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Schengen tourist visa - legal to work for home companies?

 

by @lefnire | 4yr  | 33 comments

So I know itโ€™s illegal to work in Europe for European companies without a work visa / permit. Iโ€™m also aware of the Germany freelancer visa, which lets you work in Germany legally for 3 years (but Iโ€™m not stationing in Germany; I want to hop hop hop). I see many digital nomads programming on the road, making income from American companies on a Schengen tourist visa. Of course this seems fine, since itโ€™s brining American dollars into Europe. But is it legal? Has anyone had experiences / conversations with immigration, or seen this discussed anywhere online? My Google fu fails me here.

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@joutazo | 4yr

Iโ€™ve definitely been hassled at UK border control. The first time I was entering with a group of remote workers, and they guy in front of me said that we were โ€œworking while traveling the worldโ€. They pulled the whole group aside and questioned us for a long time. Then next time I entered the UK a few weeks later, I wasnโ€™t expecting any hard questions, and thought I would just say I was โ€œtraveling for pleasureโ€ like I always say in other countries. The immigration officer asked me what I do for income, and I said โ€œIโ€™m a programmerโ€ she asked me point blank if I was planning to do work while in the UK. It was a little bit tricky to dodge that one and not make her suspicious that I was violating the terms of a tourist visa. I almost thought she wasnโ€™t going to let me in. From now on, I think Iโ€™ll say โ€œI work for a company in California as a programmerโ€. That should avoid immigration officials misinterpreting my situation or thinking that Iโ€™m seeking illegal work in the country.

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@whereskristin | 4yr

Iโ€™ve always thought that if youโ€™re working online on your computer that you can pretty much work from anywhere. I thought that work visas only applied to physical work in the country, getting a job somewhere whether itโ€™s a restaurant, yoga studio or multinational corporation. Every time I enter a country like Canada or somewhere in the EU, if they ask me what I do for work I just tell them I work online. No one has ever asked for a work permit for that in over 10 years.

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@flyonthewall | 4yr

@whereskristin Although I think you are spot on in terms of the interpretation of the law in most countries, oftentimes at border control, it is the individual immigration officer who gets to make the call.

In this case, saying that you work online might lead to a followup question like โ€œAre you planning to work online while in X country?โ€. To which I would not like to lie in most circumstancesโ€ฆ at the same time I also donโ€™t want to be at the mercy of the immigration officer who might interpret this in whatever way he likes.

I prefer to avoid this line of questioning so to a question like โ€œWhat do you do for a living?โ€ I would reply with โ€œI run X type of businessโ€. It could be solely an online business but I donโ€™t need to say that and usually this is satisfying enough for most people.

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@whereskristin | 4yr

The bottom line is that entry to a country is completely at the discretion of that border agent. No one, even immigration attorneys, can tell you what to say with complete certainty. I donโ€™t think that lying could ever be good advice in these situations (or in life in general). It would be pretty rare and bad luck for someone to be turned away from the border as a tourist just because they have the capability to work on their laptop. Maybe there is some risk but I think itโ€™s better to be straight forward. Many times you wonโ€™t even be asked anything and they just stamp your passport.

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

except in the UK. do not ever tell them youโ€™re doing any form of work or youโ€™ll likely be denied.

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@whereskristin | 4yr

Thatโ€™s true; they are super strict there and I know people whoโ€™ve been deported for saying theyโ€™re going there (specifically) for some kind of work. Iโ€™m always going just to visit friends and family or for touristic reasons so I say that, but if they ask what I do for work I still say I work online, or Iโ€™m a consultant, or I own my own business, etc.

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@lia9255 | 4yr

Iโ€™m in school and have an opportunity to do a 2-month (unpaid) internship in Spain. Do I need to get a work (or study) VISA or should I just go as a tourist and leave the Schengen zone before the 90-day cutoff? I would like to travel in Europe past the 90-day limit, but could go to Asia and come back 3 months later. Any advice on what kind of VISA I need, especially since my itinerary for other European countries is not set right now?

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@lightmotif | 4yr

I would ask your potential internship sponsor what kind of visa you need โ€“ some countries donโ€™t allow volunteers under a tourist visa but I think Spain does โ€“ but you still might qualify for a special student visa that gives you extra time. Otherwise, do leave the Schengen zone before the end of 90 days โ€“ itโ€™s too risky to over-stay, but yes, there are still countries in Europe who are not part of Schengen.

