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August 08, 2023

Remote Work Taxes, Visas, Financial Tips, and What It’s Like Working in Barcelona With Elliott Locke of Abroaden

Elliott Locke is the Co-Founder and CEO of Abroaden, a first-of-its-kind wealth-tech startup providing financial solutions for people living abroad. A combination of “abroad” and “broaden,” the company's name is a tribute to those living and working abroad. An American expat living in Barcelona, Elliott has over 10 years of experience in banking and fintech and is a certified wealth and investment manager. He is also the Co-Founder of BCN FinTech, an organization committed to invigorating Barcelona’s post-pandemic fintech community. With more companies offering work-from-anywhere jobs, more people are opting to live and work abroad. But there are hurdles expats need to jump, including tax implications and visas. When Elliott moved abroad to study and eventually settle in Europe, he realized many expats didn’t have resources to navigate the logistics of moving to another country. So, he co-founded Abroaden, a wealth-management platform that provides financial information, knowledge, and empowerment to people living and working abroad. Abroaden offers resources and tools, such as modules, workshops, and a partner network of accountants, tax attorneys, and wealth advisors to answer questions about financial options, visas, and more. In this episode of Remotely Cultured, Elliott shares his experience living and working in Spain, Abroaden’s mission, the details of Spain’s remote work visa, and his favorite tools for working from anywhere.

Elliott Locke is the Co-Founder and CEO of Abroaden, a first-of-its-kind wealth-tech startup providing financial solutions for people living abroad. A combination of “abroad” and “broaden,” the company's name is a tribute to those living and working abroad. An American expat living in Barcelona, Elliott has over 10 years of experience in banking and fintech and is a certified wealth and investment manager. He is also the Co-Founder of BCN FinTech, an organization committed to invigorating Barcelona’s post-pandemic fintech community.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Elliott Locke shares his experience living and working in Spain
  • What Abroaden is and the company’s mission
  • Unique challenges remote workers have in Europe and Spain and what you need to think about
  • Working as a freelancer vs. working full time for a company that has the ability to hire FTE in the country you're in
  • How to start a business in another country
  • Elliot explains Spain’s remote work visa and how it’s a model for other countries
  • Why should you consider purchasing a digital nomad visa?
  • Elliott shares his go-to work-from-home tools

In this episode…

With more companies offering work-from-anywhere jobs, more people are opting to live and work abroad. But there are hurdles expats need to jump, including tax implications and visas.

When wealth management expert Elliott Locke moved abroad to study and eventually settle in Europe, he realized many expats didn’t have resources to navigate the logistics of moving to another country. So, he co-founded Abroaden, a wealth-management platform that provides financial information, knowledge, and empowerment to people living and working abroad. Abroaden offers resources and tools, such as modules, workshops, and a partner network of accountants, tax attorneys, and wealth advisors to answer questions about financial options, visas, and more.

In this episode of Remotely Cultured, Jeanna Barrett welcomes Co-founder and CEO of Abroaden Elliott Locke, to discuss his company Abroaden and the challenges of working remotely in a foreign land. Elliott shares his experience living and working in Spain, Abroaden’s mission, the details of Spain’s remote work visa, and his favorite tools for working from anywhere.

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Jeanna: Hey everyone, welcome to Remotely Cultured. I'm your host Jeanna calling in from Roatan, Honduras, where I run FPS and host this podcast. Today, we have with us, Elliott Locke. Welcome, Elliott, where are you calling in from today?

Elliott: Thank you for hosting me or holding me today. I appreciate the invite. And I'm calling in from Barcelona, Spain.

Jeanna: Barcelona, how incredible. We haven't had anybody sitting in Spain on the podcast yet. No, not yet.

Elliott: I'm thrilled and this is a huge remote work destination. So I'm glad I can be your first.

Jeanna: Cool. All right. Can you tell our listeners today a little bit about what is it like living and working in Spain?

Elliott: Spain. So living and working in Spain, the best way to think about it is people work to live here and they don't live to work. So it's not so much about maxing out your career or your income, even though those are obviously important things to focus on your career and having enough to do what you want to do financially. But it's a very compartmentalized life. And you see a lot of that kind of in your day to day blend between them, right? So you go into an office, like in the US, or maybe in many other northern European countries, for example, you'll go in 8:30, 9 o'clock, and pretty much hammer it out until lunchtime at noon, and then come back and try to get up by like 4:30, 5 o'clock.

Jeanna: The good old 40-hour work week.

