The five places you can work with better weather or lower costs than the UK

More people than ever before have embraced remote working. The Office for National Statistics found that 44 per cent of workers reported working from home or hybrid working in the seven days leading up to its survey. The 16 per cent who had only worked from home might be best placed to move overseas for a few months – or more.

A growing number of people are coming round to the view that, armed with a laptop and a decent Wi-Fi connection, there’s no reason why they can’t log in from anywhere in the world.

The digital nomad phenomenon has gathered exponential pace since the pandemic, and there are now believed to be approximately 35 million globetrotting workers out there, contributing upwards of $800bn (£632bn) to the global economy. With so much revenue floating about in the ether, it’s no wonder countries are now competing to lure in remote workers with ever more generous visa packages.

It’s a welcome turn of events for UK workers in particular, who have faced more barriers to overseas working since Brexit was finalised in 2020. With the cost of living spiralling, thanks in large part to overwhelming rent and mortgage increases, more and more are flying to fairer (and cheaper) climes.

Spain is the most popular destination by far, with many taking advantage of the country’s Digital Nomad Visa, which was launched last year. But there are other, less obvious options out there. Here are five to consider.

Portugal

Spain’s next-door-neighbour is consistently popular with nomadic workers, thanks to a combination of plentiful sunshine (300-plus sunny days a year on average) and low living costs. The Portuguese government has also recently improved its visa package for remote workers, with a choice of two visas: Temporary Stay, which lasts for 12 months, or a Residency Visa, which lasts up to five years. The caveat for both is that you need to be on an income of €3,280 (£2,805) a month, although this is relatively little compared to other visa wage requirements around the world.

Lisbon and the Algarve are two of the most popular destinations, but Madeira is an attractive left-field option, with the regional government currently piloting a “digital nomad village”, Ponta do Sol, on the south side of the island.

Japan

Kyoto, Tourist walking in alley in old town, Gion. Japan
Trips around Japan could include a stop at Gion in Kyoto (Photo: Getty)

Still putting the finishing touches to its new Digital Nomad Visa, Japan is relatively late in its efforts to woo foreign workers. It has also set an unusually high bar for anyone looking to acquire one: applicants must demonstrate annual earnings of at least JPY10 million (around £52,000); then there’s the relatively short six-month time cap, with no option for renewal, and a requirement for holders to also take out private health insurance.

Despite this, it’s likely to have a strong uptake – that’s if the online buzz in the digital nomad community is anything to go by. And why not? Japan has a rich and varied culture, from the frenetic energy of Tokyo to the history of Kyoto. It is significantly cheaper than the UK and offers a strong and reliable Wi-Fi network.

Mauritius

Rear view of cheerful woman with sunhat walking on white sand beach, Ile aux Benitiers, La Gaulette, Le Morne Brabant, Indian Ocean, Mauritius
Working from Mauritius could include afternoons on its dream-like beaches (Photo: Roberto Sysa Moiola photographer/Getty)

With its white beaches and tropical climate, Mauritius is becoming an increasingly popular hub for remote workers. While sun, sand and sea are clearly the driving factor behind this recent influx, the launch in 2021 of the Mauritius Premium Visa has undoubtedly helped entice more and more workers to the island.

There are few restrictions for anyone looking to apply: the visa itself does not cost anything, and applicants need to show they have a monthly income of just $1,500 (£1,180). Those who are successful are then entitled to live and work anywhere in Mauritius for up to a year, the first six months of which are tax-free.

Australia

melbourne australia
Swap a UK city for a sunnier alternative, such as Melbourne (Photo: Getty)

There’s no getting away from the fact that the digital nomad movement overwhelmingly favours “white collar” workers. But there are options for those whose profession isn’t computer-based. Australia’s Working Holiday Visa has been popular with British travellers since it was first introduced in 1975, and it’s been significantly boosted in recent years, with the number of visas increased by 30 per cent, and the age limit raised from 30 to 35.

The initial visa lasts for 12 months and gives visitors the right to work anywhere in Australia. It can be renewed two times, to a total limit of three years, provided you have met certain requirements regarding months worked in specified sectors (often agriculture or hospitality, depending on the region you’re in).

It’s generally geared towards those aiming to fund their travels through work, since Australia as a rule is quite expensive compared to other countries. That said, more than half its Working Holiday visas are snapped up by UK citizens, who will always be attracted by the hot weather, spectacular landscapes, laid-back beach culture – and probably the fact that English is spoken.

Estonia

Sep 2004, afternoon.
Tallinn has been voted of the most relaxing cities in Europe (Photo: Getty)

Rich in culture and cheap in affordability, the Baltic states have surged in popularity among British travellers in recent years. Estonia, the northernmost of the three and one of the world’s most dynamic start-up hubs, was the first European country to offer a Digital Nomad Visa, and the programme is still going strong.

In short, the visa affords the right to stay for one year. You have to be working for a company registered outside the country, or, if a freelancer, for clients who are mostly based outside Estonia, and show proof of an income of €150 (£130) a day. Holders have the right to live and work anywhere in the country, although most will likely gravitate towards Tallinn, the vibrant and heritage-filled capital. Known for its medieval Old Town, a recent survey by Moneysupermarket also found it to be one of Europe’s most relaxing cities.