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

depends on whether you want to be legal or not. you donโ€™t have to go all the way to asia, you just need to leave schengen.

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@harris | 4yr

They have a โ€œself employedโ€ residency visa in Spain as well as a non-lucrative visa. On the latter, you would need to show income of โ‚ฌ2500 a month or savings of at least โ‚ฌ25000 I believe.

Once you have a legal visa from one schengen country you can travel to the others legally.

If youโ€™re hop hop hopping, you could try to hop โ€œoutโ€ of schengen for 3 months out of any 6 that youโ€™re there for. Plenty of non-schengen neighbors to visit as well. This would be a tourist visa.

FWIW, I disagree with wanderingdev. If I legitimately travel to anywhere in the world for a week, a month, or up to 90 days, I can keep my job back in the states and work remotely. Thereโ€™s no way to monitor that and the โ€œno workโ€ aspect of tourist visas is clearly about not being able to work in the country youโ€™re visiting, for a company there.

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@nomadtax | 4yr

If you are worried about the border guards, simply donโ€™t talk to them. There are many EU countries where US, Canadian and Australians can enter using the EU citizens automated machines. Finland is an example.

Also, for those worried about the UK border, simply register here and you can use the EU citizens machines (completely avoiding the human border guards).
https://www.gov.uk/registered-traveller

As for the legality of working in the EU under a tourist visa, this depends on the country you are in. Some allow tourists to work with very few restrictions (even local jobs) while others do not even allow regular business trips without documentation. The risk of getting caught is pretty much nil though so I wouldnโ€™t worry about it.

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@kathrynoh | 4yr

Thanks, I was wondering if itโ€™d be so difficult going to the UK if you are from another Commonwealth country.

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

oh, and the best part of this last entry was that the guy wanted to know the names and exact dates of everywhere Iโ€™d been for the last 6 months. When I told him I could list countries but not dates he was all โ€œWhen I go on holiday I know exactly where Iโ€™ve been and exactly what dates I went.โ€ My response was โ€œIโ€™ve been to 12 countries in the last 6 months and multiple cities in each country and I just donโ€™t have the memory for that.โ€ That kinda shut him up. :slight_smile:

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@oskar | 4yr

yeah i thought USA was bad when trying to enter the country. But the UK is in a whole new level :slight_smile:

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

@lefnire Iโ€™ve never shown a bank statement. They just ask me how much money I have available and I tell them I have a few thousand liquid and about $15k in available credit. So thatโ€™s not been an issue.

@Oskar Iโ€™ve been in the UK twice in the last 12 months.

@international_man This last time, even with an onward ticket out of the UK and a ticket booked back to the US within 6 months they still questioned me for about 45 minutes.

It was seriously hard not to pretty much say โ€˜Dude, i can live anywhere in the world. If Iโ€™m going to overstay my visa itโ€™s not going to be somewhere so freaking expensive with such shitty weather. And if I was planning on breaking the law, I would just tell you I was staying for a long weekend to explore London so youโ€™d let me through, and then overstay. I wouldnโ€™t be honest about how long Iโ€™m here.โ€™ But I controlled myself. lol

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@mule5 | 4yr

When travelling to Brazil in 2008, from the US, Americans need an expensive Visa, $120 US at that time, each. They required a bank statement for the visa application, since we wanted a long duration (90 days), showing a โ€œcertainโ€ amount of money, to be โ€œenoughโ€ to sustain us for the duration of the trip without employment. We were able to show, and the Boston consulate accepted, a heavily redacted bank statement for our 3 month long trip, as well as a letter from the landlord for the apartment we rented, as being paid for the first month of three. Never had this problem anywhere else. Havenโ€™t been to the UK yet, but with my EU passport, there most likely wonโ€™t be a problem unless they drop out of the EU. :slight_smile:

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@harris | 4yr

UK is not in the Schengen (even though theyโ€™re not in the EU).

