Top 10 destinations for remote working in 2021
The change is happening!
The workplace has changed over the past ten years. Jeans and t-shirts replaced suits, office hierarchies have become friendlier, flatter dynamics, and Starbucks is...well, still Starbucks. However, possibly the most dramatic change, which has accelerated on an irreversible, astronomical scale in the last 6 months, has been the exchange of commutes, cubicles and coffee machines for our living rooms, kitchen-tops and back-gardens.
Remote working is here and it’s here to stay.
This pandemic we’re stuck in has forced businesses into realising something they already knew but couldn’t believe - the best work is not the best because it was written in an office.
Rather than focusing on signing in and clocking off times, the 21st century team can have such a strong flow of communication between one another from remote locations, that output is the only metric that the majority of businesses need to see. And that is where a wonderful empowerment of “laissez-faire” becomes possible in terms of location, environment, and working hours. Simply speaking - the world is becoming our Oyster!
Remote work is beneficial for employees.
Today, around 80 per cent of the workforce wants to work remotely at least some of the time, while 35 percent of employees would switch jobs for the opportunity to work remotely full time.
Remote work became so popular for a reason - flexibility. By working remotely, employees have greater control to harmonise their personal and professional lives. They have the chance to spend more time with their friends and family and replace overcrowded, loud cities with more peaceful scenery.
But, remote working can have major benefits for the company as well.
Studies have shown that working from home is beneficial both for companies as well as their employees, in numerous different ways:
- Save time, improve productivity. Employees don’t spend time commuting to and from the office. This is proven to increase productivity and reduce workplace absenteeism.
- Save Money. While employees save on commuting costs and ordering takeout, companies can save through decreasing sick leave, office rent, and employee turnover.
- Better Talent. Companies can broaden their talent pool since they're not limiting themselves to a local market.
- Better environment. Employees have a chance to create a setup and a schedule that allows them to perform at their best. It's a true win-win.
But where to work from?
With this new freedom there now comes great responsibility - for yourself! It's essential to find the right location that will satisfy your needs and help you make the most of remote living.
We can all think of a couple of scenic paradises at a poolside beach bar or on a mountain slope, but you might very quickly realise you have your nearest grocer 10 miles away and the Wifi can’t download a pdf of your ticket to get out of the place. As well as scenery, you need practicality, people to meet (who speak the same language), and good connections if you need to get moving pronto.
Not all paradises are practical...
The factors that might influence your relocation plan include quality of public transport, price of rent, use of English language, and healthcare costs, to name a few.
At Perchpeek, we have gone and found the ten best cities and countries that cater to the remote worker's needs and create an environment for outperformance.
Let us know what you think!
#10 - Taipei
As a super-exciting country with an affordable cost of living, whilst being close to important business centres, Taipei might be the perfect in-the-middle destination for remote workers seeking to relocate while staying heavily connected.
Whilst Taipei offers a thrilling combo of Chinese and European heritage, and offers amazing life and festivals for people to enjoy, Taiwan also has amazing mountains, forests and coastlines to explore and native Aborignal cultures to experience if one goes a little farther than the major cities.
Expats love Taiwan. According to The Expat Insider, 86 per cent of Taiwan expats say the country's significant draws are people's friendliness, affordability, and a good healthcare system. The Wifi speed is in the global top 20 also, and Taiwan is considered safer than a number of other major East-Asian hubs, like Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
People in Taipei are extremely kind and respectful. According to Veronika, an expat in Taipei, they care about finding the owner of a lost wallet, instead of its contents.”The very first week I was in Taiwan, I forgot my bag, which contained my wallet and mobile, at a public event. Soon after, a stranger started dialing numbers saved in my phone until he figured out who it belonged to. By the time I reached my flat, an email was in my inbox stating, “Please come to pick up your bag!”
As for the cost of living, Taiwan is also comfortably in the lower range. For a one-bedroom apartment in Taipei's city centre, you can expect to pay around $600 per month. Taiwan is well-connected in terms of transport, however many people who decide to live there eventually buy scooters, since it is one of the most popular transportation methods.
