Being an entrepreneur can offer you the luxury of traveling the world with your laptop. If your business is online or you work for businesses online as a freelancer, this is for you. It’s getting easier to travel the world and work on your laptop. Hubs have popped up all the world, as well as co-working spaces. There are also incredible coffee shops with super-fast WiFi to cater to those working online. It is getting more and more obvious to countries worldwide that you have to make it easy for digital nomads. The benefit is a great economy that doesn’t take away from people in the country, but the nomad spends their dollars in it.
Countries that otherwise had no tourists came up with a fabulous idea to host individuals or working teams. As a digital nomad, there are so many options as to where you can live. The world is your oyster more than at any other time in history. Too many options can lead to confusion, not to mention Visa regulations. Here are the countries that hold good opportunities for living around the world.
Let’s face it, living a digital nomad lifestyle isn’t just a trend. This is the new way people are living and making money. There are thousands of us out there. We are free to roam the world and work off our laptops at coffee shops, in hammocks by the beach, and at rooftop bars. There are many countries that are capitalizing on this economy. They are making it easier for those working online to hang out all over the world.
Panama, the Best Place to be a Digital Nomad in Central America
Not saying it’s easy to get a tax-free account in Panama, but it is possible. There are a lot of benefits for the digital nomad to move to Panama. You get a 90-day stay for free on arrival. All you have to do is cross the border over to Costa Rica. It’s a nice getaway anyway. Panama has the best WiFi in Central America. Panama City itself is an impressive metropolis with an old city that is well kept. There is a sense of wealth here like art gallery bars in the old city. On the other hand, you can always get some cheap eats. The city is right on the ocean too, and has a real Miami feel to it. There is a new seawall where you can run, walk, and rollerblade your mornings away.
The cost of living is relatively low, and there are plenty of amenities for anyone who comes to live here. The Internet is 300 mbps throughout the country. If you’re going to stay for 6 months, you can get good deals with many of the Internet companies. It is usually a 6-month contract, but you can always get a place that has WiFi. Most digital nomads don’t really want to stay in one place forever. Panama is a great place, and is a time zone that works for those involved in the North American market.
Columbia is Up There with S.E. Asian Countries
The well-known places to run away into the hot climates are Bali (Indonesia) and Chiang Mai (Thailand). Medellin, Columbia is starting to make a name for itself and may eventually trump the Asian countries that have been number one for years. The time zone works well if you’re working with U.S. or Canadian companies. There is incredible food here, a good quality of life, and it’s cheap. There are plenty of coworking spaces and lots of people to befriend or network with. There is a growing scene of digital nomads here and many entrepreneurs.
Thailand Remains one of the Top Destinations
For now, Thailand is still on top when it comes to entrepreneurs living abroad. Despite the challenge of figuring out how to navigate through visa stuff, Thailand is still an excellent place to live and work. It’s a bit of a contradiction because there are work hubs here. Sometimes, the police will raid these hubs, though. They fine the people working in the hubs because it’s not actually legal to work here without a work visa. It is, like many things, tolerated here, but it’s always hard to know when they’ll crack down.
Thousands of people still do it. Most will work from their homes, as WiFi is fast, and data is fast and cheap. The main cities people settle in for a while are Chiang Mai, Krabi, and Bangkok. You can get a 30-day visa extension outside of the country. There is also a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa, which lets you come and go out of the country for 6 months unlimited. It actually works out to be 8 months (or 9 if you really know how to play with the dates of your arrivals/departures.) This makes it more convenient than ever to make Thailand a temporary home. It’s easy to live here, safe, and much cheaper than many countries.
Chiang Mai– Punspace. They offer plenty of events so you can meet other digital nomads, and there are even yoga classes available. There are two of these spaces in Chiang Mai. One in the old city, close to Taepae Gate, and the other on Nimman Road.
Bangkok– Soho Space. An all business hub so you can get things done.
Bali, Indonesia. The Silicon Rice Paddy
Most people who think Indonesia, think Bali. It is reasonable here and so incredibly beautiful. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy your life here and find meaning. That is one of the reasons that digital nomads do what they do. If you’re a working gypsy with a conscience , you can volunteer at orangutan protection. If you’re outdoorsy, there are many jungles to hike through. Many flock here to do yoga, which might not be your thing, but what surrounds that community is really healthy food.
There is a beautiful old culture here too. You could spend many months in Indonesia, and never run out of interesting things to experience. Ubud, in Bali, is one of the best-known hubs to work remotely. It’s actually been dubbed, the “Silicon Rice Paddy.” There will be many people like you there, so you have a nice nomad community to hang out with. Paradise can be found in Canggue, which is a village in Bali. Kerobokan and Echo Beach offer cozy cafes and beach huts which are close to coworking spaces.
Visa Information for Indonesia
Indonesia has a bit of a complex system when it comes to visas. If you enter without a visa at all, you get 30 days for free, with no possibility of extending it.
If you want to stay for 1-2 months, you can get a visa on arrival at the airport. It can then be extended once so you’ll have 60 days without having to leave the country. If you do a 60 day B-211 tourist/social visa, you’ll want to get this taken care of before entering Bali. You’ll need to go to an Indonesian embassy abroad.
You can always leave Indonesia and come back in again (same day most of the time). You can also do the legwork beforehand to get a longer visa. You might be better off talking to a visa agent to get the Multiple Entry Visa. This allows you 90 days and you can extend it quite a few times.
Working Legian – Bali.