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@jb510 | 4yr

FWIW, had similar experience crossing into Canada. The first time went like this:
โ€œDo you have any money?โ€, โ€œYou mean like in my pocket?โ€, โ€œNo, do you have savings?โ€. โ€œWell, yesโ€ฆ I have income from my own business, have cash, have credit cards and investmentsโ€. That ended the conversation and they had me move on.

Now I skip the โ€œYou mean in my pocket?โ€ snarky rhetorical questionโ€ฆ

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@anigupta | 4yr

I should add here, if asked by immigration authorities at any entry point, you shouldnโ€™t say you are there to travel AND work remotely. You are technically not allowed to work when on a tourist visa. But it is not possible for them to prove you did any work, esp when you are a remote worker.

You should also check your US tax and residency requirements. US has a tax exemption provision if you are not living there 330 out of 365 days. It has many caveats though.

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

The fact that you canโ€™t tell them youโ€™re working just shows that it isnโ€™t legal. The plan outlined will work, Iโ€™ve been doing it for years. But that still doesnโ€™t make it legal, and that was the question. OP, unless you get a work visa, no matter who you are working for or where you are getting paid, doing any kind of work while on a tourist visa is illegal and could potentially lead to problems. Now realistically, it isnโ€™t an issue because most countries donโ€™t care as long as youโ€™re not taking a local job. The UK is the only place that hassles me.

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@anigupta | 4yr

Curious to know. What kind of hassles have you faced in the UK?

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

getting into the UK if you are in any way a non typical traveler is a nightmare. iโ€™ve been stopped and questioned a couple times now. to the point where itโ€™s really my least favorite place to visit now. i only come here now if I have a house sit. otherwise just better to avoid it. itโ€™s too expensive anyway.

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@lefnire | 4yr

@wanderingdev What kind of response do you usually have to quell the brits? I imagine they look at a bank statement and think โ€œhmm, thereโ€™s incomeโ€ฆโ€ which is a tough bush to beat around. Totally understood if thatโ€™s something youโ€™re not comfortable discussing.

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@travelmore | 4yr

UK is the worst. Immigration treats you like a criminal and just grill you.

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

yep. i just had 10 days free between house sits and Iโ€™d have liked to have hopped a flight somewhere warmer and cheaper, but I was worried that they wouldnโ€™t let me back in so I was stuck here.

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@wanderingdev I actually posted something in the onward ticket thread earlier today, but I too am getting questioned more and more by UK immigration. I had an actual onward ticket (to Thailand), but that wasnโ€™t good enough. They did state that I must have a onward ticket to my country of residence and also asked for me to prove where I lived (which I didnโ€™t state in the other thread โ€“ thankfully I had my old Hong Kong ID card which passed their sniff test!). Argh!

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@oskar | 4yr

How many times have you traveled to the UK in a year? if you travel once a year do they still give you trouble entering the country???

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@lefnire | 4yr

Great info, lots to chew on. Thanks @anigupta!

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@anigupta | 4yr

@lefnire I am not clear on your question. Are you asking about freelancing for a European company, while travelling in Europe on a Schengen tourist visa? Technically, if you are in any country with the intention of working rather than what your visa states you can do, youโ€™d be in a bind.

However, this is how I understand it (being a remote worker for many years now): if you are a remote worker, and not a full-time/permanent employee with a company anywhere in the world, as long as you are getting paid in your home country, where you are a resident and pay taxes, you should be fine. As long as you are a contract worker with any company in the world, and get paid in your home country, then there should be no problems with the law of the country you are travelling in. However, if you are in that country to work onsite with their team, instead of travelling or doing what your visa allows you to, then you can get into trouble.

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@lefnire | 4yr

@anigupta your answer addressed my question, I believe. My plan is to work as a US resident (paying taxes in the US), for a US company; however, while traveling on a tourist visa in Europe for 2-3 years. To circumvent the 3month tourist visa bit, I plan to visit SE Asia (or any other non-Schengen visa zone) long enough for the 180-day counter to reset.

In short: USA company, USA resident + taxes; but working ~30h/wk while traveling Europe (at cafes, in the AirBnB, etc - web development). Iโ€™m hearing there might be some fuzziness depending on if the work arrangement is 1099 vs W2. Iโ€™m also hearing from others itโ€™s totally illegal; which I buy. Iโ€™ve met lots of people doing this, they just say โ€œit doesnโ€™t come upโ€ - which makes me pretty nervous.

