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Digital nomadism is on the rise now that border restrictions have been lifted and an increasing number of destinations are opening their doors to remote workers. Despite strong competition in the field, an extremely underrated European country had been named one of the most dynamic hubs for digital nomads around the world.
Last year, several countries in Europe launched their own digital nomad visa (DNV), allowing Americans to stay on the continent longer than the usual 90 days as a tourist, du beau portuguese. Atlantic coastas far east as The Greek Islands. Interestingly, none of them have gained as much popularity as this lesser-known Balkan gem.
Everyone, meet North Macedonia (or Macedonia, whichever you prefer):
What is North Macedonia known for?
The Republic of North Macedonia (formerly named Macedonia) is a small nation located in the heart of the Balkans, the same peninsula where other, much more famous tourist hotspots like Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece are located. Overall, it is the third least visited European country, behind the microstate of Liechtenstein and Moldova.
SO why is North Macedonia ignored by tourists, you may be wondering? This is certainly not due to a lack of monumental sites or wonders of the world, but the fact that it borders some of the most sought-after locations in the Mediterranean without benefiting from direct access to the sea itself, as well limited flight possibilities, could be a possible reason. explanation:
It may not have an opening onto the ocean, but it is home to one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe – Lake Ohrid – and a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the charming lakeside town of Ohrid, distinguished by its whitewashed Ottoman-era houses and Romanesque churches dating back 9th century or earlier.
The region can also trace its origins to reign of Alexander the Great, who ruled the transnational region of Macedonia (which encompasses North Macedonia and parts of at least three other Balkan countries) in the 4th century BC. A giant memorial statue of the legendary warrior riding a majestic horse stands in the center of Skopje.
Finally, a little-known fact about North Macedonia: it is the birthplace of Mother Teresathe beatified nun who rose to prominence as a caregiver to the poor and sick in the slums of Calcutta, India. Néné Tereza was, in fact, of Albanian origin, although born and raised in Skopjewhere she lived until she came of age.
Digital nomads are thinking outside the box in 2023
It may have taken a global pandemic to put North Macedonia in the spotlight, but its potential is Finally being recognized. At the start of the crisis, when all European countries banned the entry of Americans and adopted a series of draconian measures to stop tourism, North Macedonia was one of the few to remained accessible to foreigners.
Even before the introduction of vaccines, it welcomed nomads without restriction. Next to other Balkan partners located outside the Brussels sphere of influence, it was for a long time their only gateway to Europe at a time when Italy, France, Portugal, etc. unceremoniously turned back visitors at the border.
According to the last data shared by List of nomadsSkopje, the capital of North Macedonia, is the second fastest growing digital nomad hub in the last five yearswith an impressive growth of 417% year-on-year since 2018. For better or worse, the Covid crisis has helped to highlight Macedonia’s strengths: in 2021 alone, its first post-pandemic year, it grew by 114%.
In 2022, long-term traveler registrations increased by another 173%, and 21 days into 2023, by another 27%. North Macedonia is no longer a forgotten post-communist state nestled in the south-east of Europe, between Greece and Serbia: its tourism sector is booming and it has been rediscovered by a new generation of globetrotters – Finally.
Why is North Macedonia popular among nomads?
We can clearly see how North Macedonia would attract nomads: it is less populated, much cheaper and just as culturally rich like everywhere else in Europe. Based on an update Number figures, the monthly costs of a single person in North Macedonia total only $461.20, or 26,222.70 Macedonian dollars. denar rent free.
On average, it is 56.2% cheaper to live in North Macedonia (Skopje) than in the United States or the majority of Western European countries. In other words, to maintain the same standard of living that they would have earning €3,600 in Madrid, the capital of Spain, nomads would only need €1,932.80, or €119,539. 40 Macedonians. denar.
The affordable price is not the only reason why nomads go there in droves: North Macedonia is simply fascinating. Whether it’s hiking trails amid spectacular mountain landscapes, perfectly preserved medieval castles and cobbled towns, ski resorts or the crystal clear lakes they seek out, there truly is something for everyone. traveler profiles.
Here are the benefits of using North Macedonia as a remote working hub:
- It’s not in the European Union or the Schengen area, so any time spent in North Macedonia does not count towards your 90 day Schengen limit
- Your dollars will be even greater: rent and consumer goods cost about half the price compared to Western Europe.
- Being one of the least visited countries in Europe, it is does not suffer from overtourism like neighboring Greece
- It’s bureaucratic-free: you may be able to obtain a long-term residence permit by applying as a skilled worker (learn more here)
Is there a Macedonian DNV?
The authorities first announced their intention to introduce a DNV as early as January 2021, although this is the case. not clear in fact, they came to fruition in January 2023. The project is supported by the Innovation and Technological Development Fund and, once officially launched, it will allow remote workers to remain in the territory. up to a year (with potential extensions).
The absence of a formal visa category for nomads does not constitute an obstacle. If anything, it’s an opportunity: they still benefit from a 3-month stay when arriving as tourists and, thanks to the relaxed border policies of the Balkan Peninsula, they can divide their time between different Eastern Bloc countries and extend their stay in Europe indefinitely , provided that they plan it wisely.
The full list of the fastest growing digital nomad hubs and their growth over the last half decade can be seen below:
- Palermo, Italy – 500%
- Skopje, North Macedonia – 417%
- Azores, Portugal – 361%
- Yerevan, Armenia – 308%
- Majorca, Spain – 292%
- Lima, Peru – 261%
- Puebla, Mexico – 250%
- Tbilisi, Georgia – 239%
- Sofia, Bulgaria – 237%
- Cairo, Egypt – 231%
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This article was originally published on TravelOffPath.com