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The Ultimate List of the Best Countries to Work Remotely

The Ultimate List of the Best Countries for Remote Work

Working remotely is a phenomenon that is here to stay. During the COVID-19 affected years, the workforce in every country around the globe has not only gotten used to working remotely, but a growing percentage of workers are interested in job opportunities that allow them to work remotely a majority of their work hours.

woman working remotely from a cafe

The U.S. is no different. Working from home in the U.S. had been at 12% prior to COVID, now the rate is much higher. While some of the spike is inflated by employers being forced to offer WFH options as part of the pandemic response, there is a clearly discernible trend that comes out in survey after survey – workers are used to their new work set-up and do not want to go back to their in office work requirements.

 

Because of the boom of remote work a set of interesting opportunities have opened up for skilled U.S. employees – the possibility of working remotely overseas. If you’re thinking about taking your remote job abroad, you’re in the right place cause we’re going to dive deeper into the question of which are the best countries to work remotely.

Can you work remotely in another country?

For experienced and skilled workers, the possibility of working remotely have gone up tremendously. This is especially true of countries where remote work is accepted by many employers and there is an existing tradition of welcoming foreigners (e.g., countries where tourism used to be big prior to COVID restrictions).

Since pandemic responses often shut down physical travel, a new class of “digital nomads” were welcomed, and continue to be welcomed, in many countries around the globe. While digital nomads are by definition remote workers, the vice versa logic does not hold – for example, someone who works from home in their home country is a remote worker but not a digital nomad.

laptop on a table at a restaurant

The criteria for a digital nomad in choosing a country will be somewhat different than a remote worker that is living in the destination country, as follows:

  • Criteria such as co-working spaces, wi-fi hotspot connections, coffee shops and public spaces that allow workers to squat are more geared towards in-country workers
  • For digital nomads from out of country (e.g. US), some of the most important criteria may be to find countries that:
    • have the most remote workers (discussed below)
    • have a stable, fast and secure internet infrastructure
    • have a significant portion of the population engaged in activities (e.g., not agriculture, mining, retail etc.) that can be performed remotely
    • have a shortage of adequate skilled labor within their domiciled population
    • are reputed to be worker-friendly
    • offer longer term work visas to accommodate remote workers situated abroad

It’s important to understand that working remotely abroad isn’t a matter of simply showing up somewhere. A lot of research and thought needs to go into choosing a country/city that is not only conducive to remote work but also one that offers a viable visa option for remote workers; as a foreigner you always need to comply with local visa requirements.

Separately, if you are an employee (not a contractor) you should speak to your employer about working abroad. This is new territory for many companies and often they will not approve “global mobility” due to tax liabilities. 

Which countries have the most remote workers?

The list of countries that offer the most remote work opportunity is likely a good proxy for several of the above criteria that would suit digital nomads. The list includes many countries in Europe and Asia, which can be expected due to the existence of a stable, fast and secure internet structure. Some of the top countries historically (pre-COVID) included:

  • Sweden (~31%)
  • Switzerland (~28%)
  • Iceland (~24%)
  • The Netherlands (23%+)
  • United Kingdom (~28%)
  • USA (~12%)

It is interesting to note how some countries in Asia, for example India, did not feature high on the remote worker percentage list prior to COVID, mainly due to the factors such as residents being involved in occupations (such as agriculture or small scale retail) that prevented remote work or due to semi-urban and rural populations not having extensive access to the internet and remote working technologies.

woman working remotely in a cafe

What is interesting is how COVID caused a huge spike in remote work during 2020 in some countries, above and beyond their previous levels. For example:

  • Remote work in the US spiked to 61% in mid-2020, before settling back to 42%.
  • Italy stabilized at 61%, up from 1% (!) pre-pandemic (this was directly tied to the waves of COVID infections that the country faced).
  • Finland went up to 60% from an average around 18% pre-pandemic.
  • Australia, which instituted extremely strict border controls, went up from 2% to 32% remote workers during the pandemic.
  • China reached a global high of 75% remote work during mid-2020.

As mentioned before, while the numbers are artificially high right now, the mindset of many workers and some employers have changed permanently – if experienced workers do not find WFH opportunities at home, they are likely to embrace becoming a digital nomad to combine their well-being, happiness and work obligations.

Taking all the above into account, there are still other factors you should look at when deciding on the best countries where you can work remotely.

The best countries to work remotely

We pinpoint options for U.S. citizens who want to explore long-term options for remote work abroad. We have kept the criteria for choosing the best countries relatively simple. All countries on our list meet at least 3 of the following:

  • Economically and politically stable countries where remote work has become popular
  • Countries where foreigners (including U.S. citizens) can easily obtain long-term (more than 6 months) work authorization
  • Countries where requirements imposed for foreign workers to obtain authorization does not require major financial fees or involve other, difficult steps
  • Countries which specifically offer digital nomad visas

Below, we mention 18 countries from Europe, Latin America (including the Caribbean) and Asia Pacific that are generally considered to be great options for those seeking to work remotely on a long-term basis.

flags in Valladolid, Mexico

Each country has different requirements. We list some of the most relevant ones below, but requirements can change so we always suggest to do your research and also check with local Embassies and Consulates for the latest information. Digital Nomad Visas and working remotely abroad is fairly new, so policies may change over time as countries get more aggressive to accommodate digital nomads (see Croatia below as an example).

Many destinations allow for dependents (partners and children) to join the principle visa applicant. 

Finally, many destinations will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test and/or full vaccination before travel, so be sure to check the specific requirements.

