These are the best countries for digital nomads, according to expats

These destinations rank well in terms of quality of life, affordability, safety, and access to culture and outdoor activities.

The world has indeed gotten smaller. Thanks to more affordable tickets and remote work, one’s dream of living abroad doesn’t seem impossible anymore.

With the rise of online work, several countries have rolled out new visa programs and tax incentives that entice digital nomads, investors and families. If you’re thinking of making the big move overseas, you now have more options.

Berlin’s River Spree. Photo by Floriane Wehde

In a previous article on The Post, writer and poet Ellaine Cruz talked about three of the best European countries to settle in as a digital nomad, namely Portugal, Malta, and Spain. These three countries are good choices in terms of cost of living and the relative ease of meeting the requirements.

If you’re looking to move somewhere else, we have here five more countries to consider if you want to live your dream of being a digital nomad. 

Rome’s Spanish Steps. Photo by Shai Pal

The following countries rank well in terms of quality of life, affordability, safety, and access to culture and outdoor activities, according to reputable sources like the Expat Insider survey by InterNations, an expat community with more than 5.1 million members. The survey reflects data from about 12,000 expats representing 177 nationalities in 181 countries/territories. 

And because life isn’t all roses and rainbows, we’ve also included some of the cons to consider per country. 

1. Italy

Always breathtaking. St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
Photo by Caleb Miller. All photos from Unsplash.

Even if you’re not a fan of Eat, Pray, Love, or Under the Tuscan Sun (the books or the films), it’s a no-brainer why Italy embodies the romantic notion of living abroad. If you think it’s all a fairy tale, it’s in fact doable, thanks in part to investment schemes such as the “one-euro homes” that many small towns have launched. 

Aside from la dolce vita, having Italy as your base gives you access to some of the world’s most popular tourist cities and a well-loved culture that puts family and food front and center. Italy’s healthcare system is also nothing to frown upon, and many expats can vouch for the warmth and friendliness of the Italians.

Not everything is perfetto, however, as prospects for employment in Italy aren’t as wide and varied as they are in other European countries. You also have to keep in mind that English generally isn’t widely spoken, unless in you are in cosmopolitan cities like Rome and Milan. Oh, and have we mentioned Italy’s notorious bureaucracy?

2. France

Hilly Montmartre in Paris’ 18th arrondissement. Photo by Henrique Ferreria

Who hasn’t dreamed of a life à la Emily in Paris, with world-class museums just a short metro ride away or a freshly baked baguette waiting for you every day at the corner boulangerie. On top of c’est la vie, France has universal health care, an enviable work-life balance (they have a 35-hour work week), and an abundance of public holidays.

France can be pricey, however, if you’re no Heart Evangelista, but it offers extensive social programs and benefits for residents. The country also ranks well on InterNations’ indices for quality of life.

Anyone looking to stay in France for more than three months will need to apply for a long-term visa. France does not offer a visa for digital nomads, so you’ll need a long-stay visa if you plan to work or study. There are several categories under France’s Carte de Séjour Residence Permit, each with various conditions and restrictions.

A downside, however, is that income and social taxes in France are high: up to 45 percent, with high-income individuals having to pay a surcharge of 3 percent on part of their income. 

Also like Italy, outside of major cities such as Paris and Strasbourg, the language barrier can be problematic if you don’t have a solid grasp of French.

3. Germany

Munich at night. Photo by Daniel Sessler

Germany is the EU’s biggest and the world’s third largest economy, so you’re assured that there’s economic stability. It has a strong job market and a robust welfare system, on top of postcard-perfect and culturally rich destinations. 

Deutschland is so popular especially among Americans that according to the latest national figures, more than 121,000 US citizens currently call Germany home. Other world-class cities such as Munich, Frankfurt and Stuttgart also have large and tight-knit expat communities. Moreover, Germany’s “freelancer visa” is fairly easy to get.

Also, the country is great for families, thanks to universal health care and social benefits such as a monthly kindergeld (“children money”) stipend, heavily subsidized childcare and generous parental leave, according to CNN. The country’s skilled worker visa allows certain individuals with a qualifying degree or certificate a six-month window to search for employment in their area of qualification. Its self-employment visa is also fairly straightforward.

However, there are (relatively minor) inconveniences. On Sundays, for example, most stores are closed. The country’s bureaucracy can also be discouraging. Similar to Italy and France, beyond major cities, English is not widely spoken.

4. Singapore

Marina Bay at dusk. Photo by Mike Enerio

If you don’t want to stray too far from home, then this Southeast Asian city-state is the place to go and be a digital nomad. Singapore is popular among expats, and is ranked third on InterNations’ Expat Essentials Index. Its proximity to the Philippines makes visits back to the motherland cheaper and faster than the other countries on the list.

It’s viewed as one of the best countries in which to live and work, thanks to a thriving job market, top-notch education and health care, and one of the world’s best transportation systems.

If you love food, then this is the country to set up your digital nomad office. As a culinary mecca, there are endless dining options from Michelin-starred restaurants to decades-old hawker stalls. Singapore also has one of the best airports anywhere on the planet, making travel to other parts of the world more convenient.

Singapore doesn’t offer a digital nomad visa, but those who have worked lined up can apply for an Employment Pass. Entrepreneurs interested in starting a business in Singapore can apply for an Entre Pass.

Anyone who has been to the Lion City, however, knows how it can be so expensive. Also, even for Filipinos, Singapore can be even more unbearably humid and hot. 

5. The Netherlands

Amsterdam’s famed canals—and bikes. Photo by Gaurav Jain

Another dream destination for wannabe digital nomads, this country ranked fifth in Gallup’s 2023 World Happiness Report, which assesses various indicators across life satisfaction and social and economic well being. 

The capital, Amsterdam, is especially popular among expats and tourists alike, with its iconic canals, historic architecture, and laid back vibe.

The Netherlands will also inspire you to lead a more active lifestyle, having one of the world’s best cycling infrastructure and culture—in fact, the country is said to have more bikes than human beings! It is also known for its excellent education system, with most levels funded in part by the government.

A major upside is that highly skilled workers can apply for the “30 percent ruling,” a tax advantage in which they’re granted a tax-free 30 percent allowance of their gross salary for five years, according to the same CNN article. The Dutch government, however, recently implemented a cap on the amount of wages eligible for the ruling.

The Netherlands does not offer a digital nomad visa, but you can apply for a long-stay visa, also known as an authorization for temporary stay.

The downside? The Netherlands is pricey, especially rents. Income taxes are also high, with a tax rate of 49.5 percent on salaries exceeding €73,031 (roughly US $81,135), which can come as quite a shock following five years of being taxed at 30 percent.

Also, the weather isn’t very cheerful, making it a bit difficult for some Pinoys who are used to near-eternal sunshine. 

The new lifestyle.