A couple of downsides…
Remote workers might experience some challenges while trying to move to Taiwan since this country lacks a residential visa for foreigners not working for Taiwan employers. However, the good news is that due to agreements with multiple other nations, remote workers from EU and EFTA member states, the US, Australia, Japan and many other countries can now stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days without any visa.
Another possible obstacle is that English is not commonly used in everyday life, so the language barrier might restrict you to only expat communities.
Crucial for some, irrelevant for others - it’s worth mentioning is the fact that coffee shops don't open in the mornings in Taiwan, and it's more likely you'll be drinking your first morning coffee at home.
Perchpeek Top Tip
There is one place that does serve coffee in the mornings - the old friend - Starbucks! Open at 6am with free Wifi to match. Whatever your feelings towards Starbucks, they might just be a lifesaver in Taiwan.
#9 - Florence
The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is located in the Italian region of Tuscany. It's a charming city with breathtaking architecture without the usual chaos of the metropolis. Of course, cars and scooters pass by; however, the city centre caters far more to pedestrians.
Given its long history, this city offers plenty of hidden secrets waiting to be discovered, which will satisfy adventure-seekers. And even though all of Italy is known for its exceptional taste in food, Tuscany is one of the best-known regions for it.
Harry, a remote worker from the UK, said - “Florence is such an amazing place to set up for a while, you never get tired of the city- and with English you can mostly get around fine. I like to cycle on the city bikes to the Impact Hub working space and get all my work done in a great, clear-headed atmosphere before finding a new corner of the city to spend my evenings. Or I take a bus to the villages surrounding it, there’s often some great live music going on.”
Florence is a well-connected city, with most important destinations reachable by bikes (easily rented Mobil Cycles are everywhere) or on foot. In fact, wandering through the city is an absolute dream, and a personal motor vehicle there might very quickly become obsolete. Italy also offers an excellent healthcare and educational system, which can be a major pro for relocating families.
With a lot of international students and tourists, communicating in English is relatively common. Despite a more reasonable cost of living than Milan or Rome, Florence still has high housing prices. Those who decide to move to Florence should expect to pay around 800 USD for a one-bedroom apartment, with a cost of utilities up to the 100 USD mark.
The bureaucracy when moving to Italy will depend on where you are coming from. U.S. and Canadian residents don't need a visa for a up-to-90-days stay; however, those who plan on sticking there for an extended period will need one. For EU nationals and as it stands, the UK, it’s far simpler.
Perchpeek Top tip
There are a number of strongly rated Italian language schools dotted around the city, and a few words of Italian get you a long way with the locals.
# 8 Sydney
A great climate, beaches, parks, and large expat community make Sydney a great option for relocating workers. It’s a busy and exciting city, and the slightly more laid back version of Western culture (not to mention the exceptional coastline) make this a fun and beautiful place to set up. Plus, if you can arrange a long-haul stay in terms of visas, a good education system and family-friendly suburbs make this city a great choice for anyone moving with a growing family.
Cally, an expat in Sydney said it’s a great place for making friends. “It’s easier than in many cities around the world because “so many people are in the same boat as you are”. She also says there is something in Sydney for every person.
The severe downside is that Sydney is one of the most expensive cities to live in the world, according to Insider its behind only Hong Kong and Vancouver. Wages are extremely high in Australia relative to other countries, so working remotely for a foreign company is rarely going to favour someone trying to take advantage of beneficial exchange rates. We recommend operating from an Australian branch of a company or an Australian company wherever possible - it’s an expensive living for digital nomads!
Perchpeek Top Tip
“If you are looking for nightlife, you might choose Newtown. If you love the beach, look at places like Manly and Bondi. If you want more of the city life you can always opt for somewhere like Darlinghurst or Surry Hills." - Cally, a Sydney Expat
Despite the expenses, if you get it right, Sydney can be a remote worker’s dream!