Elliott: I guess I was being optimistic in that timeframe. But yeah, that's the general theme. But here in Spain it's much more social, right. So you come into the office, around the same time, you sit down for 30 minutes, get yourself set up for the day, go through your emails, whatever. And then you go immediately to have a coffee with a colleague or, at a co-working space, you know, you'll have someone in the kitchen that you can chat to. In general Spanish tradition, usually around 11 o'clock, you go out and have a little bite to eat, like a little sandwich. That's your breakfast. You're going to start your day in the morning with a coffee and maybe a piece of fruit. But you have your kind of main breakfast around 11. Go back to the office, you do what you need to do. And around 1:30, 2 o'clock, you get a lunch break, which is usually a very social lunch and you go out for like an hour, hour and a half. Here in Spain, and there's kind of a history behind this, but in short, like it's very traditional that you'll go out for lunch and it's a three course meal. Appetizer, entree and a dessert and a glass of wine if you want because that's cool. Yeah, you go back to the office around 3:30. And again work a little bit until about five, a half another coffee, and then work until about seven. The way they see it is you kind of do these sprints throughout the day to do work, and then you have time to chat. And then the idea behind the chats are you're building out your network or you're sharing business ideas, and you're slowing down and enjoying it. And you know, a long time ago, you know that lunch break was also used for siesta. The country that invented it.

Jeanna: Right. Spain is very famous for their siestas.

Elliott: Exactly. And then in the summer, like right now, in about a week, so I guess we're recording this in mid-July. In about a week or so everything stops through August no one's really in the office, people are on vacation, and then that picks up again on September. So it's really about like making your time in the office productive but also not just working, right. Whether you're working in a company or whether you're working in like a co-working space, there's all these networking events and networking opportunities. So like that, you know, I'm originally from the US and then I spent a lot of time in Belgium and that was probably the biggest thing I noticed here was just how like work life blends itself, but in a very pleasant way.

Jeanna: Okay, so technically it feels like that would seem to some that it's a longer workday before you're kind of quote and quote done and out. And do you feel exhausted by that? Or do you feel like because you have a lot of breaks during the day and you're socializing and resting and not kind of like grinding it out for a solid eight hours that it feels more sustainable?

Elliott: So yeah, you get in the office around nine and you finish at seven. But the thing is like life is open a bit later here. So you can go out and do your normal eating activities, you eat later. You find time to sleep, I guess at some point, but like it doesn't feel too much different in that sense, but I feel like you do appreciate like the sprints you kind of do a little bit better. And I think we all notice that sometimes when we try to like really focus on a project and work on something, we sit at the desk for like three hours straight, our minds don't produce great, you know, output. Yeah, right, you know, when you're able to take these breaks, these they're not forced on you, you can obviously work the entire day if you want, and I've done it before, it's not pleasant. But these force breaks actually give you the chance to step back, let your mind digest, and then come back and be a bit more productive.

Jeanna: Nice, cool. And so you're taking about three to four hours of like, breaks a day, with lunch, and like coffees and midday snack?

Elliott: On aggregate. But, you know, on my side, I have a startup, I can't take as much of those breaks as I'd like. Yeah, right. But yeah, come out like yesterday, I took an hour and a half for lunch, which was very relaxing. It's getting warm here, so again, the siesta is back to my house had a little late lunch and a nap, which was just pleasant, and it's fairly acceptable. Then I came back into the office until about 7:30. So with a coffee around four.

Jeanna: Beautiful, I love it. I love hearing how the cultures are different and the way people are working is different. And before we get kind of tell our listeners today a little bit more about you in a bio and getting kind of more into what you do. Really quickly. What is the food that you think everybody should try in Barcelona?

Elliott: Food. Well, um, so like Spain, I don't know if you... Let's talk about Segurio because there's plenty of food here. We don't all know about the jamon. And so the chrizo is great. But so a lot of people want to come to Spain and think, oh, I want to have the sangria. No one living here drinks sangria. It's like the most touristy drink. What we drink is vermouth, that is like the thing. You can do it after work or on Sunday afternoons, you go out with friends and family. It's great. I learned that really quick it's like one of the first things I picked up from my colleagues when I moved here, initially to work in a company. Why are you having? Go out for a vermouth. And it's great. You have it with, you know, a slice of orange and an olive and some things, a pinchar. So like finger foods. Pika, pika is what it's called here. Yeah, it's really nice. In some places they'll put gin in it, which is the siesta part.

