Updated Guide to Becoming a Digital Nomad in Europe (2024 Edition)

Updated Guide to Becoming a Digital Nomad in Europe (2024 Edition)

Published: January 29th, 2024

Living the dream for many involves the ability to work while exploring different parts of the world. With a laptop in hand, working from different locations, enjoying the world’s wonders on days off, and indulging in various cuisines is the ideal lifestyle. It’s no wonder that remote work has seen a significant increase in recent years, particularly due to the COVID pandemic.

Europe is one of the prime and most favored regions globally for remote work.

Europe offers a wide variety of countries and cultures, exceptional food, reliable infrastructure, and numerous overnight trains and airport hubs, making it convenient to travel. It’s arguably the best region for remote work.

The increasing number of countries offering visas specifically for remote workers and digital nomads has made it even easier to be a digital nomad in Europe.

As a digital nomad for over 15 years, I have spent several months working and traveling around Europe. In this article, I will share everything you need to know about being a digital nomad in Europe.

Why Europe is a Prime Location for Digital Nomads

Europe is one of the most sought-after destinations for digital nomads, and here’s why:

Variety: The primary attraction for being a digital nomad in Europe is its diversity. Europe consists of 40-50 countries, depending on the list you refer to. This means 40-50 different cuisines, languages, and landscapes. You can find sunny beaches, rugged mountains, quaint villages, and bustling cities. Europe has something for everyone.

Transportation: With Flixbus and Ryanair, traveling across Europe can be incredibly cheap. Europe also has a vast and interconnected rail system with high-speed and overnight trains. The Schengen Area has no border controls, making it extremely easy to travel between countries.

European cities also offer excellent public transportation that is fast, safe, and affordable. You don’t need a car here and can get pretty much anywhere using public transportation.

Location: Europe is just a five-hour flight away from the USA. From Europe, you can fly directly to every other continent. It’s a very convenient hub for those planning long-term travel and intending to visit other continents.

Climate: Europe has bustling beaches and snowy ski towns. You can witness the Northern Lights in Lapland or avoid the winter entirely in the Greek Islands. It’s a fantastic year-round destination offering tons of flexibility to digital nomads.

Language: English is widely spoken in much of Europe. While it’s always beneficial to try and learn as much of the local language as possible, being able to fall back on English when you’ve just arrived can be super helpful.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Destination in Europe

Internet and Data Connectivity: Reliable Wi-Fi is crucial when you are working online. Always check the reviews for comments about the Wi-Fi when booking accommodation. If no comments are mentioned, email the hotel/hostel/Airbnb and ask them for specific Wi-Fi speeds. Slow internet can be a nightmare when trying to work!

Also, check if there are co-working spaces (or at least cafes) nearby so you can get out of the house, network, and explore some of your destination instead of just working inside your accommodation all day.

It’s essential to have a reliable data plan to stay connected since you won’t be spending all day in the apartment and want to make the most of the digital nomad experience in Europe. This will allow you to explore places safely, check for local recommendations, make reservations, and use social media on the go.

The most convenient and modern way to stay connected is by acquiring an international eSIM card. It provides digital data access throughout your entire trip, eliminating the need for physical SIM cards. By using the Holafly eSIM for Europe, you’ll enjoy coverage in over 30 countries with unlimited data and a local number. With just one payment, you can seamlessly travel from one country to another without hassle. This solution will automatically save you time and money while reducing stress, thanks to their easy installation process.

Cost of Living: Europe has cities that range from extremely cheap to super expensive. There’s a significant difference between the cost of living in, for example, Reykjavik, Iceland versus the cost of living in Krakow, Poland. That’s not to say you have to stick to cheap, affordable cities but rather that you need to budget accordingly. Maybe that means staying a few weeks in an expensive destination and then a few months in a cheaper one to balance things out.

Everyone’s budget is going to be different, but make sure to factor in the cost of living when planning where to go. Rent/accommodation, food, activities, and transportation all add up. Research costs before you arrive to avoid going broke.

Community: Working remotely as a digital nomad offers a lot of freedom. But it can also be lonely. Make sure that the destinations you pick allow you to get out and meet people from time to time. Whether that’s at a coworking space or using apps like Meetup.com or Couchsurfing’s Hangouts, it’s important to get away from the laptop regularly.

Moreover, if you’re running a business from your laptop then it’s important to also network with people in your industry in person. Make sure you pick a destination where that’s possible.

Activities: Finding a work/life balance is tricky. But it’s also vital. Burn out is common for people who travel full-time, and it’s also common for remote workers since there is no hard end to your day. To avoid burning the candle at both ends, make sure you schedule lots of time to sightsee and actually explore the destination you’re in. That means you want to visit destinations with lots of things to see and do. Walking tours, food tours, pub crawls, museums. Whatever you’re into, make sure the places you visit have things you actually want to see and do outside of work. It will make finding that work/life balance all the easier.

Transportation: Working from some remote island may sound relaxing, but if you have to buy an expensive flight each and every time you want to travel or go home to visit family, you’re going to break the bank sooner rather than later. When deciding where to go, consider how easy (and affordable) it is to get there. While Europe has plenty of trains and cheap airlines, some regions are more expensive to visit than others. Plan ahead so you can avoid blowing your budget on pricey flights or trains.

How to Stay Connected in Europe

The Internet in Europe is fast and readily available. Free Wi-Fi is available all around the continent, though having your own mobile data is a must. I visit Europe every year and I always make sure I have mobile data. It’s a must for using Google Maps, Google Translate, calling Ubers, and booking activities on the go.

And while Europe is super safe, having mobile data and the ability to make calls can be super helpful in an emergency.

