When Sifted visited the world’s first “digital nomad village” in Madeira last year, it was easy to see the appeal. The loosely organised community, nestled on the so-called “island of eternal spring”, offers remote workers an alluring mix of winter sun, a lively calendar of events and all the fast wifi and infrastructure you could need to make a smooth landing.
Now, the company behind the project — NomadX — is launching three new nomad destinations to cater to the booming global popularity of the “workation”.
Not everyone is delighted by the arrival of wealthy tech types in their communities, saying digital nomads can push up prices for locals without giving a huge amount back.
Proponents of these initiatives say they bring an economic and cultural boost to otherwise-sleepy places that are often dependent on tourists anyway.
We caught up with NomadX’s founder Gonçalo Hall to learn about the new digital nomad villages he’s launching, hear what visitors can expect from each and get an update on what’s happening in Madeira.
Mindelo, Cabo Verde
Like Madeira, Cabo Verde is an archipelago off the Atlantic coast of Africa. It’s an independent country with a population of around half a million people.
The new digital nomad village on the island of Mindelo (population 70k) will feature two coworking spaces with fast wifi, a full-time community manager and daily events and activities. NomadX will offer all-inclusive packages starting from €600 a month for a coliving setup (a shared living environment where people have their own bedrooms but shared facilities), going up to €800 a month for a private studio flat.
Hall says that it will be a small community that will be “all about feeling and understanding the rich Cabo Verdian culture”, and that there’s live music to be enjoyed “everywhere and all the time” on the island of Mindelo.
Mindelo’s natural environment is also a big selling point: it boasts “a perfect climate all year round”, and visitors have diving, swimming with turtles and mountains all on their doorstep.
Hall tells Sifted that he partly chose the location due to its “strategic position” — being accessible from both mainland Europe and Brazil via direct, four-hour flights. He adds that there weren’t previously any digital nomads in Mindelo, and that NomadX is partnering with local NGOs to set up skill-sharing workshops to help speed up the “digitisation of the island.”
The project is being launched in collaboration with the local government and Hall says that prospective visitors will need to apply via NomadX’s website to visit the community. Mindelo will be able to host 150 nomads this year.
This small beach town is situated in the northeast of Brazil and has become something of a hippie paradise since surfers discovered it in the 70s. The Lonely Planet writeup for Pipa swoons over its pristine “beaches backed by tall cliffs” and “dreamy lagoons” full of turtles and dolphins.
Hall says that — like with his original digital nomad village in Ponta do Sol, Madeira — he picked Pipa because he believes in “the power of smaller towns to become nomad paradises”. He says that, apart from the surfing, nomads can expect great restaurants, vibrant nightlife and of course superfast wifi. Not to mention temperatures that don’t drop below 28C in the winter.
NomadX is building a network of small coworking spaces, with each catering to around 15-20 people, which will all have access to different perks like swimming pools, gyms or the beachfront. Here, NomadX isn’t offering accommodation packages, but the company says there are plenty of local options to choose from.
Hall says that, until now, Pipa has only really been a destination for Brazilian digital nomads, and that the country generally hasn’t been discovered by the global remote work community. Like with NomadX’s other projects, the company is collaborating with local NGOs to facilitate digital skill sharing with the local community.
The project is also affiliated with the local government and nomads will also have to register to get access to NomadX’s facilities and community in Pipa. There isn’t a limit on numbers, but Hall expects around 1,000 remote workers to visit in the first six months of the project.
Braunwald and Liddes, Switzerland
The villages of Braunwald and Liddes are a five-hour drive from one another across the Swiss alps, but Hall says that both will offer digital nomads the opportunity to experience mountain life for €500 per month.
This might not offer the same winter warmth as NomadX’s other destinations, but Hall says that visitors looking for dramatic scenery, hiking and skiing won't be disappointed.
The project is more informal than the other two new communities — NomadX is partnering with existing coliving spaces to help them build up their offering to digital nomads through community events and activities.
The project isn’t affiliated with the local government and there’s no need to register to visit either of the villages.
18 months on from launching the digital nomad village in Madeira, Hall says the project is “going really well” with a stable community of around 1,200 nomads being on the island at any one time.
Now, he wants to try and make the project sustainable for Madeira in the long run. When Sifted visited the digital nomad village in November 2021, we spoke to a few remote workers who described a “nomad bubble”, where the community did not integrate with locals.
NomadX is now focusing on deepening the connection between nomads and the island’s local startup sector, through a partnership with local association Madeira Friends. He says that the project has taught him that digital nomad villages need to empower visitors to launch their own events, and to give them access to local experiences.
When Sifted visited Madeira’s digital nomad village in 2021 we went as guests of NomadX’s local accommodation partner Flatio.