Top 10 remote work destinations 2023: Global Remote Work Index insights unveiled

GRWI remote work destinations list 2023

As the digital revolution continues to reshape the professional landscape, remote work has become more than just a trend—it's a new reality.

With the boundaries of the traditional office blurring, the world has truly become a playground for the modern nomad. In 2023, new havens for remote workers are coming into the spotlight, offering a blend of connectivity, comfort, and cultural richness.

Explore this year's Top 10 remote work destinations, places where productivity meets adventure. Whether you're a seasoned remote veteran or just starting your digital journey, these destinations promise to inspire and amaze you.

Key takeaways about GRWI

The Global Remote Work Index (GRWI) is a comprehensive ranking system that evaluates countries' suitability and attractiveness for remote work. First, it was launched in 2022 by NordLayer, a secure remote network access solution provider.

This evaluation takes into account various factors across multiple dimensions. The index serves as a tool for remote workers, businesses, and policymakers seeking to understand the best global environments for remote work.

  • In 2023, NordLayer assessed 108 countries, up from 66 the previous year.

  • GRWI evaluates countries on four core dimensions: cyber safety, economic conditions, digital and physical infrastructure, and social safety.

  • The ranking was derived by examining countries through these four main dimensions. Each of them encompasses specific attributes (or sub-dimensions) that collectively measure the appeal of remote work:

    • Cyber safety: includes infrastructure, response ability, and legal provisions

    • Economic safety: factors in tourism appeal, English fluency, living costs, and healthcare quality

    • Digital and physical infrastructure: assess internet quality, cost, e-infrastructure, e-governance, and tangible infrastructure

    • Social safety: evaluates personal rights, inclusivity, and general safety

No. 10: Slovakia

A cyber safe haven in the remote work landscape

Slovakia shines brightly in the Global Remote Work Index, securing the 10th spot, making it a top choice for digital nomads and remote work enthusiasts.

Slovakia’s unparalleled performance in cyber safety, where it proudly claims the global lead. Slovakia isn't just about virtual security, though. Its tourism appeal, sitting at a respectable 13th position, combined with a decent English proficiency ranking, makes it an enticing blend of work and leisure for global professionals.

However, every silver lining has a cloud, and Slovakia is no exception. While it excels in cyber achievements, the country's digital and physical infrastructure needs attention, with rankings not reaching the Top 40.

Economically, the higher cost of living, ranking 54th, could make some remote workers think twice. Additionally, its healthcare system, positioned at 41st, leaves room for improvement. Internet quality and the e-government framework also trail behind, ranking 43rd and 58th, respectively, pointing towards the need for growth.

In summary, Slovakia's remote work landscape is a blend of exceptional cyber fortitude and irresistible tourism allure, counterbalanced for improvement in digital infrastructure and living costs. While the country already offers a compelling proposition for remote work, it stands on the brink of realizing an even greater potential with focused enhancements. For remote work enthusiasts, Slovakia delivers both charm and a cyber-safe travel destination.

No. 9: Ireland

A mosaic of tradition, tech, and talent

Securing the 9th spot on the GRWI, Ireland offers a unique blend of historical depth and digital expertise, presenting remote workers with a vibrant experience.

Ireland's exceptional English proficiency stands out, providing seamless communication for global remote workers. Coupled with its 8th rank in tourism attractiveness, the Emerald Isle is both a workspace and a cultural delight.

Economically, while the charm of its culture and language is clear, the high cost of living (88th) might give some pause. The healthcare system at 40th could benefit from enhancements.

Digitally, Ireland showcases considerable strength, particularly in legal measures for cyber safety, ranked 2nd. Its quick response capacity (8th) underscores this commitment. However, a 32nd rank in digital infrastructure points to areas of growth. The broader digital and infrastructure landscape has its highs, like physical infrastructure (14th), and areas needing attention, such as internet quality (39th).

Socially, Ireland's 2nd rank in inclusiveness highlights its progressive stance, but areas like general safety (53rd) and personal rights (23rd) indicate room for improvement.

Overall, Ireland's scenic beauty and tech orientation make it a promising hub for remote workers. Despite certain challenges, its potential and allure for the remote workforce remain strong.

No. 8: Lithuania

A cyber sanctuary in the heart of Europe

Lithuania, ranking 8th on the GRWI, seamlessly blends its history with digital proficiency. Its most notable accomplishment is in cyber safety, ranking 3rd globally, anchored by an exceptional cyber safety infrastructure (4th), quick response capacity (2nd), and unmatched legal measures (1st). This makes Lithuania a cyber-secure haven for remote workers.

On the economic safety front, its strong tourism appeal (10th) contrasts with challenges like the cost of living (62nd) and healthcare (58th). Yet, better than average English proficiency (21st) promises ease of communication for global professionals.

In digital and physical infrastructure (28th), Lithuania shows promise, particularly in internet affordability (20th) and e-infrastructure (24th), though areas like internet quality (32nd) need attention.

Socially, Lithuania ranks 23rd, emphasizing inclusiveness (22nd) but suggesting growth in personal rights (35th) and safety (28th).

