In the past few years, the number of digital nomads from the United States has more than doubled, soaring from 7.7 million pre-pandemic in 2019 to 15.5 million in 2021, per MBO Partners 2021 State of Independence report. And the trend continues: The same group reports that 17.3 million Americans currently describe themselves as digital nomads (a 2 percent increase from 2022). And with more jobs going remote, even more people are thinking about packing up and seeing the world, while working as they go.
While I might not be a nomad, per se, I moved to Europe for similar reasons in 2016: I wanted to immerse myself in an international community in a place far from where I grew up—Kansas. At that time, Germany was one of only a few options where self-employed U.S. citizens could take up residence, so I came to Berlin and applied for Germany’s freelance artist residence permit. As a travel writer, it’s been ideal to have a base in Berlin but also to be able to take off as frequently (or last-minute) as needed.
Today, there are several European countries that make it (relatively) easy for expats who work remotely to stay awhile. Many now have special residence schemes for digital nomads that can accommodate longer stays than a tourist visa would allow. Some countries, like Germany, have relatively relaxed residence permit rules for self-employed people and remote job seekers that allow long-term stays with the bonus of easy travel for working trips elsewhere. (One note: Always check the relevant government websites for the latest application process and translation requirements for documents, which are subject to change.)
Thanks to digital nomad visas and residence permits, these 11 countries in Europe make it easy to nail down job opportunities and work remotely. Time to refresh that résumé and start checking LinkedIn to scan for remote job opportunities, right?
- Why Germany: Social programs for families, access to nature, cities with green spaces and affordable costs of living.
- Cost: 100 euros (around US$107)
If you’re self-employed and working in a field like education, journalism, art, music, or theater, you might be eligible to apply for Germany’s residence permit for freelance artists (there are a few other options for visas here too). You’ll need to prepare well in advance: Appointments at the immigration office are booked many months in advance, and with this being notoriously bureaucratic Germany, there is a lot of paperwork to get together.
On the plus side, having a residence permit gives you time to travel as frequently as you’d like from a very centrally located European country. Plus, with the environmentally driven revival of interest in night train travel, there are more options than just flying to get from A to B. For example, a new route, recently opened that connects Berlin to Brussels, Amsterdam, and Prague.
Who can apply?
Anyone who qualifies under the listed professions and can meet the documentation’s requirement. It can be renewed indefinitely or there’s the option to take up permanent residence after five years.
How to apply for Germany’s digital visa
Head to your city of residence’s government website (for example, here’s Berlin’s) and download the relevant permit’s application form. Applicants must provide documentation in person at the visa office to apply, including a proof of main residence in Berlin (like an apartment lease—Airbnb bookings won’t cut it), acceptable health insurance, and proof of income and work, including contracts or letters of intent from clients willing to hire you.
- Why Portugal: Affordable cost of living relative to United States, vibrant city life, sun and sea, laid-back lifestyle.
- Cost: 75 euros (around US$85)
Portugal has become a hot spot for digital nomads and freelancers in recent years, with artists, start-up employees, and the self-employed beelining to the vibrant cities of Lisbon and Porto. (And it’s no wonder: According to Numbeo’s comparison tool, the average rent in downtown Lisbon for a one-bedroom apartment is around $970 per month, compared to an average of $3,270 in New York.) The fantastic arts scenes, excellent food and wine, and strong communities of fellow digital nomads and ex-pats certainly don’t hurt either. Surfers with remote jobs, meanwhile, flock to the Algarve, a southern stretch of coastline that’s one of the country’s—if not the world’s—most spectacular beaches.
Portugal offers a renewable Temporary Stay Visa for a wide range of activities, from independent work to music to amateur sports. It’s valid for long stays of less than a year and allows you to travel in and out of the country multiple times. And after five years, you’re able to apply for a permanent residence permit, followed by the possibility of naturalization.
Who can apply?
People who work remotely, earn at least 635 euros per month (roughly US$722), and can show proof of earnings.
How to apply for Portugal’s digital visa
For a Temporary Stay Visa, you’ll need to submit passport photographs, a return ticket, proof of accommodation and means, your criminal record, travel insurance, and more. You’ll also need to download the application form and fill it out, then submit it in person with the rest of your documents at a Portuguese consulate or embassy. The wait time on a decision is roughly a month.
