COVID changed a lot of the ways we do things, including the way we work. Out of necessity, remote work became commonplace for many people. Now that life has more or less returned to “normal”, both employers and employees are realizing the numerous benefits of working remotely. Some companies even decided to scrap the office completely! This brave new world is opening up possibilities we didn’t have before – not just working from home but working from a home that’s across the world.
We've rounded up the best and most affordable countries currently offering digital nomad visas to make your move abroad easy and legal. Grab your laptop and get going!
What is a digital nomad visa?
Digital nomads, also known as remote workers, live location-independent lifestyles often moving from country to country over a short period of time. This is because tourist visas are generally short and although many do not allow the visa holder to work, it’s still done illegally because it can be hard for overseas governments to track.
This is where digital nomad visas come in. Countries around the world are starting to acknowledge and truly value the benefits of allowing digital nomads to legally live and work on their soil. Remote workers feed money into the economy by renting property, paying bills, and shopping all while not taking local jobs. They also get involved in daily life, often learning languages and making local friends which enrich the social and cultural fabric.
Digital nomad visas are typically granted for a year and often allow renewal for subsequent years. Many can be applied for online and are affordable. Generally, to qualify for a digital nomad visa, the applicant needs to meet a minimum monthly income and other requirements such as health insurance.
What to look for in countries with digital nomad visas
When considering where to settle as a digital nomad, whether you’re looking at a short-term stint or long-term residency, there are a few things you should look into. Some questions you can ask yourself are:
- Do I meet the minimum income requirements?
- Will I be able to afford a comfortable standard of living?
- What is the climate like?
- How fast is the internet?
- Are there coworking spaces and/or public places with free wifi that are remote work-friendly?
- What language is spoken? Am I interested in learning it?
- Does the application require proof of insurance? If so, check out companies like SafetyWing or World Nomads to see if they meet the requirements.
Even if you only plan to stay a short time, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you go. You want to be happy with your choice!
Best and most affordable countries for digital nomads
These definitely aren’t the only countries offering digital nomad visas but we’ve chosen them for a few reasons. The following countries have an affordable cost of living while not requiring high monthly incomes. While some remote jobs like those in tech pay bank, we want the digital nomad life to be accessible to everyone, from call center workers to creatives. The countries on our list have also been categorized by what makes them stand out. There are so many good choices – this might help narrow it down! Or why not try them all?
1. Best for income tax-free living: Costa Rica
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $1,000-$1,600
- Language spoken: Spanish
- Minimum monthly income required: $3,000 for individuals, $5,000 for families
- Cost of visa: $190 upfront with another fee after approval
Costa Rica, loved for its Pura Vida laid-back vibes, is more than just a vacation spot. It’s now one of the handful of countries welcoming digital nomads to its sandy shores. Aside from the obvious benefits of great weather year-round, beach lifestyle, and low cost of living, Costa Rica also offers tax-free living to remote workers who choose to call it home.
Once the application is completed, it will take around 15 days for approval. The visa is good for one year but can be extended for an additional year if you can prove you lived in Costa Rica for at least 180 days during the first year.
✏️ How to apply: Fill out an application online
2. Best for up-and-coming destination: Malta
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $1,200-$1,600
- Languages spoken: Maltese, English
- Minimum monthly income required: $2,750 (€2,700)
- Cost of visa: $305 (€300)
The beautiful island of Malta is ideal for remote workers with its nationwide 5G coverage and 400+ free public wifi spots – work in your home office or at the local cafe while you enjoy a pastizz, a popular local snack. Though it is an island, you’ll be far from isolated. Affordable flights to mainland Europe operate frequently giving you a great home base to explore.
To qualify for the visa you’ll need a foreign job contract, to be an owner or part-owner of a registered company, or a freelancer with foreign contracts. Applicants should have health insurance and proof of temporary accommodation (ex. an Airbnb rental) in Malta. Processing is expected to take up to 30 days. Malta’s digital nomad visa is good for one year and can be renewed twice for a total of three years.
✏️ How to apply: Fill out an application for the Nomad Residence Permit online.
3. Best for low cost of living in Europe: Greece
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $900-$1,200
- Language spoken: Greek
- Minimum monthly income required: $3,565 (€3,500)
- Cost of visa: $76 (€75)
Housing in Greece is among the most affordable in all of Europe, even beating out Portugal and Spain. Costs for food, shopping, and transportation are also low which means you’ll be well positioned to save while in Greece. What’s more, Athens and Thessaloniki enjoy more than 90% 5G coverage while the national download speed was clocked at around 37 Mbps.
Greece grants a one-year digital nomad visa that can be renewed as a residence permit if you can’t bear to leave the Greek way of living. This residence permit is good for 2 years and can be renewed for another 2 years after that for a total of 5 years if you’re looking for something more permanent.
4. Best for cheap travel home: Mexico
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $750-$1,000
- Language spoken: Spanish
- Minimum monthly income required: $2,730
- Cost of visa: $190-$390 depending on visa length
If you plan to travel home frequently, Mexico is a great place to start out as a digital nomad. Affordable flights can be found from most major US airports with a reasonable travel time. Our southern neighbor is beginning to attract more foreign remote workers who love the food, friendly people, and music they’re able to immerse themselves in.
✏️ How to apply: After gathering your documents and filling out an application, you’ll need to attend a visa appointment at your nearest Consulate of Mexico in the USA.
5. Best for lowest minimum income in Europe: Portugal
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $1,100-$1,600
- Language spoken: Portuguese
- Minimum income required: $717 (€705)
- Cost of visa: $77 (€75) for less than one year, $92 (€90) for more than one year
If you don’t make a ton of money but still dream about living in Europe, then Portugal is the place for you. Friendly people, gorgeous architecture, and sparkling beaches are luring digital nomads in droves. While the D7 visa isn’t specifically for digital nomads, it does allow remote workers to settle in Portugal.