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@anigupta | 4yr

@lefnire your plan should work. I donโ€™t think youโ€™ll run afoul of the laws of the country youโ€™re travelling in. You may need to check on the 1099/W2 legality with a CPA. In my case, I work for a multi-national corporate remote team as a consultant. I am a business owner in my home country, which is where I get paid, and pay my taxes. All I need is a decent internet connection. I can choose to travel year long all over the world and work out of coworking spaces etc., as long as I am not getting paid in the country I am a temporary visitor.

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@lefnire | 4yr

@anigupta thatโ€™s the ticket right there! Exactly the setup Iโ€™m planning. The strange bit is I canโ€™t find any actual hard facts on said scenario. Have you ever been questioned at airport immigration? Sort of โ€œI see by your bank statements youโ€™re making income; but youโ€™re applying for a tourist visa, what gives?โ€ I have a hunch everything will be just fine; just wondering if thereโ€™s any concrete anecdotes / documents out-n-about.

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@wanderingdev | 4yr

no. it is not legal to work while on a tourist visa in europe.

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Read and participate in 14,011 discussions on Nomad List

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Where do I get good legal advice/support to have a long-term stay?


in Lisbon, Portugal by @mzorrilla | 1mo 1 month ago | 1 comment

Hello, everyone!

My idea is to stay as low as 6 months and as long as a year (maybe, who knows) over Lisbon after doing some analysis from many cities in Europe.

I'm an Argentinian and Chilean (both nationalities) so... no Euro-pass for me (getting my Italian nationality could take 2 years easily). I'm also a remote worker and I have a really good income (I work for a Silicon Valley company) so I can show more than enough resources to stay in the country.

Everything I see online doesn't inspire me much confidence (most sites looks a bit scammy) and this is not a "vacation stay"... I want to be clear my head far away from Argentina right now. If someone has a good website, recommendations, etc I will super appreciate.

Thanks in advance!

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Do you prefer co-living spaces or hostels or Airbnbs?


by @davda1546 | 2mo 2 months ago | 5 comments

We are hoping to become nomads soon and have booked an AirBnB in September in Goa for our first destination. We are considering what would be the best option for accommodation after that. We are trying to decide between co-living spaces, hostels, or Airbnbs.

What are your experiences of accommodation in terms of the following: reliable wifi, social aspect, pricing, cleanliness, cooking facilities?

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Can Americans with EU Passports Travel to EU during COVID-19?


in France by @fqlx | 2mo 2 months ago | 1 comment

I'm a dual citizen of America and France with my resident based in the America. Can I travel to the EU using my French passport?

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How does Ireland tourist visa length and recurrence work?


in Ireland by @nrgetik | 5mo 4 months ago | 2 comments

Iโ€™m planning a stint in Ireland and Iโ€™m wondering about the 90-day tourist visa. Official information just mentions the 90-day limit without elaboration. Is it akin to Schengen where itโ€™s counted against the most recent 180-day period? Iโ€™m asking because I might like to take trips to the continent flying out of Dublin, but I donโ€™t know how I should account for the days Iโ€™m gone if I do that. Do I stop the 90-day clock for Ireland while Iโ€™m away, or should I make sure Iโ€™m gone from Ireland <= 90 days after my initial arrival date, regardless of where else I go during that interval, just to be safe? What have others done?

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Has anyone created a list of co-living spaces around the world?


by @keegansard | 7mo 6 months ago | 4 comments

Iโ€™m a big believer in co-living but Iโ€™m finding hard to find all the options available in different cities.

I have found the major players like Roam, The Collective, and WeLive but havenโ€™t found many others.

Has anyone seen a list or should I start making one?

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What investment options are open to e-resident?


by @64tankman | 7mo 6 months ago | 1 comment

I know from experience that if you have residential status in countries where IG (a broker) serves, you can buy stocks and other assets through this broker. But I wonder what doors to the stock market, asset market or broker can be unlocked with e-residency? Some banks open a terminal for customers to buy assets overseas too, is one of the e-residency friendly bank offering a good portfolio of assets to invest in?