Jeanna: Definitely. Two of those and I would be siesta-ing for sure.

Elliott: But yeah, so I would say like the food here, I think it's pretty much what you see. But the biggest thing I'd say anyone visiting Spain go for the vermouth. Sangria's touristy. You know, you can see it at a table. Like you walk around the city and someone has sangria on the table. You know, they're not from here. They're not living here.

Jeanna: Ah, okay, next time I go to Spain, it's vermouth only. I'm ditching that sangria. Cool. All right. 

Elliott: You'll thank yourself for it. 

Jeanna: Thanks, Elliott. Okay, listener, I'll tell you a little bit more about Elliott. He's originally from Nashville, Tennessee. He's lived abroad for 20 years starting in Brussels where he studied Business and Economics. He's working in banking, finance, and fintech in Belgium, Poland and Spain. He's the co-founder of Abroaden, a financial wellbeing platform for people living abroad, and currently resides in Barcelona, like we've just been talking about. Really quickly to tell you guys this podcast is brought to you by First Page Strategy at FPS. We use data and big ideas to produce exponential growth for product-led brands who want to nail their acquisition goals and want to work with a flexible, non traditional agency. For example, in one year, we've grown a client's total revenue 197%, their organic revenue by 300%, and they're paid revenue by over 1,000%. If you're a SaaS, fintech or startup in need to hit your 2023, high growth acquisition goals, check us out at firstpagestrategy.com. All right, Elliott. So we have you living in Barcelona. And you painted a picture of us of what it's like to work in Spain. And you told everybody to try the vermouth. And so let's talk a little bit about your business which is Abroaden and can you tell us about what Abroaden is and your mission?

Elliott: Sure. So as you mentioned in my bio, I'm originally from the United States and I've lived abroad I'm gonna say longer than I would want to admit, but longer than I've lived actually in the United States. Icrossed that milestone last year, having a vermouth while celebrating it. But yeah, so the initial idea came out and right around the time, the very roots of it came out, like right around the time I started working 15 years ago, after finishing school, I was living in Belgium. And as Americans, we have a culture of investing and saving, like, it's where it's ingrained with us to build your nest egg and do that. And then I realized, you know, I was 25 at the time, well, I should probably do this and started to look, and there weren't really a lot of options for people who live abroad, much less Americans, but being 25, I was more interested in spending my paycheck and having fun. Yeah, right. And you know, it's in the in the back of your head. And then fast forward to when I moved to Barcelona seven years ago and started working in financial technology company. And again, that question kind of came back up, right, I just finished a big career break, traveling through Southeast Asia, spent a bit of my savings on that, but completely enriching investment on that part. And again, I wanted to go answer this question: Well, how can we, as Americans living abroad, and other people living abroad, find information about saving, investing, about how money works when we're living in different countries that pose two problems? So first, we might not understand the local language or the money culture. And then second, you know, we don't know if we're gonna stick around in that one place our entire lives, right? I've already lived in a few different countries. I like Spain, it's not my final destination, or at least not my planned final destination. I couldn't tell you where that next one is. But I know that like, for people like myself and the 10s of millions of others like that, it's a question that we know is important, but we just don't have the resources to make it happen. So myself, my business partner, he's also lived abroad. He's originally from Colombia. But he emigrated to Florida, to Orlando, as a teenager, and then wound up in Europe, in Switzerland of all places. And then here in Barcelona, and we both really say, well, this is a pain point we'd want to solve. So that was something that set us down this path about how we can fix this technically complex, but actual very real problem for people living abroad. And initially, we looked at doing something like investment services and banking, but we realized the problem is much more simple than that, much more urgent, and it's about information, knowledge and empowerment. So we decided we'd launch Abroaden as a financial wellbeing platform, and what you can do there is ask us any questions that you might have on money, living abroad. Myself, some of the people in the company, we're certified, licensed investment advisors, where we can handle that sort of question. We have a bunch of tools on our website where you can do calculations if you have financial questions. We have workshops, modules, and a partner network of people who can help you both so accountants, tax attorneys, like for Americans living abroad, the tax is just complicated. We could have, we could probably do another podcast on that. For that, because it gets really complicated. We have an immigration law firm that we work with. So for example, if you want to come to Spain, and you're not a EU citizen, you have to get a visa to live here. And we can help with that just to make that sort of connection easier to get here and to make it so you're spending less time on that more time A enjoying the adventure and B you know, earning to your potential that you want to earn. 