Sydney is easy enough to get around; however the transport systems are somewhat buckling under pressure of population and are frequently congested. In addition to the housing costs, the general costs of living are very expensive, and our recommendation is to be very clear what you’ll be earning in $AUS before you go.
Beautiful architecture, delicious food, and the opportunity to see northern lights. Welcome to Copenhagen! Described by Lonely Planet as “The Epitome of Scandi Cool”, Copenhagen has an absorbing culture, is very pedestrian - and cyclist-friendly, has a fantastic nightlife scene, Denmark in general has a very well-developed expat community.
Relocating to Denmark comes with all kinds of perks, such as excellent healthcare and social services, and Copenhagen has exceptional Wifi speed and plentiful great coworking spaces.
Derek Hartman, an American expat in Copenhagen, said hat the expat communities are well set up for connecting with people and making new friends. “The expat scene in Copenhagen is active, young and easily accessible. We have had great luck attending social events for expats through Internations, an organization designed for connecting the expat community. We have also attended events through language exchange programs.”
A downside is that housing can be hard to find, and living in general is quite expensive.. The price of a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is, on average, $1,600 per month, while the cost of utilities is around $200. A bus ticket is around $4.
Perchpeek Top Tip
Given the high cost of rent, it’s worth looking at some of the cheaper areas just outside the city centre- which are still very nice neighbourhoods to live in.. Nørrebro, Amagerbro and Vesterbro are all very popular with the expat communities.
#6 - Luxembourg
Since half of Luxembourg's population is foreign, it’s quite easy to make yourself feel at home very quickly.
Luxembourg is an exceptionally beautiful country, full of stunning medieval architecture, surrounded by rolling hills, dense forests and picturesque valleys. Due to its wealth, which originates in the financial services it provides to international businesses, it has exceptional infrastructure and living standards. Low crime rates, multicultural diversity, and the ease of dealing with bureaucracy are all benefits. Luxembourg ranks as having one of the highest living standards in the world.
Despite having the highest GDP per capita in the world, it is not as expensive as Paris or London, however the cost of living is pretty high. Given this and it’s small size, it’s not so uncommon for people to go to neighbouring countries to buy electrical equipment and luxury items.
Housing is pretty expensive.. For instance, a one-bedroom apartment in Luxembourg City center has an average price of $1,841, while utilities' prices go up to $300 a month. However, those willing to move from the city center to the suburbs pay an average of $1500 for a one-bedroom flat.
Perchpeek Top Top
Although some would say that due to the heavily international community it is simple enough to get around with English, it is recommended to at least build a basic grasp of French if you are serious about moving to Luxembourg - The main languages are French and German, and a lot of locals struggle with English alone.
Luxembourg is pretty well-connected when it comes to transportation, and the price of public transportation is fairly reasonable.
A real positive is that schooling is free for expats registered with Luxembourgish social security. However, kids have to be fluent in all three official languages to graduate. Most expats send their kids to high-priced international schools, which doesn't make this destination an attractive choice for relocating families.
Vietnam is becoming a new popular destination for remote workers, as it’s now highly accessible, easy on the budget, and has preserved its authentic character. Beautiful scenery, extravagant food, and an affordable living cost make Vietnam one of the most desirable relocation destinations. Furthermore, a large expat community makes it a great place to be for a foreigner, and is subject to a lot of positive infrastructural development.
Hanoi is probably the most popular city for remote workers interested in relocating to Vietnam since it represents a fine mix between Asian tradition and Western influence.The city offers a large number of coworking spaces for those who love working in a more formal setting. Vietnam's average internet speed is around 9.5 Mbps, and Wi-Fi access is relatively easy to find, as most coffee shops offer a free connection.
Possible the most wonderful thing about Vietnam is the locals - they are extremely warm to expats. Sam, an expat in Vietnam said that “The people young and old, are always eager to welcome foreigners. Sit in a local street-side restaurant, and someone will start talking to you. Half the country are learning English, and the Vietnamese are keen to practice.”
