The Easy Way You Can Save Money as a Remote Worker Abroad

published May 29, 2023
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While the vision of remote workers on a beach with their laptops and a tropical drink in hand is one that previously had been the stuff of dreams, it’s becoming an attainable reality for workers who never thought it was possible. Digital nomad visas are increasing in popularity, allowing workers to take advantage of tax benefits for one to two years while traveling, whether it’s working from the beaches of Bali or the cozy cafes of Reykjavik.

With many digital nomad visa programs, you can stay in a host country for a set amount of time and, often after 183 days, you become a tax resident in that country. That translates into tax exemption in your home country. As you continue reaping the tax benefits of the digital nomad visa program, that can set you up for serious tax advantages. It’s tapping into the best of both worlds — while exploring the world.

Here are a few of the countries offering digital nomad visas and tax incentives.

  • Anguilla offers tax-free incentives to digital nomads.
  • Cyprus excludes 50 percent of income from local income tax.
  • Estonia allows digital nomads to stay up to 183 days without paying local income tax.
  • Iceland allows digital nomads to stay up to 183 days without paying local income tax.
  • Indonesia offers tax-free incentives to digital nomads.
  • Italy excludes 70 percent of income local income tax, and it goes up to 90 percent depending on the region.
  • Malta does not tax income from other countries.
  • Portugal does not tax income from other countries.
  • Romania offers tax-free incentives to digital nomads.

(Note: This is not a comprehensive list, nor does it include tax advice!)

What exactly is it like when you actually take advantage of a digital nomad tax incentive? Here’s what two remote workers had to say about their experiences.

Credit: Solveigh Ringe/EyeEm/Getty Images

“Make every day a non-blur.”

Bryan Clayton, CEO of lawn care company GreenPal, recalls listening to an interview with Pieter Levels on the Indie Hackers podcast when he first heard about the digital nomad visa and remote work incentive programs. On the podcast, Levels discussed a service he’d used that set workers up with tax-saving residences. 

He looked at his choice of countries based on a balance between professional, financial, and lifestyle factors. “Estonia, Georgia, and Greece offered attractive tax benefits, a conducive work environment, and rich cultural experiences,” Clayon says. “Plus, their digital nomad visa programs seemed more straightforward and beneficial compared to others.” Weather and great food also played critical roles in his decision.

Clayton says there were initial hiccups with time zone differences and adapting to different local nuances when he first began his country-hopping journey, but it’s all been worth it. For now, Clayton plans to continue traveling. “There’s a saying I heard once, ‘Make every day a non-blur,’ so the end goal isn’t merely about tax advantages. It’s about immersing myself in different cultures and experiences. There might be a time when I slow down the travel, but for now, the world is my oyster.”

While many of the participants in these programs were already avid travelers, Clayton hadn’t left the United States until four years ago. After watching a friend pass away from cancer, it opened his eyes that the time to start living is now. Since then, he’s seen over 100 countries. “Home is where I feel comfortable, and can work effectively,” Clayton says.

“It’s both terrifying and intriguing.”

Of course, there’s also the option to take advantage of the systems already in place, rather than specific programs. Dimana Markova is originally from Bulgaria, but had been registered as a freelancer in the U.K., where she was living and working. When she started traveling full-time, she realized continuing to pay taxes to the U.K. wasn’t the most advantageous and moved her residency registration to Bulgaria. 

She notes that her home country has one of the lowest tax rates in the EU, and her situation can continue as long as she doesn’t stay in any EU country longer than three months. When she does end up staying abroad for longer, she has her accountant check the treaty that Bulgaria has with the country she’s staying in during a given month.

Overall, the process has been easier than Markova expected. “I found a good accountant and everything is remote-friendly and digital — which was not my expectation at all,” she says.

The community-building side of full-time travel has also been easier than expected. “Some places have really strong freelance communities and making friends is a breeze. Then occasionally I travel to other locations with friends I’ve made from these locations,” says Markova, who also meets others through language classes, Bumble BFF, work-related meetups, and more.

When asked how pursuing freelance on the road has impacted her sense of home, Markova sums up the experience: “I’ve had a mixed-up sense of home since I was 18 and first moved to live in a different country. However, now I really don’t know what country I’ll end up in once I settle down. It’s both terrifying and intriguing.”