The best places in Europe to live as a freelancer

Want to move abroad, but not too far from home? Whether you work freelance or remotely, pack your bags for a one-of-a-kind tour around Europe.

6 min read

Want to move abroad, but not too far from home? Whether you work freelance, remotely, or just want to spend some time in another country, pack your bags for a one-of-a-kind tour around Europe. This N26 guide will help you discover the best 5 countries for freelancing in 2021. Let’s go!

Living abroad: stay in Europe to make life easier

Dreaming of freelancing abroad but put off by all the red tape? Why not move somewhere else in Europe? For starters, you won't be very far from France, meaning you’ll be able to get back home easily. But most importantly, as a European, it’s much easier to set up camp in Europe than in another part of the world. Here are some of the benefits:

  • As a European, you can move to and work in other European nations without a residence or work permit. For more on this, visit the Vivre en Europe website.
  • The currency is the same in most countries, which will make managing your finances easier.
  • If you decide to keep your tax residence in France, you can use your European health insurance card for short stays in other European countries.

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What does the law say about working abroad as a freelancer?

Legally, you have the right to work as a self-employed person in a foreign country. That being said, you’ll need to consider which country you want to be linked to for tax purposes. Anyone who meets at least one of these criteria is considered to be a French tax resident:

  • Resides in France for more than 6 months in the year
  • Has their company registered in France
  • Carries out main business activities in France

If you’re self-employed, you’ll likely need to pay your taxes in France. But it’s worth noting that if you’re officially domiciled abroad, you may also have to pay taxes in your country of residence. Fortunately, France has bilateral agreements with many nations to help you avoid double taxation.

Where to live in Europe to live as a freelancer

Whether you want to experience la dolce vita on the shores of the Mediterranean or venture to a Nordic fjord, Europe offers a wide choice of options to suit all budgets and needs. Not sure where to live in Europe? Fear not. N26 has compiled the 5 best European countries to move to in 2021 for short- and long-term, alone or with family!

Living in Spain

From the verdant Basque Country to bustling Madrid—not to mention the digital-nomad paradise of BarcelonaSpain guarantees a change of scenery. And, it’s just a stone’s throw from France. The manageable cost of living will suit freelancers with lower budgets who want to try their hand at living abroad. 

Tip: If you're working remotely, consider cities with fewer tourists than Barcelona, ​​like Valencia or Granada, where you can soak up the local culture. And, for a slice of paradise, the Canary Islands—especially Tenerife—offer breathtaking landscapes just a few hours from France by plane!

The cost of living in Spain

  • Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: €645
  • Restaurant meal for two people: €40
  • Monthly transit pass: €40
  • Average net salary: €1,330

Quality of life in Spain: 163/100


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Living in Germany

If you’re thinking about living abroad, don’t overlook our neighbor Germany—the quality of life there makes Germany one of the best countries in Europe to live in! On the Bavarian side, nature lovers can take in the scenery at the foot of the Alps while enjoying a thriving labor market. Are you a freelancer looking for a creative city where you can work with other independent spirits? Head to Berlin! The German capital is much cheaper than Paris, and it boasts a rich underground culture, cosmopolitan population, and lots of co-working spaces.

The cost of living in Germany

  • Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: €730
  • Restaurant meal for two people: €50
  • Monthly transit pass: Around €70

Quality of life in Germany: 174/100

Living in Italy

Ah, the Italian dolce vita! If you’re tempted by the thought of working in the Mediterranean while you feast on sun-drenched meals, head to the other side of the Alps. To the north, we recommend the prosperous, culture-rich region of Emilia Romagna, stretching from Parma to Bologna. Mountain lovers will adore basking in the sweeping landscapes of the Tyrol. Meanwhile, culture aficionados can stroll through elegant Florence or historic Rome. In the South, Sicily will delight those wanting to work remotely while enjoying the sun—all at a lower cost.

Good to know: While Italy isn’t really a “hub” for digital nomads yet, that may change soon. In 2021, the government launched a program to modernize abandoned villages and attract nomadic workers.

The cost of living in Italy

  • Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: €585
  • Restaurant meal for two people: €55
  • Monthly transit pass: €35

Quality of life in Italy: 137/100

Living in Portugal 

A popular destination for digital nomads, Portugal is a little paradise for those looking to work remotely in 2021. In Lisbon, the colorful alleys of Alfama, surfing beaches, and large international community will appeal to freelancers in search of a trendy atmosphere. Further to the north, Porto is sure to delight bohemian souls. Finally, in the South, the Algarve region will astound lovers of white sandy beaches and culture, straddling both shores of the Mediterranean. The cost of living, which is lower than in France, and the hospitality of the locals are sure to win over the most skeptical of minds!

The cost of living in Portugal

  • Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: €585
  • Restaurant meal for two people: €30
  • Monthly transit pass: €40

Quality of life in Portugal 160/100

Living in Sweden 

Want to move abroad but still don't know which country to choose? We’re ending our tour of Europe with a detour to Sweden! Get a taste of Scandinavian culture, midnight sun, immense lakes, and snow-covered landscapes when you move to Stockholm, Malmö, or Gothenburg. Despite a higher cost of living than in the rest of Europe, Sweden is a prime destination for those who want to experience a radically different, slower way of life in a landscape as spectacular as it is wild.

The cost of living in Sweden

  • Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: €750
  • Restaurant meal for two people: €64
  • Monthly transit pass: €77

Quality of life in Sweden: 171/100

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N26 can support you in your new life abroad!

Freelancers—did you know that N26 makes life easier when you’re living abroad thanks to our N26 Business accounts? No matter which account you choose, payments are free in all currencies. Our mobile app allows you to view your account anytime, anywhere, and receive instant notifications for every transaction—and our Statistics feature automatically categorizes your expenses, so you can spot opportunities for saving. And, if you’re traveling often, we’re here to help—N26 Business You and N26 Business Metal accounts include travel insurance—theft, luggage, pandemic cover, mobility, etc.—so that you can travel with peace of mind, even on business trips.

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