Digital nomads have the freedom to work from wherever they see fit, which at first appears to be a blessing.
However, there are a great many circumstances that must be taken into account when picking the next location, taxes not being the least significant.
Another matter is the type of arrangement the digital nomad is hoping to achieve. It would be an error to think all of these different people have the same goal.
Some digital nomads make country-hopping a lifestyle; others choose to relocate to a country with lower costs of living, establish a business there, and only then decide when and where they’ll be moving/traveling to next.
One notable thing to consider here is that digital nomadism — albeit, admittedly, being quite alluring — is not cheap. People who don’t have considerable savings (the focus is on “considerable”) can’t hope to become successful in the near future.
Notwithstanding the fact that more and more countries are offering incentives to digital nomads, it should be perfectly clear that these incentives are intended to help the economies of the host country, not the other way around.
Still, some locations offer more benefits to digital nomads than others; as a rule, these are developing countries that face high emigration rates and need to attract foreign capital to boost their failing economies.
The abovementioned applies to the average digital nomad; people with lots of money who want to relocate and keep working are a different matter entirely. For them, Singapore may well be the best location, as this city-state proudly boasts of hosting officials that serve people. Not without a good reason!
Needless to say, Singapore is an expensive place; hence, it is unaffordable to digital nomads who are just starting out. As a rule, they look up the following three factors first: internet availability and speed, costs of living, and overall quality of life (+ safety).
The following list of countries and cities is intended for the latter and is based on the opinions of fellow digital nomads who have visited a country or two.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
For years, Georgia’s capital Tbilisi has been known as the meeting place for digital nomads from all walks of life. Georgia is still one of the most cost-efficient countries in the world, for foreigners, that is. The natives leave in poverty, which is exactly why every foreign investment counts.
Georgia also has one of the lowest taxes for freelancers and digital nomads — only 10% — and the minimum monthly income to be met is $2k. The country is transcontinental; it’s located at the intersection of Europe and Asia, offering easy access to both continents.
Contrary to popular belief, the country is rather safe, with the most common being that Georgian men may be a bit too loose when approaching foreign women. Due to the present goings-on in Europe, however, traveling might pose an issue of sorts.
Portugal’s capital Lisbon has constantly topped the list of best digital nomad destinations. Some other Portuguese cities also offer freelancers' hubs and co-living spaces. Some notable examples include Costa da Caparica (look up The Sea Office), Western Algarve (look up Stokeworks), Sagres and Peniche (look up Coworksurf), São Miguel (look up Novovento).
Portugal offers a digital visa program. To qualify, applicants must meet the minimum monthly wage criterion, which stands at ca. $2,750. Portugal’s Digital Nomad Visa is split into two categories. Digital nomads may either apply for a temporary stay visa (up to one year) or a residency visa (renewable for up to five years).
After relocating, digital nomads can obtain an NHR (non-habitual resident) status, which grants a couple of benefits, including:
- Zero taxes on foreign income
- A 20% tax rate on income earned in Portugal (compared to the standard Portuguese income tax rates of up to 48%)
- Social contributions of only 10%
An NHR status is applicable only to new tax residents in Portugal and is issued for 10 years, but needs to be confirmed each year.
In recent years, Bali has become a center of the digital nomad culture. With the present-day European crisis making many digital nomads uncertain about relocating to European destinations, Bali may offer a sustainable alternative.
The country is not cheap, mind you. The good thing is that shared office space is affordable. One big disadvantage is that no pets can enter Bali — no exceptions. Only humans allowed!
Another huge advantage is that remote workers may work online for up to six months without paying taxes. To achieve this, they’ll need to acquire a B211A six-month visa.
First-time visitors may make the mistake of settling in Denpasar, which is a hub for other cities in the Lesser Sunda Islands. However, a cheaper but no less stunning option is Canggu, a coastal village with a 10km-long beach.
Other Countries to Consider
We’ve listed here the three countries on three continents (vaguely, given that Georgia is a transcontinental country) that may appeal to digital nomads.
Other popular choices to consider include Colombia, Argentina, Vietnam, and Thailand. As regards Europe, Poland and the Czech Republic used to be rather popular, but due to the influx of refugees, the costs of living have risen dramatically.
Overall, Europe might not be the best place to relocate to at the moment, but keep all options open. There’s no saying what the future may bring!