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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 20-11-2021 12:31

Cities should be quick to capitalise on growing numbers of digital nomads

Cities like Buenos Aires, with high quality of life, human capital, levels of English, online connectivity, affordability, and vibrant cultural offerings, are well placed to attract digital nomads in the coming years.

The global pandemic has made many of us think twice about how and where we choose to live, study and travel. This is especially true of younger professionals. With newer travel trends like ‘workations’ and growing global opportunities for remote working, more and more young professionals are seeking a “digital nomad” lifestyle – often in urban areas – that neatly balances work and financial flexibility, with travel and leisure. 

Digital nomads are professionals who are not tied to any particular location. Provided they are able to connect online, they can travel and work at the same time. Some can be on-the-go for years at a time, moving from destination to destination, while others may take shorter seasonal workations or sabbaticals.  Around three-quarters of today’s digital nomads come from the United States, the United Kingdom and Western Europe.

There is little global data on the number of digital nomads around the world since their travels are often seasonal, but by most accounts their number is on the rise. In the US, the number of digital nomads last year was 10.9 million, up from 7.3 million in 2019 before the pandemic. Nomads in the US work in a variety of fields, ranging from consulting, coaching and research (13 percent) to sales, marketing and public relations (13 percent), ICT (11 percent) and creative services (nine percent). Journalists, designers and photographers are also commonly found among the digital nomad community. 

Nearly 85 percent of digital nomads have a college degree or higher, and almost two-thirds have professions that require training or specialised education. Typically, nomads spend over US$6,000 per stay – 56 percent more than the average spending of other types of international visitor.

We’re also now seeing more and more infrastructure, products and incentives cropping up across cities and other destinations to cater to nomads, from coworking and co-living spaces with fast internet speeds and a strong nomad community spirit, to online recruitment marketplaces and financial, educational and coaching services. Plus, information sites like The Earth Awaits help people calculate cost of living data in hundreds of cities, while NomadList provides info on everything from city safety and visas to walkability and weather in over 1200 locations. 

Digital nomads are therefore becoming an increasingly important segment in today's travel market at the same time as many cities – in the wake of the pandemic and its effects on tourism – are rethinking how to position themselves internationally, increase their international competitiveness and boost their visitor economies. 

Cities like Buenos Aires, with high quality of life, human capital, levels of English, online connectivity, affordability, and vibrant cultural offerings, are well placed to attract digital nomads in the coming years. Buenos Aires already ranks no. 1 in Latin America and no. 33 globally in Nestpick's The Work-from-Anywhere Index which ranks liveability for remote workers in 75 cities.

To grow our status globally as a leading digital nomad destination, earlier this year we launched the BA Digital Nomads programme, which promotes Buenos Aires as one of the most liveable, accessible and affordable cities in Latin America. With deals on accommodation, discounts and benefits across the City’s coworking spaces, a special digital nomad visa in the pipeline that will enable digital nomads to stay in Argentina for up to one year, and an annual conference on digital nomads (#NomadsBA, this November 26-27), we hope to attract some 22,000 digital nomads to the city by 2023.

And by guaranteeing digital nomads excellent quality of life, work and study opportunities, we hope that their presence in Buenos Aires will bring greater talent and diversity to our City and help bolster the local economy in the months and years to come.

Fernando Straface

Fernando Straface

Secretary General and Secretary for International Relations, Buenos Aires City Government

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