1.     Germany

Germany grants residency permits to freelancers and self-employed workers. Of course, a number of requirements must be fulfilled, including the following, just to name a few:

  • Appearing in person before a German embassy or consulate
  • Proof of prior or existing freelance work experience
  • Proof of German health care

2.     Estonia

Since August 2020, Estonia has instituted a Digital Nomad Visa program to allow short- or long-term stays for remote workers. Some of the specific requirements include proof of income, roughly €3,500 a month, and health insurance. 

3.     Croatia

While Croatia did not always offer an actual visa aimed at digital nomads, they did have a residency option to stay in country for up to one year with the possibility to extend. Proof of income is required, among other things.

However in 2021, Croatia expanded its welcome to digital nomads, allowing them to stay in the country for up to a year.

4.     Georgia

The country has a digital nomad program that allows remote workers to work from, and live in, Georgia for a year. The program is open to citizens of 95 countries, including the U.S. Proof of income and proof of work are some of the requirements. 

5.     Malta

Malta’s digital nomad visa allows remote workers from anywhere to work within the archipelago for 6-12 months. 

There are certain requirements that need to be met, including:

  • Proof of €2,700 a month in income
  • Proof of residency (e.g., a lease or rental agreement)

Learn more about the 17 easiest countries to move to in Europe in I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe. You’ll find over 50 viable visa options—and their requirements—including digital nomad visas, work visas, non-lucrative visas, student visas, investment visas and more!

6.     The Netherlands

Prior to the pandemic, the Netherlands was ranked at or near the top in many of the relevant categories that would make it an excellent country for remote work.


While there is no specific digital nomad visa available for foreigners, U.S. citizens who are self-employed may qualify for a special resident visa given that they meet the requirements.  One of which is a business investment of at least €4,500.

7.     Portugal

Like the Netherlands,  Portugal doesn’t have a digital nomad visa, however, they do have an options for independent workers who want to stay in the country long-term.  Among the main requirements are:

  • Proof of  health insurance
  • Proof of financial self-sufficiency
  • Obtain a tax ID number in Portugal

8.     Czech Republic

The Czech Republic’s self-employment visa applies to freelancers. The requirements are a little more complex than some other countries on this list, including the following: proof of income, proof of accommodation, and obtain a trade license from a provided list of careers, to name a few. 

9.     Norway

Getting any kind of visa for Norway is hard! But for anyone set on working remotely in Norway, there is a way. 

The Norwegian Independent Contractor Visa allows residency of up to two years for remote workers. Among the main requirements are:

  • Self-employed
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Proof of a client in Norway
  • Annual income of €35,719

10.   Anguilla

The islands in the Americas were some of the first to offer digital nomad visas during the height of the pandemic. Anguilla, a British territory in the Caribbean, offers a 12 month stay to digital nomads under its Beyond Extraordinary Anguilla program. One of the main documents required is proof of employment. It’s important to note that there is a hefty application fee for this visa— $2,000.00 USD!

conch in Anguilla

11.   Antigua and Barbuda

This little island is located where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet. Antigua and Barbuda offer a Nomad Digital Residence program, which allows remote workers to enjoy residency up to two years, provided they can provide the necessary documents – the most important one showing at least $50,000 in income for each year.

12.  The Bahamas

The Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay program allows digital nomads to stay on any one of the 16 islands for up to a year. Main documents required include proofs of employment and medical insurance.

13. Barbados

The Barbados Welcome Stamp allows digital nomads to live and work remotely for up to 12 months. The principal requirement is proof of a minimum of $50,000 in income over that period.

14. Bermuda

The Barbados Welcome Stamp allows digital nomads to live and work remotely for up to 12 months. The principal requirement is proof of a minimum of $50,000 in income over that period.

15. Costa Rica

The Rentista visa offered by Costa Rica has allowed temporary residency, up to two years, for foreigners. However a specific digital nomad visa was just signed into law in October 2021, details coming soon!

For now, the Rentista is a great alternative. Requirements include proof of financial stability; the base requirement is a monthly income of $2,500 or proof of deposit of $60,000 in a local bank. This visa can be renewed if requirements are met.

costa rica

16. Mexico 

Mexico’s Temporary Resident visa is an option that allows digital nomads to work remotely from Mexico from 180 days to four years. While the exact amounts can vary based on circumstances, the visa requirements normally require applicants to show U.S. income of approximately $2,166 per month, or to have maintained a bank balance slightly in excess of $36,000 over the 12-month period prior to application.

17. Australia 

Australia has excellent infrastructure supporting remote work. They also have a 12-month work holiday visa, which can then be extended if you meet eligibility criteria. The cost per visa is modest (under 500 AUD).

One of the drawbacks of considering Australia is that there is an age limit for eligibility – Australia wants digital remote workers to be between 18 and 35 years of age. 

18. Taiwan 

Taiwan has a specific visa that goes beyond accommodating digital nomads. The modestly-priced Taiwanese Employment Gold Card combines four features in one:

  • An open-ended work permit
  • Resident visa,
  • Alien resident certificate, and
  • Re-entry permit.

The visa applies to both remote and non-remote workers and can last from one to three years depending on the applicant’s circumstances. While the skill level and area are extremely relevant, one interesting feature of this visa is that it does not require the applicant to have a job offer before applying.

Remote working overseas

Remote work is here to stay and accommodating digital nomads through medium and long term work visas has become important to many countries.

The list of countries above will provide a good starting point, but keep an eye out for even more digital nomad visas to come from around the world.

For those planning to look at European countries as potential options, check out I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.

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