Madeira’s digital nomad village officially launched in February. Startup Madeira received more than 5000 applications and 70+ digital nomads are currently working remotely from Ponta do Sol. Daniel Heffernan is one of them. We asked him a few questions about his stay in the world’s first official digital nomad village.
What do you do as a digital nomad?
I work in Business Development for a provider of data, research, and analysis on private and public companies. The company is US headquartered and I am working from the London office. The company specializes in researching global M&A, private equity, and venture capital investments along with all participating parties, including limited partners, investors, service providers and the professionals involved. My role is to understand clients’ needs and business priorities, guiding potential clients through needs analysis and discovery sessions via ZOOM whilst managing the full sales cycle from first contact through to close.
Prior to the pandemic, I lived and worked in London. Have been extremely lucky as my company allowed me the flexibility to move home to Ireland temporarily. The pandemic opened my eyes to remote working and the nomad lifestyle. It will be very interesting to see how businesses adjust to remote working in the long term given the new norm. The time will come when I must return to the office, but until then I will enjoy the nomad lifestyle in Madeira.
How have you heard about the DN village?
One of my friends sent me a link to the Digital Nomad Madeira website and having watched the promotional video within a few hours I booked flights! Prior to coming to Madeira, I was living on my own, in a very strict lockdown and was seeking an outlet or an escape. I literally only knew one other person in my 5km restricted area. The timing of me discovering the project could not have been more perfect.
I met my current housemates on the DN Slack channel. We arranged a ZOOM call and booked an Airbnb because we were all planning on arriving on the island the same weekend. The first time I met them in person was when I arrived at the airport. Our plan was to stay for a month and see how things go. I am now looking at extending for a third month and maybe a fourth! This is a trend shared by a lot of the community!
How is it to live in Madeira’s digital nomad village?
It has been an amazing experience so far. You make instant connections with the other DN’s. We work during the week and explore the island in our spare time, sharing experiences along the way.
The best for way for meeting new people in my opinion is going on hikes. You can build relationships whilst exploring the beautiful island all at once. The hiking options are endless!
What is the difference between living in a DN village and living in another place?
In a DN village you have an instant bond with others and can relate on new experiences that you have while visiting Madeira. Whereas in a city everyone is operating at different paces. In a DN village there is a sense of belonging and community which makes everything more enjoyable. Living in cities you can feel disconnected at times, particularly from nature. Co-working facilities in a DN village gives you that office type buzz whilst also having the most beautiful landscapes and scenery on your doorstep.
What are the advantages of living in Madeira and specifically in Ponta do Sol?
There are many advantages. Having initially lived in Campanario for the first month of my stay, it is quite easy for the see the advantages of now living in Ponta do Sol. Most of the activities are arranged here being the main one. The community vibes are very strong. Everyone has been extremely welcoming. The Slack channel is great for networking and meeting people. I enjoy having the meeting nomads for a drink/coffee/food with others when in co-working space. Also love doing the community fitness training on the beach followed by a swim with the other DN’s. The Estalagem hotel have been extremely hospitable for the community. My weekends would involve having sunset drinks and on Sunday mornings I join group yoga sessions with the most amazing views. Each of these activities are within a 5-minute walk of my current accommodation.
Why other digital nomads should give it a try?
If your work situation allows you to work remotely, I think everyone should give it a try. Particularly, if you are someone that enjoys challenging yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone, meeting new people, learning about new cultures whilst also having the most amazing weather!
How do you see the future of such DN villages?
This project will be the start of new DN villages popping up for sure! When speaking to the locals you can see can really see how much of a positive impact it is having particularly on employment and keeping local businesses open and running. DN villages provide a positive symbiotic relationship between local economies and nomads. Look forward to hearing more about the economic impact it has for local communities in the future, especially given the uncertainty for international travel.