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Work from Bermuda works, say digital nomads

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Ashley Hunter loved her time on the work from Bermuda programme (Photograph supplied)
Tom O’Shaughnessy extended his stay on the island in the work in Bermuda programme (Photograph supplied)
Tom O’Shaughnessy extended his time on the work from Bermuda programme (Photograph supplied)

An insurance company founder who took advantage of the work from Bermuda scheme said the move boosted her mental health as well as her business.

Ashley Hunter, of US-based HM Risk Group, added that she “absolutely loved” her 12 months on the island through the scheme, set up to boost the economy after Covid-19 wreaked financial havoc on the island.

She said: “I made friends – obviously I’m in insurance, so that was easy – but I made friends that I still keep in touch with and we’re just friends – it has nothing to do with business.

Ms Hunter added: “If I could ever figure out a way to make Bermuda work permanently, I would do it because I absolutely loved my year there.”

She said: “It was the best decision.

“I didn’t realise how much that decision would actually help my mental health and also the health of my business, by being there.

“I’m very happy that I decided to make that choice.”

Ms Hunter, whose business is in Austin, Texas, and New York, said Bermuda was “one of the most relaxing places on planet earth”.

She added: “Everyone’s super ambitious and it’s really like ‘work hard, play hard’.

“Everyone’s getting business done but it makes it a little easier when you’re getting business done and you’re overlooking the Atlantic.”

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour, said last week that 638 people who were given certificates to work from Bermuda on a remote basis took up the opportunity.

The “digital nomad” scheme was launched on August 1 last year to boost the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the island.

It has attracted more than 1,000 applications, with 937 approved.

Ms Hunter, originally from Dallas, Texas, said that the simplicity of the certification process made the programme attractive.

She explained: “It was super easy to get – everyone was super helpful.

“There was a lot of follow-up to make sure that I was happy.”

Ms Hunter said people were also generous with advice, down to the best places to live on the island.

She added: “To be very honest with you, it was just kind of a no-brainer.”

Ms Hunter’s husband Fredrik Osterberg split his time between Bermuda and Texas while she was based on the island.

She said: “Once you meet a couple of people, they will introduce you to everyone.

“I had no issues.

“My husband was just like, ‘how is it that you’re walking down Front Street and people are honking their horns saying hello, Ashley?’ ”

Ms Hunter also started the Bermuda Monetary Authority licence process with a view to the establishment of an insurance brokerage on the island.

But she said: “That didn’t actually work out.”

She added: “I think it just made more sense for us, and for me being American, and the board of directors, to incorporate in Delaware.

“It had nothing to do with Bermuda.”

Ms Hunter returned to the US in August after coronavirus cases on the island spiked again and at a time when she felt the numbers in her home country were “levelling off”.

Tom O’Shaughnessy, a Canadian who usually splits his time between his home country and Panama, extended his year-long work from Bermuda certificate so he can stay on the island in 2022.

The investment manager was no stranger to these shores as his work had required travel to Bermuda for more than three decades.

When he learnt about the digital nomad scheme, he contacted government officials to learn more and was on the island by September 2020.

Mr O’Shaughnessy said that he was attracted by the relative safety of Bermuda.

He added: “My home, which is Panama, is still unsafe.

“It’s safer from a Covid standpoint but because of the impact that Covid’s had on the economy there are issues now … crime and stuff like that is somewhat higher.“

Mr O’Shaughnessy said: “For people who are considering it, it has been a very comfortable transition.

“Everything you would want is easily accessible.”

He added: “What I found really good about it was the protocol to come in was extremely efficient but also very strict.

“I felt comfortable that I have to go through this strict process and everybody else did as well.”

Mr O’Shaughnessy said if there was one piece of advice he would offer to prospective temporary residents, it would be to focus on a hunt for suitable accommodation.

He explained he found that “less costly” apartments close to Hamilton could be hard to find.

But Mr O’Shaughnessy said: “It’s been very seamless for me.

“The accessibility to Canada and the US is very easy and it’s a comfortable transition for anybody who’s looking at it.”

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Published November 09, 2021 at 8:22 am (Updated November 09, 2021 at 8:22 am)

Work from Bermuda works, say digital nomads

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