Digital nomads are always on the hunt for amazing places to work while traveling, soaking up the local culture while also being able to be productive.
Nobody knows exactly how many digital nomads there are in the world but suffice to say the number over the last decade has gone from just a handful of people to upwards of millions—with many more new nomads joining the movement after COVID-19, as they can now work remote (or in other words, work from anywhere).
Governments are starting to take notice—like Georgia—and have created digital nomad visas and incentives for remote workers who travel while working.
Georgia is ideally at the junction of Europe and Asia on the Eastern shore of the Black Sea. Its prime location makes it a great homebase for exploring Europe, the Middle East, Turkey, and Russia. Though Georgia has a troubled history with Russia, today the country is independent. It is classified as a representative democratic parliamentary republic, and is on the road to becoming a European democracy.
Georgia is well-known for ancient wine-making traditions, a diverse landscape, and a warm and hospitable culture. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Georgia was emerging as a desirable digital nomad destination. Today, the country aims to put itself on the map with a generous long-stay program for those working from their laptops.
Georgia’s capital city is Tbilisi, and the largest in population with over 1 million residents. Digital nomads will benefit from basing themselves out of the capital due to the availability of co-working spaces designed specifically for remote workers. Cheap flights to Europe depart often from Tbilisi airport. The capital is the economic core and an urban, international city mixing old and new architecture. A charming old town and easy access to mountain getaways make it an ideal hub for visitors looking to experience Georgia and beyond.
Kutaisi is the country’s third most populous city and one of the oldest in the world. Trains run direct between Kutaisi and Tbilisi.
The Autonomous Republic of Adjara, located in Georgia’s southwest corner along the Black Sea, boasts the city of Batumi known for tourism and gambling.
The country of Georgia is split by the Sarami mountain range of the Caucasus mountains, dividing it into Eastern and Western segments. Georgia’s interesting topography means the small country is incredibly diverse in landscape. Find swamps, deserts, rainforests, old growth forests, valleys, gorges, glaciers, and even semi-arid plains in various regions of the country.
Georgia has three UNESCO world heritage sites and many more medieval towns and ruins. Many describe Georgia as a fusion between East and West, a visual combination of European and Asian influences. Old castles, towers, and churches dot the Georgian countryside. Fans of old towns will enjoy strolling through the Old Tbilisi district.
Visitors to Georgia will enjoy sampling the world famous wine, made in the traditional style using underground clay pots. Wine bars and food tours make exploring this scene fun and social.
Georgians are known for their hospitality and consider guests “gifts from god.” Social dinners called supras, are traditional Georgian feasts that can last over six hours, incorporating philosophical talk and long-winded chatter at the table.
Georgia is also known for its notable choral art form, a multi-tonal harmonious singing style that is recognizable the world over.
Fans of ancient and modern art will enjoy exploring Georgia’s art museums. In Tbilisi alone there are 20, including the Georgian National Museum, The National Gallery, and the Georgian Museum of Fine Art.
In terms of demographics, over 85% of the population are Georgian, descending from Anatolian and Caucasus ancestry. Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Russians, and Ukranians are just a few nationalities that contribute to the diversity of the nation. Expat meetups and foreigners are not hard to find in the capital city.
The official language in Georgia is Georgian and has its own alphabet. Traditional Georgian food is influenced by the Mediterranean and Middle East, and features spices found in countries along the ancient “Silk Road.” Food is comforting and rich, characterized by meat, cheeses, nuts, garlic, and sauces. Khinkali are Georgian dumplings filled with meat, cheese, or roasted eggplant and shaped like balloons. Find them served at the supras, long dinners that are a hallmark of the culture.
Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi is full of entertainment and culture. The Old Town is tucked up on a hillside. Walking and exploring its ancient streets guarantees ancient churches and ruins around every corner. Rest your tired feet in Old Town Tbilisi’s thermal hot springs.
Winos will feel right at home in Georgia, where the Khatkhati’s temperate climate is ideal for grape growing. Georgian’s like to make their own homemade wine to serve at supras, but try vineyard-hopping for a fun adventure in the countryside. Each year, Tbilisi hosts the New Wine Festival which offers guests the opportunity to sample wines from around the country.
