At the beginning of the lockdown, we began debating and discovering the possibility of an increase of foreign buyers looking to invest in Spain and Portugal, both in this newsletter and in our interviews on “inmocionate at home” (links at the end of this article). We talked about the digital nomad, the new potential buyers that we may expect to encounter, and recently we have been pleasantly surprised to see the same idea expressed in various respectable publications such as The Guardian, Forbes, The Financial Times, to name but a few! Furthermore, the leading UK overseas property portal, Rightmove, recently published an article informing of a great surge in interest in overseas properties during lockdown, up 33% in May 2020 compared to the previous year. A similar trend was reported in April, and the main countries searched were Spain, Portugal and France (up 34%, 26% and 33% respectively).
At UCI we have experienced a surge in mortgage requests for International Buyers, and many of our collaborating real estate agents and financial advisors have noted the same trend. Of course, many of these requests correspond to second home or retirement relocation properties, but we are also seeing many Digital Nomads looking to relocate and work remotely, taking advantage of current trends. The Digital Nomad is not fiction. The Digital Nomad already exists, has many virtual communities to hang out in (in Facebook alone there are various dedicated groups, some with +100,000 members), and they are on the move!
Working from home has become the norm for millions of people. According to a survey conducted by Eurofound, 37% of employed Europeans started teleworking due to the pandemic, compared with an estimated 15%* that occasionally or regular did before the crisis (*European Commission Data).
Whilst some will go back to a daily commute to the office, this new reality is being heralded as the Fourth Industrial Revolution brought about by new technologies, accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, and expected to continue accelerating in the coming years.
So, what evidence is there that remote working will really catch on, and how will this impact us, and more importantly, our real estate markets?
Remote working has also been received well by many companies, with many tech companies already implementing this option for the near future and possibly beyond:
- Google and Facebook established teleworking for the rest of the year.
- Twitter has allowed employees to telework if they can and want to keep on doing it permanently.
Working remotely is not only a trend in large companies but can also be a fantastic opportunity for small and medium size companies located outside of major urban areas, or simply in places, not really considered as “attractive” to workers. They can attract and retain skilled staff that otherwise wouldn´t even have considered applying.
Within the European Union, more than 1 in 3 jobs can be done remotely (estimation: European DataLab, based on Dingel and Neiman, and Eurostat), especially in sectors such as finance, specialised activities (science and technology for instance) and administrative services. In 2018, the labour force of the EU-28 was composed of 246.7 million people, according to Eurostat. That means that roughly 80 million people, or more, who could work remotely…. Impressive, right? And many of these may choose not to work from Northern Europe, but instead retain the salaries of the north whilst enjoying the quality of life and cost of life of the south.
Working remotely could open the doors to an improved work-life balance and is certainly a great opportunity for the real estate sector in the coastal areas of Spain and Portugal. Many countries are jumping on the bandwagon, with the Prime Minister of Barbados currently launching Barbados as a Digital Nomad Destination in interviews on UK News programmes, but we enjoy the upper hand with fantastic infrastructure, proximity and security.
Why end a hard day´s work on a winter´s evening in darkness and gloom, when you could be watching a sunset from a poolside terrace with ( yes, I have to add) a glass of great Spanish or Portuguese wine in your hand! It there was ever a “Win-Win” situation, this has to be it!
Link to “Inmocionate at Home” e1
Link for all episodes of Inmocionate