If you can work from home, then why not work from a home half way up a mountain? We iron out the practicalities of working from home abroad, including the legal, practical and currency implications.
One positive thing to come out of the pandemic is the realisation that many of us can do our jobs from home, so long as we have a laptop and a steady internet connection. If your earthly heaven is on the slopes, working from home offers the opportunity to experience that as part of your day-to-day, and not as something you have to wait to experience in the holidays and retirement.
Since Brexit, Brits have been restricted in how much time they can spend in Europe. But in response to the influx of working from home, many countries have introduced (or are in the process of introducing) a digital nomad visa, specifically designed to enable you to work remotely abroad. On the other hand, a Golden Visa might be your route to working from the Alps. Finally, working from your Alpine home will mean dealing with currency markets regularly, so we go through how best to handle those.
Since the UK left the European Union, British citizens without a visa have only been able to stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days out of every 180. Some countries skiers will know and love within the Schengen Area are Austria, France, Switzerland and Spain. So, if you plan to work from your beautiful property in Les Houches, you will be restricted to just 90 days.
Similarly, in the USA, you can only stay for 90 days without a visa.
So, 90 days isn’t enough for you. We get it. Perhaps seeing the Pyrenees out your window while you work sharpens your concentration. Maybe your fitness levels are greatly improved by fitting in time on the slopes around meetings and to-do lists. Thankfully, there are options for staying longer.
Digital nomad visas
Many countries around the world have launched a digital nomad visa.
Some countries with a digital nomad visa are Iceland, Croatia and Norway. Typically, this enables an individual to work remotely for one country while living in another. With a digital nomad visa, you can live in a country for over 90 days. For instance, the Icelandic digital nomad visa is issued for six months.
With many, it is simple to renew your visa once it ends. A minimum income is set per month, as the intention is for you to be financially independent while working there. For example, the monthly minimum income in Greece is set at €3,500. You also must prove that you are a non-EU citizen and work with a company registered outside of Greece. One big benefit of a digital nomad visa is that you can earn a British salary, regardless of your location.
Another route for working remotely from your ski property is to gain residency through investment. Post-Brexit, this has proven particularly popular with Brits, as it offers the right to live and work in the Schengen Area. Eventually, one can apply for residency. In Spain, the Golden Visa requires a minimum property investment of €500,000 to gain residency. After ten years (two for some nationalities), you can apply for citizenship. Alternatively, many countries also offer investor visa programs to gain residency. This applies to countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
Find out how to protect your property-buying budget with Smart Currency Exchange.
Working from home, whether at 1,800m or sea level, significantly depends on being online. Your ideal lifestyle is typing away and taking calls before some cross-country skiing depends on your broadband never letting you down. Data from the Speedtest Global Index reveals which countries have the best mobile and fixed broadband speeds. Fortunately, some of our most adored skiing destinations topped the list for fixed broadband: Chile (no.1); USA (no.6); Denmark (no.7); Spain (no.11); France (no.14), followed by Switzerland and Canada. The United Kingdom is at no.55.
Earning money when you spend it in another currency
You may have thought that your days navigating currency markets would be over once you purchased your ski property. But once you’re overseas, whether staying within your 90 days or living and working there full-time, you will have times when you need to turn euros (or dollars) into pounds, and vice versa. If you work for a British company from your ski chalet, your monthly income will be subject to fluctuations in the currency market. Moreover, there are many other reasons that you might need to transfer money across currencies. If you intend to keep your property in the UK, you will have maintenance bills to pay. Additionally, you might have school or university fees to keep on top of back home.
If you work from home abroad, it pays to be proactive and deal with a currency specialist, usually for better rates and smaller (or no) transfer fees. We recommend Smart Currency Exchange. Exchange rates change by the minute, it’s called volatility, and if you do not prepare for it, then your salary from the UK will change randomly too. For example, if you’re paid £5,000 per month from the UK, and the exchange this month is €1.20 to the pound, you’ll have €6,000 to spend. But if next month the pound is only worth €1.13, you have €5,650 to spend. Such changes are pretty common over the course of a month.
Naturally, this can make budgeting difficult.
Fortunately, Smart Currency Exchange have a solution to this, a Forward Contract. A Forward Contract enables you to lock in today’s rate for the year. So if you lock in a rate of €1.20 for the year, that’s what you will have, whatever happens to the GBP/EUR rate. Of course, the currency you’re paid in can strengthen as well as weaken, so you might have been better or worse off by letting your rate fluctuate. But what you have gained is stability and peace of mind. Your finances will be predictable and not subject to market changes. Additionally, Smart offers a fully automated transfer service, so you do not have to worry about remembering monthly payments.
With a currency specialist, such as Smart Currency Exchange, you can feel assured that your money is all in order, while you focus on work and skiing.