Perchpeek top tip
Older expats tend to base themselves in Da Nang or Hoi An in central Vietnam. If you’re looking for younger crowds, base yourself in the big cities.
As mentioned previously, the cost of living is a major draw for Vietnam. Those who relocate can expect to spend less than half of what they would usually spend in the Western countries. Vietnam is cheaper than other Asian countries as well, and many people who live in Hanoi, for instance, can comfortably live on $500 per month.
The negative sides of relocating to Vietnam include pollution and poor water quality. The high level of traffic contributes to this and is particular invasive in the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. The roads were not built to handle the millions of motorbikes, cars, and trucks that now clog Vietnamese roads. Another watchout is the level of petty theft - foreigners in Vietnam are especially at risk.
#4 - Prague
Since The Czech Republic joined the EU, the expat community has blossomed. The country experienced a huge influx of European foreigners, which paved the way for a diverse multicultural and expat-friendly community.
Prague, or the 'City of a Thousand Spires,' is one of Europe's architectural gems, but that's not the only reason to move to this city. The real charm of Prague is the friendliness of its people. And any foodies wishing to relocate shouldn't worry about the lack of choice, although outside of the capital, food can be quite starchy and heavy, within Prague itself you can find almost every type of global cuisine.
Although a very popular tourist destination, it’s worth getting to know some of the language if you want to experience the city properly - Josh, an expat in the city says “try to learn a bit of the language because it’s not just about being part of the expat community here. I think it’s good if you’re friendly and get to know people here as well.”
Perchpeek Top Tip
There is a massive expat community in Prague, from all over the world, and through the social groups and sports clubs, easily found on Facebook, it is really easy to make friends.
Another very economical choice, Prague is an affordable city to live in. However, finding accommodation might be a challenge. The accommodation price is significantly higher for expats than for locals. Many Czech decided to list their properties on websites such as AirBnb which caused a disproportion between supply and demand. Natives look for the apartments in specialized Facebook groups, while expats, unaware of this process, usually hire agencies which are more costly.
The price of a one-bedroom apartment in Prague's city center costs around $860, while utilities' prices don't go over 150 USD. However, slightly further out from the city center, the price of rent for the one-bedroom apartment won't go over $650. Monthly public transportation fee costs around $25, which makes it reasonably priced, considering the public transportation is very high quality..
With low crime rates, The Czech Republic is a relatively safe country to be. However, one of the drawbacks is certain areas of bureaucracy, which can be timely and costly for expats. For instance, you’ll have to get health insurance prior to moving to Prague, however some employers offer relocation assistance to overcome these hurdles more efficiently. It also has a good healthcare system.
#3 - Denver
There's much to be said about Denver. Described as an “outdoor recreational paradise”, it’s a progressive city that hosts friendly and open-minded people, filled with art shows, culture, and sports events, and in the Rocky Mountains, it is surrounded by one of the world's best-known ski areas for weekend getaways.
There’s a reason why Colorado ranks in the top 15 states for remote-workers - it allows for an incredible lifestyle. “Coloradans live a simpler, less hustle-and-bustle life, allowing time to focus on what's important - quality of life for our families and friends alike." according to Joshua Wood, now based in the city.
Denver is a young, vibrant and desirable place with breathtaking views, which has grown significantly in the last decade. No matter which neighbourhood you choose, you'll be surrounded by panoramic mountain vistas.
The cost of living in Denver is far les than in other major US cities- such as Boston, Philadelphia, New York, San Franscisco, L.A. The price of food is lower than the national average, and for a one bedroom apartment in the city center, you can expect to pay $1,645 a month, while the price of monthly pass for public transportation is roughly $120.
A second drawback to relocating in Denver might be frequent traffic jams. Denver is close to major ski resorts and centres so that traffic might get congested during weekends. And since the city population increased over the past decade, traffic within the metro area can be frequently jammed as well. Luckily, it’s not a big city and cycling everywhere is a pretty viable option.
