Being a freelancer is all about the freedom. There are no set office spaces, no set hours, and no set schedule. Once you’ve gotten a firm base of clients under your belt working from your current home, why not put that sense of freedom to the test? You’re already a freelancer, now it’s time to join the ranks of the digital nomads. If all you need is your laptop and some wifi, these freelance destinations could be the next place you call home. While there are plenty of great places to work, live, and travel, the list below includes just one from each continent, (excluding Antarctica where you might be able to build a standing snow desk and find some colleagues among the penguins).
Grab your passport and start strategizing your next move to one of these top destinations for freelancers:
Africa: Cape Town, South Africa
As a thriving tourist destination, Cape Town has bolstered its infrastructure to provide a suitable, wired workspace for freelancers. The city has several online job listings for freelance positions and other volunteer opportunities are plentiful to complement your online work. Located along the ocean, the city of Cape Town will act as a stunning backdrop for your creative endeavors and offer endless inspiration from its blend of cultures and eleven official languages. In addition, Cape Town was the World’s Design Capital in 2014 and its arts and culture scene continues to thrive. For those who love the outdoors, Cape Town is also an amazing destination for outdoor adventures with opportunities to climb its looming Table Mountain, Signal Hill, and Lion’s Head. After working hours, you’ll find plenty of people of different cultures to take on Cape Town’s nightlife scene and relax after your hard-working freelance days.
Visa Recommendations: Freelancers who plan to stay in Cape Town for an extended period can apply for a temporary residence and work visa. Unless you will be employed by a company, which can sponsor you for a General Business Work Visa, check out the Critical Skills Work Visa to see if any of your skills match. Learn more about the visa process in this article from Cape Town Magazine.
Asia: Chiang Mai, Thailand
For years, Chiang Mai has topped the list of the best destinations for digital nomads. With a friendly, international expat community, high-class services, and a low-cost of living, this Northern Thai city is ideal. Since attracting a vibrant freelance community, Chiang Mai has also become a model of digital nomadtopia with a great sense of community and entrepreneurial spirit. Co-working spaces abound, including the popular Punspace and other delicious cafes of the Chiang Mai coffeeshop scene. Although more Western than some of Thailand’s other cities, Chiang Mai still has loads of temples both within the old city walls and extending into the surrounding countryside. Book your ticket and jump on your scooter to dig into you work as you explore all the wonders of Chiang Mai.
Visa Recommendations: Traditionally, Chiang Mai freelancers would simply make visa runs to extend their tourist visas. Now, your best options are to apply for an Education visa or for the one-year Non-Profit Organization Volunteer Visa and a Thai Work Permit. Although these options will require you to either enroll in a language course or collaborate with a non-profit, what better way to break out of the expat bubble and enjoy your destination in Thailand!
Australia: Melbourne, Australia
Is Melbourne really ‘the Silicon Valley of Australia’? We can’t say for sure, but we can tell you that the tech and startup scene is alive and well in Australia’s second-largest city. (Envato’s headquarters is located in Melbourne, too). It’s a bustling, busy city with a diverse population, The coffee culture may be a little over-the-top, but that just means you’re sure to find a coffee shop to make into your workspace for the day. With street art on every corner and a consistent top spot in the ‘most liveable city in the world’ ranking, it’s no wonder that Melbourne is a haven for creatives and freelancers.
Visa recommendations: Depending on your citizenship, most visitors are able to visit for an extended stay through a short-term visa, which allows travel or short-term work in Australia. In some cases, like for citizens of the UK, Canada, and Ireland, Australia offers the option to extend your working holiday visa in exchange for 3 months of work in a regional area.
Europe: Berlin, Germany
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital has boomed as an edgy center of innovation and design. It’s not too late to get in on the action as a freelancer! With the richness of art, culture, and history, Berlin is home to all types creatives. In addition, as a major European capital, you will enjoy access to major conferences and events all year round. Many start-ups and international businesses also call Berlin home. As a result, the city has a youthful energy and English proficiency is widespread. Plus, whether you want to go East or West, the entire European continent is your oyster. Choose Berlin for your freelance destination if you crave adventure in the comfort of a city that will welcome your digital nomad lifestyle and embrace all the crazy cool ideas you have to offer.
Visa Recommendations: Germany offers a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment or freelance. However, the trick is to prove that your work provides a benefit to Germany and indicate companies who might work with you. Otherwise, residents of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan can apply for a work-holiday visa for up to 12 months.
North America: Austin, TX, USA
Austin is a liberal enclave in the generally conservative state of Texas that continues to attract young people and a growing freelance community. Austin is home to many exciting new start-ups and technology companies, creating a new energy for entrepreneurs. The Texas Freelance Association provides just one source of support for freelancers who can also find a sense of camaraderie and social life at one of the numerous, local co-working spaces dotting each area of the city. In addition, travel to Austin ASAP to make it in time for Freelance Playground’s conference #FREECON17 in the heart of Austin. Other seasonal highlights of Austin’s music scene include its two major festivals, Austin City Limits (ACL) and South by Southwest (SXSW). Whenever you plan your move to Austin, you won’t be disappointed by this hip city’s artistic and spirited flair.
Visa Recommendations: Unfortunately, the United States is not a particularly friendly country when it comes to freelance work permits. Your best bet would be to visit the United States as a tourist and enjoy the atmosphere of Austin on your journey. Otherwise, green card holders and U.S. citizens can take part in the full freelance community of Austin.
South America: Medellin, Colombia
Celebrate Colombia’s tourist boom and hopeful resolution of its conflict with FARC by jet-setting and setting up your home office in Medellin. Join in the party culture of Colombia’s third largest city, also known for its weather as the City of Eternal Spring. Although more underrated than some of the other destinations on the list Medellin is sees its fair-share of backpackers and expats who come to take in the beautiful environment and welcoming culture of Colombia. Plus, every year the Global Entrepreneurship Congress takes place in Colombia, welcoming a variety of ambitious business leaders who make their mark on the city. Try your freelancing luck in the affordable and exciting city of Medellin.
Visa Recommendations: Tourist visas in Colombia can are available for six-months for many nationalities to travel to Colombia. Other than traditional work visas that require cooperation from a Colombia company, other options include a Rentista, Volunteer for NGO or Non-Profit, or student visa.
Are you a freelancer? What other cities on each continent would you recommend? The Envato freelance community looks forward to hearing your suggestions.
Featured image: LuckyImages
More resources for your freelance career:
- How to prioritise your work as a freelancer
- Dealing with the pressures of constant creativity
- Creating community through coworking spaces