Remote work is still popular, especially with those who can travel at the same time.
It's a well-known fact that more Europeans than ever are working remotely. The trend was greatly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic but it's set to continue as people experiment with new ways of work.
Research shows that on average across the EU, 30% of workers regularly worked from home in 2022, either fully or in a hybrid model, with previous estimates putting that figure at as low as 5.5% in 2019, before the pandemic began.
Of that growing population, a percentage will take remote work one step further by leaving their home country entirely.
With many countries upgrading their technical infrastructure and offering digital nomad visas, the global economy has created a sustainable business model for many.
A recent study by virtual private network specialists ExpressVPN suggests 20 of the best overseas locations for expats, including remote employees and digital nomads, and two of them are in Europe.
Best international locations for expat remote employees
Its temperate climate and oceanside location make it appealing for expats and remote workers seeking a traditional culture at home and a modern culture in the workplace.
Because of recent infrastructure upgrades, Madeira claims to have the fastest internet speeds in Portugal. Foreign remote workers can rent hybrid 'workation' facilities combining housing and workspace. Rental for a two-bedroom apartment starts at about €850 per month.
Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, is located along the Baltic Sea’s rugged but beautiful coastline.
The climate is colder than other cities on the shortlist, but the advanced digital infrastructure is appealing to remote workers and digital nomads.
With competitive internet speeds and online access to virtually every public service, Tallinn offers an affordable alternative to more expensive or touristy European cities.
One major advantage Estonia offers for digital nomads and remote workers is a flexible residential and visa policy. Digital nomads can qualify for e-residency status, allowing them to own and operate businesses without the required physical presence.
The island of Bermuda is tempting for adventurous remote workers and digital nomads considering a complete departure from the traditional corporate environment.
While Bermuda is still primarily a tourist destination noted for its pink sand beaches, it also features competitive internet capacity and well-equipped co-working spaces.
In addition, Bermuda’s tax codes do not include an income tax on residents. It’s possible for remote workers to obtain a Work From Bermuda certificate, allowing them to work and live on the island for up to a year.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located in Thailand’s northern hills, Chiang Mai has become a popular destination for younger remote workers and digital nomads.
There is a strong expat and digital nomad culture in Chiang Mai, although Thailand does not currently have a defined visa programme for digital nomads or temporary remote workers.
A government work permit is also required before foreign remote workers can earn any income in the country. A ‘Special Tourist Visa’ allows long-term travelers to stay in Thailand for up to 270 days.
Digital nomad Marjolein Dilven had this to say about her experiences in Thailand: "When in Thailand, the internet was always spotless. Even when we were on small islands in the south of Thailand, we had a good enough connection for video calls and remote work. The cost of living in Thailand is significantly lower compared to the US, and the opportunities of places to work remotely are endless."
Often referred to as the "Island of the Gods", Bali in Indonesia, has become a popular destination for digital nomads and independent remote workers.
Bali’s thriving international community and abundance of co-working spaces make it easy for foreign workers to set up shop, find accommodation, and build a social network within the city’s borders.
There is also a digital nomad visa planned for Bali.
The government of Bali and private investors have significantly improved its digital infrastructure, with Wi-Fi access widely available in public areas and communal workspaces.
Jessica Bishop, author and founder of The Budget Savvy Bride, recalls her experiences.
"I’ve been living a digital nomad life working remotely for over five years," she said. "I’ve spent time in Southeast Asia, England, Europe, the US and Mexico. Quality of life and cost of living has been my biggest driving factor in choosing this lifestyle. My favourite place I’ve stayed was Bali, Indonesia -- I spent about six months there, and other than [the] time zone being a struggle, I absolutely loved my time there and would love to go back someday."
However, some international remote workers and digital nomads express some reservations about working in Bali.
When asked about her personal experiences in Bali, Marjolein Dilven from Radical FIRE said: "While I expected Bali to be a great remote working place, their internet connection was very spotty compared to almost all other Southeast Asian countries. Plus, the cost of living is not that low when you’re staying in the popular and more touristy areas."
The bustling city of Bangalore has been called the Silicon Valley of India because of its tech-friendly economy and well-trained local workforce. Remote workers and digital nomads can easily find a niche in the city's business district. Bangalore's climate is relatively mild compared to other regions of India, which makes it a more comfortable environment for foreign workers.
The country also offers a long-term visa for foreign professionals seeking to work remotely in India. While no specific visa programme exists for temporary remote workers or digital nomads, a traditional work visa can be extended for up to five years.