Perchpeek Top Tip
Embrace the adventure. The people of Colorado work in order to finance the way they live - taking in the outdoors and escaping into the wilderness surrounding the city, and will love expats who do the same!
As with all US states, another downside is their accessibility to foreigners - if you’re working remotely the chances are you’ll need a holiday visa, and even this is quite an extensive process from the majority of countries. If you’re lucky enough to be based there already, then go for it!
#2 - Amsterdam
According to the World Economic Forum, the Netherlands is one of the best places to live for expat families since it has an excellent economy, childcare, education, and healthcare system.
However, that would be a gross undersell of Amsterdam. This city is a hub!
You will never run out of things to do in Amsterdam. There are too many festivals, music events, chilled bars, restaurants and theatres for anyone to get through, and you could have a serious FOMO crisis. Lockdown has affected it, but the city has still maintained its spirit and has a delightful atmosphere for someone who loves to experience new things.
Travellers will also appreciate how The Netherland’s small size (you can cross it in 3 hours by train) and exceptional European connections make the whole region very accessible from Amsterdam.. What's more, being sandwiched between Germany and Belgium, visiting further European neighbours is a breeze.
The work-life balance is generally very healthy in Dutch culture. Karen, an expat in Amsterdam, found that “that Dutch work culture is so much healthier [than the USA], with a focus on having a balance between life/family. It’s okay for parents (even dads) to take off one day a week to focus on having quality time with their children. “
The general cost of living in the Netherlands is cheaper than in its western European counterparts. However, Amsterdam is significantly more expensive than the other parts of the country. For instance, for a one-bedroom apartment in Amsterdam's city centre, you'll be looking around $1,900 per month.
Perchpeek Top Tip
Despite the photos, be very wary of buying and owning a bicycle in Amsterdam - bike theft is absolutely rampant, and you could easily be replacing 3 or 4 bikes a year without a very good lock device.
In fact, one of the drawbacks of living in Amsterdam is the housing. Many expats struggle to find housing due to high demand and a low supply of quality rental properties.
On the other hand, food is more affordable in the Netherlands than in other Western European countries, and getting around by bike in the city saves your budget.
# 1 Munich
If you want to use all the benefits of a metropolis without sacrificing the cosy small-town feel, Munich is the right place to be. This Bavarian city offers a sophisticated cultural life and plenty of green spaces, making it one of the world's most livable cities. Besides the warm and exciting Bavarian culture, the city has many wonderful annual events, museums and bars to explore and get close to the local life. Surrounding it are beautiful forests, lakes and mountains for great weekend escapes after a solid week at the press.
Of note is that its booming IT industry means it has a number of great coworking spaces with great internet speeds. In addition, the expat community is pretty big and most people understand English - a big pro of moving to this German city.
Varsha, an expat who has moved to Germany and is loving life in Munich, also found that it’s an amazing place for families, and to make new friends. “There are lots of cultural festivals, celebrations, and many activities or places suitable for families with kids. It is one of the ideal places for kids to bring up. ”
Munich offers excellent connections to the rest of Europe and has a great public transportation system, which is reasonably priced compared to other European cities. Plus, Germany, in general, offers affordable childcare options, which is a significant factor for relocating families.
Perchpeek Top Tip
As with a lot of our best recommendations - learn the language! Locals will open up if you learn some German language. Language courses can be one of the first places to make new friends.”
The cost of living in Munich is much higher than anywhere in Germany, however it’s not the dearest in Europe. It's estimated to be 20% cheaper than London and 15% cheaper than Paris.
While cheaper than the likes of Paris or London, the cost of rent is an important factor whilst considering basing oneself in Munich. A one bedroom apartment costs in the region of $1,400 a month.
What do you think?
We’ve laid out our 10 best - but do you agree with it? What would be your prefered destination?
If you or a colleague are interested in taking that leap to a new destinations, for remote working or to a new office, PerchPeek will be able to provide complete guidance on how to do it, and more detailed support in making it happen - just get in touch! We can operate in any city, including all of those mentioned above.
Find out more at Perchpeek.com