COVID-19 restricts Canadian ‘digital nomads’ when living and working abroad


Before the pandemic, Artem Polyvyanny used to choose where he wanted to live and work pretty much on a whim.

“Africa was going to be a place I wanted to go, but it’s mostly closed, Asia is almost completely closed too,” said the 34-year-old Toronto resident. He had decided to go to Europe to see friends, but had to change plans recently as countries began to implement new COVID-19 lockdowns.

He now finds himself in Mexico, a destination born out of a process of elimination.

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“I can’t go to most of the places I want to go.”

Artem Polyvyanny, a Canadian digital nomad, chooses to work remotely from Mexico during the pandemic.

HO / The Canadian Press

Canadians living the digital nomadic lifestyle say remote working in foreign countries has become cheaper due to the pandemic, but the freedom to go anywhere they want has been severely limited.

Digital nomads, who are often self-employed or work remotely full time, are accustomed to a lifestyle where they can choose where they would like to live. However, travel restrictions are one of the biggest changes they’ve had to deal with.

Polyvyanny says what it loses in choice it regains in value as the price of accommodation and flights has dropped dramatically as regular tourist traffic crashes across the world.

He landed a one-way ticket from Toronto to Playa del Carmen for just $ 170 and was able to negotiate the prices while choosing a place to stay.

Vanessa Perez, an independent marketing consultant from Montreal, says she used to work overseas for seven months every year before the pandemic.

This year, she only worked in Paris for one month in September. She made the choice to travel to Western Europe because she felt governments were more serious in implementing security measures for COVID-19.

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It is not a typical destination for digital nomads, who typically opt for cheaper regions like Southeast Asia, where they have the added benefit of a favorable exchange rate.

Perez, who previously lived in Colombia and El Salvador, says it was worth the extra cost of continuing the nomadic lifestyle.

Back in Montreal, Perez says she plans to work overseas in February, but is careful about committing.

“I can’t buy a ticket now for February because I don’t know how things will go even in December,” she said, adding that insurance coverage and visa restrictions are a constant concern.

“It’s day by day, week after week to see what the next step will be.”

For Canadians, Mexico has proven to be a convenient destination where it is easy to obtain a visa.

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Lisa Shiller, a Torontonian who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, said she could live in the country on a six-month tourist visa she received upon arrival.

She said renewing her visa was as easy as leaving the country and coming back, which is much cheaper during the pandemic due to the falling cost of living.

“Mexico has this position where it’s like, ‘yes, come here, bring your dollars, spend your money,” said Shiller, who has lived in Mexico throughout the pandemic, only returning home. times after seven months to renew his visa.

But she said the lifestyle was not quite the same as she avoids air travel and cannot explore the country as she had planned. The good thing is that it will save more money and still be able to travel by vehicle.

Polyvyanny, who returned to Toronto at the start of the pandemic, says he decided to return to Mexico because he felt it wasn’t worth spending so much to live in Canada’s largest city when most events are canceled and life in the city is disrupted.

“Almost all the good things about Toronto have been taken away,” he says.

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“There’s no reason to pay a premium on everything if I can’t take advantage of this city.”

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