- Why Croatia: Relatively low costs of living, fantastic beaches, historic cities, excellent food and wine.
- Cost: Prices differ depending on how you apply, but start at around $180.
Croatia has had a digital nomad residency program since January 2021. With stunning natural scenery, including its Adriatic coastline, it’s a country that draws nature and sea lovers—and, perhaps, remote-working Game of Thrones lovers: Cities like Dubrovnik and Split offer Roman ruins, castles, and medieval streets that made them naturals picks to serve as filming locations for the hit fantasy series. If you really want to dig into the lifestyle, there’s even the country’s first digital nomad community in Zadar (bonus: it’s beachfront).
Digital nomads, remote workers, and freelancers are eligible for Croatia’s digital nomad visa, which allows stays of up to 12 months. If you’re employed, it can’t be with a Croatian company.
Who can apply?
People working with or for companies registered abroad or who are self-employed and who meet a monthly income threshold. The income requirement corresponds to at least 2.5 average monthly net salaries paid the previous year; right now, that’s 16,907.50 kuna (around US$2,550) per month. Note that additional family members will increase the monthly income requirement by 10 percent of the average monthly net salary.
How to apply for Croatia’s digital nomad visa
Among other things, you’ll need to download the application form and provide proof of work and income, a background check from your home country, proof of health insurance that covers Croatia, and an intended (or current) address in-country.
You can apply online or in-person. If online, the application will be evaluated by the police station closest to where you’re going to be staying in Croatia. If you’re from the United States or another country that doesn’t require a tourist visa in advance of entering Croatia, you can apply from either a Croatian embassy or consulate abroad or from the nearest police station to your current address in Croatia. (The visa application form should also be available at the station, and there should also be a specific counter inside for foreigners.)
You’ll receive a decision over email, by phone, or by post if you applied online. After being approved, make sure you register your address and temporary stay soon after arriving in the country: Both have short turnarounds, and if you don’t register your temporary address within 30 days of approval, it’ll be revoked. You’ll also need to obtain a biometric residence permit in person at a police station.
- Why Iceland: Impressive natural landscapes and plentiful outdoor activities, English widely spoken, relative proximity to both the United States and Europe.
- Cost: 12,200 ISK (around US$98)
Iceland’s landscape is a paradise for outdoors enthusiasts, and the capital of Reykjavík is a charmer, too. Launched in 2020, the country’s Long-Term Visa for non-EU/EEA remote workers is aimed at remote workers wanting to stay in the country for up to 180 days. One important thing: It’s only open to permanent remote employees of foreign companies (sorry, freelancers).
Who can apply?
You’re eligible to apply if you’re working permanently for a foreign company, you’re from outside the EU/EEA/EFTA and don’t need a visa to travel to Iceland, and if you haven’t already gotten the visa in the past year. You must also meet a monthly income threshold of 1,000,000 ISK (around US$8,000), or 1,300,000 ISK (around US$10,400) if you have a spouse, cohabitating partner, or kids under 18 coming with you.
How to apply for Iceland’s digital nomad visa
Fill out the application form and collect the required documents, which include proof of income, health insurance, and passport photos, together. Once the fee is paid, send everything in via mail; alternatively, submit it to the drop box in the Directorate of Immigration’s lobby in Reykjavík or, if you’re outside the capital, you can drop it off at the District Commissioners’ offices in your locality. Visas aren’t issued until you arrive in-country—contact the Directorate of Immigration when you get there for the office to issue it (it’s valid from that date on).
- Why Greece: Tax break, history; artistic city life; beaches, beaches, and more beaches; at least 6,000 islands (did we mention beaches?).
- Cost: 75 euros for the application (around US$85)
This country practically sells itself when it comes to destinations to live and work. And thanks to Greece’s digital nomad visa, announced in 2021, the possibility of working from one of the country’s scenic islands is now a reality. The visas are valid for up to 12 months with a renewal of another two years. They can be issued to freelancers, the self-employed, or those working remotely for foreign businesses or clients. Even better? Digital nomads can halve their income tax for the first seven years in the country.
