Rodolfo Delgado is the Co-Founder & CEO of Replay Listings, the first platform to find apartments for rent in NYC focused on unedited videos.
Brenda, a computer scientist previously based in New York, recently substituted her daily subway commute for a 30-minute breakfast with a breathtaking view in Dubrovnik, Croatia. She is a “digital nomad,” which means she uses telecommunications technologies to earn a living and perform her work remotely.
A digital nomad’s work is location-independent. They often work from foreign countries, generally conducting their business in co-working spaces, coffee shops or libraries. With almost 11 million American digital nomads as of 2020, this 21st-century subset of working professionals is on the rise.
A Growing Demographic
The quick adoption of technology, coupled with the current global circumstance, has facilitated the digital nomad’s rapid growth. With a 49% increase in American digital nomads from 2019 to 2020, the world will witness a shift toward remote work and a boost in this population.
In Europe, the “first” digital nomad village opens its doors in February to attract location-independent professionals looking to enhance their work-travel experience with an ocean view that is bound to inspire. It began with Gonçalo Hall, who proposed an idea at a conference in Portugal. Days later, the president of Madeira reportedly reached out and hired Gonçalo to promote the island.
What’s Helping The Rise Of Digital Nomads
Availability to access services from any device with internet access allows digital nomads to travel with laptops, tablets or mobile phones and work remotely. Have you used Netflix, Gmail, Spotify, Zoom, Uber or Airbnb recently? These are all software as a service (SaaS) offerings that digital nomads have greatly benefited from because of their accessibility — it is as simple as visiting a website and logging into their accounts to access the company’s platform and their cloud-stored personal data.
Adopting this nomadic lifestyle requires adaptability, which proves to be an invaluable asset in the business sphere. Benjamin is an entrepreneur and digital nomad who began by traveling the world to train others in his field. He eventually stepped into the digital world to support his work with his own subscription-based platform.
SaaS’s worldwide market revenue passed $214 billion in 2019 and is growing by 30% per annum. For many, that means remote work is here to stay as they can say goodbye to manual updates or office dependency.
Impacts On The Real Estate Industry
The future of real estate is composed of companies and agents adopting honesty and transparency as core principles across their business. To understand how the rise of digital nomads impacts the residential real estate market, we have to start at the beginning of the process — how a property is advertised and leased. Digital nomads looking to move into a new city or country tend to rent their next temporary home from abroad, sight-unseen. Talking to a few digital nomads made me quickly realize that transparency in their leasing process is crucial.
Thus, transparency in the way brokers advertise properties provides a competitive advantage over those using enhanced images or brightened pictures. Consumers are demanding that the real estate industry move in the right direction: one that embraces video tours, verified testimonials and ratings.
Another significant impact of digital nomads on the residential real estate industry is the need for landlords and leasing agents to leverage technology to facilitate the leasing process. Services like DocuSign, Adobe Sign and HelloSign have streamlined the process, from uploading the required documentation to signing the lease, essentially allowing customers to have their next home ready upon their arrival.
With technology disrupting how people like Brenda or Benjamin develop their lives, it is evident that digital nomads are on the rise. Covid-19 won’t stay a lethal threat forever, but the rapid adoption of new technologies propelled by the pandemic opens new opportunities. I predict that digital nomads’ rise will grow the potential market for short-term rentals, including whole villages dedicated to them, such as being pioneered in Madeira.
This year will undoubtedly present new opportunities to those who wish to travel as far as the internet will take them. With a focus on creating community and providing exotic experiences, work-centric rentals are sure to appeal to future digital nomads.
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