As companies begin to embrace the WFH (Work From Home) phenomenon following the Covid-19 health crisis, the Barcelona real estate sector is also preparing for change. The industry is now looking to accommodate the rise of the ‘digital nomad’, working professionals who choose to work remotely in different cities or countries and who appreciate flexibility and freedom of this new working life.
This industry was already seeing major growth prior to the pandemic and now it is fair to say that it is booming, not only fuelled by entrepreneurs, but also by newly redundant or despondent workers in search of a more fulfilling lifestyle.
‘Digital nomadism’ is becoming so popular that it has begun to create a new wave of incentives from destinations and brands worldwide. In Madeira, there already exists a scheme where a whole village is dedicated to hosting digital nomads, offering free workspaces to those looking to stay for a month or more.
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Mauritius has created a visa whereby remote workers can stay on the island for up to a year, a similar incentive is taking place in the Maldives, Helsinki is luring tech workers with a free 90-day relocation package, whilst a cruise ship in Panama is currently offering floating offices to remote workers just off its coastline.
The appeal of Barcelona for Digital Nomads
Over the past decade or so, Barcelona has also become one of the most popular centres for digital nomads, thanks to its strategic location, great cultural and leisure offerings and growing hub for FinTech start-ups.
The Catalan capital has a thriving and sociable community where new arrivals feel welcome and can collaborate on different work projects. Many of Barcelona’s digital nomads share common traits such as a love of travel and culture and, as a result of this, new communities and lifelong friendships have been created.
Prosperity and city growth
The rapid growth in this new demographic has inevitably impacted the Barcelona property sector. For a start, potential digital nomad tenants tend to rent their properties virtually. Landlords and leasing agents are therefore expected to use advanced technology in order to make the leasing process easier.
Services like DocuSign have streamlined and fast-tracked the process, from uploading documentation to signing the lease. Transparency is also important. Potential clients want to see video tours, verified testimonials and ratings to realistically manage expectations, given that face-to-face viewings are often impossible.
Coworking and internet services
The wide offer of coworking spaces make Barcelona a perfect city for digital nomads. Besides, there are plenty of bars and cafés with good WiFi connection where they can hang out and work while enjoying the pleasant weather, something they also value a lot.
Bcn Advisors has seen a notable rise in enquiries for rentals from remote workers, particularly for mid-term rents (from 3 to 11 months).
“Digital nomads don’t want to commit to a long-term rental as they want the option of moving to another part of the world at the end of their tenancy,” explains Francisco Nathurmal, CEO of the real estate agency Bcn Advisors. “Rarely do they buy a property. Their priority is to work in a furnished apartment with good internet connection. They like Barcelona because it has a vast array of coworking places, particularly in the areas of Poblenou and Eixample, and of course it is also a fantastic city for culture, leisure and gastronomy. Its location on the Mediterranean is also very appealing.’
Yasmin Igne, 33, is a seasoned digital nomad who recently spent time in Barcelona working on her consultancy business ‘No Nonsense Confidence’. From Barcelona she went to London and from there, she is planning a move to the States.
“I am a person who thrives in changing environments,” Igne explain. “Discovering new places and immersing myself in authentic local culture is what makes me feel alive. Being a digital nomad gives me the exciting opportunity to support my clients’ personal development while making unforgettable memories and wonderful friends all over the world.”
Living around the world, only for Digital Nomads
Bcn Advisors is also seeing rising numbers of affluent professionals with families using their second homes in Barcelona to spend at least part of the year in a different environment, another trend expected to continue throughout 2021 and beyond.
So for virtual businesses and companies that can offer virtual services, or for those who have the ability to work virtually, the years ahead will no doubt present many new opportunities. Real estate agencies can get ahead of the game by focusing on accommodating those with a desire to travel and to create new communities in vibrant locations.