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The Ultimate Guide to Being a Digital Nomad in Europe 

It’s never been easier to become a digital nomad and take your work and your life out on the road. From flexible working, to remote-first businesses, to freelancing, there are so many options that allow for laptop-centric careers. That being said, becoming a digital nomad in Europe can be tricky, so I’ve put together this ultimate guide to see you through!

We’re going to be looking at the best countries to be a digital nomad in, what kinds of jobs and contracts might be suitable for digital nomadism, visa information, accommodation options, and plenty of other handy tips and tricks to make your transition as easy as possible.

Ready to dive in? Let’s get to it!

How to Find a Job as a Digital Nomad

Realistically, not every job is going to be suitable for the digital nomad life.

We’d all love to be sunning ourselves on a beach on the Amalfi Coast, but if you’re a warehouse operator, you’re probably not going to be able to swing it.

girl typing on a laptop

There are some key things that you need to consider about your job before trying to commit to digital nomadism.

Can you do your job entirely from home at the moment? Is your employer happy with remote working? Are they flexible on time zones? All of these are important questions to ask.

Here are some great online jobs for expats if you’re still looking for the perfect job!

If you can work remotely but need to be online at a certain time for meetings or to collaborate with other team members, you need to factor that into your location choice.

If you’re having to wake up at 4 am for meetings because of the time difference, you’re probably not going to be awake enough to explore your new location in the daylight.

Basically, if you can work from a laptop and a stable WiFi connection, and you either have understanding and flexible bosses or are working on a freelance basis for yourself, you can make the digital nomad life work.

Popular digital nomad jobs include coding, marketing, consultancy, writers, graphic design, photographers, web designers, and many, many more.

Visas for Digital Nomads in Europe: 90 Day Schengen

When you’re traveling to Europe from the US, you normally arrive in line with the 90-day Schengen rules. What this means is that you’re able to stay in and travel around any country in the Schengen block for up to 90 days without having to get a visa. 

You can’t spend more than 90 days in the Schengen region within a 180-day period, and once you’ve used up those 90 days, you need to leave for at least another 90 days before you can return. 

The Schengen region is huge and has 26 European countries in it, so there are plenty of locations to choose from.

If you get tired of the country you’re in, simply travel to the next one and enjoy the same visa-less privileges. 

This way of traveling is massively popular with US travelers and can work well if you want to try out the digital nomad lifestyle.

Strictly speaking, the 90 Day Schengen allowances are for tourist purposes only, not working holidays, so there is a bit of a blurred line on regulations at the moment.

However, if you’re not working directly for a company in the country that you’re in and you’re still paying taxes back home, this shouldn’t be an issue.

90 days gives you plenty of time to live and work remotely in different locations and get a feel for whether or not the digital nomad life is for you, without uprooting your life straight away. 

It’s worth noting that from 2022, the Schengen region is bringing in a 7 euro form, similar to a Canadian-American ESTA, called a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

This needs to be filled out before you travel and lasts three years or until your passport runs out. 

The Best Countries in Europe to Be a Digital Nomad

1. Portugal

First up we’ve got Portugal which is fast becoming a digital nomad wonderland (here’s my guide on how to move there!)

a city in Portugal at sunset
Photo from Unsplash

Portugal actually has one of the lowest costs of living in the whole of Europe, which is surprising considering its Western location bordered by Spain and France. 

If you’re looking for sun, sea, sand, surf, and seafood, you’d be pressed to find a better location in Europe.

There’s a laid-back vibe both in the cities and around the coastal regions, that make it a great spot to work and live in a brand new way.

Portugal was one of the first places to announce digital nomad-friendly visas and actually have its fair share of established co-working and co-living spaces that might be perfect if you’re still looking for that community vibe.

They’ve adapted their temporary stay visa to extend to digital nomadism.

This means that if you want to stay in Portugal for over the 90-day Schengen period but less than a year, you can apply for this visa and travel in and out of the country as much as you like during this time.

