey also indicates that as many as 72 million “armchair nomads,” again, just in the United States, are considering becoming a nomad. this The rise caused by COVID Remote work is a global phenomenon, which means that numbers of digital nomads outside the United States may be similarly high.

my research He contends that the cheaper living costs this trend has brought for those able to take advantage of it can have a downside for others. Through interviews and ethnographic fieldwork, I found that the rise of Short term professional realtorsin particular, helps drive locals out of their homes.

Before the pandemic, so were digital nomads Mostly self-employed. My research identified four more categories: Digital nomadic business owners; experimental digital nomads; armchair digital nomads; and the fastest emerging category, the salaried digital nomads.

Telecommuting: How the rise of digital nomads is pricing communities around the world

Credit: Dave Cook, CC BY

In the United States, the number of salaried nomads — full-time employees who now work remotely — is estimated to have gone from 3.2 million in 2019 to 11.1 million in 2022. This exponential growth has prompted governments to start paying attention. Last September, I submitted expert testimony to the UK Treasury regarding what it described “Working across borders”.

This phenomenon is reshaping cities. Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is often called the The digital nomad capital of the world. The Nimmanhaemin area, AKA Nimman or sometimes Coffee Street, is brimming with coffee shops, co-working spaces, and short-term Airbnbs, affordably priced for Western fares but out of the reach of many locals.

For local business owners hit hard by the pandemic, having visitors back in Chiang Mai is a relief. But as one Thai Airbnb owner told me: “There has to be balance. We lived here when Nimman was a quiet neighborhood.”

The purchasing power of western remote workers

Lisbon is similarly sought after for the better weather and lower cost of living it offers. Buzzwords like “circular economy” or the “sharing economy” digital nomads often use to describe why these sites are relevant to their way of life. They describe new approaches to urban living that emphasize mobility, more flexible approaches to building use and reuse, and innovative business models that encourage collaboration.

But the Portuguese capital, like many other urban centers, is in the grip of a housing crisis. Portuguese activists like Rita Silva Housing rights organization Habita!For example, this influx makes things worse for locals: “We are a small country and Lisbon is a small city, but the foreign population is increasing and it is very visible in the cafes and restaurants.”

In Silva’s opinion, what she calls “circular economy nonsense” does not accurately describe what is happening on the ground. In certain parts of the city, she says, you no longer hear Portuguese, but rather English. This leads to a higher cost of living, far beyond popular tourist areas like Barrio Alto and Principe Real.

Co-working spaces and creative hubs are now popping up in formerly traditional working-class areas. With the average salary in Portugal Less than 20,000 USD (£16,226), clearly not aimed at locals. One bedroom apartment in this digital hotspot for backpackers on average at least 63% of the local wage—one of the highest percentages in Europe.

In his 2007 bestselling book, The Four-Hour Workweek, author and podcast host Tim Ferriss coined the term “geographical arbitrage” to describe the phenomenon of people from higher-income countries—the United States, Europe, and South Korea—who use their wages at a lower cost. cost states.

For some Bedouins, this is an essential life hack. For others, it represents the polarizing reality of globalization: that the entire world must function as an open and free market. For many, it is unethical.

Urban sociologist Max Holleran points out that “incredible irony” In the game: “Some people actually become digital nomads, due to housing prices in their home countries. Then, being in less affluent places tightens the housing market leading to displacement in places in the global south (developing countries in Asia, Africa and America Latin)”.

On a visit to Chiang Mai in 2019 I booked an Airbnb. I expected to be checked in by the owner. Instead, I was met by a guy named Sam (not his real name), who didn’t know the name of the person I was talking to.

In the lobby of the building, there is a sign to attract the attention of travelers, tourists, and backpackers that clearly states: “This property is not a hotel. Day/week rentals are not allowed.” In the reception area, however, people worked on laptops, amidst a constant procession of western visitors entering and leaving, with backpacks and suitcases.

I looked back at my reservation and realized the apartment was hosted by a brand I will call Home-tel, which other visitors confirmed also hosted 17 other apartments.

One local said they’re considering selling, or, failing that, renting to a professional host for the short term. Living there became unbearable.

I swore that the next time I travel, I’ll make sure I’m renting from a bona fide private landlord. And I did. Only to find, upon arrival, a large sign in the lobby stating “No short periods allowed”. When she confronted the European owner, she said the sign was already there when she bought the apartment. “What can you do?” She said. Money Talks.

The rise in digital nomads is fueling competition between destinations, Holleran explains: “If Portugal says, ‘We’re tired of digital nomads,’ and cracks down on visas, Spain can say, ‘Oh, come here.'” And that will be even more true in countries with low gross domestic product.

Digital nomads should be aware of the impact they’re making, Silva says. It also urges the Portuguese government to take meaningful regulatory action: “The majority of Airbnbs are from companies that control multiple properties. We want homes to be places where people can live.”

Introduction to the conversation

This article has been republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons Licence. Read the The original article.Conversation

the quoteRemote Work: How Rising Numbers of Digital Nomads Are Pricing Local Communities Worldwide (2023, March 31), Retrieved March 31, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-remote-surge -digital-nomads-pricing.html

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