It feels like a lifetime ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic had a fundamental, lasting impact on our working lives. In general, attitudes to how we work and the focus on a greater work-life balance are big conversations we’re continuing to have today.
For many, the ability to work from home is something they didn’t want to give up as COVID-19 eased. A newfound freedom that allowed for flexibility became just as important for many as the salaries they were paid.
At first, many companies were happy to allow some form of remote working as statistics showed employees were almost 30 percent more productive when working from home.
However, as we’ve crept through 2023, more and more stories have emerged of businesses requiring workers to return to the office - either full or part-time.
So with all this in mind, we analyzed millions of meetings over the past three years to bring you the definitive list of the world’s top spots for remote workers. Let’s go.
1. Costa Rica
This Central American nation has snagged our top spot with a 44 percent increase in remote meetings over the past three years. Known for its stunning natural landscapes and beautiful beaches, it’s easy to see why people would flock to its shores.
It’s not just the scenery though, many people love the laid-back attitudes to life and a real emphasis on enjoying your leisure time and putting a firm separation between work and play.
What’s more, for people looking to enjoy the remote worker lifestyle, Costa Rica offers a Digital Nomad visa which lets remote workers live in the country without having to pay income tax and stay for up to two years.
2. Puerto Rico, USA
A little part of the US tucked away in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico takes second place on our top ten. It has seen a remote meeting rise of 42 percent over the last three years.
Like Costa Rica, Puerto Rico offers great tax incentives for US citizens moving there - with grants of up to $40,000 for Startups and a four percent corporate tax rate.
On top of that, as part of the US it still uses the dollar, is in the same time zone as New York City and has a significantly lower cost of living compared to many other parts of the continental United States.
It’s likely the reason the island has seen a boom in the number of tech startups.
The first European country to make the list, the landlocked nation of Slovakia has seen a 38 percent increase in remote meetings over the last three years.
Although Slovakia doesn’t offer a digital nomad visa or tax incentives, its popularity could be explained by the relatively low cost of living compared to other European nations. Any citizen from an EU member state can move to Slovakia without the need for a visa.
Also, being centrally located on the continent makes it easy for remote workers to see more of Europe without having to take too much time off.
The first of two Asian nations to feature on our list, India has seen a 32 percent rise in remote meetings since 2020.
For many years, the world’s most populous country has provided outsourcing to numerous countries around the world including in the US and UK. However, more recently, it has seen a growth in tech services including web solutions and digital marketing.
The cost of living in India is also incredibly low compared to many other countries - especially for those working in IT. For example, an average one-bedroom apartment in New York costs nearly 570 percent more than a comparable one in Mumbai.
As one of the easiest South American countries to get a visa, Argentina has seen a 31 percent increase in remote meetings over the last three years.
In 2022, the Argentine government introduced a digital nomad visa. Like its Costa Rican counterpart, as long as the work done is for a company outside the country, income tax doesn’t have to be paid. A possible reason for the rise in remote meetings.
Argentina is also one of the cheapest South American countries to live in, providing a great lifestyle for anyone earning a decent income.
On top of that, the nation boosts some amazing natural beauty and vibrant culture.
The second European country to feature on the list, Poland has witnessed a transformation of its economy since joining the EU in 2004. It’s therefore not surprising that there’s been a 30 percent rise in virtual meetings since 2020.
Like Slovakia, any EU member national can live and work in Poland without the need for a visa.
In 2023, Poland strengthened the rights for people to work from home. Employers are banned from refusing a request from the parents of young children, carers of disabled people and anyone who is pregnant.
Poland also has a growing tech industry with some describing it as one of the world’s fastest. Thanks to its European connections and abundance of available talent. This could also go some way to explain why Poland takes the number six spot on our list.
The only African nation to feature on our list, Morocco takes the number seven spot with a 30 percent increase in remote meetings over the last three years.
Like others on our list, Morocco offers a digital nomad visa allowing remote workers to stay in the country for up to one year.
In the big cities, such as Marrakesh, there is an abundance of coworking and coliving spaces, which could be perfect for a digital nomad looking to make new friends.
What’s more, Morocco offers amazing landscapes and an immersive culture that will leave remote workers with unique and lifelong memories.
As one of the fastest-growing remote working hubs in the world, Taiwan is our second Asian country and number eight on the list with a 28 percent growth in virtual meetings since 2020.
Although the island nation doesn’t offer a digital nomad visa, it does offer an alternative that is available for people who work in select industries including education, finance and technology.
There are a number of reasons why Taiwan could make our list, including some of the world’s fastest internet speeds, a booming tech industry, amazing culinary and cultural delights and friendly locals.
This French overseas department follows Taiwan and takes the ninth spot on our list, also with a rise of 28 percent in remote meetings since 2020.
As part of France, it’s easy to see why many Europeans would flock to this Caribbean paradise. That also means that there has been a strong French influence in daily life on the island - everything from language to culture.
For the digital nomad after a chilled lifestyle, Guadeloupe offers crystal-clear waters, a tropical climate and stunning beaches to make the most of in their personal time.
The last country on our list is the South American nation of Chile which has seen a 27 percent rise in remote meetings over the last three years.
There are a number of reasons this could be the case, but one might be that for US citizens working remotely for an American employer, a visa isn’t required.
There are still some tax obligations to make (which makes this a little different from the digital nomad visa offered by the likes of Costa Rica) but with a much lower cost of living, you definitely get more bang for your buck.
On top of that, Santiago, the country’s capital, is flying up the world rankings of greatest cities with a growing tech hub, affordable cost of living and a similar timezone to the Western United States.
We looked at anonymized data showing the number of remote meetings booked during the height of COVID and whether that number had increased or decreased compared to a similar period this year. From this data, we were able to produce a ranking of countries and investigate why remote working was either growing in popularity or decreasing.
In our top ten, we’ve excluded any country that is currently in a state of political unrest as, for obvious reasons, remote working increased exponentially. Although they aren’t in our top ten breakdown, we have included them in the table.
We also want to point out that although Oman itself is not in a state of civil unrest it has been heavily effected by the number of refugees from neighbouring Yemen (currently in a state of civil war). We believe this influx of displaced people has greatly skewed Oman’s results, so are highlighting it with countries in a state of civil unrest.
When it came to checking whether a country was in a state of civil unrest we used a number of sources including: the UN, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Amnesty International, as well as local, trusted news sources.