It’s a steal at just 75 euros and has one of the lowest income requirements of any country in the world with a minimum of just 635 euros per month.

Portugal is one of the easiest countries to be a digital nomad in, so if you’re unsure about the transition and want to try it out somewhere that’s low risk and low requirements, this is the ideal place to do it. 

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2. Germany

Germany’s central location and social programs make it a top choice for expats looking to move to Europe, so it stands to reason that digital nomads and other creatives want to check out this vibrant country for themselves.

a girl standing in Berlin, Germany

If you fit into a creative, artistic field or work in education, you may be eligible for the residence permit for freelance artists.

This is designed for self-employed people so if you’re working for a company overseas, you may have to consider a different visa. 

The freelance artist permit aims to bring creatives from around the world to Germany, giving it a really cool, young, and collaborative vibe.

Of course, Germany has a rules and regulation stereotype for a reason – there is a lot of paperwork for this visa including showing proof of main accommodation (not an AirBnB!), health insurance, proof of income, or contracts with existing or upcoming clients and more. 

It’s a lot, and you need to make an appointment at the visa office which can take months.

However, once you’re approved and pay the 100 euros, you can extend your visa up to three full years and you can come and go as you please.

It’s a lot of hoops to jump through, but it’s a flexible visa that lasts!

3. Spain

Spain has long been a favorite with travelers and expats alike for a while, thanks to its beautiful weather, landscape, and work-life balance.

Although the details of the Spanish digital nomad visa haven’t been announced yet, we know that one is in development.

A few details have been released, including you can only be funded up to 20% by a Spanish company.

This visa is designed for people working overseas, so if you get more than 20% from clients or companies within Spain, you’re going to need a different working visa. 

It’s also highly likely that this visa is going to last up to a year to bring it in line with neighboring Portugal, so if you plan in advance, you could spend two years as a digital nomad just by hopping over the border from one to the next. 

4. Malta 

For a lot of digital nomads and expats heading to Europe, one of the biggest things to overcome can be the language barrier.

the ocean from above in Malta
Photo from Unsplash

If you don’t want to deal with learning a whole new language, but want a country with near-constant sunshine and great food, right on the Mediterranean Sea, then look no further than Malta!

They have a Nomad Resident Permit which is specially designed for digital nomads, freelancers, and people who are working for foreign businesses.

It’s definitely not the cheapest digital nomad visa, costing 300 euros to apply and with a monthly income requirement of 2,700 euros. The visa lasts for a year and can be extended up to three years.

That being said, it’s quite easy to apply – you just have to send your application form, a letter detailing how long you’re wanting to stay, and proof of health insurance to an email address, and just wait for a background check.

Once that’s sorted, you can send a copy of your rental or purchase contract and you’re in!

Also if you’re worried about losing WiFi connection on an island in the middle of the Med, don’t worry – Malta was actually the first official country with 5G coverage!

5. Estonia

Now if you’re thinking about countries in Europe to move to, the Baltic nation of Estonia might not be your first thought, but it’s incredibly tech-savvy, with a young culture and plenty of creative things going on across the country. 

Talinn, Estonia from above
Photo from Unsplash

Often referred to as the Silicon Valley of Europe, Estonia is home to loads of startups, and as such has a pretty young vibe to the place, especially in the capital, Tallinn.

It’s because of this, that relocating to Estonia and getting set up is super simple. Their ​​e-residency program means that all government documentation and passes are all on one online system, so it seamlessly works together – no red tape here.

To apply for their specific digital nomad visa, there’s an online application form that you need to fill in, then bring your documentation to your local embassy for verification.

The process costs 100 euros and you need to show that you don’t get your income from an Estonia company and that you’ve earned 3,504 euros across the past six months, so it’s pretty low when you work it out per month!  

These digital nomad visas like most of the ones on this list last for up to a year, giving you plenty of time to work, play and explore. 

6. Czechia / Czech Republic

There’s a reason that travelers love visiting Czechia, from the historic cities of Prague and Brno, to the ski resorts across the country in winter, to the festivals and culture that bring the nation to life.

