There were once Switzerland and Germany; our Italian migrant grandfathers left their homeland to work abroad and help their families back home through migrants’ remittances. They had to do dirty, hard jobs…but someone had to do them anyway.
Well, their hard work eventually allowed them to build small (or great) empires, but that’s another story.
Today things have only partially changed, even if emigration is no longer driven just by “need” but it’s also a well-thought choice.
Since I don’t see the so-called “brain drain” (for the magazine Ugly expressions) as a national tragedy the way they want us to look at it, I hereby provide you with a range of interesting European places where a freelance (a creative one especially) and digital nomad could choose to live.
These are destinations you probably won’t expect, but follow me along the different paths of my reasoning and consider that the needs of a digital nomad are rarely similar to those of who’s looking for a place with a more or less permanent job as an employee.
Timisoara, to navigate like the Enterprise
Among the best things about having a travel blog, as I’ve probably already said, there’s also the chance to improve your knowledge of the places you’ve already been to thanks to curious and interesting people who write a comment on your post.
The comment of a reader made me realize that Timisoara is the European city with the fastest Internet connection at the most competitive prices (I’ve looked for more information about it and I can happily confirm) .
As a matter of fact, the connection reaches one GIGABIT per second at the price of just 10 euros a month.
If you work a lot with graphics and usually send or upload/download large audio, video or graphic files, this city is the place for you.
Sofia, IT city and meeting point
Work contracts and business relationships in Sofia are really smooth and regularly changing job or customers is a fairly common thing.
There’s a high demand for IT developers and technicians, and it’s not hard to find local collaborations.
Yet, taxes are a bit too high for a freelance: around 30% of your income. In my opinion, it is to be taken in consideration only if you have many customers outside Bulgaria and apply non-Bulgarian prices, otherwise you won’t make a living out of it.
One of the pros of Sofia that I’d like to point out is the high number of very nice co-working spots, such as the Puzl, particularly recommended to people working with IT (Bul. Cherni Vrah 47A, 4th and 5th floor) and Betahous (Krum Popov 56-58 str.) suitable to find new collaborations and to share opinions and ideas. If you subscribe to the latter, you’ll get free access to the Betahous of the main European cities and beyond, so it’s particularly suited for those who want to travel.
The many co-working spots show how important young freelance workers are and will be for the national working movement, especially in Sofia.
Kiev, torment and delight
Let me be straight, I don’t feel instantly at ease by matching the words Kiev-Ukraine and Freelance: over the last few years, Ukraine has actually witnessed the highest growth in the number of websites connecting freelance workers with companies all over Europe, mainly copywriters, bloggers and graphic designers.
I bet you’re like “isn’t that enough for you?”.
Well it’s not, to be honest, because these websites often apply very low prices, which leads to a downward auction and consequently reduces professional service rate levels in the whole of Europe.
Besides, the current economy in Ukraine has grown mainly as a result of the dynamic collaboration among young start-up companies and freelance workers (around the world).
Moreover, rents and house sales costs are also really low in this wonderful capital, as well as the price of electricity and gas, making the perfect solution for home workers.
The Balkans: Sarajevo
I’ve just started my long awaited discovery of the Balkans.
As for now, I know Sarajevo fascinates you with its young population, employment skills (probably with a significantly higher work ethics than our standards) and the low cost of life.
There are three things I remember well about Budapest: I had damn good food, the city is embarrassingly beautiful, and it’s swarming with young people, who have a leading role in the country by the way.
On average, politicians here are younger compared to the rest of Europe, and you can actually manage to be reliable and get your space in this country even if your hair hasn’t turned grey yet.
Of course, considering the average income, it’s advisable to work as a freelance for customers outside Bulgaria, yet many small businesses are destined to grow; so, I’d even accept some lower rate in Budapest after carefully sorting out my customers.
Look for flights
All the cities I’ve mentioned have one thing in common, something very important for a digital nomad: they are all well connected to the main European capitals, even by low cost companies, plus they are close to intercontinental hub airports.
Generally, eastern capitals with western customers
Living in a Western European city or in the Balkans and working with customers from the rest of the world and western Europe sounds like a good deal.
Infatti in questo modo si possono applicare le tariffe standard dei paesi dei clienti ma vivere bene in capitali vivaci e in continua crescita.
Honestly, the perfect solution would be working for a customer from Liechtenstein or Monaco (the countries with the highest wages in Europe) while living in Kiev or Sofia.