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My first time nomad-ing... Spain or Portugal?


in Portugal by @jasraj | 8mo 8 months ago | 6 comments

Hey everyone,

Iโ€™m a freelance + nomad newbie, off for my 1st proper trip in May. Iโ€™m wanting to spend a month somewhere and go from there.

I just came back from Slovenia/Ljubljana and loved it there (just a week). I donโ€™t mind โ€œsleepierโ€ places par-say, as long as theyโ€™re close to a beach or nature of some kind. In fact, I kinda like places less-busy and a bit smaller/cosier.

Iโ€™m been swaying towards Porto, but have been impressed by the rave reviews Iโ€™ve seen for Valencia.

-> Have you every nomad-ed in a Spanish/Portuguese city? Iโ€™d love to know where and what you liked/disliked :slight_smile:

Thanks! :slight_smile:

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Warm and dry place - June to November


by @nomadsince2010 | 8mo 8 months ago | 4 comments

I have been doing Southeast Asia during June to November for 11 years. Rainy, Typhoons - is wild - still warm but ya - getting older so not as into that. Where can go is warm and dry - not super hot like Vegas but warm and has to be DRY. Good Internet and affordable. Ty

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Central America - Where and what's next?


by @as11 | 8mo 8 months ago | 11 comments

Currently in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and heading to Santa Teressa, Costa Rica next week.
Then Aruba in the Caribbean Sea for Christmas and New Year.

However I feel I want to head back to Central America to bring living costs down, rather than staying in the Caribbean Sea among the expensive Islands.

This means I have around 2 - 2,5 month of unplanned travelling.
Any digital nomads who have ideas about where to head in that timeframe?

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Is it easy to renew your tourist visa for 6 months in Colombia?


in Colombia by @julien | 8mo 8 months ago | 1 comment

Hello everyone,
I will come to live in Colombia for one year.
What is the best solution with the Visa?
I thought to have a Visa for tourists for 3 months and renewal the visa for 6 months. Is that hard to renewal a tourist Visa in Colombia?
Thank you for your help.
Best,
Julien

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Where to move for tax purposes as a non-US citizen?


by @mender | 12mo 11 months ago | 5 comments

I am a New Zealander looking to travel for a couple of years in different countries. For this purpose I would ideally like to shift my company to a lower tax territory where I will live part time, as I am currently taxed at roughly 33% in New Zealand, however itโ€™s closer to 40% when I add in all the hidden taxes.

With a move I wonโ€™t be living in NZ so Iโ€™ll no longer be obliged to pay any tax after 320 days.

I ideally would wish to be a tax resident of the country I incorporate in. What country is easiest to do this through? A large chunk of my business relies on PayPal which requires your bank account to be from the same country your company is registered. Thus I canโ€™t do anything such as BVI or small islands.

Tbh my best bet looks to be Dubai Free Zones at this point and I can do some travel in europe from there.

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What is your ergonomic set-up while traveling?


by @caseyr | 1yr 1 year ago | 18 comments

What is your ergonomic set-up while traveling?

I personally have an external keyboard, and am currently exploring getting a laptop stand, some lumbar support, and a trackball-mouse.

What do you use? How are you balancing health / portability?

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Property Ownership - should digital nomads buy properties?


by @sparrow_23 | 1yr 1 year ago | 16 comments

I have been a digital nomad for the last couple of years. I have always worked in tech and now run a couple of profitable online businesses that give me a reliable income and allow me to fund a nomadic lifestyle.

I recently exited one of my businesses and I am considering to invest the income from the sale in properties, mainly for 2 reasons:

a) I donโ€™t want to keep wasting my money in renting apartments across the cities I stay

b) I believe in properties as investment and I want to diversify my investment portfolio (mainly stocks)

After years of constant wander from one place to another, now I am the type of digital nomad who sticks to few locations: I mainly rotate across 4 places each year (San Francisco, Medellin, Berlin, Bali). Buying a house in each of those location would be difficult and too expensive. Therefore, I was wondering if there was any sort of service that combines an investment opportunity with the ability to access different properties around the world (even if just for a limited time per year) ?

Imagine living in 4 cities per year and having a house in each place that you can exclusively use for 3 months and at the same time having your investment growing (this depending on the market, of course). Wouldnโ€™t that be great? I believe it could be done via a property fund selling you a share and giving you access to some of their properties for a limited timeframe each year.

