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What Is a Techpat & How to Become One?

What Is a Techpat & How to Become One

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This blog post is about the HR trend “TechPats”, expatriates working in the technology sector. For information about the technology patent company, TechPats, please see their website.

Key Takeaways

1. A Techpat is a skilled technology professional who permanently or temporarily relocates to a foreign country for work.

2. Although Techpat workers have much in common with digital nomads, they tend to be highly specialized and/or more experienced in their field.

3. Working as a Techpat has its challenges, including a lack of stability which can impact the formation of long-term professional and personal relationships.

4. As a manager, you can take steps to prevent burnout, from increasing collaboration with your team to altering your management style, so you are not pushing too hard.

The continued rise and then sudden acceptance of remote working in 2021 has led many tech professionals to reconsider their approach to work, in what some are referring to as ‘lifestyle design’. As the use of collaborative working tools and digital communication spreads, increasing numbers of tech workers are choosing to go remote.

Even experienced tech workers who may have previously understood their role to be important and tied to the office, or face-to-face meetings with colleagues and clients, are beginning to leverage their skills across different geographic regions. After all, better weather, a relaxed lifestyle, lower cost of living or a more attractive tax regime are all pull factors.

Businesses that are expanding internationally need to be sure they can recruit the trustworthy and competent talent they need to succeed. Recently, there has been a marked increase in businesses seeking to recruit globally-mobile and highly-specialized tech workers, also known as TechPats.

Hire Techpats anywhere with Horizons EOR services.

What is a TechPat?

A ‘TechPat’ worker is a technology professional who permanently, or temporarily, relocates to a foreign country for work. The word TechPat is a play on the word ExPat, literally meaning “technology expatriate.”

TechPat workers usually possess sought-after or highly technical skills that command good levels of compensation. TechPats may work remotely for their original company or be employed by a local entity within a foreign country.

TechPats relocate for various reasons: Many tech workers are deciding to leverage their skills abroad for personal preferences or a new experience, whilst others become TechPats as part of their career progression (an internal transfer to a foreign branch, for example). Other TechPats include professional contractors or freelancers with specialist skills who decide to work from a particular location due to job opportunities or economic reasons.

What is the Difference Between a Techpat and a Digital Nomad?

Both terms refer to individuals who work remotely utilizing technology. However, the two terms describe different aspects and lifestyles associated with remote work.

As the names suggest, the key difference between a TechPat and a Digital Nomad is permanency. Techpat workers usually settle in a certain country to work for a defined period of time or on a permanent basis.

What are the Pros & Cons of Working as a Techpat?

The Pros and Cons of working as a TechPat are broadly similar to those of a Digital Nomad. However, TechPats are often employed on a more professional or contractual basis and therefore enjoy the added perks that come with being tied to one employer, a level of job protection, and certain minimum rights of employment.

Pros of working as a Techpat:

  • Flexibility
  • Obviously, working remotely and being location-independent allows for greater flexibility in terms of where the work is done. This is especially appealing for individuals or families who enjoy traveling and experiencing new cultures. However, TechPats also benefit from flexibility from an economic standpoint. For example, geographically mobile TechPats can take advantage of geographic arbitrage and domicile themselves in countries that have a cheaper cost of living or a more attractive tax system.
  • Professional & Networking Opportunities
  • Traveling and working in foreign countries opens up the possibility of connecting with new companies and clients. Many TechPats benefit from expanding their professional network and gaining exposure to new ideas and perspectives through knowledge sharing.
  • Variety
  • Many TechPats talk of how they enjoy working on different projects or from different locations. A sense of variety and excitement, as well as opportunities to learn new skills and gain new experiences, allows TechPats to take more joy from their work.

Cons of working as a Techpat:

It’s not all rosy for Techpats though. It’s certainly a lifestyle that doesn’t fit with every individual, plus, an individual’s circumstances may get in the way.

  • The Lack of Stability
  • Although Techpats generally have more stability than the average Digital Nomad, the constant traveling and working from foreign countries can lead to a lack of stability. Some people find the change of routine and the need for adaptation to be challenging.
  • Illusory Professional Relationships
  • Due to them usually being employed in specialist or important roles that require close collaboration, Techpats tend to forge close working relationships with their employers. However, Techpats can struggle in adjusting to cultural differences, not just in business practices but in daily life too. As such, TechPats may find it difficult to form professional or personal relationships.
  • Admin: Visas, Citizenship, and Residency
  • TechPats have to be proactive. Securing visas, work permits, and residency status can be time-consuming. Being employed on a fixed contract, irregular work on a temporary basis, and frequent travel add to the stress associated with maintaining a steady stream of income

What are The Best Countries to Work in as a Techpat?

It’s not just companies that are taking notice of Techpats. Certain countries have also recognised the growth of ‘digital nomadism’ and taken steps to make it easier for digital nomads and TechPats to enter and get set up.

The number of countries offering so-called digital nomad visas has recently expanded from 21 countries to 52, and counting. Some of the best countries for TechPats to work in offer quick and long-term visas, affordable cost of living, and fair systems of taxation.

Country Visa name Duration Requirements
Estonia Digital Nomad Visa Up to 1 year Health insurance, proof of income
Portugal D7 Visa Up to 1 year Health insurance, proof of income, criminal background check
Thailand Long-term Residence Visa Up to 5 years Health insurance, proof of income
Costa Rica Remote Worker Visa Up to 1 year Health insurance, proof of income, criminal background check
Mexico Temporary Worker Visa Up to 4 years Health insurance, proof of income, criminal background check
Spain Non-Lucrative Visa Up to 1 year Health insurance, proof of income, criminal background check

As you can see, all of the countries offering digital nomad visas or temporary residency permits require Nomads/Techpats to have health insurance. The tax situation for digital nomads remains complicated. Some countries expect nomads to pay the full rate of tax like a regular citizen whilst others have reductions; special fixed rates; or zero taxes for nomads and Tech[ats who are domiciled in another country.

Hiring techpats — globally

The rise of the Techpat worker is an emerging trend that’s nested within the growing trend towards remote working and digital nomadism. Whereas the standard digital nomad likely views online work as a means of continuing their travels, Techpats are generally highly-educated tech professionals with considerable experience who take on jobs that interest them or choose to settle in countries that align with their personal objectives.

Companies seeking to recruit top tech talent, as part of their international expansion efforts, are beginning to realize the value of identifying competent TechPats who are open to relocating or may have previous knowledge/experience of working in a particular country.

If you would like support in engaging international workers, including TechPats, get in touch

Frequently asked questions

Both Techpats and Digital Nomads rely on digital tools and online communication to carry out their work from different locations around the world. However, Techpats tend to be involved in more technical roles that require a certain level of expertise and stability. Whereas Digital Nomads may travel around frequently or refrain from registering as resident in their chosen location(s) Techpats are likely to stay and work within the same country on a temporary or permanent basis.

It will depend on your circumstances and the immigration laws of the country you’d like to work from, but generally some sort of visa is required. Some countries offer digital nomad visas that may be suitable for a TechPat, however most TechPats are employed on contracts with a company based in the foreign country. This type of set up is likely to require a ‘work visa’ as money is being earned in the country. As part of our Employer of Record services, Horizons offer global mobility and immigration solutions that help companies deploy expat employees and fast-track their global operations.

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