After the Airbnb affair, here are the shortcomings of digital nomadism… the end of “workation”?

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The pandemic has accelerated remote working which – in turn – has given rise to so-called “digital nomads”, workers without a permanent home. This was followed by another trend, “workation” which combines work and vacation. The idea is simple: rather than working at home or in the office, you carry out your activity from a more pleasant setting, such as the sea or the mountains.

According to recent estimates, there are already nearly 17 million digital nomads in the United States, an increase of 131% compared to 2019, before the pandemic. There are already 35 million of these nomads in the world and this number is expected to reach 1 billion by 2035. According to experts, cities favored by nomads must find a balance between tourism, locals and now this new phenomenon which is there to last.

Mexico and Lisbon, two examples

The phenomenon is transforming certain cities. Mexico City has partnered with UNESCO to promote the capital as a global hub for remote workers and creative tourism. Result: the number of temporary housing in the city has tripled in three years and the growing number of digital nomads now poses a problem: due to the growing demand for housing, landlords in some cities are transforming their homes into housing dedicated to these foreigners via platforms like Airbnb. This movement creates a distortion of the real estate market which harms the local population, as we recently observed in New York, see our article:

Airbnb: NY City deals a big blow to its business model

This is also the case in Lisbon. According to a survey by a Portuguese organization that tracks the country’s housing crisis, a one-room apartment in the locations most sought after by nomads costs around 800 euros per month, more than the Portuguese minimum wage, which is of 760 euros.

Catherine Mills Avatar