Jeanna: Yeah. That's great. This is such an important niche. I myself have felt so many pain points with this living in Belize for six, seven years and then now in Roatan, Honduras. The taxes as many might not know as you know, even if you never stepped foot on US soil again, you'll always pay the US taxes and so US taxes and the visa and yeah, financial pennants. So do you offer these services to anybody in the world? Are you focusing on certain regions? Like how does it work based on what country people are in?

Elliott: So it depends on so we can offer to anybody in the world in terms of the workshops, in terms of the coaching. Financial advice right now is just in Spain, that becomes again, like about anything financial services, you can only go as fast as the rules let you. That sort of separates our industry from other ones. So our knowledge and our depth is here in Europe, but a lot of what we offer translates into other markets and other in the theory can can carry through. Obviously like you get into like, more developing countries, it gets interesting as like the rules are little less clear, confusing. American word, so I don't get this, like American terminology.

Jeanna: Idioms, yeah.

Elliott: When you're in Europe, which I miss, I go back to the US and the first couple days is like, I feel like I have to refine my American English. But yeah, but yeah, anyway, like, yeah, so like, anyone can come and find us, our expertise is more in Europe. And you know, it's not just Americans abroad, even though we have the biggest pain point there. But anyone. And what's really cool about Barcelona, is it's such an international city. And it is a big market for us. But I mean, it's just, it's this wonderful melting pot, where you can meet people from all over. So like, we know that, you know, we have users and customers from all from all around the globe. So not just the US.

Jeanna: Beautiful. And so we talked a little some use cases, right? So there might be people that want to invest and don't understand how to do that in Europe or Spain, there might be people that need US citizens who need tax support, there might be visa support. Are there any other unique challenges that remote workers have that you guys felt?

Elliott: The main issue is when you move abroad, so you can do this in two verticals, you can do Americans move abroad and everyone else. We were saying before, as Americans, we have the issue that in the United States, we have a system called citizen-based taxation, which means that regardless of where you live in the world, if you're a US citizen, or more precisely US persons, like if you're a green card holder, you are liable for your taxes both in the country you're living in as well as back to Uncle Sam. Almost the entire rest of the world practices one of two other systems, either residence-based taxation or territorial-based taxation. Europe is residential-based taxation. So it means like whatever country you live in, that's where you owe taxes. If you're a Belgian who's moved to Spain, and you've become a resident in Spain, you don't have to worry about reporting back to the Belgians. There's, again, a whole other podcast on that. But yeah, so like, whatever your concern is, so like, let's take the Belgian who moves to Spain, their concern is like, once you've moved to Spain to work remotely, two things will happen. So first, after you've passed the limit to become a Spanish tax resident, you have to start thinking about what that means for you in terms of your taxes, in terms of your income, you have to start thinking about it in terms of like what your investments are going to do. So like, if you're saving for a certain project, you have your retirement plans, your pension plans, and again, it gets very technical and hairy there, but you want to account for that. More importantly, for a remote worker, you want to understand how that's going to affect you in terms of your income. Right, and it goes down to how you have your relationship with your employer. And I'm sure you're familiar with like, the difference between like a true freelancer and someone who's working, hired in a local company through like an employer of record. And that's going to play a huge role depending on where you live, as to how that impacts your income. For example, in Spain, if you're not employed locally, either your company so your Belgian company doesn't have an office in Spain, where they can hire you from or a legal entity they can hire you from. And you're not working from a remote working payroll service company where they hire you on a local contract, you have to become a freelancer, that means you're self employed, that means you lose access to paid time off. So there's like extra time that you have here in Spain as an employee, where you get to take it easy. That's coming out of your pocket now. And you have to think a bit more like a freelancer, even if you're an actual employee. Right. So that's something you'd have to consider with your employer how you can do that. Again, like you don't get paid time off as a freelancer. Whereas in Spain, you have a minimum 20 days paid holidays and employee. It's around 25 by the standards, so you have to take that into consideration, right, you have to get every little extra benefit you want some supplemental health insurance. If you want to look into something like meal vouchers and these other like social programs that they offer, we could go into like employment perks in Europe, but pretty much you're on your own to patch those together. So whenever you're gonna move abroad remotely, you need to consider like, how that's going to impact your relationship with your employer, and how proactive they're going to be about it. The best employers are the ones that A cool with it to begin with and B are the ones you're gonna say alright, well, let's work with one of these employer of record companies like Deal Remote, Papaya Go, Oytser HR. There's a huge list of them. They've exploded really since the first wave of the pandemic ended and everyone could broke free.

