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As a remote worker who adores travel, I always look for the best European cities to visit (and fantasize about moving to) while working abroad. Andrew Henderson, a travel expert working for Nomad Capitalist ranked the best cities for remote workers according to accessibility, affordability, logistics, and longevity.
Breakdown of Factors
The accessibility factor focuses on how easy it is to get to a destination. This is determined by flights to and from New York and LA to European cities, average English fluency in a city, along with the ease of process to get into a country. The Schengen Zone currently allows visitors to stay for a maximum of 90 days at a time. Beginning in 2024, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will mandate the acquisition of a visa, for a nominal fee, for stays of any duration in all 60 European countries that currently do not require a visa.
In terms of the affordability factor, this is measured by how easy it would be for an American to budget for their stay in Europe. This includes transportation costs, monthly accommodation rates, utility bills, and the typical food expenditure. This is compared to the average American salary in the US, which is $4,588 per month and how much would be leftover.
For logistics, this factor is based on wifi and data connection, time difference compared to America, and the amount of available coworking spaces and work zones per city.
While you adjust to life abroad, Airalo is a fast and easy way to buy data specific to a country, region, or global. With a click of a button, you can choose the amount of gigabytes you’d like for any duration of time. One gigabyte is typically five euros and last longer than you’d think. I have had nothing but successful convenient experiences with Airalo. Learn more here.
It’s also very important to consider travel insurance while you settle into a new country. SafetyWing offers travel insurance specific to digital nomads called ‘Nomad Health.’ With this plan, you can live anywhere and still have great health insurance. You can choose any doctor, claims are fast and easy, and there is 24/7 support in all time zones. Learn more here.
Lastly, the longevity factor is calculated based on the value of long-term stays in each city. There is a measurement called the Nomad Capitalist’s Passport Index which determines how Americans are culturally accepted and perceived by locals, income tax costs, and the ease of acquiring dual citizenship for a more permanent move.
So, Which Cities Score the Highest?
1. Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest ranks amazingly in terms of all factors and received a score of 33.4 out of 40. The average return flight from Bucharest to America is $544 which is significantly less than the average return flight from Rome, Italy, at a staggering $1,031. The Schengen visa approval rate is at 93% which means it’s very easy for Americans to relocate for a longer time. Bucharest is also known as “Little Paris” but at a fraction of the price.
Bucharest is also extremely affordable based on rent, utilities, transport, and food. It is calculated that the average monthly costs are around $3,739 which is $849 less than the average American salary. This allows for pad room to save or to further explore the city and travel around.
This city also has some of the best broadband speeds out of any other European nation. There are 19 public coworking spaces in the city center alone. Although it is 7 hours ahead of East Coast time, this still allows for later afternoon meetings for you versus early morning meetings for those in the States depending on what part of America.
Romania is one of the easiest cities to get dual citizenship with reasonable tax rates of a flat 16%. The only downside to working in Romania is the amount of English speakers. Currently, only 31% of citizens speak English so it might be necessary to learn some basic Romanian to get around.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is another amazing city for remote American workers featuring a high broadband speed and many available workspaces with 20 in the city center. There are also public libraries and numerous cafes which make for other great work zones. It also has a relatively low cost of living and a great public transport system which is ideal for digital nomads and expats.
Copenhagen is known for its safety and security with countless year-round exciting activities. Another bonus is that 86% of citizens are fluent in English. The average monthly cost of living in Copenhagen is approximately $2,090, which is only half of the average American salary.
3. Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland is the third on the list and is very suitable for longer-term stays. It has a fabulous expat and remote working community with relatively easy dual citizenship access and lower taxes. For workspaces, there are plenty of great options.
There is a building called The Tara Building which is a creative hub that’s in the heart of the city. This coworking space offers great networking opportunities, plenty of good places to work, and a like-minded thriving professional community.
There are also many cafes that provide a wonderful work ambiance. One, known as the Kaph is known for its minimalist design and is a favorite among many working professionals. The second most popular cafe is called Vice Coffee Inc., located in the heart of Dublin’s creative corner. This features a cozy workspace and a nice ambiance. Of course, both places have great coffee, too.
Endless Coworking Spaces
Dublin, Ireland is also home to beautiful parks and libraries. Many of the parks offer free wifi and some with outlets, which is amazing if you like working outside amongst nature. A popular park for remote workers is called St. Stephen’s Green which has great seating and a wide open space with great wifi. You can’t go wrong with The National Library of Ireland, which is a tranquil and historic setting featuring many quiet spaces.
