The best countries for digital nomads

Posted on: 26th April 2021

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Iceland, Barbados, Latvia and the Cayman Islands are just some of the countries actively inviting remote workers and entrepreneurs to work from their shores.

With tourism revenue down, many countries are scrambling to lure ‘digital nomads’ to their shores to explore exciting new places and build their networks. For remote workers, digital nomadism offers a way to balance business continuity with a change of scenery – with added benefits from skipping a brisk winter back home to soaking up the local culture.

It’s a lifestyle that has existed for a few years but, until recently, it didn’t have a clear legal framework. Previously, aspiring digital nomads would simply enter a country on a tourist visa and work for clients from there for as long as they legally could.

Now a more formalised arrangement is emerging, with several countries offering longer-stay visa options for remote workers keen to spend some time (and money) on their shores.

But just how big is this trend? According to a survey by MBO Partners, 4.8 million independent workers in the US describe themselves as digital nomads. They’re not all twentysomethings, either. Contrary to expectations, 54% of digital nomads are over 38 years old. Typically, applicants need to provide evidence of a respectable level of stable earnings to qualify for a ‘digital nomad visa’ or equivalent.

For the countries embracing them, digital nomads contribute to the local economy by spending money in restaurants, hotels and shops. They also pay for their visa – another source of revenue for the host country.

As a result, almost 20 countries now offer formal ‘digital nomad visas’ (DNVs), with more set to join the list throughout 2021. Here are a handful of the best countries to check out.


With a low rate of Covid infections (test positivity rate is less than 4%), Iceland is opening up for business, albeit cautiously. This rugged island combines its much-filmed, unspoilt scenery and off-duty adventures with one of the highest internet connection speeds on earth. As the most sparsely populated country in Europe, it’s a great place to get away from the urban crush for a few months, yet still have access to all the connectivity you want when it’s needed.

In October 2020, its government announced measures to “make it easier for foreign nationals to work from Iceland,” by extending authorisation “for those who are permanently employed with foreign companies to stay and work in Iceland for up to six months” (up from 90 days). Visa requirements include proof of working for a foreign company and evidence of having a monthly income exceeding 1 million Icelandic Krona (£5,670).

“We need to shape our export industry, based on ingenuity and by making it easier for foreign nationals to work from Iceland,” says Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, Minister of Tourism, Innovation and Industry. The country’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Bjarni Benediktsson, adds, “We believe that these individuals will bring with them valuable experience and connections that will benefit Iceland on its path to economic recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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Kalkofnsvegur 2, located within Reykjavik’s vibrant business hub, offers a contemporary interior, lounge and on-site gym to help maintain work/life equilibrium, and is a stone’s throw from the city’s lovely waterfront. It’s also not far from the iconic Harpa concert hall.


Estonia has been ahead of the curve in embedding technology into the work/life balance with its e-Residency option – a transnational digital identity available to anyone interested in administering a location-independent business online. Now the country has gone a step further: in August 2020 it launched a Digital Nomad Visa on which eligible, location-independent workers can apply to legally live and work in Estonia for up to a year.

Applicants must be able to “perform their work duties remotely using telecommunications technology”; must have an active employment contract with a company registered outside of Estonia; must conduct business through their own company registered abroad; or “work as a freelancer for clients mostly outside of Estonia”. They must also provide evidence of meeting a minimum income threshold, currently set at pre-tax monthly income of €3,504.

According to the country’s official blog, the initiative is all about attracting talented people to Estonia’s “exciting startup scene and rich ancient culture and landscapes”. A little work – and a little play, too.

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Set in a transformed factory in Tallinn’s Juhkentali district, Rotermanni 6, an industrial dockland on the edge of the Härjapea, provides a stimulating work environment with super-fast WiFi and in-house admin support. Nearby amenities include a rock-climbing gym, cafés and restaurants, and the Zelluloos bowling alley – ideal for breaking the ice with clients.


On 30 June 2020, Barbados’ government announced the introduction of its Welcome Stamp, a remote working visa allowing people to stay and work in Barbados for a maximum of 12 months. The visa is available to anyone who meets the visa requirements and whose work is location independent, whether individuals or families.

It’s part of the country’s broader initiative to tempt in new businesses by enhancing infrastructure to support increasing business activity, including improvements to the Corporate Registry, and the expansion of taxation treaties with the US, Canada and the UK. Incentives include tax holidays, with a low tax rate thereafter, exemptions from import duties, full repatriation of capital, profits and dividends, and cash grants for worker training.

“We recognise that more people are working remotely, sometimes in very stressful conditions, with little option for vacation,” says Mia Amor Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados. “Our new 12-month Welcome Stamp is a visa that allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.”

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The ultra-modern One Welches centre is perfect for Caribbean business catch-ups on the terrace or in the business lounge. There are nearby coffee shops and restaurants for breaks, and the site is centrally located – a 10-minute drive from popular residential areas Bridgetown and Holetown, and 25 minutes away from Grantley Adams International Airport.


In August 2020, the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced on Twitter that his country would be modifying its Aliens Act to allow digital nomads to work from Croatia.

According to a recent TV report on Croatia’s RTL channel, the initiative was spurred by Dutch entrepreneur and investor Jan de Jong. Jong was so taken with the country’s combination of scenic beauty, high standard of living and potential to offer entrepreneurs the “chance to be a first mover” that he lobbied the local government to enable foreign remote workers to have more formal access to a spell in the country.

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In a prime location in Croatia’s charming, underrated capital, Zagreb, the Hoto Tower is served by excellent transport links, provides easy access to the city’s great restaurants and bars and is a focal point of the city’s thriving business hub.

Costa Rica

With 12 hours of daily sunshine and some of the world’s finest homegrown coffee, Costa Rica is an emerging spot on the digital nomad’s radar. The country’s government recently approved a ‘Remote Worker or Provider of Remote Services Resident Visa’, which applies to “foreign nationals who provide remunerated services remotely” – as long as the services are received outside of Costa Rica. The visa is valid for one year, with the option to extend it for a further six months, and a key benefit for digital nomads will be the total exemption from paying income tax in Costa Rica.

The appeal for business-minded nomads is that capital San José is just a couple of hours by plane from the US, and – having a tourism-based economy – the island has beautiful beaches, wildlife and fresh produce, much of it organic.

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Strategically located in the trendy San Rafael de Escazú neighbourhood, the Escazú Corporate Centre is just over 10 minutes’ drive from downtown San José and 20 minutes from the airport. The centre is convenient for the many colourful local eateries in the area, or you can head to the Zona 400 district for a relaxing walk.

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Topics in this article

  • Work Trends


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