Digital nomads promised lush forests, natural spas and a new co-working space in this German town

Baden-Baden has a 100-acre forest and a car-free city centre.
Baden-Baden has a 100-acre forest and a car-free city centre.   -   Copyright  Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH
By Hayley Rogue Ashworth

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that a lot of jobs do not need to conform to the standard Monday-Friday, 9-5.

There has been a shift in the way we view our working lives. We are no longer satisfied with spending our days confined to office cubicles, counting down the days to our next holiday.

Instead, we are looking for that ideal work-life balance - for more control over our time and more enriching experiences. Add to that the current cost-of-living crisis sweeping across Europe, Brexit and the rising price of weekend travel, and it’s easy to see the appeal of the digital nomad lifestyle.

But with the whole world to choose from, and several countries like Costa Rica and Bali offering digital nomad visas, where to start?

As travel companies weigh in on the best places to start your expat life, an unassuming spa town in southwestern Germany is throwing its hat in the ring.

Is Baden-Baden poised to be the next big digital nomad destination?

Baden-Baden is preparing for the opening of its first dedicated coworking space, Opera Coworking. There are many ways this UNESCO World heritage town would make a great digital nomad destination.

Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH
Baden-Baden was once known as the ‘summer capital of Europe’.Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH

Once known as the ‘summer capital of Europe’, Baden-Baden was the playground of 19th-century Monaco socialites. Located close to the French border in Germany’s Black Forest, it was a favourite escape when the South of France got too hot.

With a population of around 55,000, it’s quiet yet cosmopolitan, green, accessible and has a lot to offer in terms of work-life balance. It has its own airport serviced by most major European airlines, as well as train lines that connect you to the rest of Germany, Europe and beyond.

Calm your mind in green forests and natural spas

Baden-Baden proclaims to be the ‘city of the good-good life’, and it isn’t difficult to see why.

The region is 61 per cent forest, with the Lichtentaler Allee spanning almost 100 acres. This green oasis is home to over 300 species of trees and shrubs, and part of it runs through the car-free city centre. Here, outdoor enthusiasts can wind down with hiking, cycling, running, roller-blading and walking.

Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH"
The Lichtentaler Allee is a green oasis that runs through the car-free city centre.Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH"

As well as shaking off any work frustrations, all those extra activities will help improve your mental and physical health.

For more wellness activities, there are several natural spas - in particular, the Friedrichsbad. At €32 for three hours, it has 17 coordinated bathing stations to follow, from warm air baths to thermal whirlpools.

Now, we’re not saying to spend all your time in the spa. But having time and freedom to properly unwind is one of the many benefits of becoming a digital nomad.

There are also six championship golf courses, various sporting and music events throughout the year, and a variety of museums and galleries.

Excellent train routes to the rest of Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France make weekend getaways, fun day-excursions and work trips easy.

How to become a digital nomad in Germany

There are several visa options for digital nomads in Germany, which vary depending on how long you plan to stay there.

Those with an EU, EEA or Swiss passport can enter Germany for 90 days as a tourist. While you don’t need a visa or permit to work in Germany, you must register stays that are longer than three months with the local authorities.

Those in Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the UK and the USA can apply for a residency permit without an entry visa.

Most other nationalities will need to apply for a visa from a German Embassy and a residence permit for self-employment. This requires proof of self-sustainability and a business plan.

Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH
Spas like Kurhaus offer a place to wind down in Baden-Baden.Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH

In Germany, freelancers and self-employed are considered to be two different statuses. For tax purposes, it is best to be a freelancer, though freelance roles must fall under certain liberal professions specified by the government, such as art, engineering, legal, medical, science and teaching, among others.

Once in Germany, all digital nomads have two weeks to submit their German addresses and book an appointment with the Immigration Office to begin the residency process.

See you in Baden-Baden?

If your goal is to make as much money as possible for early retirement, then Baden-Baden may not be for you, as you will have to register as a resident and pay tax.

But if your digital nomad goal is more about creating a life full of balance, this German town could be your dream destination.

The clean air and greenery will soothe your soul, there are lots of activities to fill your downtime - and restaurants to fill your stomach.

Add to that easy access to other destinations and an excellent healthcare and social system, and Baden-Baden is well worth considering as the place to start your digital nomad journey.