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As a freelancer, you can work from anywhere that has an internet connection. This realization has inspired millions of people to take off and roam the world while performing all kinds of jobs remotely. And they were definitely right to have done so because working and living abroad, immersed in a different culture, expands your horizons and boosts creativity. Such a lifestyle also enables you to be more productive and opens up huge networking potential.
That said, you might not reap all the benefits of working abroad if you choose the wrong country. Not all places have the legislation, internet speeds, and general environment to make them a good choice for freelancers looking for a change of scenery. For example, cities like St. Petersburg (Russia), Johannesburg (South Africa), and Beijing (China) are some of the worst places for freelancers for those exact reasons — with a side-serving of political issues. The places listed below, on the other hand, could be right up your alley.
Estonia is the heart and soul of the tech startup scene today, so it attracts professionals from all over. Being a freelancer in this country is great because your opportunities for networking and finding work in young, talented, and extremely driven teams are plenty.
The cost of living in Estonia is average but it has cheap rent and transport, so you can save a lot of money if you manage it wisely.
To understand why freelancers in particular thrive in this country you only need to know one thing: Estonia was the first country on the planet to acknowledge that using the internet was a basic human right. In a country with such an outlook you won’t have any trouble with the internet connection and will therefore be able to work from anywhere and at any time.
There are no downsides to being a freelancer and moving to Estonia. The country is so welcoming, it offers e-residency. The only thing that might put you off is if your desire is to live close to the beach.
Vietnam is becoming progressively more popular amongst digital nomads and freelancers who want to restart their lives in an exotic location. The country has a lot going for it, starting with the fact that it is becoming a major startup hub in the region. It is also cheap, so you will only need a minimal budget to relocate.
Moreover, Vietnam is an extremely hospitable country so you’ll be treated like “one of the locals” in no time. This friendliness and positive attitude will help you deal with any culture shock.
The only black mark against Vietnam is that the internet speeds are still rather low. Stay in Hanoi to get the best speeds the country has to offer.
You’ll be hard pressed to find many other places on the planet that offer the same wireless Internet speeds as Lisbon. Internet there is also ridiculously cheap, although the overall cost of living is mid-range. Add to that the fact that beautiful beaches and the Atlantic Ocean are but a short ride away and you’ll see why Portugal is one of the best places for freelancers.
The Non-Habitual Residency Program, which offers certain tax benefits for freelancers, is another reason why you should put it on your list.
If you want to live among Gothic cathedrals and amid the ambiance of historic Europe, you need to move to the Czech Republic. The internet is great and in Prague you’ll find fast and reliable public Wi-Fi everywhere. Co-working spaces and coffee shops where entrepreneurs and freelancers can network and mingle are extremely popular, and commonplace as well.
The cost of living in the Republic is rather low by EU standards, and additionally the country is home to thousands of foreign freelancers already. It will be easy to avoid any feelings of isolation, which can complicate your transition to a new country. Join local communities to both boost your mental health and find new business opportunities.
Thailand is such a great place for freelancers that digital nomads have already established a community of their own in Bangkok. The expat community in the main cities of the country is thriving, and so are tech opportunities.
The main advantage of moving to Thailand is that it’s a very cheap country. Thus if your current income allows you to live comfortably in the West, you’ll feel rich if you move to Thailand.
The internet in the bigger cities of the country caters for the ever-growing community of expats and boasts both good stability and speed. There are also many specialized networking programs, especially in Chiang Mai. Therefore digital nomads will be able to broaden their business horizons with ease.
One word of caution though, you must never break the local laws. Take your time to research them and be a model expat whilst in Thailand. You really don’t want to have any run-ins with the local legal system.
Beautiful New Zealand is a dream country for many, but freelancers in particular can benefit from moving there because every city in New Zealand has excellent internet stability and speed. Regrettably the same can’t be said for the countryside, where it is poor, so you would be advised to stay in the cities.
Another big advantage of the country for freelancers is that it offers some of the best opportunities for active recreation imaginable. If you want to spend your free time hiking or practicing landscape photography, this is the ultimate place to be.
New Zealand is also extremely multicultural, with over 140 nationalities in the mix. So another foreign freelancer will fit right in and will be able to integrate into the community with ease, especially if you speak English.
The New Zealand tax system is rather simple and doesn’t have any rules that might cause problems for the self-employed. If you choose to start a business there, the procedure is once again simple and streamlined. Note that New Zealand also has amazing and affordable coffee.
The downside of being a freelancer in New Zealand is the rather high cost of living. This issue is similar for all islands because such a large proportion of goods have to be imported.
Jason Graham from VPN Teacher has been a digital nomad for a decade now. His goal is to visit every country in the world and see how a freelancer can strive there. He regularly shares his experiences about the best and worst places he’s visited.