Lithuania shines as a cyber sanctuary, merging tradition with innovation. Its GRWI rank indicates that it invites remote workers to join its forward-thinking journey.

No. 7: Estonia

Pioneering digital excellence in the remote work domain

Often praised for its digital advancements, Estonia appears high on the Global Remote Work Index.

Estonia cements its status as a sought-after remote work hub by making waves in the global context, ranking relatively high for its digital and physical infrastructure (26th) and holding 19th position in social safety. The country's formidable strengths lie in its top-tier infrastructure (3rd), response capacity (1st), exceptional e-government systems (6th), and robust e-infrastructure (16th). Also, its impressive safety rank (13th) provides peace of mind for remote workers seeking a secure working environment.

However, no country is without its set of challenges. Estonia's Achilles' heel is its economic safety, lagging at the 40th spot. The country's internet quality, ranked 45th, and a relatively high cost of living (71st) coupled with pricier internet services (32nd) might come as significant concerns.

Yet, Estonia's commendable healthcare system, ranking 30th, and outstanding scores in personal rights, inclusiveness, English proficiency, and physical infrastructure provide enough allure to overshadow its weak points.

Estonia's deep dive into digital transformation is evident through its e-Estonia Programme, a blueprint for evolving digital services and strengthening cyber resilience.

The country's commitment to cyber preparedness, demonstrated by the 2018-2022 e-Estonia Cyber Security Programme, showcases its foresight and diligence. For remote work enthusiasts seeking a blend of digital innovation and societal harmony, Estonia is an intriguing prospect with a promise of continuous growth.

No. 6: Portugal

A rising star in the remote work universe

Portugal's beautiful scenery and rich history are not its only attractions anymore, as it proudly secures the 6th spot on the GRWI.

Known for its pleasant weather and vibrant culture, Portugal now boasts an impressive cyber safety ranking at 18th. This achievement is largely due to its respectable response capacity, which stands out in the 4th position. Moreover, its cybersecurity legislation, ranked 8th, emphasizes the nation's commitment to creating a safe digital workspace, although some areas still need enhancement.

When it comes to economic safety, Portugal ranks 8th, although prospective remote workers might need to budget wisely because of its somewhat elevated cost of living, sitting at 56th.

The tapestry of digital and physical infrastructure tells a mixed story; a respectable overall rank of 23rd is somewhat tainted by a lackluster e-infrastructure position (43rd). Yet, Portugal compensates with an impressive social safety rank, marking its place in the 7th position.

Portugal’s remote work landscape is a blend of sterling strengths and opportunities for growth. Its comprehensive legal framework addressing various cybersecurity aspects is noteworthy.

As Portugal continues to enhance its remote work ecosystem, it beckons digital nomads and professionals to experience a blend of traditional charm and modern connectivity.

No. 5: Sweden

A Nordic beacon for remote workers

Positioned comfortably at 5th on the GRWI, Sweden seeps a progressive charm, especially for remote workers.

Cyber safety in Sweden is notably robust (21st), and the country’s 4th place in response capacity shows a commitment to keeping digital workspaces secure. A closer gaze at the ranking reveals improvements in cybersecurity infrastructure (19th), an area Sweden has already begun to address with the inauguration of the National Cyber Security Center in 2021.

In terms of economic safety, Sweden boasts an impressive 7th rank. Yet, the cost of living stands as a hurdle at 79th, reminding remote workers of the premium associated with the Swedish lifestyle.

The narrative is brighter in digital and physical infrastructure, with Sweden securing its 9th-place. Yet, recent public events cast a shadow on the country’s otherwise luminous social safety score of 15th, plummeting the overall safety metric to 64th.

Sweden's remote work landscape offers commendable strengths threaded with areas yearning for refinement. The country’s intricate cybersecurity laws, standing tall at 9th, manifest its holistic approach to safeguarding digital realms.

As Sweden keeps adapting and refining its strategies, it paints a compelling picture of a nation ready for a brighter remote work future, where tradition and innovation coexist.

No. 4: Spain

A sun-kissed jewel in the remote work crown

Nestled comfortably at the fourth position in the GRWI, Spain elegantly waltzes into the limelight this year. It’s not just for its enviable "warm and sunny" nature but for many other reasons that make it a remote work haven.

As the lone Southern European gem in the Top 5, Spain doesn't merely rest on the laurels of its Mediterranean charm. Instead, its impressive rankings across key GRWI categories — be it cyber safety (11th), economic safety (9th), digital and physical infrastructure (13th), or social safety (16th) — show that it's a harmonious blend of work and leisure.

Spain's prowess in cybersecurity shines notably, with its laws coming in an impressive second spot, just behind Germany. Also, the country’s well-entrenched cybersecurity infrastructure (4th) is a testament to its digital fortitude. However, a nuanced look reveals a slight chink in the armor: while Spain's cybersecurity infrastructure thrives, its response capacity at 11th suggests the private digital sector's appeal might be stretching the public sector's cybersecurity manpower thin.