Jeanna: But this is the side of remote work that like a lot of people don't understand, and I've had to deal with it as a company building a remote brand. And, you know, in order to hire people truly for our company, we have to find one of those services that allows us to be a company of record in different countries so that we're making sure that we're complying to all of the laws in other countries. And so yeah, so that's something we've gone over. But then a lot of people are like, oh, I just want to work remote, or how do I move around the country and work remote, and it's like, they don't realize that there's this complexity to making sure you're finding companies that are set up that way, or you are kind of just doing it on your own in this freelance world.

Elliott: Exactly. And the Americans again, like they also have that problem, but then you also looking at the tax side of it. And what's even interested in the US, you could work remotely from another state, but depending on the state you're in and where your employer is, you open that up to tax issues. Again, I don't want to turn this into a tax podcast. I think it's too early in the morning for you to go over anything hard. It's six o'clock over here in Spain, so it'd be cool for me, but uh, we'll figure out how to work this out for like, some sort of lunchtime thing for the tax stuff. But yeah, so like, it gets, it's the logistics behind it. It's not like I just move abroad, and it's done. I remember also speaking to, you know, the bank I worked for in Belgium, I spoke to them, just to ask them question, like I talked to someone from their HR, just get an idea of what it's like for them. Well, if you go and work abroad from like a bank, for example, or anything that's regulated, if you're doing that regulated financial service in another country, that entity has to register, and get an authorization to operate as a financial entity in that country. So then like there, it also gets really hairy, really fast. The best thing I'd recommend to do is, you know, be proactive with your employer about that. And talk to someone who can help set you up when you get to your new destination country to make that as smooth as possible. Like, you don't want to be a freelancer if you're not an actual freelancer, because the filing in most countries is a huge pain.

Jeanna: Right. Okay, lots to think about for anybody listening that might want to make the leap or make a change to somewhere else. Let's talk a little bit about you launch your startup as an American in Spain and are creating a remote first team. So tell us a little bit about what it was like building your company and starting your company remotely in Spain.

Elliott: Sure. So um, my, as I said earlier, my co-founder, he's also been around the globe. And we met here in Barcelona. We actually, this is a fun story, we met a startup pitching event that, we weren't pitching or anything, we just went to attend. Yeah, I met him at the bar before the pitching started. And we just hit it off, turned out, we lived in the same neighborhood. And we hit it off as friends. And actually, we decided to start working together about a year after, six months, a year after our friendship started. It actually happened in this co-working that I'm in right now. Which is quite fun. And we decided like, yeah, well, we were in the co-working and we were just in and out. So we worked together. And then he and his wife moved to the other side of town. And we thought alright, well, we're both kind of comfortable working in co-working spaces. He took one over there. So let's just go remote. And this was 2019. When we were still playing with the idea. We've been flushing this thing out for a while, we were working on our own projects. And then like early 2020, we're like, alright, well, maybe we could consider getting an office. March 2020 happened and some virus came out and...

Jeanna: Yeah, wasn't meant to be.

Elliott: Stuck at home for a bit. So we said, alright, well, let's just keep this remote. It works out. Like we haven't missed anything, personally from sitting next to each other for eight hours a day. And we're on Slack with each other often, like when we need something, we Slack each other. And about once a month, we'll meet up in person either to do a meeting or just to hang out. Like either do a formal meeting or meeting at like a burger place or somewhere with food. And we have a good time and honestly, like just this remote first, combined with being in a co-working before co-working's were cool. It really made it seamless for us to deal with the pandemic. And then just to say, all right, well, I trust you and the people that we've brought in, we're a small team, but everyone is remote, even if everyone's here in Barcelona, because it's easier. I mean, I don't know why I make people cross town to sit down just to sit down with each other when we can literally Slack and if Slack doesn't work, well we can make a Google Meet call and plan our in-person meetups to make them count. Right? So like, it's been a really organic experience, I feel like we were ahead of the curve it in that sense. But I wouldn't do it any way. And I think it's a matter of trust. And again, it's your employer, right. So like going back to what we were talking about just earlier, like, if you have the type of employer that's flexible enough to let you go to another country to work remotely from there, then like, they should be able to support you to set that up so it's as painless for both of you as possible.

