In July 2020 Barbados launched the the world’s first visa for remote workers, the Barbados Welcome Stamp. Estonia followed suit about a month later, and then the floodgates opened; there are now over 50 countries around the world that offer some sort of visa for remote work visitors. So now that there is such a huge range of choices, how will you know whether Barbados is the right choice for your remote working life?
Although the Welcome Stamp surprised many people when it was first announced, a lot of design thinking went into its configuration and deployment. It was launched soon after the COVID pandemic shut down tourism industries around the globe, so most people thought about it as a response to the crisis in vacation tourism. Although the world is moving towards some sense of normalcy in 2023, remote work is an ongoing reality for a significant part of the workforce, particularly in technology based industries.
Remote work changes everything! The fact that many people are no longer forced to choose where they live based on the location of the company that’s paying them triggers a profound change in corporate culture. The fact that you can use technology to untangle your life from your livelihood enables a huge leap in individual freedom. The Welcome Stamp is a tool to help people and organizations adapt to, and make the most of, the potential of this new reality.
Harvard Business School Professor Raj Choudhury points out that “companies large and small are adopting work-from-anywhere for all or many of their workers.” In fact one of the world’s leading venture capital firms, Andreesen Horowitz, argues that new technology companies will be all remote work by default in the future.
The purpose of the Welcome Stamp is to give individuals, entrepreneurs, and companies a powerful tool to help them adapt to the new future of work and new corporate cultures.
Digital neighbors, not digital nomads
The Welcome Stamp is configured to help people make resilient and long term adaptations to the future of work, so the visa is not really configured for conventional digital nomads, those with a behaviour pattern of jumping from place to place every few months as tourist visas expire. The Welcome Stamp is not only valid for a full year, it is renewable without limit. Barbados is growing a community of digital neighbours, people who are well integrated into the Barbadian community and make full and rewarding lives here even though their livelihoods are made thousands of miles away.
One Welcome Stamper is the young CTO of a highly successful medium sized American tech company which is the leader in its field. He and his wife have been here for over a year with their three preteen boys. He explained the benefit of the Welcome Stamp to him and his family by describing his day. He had gotten up early with his wife and kids and they headed to Drill Hall Beach with their surfboards to catch some waves. However the surf conditions were not that good because of a side shore wind, so they jumped back in the car and headed over to Carlisle Bay a couple of minutes away, grabbed their snorkel gear, and spent a lovely time exploring the wrecks. Home in time for shower, breakfast, then school and work.
He said that “my life has never been this balanced between family and work,” adding that “this has been a life-changing experience for us… one that our children will never forget.” This is not the shallow marketing cliché of “lifestyle,” instead it is the environment where you can experience the deepest most profound joys of life.
“It’s been brilliant,” he continued, “I can’t praise Barbados enough for being so innovative in their approach to changing from short-term tourism to long-term […]. It’s given us the ability to, instead of coming here for a couple of weeks, […] to really settle in, really get to know the country. We want to stay here for the foreseeable future… maybe when the kids are ready for college we’ll reconsider.”
Barbados has great beaches and lots of sunshine, but there are a plethora of destinations with beaches and sunshine. Barbados earns its distinction in a number of ways: peaceful social climate, educated English speaking population, warm and welcoming culture, timezone convenient to both North America and Western Europe, well developed internet infrastructure, frequent airline links to the rest of the world, great restaurants, and an enviable quality of life.
Nowhere is perfect, of course. Barbados is basically a small town, fewer than 300,000 people, completely surrounded by water— so Barbadians love to travel. This is not at all a budget destination like those frequented by many digital nomads; the cost of living is no lower than that in the North American and European cities from which our digital neighbours are arriving.
You live here, but your taxation doesn’t
Our digital neighbours can adapt their financial affairs because the Welcome Stamp is legally structured so that people living here on that visa are not tax resident in Barbados. They do not pay any income tax here, but continue to pay income taxes in their jurisdiction of origin or wherever else, other than Barbados, that they choose. This gives individuals unprecedented flexibility in structuring their taxation arrangements.
The fact that Welcome Stampers are not tax resident in Barbados simultaneously eliminates the hassle and financial risk that companies face when they employ people in a jurisdiction where they have no knowledge of local tax and employment regulations. They simply continue to process payroll as though that employee lived just down the street. This gives companies which are facing challenges in retaining, motivating, and recruiting knowledge work talent a way to offer employees a quality of life that is hard to match anywhere else in the world.
There are additional benefits for the employers, because Chowdhury’s research “finds that people allowed to work from anywhere experience 4.4 percent higher productivity.”
Keep your job, but come and live in paradise
It’s easy to get a Barbados Welcome Stamp. The Barbados Welcome Stamp takes just minutes to complete and a decision is granted within five working days. Nevertheless, relocating your life is still a big deal. You cannot pack local knowledge, social connections, or peace of mind, into your carry-on or checked baggage. That’;s where we come in.
We are experienced relocation professionals; we understand that there are many things on your mind when you are relocating to Barbados: taxation questions, budgetary considerations, office or co-working spaces, accommodation rentals, housekeeping services, schools, neighbourhoods, and social communities. We will answer all your questions, talk through logistics and recommend relevant professionals to save you time and money.
Remote Work (Barbados) Inc. exists to reduce any discomfort of dislocation among those who relocate to work remotely from Barbados.
Please get in touch with us to get answers to your questions and any help you need in moving to paradise while keeping your job.