You need to spend at least six of the 12 months in Greece, but you have another six months to travel around as much as you want in the Schengen area. A tip: Crete is working on getting 5G across the island, so it’ll soon be even more appealing.
Who can apply?
You must work remotely and have a net income of 3,500 euros per month (around US$4,000), although additional adjustments are made per family member joining.
How to apply for Greece’s digital nomad visa
Among other documentation such as proof of work and income, you’ll need to gather additional documents (contact an embassy to learn the latest ones that are required) showing that you have an address in Greece, a clean criminal record, that you’re in good health, and that you have health insurance. Submit your documents in-person to a Greek consulate near you, and you’ll be notified of approval within 10 days. Once you’re in Greece, be sure to register for your residence permit, too.
- Why Malta: 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, mild (but windy) winters, multicultural history, Mediterranean lifestyle, and beautiful nature—plus, English is an official language.
- Cost: 300 euros (around US$340) per applicant
Malta is a popular destination for digital nomads—it was the first place in Europe to install a countrywide 5G network, making remote work connectivity more seamless than ever. Plus, living in Malta offers a Mediterranean lifestyle and surprising number of things to do given its tiny size.
The country’s Nomad Resident Permit is open to freelancers and remote workers for foreign companies alike—as long as you can do your job independently of location using telecommunication technologies. It’s good for up to one year, and you can renew it as long as you’re still eligible for up to three years.
Who can apply?
Freelancers, consultants, or employees of foreign companies (or who have foreign clients). Applicants must also meet a gross monthly income threshold of 2,700 euros (US$3,071).
How to apply for Malta’s digital nomad visa
Fill out the application form, write a letter of intent including the duration of stay, and submit these along with proof of health insurance with coverage in Malta via email to the government’s Residency Malta Agency. You’ll also need to pass a background check, and once your application is approved, you’ll have to submit a rental or purchase agreement for your residence.
- Why Czechia: Good value for money, Prague’s vibrant international community, great universal health care.
- Cost: 5,000 CZK (roughly US$232)
The Czech Republic has a lot to offer digital nomads, including attractive cities, great skiing, more castles than any other country, and a comparatively low cost of living. The visa suitable for most freelancers is called a Zivno visa for short, and this type of trade license–based visa is the key for digital nomads wanting to get to know the country on a deeper level. This visa is mostly targeted toward freelance teachers, IT specialists, or creatives.
The process for getting a visa isn’t exactly simple, though it’s not impossible, so you’ll want to start well ahead of when you want to be there; many of those interested in relocating to the Czech Republic often hire an expert to guide them. (Nomads interested in a more transient lifestyle might find it less difficult to cope with shorter stays there rather than deal with the bureaucracy.) First, you have to secure your trade license; after that, you can apply for your visa to stay for up to one year.
Who can apply?
You must have a trade license (which involves a clean background check) and meet an income threshold by submitting proof of possessing 124,500 CZK (around US$5,800).
How to apply
After receiving your trade license (a different process), submit the required paperwork for the visa to a Czech embassy in your home country (U.S. citizens can apply at embassies abroad, although not in Czechia itself). You’ll also have to go for an interview and explain why you’d like to be in Czechia. Applications can take a long time to process and be approved, and you might need to submit more paperwork if called on to do so—so be patient.
- Why Estonia: Relatively low cost of living, hip scene in Tallinn, lots of startups, super-digitalized government and society.
- Cost: 100 euros (around US$113)
Estonia has a bustling startup scene, a reputation for cool design and art, and an affordable cost of living for many digital nomads. Famous for its e-residency program, which it launched in 2014, the country in 2020 also introduced a visa specifically for digital nomads: It grants them up to a year’s stay with the ability to work.
The country is incredibly digital, with widespread Wi-Fi in public areas and almost all government services—including birth certificates, medical records, and even digital contract-signing—available online. The country’s also trialing 5G.
Who can apply?
You must be able to do your job 100 percent remotely using technology and have a non-Estonian employer or clients. You should also meet an income threshold of earning a gross total of 3,504 euros (US$3,988) within the six months prior to your application.
How to apply for Estonia’s digital nomad visa
Fill out the online application form, then print and gather up the other required documents for your application. Bring them to your closest Estonian embassy or consulate and then be prepared to wait up to 30 days for a review of your application. If you’re in Estonia legally already, apply in-country at a local Police and Border Guard office before your existing tourist visa ends.
