8 Best Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads: LGBTQ+ Edition (2024 Update)

Dreaming of remote work with European flair? As an LGBT+ digital nomad, choosing the right Schengen country is crucial. This guide explores five welcoming destinations, considering LGBT+ safety, affordability, and more.

Methodology of Selection:

This selection prioritizes:

  • LGBT+ Friendliness: Legal protections, social attitudes, and established LGBT+ communities.
  • Digital Nomad Suitability: Strong internet infrastructure, co-working spaces, and visa options.
  • Affordability: Cost of living and housing options for various budgets.
  • Cultural Appeal: Diverse experiences, beautiful landscapes, and rich history.

What Countries are in the Schengen Zone:

Best Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads

There are 29 Schengen countries, allowing visa-free travel between them.

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Bulgaria (New Addition)
  • Romania (New addition)

We also have suggestions for 5 Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads

This guide focuses on the 8 Best Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads: LGBTQ+ Edition

  1. Netherlands
  2. Portugal
  3. Germany
  4. Spain
  5. France
  6. Bulgaria
  7. Romania
  8. Hungary

Do I Need a Visa for the Schengen Zone?:

Whether you need a visa for the Schengen zone depends on your nationality and planned stay. Here’s a breakdown:

Do you need a visa?

  • Citizens of Schengen member countries: You do not need a visa to travel within the Schengen zone.
  • Citizens of visa-exempt countries:
    • If you hold a passport from a country on the EU’s visa-exempt list, you can stay in the Schengen zone for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa. However, keep in mind that specific rules might apply depending on your nationality and travel purpose.
    • Check the official EU website or consult your local embassy/consulate to be sure.
  • Non-exempt countries: If your country is not on the visa-exempt list, you will likely need a visa to enter the Schengen zone. Visa types and application processes can vary, so it’s crucial to contact the embassy/consulate of the Schengen country you want to visit for specific details.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Length of stay: If you plan to stay in the Schengen zone for longer than 90 days, you will need a long-term visa, regardless of your nationality.
  • Purpose of travel: Different visa types cater to different purposes (tourism, business, work, etc.). Make sure you apply for the appropriate visa based on your travel plans.

How Many Days Can I Stay in the Schengen Zone?:

Most non-EU citizens can stay in the Schengen Zone for a maximum of 90 days within any 180-day period, regardless of their nationality. This is known as the “90/180 rule.”

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  • 90 days: This is the maximum number of days you can stay in the Schengen Zone within a 180-day period.
  • 180-day period: This is a rolling 180-day period, meaning it starts on the day you first enter the Schengen Zone and rolls forward for the next 180 days.

Important things to remember:

  • The 90 days are cumulative, meaning they don’t have to be consecutive days. You can visit the Schengen Zone multiple times within the 180-day period, as long as the total number of days you stay doesn’t exceed 90.
  • The 180-day period is also rolling, meaning it doesn’t start over each time you leave the Schengen Zone. So, if you stay for 60 days in January and February, then leave for a month, your next 180-day period will start in March and you’ll only have 30 days remaining (90 days total – 60 days already used).
  • There are some exceptions to the 90/180 rule. For example, if you hold a long-term visa for a specific Schengen country, you may be able to stay for longer. Additionally, some countries offer specific visa programs for digital nomads, which allow extended stays.

Here are some resources to help you calculate your Schengen stay:

Now, let’s explore each country with more detail:

1. Netherlands:

Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads: LGBTQ+ Edition- Netherlands

LGBT+ Safety and Communities: Amsterdam holds the reputation as a global gay capital, offering vibrant communities, legal equality, and a long history of activism. The Netherlands boasts strong legal protections for the LGBT+ community nationwide.

Interesting Fact: Beyond Amsterdam’s canals and windmills, the Netherlands is home to the International Court of Justice and a rich cultural heritage. Explore historical cities like Delft, Leiden, and Utrecht for a deeper dive.

Affordability: The Netherlands leans towards moderate expense, with Amsterdam being the priciest option. Consider charming, smaller cities like Utrecht or Groningen for a more budget-friendly experience.

  • €800-€1200 for rent,
  • €200-€300 for groceries,
  • €50-€100 for dining out weekly.

Food: Dive into the Dutch food scene beyond just stroopwafels. Indulge in bitterballen, savory kroketten, and world-class cheese varieties. Don’t miss the “frietje speciaal” – fries topped with mayonnaise, peanut sauce, and chopped onions.

  • Average Download Speed: 188 Mbps (Ranked #4 in Europe)
  • Co-working Spaces: Abundant in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and other major cities. Platforms like Workaround, Spaces, and WeWork offer various options.

2. Portugal:

Portugal

LGBT+ Safety and Communities: Portugal boasts a progressive stance on LGBT+ rights, offering legal protections and growing communities in major cities like Lisbon and Porto. Pride events and active organizations contribute to a welcoming atmosphere.

