All data presented in this article is current as of October 2022. We are not immigration lawyers or immigration officials, so we cannot guarantee the approval of a visa in any circumstances.
Destination Highlights: Top 3 Best Countries for Digital Nomads – Working remotely as a digital nomad brings you tons of exciting benefits, especially flexible working hours and the chance to travel and work anywhere in the world. Interestingly, statistics show over two-thirds of digital nomads are traditional employees working remotely. The digital nomad lifestyle is a great fit for so many career opportunities.
Picking the best digital nomad destination requires considering several key factors alongside your unique needs and wants. Stunning weather, lower language barriers, strong and reliable internet, great quality of life, and affordable living standards are some of the first things to look for in pursuit of that dream laptop-based lifestyle.
Your dream destination should be equally balanced between an awesome expat community or a digital nomad hub while connecting and making friends with locals. Above everything else, the most attractive digital nomad destinations have fairer immigration policies, the easiest visa application and processing, and the fastest location-independent work permits to make your move and work abroad easy and legal. Here are our top picks of the best countries for digital nomads to make their dream life abroad a reality.
Dream Big: Travel the World with a Digital Nomad Visa
For the longest time, digital nomad visas were a fairytale. In recent decades, most digital nomads traveled the world, moving in the gray areas of the law. This meant most digital nomads could only get a tourist visa or operate within a short visa-free period which didn’t legally allow them to work. Tourist visas are also allowed only for short stays (less than 90 days) at a time. Following the surge of remote work and the pandemic-related fall of tourism, nearly 50 countries are now offering digital nomad visa programs – and the numbers keep increasing.
The digital nomad visa has also proven much better than traveling as an online worker and constantly border-hopping without the necessary work permits. In most cases, a Digital Nomad visa will allow you to work and live freely for up to 1 year and may offer the option to renew for a few subsequent years. These visas will enable you to stay in a particular location while helping the local economies through renting property, paying bills, and shopping, but without competing with or taking local jobs. Some digital nomad visas even count towards permanent residency and eventually citizenship in some countries.
Usually, the requirements are proving that you own a location-independent business, work remotely with a company, or earn a minimum monthly income through legitimate sources. Most importantly, you must have financial and tax records to prove it.
How to Choose the Best Digital Nomad Destination for You
As you can probably expect, fast and reliable internet is always a prominent characteristic to look out for when selecting the ideal digital nomad destination. Interestingly, most of these locations no longer have problems with the emergence of worker-friendly coffee shops and even co-working office spaces that you lease and work alongside the locals. Still, the cost of a visa and its processing time alongside contract laws, taxes, banking formalities, and work permissions should equally be a principal part of your list.
You also want to consider the length of stay offered and the options to renew your visa. Low-income tax rates or the chance to not pay any local income tax is equally a great benefit. Still, don’t forget that health and safety should be the most important considerations before selecting any country. Your unique professional and personal goals should dictate your preferences, so it’s always prudent to start comparing destinations and getting an understanding of what daily life might mean in that dream destination.
Tropical Paradise, Proximity To The US, Canada, Central America & Caribbean, and Native English Speakers
The Bahamas is one of the several Caribbean countries now offering dedicated digital nomad visas. If you love the laid-back island lifestyle, this could be a great spot for you. You can live on the beach and bask in picture-perfect stretches of turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and swaying palm trees. You can also enjoy tons of activities including diving, surfing, and sailing, or bathing and even lounging in the sun while breathing in the delightful ocean air. The weather is warm throughout the year with plenty of sunshine. Aside from the ocean-themed activities, you can also visit the magnificent architecture spread across its relatively small cities and towns.
The cost of living in the Bahamas is higher than in other Caribbean countries, with an average of $2,200 monthly for a single person. Thankfully, its located close to the US, Canada, Central America, and other Caribbean countries, giving you tons of additional places to visit. The locals are native English speakers, thereby making it relatively easy for most digital nomads to integrate. The country hosts millions of international tourists per year, though most spend their time near the capital and largest city, Nassau.