Tribe Wanted – Bali. Some will say Tribewanted is more like a movement than a Coworking space.
Did we already say that it’s located in beautiful Bali? They also call Ubud the “Silicon Rice Paddy” by the way.
Summer in Europe
Estonia Heading the Charge for Digital Nomad Visas
Estonia embraces tech. It’s actually where Skype was created. As of 2019, they will be inviting people to apply for a Digital Nomad Visa. This is really the first country to officially do this, and it’s pretty exciting. With the visa, you won’t have access to their job pool, but you can freely work on your computer without the fear of deportation.
The visa is currently good for 365 days to start, and there will be 1,400 Digital Nomad Visas given out. This is a great place for those with tech businesses to find excellent staff. It’s win-win because it’s going to boost the economy, and those working online have a place to dwell legally. Tallinn is one of the suggested places to live. Not only do you get to live in Estonia for a year, but you also have access to a 3-month Schengen visa. This allows you to travel through 28 Shengen-member countries. Here’s hoping other countries will follow suit.
Ukraine for that Off the Beaten Path Experience
Eastern Europe used to conjure up images of repression and a cold, communist sort of vibe. Times are quickly changing, and this gives you the opportunity to go to places such as the Ukraine. There is so much history and beautiful architecture here. Things like gold-domed cathedrals and cobbled streets give it a romantic, enriching feeling. It’s also quite reasonable to live here and explore.
If you like to party, which of course, a lot of young digital nomads do, Ukraine is a great place. Ukrainians are serious about their night life. There are plenty of clubs, and it’s cheap to drink. Kyiv in particular, has an incredible party scene. There are many other digital nomads checking out the Ukraine live and work scene. Lviv is a great place to spend some time. Very few tourists come here, but it also has the nightlife Ukraine is so well known for.
The Ukraine used to have a “Visa on Arrival” that was valid for 15 days, but this has since passed. People from most countries can enter Ukraine for a 90-day on arrival (within any 180 day period). Dave Abraham is a co-founder of Outpost, which is a coworking-living community in Bali and Cambodia. He knows all about travel and work. Dave has said that Kiev is a great place for hanging out in during the summer months, and it’s a cheap too.
Go Garden, Kyiv. A nice space that makes you feel as though you’re in nature.
Ziferblat, Kyiv. This space is $3 for the afternoon. You get free tea, coffee, WiFi, snacks, and games included in that price.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Do Something Totally Off the Beaten Path (but with good WiFi)
For the pioneer digital nomad, Plovdiv is still relatively a secret. The cost of living is extremely low for a European country. If you wanted to start a business here, they have the lowest taxes in the EU. The WiFi is fast, and the lifestyle is healthy. The weather is warm and there is some incredible history all over the country. The city isn’t large, and some might say, it could use a spruce up (yes, it has not been gentrified yet).
If it’s history you love, look no further There is a 2,000 year old Ancient Roman Theatre here. You can still see a show today. There are 500,000 people here, and since becoming a part of the EU, you can come here without a visa for 90 days. If you were to stay in an Air BnB and eat out for every meal, it would cost you about $1,500 per month. If you wanted to settle down here, you could easily reduce that to less than $1,000 a month. Getting an apartment and making your own food would reduce your costs.
There are many unique cafes here with incredible coffee. It’s also cheap at 1.25 euro for a latte. You can sit in these cafes for hours and do your work. Another fantastic plus to Bulgaria in general is the budding IT sector. Many entrepreneurs abroad are setting up companies here because there many young, smart, educated, and driven Bulgarians. The hiring opportunities as a foreign business owner are abundant. You would expect to pay your workers about 350 euros per month. Some of the main professions are programmers and designers. There are many people in the creative and technical fields.
BizLabs. A co-working space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and teams. They have a day rate of 6 euros and a monthly rate of 50 euros.
Limacon. Spacious co-working and event space that invites entrepreneurs, freelancers, and companies. Rates start at 8 euros a day and 60 euros a month.
The Legal Stuff
Being an entrepreneur abroad comes with some complications. The taxes can become a very confusing game. Countries like Bali have fraud police, and if you’re caught working there, you’ll be kicked out of the country and blacklisted. This is the same for Thailand. You’re not legally allowed to work in many of the countries on the list, but it’s a matter of what countries are the least concerned about it. You’ll deal primarily with your own country when it comes to making money remotely. This of course varies, as some countries would make you pay double tax even if you did get residency in another country.
The U.S. tax system is extremely complicated. There are holes and exceptions in the rules. However, if you’re a U.S. citizen, you can expect to pay your taxes there no matter where you’re living and what your situation is there. Panama taxes individual citizens based on their local income. So if you were to leave there (being a resident), you wouldn’t be taxed on any overseas money you made. There are places such as Qatar and the Cayman Islands that don’t tax at all. Of course, it’s not easy to become a resident or citizen. Otherwise, we’d all be doing it.
Know the laws of your own country when it comes to taxes. They may have an agreement with the country you’re visiting so you pay taxes just once.
Things are constantly changing in the world. It seems though, that interesting countries you would never dream of visiting before, are becoming more accessible. Former Yugoslavian countries that offer so much culture with a good quality of life are waiting with open arms. The original countries such as Thailand and Bali are still available to the digital nomad.
Taxes and visa complications aside, there are many wonderful reasons to be a digital nomad. These countries don’t have all the answers, but you’ll find adventure and something new there. They’re cheap but offer so much. If you’re planning to do something extraordinary this year, consider one of the countries on this list.