Interesting Fact: As the westernmost country in mainland Europe, Portugal offers stunning beaches, a vibrant surf culture, and historical gems like the Jerónimos Monastery and the Sintra palaces.

Affordability: Portugal generally offers good affordability, with Lisbon being the most expensive city. Explore charming coastal towns like Lagos or Cascais for a more budget-friendly and scenic remote work experience.

  • €1450-2000/month in Lisbon/Porto, €990-1200 in smaller towns, with delicious food, sunshine & low-cost charm

Food: Portugal’s culinary scene goes beyond pastel de nata pastries. Savor fresh seafood cataplana stews, indulge in savory Francesinha sandwiches, and pair it all with the refreshing vinho verde wine. Don’t forget to try the sweet Pastel de Belém, a custard tart with a unique history.

  • Average Download Speed: 75 Mbps (Ranked #25 in Europe)
  • Co-working Spaces: Growing presence in Lisbon, Porto, and coastal towns. Coconuts Lisbon, NOW Coworking, and U Hub Lisbon are popular choices.

3. Germany:

Germany

LGBT+ Safety and Communities: Germany offers strong legal protections for the LGBT+ community, with established communities in major cities like Berlin, Munich, and Cologne. Pride events and active organizations contribute to a welcoming atmosphere.

Interesting Fact: Beyond its historical significance and cultural landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate and Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany is the birthplace of Oktoberfest and home to renowned composers like Beethoven and Bach.

Affordability: Germany’s affordability varies by city. Berlin tends to be more budget-friendly compared to Munich. Smaller towns like Freiburg or Leipzig offer lower costs and charming European experiences.

  • Rent €1600+
  • Groceries €250-€350,
  • Dining €50-€100/week.

Food: Sample the hearty delights of German cuisine beyond just sausages and schnitzel. Explore regional specialties like Käsespätzle (cheesy noodles) in the south, Königsberger Klopse (meatballs) in the north, and don’t miss the legendary currywurst street food.

  • Average Download Speed: 229 Mbps (Ranked #2 in Europe)
  • Co-working Spaces: Numerous options in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, and smaller cities. Betahaus, Mindspace, and WeWork have extensive networks.

4. Spain:

Spain

LGBT+ Safety and Communities: Spain is a progressive country with strong legal protections for the LGBT+ community. Vibrant and welcoming communities thrive in major cities like Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia, hosting Pride events and fostering inclusivity.

Interesting Fact: Spain boasts diverse landscapes, from the mountains of the Pyrenees to the beaches of the Mediterranean. Explore flamenco dancing in Andalusia, marvel at Gaudí’s architecture in Barcelona

Affordability: Spain’s budget dials go from tapas to paella – and beyond! While charming cities like Barcelona and Madrid can be pricier, consider smaller gems like Valencia, Seville, or Granada for a budget-friendly fiesta.

  • Rent €1000+
  • Groceries€200-€300
  • Dining €40-€80/week

Food: Immerse yourself in the diverse culinary tapestry of Spain. Go beyond tapas by trying regional specialties like paella valenciana, cocido madrileño stew, and the seafood delights of Galicia. Don’t forget to indulge in churros dipped in thick hot chocolate.

  • Average Download Speed: 189 Mbps (Ranked #3 in Europe)
  • Co-working Spaces: Available in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, and coastal areas. Spaces like Impact Hub, La Terminal CoWorking, and Utopicus offer diverse options.

5. France:

5. France:

LGBT+ Safety and Communities: France has strong legal protections for the LGBT+ community, and vibrant communities flourish in major cities like Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. Pride events are celebrated across the country, and numerous organizations work towards inclusivity and equality.

Interesting Fact: Beyond the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles, France boasts a rich history and diverse cultural offerings. Explore medieval towns like Carcassonne, wander through lavender fields in Provence, or soak up the artistic atmosphere in Montmartre.

Affordability: France generally leans towards the expensive side, with Paris being the priciest option. Consider exploring smaller towns, utilizing alternative accommodation options like Airbnbs, and taking advantage of public transportation to manage costs. Lyon and Bordeaux offer charming and more budget-friendly experiences compared to Paris.

  • Rent €1300+
  • Groceries €250-€350,
  • Dining €50-€100/week

Food: Prepare to be swept away by French gastronomy! Indulge in buttery croissants and crusty baguettes for breakfast, savor regional specialties like coq au vin and bouillabaisse, and don’t miss the decadent pastries and chocolates France is famous for. Food markets and local cafes offer endless opportunities to explore the diverse flavors of each region.

  • Average Download Speed: 222 Mbps (Ranked #1 in Europe)
  • Co-working Spaces: Plentiful in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, and beyond. La Sharedbox, WeWork, and Wojo provide various work environments.

