With the internet making the world an ever-smaller place and blurring the definitions of such concepts as ‘the workplace’ – traditional documentation such as where to pay taxes and what nationality passport one could adopt have all been thrown up into the air and landed as a mess of legal and financial confetti on the office floor.
Irrespective of the way that one might have voted for the Brexit referendum (if you had the chance to do so) anyone would agree that the resultant arrangements for freedom of movement to and from the UK and the Schengen Zone have become complex. Those retired or semi-retired ‘snowbirds’ and ‘sunbirds’ who would either spend their winters in Andalucía or their summers in the UK, or vice versa, can now only stay 90 days out of every 180 in the Schengen Zone or risk a ban from entering again.
Obviously, the other way to sidestep this is to gain Spanish residency, or in whatever EU country you’d like to adopt as home, but unless you’re in receipt of a state pension with a street-legal S1 medical benefits form, the application process can be extremely complex. This is why it’s important to be able to use all that technology has to offer to locate oneself ‘virtually’ in whatever jurisdiction suits your purpose.
One way of assisting this process is by using a static residential proxy server. In effect, this means that you could be running a small business in the EU, but you rent a server with a UK or third-country internet protocol (IP) location in which to ‘virtually’ locate your business.
There are other significant advantages to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) using residential proxies, which we’ll briefly examine later. But first let’s look at the framework of legislation that moulds where you might want to choose to relocate.
Inevitably, governments and individuals will always find practical solutions to any problem if they try hard enough, and the strategies they adapt to do so will almost always be driven by the same five important reasons:
As a result, it’s no surprise that Spain, Portugal, Malta and other EU member states are responding to the information technology (IT) work from home (WFH) revolution by introducing ‘digital nomad’ visas. It’s a very simple concept, and you might notice a pattern amongst the countries that offer them.
Each one has a pleasant, warmer climate than the majority of Northern Europe, they have lower taxation on alcohol than their Northern counterparts, and they’re very keen for non-EU citizens to live in their countries, as long as those people’s incomes are sourced in their home country, but the money spent in their chosen place of residence.
In short, what they’re saying is, ‘come and take advantage of our nice weather and relaxed lifestyle, so long as you earn your money overseas, you don’t burden our healthcare system and you spend as much money as you want into our economy…’
Naturally, there are rules about how much a digital nomad should earn before being awarded the visa. They must have savings back at home and a few other basic safety nets in place, but in short, the whole system makes a great deal of sense. The only downside to moving abroad for indeterminate periods is that you leave friends at home, and loneliness amongst expats especially as we live a more ‘virtual’ existence is becoming more of a problem; especially among older people in rural areas.
Where it gets a bit more complex is paying tax and defining one’s actual ‘base’. You might be registered to vote in the UK but not actually live at that address; it might be a relative’s or friend’s home. Then there are the annoying little post-Brexit practicalities, such as the reintroduction of roaming charges for UK based mobile phone accounts in the EU.
But to be a digital nomad, the most important thing is that your clients must be based away from the EU country in which you’re currently enjoying the visa (or in the case of Spain, at least 80% of your income must be earned extramurally).
In Malta, a country that carried on their reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK post-Brexit, the situation before the Digital Nomad scheme was complex for those of under retirement age. If you were a UK citizen of working age living in Malta, you would have to choose where to pay your National Insurance. If you paid it into the UK system, you would have to take out expensive private medical insurance in Malta. If you paid into the Maltese healthcare system, you would lose your National Health Service (NHS) benefits when returning to the UK.
The digital nomad scheme cuts through these complications, you earn your money in the UK or the rest of the world, spend it in Malta and get to enjoy the better weather. The absurdly high accommodation costs and the fact that the place is becoming one concrete sprawl of construction sites is another matter.
In short, if you like the idea of living in the EU and you’re from a third country (as the UK is now) – then the digital nomad scheme is the way to go. By using a residential proxy server, it’s possible to use a UK based residential IP address, as if you’re running a small business as a sole trader from a kitchen table in the home counties.
You can also take advantage of such things as ‘ethical web scraping’ using a residential proxy, whereby you can download prices and offers from competitors’ websites without being discovered by bots, which would otherwise block you from those websites.
Hackers and malicious opportunists trawl the web all day, looking for small business websites with lax security so they can send malware to the proprietors and cheat them out of funds using ransomware or phishing scams. Using a residential proxy also prevents this, as businesses and their cloud activities are usually run via data centre servers from providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure cloud. Simply put, hackers tend to live ordinary citizens alone.
In the final analysis, to get the best of all worlds, a digital nomad visa combined with renting a residential proxy server can guarantee a place in the sun with online security, peace of mind, and above all, cheaper wine than in the UK. What’s not to like?!