Remote workers also enjoy working in hotel lounges and rooftop bars, which have a lot of the features of the workspaces above, some livelier, some quieter depending on the vibe you’re looking for.
There are also plenty of opportunities for digital nomads and remote workers to link up. There is a website called Meetup.com which is great for connecting to similar professionals and working in a group space.
Beyond the ample workspaces, Dublin is an amazing city with plenty to do. There are excellent choices for both public and private healthcare at various price ranges. The cons to living in the United Kingdom is the lack of EU status, which some wouldn’t prefer if living in Europe. For stays beyond 90 days, it is important to get a suitable visa or permit. There are several options including the Critical Skills Employment Permit, specifically for highly skilled workers with a specific salary. There is also a General Employment Permit which is for occupations that fall outside of the Critical Skills Occupations List. Lastly, there is the Intra-Company Transfer Permit which is for employees transferring to the Irish branch of an international company.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland is not only known for having an incredibly fascinating landscape and beautiful sites, but it is also one of the most livable cities in the world for digital nomads and expats. It is one of the smallest cities in Europe, but it has some of the best selection of coworking spaces and general facilities.
Iceland overall is considered to be a very expensive country, but there are several ways to keep your cost of living down. Finding inexpensive restaurants, monthly AirBnbs and hostels, along with using the free workspaces are some of the options.
Best Places to Work in Reykjavik, Iceland:
Visas in Iceland are relatively easy to acquire as an American digital nomad. It’s important to get a visa before going. When you get there, visit the Iceland Embassy to make sure you’re all set to live there. Because it is in the Schengen Zone, you can stay for up to 90 days without a visa, but as mentioned above there will be a nominal fee beginning in 2024.
The cost of living in Reykjavik would be around $2,000 a month with accommodation around $1,000, if you’re willing to have a roommate. If you want to live alone, expect to have a monthly budget of $3,180 per month.
5. Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb is another top contender for best cities for digital nomads. Affordability and access are the main reasons why Zagreb makes for an excellent international remote working community. Beyond that, the city is gorgeous with ample leisure options including parks, museums, and a nice nightlife. This Mediterranean paradise is hard to beat.
Croatia offers a digital nomad visa that allows freelancers and remote workers to apply for residency. You can stay for a maximum of one year, but unfortunately, it cannot be renewed. However, you can apply for another one after a period of six months. In order to qualify for the digital nomad visa, you need to be a citizen of a non-EU/EEA country. You need a monthly income of around $2,300 per month and you need to be self-employed or outside of the Croatian workforce. This is a great visa to obtain because you’ll be exempt from double taxation and you can be on the path to permanent citizenship.
6. Tirana, Albania
Albania is often considered an underrated country that doesn’t cross many people’s minds. However, this country has some of the most wonderful natural wonders and a beautiful culture. Although not in the EU, the cost of living is relatively low compared to other European cities.
Like other European cities discussed in this article, there are plenty of coworking spaces, cafes, and hostels.
Best Places to Work in Tirana, Albania:
In terms of places to stay, there are good hostel choices including shared rooms and private rooms. You can live in Albania for up to 90 days if you live within Europe and 30 days if you are coming from elsewhere. For visas, it is required to have a work visa if you are seeking work in the country. You would have to obtain this before arriving.
7. Riga, Latvia
Located in the Baltics, Latvia is another underrated country that is great for digital nomads and expats. It is relatively affordable, with the cost of living being $760 a month excluding rent. Rent in Riga, its capital city, for a studio or one-bedroom, is about $530 in the city center or as low as $370 in other areas.
Riga is rich in history and culture with cobblestone streets and beautiful architecture. It has amazing bars, cafes, and restaurants along with fantastic nightlife. There are many great coworking spaces scattered across the city center along with cafes and restaurants that offer free wifi. A sim card on average costs about 20 euros a month for fast, unlimited internet. It would cost another 10 euros for a mobile data plan.
Latvia is safe whether you’re traveling with friends and family or if you are alone, but it’s important to always be weary of pickpocketers. Latvia conveniently introduced a visa called the digital nomad visa. This allows any international digital nomads to live and work in Latvia for up to a year which can be renewed for more. Find more information here.
8. Madrid, Spain
Spain is another amazing country that welcomes digital nomads with open arms. Like Latvia, Spain offers a digital nomad visa that is valid for a year if you fit within their qualifications. There is also a digital nomad residency permit which is valid for three years. Both accept renewals if you wish to stay longer.
