With the End of the Pandemic in Sight, the Army of Digital Nomads Is Growing

The surprising resilience of the digital nomad and the coming work-from-abroad boom

Adam Bluestein
Marker
Published in
7 min readMar 26, 2021

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Digital nomads offline at Outsite Costa Rica. Photo: Outsite

For more than a year, the travel and hospitality sector has been absolutely wrecked by the Covid-19 pandemic. With many countries’ borders effectively closed, international travel has been especially hard hit. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals in 2020 were down 79% compared to 2019. Some 120 million tourism jobs have been put at risk, with the economic damage likely to exceed $1 trillion in 2020 alone. But one niche of the industry has, despite it all, not only held strong but seems poised for a major post-pandemic comeback: the network of Instagram-centric co-living/co-working brands that cater to the “digital nomad” set.

With Europe largely off-limits to North American travelers, places like Mexico and Costa Rica, with less-strict entry requirements, are where you’re most likely to see Americans Insta-bragging from.

While some people spent the past year curled up in an overpriced apartment, a Covid-flouting contingent of “location-independent professionals” has been riding out the pandemic on the beach or poolside in countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, and Indonesia, enjoying boho-chic accommodations, blazing-fast internet, happy hours with a “pod” of fellow global citizens, and blissful workdays watching palm-tree shadows dance across their laptop screens. All for about $20 a night.

Five-year-old Outsite, which operates nine properties in the U.S. and 11 more in Barbados, Costa Rica, Mexico, Indonesia, France, Switzerland, Portugal, and Spain, has seen a dramatic increase in demand in the past year and has had to add capacity. With Europe largely off-limits to North American travelers, places like Mexico and Costa Rica, with less-strict entry requirements, are where you’re most likely to see Americans Insta-bragging from. Beach and mountain locations have been especially popular, Outsite’s head of content Rebecca Males says, with many guests booking several months at a time and popular locations at…

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Adam Bluestein
Marker

I write about business, science, and things that people do for fun. Work published in Fast Company, Inc., Men’s Journal, Proto, Marker. Vermonter by choice.