Many villages across Spain are in terminal decline as rural depopulation continues. Spain’s new visa scheme aimed at digital nomads, could revive them.
The Spanish government’s cabinet passed the draft Startup Act in July which aims to repopulate rural villages by encouraging digital nomads to live and work there.
Of Spain’s 8,131 municipalities, 3,403 of them are classed as at risk of dying out, according to the INE. Once parliament approves the Startup Act, the digital nomad visa will be available from Spanish consulates around the world for workers outside the European Union.
Once a person is living and working in Spain, they can apply for a residence permit to extend their stay for two years. This can then be renewed for a further two years.
Encourage foreign workers with favourable tax rates
As with other countries which have nomad visas, Spain is looking to lure foreign workers with tax incentives.
Those working with nomad visas will pay the Spanish non-resident tax rate of 24% on incomes of up to €600,000. By comparison, Spanish residential tax rates vary but for top earners is as high as 45%.
There may be amendments to the draft Act, but so far the majority of political parties are in favour. It is seen as a way to help repopulate España Vaciada, or Emptied Spain.
National Network of Welcoming Villages
Some 30 dying villages across Spain have joined the National Network of Welcoming Villages for Remote Workers scheme. Known in Spanish as Red Nacional de Pueblos Acogedores para el Teletrabajo, it aims to attract foreign workers with a new 12-month work visa for digital nomads.
Many rural villages need this boost. But what do they have to offer the digital nomad? In most cases, tranquility, a chance to be closer to nature, away from the madding crowds. Many of these villages are in splendid surroundings, with hiking trails and wonderful flora and fauna.
Villagers hope the nomads will eventually stay, their families integrating into the villages and bringing much needed new life.
Pandemic may open doors for Spanish communities
Working trends that grew in popularity due to the pandemic could prove positive for Emptied Spain. “The world of work is changing so more people want to work digitally,” says Francisco Boya, the Spanish secretary of state for demographic challenge. “We want to make the rural world more attractive for digital nomads and entrepreneurs.”