Yet, while Spain has many advantages for prospective remote workers, those with a strong preference for English might find Spain's proficiency in the language somewhat lacking. For those keen on honing their English skills without compromising on the remote work experience (or burning a hole in their pockets), destinations like Poland and Croatia might be good options.

Still, Spain's magnetic mix of culture, cybersecurity, and beautiful coasts remains irresistible for many.

No. 3: Germany

The stalwart of Europe's remote work landscape

Germany, synonymous with economic vigor and technological knowledge, proudly holds the third spot in the GRWI.

While it may have surrendered last year's crown, its robust performance across various GRWI categories is undeniable. Excelling in cyber safety (4th)—with its legislation leading globally—and economic safety (6th), especially in healthcare (7th), Germany remains a beacon for remote professionals worldwide.

Its credentials don't end there: a promising 13th rank in social safety and an impressive digital and physical infrastructure ranking, sweetened by the cherry on top—Germany's unrivaled internet affordability (1st).

Diving deeper into the cybersecurity field, Germany shines particularly bright. Driven by its ground-breaking legislation, the German IT Security Act 2.0 of 2021, the country has fortified its digital borders like no other. This legislation, empowering the Federal Office of Information Security with enhanced capacities, touches on key aspects of cybersecurity—from Detection and Defense to Business Security and mobile network safeguards. Consequently, the nation's cyberspace emerges as one of the safest and most vigilantly monitored.

However, staying in Germany might present a linguistic curveball for the newcomers. While Germans demonstrate decent fluency in English (11th), navigating the intricacies of legal and employment terrains might require a grasp of the German language.

The Netherlands and Ireland present enticing alternatives for those prioritizing English proficiency without compromising the GRWI standing. Conveniently accessible from Germany, these countries blend excellent English fluency with a high GRWI rank, making them excellent considerations for remote work fans.

No. 2: the Netherlands

A sterling blend of culture and connectivity

Glistening in the silver spot of the GRWI, the Netherlands is a harmonious blend of socio-cultural richness and top-notch infrastructure.

As the second-ranked country in the GRWI, the country basks in outstanding rankings, especially on the social safety front (2nd). This reflects the deep-rooted values of personal rights (3rd) and the inclusive ethos of the Dutch culture (6th). Pair this with its strong digital and physical infrastructure (8th), and you have a country that seamlessly weaves tradition with technology.

However, even as economic safety (11th) and cyber safety (17th) maintain a relatively decent standing, there's a spot where the Netherlands seems to trip a bit: healthcare.

The Dutch healthcare system, ranked 16th, isn't at the very top. For those looking for top-notch healthcare in their remote work destinations, choose Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, which lead the way globally.

When it comes to the nuances of cyber safety, it's crucial to put the Netherlands' 17th rank in perspective. The Dutch National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is a tough fortification. Notably, it has earned a 3rd rank in cybercrime response capacity.

As a powerhouse of economic and digital life, the country faces quite a few cyber challenges. The cybersecurity infrastructure (11th) and legislation (9th) might have little catching up to do, but one cannot overlook the expansive challenges the country navigates as a digital frontrunner.

No. 1: Denmark

A balance of modernity and social cohesion

Glistening at the pinnacle of the GRWI, Denmark showcases progress and people-focused values.

Denmark is a top pick for remote work due to its strong digital and physical infrastructure (ranked 4th) and good social safety (ranked 6th). But as you wander the Danish streets or browse through their super-efficient e-governance portals, it's not just the beautiful surroundings or the streamlined digital processes that captivate; it's the ethos of social inclusiveness (6th) that sets the tone.

Yet, downfalls for remote workers in Denmark manifest as the high cost of living (94th) and the slightly pricier internet service (42nd). But the balance seems to tip in Denmark's favor, thanks to its exceptional performance in internet quality (7th), e-infrastructure (7th), e-government (5th), and the crowning jewel—its healthcare system (3rd).

Going deeper into cyber safety, Denmark's 13th position suggests there’s still room for growth to reach the top. While the absence of a singular, consolidated cybersecurity law might raise questions, Denmark compensates by weaving cybersecurity into many other legislations, creating a robust, though somewhat dispersed, framework. Despite these legal efforts, enhancing cybersecurity infrastructure and ramping up response capacity is still challenging.

The launch of the 2022 National Cyber and Information Security Strategy marks a new dawn. Designed to bolster cyber resilience, streamline management, foster public-private collaborations, and increase Denmark's participation in the global cybersecurity dialogue, this strategy promises to pave the way for an even brighter, more secure digital future for the country.

Never stop exploring

The landscape of remote work continues to shift, and 2023's top destinations highlighted by GRWI offer a fascinating blend of tradition, innovation, and unique opportunities for remote workers worldwide.

Each country in the list has its distinct advantages and areas for improvement, giving you diverse choices for digital nomads and remote professionals. As you chart your future work destinations, the GRWI is an invaluable guide, offering detailed insights and data-driven rankings. Interested in a deeper dive? Explore the Global Remote Work Index tool, where you can compare different countries and find the one suitable for your next remote work destination.

Here's to new adventures and successful remote work experiences.

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