- Why Romania: Scenic hiking and mountains, very affordable relative cost of living, lively scene in Bucharest.
- Cost: No information available as of yet.
Romania is one of the latest European countries to hop on the digital nomad visa wagon with a new program available from January 2022 that’s part of an effort to attract (high-income) earners to the country to help the post-COVID economy recover. The country is known for its stunning natural scenery including the Carpathian Mountains and Danube Delta—and not to mention, the Transylvanian forest, which is sometimes called “Europe’s Yellowstone.” Coupled with a low cost of living, this is an ideal country for digital nomads to consider.
Who can apply?
Based on the latest reports, requirements include medical insurance, proof of employment, and a monthly salary that equates to three times the national average gross salary of 6,095 lei, which currently equates to around US$4,170.
How to apply for Romania’s digital nomad visa
Apply online or at an embassy.
- Why Spain: Easily navigable train systems, history around every corner, and a perfect balance of charming, vibrant cities, and an idyllic countryside.
- Cost: Around $85. When you arrive in Spain, you will also need to pay to receive an NIE (foreign identity number) and residence permit card (around US$22).
In 2022, Spain announced plans to release a digital nomad visa in conjunction with the country’s Startup Act, a law that hopes to foster more innovation in the country’s technological industries. Today, the visa is taking applications and welcoming Americans (and beyond) who want to live in a country with one of the highest qualities of life in the world—and who doesn’t love late night tapas?
Who can apply?
Any foreigner who wishes to live in Spain as a resident, work remotely for an employer located outside of Spain. There is a bit of a catch: Applicants who do work for a Spanish company can still apply, as long as the work doesn’t contribute to more than 20 percent of their total income. Applicants must have undergraduate or postgraduate degrees and three years of work experience in their current professional field. Spouses and/or partners may also obtain the visa, along with dependent children or relatives.
How to apply for Spain’s digital nomad visa
There is a lot of paperwork involved to get the application process started. Wishful Spanish digital nomads need to fill out a national visa application form, provide a passport photo, a copy of a valid passport, any criminal record certificates, proof of residency in home country, proof of identity, health insurance certification, and proof of employment (at least three months). You can read more about the requirements here.
- Why Montenegro: Low cost of living, tons of natural beauty, modern accommodations, and amenities.
- Cost: 67 euros (about US$72)
Montenegro, which is known for its dramatic coastlines and mountains, is also following in many European countries’ footsteps. In December 2021, the Montenegrin cabinet announced the launch of a digital nomad program (with potential tax breaks). At the time of announcements, visas were intended to be good for two years, with the potential to extend the agreement into the future.
Who can apply?
So far, only non-EU citizens can apply for this extended visa. Applicants must prove that they will earn a monthly salary of at least around US$1,440 per month.
How to apply for Montenegro’s digital nomad visa
Of all digital nomad visas, Montenegro’s actual application process seems to be the most complicated and mysterious You can read more about the visa, requirements, and steps involved here.
For digital nomads with only a 90-day European tourist visa
Worried about all the steps involved in applying for a digital visa? Fear not—enter the Schengen Area agreement. For participating countries, this means that foreigner travelers can visit for 90 days before needing to leave the country. During this time, you aren’t allowed to work for a company based in the country you’re visiting, but you can continue chugging along on remote work. So, make the most of any time difference and work the morning (or night) away before heading out for some sightseeing.
There are 24 countries/regions included in this agreement (some of which also have digital nomad visas, as explained above): Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, Germany, Norway, Lichtenstein, Croatia, Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Czechia, Finland, Spain, Portugal, France, Latvia, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Estonia, Malta, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Armenia, Antigua and Barbuda, and São Tomé and Principe.
Another thing to consider: As companies begin to embrace more flexible work-from-home schedules—meaning working from home arrangements are a bit more accepted than they were a few years back—consider extending your vacation and bringing along your work computer. You may not be able to take a full 90 days if you’re going this route, but getting full-on vacation days and then peppering in a few work hours towards the tail end of your trip isn’t a bad way to experience a new (or favorite) place.