Remember those long meetings that could have easily been summed up into an email? Turns out our wish finally came true. A welcome side effect of 2020 has brought us into the remote work era. Commutes and cubicles are edging towards irrelevance as more professionals take advantage of their newfound freedom from the 9-5 to be part of the work-life-travel revolution. If you’re eager to pack up both your laptop and flip flops and take off to a new country or city to answer those Zoom calls, we created a list of the 9 best countries to live your new digital nomad life.
The desert, the beach, skyscrapers, and a high-speed Wi-Fi connection all walk into a bar… and it’s only one city: Dubai. This UAE oasis is a haven for nearly 8 million expats, and you could be one of them with the one-year Virtual Working Programme visa. Here you’ll find easy access to comfortable, sleek workspaces that your coworkers will mistake for a Zoom background. In your spare time, you’ll have plenty of options between camel rides on the beach, desert excursions, and traditional outdoor Middle Eastern bazaars. You’ve probably heard the city’s nickname “playground of the rich,” but budget-friendly accommodation is readily available through hotel apartments and long-term Airbnb rentals in Old Dubai.
Expats tend to gravitate towards Sydney, but Australia is an expansive continent with much more to offer. Wollongong, or “The Gong,” is a lesser-known city that is home to a close-knit yet diverse community of locals and foreigners. Near pristine yellow beaches, this city also has the advantage of cheaper rent—something not to be taken for granted. If you’re looking to stay in here for longer than a couple of months, I encourage you to apply for the Working and Holiday visa for a maximum one-year stay and check out Flatmates.au to find a place and roommates to live with.
Thanks to the easily accessible Barbados Welcome Stamp, the country has become home to a growing community of remote workers looking for a warm place to sip cocktails in between virtual meetings. Many beaches even have Wi-Fi, to accommodate the wave of digital nomads who have taken to Instagram to express their amazement at the freeing, stress-relieving atmosphere of this Caribbean island. If you’re willing to spend $2,000 and a five-day processing time in exchange for working in paradise for a year, Barbados’ work-life balance awaits you.
4. Costa Rica
With the Rentista visa, you can work remotely in Costa Rica for two years as you venture through port towns, rainforests, volcanoes, and beaches. Jaco, a town full of digital nomads, is ideal for those who need a solid internet connection and want to be able to shop and experience the nightlife without being too far from the nature and wildlife that the country is known for. If reliable internet connection isn’t a necessity for you, you’ll have a much easier time traveling through Costa Rica and visiting well-known places, like the Rio Celeste waterfall.
In stark contrast to the beach getaways mentioned above, Iceland is a misty snowscape straight out of a fantasy movie. Known for attracting hikers and photographers, this is the place for you if you have flexible working hours and want to spend your days trekking outdoors rather than cooped up inside. The country offers a six-month visa for remote workers. Reykjavík cafés tend to be cozy and lowkey, making them the perfect spot to finish up your work, so you can maximize your time wading in the Blue Lagoon, hiking through the numerous national parks, and spotting the frequent auroras.
6. Czech Republic
The scenery of the Czech Republic has historically been the inspiration behind many fairytales. The towering, Gothic architecture of Prague would appeal to any digital nomad seeking a classic European adventure. With the Zivno visa, remote workers can gallivant through the medieval old town of Prague, stopping by at nearby cafés, libraries, and museums for a quick work call. Though the city looks ancient, it is anything but. Wi-Fi hotspots, stellar cell and data connection, and speedy public transport allow you to zip through life in the city at your own pace.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll probably recognize the red-roofed city of Dubrovnik as the filming site for King’s Landing. This sunny southern European city is bursting with art and archaeology waiting to be discovered by curious travelers. After landing in Croatia, apply for the one-year digital nomad visa and have a blast discovering ancient ruins, Gothic cathedrals, and Renaissance palaces that will awaken your inner Rick Steves. The more time you spend here, the more you’ll likely consider staying an extra year or two.
A free one-year visa to a tropical island we call paradise? Say no more. This Indian Ocean island known for its crystal-clear water, coral reefs, and rich wildlife is extending its hand to digital nomads. Its small appearance on a map is wildly misleading when it comes to what Mauritius has to offer. While you won’t find a busy cosmopolitan center, there are plenty of activities to do between your work breaks like swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and of course, photography. There is no specific community of digital nomads here, but locals are known for being exceedingly friendly, especially if you know a little French.
Famously the home of thousands of American retirees, Mexico is once again gearing up for an influx of American remote workers who are using the Mexican temporary resident visa as an opportunity to work digitally in our neighbor to the south. While a trip here may trigger Spring Break Cancun memories, the vastness of the country leaves you with more options to pause away from the crazy party-town vibes to conduct your work. Merida is a bright, colorful city whose lively atmosphere is the perfect place for remote workers looking for excitement as well as a clean, safe place to live. If you wander inland, you’ll find the bustling metropolis of Mexico City where Spanish architecture, Aztec temples, and world-class food collide.
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By Sarah John & Chizoba Anyaoha
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