6. Hungary:

Hungary
  • Average Download Speed: 84 Mbps (Ranked #29 in Europe)
  • Co-working Spaces: Budapest, the capital, is the hub for co-working spaces in Hungary, offering numerous options like Impact Hub Budapest, HUB13 Co-working, and Coworking Buda. Smaller cities like Debrecen and Szeged are also developing their co-working scene.
  • LGBT+ Safety and Communities: Legal protections exist for the LGBT+ community in Hungary, but recent political developments have generated concerns. Budapest has the most active scene and resources, while smaller towns might be less accepting.

Other noteworthy aspects of Hungary for digital nomads:

  • Affordability: Hungary presents a moderate cost of living compared to other western European countries, with Budapest being pricier than smaller towns.
  • Rent €800+
  • Groceries €200-€300,
  • Dining €40-€80/week

  • Thermal Baths: Recharge and relax in Hungary’s renowned thermal baths, a unique cultural experience.
  • Rich History and Architecture: Explore Budapest’s stunning architecture, medieval towns, and historical sites like Buda Castle and the Parliament Building.

Things to consider:

  • WiFi speeds can vary depending on location. Research specific providers and co-working spaces for detailed information.
  • The recent political climate may impact the comfort and inclusivity experienced by the LGBT+ community. Research and connect with local resources for a more informed understanding.

Overall, Hungary offers a unique blend of affordability, historical richness, and thermal bath culture, making it a potential option for digital nomads seeking a different flavor of the European experience.

Here are some additional resources for planning your remote work experience in Hungary:

  • Digital Nomad Hungary
  • Erasmus Student Network Hungary
  • Coworking Budapest

2 New Additions to the Schengen Zone:

As of March 31st, 2024, Bulgaria and Romania have officially joined the Schengen area. This means they now follow the Schengen rules for entering ports and airports, allowing visa-free travel for those already holding a Schengen visa. While internal land border controls are still under discussion, this development opens up exciting possibilities for digital nomads interested in exploring these two vibrant countries.

Here’s a brief overview of each new member:

7. Bulgaria:

Bulgaria
  • LGBT+ Safety and Communities: Bulgaria has made progress in recent years regarding LGBT+ rights, but social attitudes can vary. While smaller communities exist, Sofia, the capital, offers the most active scene and resources.
  • Interesting Fact: Bulgaria boasts rich history and diverse landscapes, from the Black Sea coast and Rila Mountains to ancient Thracian ruins and medieval towns.
  • Affordability: Bulgaria is generally considered a cost-effective option within the Schengen zone, with Sofia being more expensive than smaller towns.
  • Rent €1000+
  • Groceries €150-€250,
  • Dining €30-€60/week
  • Food: Immerse yourself in Bulgarian cuisine, known for its fresh salads, hearty stews like “guvech,” and flaky pastries like “banitsa.” Don’t miss the chance to try the local yogurt, renowned for its flavor and health benefits.
  • Average Download Speed: 57 Mbps (Ranked #46 in Europe)
  • Co-working Spaces: While not as numerous as other countries on this list, Bulgaria offers a growing network of co-working spaces, particularly in Sofia, Plovdiv, and Varna. Popular options include Betahaus Sofia, Co.Zone, and Coworking Burgas

8. Romania:

Romania
  • LGBT+ Safety and Communities: Similar to Bulgaria, Romania has made strides in LGBT+ rights, but social attitudes can differ regionally. Major cities like Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca offer more established communities and resources.
  • Interesting Fact: Romania offers diverse landscapes, from the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube Delta to medieval castles and charming villages. Explore Transylvania’s rich history and folklore or discover the vibrant culture of Bucharest.
  • Affordability: Romania is generally considered a budget-friendly option within the Schengen zone, with Bucharest being more expensive than smaller towns.
  • Rent €900+
  • Groceries €180-€270,
  • Dining €35-€70/week
  • Food: Explore Romanian cuisine, featuring hearty soups like “ciorbă,” savory sarmale (stuffed cabbage leaves), and delicious polenta dishes. Don’t forget to try the local “mici” (grilled sausages) and indulge in the sweet “papanasi” (fried dough with sour cream and jam).
  • Average Download Speed: 79 Mbps (Ranked #34 in Europe)
  • Co-working Spaces: Romania offers a growing network of co-working spaces, particularly in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Iași, and Brașov. Popular options include WeWork, Regus, and Impact Hub Bucharest.

Remember, with the addition of Bulgaria and Romania, the Schengen zone now offers even more exciting possibilities for LGBT+ digital nomads seeking diverse experiences and welcoming communities. Do your research on visa options, specific city costs, and LGBT+ resources to find the perfect fit for your remote work adventure!

Here are some final thoughts to keep in mind:

  • Do your research: Dive deeper into each country’s visa requirements, specific city costs, and LGBT+ resources to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
  • Connect with local communities: Network with other digital nomads and local LGBT+ organizations for insights, support, and recommendations.
  • Embrace the adventure: Be open to new experiences, cultural nuances, and the unique charms each country offers.
local communities

Remember, the Schengen zone is your oyster! With careful planning and an open mind, you can find the perfect European base for your remote work adventure and thrive in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Bon voyage!

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