When the pandemic turned all of our lives upside down, a bunch of people opted to rotate the wheel another 180 degrees and move somewhere new. Suddenly able to work remotely, they were free to explore different countries and cultures as semi-permanent residents.
To make these transitions easier—and to cushion the blow from a loss in tourism due to Covid-19—many countries created digital nomad visas. But which of these led to the happiest outcomes for the people who relocated?
Travel insurance marketplace InsureMyTrip.com decided to find out with an analysis of the best and worst countries for remote working visas—and the findings may surprise you.
Though many relocators opted for a life of fun in the sun, researchers concluded that chilly Norway (pictured) was actually the best option for those looking to relocate for a year or so.
At the other end of the spectrum, the United Arab Emirates has the dubious distinction of being the worst place to relocate, according to this analysis, followed by the countries of Georgia, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and Croatia. Scoring marginally better but still in the bottom 10 are Vietnam, Estonia, Aruba, Mauritius, and the Czech Republic.
To arrive at these rankings—and we're with you if you think it's odd that, say, Jamaica would be in the top 10 while equally lovely Barbados lands near the bottom of the heap—InsureMyTrip's analysts considered the following criteria:
• Cost of the remote working visa
• Length of the remote working visa
• Average internet speed in each country
• Happiness levels in each country, according to the World Happiness Report 2020
• Acceptance of outsiders, according to an international Gallup poll
• Average rental apartment costs from a study by Numbeo
• Ease of learning the local language, as determined by language training estimates from the U.S. State Department
Norway scored high on the happiness index and has one of the easiest work visas to use—there's no end date. As long as you keep your remote job, you can stay in the country indefinitely. (Greece and Portugal have similar policies). Other countries require visa recipients to reapply every six months or so.
Those assets helped push Norway to the top even though the notoriously expensive Scandinavian nation did not score well on apartment costs.
The UAE received low marks because of the language difficulty, poky internet speeds, and the restrictiveness of its visa.
Second-worse Georgia seems to have even more daunting deterrents, at least according to this analysis. InsureMyTrip gave the former Soviet republic bad scores for acceptance of outsiders, happiness, and internet speed.
To see the complete analysis, click here.