Jeanna: Yeah. And there's like, there's a piece here about being a remote first company, I think, versus just like a company with remote employees, which there's a lot of brands right now, you know, that are trying to figure this out, just have like, companies with remote employees. But I believe strongly that like to be a really good remote company, you have to kind of start from within, from leadership, from processes, from tech stack and operations, and all of that to align with being remote. What are your thoughts on that? How do you how have you guys approach that? You said, it's been a bit organic, but do you, are there certain things that you do differently than you have in the past being remote first and all of that?

Elliott: I think a lot of it, you have to adjust the fact that it's asynchronous, right? Like the benefit of being in office is you can, like, you got a colleague next to you, if you want to know something from them, you just look over and say, hey, can you help me with this? Whereas when it's asynchronous, you know, there's a chance they're not like, maybe available, like they might, you know, their Slack's on, but maybe they've gotten up to do something, right, like to go get a coffee, for example. Like at the co-working space. So you just have to, like, make sure that you're communicating, like, we are pretty proactive about making sure the calendars are filled up. Just to give you that sort of visibility, to know where an employee's available and work around that. Like, I know, like, usually in the afternoons, my co-founder, he's more chatting. Because in the in the morning, he's the tech guy. And in the mornings is when he's like deep focused into his work, so I don't bother him. And then we're like, we'll, usually, like, you know, you learn how people work, right? And you work around that. And that, I think, is what makes it work. And again, like, I got my start in a bank, where it's very, everything's documented, the procedures and everything. And I still, you know, I'm still friends with people there. And they've managed to do it remotely. But they, you know, you have to have like those guidelines set up to make that possible. And again, the organic part makes it easier just because well, you can build it from scratch. That just kind of happen. But I definitely think like, you can't just say, oh, well, we were in office all this time. Now we're gonna just do it from home and expect everything to work as is. It doesn't. And I think that's where you see a lot of like, the feedback from like, the employers who are like, oh, well, I don't know if this works. It's like well, did you set it up properly?

Jeanna: Right. Yeah, that's my, that's my thought too. But you're touching on something really important here that I think, is the ethos of remote work. And it's that everybody works different. And your co-founder, he works a certain way where he's deep focus in the morning and then chatty in the afternoons. But someone else might be chatty in the mornings and deep focus in the afternoons. Someone might not, you know, be a morning person, they want to start the day at 11. Kind of like that. That's what I love about remote work is its flexibility. But there's a really great, you know, practice that's kind of been going around that were attempting to do it First Page as well, which is this, working with me document. ClickUp has shared them, Atlassian, I think has them in their playbook. But it's like basically writing a short, a short document that you share with your coworkers that says like, this is how I work and who I am. But I love the idea of just kind of like there's not a cookie cutter way to work, right? Like we all kind of work. Humans are very different. Just as complex as like our healthcare and our bodies are like our, how we work during the day, how we get up how we feel is so different person to person so. How we learn, right? Same thing with education in school systems, like there's been a lot of talk about how kids learn different and so yeah, so just having that flexibility for people to kind of work within the way and then learning how your co-workers work is a really important piece of remote work.

Elliott: That's a really good idea. And I think even outside of remote, you know, no two humans are like, or expected to like, have the same rhythm. And again, like yeah, I useless in the morning before about 10:30, so when I do my emails, this way I read the emails. I reply to them once I'm awake. My deeper work is in the afternoon, but like obviously, my CTO and my team views my job as a CEO is to make sure everyone else is successful. So I'm there for them, to make sure that they have what they need and then I go out and do my thing. A lot of that is groveling for money from investors. But uh, no, it's not that bad. But no, like, like, like, I want my workers and the people helping to build out my dream to do their best work. So I don't want to stand in their way and again, it goes into remote. But if they're comfortable with working from home, and they get the job done, I don't care. Like me personally, I like being in an office, but I go to a co-working. I'm not going to judge anybody for doing what makes them do their job the best. We should encourage that.

Jeanna: Yes, Yes. That's a great, that's a good founder attitude, right, is like, approaching the way people at your company work, I think in that way is best. Um, all right. Let's talk a little bit about Spain and its new digital nomad visa. And the growing startup and remote work scene, which obviously you're in the middle of, but can you explain to our listeners what this remote work visa is?

Elliott: Sure. So last year, Spain. The Spanish government passed a new law called the startup law, which was meant to overhaul the economy to make it and the taxation system to make it more competitive for startups, more digital, more native. And part of that was this new visa called the digital nomad visa. It was made in an attempt to make it more transparent to come here to work remotely. They use the digital nomad word. And like for me digital nomad gets misused all the time. Mainly because a digital nomad doesn't want to be a tax resident anywhere so they keep moving around. 