The BEAT: An Easy Visa Application Process
The Bahamas digital nomad visa is better known as the Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay (BEAT). Application is fast and easy and requires only a $1,000 visa fee, with an additional $500 for each dependent traveling with you. Your visa application may take as little as 5 days. You won’t have to pay local income or capital taxes and there are no minimum income requirements.
Additionally, you only have to prove you have a location-independent business or employment contract. Your visa allows you to work or study across all 16 major islands in the Bahamas and you can renew it annually for up to 3 years total. Local expat communities are thriving with lots of co-working spaces across the country, though mostly in Nassau.
Gorgeous Landscape, Incredible Food And Wine, and Innovative Entrepreneurship
Georgia is a fantastic location to spend time in as a digital nomad, with everything you could imagine from magnificent mountain vistas, gorgeous beaches, fascinating historical monasteries, and an impressive entrepreneurial spirit.
The living conditions are also affordable, with Mercer’s cost of living survey placing Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, as one of the cheapest cities in the world. On average, you can expect to spend less than $1,000 on accommodation, food, transportation, and entertainment each month. However, this does not mean that Tbilisi is lacking things to do. In reality, it is a fast-paced city that offers a fascinating mixture of ancient Caucasian styles and modern European city culture. There’s also a thriving nomad community there, with most cafes, bars, and restaurants offering free, strong internet connections and friendly co-working spaces. Other dedicated digital nomad hubs are also beginning to spring up. If you are looking for a slower-paced city with a decent digital nomad and expat community, try Kutaisi or Batumi.
No Visa Application Fees and a Favorable Expat Tax System
Georgia was one of the first countries to offer a digital nomad visa program, known as Remotely from Georgia. It was designed to renew the country’s economy following the decline in tourism caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Georgia digital nomad visa application process is fast, free, and straightforward. All you need is your location-independent business and must earn over $2,000 per month. Plus, you don’t have to pay any application fees, and local taxes in Georgia are also very low and favorable to expat entrepreneurs.
EU Membership, Mediterranean Culture, High Rate of English Speaking, Dramatically Different Landscapes in a Small Area
Croatia is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, perfect for a dynamic adventure and letting your imagination shine radiantly. There are many different sides to Croatia: the magnificent Mediterranean coastline, the medieval walled cities, rugged coastal mountains, historic Roman and Venetian towns, temperate plains of the interior, and delightful architectural splendor.
Croatia is also home to some incredible food and wine and the locals are known to throw amazing parties. You’ll also love the Croatian weather, with the coast remaining warm for most of the year. On average, the cost of living in Croatia is an average of $1,200 for accommodation, food, transportation, and more, so it’s quite affordable. The locals also speak English quite well thanks to the prevalence of TEFL jobs, so you should be able to navigate most of the country without too many issues.
An Attractive Digital Nomad Visa and No Taxes on Non-Croatian Income
Croatia’s dedicated digital nomad visa allows you to stay in the country for up to 12 months. There are only a few requirements, proof that you are self-employed often through client contracts, employment agreements, and written statements from regular clients. However, the digital nomad permit does not lead to permanent residence – for this, you need to have stayed for up to 5 years using other traditional long-stay visas. You must also have a minimum of €2,500/$2,500 monthly. Croatia also has thriving pockets of digital nomad hubs, so there are plenty of options for you such as Zadar, Dubrovnik, Pula, and Split.
Gear Up for the Nomadic Lifestyle
The digital nomad lifestyle opens your eyes to a different way of traveling and vacationing as you’ve never done before. Earning a living legally while adventuring outside of your comfort zone is exhilarating and you no longer have to vacation and cram a bunch of sightseeing in a small amount of time. It could be your chance to soak into the local culture and experience these new places at a more fulfilling pace than you are used to. Plus you’ll set your own work schedule, ditch commuting to the office, and you can contribute to the local economies of these places while having loads of fun.
Whether you want to live on a sailboat, stay at beachside cabins, or visit mountain chalets while earning an income, the digital nomad lifestyle brings all of this and more. But again, planning your globe-trotting adventure demands making a lot of serious decisions. At Expat Empire, we can help you explore what the nomadic lifestyle might mean for you. Take a look at our various consulting services, which cover everything you’ll need to move abroad as a digital nomad, as well as our Visas Tool to research your digital nomad visa options!