Babak Mansournia, 40 years old, is also a Digital Nomad from Iran, who is working for Swedish company, but lives in Tbilisi. He could not get international transfers in Iran because of American Sanctions Iranian banking system is not able to accept payments from other countries.
“I like Tbilisi very much, I came and lived here 2 years ago, back then it was cheaper than in Iran. I liked the city and that I can also meet with foreigners who travel and also live here. I also make friends with locals, mostly with Georgians who speak English. There are meetings where travelers, digital nomads meet for language exchange and socializing, such kind of events are interesting for Digital Nomads, as they come to a new city they can find a way to make new friends and learn about local people” tells Babak.
Ashley Roberts likes Tbilisi that Georgian people are super friendly and compared to London in Tbilisi prices are much cheaper. Also the weather is better in Tbilisi, it's warmer and there are many sunny days.
“There are also minuses of being a Digital Nomad, as you travel foreign countries around the world most of the time you are far from your Parents and friends. For example it’s 2 years since I didn’t meet my Parents and Sister, my sister has kids whom I didn’t meet as well. Pluses are that at least now I’m not stressed, long time ago when I used to work at an office job in London, I used to live in a very fast-paced work, but now my life is completely changed, I'm now more relaxed, I can now do what I want, I can travel or do not do anything. I believe that this freedom is the main reason why I wanted to travel, I wanted to escape the outrace.
For Roberts the main reason for choosing Georgia for living is regulations that allow foreigners to stay in Georgia for 1 year and there is no need for a visa.
“I used to live in Thailand before Georgia, but every three monts I had to leave the country, spend some time in another country and come back again, it could cost a lot of money. I came to Georgia because of this liberal visa policy, and I think many foreigners come to live here because there is no need for paper work and visa, they can just come and live here.”
In 2014 Georgian Parliament accepted a new law that foreigners from certain countries can live in Georgia without a visa for 1 year. But this law is not working for Iranians.
“I can stay here only 45 days, because I’m Iranian, and Iran-Georgia do not have longer visa agreement, also I face problems here because of American sanctions Georgian banks do not open a bank account for me. And it’s problematic to get payments from abroad. Now I plan to move to Istanbul, Iranians there can stay 3 months and also can have a bank account. But if there won’t be such problems I would prefer to stay in Georgia, because I like this country and I made friends here. Here safety is better than in Iran or Turkey” - says Babak Mansournia.
Babek tells that he learned about digital nomad 5 years ago, when he was working at an Advertisement company, but closed for some reason and he found out that it’s possible to work online for a foreign company and get payment. After Georgia he plans to continue working online, and then move to Europe or East Asian countries.
Many countries now try to attract foreign talents. Brain Drain is a very popular term that describes movement of smart and educated people from poor countries to rich countries. Digital nomads are mostly doing something that is opposite to Brain Drain. Talented people from rich countries go to live permanently or temporarily in poor countries and spend their salaries there. A guy from England who gets an average salary in London can have a better lifestyle with a London salary in Georgia. For example, in Georgia he can afford to rent a nice apartment 5 times cheaper than in England.
American city Vermont has a special program to attract Digital Nomads or guys who work remotely. The City pays 10 000$ anyone who has a high paying job that can be done online to relocate to live in Vermont. In such a way Vermont is trying to increase the number of people who have a job and can spend in the city, which can create new jobs for locals.
Georgia also made some laws and regulations that are attracting foreigners to come to live in Georgia, for a foreigner who lives in Georgia and gets money from abroad, it’s not needed to pay tax, foreign income is tax free. This is increasing the attractiveness of Georgia for Europeans especially, because in most European countries taxes are very high and they choose Georgia because of this regulation also.
Digital Nomads are also beneficial for Georgian economy, as these people spend their earnings in Georgia, they rent apartments, they use the services, so local people get a chance to earn money on them.
Tbilisi used to be the meeting point of Caucasus, where different nations meet and live together historically. Nowadays new people and nations come to live in Tbilisi and it makes the city more diverse and unique. If one hundred years ago you could see Armenians, Jewish, Russian or Azerbaijani here, nowadays they are people from Malaysia, Canada, Latin America and other places as well.