The best way to access mobile data in Europe, as mentioned earlier, is through an international eSIM. It’s faster, more cost-effective, and easier to use than purchasing physical SIM cards. The installation and activation process is also very straightforward, and I’ll share the steps with you.

How to Get an International eSIM

1. Go to Holafly and search for the Europe plan.
2. Specify the number of days you’ll be staying. You have the flexibility to choose from 5 to 90 days (which is perfect for long trips as it will cost less than $1 per day).
3. If you have questions, contact support. Their support is available 24/7, which is super helpful in case something occurs before or during your trip.

How to Install your eSIM

1. First, verify that your phone has eSIM compatibility.
2. Next, buy the eSIM you want (as outlined above).
3. Once you place your order, you’ll get an email with a QR code. Scan that with your phone to finish the process. If there is an issue with the QR code setup, manual instructions are also emailed with your purchase.

Activate your eSIM on your phone before your next adventure. You’ll have data as soon as you land, ready to fully explore the beauty of Europe.

The Top Cities in Europe for Digital Nomads

While you can pretty much work from anywhere in Europe, owing to the prevalence of reliable internet, some cities are better than others. Here’s a list of the best destinations in Europe for digital nomads:

1. Berlin, Germany: Berlin has been Europe’s primary digital nomad and freelancer hub for years. It’s a super cool, progressive city that provides easy access to the rest of Europe. It’s safe, has efficient transportation, and has tons of things to see and do. If you want to live in a big city, this is likely your best choice.

2. Lisbon, Portugal: I fell in love with Lisbon the moment I arrived. While it’s become more popular with tourists in recent years, it’s the perfect choice for digital nomads who want to stay in Europe during the winter but don’t want to embrace the continent’s colder climates. You’ll find marvelous food, music, dance, lots of co-working spaces, and tons of creatives and entrepreneurs. If you love Portugal but want to stay somewhere smaller, try Lagos instead.

3. Budapest, Hungary: Budapest is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. It’s super affordable, there’s lots of cool museums, the food is hearty and delicious, and the nightlife is unrivaled. The ruin bars here are some of the coolest bars in the world. There are also plenty of spas that are actually very affordable. You get a lot of value here.

4. Tallinn, Estonia: Tallinn is like a more affordable version of Prague. It’s just as beautiful but costs way less and is way less crowded. They are very tech friendly here (it has the most tech start-ups per capita in Europe) and have a visa specifically designed for remote workers. It’s just a short ride from Helsinki, Finland and Riga, Latvia too, offering access to some of Europe’s most overlooked capitals.

5. Tbilisi, Georgia: Georgia is an up-and-coming backpacker and digital nomad hub. It doesn’t get a lot of visitors, but the people who do visit love it (myself included). Tbilisi has a young vibe and English is widely spoken, and the cost of living is low too. The food here is amazing and cheap, and there are plenty of coworking spaces here so it’s super easy to network and meet people. It’s a very friendly, welcoming country.

These are just a few of the best digital nomad hubs in Europe. There are tons of other amazing destinations all around the continent that offer affordability, reliable infrastructure, community, and more!

12 Budget Tips for Europe

While every country (and region) around Europe will be different, here are a few budget tips to help you keep you from breaking the bank:

1. Picnic: Europe is brimming with small shops where you can buy pre-made sandwiches or ingredients to make your own. Instead of eating out, grab some food and picnic. There are tons of greenspace and plenty of parks in every major city where you can picnic. It’s something you’ll see the locals do whenever the weather is nice.

2. Eat cheap: If you do want to eat out, stick to sandwich shops, pizza, kebab stalls, and outdoor street vendors. These places are cheap no matter where you go. You can usually find cheap eats for as little as 2-5 EUR.

3. Stay with a local: Hostels/Hotels/Airbnbs add up quickly. If you’re on a budget, stay with a local via Couchsurfing. It’s a great way to connect with a local who can share their insider tips and advice.

4. Take the bus: If you’re traveling around the continent, use Flixbus. They have routes all around Europe with prices starting at just 5 EUR. It’s not fancy, but they can get you pretty much anywhere in Europe!

5. Get a Rail Pass: If you’re going to be bouncing around Europe, consider getting a Eurail Pass. If you are traveling far distances and through many countries, they can save you a fortune.

6. Take the free city tours: Free walking tours can be found in pretty much every major city in Europe. They’re the perfect way to see the main sights of a city while connecting with a local guide that can share their tips and suggestions.

7. Fly cheap: Wizz and Ryanair are two of the cheapest airlines in Europe. If you’re flexible and book early, you can find flights around Europe for as little as 10 EUR!

8. Pack light: Budget airlines charge extra for luggage. If you’re going to be flying around Europe during your trip, travel carry-on only. You’ll not only save money on luggage fees but you’ll save time since you won’t have to wait for your baggage when you arrive. You’ll avoid getting your bag lost too!

9. Hitchhike: If you’re an intrepid digital nomad, hitchhiking around Europe is definitely an option. In many countries, hitchhiking is perfectly safe. It might take you a while to find a ride, but if you’re patient and flexible it’s an amazing way to meet people as you travel. Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Romania are all countries where it’s easy (and common) to hitchhike. Check out Hitchwiki for more info.

10. Avoid popular cities in the summer: Summers in European cities are energetic and beautiful but they’re also crowded and expensive. If you’re here in the summer, avoid the big tourist hubs (London, Paris, Barcelona, etc.) and head to smaller cities. You’ll find things less crowded and less expensive.

11. Head east: Eastern Europe has everything you’ll find in Western Europe but for a fraction of the price. Poland, Albania and the Balkans, Romania, and Georgia all have everything you’ll need as a digital nomad and are much cheaper than countries in Western Europe.

12. Bring a water bottle: The tap water is safe to drink in most of Europe, so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built

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