5 Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads: LGBTQ+ Edition

For remote workers seeking diverse experiences beyond the well-trodden Schengen path, Europe’s Best Non-Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads. These vibrant countries offer thrilling adventures, budget-friendly living, and welcoming communities, making them ideal destinations for digital nomads yearning for something “off the beaten track.”

But with so many options, choosing the perfect base can be overwhelming. So, buckle up, intrepid explorers, as we delve into five exceptional non-Schengen gems:

Methodology of Selection:

Our curated list prioritizes key factors crucial for digital nomads:

  • LGBTQ+ Safety and Communities: Legal protections, social attitudes, and established LGBTQ+ communities.
  • Affordability: Cost of living, housing options, and overall budget-friendliness.
  • Interesting Facts: Unique cultural insights and experiences to enrich your stay.
  • Food: Diverse culinary delights to tantalize your taste buds.
  • Places to Visit: Top attractions and must-see destinations.
  • Average Download Speed: Reliable internet connectivity for seamless remote work.

What is Schengen and Non-Schengen?

The Schengen Zone encompasses 29 European countries that allow visa-free travel between them. However, several European nations outside this zone offer distinct cultural experiences and visa requirements.

Important Things to Remember:

  • Visa Regulations: Research visa requirements for each country based on your nationality and planned stay.
  • Local Customs: Respect local customs and traditions to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
  • Network and Connect: Engage with local communities and fellow digital nomads for support and recommendations.
  • Travel Insurance: Secure comprehensive travel insurance for peace of mind.

Tips from Professional Digital Nomads:

  • Embrace Flexibility: Be adaptable and open to unexpected detours and discoveries.
  • Learn Basic Phrases: Mastering some of the local languages goes a long way.
  • Utilize Coworking Spaces: Network and find community in designated workspaces.
  • Prioritize Well-being: Maintain a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout.
Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-two-people-using-their-gadgets-4065137/  Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads

Demystifying Visa Requirements for Your Best Non-Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads

Planning an exciting digital nomad escape beyond the Schengen zone? Fantastic choice! But before booking flights and packing your bags, understanding visa requirements is crucial. Fear not, intrepid explorer, for this guide will equip you with the knowledge to navigate visa regulations across various non-Schengen countries.

Schengen vs. Non-Schengen: What’s the Difference?

The Schengen Area encompasses 26 European countries that allow visa-free movement between them. However, several European nations fall outside this zone, each with its own visa policies. So, while you might not need a visa to hop between Schengen countries, venturing into non-Schengen territories often requires specific permits.

Visa Requirements: A Country-by-Country Approach

Remember, visa regulations can vary depending on your nationality and planned stay duration. To get started, identify your target destinations and research their specific requirements. Here are some resources to help:

  • VisaHQ: https://www.visahq.com/ (offers visa requirements by nationality and destination)
  • Official government websites of embassies or consulates (provide the most up-to-date information)

General Visa Types for Non-Schengen Countries:

  • Short-Stay Visa: Valid for stays up to 90 days, common for tourism and short-term work.
  • Long-Stay Visa: Required for extended stays exceeding 90 days, often for work, study, or residence purposes.

Beyond the Basics: Essential Tips

  • Start early: Visa processing can take time, so apply well before your trip.
  • Double-check everything: Ensure your application is complete and accurate to avoid delays.
  • Gather necessary documents: Prepare passport, travel insurance, proof of accommodation, and other required documents as per the embassy/consulate instructions.
  • Stay informed: Visa regulations can change, so check for updates closer to your travel date.

We also have suggestions for 8 Best Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads

Editors Note: For tracking how many days you’ve spent in/out of the Schengen zone, I recommend the Schengen Simple app. It’s what I’m currenly using to make sure I don’t overstay my 90/180 day rule.

Here’s a list of non-Schengen countries in Europe

Non-EU member states:

  • Albania: Albania is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Andorra: Andorra is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with France and Spain.
  • Belarus: Belarus is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnia and Herzegovina are not members of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Kosovo: Kosovo is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Moldova: Moldova is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Monaco: Monaco is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land border with France.
  • Montenegro: Montenegro is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • North Macedonia: North Macedonia is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Russia: Russia is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • San Marino: San Marino is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land border with Italy.
  • Serbia: Serbia is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Turkey: Turkey is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Ukraine: Ukraine is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • United Kingdom: The United Kingdom left the EU on January 31, 2020, and is no longer a member of the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land borders with all other countries.
  • Vatican City: Vatican City is not a member of the EU or the Schengen area. There are border checks at its land border with Italy.