It’s also super central and well connected by rail, road, air, and boat, so if you’re looking to hit up a few European spots, Czechia is the perfect base.

So, the digital nomad-friendly Zivno visa is a bit complicated. It’s actually a trade license-based visa so you’ll have to apply for that before you can even think about looking at the visa itself.

These Zivno visas are designed for IT professionals, teachers, creatives, and freelancers, so if you fit into one of these categories, you’ll want to check it out.

It’s a lengthy process, so start getting your trade license well ahead of when you want to move.

Many people who apply this way actually hire experts to help, but if you have the time and patience, it’s possible to get it sorted yourself.

Once the trade license is secured, you can apply for your Zivno visa that’ll last up to a year.

You have to be able to prove that you have the equivalent of $5,800 in your bank account and the application costs around 5,000CZK.

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7. Greece

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to live out their Mamma Mia fantasy and live in Greece for a while.

Whether you’re an ancient history buff or want to have an Instagram-friendly lifestyle jumping from island to island, there are a lot of amazing reasons to become a digital nomad in Greece.

a street in Greece with pink flowers and a blue gate
Photo from Unsplash

Greece was actually one of the first countries in Europe to create a digital nomad visa, and the best part is that you only pay half the income tax for the first seven years that you’re there!

Who doesn’t love a tax break in the sunshine?

It’s valid for up to a year but you can renew it for an additional two years, and the application process is similar to many others, in that you need to gather up your documents, including proof of residence and health insurance, and take them to your nearest Greek consulate or embassy.

Once you arrive in Greece, you just need to register for your residency permit and you’re sorted! 

This visa is also a pretty fast one to get with a 10 working day notification period of success and only costing 75 per application. All in all, it’s a pretty spectacular option for any digital nomad.

8. Iceland

If you’ve got a pretty high-paying job or can afford the notoriously high cost of living in Iceland, they have launched a remote working visa that allows you to stay for up to 180 days.

mountains and a river in Iceland
Photo from Unsplash

It’s worth noting that you have to have a permanent remote job that’s outside of Iceland, so if you’re a freelancer or a temp, this isn’t an option for you.

You also cannot apply for this visa if you’ve applied for another Icelandic visa within the past year.

The cost of the application is fairly low at around $98, but the income requirements are hefty with $8,000 a month if you’re traveling solo or $10,400 if you’re traveling with a partner.

Obviously, this is the highest requirement on this list, but living in the beautiful land of fire and ice has never been cheap!

That being said, digital nomads will be rewarded with stunning natural views, widely spoken English, a great nightlife scene in Reykjavik, and relatively close proximity and efficient links both to North America, and the rest of Europe.

9. Croatia

If you love Game of Thrones or just love being surrounded by gorgeous beaches, amazing waterfalls, and beautiful architecture, there are definitely worse places to live than Croatia.

With delicious food and wine, cities that are brimming with history and culture, and even the world’s first digital nomad community in Zadar, it’s a favorite among location-independent workers.

The Croatian digital nomad visa has been around for a while now and works for freelancers, self-employed people, and those who work remotely for a country outside of Croatia.

At the moment the income requirement sits at around $2,550 a month, but it’s calculated at 2.5 times the Croatian average, so it can change. This is also only for one person, it goes up by 10% per extra person you’re traveling with.

All in all, it only costs $180 for your application and it lasts up to a year. Plenty of time to work on your tan while you’re enjoying that digital nomad lifestyle!

How to Find Accommodation as a Digital Nomad in Europe

Something to consider when you’re choosing your digital nomad destination is your accommodation. Most of the visa applications on this list require a residential address in order to apply, whether that’s a place you’re buying or renting.

A lot of them stipulate that it can’t be an Airbnb, even if you have secured it on a long-term basis. 

Each country will have its own preferred site for accommodation rentals and you should be able to find a list of them on the expat forums for each country. 

