Certain places around the world have carved such a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of the digital nomad world that they are effortlessly associated with the best work-travel experience.
But a lesser-known destination is poised to dazzle independent location professionals who are looking for new opportunities that can take them to uncharted territory.
On the south coast of the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira in the middle of the Atlantic, a unique experience is emerging which will give Europe its âfirstâ digital nomadic village.
Digital Nomads Madeira, which will open its arms to welcome nomadic professionals in a place of greenery and rugged mountains on February 1, is an initiative that is quietly transforming the landscape of the municipality of Ponta do Sol in recent months.
A joint effort between the regional government of Madeira, Startup Madeira, and globetrotting digital nomad GonÃ§alo Room, the village invites those who wish to enjoy a breathtaking view of the ocean and the mountain while doing their job.
GonÃ§alo still fondly remembers the first time he landed on the island and was captivated by its beauty, and he has no doubt that its magical landscapes have the power to cast a spell on all visitors, especially novice travelers.
âI went to Bali. I went to Thailand. I have been to all the paradises of digital nomads. But when I visited Madeira I was blown away and immediately saw the potential there. It’s just mind-blowing. It’s amazing, âhe said at 150 seconds in an interview, his eyes shining with admiration for this hidden treasure of incredible sites and resources in his home country.
He says it frustrates him that not many people know about this group of islands, which is located about 1,000 km from the European continent and only 500 km from the African continent.
It was GonÃ§alo who brought up the idea of ââcreating a digital nomadic village in Madeira at a conference last year, which was inaugurated by the Portuguese Minister of Economy and attended by a number of other senior officials.
âI told them they should take the opportunity to bring remote workers to the island and make it a source of income. My proposal didn’t seem to make much sense at the time, but the next day I was talking with the President of Madeira. And I was hired to work with the government there to promote the island, âhe recalls.
Remote work has always been dear to GonÃ§alo’s heart and he believes there is a need for more initiatives to support the location independent movement, which is gaining ground in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
GonÃ§alo has contributed his share of the work to this end by launching a wide range of projects, including Distant europe, Distant Portugal, The future of work conferences and Remote work movement podcast series.
He also shares his knowledge and experience with businesses and individuals as a telecommuting consultant.
According to GonÃ§alo, the focus on bringing locals and digital nomads together to create a strong sense of community is at the heart of the nomadic village which is being developed as a pilot project.
âAll of our partners are local. We have established partnerships with various local businesses such as real estate companies and car rental companies. The aim is to help the local community benefit from the social and economic impact that such an initiative can have, âhe said, adding that many fun events are organized to create unforgettable memories for local people. digital nomads and residents.
They provide a platform for rental properties throughout Madeira, including Ponta do Sol, for local owners who have private rooms, apartments, villas, hotel rooms and cohabitation spaces to rent during two weeks to 12 months.
âFor us, it’s about having great local hosts for the digital nomad community who can help them welcome them to the island and feel at home at affordable prices,â said David Nicol Williams, co-founder, CEO and president of NomadX.
Thanks to the strategic partnership, their platforms are free to use for hosts and there is a 25% discount for all guests, according to David, who acts as the initiative’s global ambassador and makes it the initiative. promotion through their social channels and community.
“We are actively researching a host inventory as there is a lot of demand,” he said, adding that local hosts can Register now and help create a great community.
GonÃ§alo says that a pleasant climate all year round and the relatively low cost of living in Madeira make it a very attractive destination.
And it’s not just him who is delirious about this enchanting archipelago. Travel experts are also unanimous that Madeira should be at the top of everyone’s list.
Madeira, for the fifth consecutive year and the seventh time since its first participation, was recently crowned Europe’s leading island destination 2020 at the World Travel Awards, which are considered the travel industry’s most prestigious awards program.
GonÃ§alo says the village can accommodate 100 nomads at a time, but nearly 300 people have so far requested to work remotely from Ponta do Sol.
It was then that he did not do any promotion apart from announcing the project on LinkedIn. Plans are underway to increase the number of places available.
The first phase of the initiative will run from February 1 to June 30. Nomads will be staying at local homes and will be offered various incentives, including access to a Slack community, free workspace, and exclusive events.
A number of measures are in place to help contain the spread of the coronavirus and keep visitors safe.
A minimum stay of one month is required because âit helps us build a great community,â GonÃ§alo said, adding that on average applicants intend to spend two months on the island.
According to him, the village will be âthe first digital nomadic village in Europeâ and is the result of a unique public-private partnership in this field.
“There are two villages in Bulgaria and Germany which are called digital nomadic villages, but they are not well structured or designed for this purpose and do not have the support of the government.”
He added that it is mainly the countries that are promoted as ideal destinations for remote workers who move slowly “but I think the emphasis should be on specific places in each country”.
If the project proves successful, GonÃ§alo and his partners hope to implement a second project in Madeira and similar initiatives in several rural areas of Portugal, which he says “has everything it takes to become the first country in the world for remote work “.
He also indicated that he was interested in working with public and private actors in Europe and beyond to bring similar projects to life.
âI predict that Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Spain and Cape Verde in the Central Atlantic Ocean will be among the most sought-after digital nomadic destinations in the near future,â GonÃ§alo said.
Adventurous nomads who want to get a taste of island life in Ponta do Sol where the sun shines for more hours can register here and take the less traveled path that can open up new worlds of opportunity and experience.