Jeanna: The new term I think is slow-man or something I've heard like, where... I've kind of yeah, I've like had a hard time with that because I technically was sort of a digital nomad like years ago when people started talking about that at first, but I stayed in one place. So I'm like, I'm kind of a digital nomad because I'm working abroad, but I'm not because I'm in one place. I'm not like bouncing around.

Elliott: Right. Exactly. So but anyways, like, layman's, the name aside, not to get too pedantic on that, but yeah, the idea was to give a visa that would allow for remote work, because before people would come over to Spain on what's known as a non-lucrative visa, which is really made for retirees who, you know, they're just living off their retirement income. But they've come over here, and work remotely say for like a US company. And Spain, kind of, you know, closed, you know, they had a blind eye towards it. But like, the taxation system wasn't very clear. And it was a bit of a gray area. So they came out with this new rule that would allow you to work remotely from Spain, and get a residence permit very quickly to do so. They passed the law. They drafted it last year, they passed it the beginning of the year. And they just now, within the last six weeks, actually given the technical guidelines for us to implement it. And in short, what it will allow you to do so you can come and work remotely from Spain for five years. So you get a five year residence permit. You can bring your partner and your children if you have them, you are able to take advantage of what's known as the David Beckham tax rule. And it's a flat 24%. It's called the David Beckham tax because David Beckham, the football, soccer player, whatever you want to call him. He used, a long time ago, he used to play for Real Madrid. And he was making between that and all of his sponsorships, he was making 10s of millions of dollars a year. And within like his first year here, the Spanish tax authorities say, hey, you owe us a lot of money, because the tax rates here are quite. They're higher than in the US like easily over half of his income. And he said, well, no, I'm not I don't owe you anything, because I don't really live in Spain. His logic was well, yeah, I'm playing for Real Madrid. But whenever, you know, I'm not playing in a Spanish match and on Spanish soil, or training with the team. I'm abroad, either playing on like the Champions League, or the UEFA League, like inter European play, or I'm off doing something related to my brand. So you can't treat me as a tax resident. And there's this big back and forth, when finally they said, alright, well, you just pay a flat tax at 24% on your income, and we're good. And that's where the David Beckham law came from. So if you're in the US, for example, and you were making 300,000 as a programmer, or developer, well, you don't only be taxed at 24% in Spain. So that's one of the big benefits of it. You can apply for it in Spain, which is very cool. So most visas you get around the world, you have to apply for it from a foreign country or the country you're residing in, you go through the immigration ministry. With a digital nomad visa, you go through the ministry, the economy, and they're going to evaluate to make sure like what you're doing is usually a tech project, you can do it remotely, you're qualified to do it, which means you have a degree, or if it's a specialization, a training, and they can process it in 35 days, which is much faster than the three to six months for the other resident visas. And then there's a pathway after the five years for you either to renew it, or to get a more I wouldn't really call it permanent resident, but you'd have the ability to work in Spain. Yeah, the catches are you need to be working remotely for a foreign company, you can't have you cannot have more than 20% of your customers or your invoicing clients, so if you're freelancer, as Spanish entities, otherwise, you'd have to go under a different visa. And yeah, it's fairly straightforward. There's a couple other technical things underneath it. But so far, it seems like it's solving a big pain point. Again, and like the five years I've been in co-working spaces, there's always a few Americans who are coming here, working remotely. But I knew a lot under the non-lucrative visa, others who will do, you know, they'll be here for three months, and then go away for a month or two and then come back in. The old visa run.

Jeanna: Yeah, I've done a few of those. I still do them every three months.

