10 countries where it’s great to be a digital nomad
Since the pandemic, more people have expressed interest in becoming digital nomads – that is, having the ability to work remotely anywhere in the world. To attract international talent, a range of countries have devised visas specifically for digital nomads, and companies like Airbnb have broadened their focus from short-term stays to longer-term rentals. Here, we highlight ten places which we believe are great destinations for digital nomads.
Estonia was the first country in the world to offer a dedicated digital nomad visa, which allows recipients to live in the country for one year. As well as its digital nomad visa, Estonia offers an e-residency programme, which allows foreign entrepreneurs to access services like company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxations from within the EU. In recent years, Estonia has built an impressive digital infrastructure to deliver public services in an automated, human-centric way.
Czechia offers a freelancer visa, known as Zivnostenske opravneni or Zivno for short. This is slightly different from a digital nomad visa, in that the visa relies on the freelancer having a Czech connection to their business in some way (such as a Czech client). The visa is for citizens from outside the EU, as EU citizens already benefit from free movement. The visa is valid for one year but can be extended twice once you’re there. Recipients need to meet certain income requirements to qualify. Once you have the visa, you then have free movement within the 26 countries within Schengen.
In December 2021, the Università Ca’ Foscari and the Fondazione di Venezia – a non-profit group that protects Venice’s cultural heritage – launched Venywhere, a digital platform which aims to attract digital nomads to the city. Venywhere is a service which aims to help overseas workers navigate life in Venice, connecting them with workspaces across the city and helping to overcome the linguistic and bureaucratic barriers involved in moving to another country.
Norway offers opportunity for digital nomads and remote workers with its two year Independent Contractor Visa. However, there’s a twist: it only applies to Svalbard, which is an archipelago between Norway’s mainland and the North Pole. Winters are long and cold, so may not appeal to every digital nomad. More broadly, the standard of living in Norway is high, which is reflected in the high cost of living too.
Iceland introduced its version of the digital nomad visa in October 2020. It’s called the Iceland Remote Worker visa, and also serves as a temporary residence permit. The island’s capital, Reykjavik, is the main destination for digital nomads, and 60% of Icelanders live there. It is considered one of the world’s cleanest and safest cities. However, it’s also one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, and applicants have to demonstrate a healthy monthly income to be eligible.
Indonesia, whose goal is to attract tourists with a longer length of stay and higher rate of spending, now offers a digital nomad visa which allows for up to five years’ residency in the country. Internationally, this is unusual as typically digital nomad visas are for one or two years. Bali is already a popular destination for digital nomads, thanks to its tropical climate and low cost of living. Indonesia’s digital nomad visa allows recipients to live in the country tax free.
Barbados’ digital nomad visa is called Welcome Stamp. The Caribbean island introduced the visa in an attempt to boost visitor numbers after the tourism slump caused by Covid-19 – crucial, given that Barbados relied on tourism for a third of its GDP. It was the first Caribbean country to offer a digital nomad visitor – others have since followed suit. People who have the digital nomad visa do not have to pay income tax during their 12 month stay. Barbados is a well-connected hub that allows you to explore the rest of the Caribbean and Central America and also has some of the fastest internet speeds in the region. However, it’s not a cheap place to live.
Germany offers a freelance visa and yes, there is a German word for that: Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbständige Tätigkeit. Essentially, it is a residency permit for foreign freelancers and self-employed people to live in Germany for a period of up to 3 years. You have to deal with German bureaucracy as it takes up to 4 months to get approval.
Malta offers a digital nomad visa called the Nomad Residency Permit. This programme is aimed at non-EU remote workers and has a length of one year which can be renewed. Malta boasts a nationwide 5G network, English as one of the official languages, and over 300 days of sunshine a year – making it a popular choice for digital nomads.
The city of Dubai offers a one-year virtual working programme for remote workers and digital nomads. You can work now for one year in this coastal megacity and benefit from the zero income tax for individuals as well as the hot desert-like climate.
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