Gonçalo Hall is the CEO at NomadX, one of the biggest nomad communities in the world with physical communities in Madeira, Cabo Verde, and Lisbon. Also, he launched projects like the Remote Work Movement, Future of Work Conferences, Remote Portugal and Remote Europe in order to help the movement grow and spread. In Gonçalo's opinion "Remote work is the best tool to improve the world we live" so he spends his time helping individuals, companies, and countries to understand how to adjust to the opportunities and challenges of this new world.
Nomadism and remote working have today's reality and Albania has been mentioned a lot lately in this regard.
TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE talked with Gonçalo Hall, CEO at NomadX, Creator of the Digital Nomad Village in Ponta do Sol, Madeira, and Cape Verde Remote Work Program to share his lessons with other initiators, so they can avoid the falls or mistakes done by other countries.
"Albania is one of the places with the most potential in Europe in my opinion, a beautiful country, amazing coastline, good food, and amazing people. It definitely has the ingredients to become a huge success if well implemented and connected with the national and local governments," Hall said adding "I would love to work with Albania on a mid-term project to push it to the top on nomad and remote work destinations."
For Hall, when we talk about nomads and ex-pats, it's all about community integration. "Community is the key to the success of any nomad destination. Nomads travel between communities. A strong community-focused project will always succeed," Hall said.
Can you share with us your nomad story? What triggered you to take this direction and why in Ponta do Sol Madeira Island?
I found out about digital nomads 10 years ago, through a blog article. Since then, it became my obsession to become one.
I value the freedom above all, the experiences, the cultural connection and the 35-ode ability to know the real places where locals go to eat, have fun and connect.
Some 5 years ago, I actually started my nomad journey, flying straight to Bali, but the truth is that I spent 5 years studying it from every angle, not just digital nomadism but remote work and how it can change the world.
I got inspired by projects like Grow Remote in Ireland, a rural co-living named Sende in Galicia (Spain), the Bali nomad community and kinda connected all when I wrote a project during an Erasmus+ Programme in a small village in Italy called Pannabilli.
The idea was "How to use digital nomadism to repopulate the villages in Italy" and even though Italy never implemented it, I strongly believed in the hypothesis of the project and how community would be key on a repopulation program.
During a visit to organize a conference in Madeira, I ended up speaking with the Secretary of Economy, Rui Barreto, about my project and he showed interest right away. On the next day, I was meeting the president of Madeira, talking about my project and the reaction was very positive. Two months later I was landing in Madeira to launch it in Ponta do Sol.
Why Ponta do Sol? Well... Why a village? Villages were built around community, with a central plaza around the church, central streets and such a strong community feeling. Ponta do Sol happens to be the warmest place in Madeira, a beautiful village and has incredible food options, almost too good to be true. We also had a lot of local support from local businesses that were key to the success of the project. Madeira government had the vision, the work capacity and the will to make it work, they listened and implemented every single thing I said and ask for, a lot of the 36 DIGITAL NOMADS MADEIRA ISLANDS success of the project came from this perfect connection between the vision and implementation in Ponta do Sol.
Can you relate a bit on the projects you are currently involved in? Can Albania be one of them?
Right now, I am involved in 4 projects. Madeira with 4 communities, Caparica (south bay of Lisbon), Cabo Verde and opening Brazil in November.
Albania is one of the places with most potential in Europe in my opinion, a beautiful country, amazing coastline, good food and amazing people. It definitely has the ingredients to become a huge success if well implemented and connected with the national and local governments. I would love to work with Albania on a mid-term project to push it to the top on nomad and remote work destinations.
What lessons can you share with other initiators, so they avoid the falls or mistakes done by other countries?
It's not about a nomad visa, it's about the community. It's not about a fancy video, or amazing pictures, it's about the community. It's not about creating a bubble of nomads and expats, it's about community integration.
Community is the key for the success of any nomad destination. Nomads travel between communities. A strong community focused project will always succeed.
Then it's about solving the nomad challenges like housing, working spaces, events, knowledge exchange, giving back to the local community and creating a safe space for everyone to connect at a deep level.
Do you see Albania becoming the center of nomadism in the Balkans? What do you recommend?
Yes if... Albania has a lot of good decisions to make, but in my opinion no country in the Balkans is working properly so the spot for the Balkans nomad paradise is there to take.
I would create 3 communities around the country, supported by the government, with a local coworking space and a strong community manager. Then I would create a national program to support nomads who want to go to Albania, a website with all the information, a person to contact, a connection to the local startups and someone to lead the country efforts and push the integration of all the communities. I would create a program for nomads and remote workers to relocate, an investment program, a residency for remote workers and all the possibilities to attract remote workers to stay without much effort. Having conferences there is great, having travel groups is great, but to become the centre of nomadism in the Balkans Albania needs to step up and do more than the neighbours, specially because they started 2 years ago.
I foresee an investment of 50k-70k euros a year to make it happen with quality with potential returns of 30 Million euros in the first year, up to 100 million euros a year in 5 years in direct economic impact.