Working Abroad: 6 Countries that are Great for Freelancers
Born in Bermuda, Lené Hypolite has lived in Venezuela, Canada, the U.S., Amsterdam, and is soon headed to Singapore and Tokyo. She loves the excitement of expat life, and also how it's benefiting her career. On the Postcard Academy podcast, we talk about six countries where it’s a little bit easier visa-wise to live abroad, and how to find work there.
As soon as Lené visited a friend in Amsterdam, she knew she wanted to move there. “I wanted to be able to enjoy my life…but I also wanted to continue to progress in my career. I wanted a good standard of living in terms of a higher income and I wanted to be able to afford to travel around Europe and I knew that the Netherlands would be able to give that to me,” says Lené, who founded Take Flight, a relocation coaching and consultant company to help others pursue their dreams of moving abroad.
“For American entrepreneurs, this is a great place because they have what's called the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty.” This is for Americans who want to live and work in the Netherlands as freelancers. “They can get a special visa for that and the requirements are a lot more streamlined than they are for the normal freelance visa process.”
There are also great tax benefits for expats. “You can get basically 30% of your income tax-free, which is great because the taxes are really high here.”
In addition to being a cool city, Amsterdam is also surprisingly diverse. “Being not from the Caribbean but from a Caribbean-influenced island, I wanted somewhere I could see myself and my culture represented. And the Netherlands has a really big Caribbean culture here, as well.”
“Spain is a really great place because the weather is amazing,” Lené says. “It’s quite chill…people really enjoy drinking wine on the beach, going for nice dinners, having great conversations.”
Spain is ideal for retired people or location-independent entrepreneurs. In other words, they don’t want you taking Spanish jobs, but they will let you stay if you can prove you can support yourself. While she loves the country, Lené does caution that "if you are a person of color, you can experience some levels of discrimination, more so than in other areas of Europe." Also, if you do get full-time work here, salaries are low.
“It's not as organized as the Netherlands. However, they do have some long-term residency visas where if you're working online, you can just get that visa to live there and then continue your online business globally…There's a new residence program/entrepreneur law that Spain has and it actually facilitates the movement of people to enter and remain in Spain, for investors, entrepreneurs, and highly qualified professionals…researchers and things like that.”
If you want to live in a cheap place that’s always beautiful, Bali is great for digital Nomads, Lené says.
Requirements to live in Bali aren’t stringent, the wifi is great, and the cost of living is super low. For around $1,500 to $2,500 per month, you can live very comfortably and afford to travel throughout Asia.
“They do have work permits. Although, even worse than Spain’s, the job market doesn’t really pay that well, and they haven’t really internationalized their corporate space. So a lot of expats living in Bali are entrepreneurs.”
Singapore is a great place to advance your career via international experience. You’ll find many global companies, so if you aren’t interested in freelancing, this could be a good place to score a more permanent gig.
Lené recommends checking out LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster for job opportunities, but make sure you’re searching the Singapore-version of these sites. Internations is another great resource for expats in every country.
“If you’re the Average Joe and you’re working in finance or management, banking, maybe, or real estate or any of these kind of jobs, Singapore is a great option…It’s so international and there’s a lot of expats there, so a lot of the work that you’re doing will be for global companies. You’ll be working with people of similar backgrounds, which makes it easier, and then you can take that experience back home.”
And if you get hired by one of these global companies, they will sort out your visa situation for you.
“There's a lot of American companies based there. You can work in insurance, management, tourism…it’s quite easy to get a work permit in the country and you can also make a lot of money,” Lené says. What a delightful surprise!
“It’s a really good place for a career…You don't have to be rocket scientist. You can have a very broad skillset. You can be an accountant, for example. We have Deloitte, PWC, KPMG, and there’s a lot of American insurance companies and hedge funds.”
Plus, the weather is great and if you are a freelancer with American-based clients, you’re in the same time zone as them and are an easy flight away. Boom.
Lené says most women she knows would be interested in living in Paris. It’s beautiful and by train you have easy access to the French Riviera, Amsterdam, Brussels, London. North America is a short(ish) flight away.
You can try to get a company to sponsor your visa (not easy), and they also have something called a long-term residency visa for entrepreneurs.
“You need to apply in your country of residence," Lené says, "through your local consulate. They will provide you with a visa to enter the country, and within three months of you entering the country, then you need to register your business. You need to provide some documentation and then you will be given the residency permit to live, and have your own business, in the country.”
If you found this article useful, please share it, and subscribe to the Postcard Academy podcast. Each week, expats and adventurers share their insider travel tips on the best food, nightlife, and cultural experiences in the most interesting places around the globe. I’m your host, Sarah Mikutel, an American who's spent the last 7 years living in, and traveling around, Europe.