Georgia’s varied landscapes promise excellent hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities. Hiking the Caucasian mountain peaks is a serious challenge. The tallest peak in Georgia, Shkhara, presents mountaineers with glacial climbing. It stands in the shadows of Europe’s tallest peak, Mt. Elbrus. Moderate, approachable multi-day hikes take casual hikers through ancient medieval mountain towns and across lush, green Georgian countryside.
Georgia’s diverse landscape means weather varies from region to region. Split by the Surami mountain range, the country is dry and temperate in the East of the mountains, and humid and subtropical to the West.
In Georgia’s western half, historically referred to as the colchis region, lush forests, beaches, and mild Winters are the norm. To the East, historically referred to as Iberia, Georgia experiences lower temperatures. Amongst higher elevations the temperature drops and the air is dryer.
In Tbilisi, the weather follows the Northern Hemisphere seasons with hot and muggy Summers, and cold, cloudy Winters. Temperatures can dip to freezing, but rarely stay there for long.
The capital of Tbilisi is perhaps the best place to base out of as a digital nomad. Co-working and co-living spaces like Impact Hub Tbilisi and LOKAL offer remote workers amenities like 100mpbs wifi and furnished apartments for their stay.
In some Tbilisi neighborhoods, there are even fibre optic connections. Mobile data and wired home internet are incredibly affordable at around $10. The further out into the countryside you go, fast wifi may be intermittent, but Georgia’s major urban hubs will all offer various options for connectivity.
Georgia launched its “Remotely From Georgia,” program in July 2020. The new visa program allows foreigners to live and work from Georgia, provided they intend to stay over six months.
Most long-term visas require local employment. This has been a problem for digital nomads, who have a remote job and simply want to live in a location like Georgia for a span of time.
The idea behind a digital nomad visa is the sound reasoning that it shouldn’t matter where you are, as long as you can support yourself. It’s a government recognizing what digital nomads have known for years.
In other words, the digital nomad visa legitimizes the lifestyle by saying you can live in a country legally for a period of time and you can work from your laptop there.
Working from Georgia can be an excellent way to save money. The capital of Tbilisi offers the Western European lifestyle and look, with living costs comparable to some South East Asian countries. Apartment rentals in Georgia’s capital range from $300-$600 a month. Getting around Tbilisi is easy and astonishingly cheap thanks to the metro and public bus system. Rides rarely cost over a dollar. Overall, the country’s living expenses are nearly half of it’s Western European counterparts.
Georgia’s “Work From Georgia,” visa requires an income of $2000 to qualify. Freelancers and self-employed workers are encouraged to apply. The visa allows remote workers to live and work from Georgia for a year after application approval.
The application requests proof of health insurance for the duration of the applicant’s stay, meaning you will need to shell out the cost of health insurance for a year up front.
As of September 2020, Georgia is still mandating all incoming visitors take part in a 12 day self-quarantine at the visitor’s expense. This means staying in an approved hotel room for 12 days, and passing a negative COVID-19 test upon completion.
According to Georgia’s government application form for “Remotely from Georgia,” the application does not have a fee.
There are a few eligibility requirements that you need to meet in order to qualify for Georgia’s “Remotely from Georgia,” nomadic visa.
Eligible applicants for this particular visa must come from Georgia’s approved list of 95 countries.
Applicants must prove they have valid health insurance for the duration of their stay, and consistently earn $2000 or more per month from investments, freelance work, or remote employment. The program requires applicants to declare that they plan to stay for longer than six months, weeding out visitors looking to get around the current tourist hold.
Applying for Georgia’s “Remotely From Georgia,” visa is simple. The application is done entirely online and the processing time is approximately 10 days, after which approved applicants can fly directly to Georgia. Once determining you meet the eligibility requirements, applicant seekers can fill out the application online here.
The Georgia application for “Remotely from Georgia,” appears to have no application fee. However, applicants must prove consistent monthly income to obtain approval.
Living in Georgia is incredibly affordable, particularly in comparison to Western Europe and the US. Once in Georgia, an income of $2000 will go far to sustain a comfortable lifestyle.