Elliott: Yep. When I was in Southeast Asia, I learned very quickly how those work.
So this could be a model for many other countries. Because this is something that you kind of hear other countries, you know, I see an article pop up that Aruba now has a special remote work visa or wherever. So there's some locations that are kind of dipping their toes in this but really like every country needs this because there are remote workers in likely nearly every country around the world working like this. And many of them don't have these visa options like the ones you know that I've been in, trying to figure out my visa path and residency now that I'm working in and Roatan, Honduras, doesn't have a specific remote work visa. So you're kind of in this weird like, in between, I'm not retired, but I'm not working for, you know, Hunter and Company and they kind of just don't know what to do with you.
Right, but they want you to be there because you add a lot of value culturally, financially, you're helping to develop the economy. It's good to have these sorts of people here, and Spain's one of their motivations. This is actually also really interesting about the startup law tied into the digital nomad visa. Spain was hit particularly hard in the 2008 financial crisis, because they had a housing crash, like the US, but it was way worse. And you had a lot of young Spanish people who were educated that moved abroad in other parts of Europe for work. And what they've said is like, if you're Spanish and you've been out of the country for five years, and you come back to work remotely, then you get the Beckham tax, which is something like normally reserved for foreigners. So they really see the economic value of bringing that in here. Again, our research shows that there's at least 170,000 remote workers in Spain. And they want to increase that. They want to bring over Americans, they want to bring over Canadians. Brits, because of Brexit, they've lost their right to come here and work without needing a visa. So like the idea is to make that possible. But yeah, like you're saying, like, many countries offer this Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Spain joined the fray. I think Italy is doing something. You know southern European countries where there's the sunshine.

Jeanna: Yeah, everybody wants to be there. Cool. All right. 

Elliott: There's definitely demand.

Jeanna: Yeah, great. Um, cool. All right. Well, we've talked about a lot of things today about being a digital nomad in Spain, about financial advice if you want to go move to Spain, or if you need, you know, remote work digital nomad support in another country. Anything else you want to tell the listeners about Abroaden before we go to our final three questions?

Elliott: Oh, well, you know, we a lot of what we're trying to do is fix a very manual and expensive process. Financial services are just it's very personal anyways. A lot of stuff that's out there for like the expat community or the remote worker community, it's either geared towards well, higher net worth people, people you think of the word expat think of I'm not a huge fan of that word. But again, like the you know, we're just people living abroad, hence the aborad, but are like a lot of offshore stuff that's not regulated. And it's been nasty. So for us, we're all about transparency. We're all about making this information accessible. It's not for necessarily high net worth individuals because there's services for them, but it's for everyone. You know, that's what I think is unique about us. And again, it's all digital. There's not really anywhere in our space doing that.

Jeanna: I love it. And if they wanted to learn more about Abroaden, where would they go? Or you? Where would they go online?

Elliott: Sure, you can go to our website, aboraden.co. We're on LinkedIn, we have an Instagram account, where we've frustrated ourselves with Instagram marketing. I'm not quite yet at the point where I can be in front of the camera. Yeah, cause I have a bit of a marketing background as well. And yeah, Instagram is, again, another tool we can we can do. We can turn this into a series.

Jeanna: Next up: Instagram and taxes. Don't miss our next episode.

Elliott: Yeah, so yeah, we're there. LinkedIn is our probably our bigger channel. We got a newsletter as well that we like.

Jeanna: Abroaden.co. Cool. All right, final two questions for you. What is your one #workfromanywhere item or tool that you could never live without?

Elliott: I'm a big gear head in terms of like technology. I like a really good keyboard. And I like to have an external monitor one of those portable ones. Just fold up. Those are awesome.

Jeanna: Which one do you use?

Elliott: I have an Asus one. I couldn't say exactly the brand of it. What I do is like, I like to bounce around different co-workings. Some months, I'll rent a desk and bring in my full rig. Other months, I'll just bounce around. And like sometimes, those months, I'm also like kind of hybrid at home. Then I have my little setup. And like these nice little like, slim keyboards. They're mechanical, but they don't make any noise. So you don't piss off your co-workers. I read a lot. So like there's between those two. And if you want to throw in an extra bonus, like an external webcam, I think can make a big difference.

Jeanna: Okay, I'll get some links from you for those and put them in our Amazon storefront for our listeners. Cool. And last question, what is the remote work productivity hack that you want to share with our listeners today before we end this?

Elliott: That's a great question. I think the best thing about it is if you're working on a well set up team, because everything is kind of time blocked, and it's asynchronous, you can shift those around. And, you know, I've had at more than one time because I have deadlines behind me and I deal with external parties, and we're able to like, go back to my team and be like, hey, I need to like shift this around. And again, like, I think the fact that... play with the time blocking. The bonus is if you're on like different time zones. We're all based here in Barcelona. We had an intern in Colombia once. But I he was on the tech side, but like, you know, if you're on the time zones, you can definitely play around with that too. 

Jeanna: Cool. All right, so time blocking your calendar. All right, Elliott, thank you so much. You've been a great guest today. I've enjoyed chatting with you about all these financial topics for remote workers. Thanks for coming. 

Elliott: My pleasure.

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