Digital nomads choose to leave their home country in favor of the freedom to work independently anywhere on the globe. Even with that level of freedom, you may be wondering what are the best countries for digital nomads.
In this article, we’ll highlight the best countries for digital nomads by breaking down the main criteria for selection.
Living in Vietnam
The gem of southeast Asia, Vietnam, has been a mecca for digital nomads and remote workers on a budget. According to Speedtest.net, the country ranks near the 50th place for internet speed (based on conducted tests), so you shouldn’t encounter many connectivity issues.
The tropical climate of Vietnam can be a welcomed dream come true for digital nomads looking to boycott the harshness of winter. Vietnam’s climate is diverse due to its elongated shape and the various topographical features of the country. Generally, the country has a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year.
The northern regions of Vietnam have a cooler climate, with four distinct seasons, while the southern regions are hot and humid, with two seasons: dry and rainy. Vietnam is affected by monsoon winds, with the northeast monsoon occurring from October to March and the southwest monsoon occurring from April to September. The country is also prone to natural disasters such as typhoons, floods, and landslides, which have intensified with climate change.
Language & Culture
Vietnam is a country with a rich and diverse culture, which is heavily influenced by its language. Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam and is spoken by the majority of the population. The language has six different tones, which can change the meaning of words, and it uses a modified version of the Latin alphabet. The Vietnamese language reflects the country’s history, with loanwords from Chinese, French, and other neighboring languages. English is spoken by some in Hanoi and Saigon making it easier to communicate for English-speaking digital nomads.
Vietnamese culture is deeply rooted in Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, and it emphasizes the importance of family, respect for elders, and community. Vietnamese culture is also known for its cuisine, which features fresh herbs, spices, and a variety of meats and seafood. Traditional clothing includes the ao dai, a long, flowing tunic worn over pants, and the non la, a conical hat made of woven bamboo.
Festivals and holidays are important events in Vietnamese culture, including Tet, the Lunar New Year, and Mid-Autumn Festival, which are celebrated with food, music, and traditional activities. Overall, the language and culture of Vietnam are vibrant and diverse, reflecting the country’s rich history and traditions.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Vietnam varies depending on the region, with cities generally being more expensive than rural areas. In general, Vietnam is considered to be an affordable destination, with a low cost of living compared to many other countries. Here are some estimated costs for various expenses in Vietnam:
- Accommodation: Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can range from $300-$700 per month, depending on the location and quality of the apartment. Rent outside of the city center is generally cheaper, with prices ranging from $150-$500 per month.
- Food: Eating out at local restaurants is very affordable, with a meal costing between $1-$5. Street food is even cheaper, with meals starting at around 50 cents. Cooking at home can also be inexpensive, with groceries costing around $100-$200 per month for a single person.
- Transportation: Motorbikes are a popular mode of transportation in Vietnam, with rentals costing around $50-$100 per month. Taxis and Grab (ride-hailing service) are also widely available and are generally affordable, with rides costing around $3-$5 for short distances.
- Utilities: Monthly bills for utilities such as electricity, water, and internet typically cost between $50-$100 per month.
Overall, the cost of living in Vietnam can be very affordable, especially for those who are willing to live modestly and seek out less expensive options.
Getting a Visa
Vietnam doesn’t have an official Digital Nomad Visa, however, depending on your country of origin there are visa options beyond a 30-day tourist visa. To apply for an e-visa to Vietnam click here.
Listen to our episode of the Blaxit Global podcast with Black expat, Grace Rush on her experience living and working in Vietnam as an educator.
This EU country is a popular choice for digital nomads. Filled with charm and historic buildings, Germany has a lot to offer for those who want to work remotely abroad. Germany also has an extensive internet infrastructure and big cities often have free Wi-Fi. Keep in mind that the cost of living in Germany is only slightly lower than in the United States. Germany is becoming increasingly diverse with excellent administrative and social systems.
A big part of what makes Germany attractive to freelance and remote workers is the availability of a Digital Nomad Visa. This special visa allows digital nomads to legally remain in Germany for between six months to three years. Digital Nomad visa holders can also leave Germany for up to six months without losing their status. You must apply at your closest German Embassy for this visa. If you are located in the USA here is a list of all the German Embassies.
The Portuguese government has greatly improved and expanded the country’s high-speed internet infrastructure, so obtaining a good internet connection isn’t difficult to find. Portugal is one of the least expensive countries in western Europe with amazing food and a comfortable climate, making it attractive to expats.
Portugal offers a Digital Nomad Visa that allows remote workers to stay in the country for up to one year legally. Their monthly income needs to be greater than four minimum wages in the country (around $2,800 at the time of writing). After one year has passed, digital nomads can even apply for residency. Apply at the closest Portugal Embassy in person or call to see if you can mail in your application.
This beautiful Central American country has thrilled travelers for decades due to its lower cost of living and thriving expat community. For those tired of cold, snowy winters, Costa Rica offers a year-round tropical climate.
Costa Rica offers a Rentista Visa, which is appropriate for freelancers who can provide proof of income of at least $2,500 a month. The Rentista Visa lasts up to two years and can be extended as long as you continue to meet its requirements. For those working remotely as a salaried employee, a Costa Rica work visa is required.
There is also a new digital nomad visa in the works that allows you to stay in the country for one year. Check out this link to apply.
The South American country of Ecuador is another great choice for digital nomads. Its year-round warm temperatures are tempting to former cold area dwellers. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as a currency, making it convenient for U.S. citizens to set up camp and work remotely. Wi-Fi and broadband connections are fast and reliable in Ecuador and much cheaper than in other parts of the world.
Digital nomads in Ecuador can apply for the Rentista for Remote Work visa. This visa allows digital nomads to stay and work in Ecuador for up to two years. As an added benefit for remote workers with a spouse and/or children is that they can accompany them.
To apply online for the digital nomad visa click here. You will need to register an email and choose a consulate or embassy closest to you to attend an appointment.
When thinking of a country to move to as a digital nomad, Croatia may not immediately come to mind. However, it has a comfortable climate, beautiful cities, and the most picturesque coastline in Europe. You’ll find bustling cities, ancient ruins, and over 1,200 islands that dot its coast. Croatians have a reputation for being friendly, and most speak at least some basic English. Although the internet infrastructure isn’t the best, it’s acceptable. A big plus is its low cost of living, and the country is improving through its EU membership.
In January 2021, Croatia announced its digital nomad visa. It allows for a stay of up to 1 year. At year’s end, you’ll need to leave the country for 90 days. During that time away you can apply for a new digital nomad visa.
Find more information about the digital nomad visa and apply online here.
Fans of fjords and freezing temperatures will love Norway. Although the winters are dark, there are many benefits to the digital way of life living in this Scandinavian country. Norway has a literacy rate of 99% and is known for its unusually high standard of living. The government provides healthcare for all and free education for anyone who wants one. Internet speeds in major cities are remarkably fast.
Norway has its own brand of a digital nomad visa that’s referred to as the Independent Contractor Visa. This visa allows remote workers to remain in Norway for two years.
Travel the World as a Digital Nomad
There’s a great big world to see with lots of variety, flavors, and scenery. Digital nomads have the pleasure of picking up and moving to a different spot on the globe while continuing to earn an income. All that they require is a laptop and an internet connection, and in most cases, the proper type of visa. If you love traveling, working as a digital nomad could be the career path you’ve been looking for.