Has anyone heard of anything like that?

Thanks!

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Any Estonia e-residency company viritual office provider that accepts cryptocurrency?


in Estonia by @64tankman | 1yr 1 year ago | 0 comments

I previously use Profia. Contract is ending and I want to have someone who accepts crypto payment instead.

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Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan - which island is better for a digital nomad?


in Ko Lanta, Thailand by @melinda | 1yr 1 year ago | 6 comments

Iโ€™m currently in Penang, Malaysia and I was thinking to head to Thailand next. What are the best islands in Thailand to get some work done? I was considering either Ko Lanta or Ko Phangan because those both islands have coworking spaces. I might need to take some client calls, also video. Is the wifi good enough? Are there any other differences between the islands?

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Greece- WIFI- how is it really?


in Greece by @amandamay | 1yr 1 year ago | 0 comments

We are leaving for Greece in 60 days and need good wifi for the 3 months we plan on staying there, this is a must! Iโ€™ve heard mixed reviews and the 8-10 ranking on nomadlist are not super encouraging. Has anyone recently worked from there? What should we expect? We plan on renting an apartment after staying in airbnb and would like to work from the place we are staying in. Thanks so much for helping me decide if we can continue on or change plans.

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How do I ensure that getting refused entry to the UK won't keep me from getting an Australian 462 (work and holiday) visa?


in Australia by @allisonkirschbaum | 1yr 1 year ago | 0 comments

On New Yearโ€™s Day this year, I was refused entry to the UK due to not having proof of funds, an outward-bound plane ticket (I was road-tripping out with a friend via car) and not being able to prove that I had indeed canceled the lease on the apartment I had leased during a prior recent trip.

I havenโ€™t had any entry issues to any of the several countries Iโ€™ve visited after, but now Iโ€™m applying for a 462 visa (work and holiday) visa in Australia, and since Australia and the UK share an immigration info system, I want to make sure getting refused entry wonโ€™t keep me from getting a visa. None of the issues that cropped up in the UK (the proof of funds, the plane ticket, and the apartment) will be an issue in Australia, as Iโ€™ve never traveled there before, donโ€™t know anyone and will have proof of more than sufficient funds for the trip and an outbound plane ticket.

Anybody have any suggestions on how to make the approval process go as smoothly as possible?

Many thanks in advance! :smiley:

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Co-working space in Shanghai WITHOUT monthly payment


in Shanghai, China by @katrin | 1yr 1 year ago | 0 comments

Daily/hourly pass needed.
Canโ€™t work in normal cafรฉ because having clientโ€™s laptop for security reasons, canโ€™t use open networks. Working for R&D. Also laptop is so huge it doesnโ€™t fit normal cafe environment because itโ€™s far from discreet.

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What's the best mobile-data option in New Zealand for nomads?


in New Zealand by @goldsaj | 2yr 1 year ago | 2 comments

Hi All! Iโ€™ve heard Spark and Vodafone are the best. I plan to move around, so I care mostly about having good coverage, and all Iโ€™ll need is around 1 GB of data or so.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!

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Estonia E-Residency & CFC


in Estonia by @edusantorini | 2yr 1 year ago | 7 comments

So, Iโ€™ve been looking into e-residency and moving my business to Estonia the past few weeks.
Iโ€™m still a tax resident in Germany and therefore fear Iโ€™ll be suspect to CFC laws. I somehow canโ€™t find any reliable info on this and I donโ€™t feel like reading through the whole law, so just wondering if anyone knows how CFC laws in EU countries come into practice. What taxes do I need to pay exactly? As soon as I cash out (dividends), as far as I can see I need to pay 20% income tax in Estonia. Then what? Of course, I would need to pay income tax in Germany. What taxes do I need to pay besides these?
And if I keep the money in Estonia/reinvest it, am I right that I wouldnโ€™t need to pay any taxes at all? Only for the money I cash out of Estonia/the business?

Iโ€™m by the way not doing this to evade taxes, taxes are secondary. I primarily simply want to move my business activities out of Germany + the all-digital concept and the bookkeeping service of agencies like leapIN are interesting.

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