Work Hard Play Hard: The Best Countries for Freelancers Revealed

USA is the best country for freelancers, with Austin, Texas taking the crown for highest salary and top scores for leisure activities and quality of life. But Chiangmai, Thailand gets second place with the best commute satisfaction and the best healthcare system. Germany, Spain and Australia round off the top 5 countries for freelance workers.

Over the past five years, jobseekers have steadily prioritised more flexible ways of working. Job trends across sectors have seen a steady shift towards work-from-home and other remote working options becoming the standard criteria for a role, rather than a perk of the job. Globally, some countries have adapted to this new environment better than others.

Carphone Warehouse has created a handy table of the World’s Best Freelance Cities, outlining the top 30 best cities for freelancers and digital nomads. The table takes into consideration 10 metrics split across three categories:

  • What it’s like to work there: looking at employment rate, average monthly salary, number of co-working spaces available, commute dissatisfaction and internet speed.
  • What it’s like to live there: incorporating cost of living, monthly rent and healthcare ratings.
  • What options there are to have fun there: factoring in a leisure activity score out of 100 and a quality of life measure.


Top 15 Best Countries for Freelancers

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

  1. USA – Austin, Texas takes the USA into first place, scoring top marks for monthly salary (approx. £3,688), as well as leisure activities and quality of life. Where it falters, however, is in its high cost of living and monthly rent, as well as its lack of co-working spaces.
  2. Thailand – Skip across to Asia for second position, with Thailand’s Chiang Mai getting top scores 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 – Scoring well for leisure activities and the commute, Germany takes third place in the rankings. Capital city, Berlin also scores well for quality of life but has low marks for both cost of living and number of co-working spaces.
  4. Spain – Staying in Europe, Spain takes fourth place as Barcelona boasts high scores across healthcare, commute and leisure activities. However, while never scoring lowest for any of the factors measured, Spain doesn’t fare well for employment rate (49% of people are in employment) or monthly salary (£1,298).
  5. Australia – Australia rounds off the top 5 with Melbourne scoring top marks for leisure activities and impressively well for quality of life. Australia also has strong commute satisfaction and healthcare figures, but ranks surprisingly low for internet speed (only 43 Mbps).
  6. France – Despite offering only 11 co-working spaces, and a low employment rate, France gets sixth place in the ranks. In particular, Toulouse scores well for commute satisfaction, healthcare, internet speed and quality of life.
  7. Canada – Canada’s Montréal scores well for the commute, quality of life, leisure activities and internet speed, earning it seventh place in this list. However, it also offers relatively few co-working spaces and has a high cost of living, too.
  8. United Arab Emirates – Taking eighth place in this list and the only entry from the Middle East is the UAE. Dubai has the highest employment rate across all countries with 80% of the workforce currently in employment. The country also scores well for the commute, but falters for cost of living, monthly rent and number of co-working spaces.
  9. Colombia – South America’s Colombia (Medellín to be exact) scores extremely well for commute satisfaction, cost of living and monthly rent, although this is tempered by a low score for monthly salary that sees it fourth from the bottom for that metric.
  10. Norway – Oslo in Norway rounds off the top 10, with impressive marks for commute satisfaction and quality of life. It also does well for internet speed, healthcare and leisure activities with its only blight being its lack of co-working spaces.
  11. New Zealand – Narrowly missing the top 10 is New Zealand, with its freelance-friendly city of Auckland scoring well for commute satisfaction, quality of life and healthcare. On the flip side, it ranks low for number of co-working spaces, while also having a high cost of living.
  12. Netherlands – Amsterdam brings the Netherlands to position 12, scoring well for quality of life, leisure activities and the commute. Unfortunately, the country also has a high cost of living alongside a high monthly rent.
  13. Hong Kong – Hong Kong boasts the highest internet speed of all 30 countries assessed, clocking in at an impressive 169 Mbps. Further points of note include an excellent score for leisure activities and a good commute. On the other hand, it also has a high cost of living, a high monthly rent and scores low for quality of life, too.
  14. UK – London, UK lands in 14th place, with its leisure activities score at 100%, a high number of co-working spaces and its famed transport system giving it a satisfying commute score. However, the country’s meagre internet speed, high cost of living and soaring rent each prove to be significant downfalls.
  15. Israel – Rounding off the top 15 is Israel, with capital city Tel Aviv-Yafo performing well for commute satisfaction and leisure activities, while scoring low for cost of living and monthly rent, as well as number of co-working spaces.

Spotted a gem in the list of countries above, or is your wanderlust aiming elsewhere? View the World’s Best Freelance Cities, you can explore the full dataset and choose from 30 great cities, perfect for freelancing.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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