Guatemala’s Antigua Aspires to Become Hub for Digital Nomads

Latin American cities figure among those sought out by remote workers, and although many are still low in the ranking of favorite destinations, they have the potential to attract more such visitors

More Latin Americans are joining this lifestyle, which still faces challenges, but is expanding to more cities in the region.
October 15, 2022 | 07:22 AM

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Guatemala City — Central America is seeking to attract and facilitate the work of digital nomads through the creation of co-working spaces, improved Internet connectivity and allowing such a lifestyle, and Guatemala, specifically the city of Antigua, has not gone unnoticed by digital nomads.

However, the picturesque, colonial-era town still has many challenges to overcome to attract more of them, while Latin Americans seeking to become digital nomads also need to step up to the challenge, according to Soraya Koivisto Rodriguez, the founder of Viajeras Nómadas Digitales, a community that trains people to become digital nomads.

According to data compiled by Viajeras Nómadas Digitales, 90% of its students are women who are looking to redesign their career goals in a more global way, while some of them are professionals who have had an extensive career in traditional corporate jobs and felt trapped in an automated routine and are eager to experience another lifestyle without disassociating their career goals and travel plans.

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In the case of Latin American men, many are looking to start from scratch with a first remote job in the technology sector, according to the data compiled.

“Currently, we digital nomads come from different countries regardless of age, gender or career path. So you don’t have to feel limited to follow a model, as digital nomadism is a lifestyle that is accompanied by a way of seeing opportunities without geographical barriers,” Koivisto Rodriguez told Bloomberg Línea.

In addition, many countries are preparing and adapting to digital nomads by developing new migratory policies to attract them, said the Guatemalan.

Luis Betancourt, part-time digital nomad, a digital marketing consultant and lecturer told Bloomberg Línea that many countries are enabling special types of visas for digital nomads, which demonstrates not only its viability as a way of working, but its importance.

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"Digital nomadism is a lifestyle that is accompanied by a way of seeing opportunities without geographical barriers," Koivisto Rodríguez says.dfd

More than just a lifestyle

According to figures from ABrotherAbroad, there are currently around 35 million digital nomads in the world, 76% of whom are European, while only 10% are Hispanic Latin Americans.

“Digital nomadism is becoming more diverse than ever, as it is now not about a type of passport, but about readiness to meet a digital demand. More and more Latin Americans are joining this lifestyle, and with the talent that exists in the region the potential will strengthen and continue to grow in the coming years,” Koivisto Rodriguez explains.

On the other hand, Lorena Bin de Gálvez, a marketing consultant specialized in neuroscience and neuromarketing, told Bloomberg Línea that the digital nomad trend began more than 10 years ago, thanks to the opening and availability of access to remote work, and freelance platforms that allow flexible schedules.

Bin de Gálvez detailed some factors needed to facilitate the conditions required by digital nomads:

  • Ensuring high-speed internet connectivity.
  • Security, since digital nomads enjoy leisure spaces, connection and meeting people from their tribe or place.
  • Contract schemes and attractive prices for accommodation, such as Airbnb stays of between 3 and 4 months on average.

The digital nomad rankings

The Digital Nomad Index 2021, drawn up by British technology company CircleLoop, ranks 85 countries according to the facilities they provide to facilitate the presence and work of digital nomads.

Among the top 10, Canada takes first place as the best country in which to make a living as a digital nomad, as it is a center of large technology hubs and has a friendly environment, and which is followed by the United Kingdom, Romania, Sweden, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland and Germany.

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Among the least recommended countries for digital nomads are Kenya, Ghana, Myanmar and Nigeria.

As for Guatemala, it ranks 69th out of 85 countries, with a total score of 36.84, lying between Jamaica and El Salvador.

Betancourt added that the result of the ranking indicates that Guatemala is already on the radar, but that there are still many opportunities for it to to climb positions if it manages to overcome a couple of red flags on issues of connectivity and security, as with many of the Latin American cities on the ranking.

Connectivity and security are key issues that this type of traveler evaluates in Latin American cities.dfd

Guatemala on the radar

For Leonardo Rodriguez, a digital strategist and international speaker, digital nomads seek to get away from the hustle and bustle and traffic, and prefer remote places, but where connectivity issues are guaranteed, and which are tranquil, and where they can find supportive communities, and an example of this is Antigua in Guatemala.

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Another important aspect is adequate infrastructure so that digital nomads can move safely, quickly and reliably, he said.

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However, the digital gap in Guatemala is a challenge to be overcome, while costs are also high, he said.

The promotion of the country and how it is marketed internationally are also important, he added, pointing to the macroeconomic stability of a country as an advantage, the size of the economy, its population development and quality of life, and where Costa Rica and Panama fare better, he said.

Digital nomads are most commonly found in Guatemala in places such as Antigua, Atitlan, Quetzaltenango and Izabal, as well as in the country’s coastal areas, Bin de Gálvez said.

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Remote working requires a guarantee of connectivity. dfd

The challenges for Latin American digital nomads

Lack of training for global demand, a pessimistic mentality and different cultural patterns are some of the challenges faced by Latin Americans seeking to be digital nomads, according to Soraya Koivisto Rodriguez.

While there is talent in Latin America, many professionals are not prepared with the skills that the world needs today, such as speaking English or handling digital tools, as they come from traditional work environments, she said.

Potential digital nomads must first work on improving their professional profile to be more competitive in the demand for international talent, she added, and that people must avoid a pessimistic mentality.

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“When applying for remote jobs, many talented women are held back because they do not meet 100% of the requirements, when the ideal approach is to apply even if you meet 60% of them,” she said, and which she attributed to a lack of an entrepreneurial mindset and an ‘imposter syndrome’, which makes people feel incapable of overcoming great professional challenges when they have the potential to achieve what they set out to do.

However, this does not happen as frequently with Latin American men, who apply for remote jobs even if they do not have all the requested skills, she added.

She said there is also a repetition of cultural patterns in Latin America.

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“While millennials are the generation most interested in digital nomadism, family traditions, acting according to societal expectations, and fear of doing things differently are behaviors that are still ingrained in Latin American culture.

Becoming a digital nomad requires a change of mentality and attitude towards the world, such as being willing to leave the comfort zone and adapt to the needs of the global market,” she said.