Part of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal’s geography is varied and has something for everyone whether you love laying on the beach or hiking through quiet forests. It’s also small enough that you can enjoy all of these things without having to compromise!
✏️ How to apply: After beginning the application process online, you’ll need to attend an appointment at your local Portuguese consulate in the US. The only downside to this visa is that due to increased popularity, processing times can take 4 months or longer.
6. Best for established program: Estonia
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $1,110-$1,300
- Language spoken: Estonian
- Minimum income required: $3,568 (€3504)
- Cost of visa: $81 (€80) for 90 days, $102 (€100) for 1 year
Estonia was the first country to offer a digital nomad visa in 2020. Since then, the country has been working hard to make Estonia an attractive place for digital nomads. Remote workers enjoy wide-ranging free public wifi coverage and cafes and coworking spots that welcome them. Another perk of an established program is that the process is clear and organized. US citizens can apply at their local Estonian consulate in the US, within Estonia if they are there legally, or through a VFS processing center.
Estonia is known for its rich cultural heritage and preservation of traditional folk music and dance. Although the winters are cold and snowy, there are plenty of saunas to warm you up, even in the city!
✏️ How to apply: Visit the Republic of Estonia website and review the eligibility requirements.
7. Best for easy application process: Croatia
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $900-$1,200
- Language spoken: Croatian
- Minimum income required: $2,400 (17,822.50 HRK)
- Cost of visa: ~$180 when applying at local consulate in US, ~$100 if applying in-country
Meet the requirements and can’t wait to start your new digital nomad life in Croatia? You don’t have to! US citizens can apply for their visa within Croatia. Technically a residence permit rather than a visa, Croatia allows stays up to 1 year. Once your permit expires, you have to wait six months before applying again so unfortunately there is no path to permanent residency like in other countries.
Croatia has truly embraced the digital nomad movement and even offers a dedicated village for remote workers located just outside the waterfront city of Zadar. Affordable housing and the chance to meet other digital nomads from around the world make Zadar and Croatia as a whole a very appealing prospect.
✏️ How to apply: There are three ways to apply: within Croatia (US citizens and citizens from other countries with visa-free travel to Croatia), at the nearest Croatian consulate in the US, or online.
8. Best for zero income requirement: Saint Lucia
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $1,100-$1,700
- Language spoken: English, French Creole
- Minimum income required: none!
- Cost of visa: $46 (EC$125) for single entry visa or $70 (EC$190) for multi-entry
People with income that varies from month to month as well as those with a stable salary are welcome in Saint Lucia. Located in the Caribbean, stunning Saint Lucia is among the cheapest of the nearby island destinations with a lower cost of living than the US and the UK. Due to its popularity as a vacation spot, there are plenty of flights to and from major US airports with deals to be had throughout the year.
✏️ How to apply: The application and document requirements are available online but the packet must be submitted at your nearest consulate.
9. Best for immersion in nature: Brazil
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $600-$900
- Language spoken: Portuguese
- Minimum income required: $1,500
- Cost of visa: around $100
Sure, Brazil is known for its lively festivals, bustling cities, and tourist-packed beaches, but it’s also the most biodiverse country in the world. Even if you’re based in Rio or Sao Paulo, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to venture out into the Amazon to observe the vast number of plants and animals native to Brazil.
✏️ How to apply: You can start the application process online but the form and supporting documents must be submitted at the nearest Brazilian consulate in the US. Processing time varies but decisions are usually issued within 2 to 4 weeks.
10. Best for mixing business and pleasure: Mauritius
- Avg. monthly cost of living: $700-$1,100
- Languages spoken: Mauritian Creole, English, French
- Minimum income required: $1,500
- Cost of visa: FREE
While widely acknowledged to be an island paradise with some of the world’s best beaches, Mauritius also means business. This island off of East Africa was colonized by the Dutch, French, and English before gaining independence in 1968. The influence of these countries can be seen through the architecture and language but Mauritius maintains its own unique soul.
Despite ranking 1st in Africa and 13th in the world on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business scale, Mauritius is more likely to be admired by digital nomads for its gorgeous landscapes. Live a simpler, more beautiful life while working by the beach.
✏️ How to apply: To get a response within 48 hours, fill out the online application and attach the required documents. The Premium Visa is valid for 1 year and can be renewed.
Bonus: Be on the lookout for these countries
Another exciting country, Indonesia, is also slated to pass legislation for what will be the digital nomad visa with the longest validity. Dreaming of living life as a digital nomad in Bali? With the new visa, you can for five years completely tax-free!
If one (or more!) of these is at the top of your list, be patient! Sometimes bureaucracy can be slow but these are indeed on the way. More and more countries are beginning to see the economic and social benefits of inviting international digital nomads to live and work legally and are working as quickly as possible to get legal frameworks in place.
Let’s get location-independent!
The prospect of being a digital nomad can be both exhilarating and scary. Picking up and moving abroad may seem daunting but once you get over the initial hurdles, you’ll realize it’s the best thing you’ve done for yourself. Who knows, you may want to keep living the digital nomad life for good!
Learn more about the digital nomad lifestyle:
- 14 Best Digital Nomad Jobs in 2022 - Travel & Work From Anywhere!
- How to Become a Digital Nomad in 2022
- 6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to a New Country by Myself
- How to Travel like a Pro: Airport Tips & Tricks for Stress-Free Travel
- 7 Steps to Prepare for Your Move Abroad - Simplify Your Move Overseas!