Work Hard Play Hard: The Best Countries for Freelancers Revealed

The United States is the best country for freelancers, with Austin, Texas winning the crown for the highest salary and best scores for recreational activities and quality of life. But Chiangmai, Thailand ranks second with the best commuting satisfaction and the best healthcare system. Germany, Spain and Australia round off the top 5 countries for freelancers.

Over the past five years, job seekers have prioritized increasingly flexible ways of working. Cross-sectoral job trends have resulted in a steady shift towards work-from-home and other remote work options, which have become the standard criteria for a role rather than a benefit of the job. Around the world, some countries have adapted better than others to this new environment.

Carphone Warehouse has created a handy table of the world’s best freelance cities, listing the top 30 cities for freelancers and digital nomads. The table takes into account 10 metrics, which are divided into three categories:

  • What it’s like to work there: Consideration of the employment rate, the average monthly salary, the number of available co-working spaces, dissatisfaction with commuting and internet speed.
  • What is it like to live there: Inclusion of cost of living, monthly rent and health ratings.
  • What options are there to have fun there: Taking into account a leisure activity score of 100 and a measure of the quality of life.

Top 15 best countries for freelance professionals

Whether you’re a seasoned digital nomad looking for your next destination or a newbie just starting your freelance journey, these are the 15 countries that perform best on a variety of metrics:

  1. United States – Austin, Texas ranks the United States first, scoring top marks for monthly salary (approximately £ 3,688), leisure activities and quality of life. Where it stagnates, however, is the high cost of living and monthly rent, as well as the lack of jobs.
  2. Thailand – move to Asia to take second place. Chiang Mai from Thailand receives top marks for commuting and healthcare. It also scores well for monthly rent, leisure activities, and internet speed (136 Mbps), but is low in the ranks for co-working spaces.
  3. Germany – Germany, which scores well for leisure activities and commuting, takes third place in the ranking. The capital Berlin also scores with the quality of life, but has poor grades for both the cost of living and the number of common rooms.
  4. Spain – Spain stays in Europe and ranks fourth as Barcelona scores high on health, commuting and leisure activities. While Spain does not score worst for any of the measured factors, it does not do well for either the employment rate (49% of the workforce) or monthly salary (£ 1,298).
  5. Australia – Australia rounds off the top 5, with Melbourne receiving top marks for leisure activities and an impressively good quality of life. Australia also has high levels of satisfaction with commuting and healthcare, but is surprisingly low for internet speed (only 43 Mbps).
  6. France – Although France only has 11 co-working spaces and a low employment rate, it ranks sixth in the rankings. Toulouse scores in particular with satisfaction with commuting, health care, internet speed and quality of life.
  7. Canada – Canada’s Montréal scores with commuting, quality of life, leisure activities and internet speed, making it seventh on this list. However, it also offers relatively few co-working spaces and a high cost of living.
  8. United Arab Emirates – Eighth place on this list and the only entry from the Middle East is the UAE. Dubai has the highest employment rate in any country. 80% of the workforce is currently employed. The country also does well on commuting, but it fluctuates in terms of cost of living, monthly rent, and number of shared work spaces.
  9. Colombia – South America’s Colombia (more precisely, Medellín) scores very well on commuting satisfaction, cost of living, and monthly rent, although this is mitigated by a low monthly salary score, where it ranks fourth from the bottom for this metric.
  10. Norway – Oslo in Norway rounds off the top 10 with impressive scores for commuting satisfaction and quality of life. It’s also good for internet speed, health, and recreational activities, with the only drawback being the lack of jobs.
  11. New Zealand – New Zealand, whose freelance city of Auckland scores well for commuting satisfaction, quality of life and health care, is just short of the top 10. On the other hand, the number of co-working spaces is low while the cost of living is high.
  12. Netherlands – Amsterdam ranks the Netherlands in 12th position and scores with quality of life, leisure activities and commuting. Unfortunately, in addition to high monthly rent, the country also has high living costs.
  13. Hong Kong – With an impressive 169 Mbit / s, Hong Kong offers the highest Internet speed of all 30 countries rated. Other key points include an excellent recreational score and good commuting. On the other hand, it also has a high cost of living, a high monthly rent and also a low quality of life.
  14. United Kingdom – London, United Kingdom ranks 14th with a 100% rating for recreational activities, a high number of co-working spaces and a famous transportation system that gives it a satisfactory rating for commuting. However, the country’s low internet speed, high cost of living and rising rents are proving to be significant drawbacks.
  15. Israel – The top 15 is rounded off by Israel. The capital Tel Aviv-Yafo scores well in terms of satisfaction with commuting and leisure activities, while the cost of living, monthly rent and the number of co-working spaces are low.

Have you discovered a jewel in the list of countries mentioned above, or is your wanderlust aiming for another place? Check out the best freelance cities in the world. You can explore the entire dataset and choose from 30 great cities that are perfect for freelance work.

April 1, 2021