The European capital city of Madrid is the largest city in Spain, hosting a vibrant lively culture, great workspaces, and a relatively low cost of living. Rent for a room in Madrid costs anywhere between $460 and $950 per month. For an apartment, expect to pay between $1000 and $2000 depending on what you’re looking for. Naturally, the closer you are to the city center, the more expensive an apartment will be. If you choose cheaper accommodations, you can expect a monthly budget to be $1440 per month.
9. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden is a great place for digital nomads because it is one world’s most innovative and inventive capital cities. Outside of Silicon Valley, Stockholm has more start-ups valued at at least a billion dollars than anywhere else. With its thriving economy, Stockholm is very attractive to digital nomads and remote workers.
According to The World Happiness Report for 2023, Sweden is considered the 6th happiest country in the world, another huge incentive for starting a life there. Wi-Fi and overall internet connection are extremely fast (3rd fastest in the world) and free nearly everywhere. Stockholm is also considered to be a digital nomad-savvy country, with hotels, cafes, and plenty of workspaces suiting anyone’s needs. It also helps that Stockholm is a very modern city that embraces technology of all kinds.
The culture in Sweden is generally very tolerant, and safe, with minimal corruption. The public transport is fast, efficient, and punctual. Additionally, the exceptional air quality and a very healthy population with access to top-notch healthcare contribute to the overall well-being of the region.
10. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is another ideal place for digital nomads and remote workers because of the high quality of life, low cost of living, and access to endless activities. There are plenty of hotels dedicated to remote workers so you can see for yourself what it’s like before committing to a more permanent relocation.
If Budapest does steal your heart, there are plenty of options for longer-term accommodations such as apartment or room rentals. Rent typically costs between $500 and $700. If you want a property closer to the city center or right on The Danube River, expect to pay a little more.
There are a variety of coworking spaces in Budapest, each with different perks that cater to different careers. Some charge fees depending on the services offered, and others are open 24/7. Most of these spaces are consolidated in the city center and there is great public transport to get you there.
Other Top Contenders
11. Bern, Switzerland
Bern is the capital city of Switzerland and is a Unesco World Heritage Site with stunning scenery and amazing historic architecture. Although not known for its affordability, this destination has plenty of great coworking spaces and is great for longer stays.
12. Warsaw, Poland
Poland definitely has a dark history and is still recovering from its Soviet past, but modernization has become rapid and it is very diverse. Pair that with the low cost of living and you have yourself a great home for digital nomads. There is also great internet and public transport.
13. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is a gorgeous city often considered Europe’s cultural capital. It has amazing infrastructure, it is clean and safe, and has great public services. There are plenty of opportunities for digital nomads and it is relatively affordable.
14. Lisbon, Portugal
16,000 digital nomads already live in Lisbon and more are on the way. Rent is reasonable and the internet is fast and affordable. It is considered one of the best cities in the world to live and work right now. The people are inclusive and friendly and nightlife and celebration is rampant.
European Capital Cities that Are Not as Suitable for Remote American Workers
Paris has an extremely low affordability score and doesn’t really offer any incentives or visas specific to remote workers. Also, many French people aren’t interested in speaking anything other than French.
Similar to Paris, London has a steep cost of living. Food and rent is expensive and the public transport is not excellent. London has also grown unsafe over the years with gang violence and stabbings. The government is also inefficient with slow bureaucratic processes, so it’s not easy to move there. Also, it’s a huge con now that it’s no longer part of the EU.
Rome is also a very expensive city and doesn’t offer many features appealing to digital nomads. Rent is off the charts and apartments are hard to come by. There are not many coworking spaces or cafes with wifi.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The prevailing theme among these cities, which are not recommended for digital nomads, is their exorbitant living expenses. Amsterdam is no different. There are quite a lot of coworking spaces so there definitely are great options for digital nomads. It just may not be worth the cost for some.
With a staggering average monthly cost of living hovering at $7,000, Monaco is impractical for most people, even beyond digital nomads. There are limited accommodation choices and difficult visa processes. There are also not many coworking spaces with limited networking opportunities.
Perhaps one day these cities will invest in developing more attractive incentives for remote workers and expats, but for now, they are wonderful vacation destinations. There are many viable choices for digital nomads to settle more permanently and enjoy an exciting new life that melds perfectly with their work life.
Visit https://digitalnomads.world/ for more information.