Sometimes, you get up to 30 days in the country to find a place before you have to register your place of residence. In this case, try to stay in an Airbnb, hotel, or hostel in the area you’re thinking of living in, not the tourist areas.

You can now split AirBnB trips between multiple places and locations, so you could move from area to area for the first couple of weeks to see what fits before committing to a longer-term lease. 

Remember to ask the important questions about phone signal, WiFi, and electricity when you view these houses and apartments, as this is also going to be your primary place of work.

No one wants their internet dropping off in the middle of an important meeting!

Also, think about how much you’re spending on your accommodation and how much utilities and other aspects like renters insurance are going to cost.

Different countries have different regulations around insurance and bill paying so always research this before committing to a visa or location.

Even though the income requirement may be cheaper in some countries, you still need to make sure that you can afford to live and enjoy yourself while you’re working abroad. 

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Things to Consider Before Becoming a Digital Nomad in Europe

Okay, so we’ve covered jobs, the Schengen zone, different countries, and their visa rules, and touched on accommodation. That’s a lot of information!

So, let’s round out our ultimate guide to being a digital nomad in Europe with a few final points to consider. 

1. You Must Be Able to Time Your Visits Properly

When it comes to moving to a digital nomad lifestyle, the main draw is the flexibility of it all.

That’s all well and good, but when visas are involved, you need to know what you’re doing with plenty of time to spare.

Red tape is real all around the world and you can’t just decide that you want to work in Spain for three months and book a flight for next week. It doesn’t work that way. 

You also need to think about time constraints if you’re planning on moving from country to country within Europe for longer stints.

Although you can’t technically work on a Schengen visa, as long as you’re paying tax back home and aren’t working for a company in the country you’re in, it’s difficult to enforce. 

If you have a valid digital nomad visa in one European country and leave it to travel in another place, that’s fine, but you cannot work without a valid working visa.

Plenty of digital nomad visas allow you to come and go as you please within the year-long period, but realistically you’re only supposed to work in that country.

2. You’ll Have to Plan Your Routes in Advance

Speaking of coming and going, if you want to bounce around Europe as a digital nomad, you do need to have a bit of a plan.

As most digital nomad visas last a year, you can work out when that will be and line up your next visa in your next location, or choose to stay and extend it if possible.

Think about it like a work contract – you want to have somewhere to go next so you’re not left hanging.

If you like the region you’re in but can’t extend your digital nomad visa, consider going to the neighboring country and living near the border so that you can visit as a traveler, while living a similar lifestyle.

For example, if you loved living in Portugal but can’t extend your visa anymore and don’t want to go for permanent residency, spend a year in Spain for a similar experience.

Take the allotted break from your original country and then return when you can.

This is something that’s done a lot by seasonal resort workers who switch between ski seasons and summer camps – they’ll hop the border for three to six months, switching between the two resorts, and then return the following season having had the necessary time out of the country, and can now reapply for a visa.

It takes some planning and forethought, but you can bounce from country to country, especially within Europe, almost indefinitely as long as you meet each country’s requirements.

3. Costs and Visa Plans Change if You’re Not Traveling Alone

Most of the costs that are in this guide are for solo digital nomads. If you’re traveling with your other half or you have kids in tow, the minimum income requirements as well as the application costs are going to go up. 

Also, once you have more people to consider, including children, you can become less flexible in where you choose to move and how often.

For example, if your kids are of school age and aren’t being home-schooled, you’re going to need to consider whether you want to keep changing their school every couple of months or years. 

You also need to think about what your other half is going to be doing while you’re working.

Are they also digital nomads? Are they doing part-time work? Are they just going to stay home and explore? You need to make sure that your chosen destination suits everyone involved.

All in all, becoming a digital nomad has never been easier, especially in Europe.

More and more countries are announcing digital nomad or freelancer visas, so if your favorite country hasn’t brought one out yet, keep your eyes peeled.

Just remember to do your homework, check your finances, and make a plan. Moving abroad for any length of time is a big decision – but it might just be the best one that you ever make!

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