If you have seen someone immersed in his laptop in Starbucks, then it is very likely that you have seen a digital nomad. They are called so because they do not have a single and permanent area to do their work.
Barcelona is one of the fastest growing hubs for these freelancers. It currently holds the third spot in Europe as a city with the highest number of freelancers.
But why work here?
Digital Nomads Origins
For centuries, we had to work in brick-and-mortar businesses. An accountant needs to go to an office, file his documents in a cabinet, and repeat this cycle every day for the rest of his life.
But the internet changed all this. Today, the digital highway is everyone’s playground. Anyone who has a skill can peddle his wares online. Employers also realized that they would significantly save on labor costs if they hired freelancers, as opposed to hiring full-time employees.
An employer is obligated by law to pay an employee’s minimum salary, health benefits, taxes, and other statutory financial obligations. Add to that the cost of the office space and you’ve got an employer who is probably close to just breaking even.
With freelancers, the employer only has to pay for the work done. And because there are millions of freelancers around the world, there is never going to be a shortage of workers, and the employer is not bound to select from talents in his area only.
A guy from Hong Kong can hire someone from Barcelona. And the freelancer from Barcelona can service people from the top economies in the world and get paid better rates.
The Rise of the Digital Nomads
Because of the internet, freelancers realized that they can cut the costs of their services and yet enjoy a lifestyle similar or even better than that of an office-wage earner.
Freelancers in Barcelona do not have to pay for transportation. They do not have to buy new clothes just to keep up with the trend. They do not have to eat out in fast food chains or make do with the horrible food in the office pantry.
They can work from home, from Starbucks, or even under a shed. For as long as there is WIFI, they can get something done. If these places are not conducive for work, then the only reasonable solution is coworking.
Fewer Dependencies from Employers
Coworking is a situation where several freelancers team up to rent a space. Typically, they have an equal share on the rent and the bills. Nobody occupies more space than the others because the only thing a person needs is a table and a chair.
In Barcelona, there are at least 100 coworking spaces available for rent to any freelancer. Those who are single can even rent an apartment together and work from there. Nothing is more convenient than a lifestyle where your home is your workspace, too.
You can work before you even brush your teeth. Storm? No problem. Come hell and come high water, you can get your job done.
Cost Effective Lifestyle
And because Barcelona is cost-friendly, many start-up companies choose this city to put up their companies. At €350 per month, one can rent an office space inclusive of utilities. If you want an apartment with toilet and bath, look for a partner and split €600 per month between the two of you.
In fact, most families in Barcelona can live decently at €1,200 per month. The minimum salary in Barcelona is €707. But keep in mind that this salary is based on the city’s economic conditions.
This salary factors in the expenses of an employer. But with the whole world at your fingertips, €1,200 shouldn’t be that difficult to earn, especially if you are offering high-level skills like digital marketing, coding, and app development.
Fast and Reliable Internet
Barcelona is a thriving city with millions of tourists every year. The government and business establishments know this. As a response to its tourism industry requirements, the city put up the right infrastructure to support its connectivity.
In Barcelona, you can expect free WIFI almost everywhere—from bars to beaches, hotels, and restaurants. On average, you can enjoy speeds up to 300MBPS.
This makes it one of the best places to be in a world of freelancing where you need to participate in Skype calls and get your online work done.
Unlimited Work Options
As a digital nomad, your only limitation is your skill. For as long as the job required can be done on a computer, then you have an opportunity to get that work and do it remotely.
- App Development – if you are great at coding, you can find clients who want to develop mobile applications but have no skill or considerable resources to put up a team.
- Copywriting – look for clients who need to sell their products online. Write their sales material for them.
- e-Commerce Store Management – there are at least 500,000 online stores out there. Find one that you can manage daily, including the company’s social media presence and advertising efforts.
- Bookkeeping – people all over the world have to pay their taxes and file it annually. Look for clients who need this kind of service and help them manage their legal obligations.
- Virtual Assistant – take phone calls, sales orders, and answer customer inquiries, all at the comfort of your personal workspace.
Digital Nomads: Living in Future’s Past
What is the future of being an autonomo—a digital nomad—in Barcelona?
It is bright and promising.
The city has a great climate that can accommodate even the most sensitive person. The weather makes it conducive to work outside the house, right on the street, where you enjoy your morning coffee.
The cost of renting a decent coworking space is cheap if you just spend the time to find a good deal.
Getting around the world for physical travel is also easy. The airport is just 20 minutes from downtown. It is also close to neighboring areas where you can enjoy outdoor activities if you want to unwind.
The internet opened a floodgate. Freelancers came rushing in the online workspace like water and employers welcomed this opportunity with open arms. The freelancing industry is not going away.
If at all, it will become the standard. So, are you ready to live your life here?
Your work. Your rate. Your lifestyle.