With digital nomads flocking to inexpensive countries in hot climates, you might not immediately think of supposedly cold, rainy, and expensive Europe as a haven for remote workers. However, there are a few select places that are welcoming in digital nomads with open arms, offering the best in infrastructure and quality of life that location independent workers really value.
Cities like London and Paris may be too overcrowded and expensive to live happily as a digital nomad, but there are many lesser-known cities that are up and coming hotspots for tech startups and entrepreneurs. Are you wondering which European city is best for you? Start by researching the below options and deciding whether they are the right place to base your remote business, even if just for the short term.
The Estonian capital is a beautiful and charming city, with medieval architecture and hundreds of years of turbulent history. You might not realize, therefore, that this is a hotbed of tech innovation. Yet this is the birthplace of such tech giants as Skype and TransferWise. This is a direct result of a government committed to digitization.
With the world’s only paperless government, Estonians do everything online, other than getting married or buying a house. Internet access is actually a codified human right and the government has introduced a visa targeted explicitly at digital nomads. With low living costs and easy access to Russia, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe, this could be the perfect place to spend a few months growing your business.
Prague, Czech Republic
Estonia is cheap, but you can’t get much better value for money than Prague. The Czech Republic takes the crown both for the cheapest beer in Europe and the tastiest, so if that’s your preferred way of relaxing after a long hard workday, then Prague could be ideal for you. Accommodation, food, and transport are also some of the cheapest in Europe.
Yet you can experience all of this from a staggeringly pretty city like no other. From Charles Bridge to the Royal Palace, there are endless sources of beauty in Prague that are unmatched by other cities. Within the Old Town, there is a modern infrastructure that allows you to earn your remote income. If you are working for an American, British, or Scandinavian country, you will be earning income that goes a long way when converted to Czech koruna.
Poland has one of the fastest-growing economies, meaning there is plenty of business to be found and yet living costs are still low. In the cities, English is widely spoken and foreigners are highly welcome. Warsaw or Krakow might be obvious places to start, but there is another up and coming city that is ideal for creative workers.
Located 3 hours west of Warsaw, Poznań is becoming increasingly popular with digital nomads. A population of around 500,000 means it is still a bustling and vibrant city, but it is a little quieter than ultra touristy Krakow. It has a trendy underground culture, perhaps inspired by its proximity to Berlin, so this would be a good place for creative nomads looking for somewhere a little under the radar but still exciting.
The charm of Budapest is similar to that of Prague. It is one of the cheapest places to live in Europe, but its stunning architecture is some of the best, as well as being a safe and clean place to live. Budapest is an international city, with open doors to tourists and workers alike.
As a busy and bustling city, there is an endless supply of coffee shops in which to work and cheap coworking spaces to get into your productive zone. With the huge Danube river, lined with grand and pretty buildings, you will almost certainly have the privilege of completing a project in front of some of the best views in Europe.
If you are looking for somewhere with low living costs, but a modern way of life, which is also to the south of the European continent, then check out Slovenia. In particular, its capital, Ljubljana, can make for the ideal place to base your remote work efforts. In fact, the city was named the Green Capital of Europe, so it is an almost idyllic working environment, free from traffic and pollution.
This commitment to wellbeing is high on the priority list for many digital nomads. Unlike other kinds of workers, freelancers tend to get paid for their output rather than simply per hour. This means that productivity is essential; the more high-quality work you can do in the least amount of time, the better your overall hourly pay rate will be. Ljubljana is a laid back city, with an appreciation of the natural world and clean living. This sets it apart from other locations on this list. Like the others, though, the cost of living is low and the internet is readily available.
Another part of living a wellness-focused existence often involves going to a part of the world with pleasant weather. Sunshine boosts productivity, by delivering much-needed vitamin D and releasing serotonin, so that you feel happy and energized. Spain is just about the sunniest spot in Europe, offering hot - but not too hot - summers and mild winters. Working by the beach or on the balcony of your apartment is a real possibility in this part of Europe.
Barcelona used to be the place for startups and nomads, but unsustainable population growth has increased prices and made it harder to find accommodation. Instead, consider Valencia as a more relaxed and affordable alternative. It is a safe and friendly city, with cheap data plans and WiFi available in most public places. Algirós is a student area with cheap living and a party vibe, while Russafa is a more creative, hipster kind of living situation. Whatever atmosphere you are looking for, Valencia will likely have the right neighborhood for you.
Europe is full of beautiful and inexpensive cities, with the right community and infrastructure to suit the digital nomad lifestyle. You can pick any from the above list or a completely different place altogether. With free movement within the Schengen Area and a high level of interconnectivity using the reasonably priced train, bus, and flight services, it is incredibly easy to move from one place to another until you find the right place to settle. So pick a destination and see what it can do for your freelance career.