It’s easier than ever to spend time living and working abroad either as an expat or digital nomad but some places are better set up for digital life than others. In this ranking, Estonia comes top, while in last place is Myanmar.
InterNations – a global community and information site for people who live and work abroad – has published its first Digital Life Abroad Report, which ranks 68 countries in terms of internet connectivity, web restrictions, the ability to pay without cash and access to government services online.
To identify the best and worst countries for digital life, survey respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with the following factors on a scale from one to seven: the unrestricted access to online services such as social media, the availability of government/administrative services online, the ease of getting a local mobile phone number, the ease of paying without cash, and the ease of getting access to high-speed internet at home.
Canada (seventh) and the USA (tenth) are among the best countries in the world for digital life with expats being very happy with the ease of paying without cash. The UK came 15th, while Australia was 14th, Switzerland 17th, Hong Kong 19th, France 35th, Japan 51st, Germany 53rd and Italy 57th.
Mexico (26th), Costa Rica (30th) and Panama (38th) ranked somewhere in the middle for digital life due to reasons such as a lack of cashless payment options and difficulties accessing high-speed internet.
With ever-greater numbers of digital nomads choosing to live and work abroad, knowing which countries are best set up for conducting freelance work online is invaluable.
It might be tempting to be based in Thailand, Bali (Indonesia) or India for example, but the fact that they rank so poorly in terms of digital services (47th, 62nd and 65th, respectively) means you might want to think twice about them.
Conversely, somewhere such as Estonia might not have been a place you ever considered but it is in fact one of the best places for remote working. This year they even began issuing digital nomad visas to young entrepreneurs and freelancers to live there to for up to 365 days. They cost €100.
The benefits of e-residency in Estonia include being able to register an EU-based company entirely online; sign, authenticate, encrypt and send documents digitally; declare business taxes online; and access EU single market and cross-border capital.
Why else has Estonia been ranked the best country in the world for digital life? According to InterNations, 96 per cent of expats judge access to online services favourably here (versus 80 per cent globally), with 86 per cent saying it could not be any better (versus 58 per cent globally).
Another 94 per cent are impressed with the availability of administrative or government services online (versus 55 per cent globally), with 70 per cent giving it the best possible rating (versus 23 per cent globally).
The ten best countries for digital life
- New Zealand
The ten worst countries for digital life
63. Saudi Arabia
Why is Myanmar so bad when it comes to digital life? InterNations says it is the world’s worst-rated destination to pay without cash and to get access to high-speed internet at home. However, Myanmar is the easiest place to get a local mobile phone number, which is a surprise.