Now, let’s explore our top picks for the Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads:

1. Albania: 

Photo by Killo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/scenic-view-of-a-city-in-albania-and-distant-mountains-8828787/

For the adventurous digital nomad seeking affordability, breathtaking landscapes, and a welcoming atmosphere, Albania emerges as a compelling choice. Nestled in southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, this hidden gem offers more than just stunning beaches and ancient ruins. Let’s delve deeper into what makes Albania as one of the Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads.

LGBTQ+ Safety and Communities:

  • Social attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community are evolving, with major cities like Tirana and Durrës offering the most accepting environments. However, public displays of affection are generally not recommended.
  • While there are no official LGBTQ+ community centers, several organizations and online groups provide support and resources.
  • Respectful behavior and discretion are crucial when navigating the cultural landscape.

Affordability:

  • Albania boasts one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, making it a haven for budget-conscious nomads.
  • Housing options range from affordable apartments and co-living spaces to charming guesthouses and boutique hotels.
  • Groceries, dining out, and transportation are significantly cheaper than Western Europe.

Interesting Facts:

  • Home to the “City of a Thousand Windows,” Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Ottoman architecture and unique charm.
  • Boasts over 300 kilometers of stunning coastline, dotted with pristine beaches and hidden coves.
  • The birthplace of Skanderbeg, the national hero who resisted Ottoman rule for over 25 years.

Food:

  • Savor the Mediterranean flavors of Albanian dishes, featuring fresh seafood, succulent grilled meats, and vibrant seasonal salads.
  • Indulge in “byrek,” savory pastries filled with various ingredients like spinach, cheese, or meat.
  • Explore regional specialties like “tavë kosi,” lamb baked in yogurt, and “qofte,” grilled meatballs spiced to perfection.
  • Don’t miss “raki,” a potent local fruit brandy, and locally produced wines.

Places to Visit:

  • Explore Tirana, the country’s vibrant capital, with its bustling cafes, historical museums, and lively nightlife.
  • Hike through the dramatic Albanian Alps, offering breathtaking scenery and outdoor adventures.
  • Relax on the pristine beaches of the Albanian Riviera, soaking up the sun and turquoise waters.
  • Discover the ancient ruins of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site steeped in history.
  • Wander through the charming cobbled streets of Berat, exploring its Ottoman architecture and cultural treasures.

Average Download Speed:

  • Expect moderate internet speeds, averaging around 31-65 Mbps, sufficient for most remote work tasks.
  • Co-working spaces and cafes often offer reliable Wi-Fi connections.
  • Consider investing in a local SIM card for mobile data usage, especially in remote areas.

Sources:

2. Georgia: 

Nestled in the Caucasus region, Georgia offers a kaleidoscope of experiences, from ancient cave monasteries perched on cliffs to vibrant cities brimming with art and history. Let’s explore what makes Georgia one of the Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads :

LGBTQ+ Safety and Communities:

  • The situation is complex, with evolving social attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community. Major cities like Tbilisi and Batumi offer the most accepting environments, while rural areas might vary.
  • Public displays of affection are generally not recommended, and discretion is crucial.
  • While no formal community centers exist, several online groups and organizations provide support and resources.

Affordability:

  • Georgia boasts a remarkably low cost of living compared to Western Europe, making it a budget-friendly choice for nomads.
  • Housing options range from cozy apartments and co-living spaces to charming guesthouses and boutique hotels.
  • Groceries, dining out, and transportation are significantly cheaper than in many European destinations.

Interesting Facts:

  • The cradle of winemaking boasts a tradition dating back over 8,000 years.
  • Home to stunning mountain ranges, including the Greater Caucasus range with Europe’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus.
  • Features unique cave cities like Vardzia, a former monastic complex carved into the rock face.

Food:

  • Indulge in the diverse culinary delights of Georgia, featuring savory dumplings called “khinkali,” cheesy goodness of “khachapuri,” and regional specialties like “adjaruli khachapuri” (boat-shaped bread filled with cheese and egg).
  • Explore regional variations like “otshekhi” (steamed dumplings) in Svaneti or “kubdari” (meat pie) in the mountains.
  • Don’t miss “chacha,” a potent grape brandy, and locally produced wines for an authentic experience.

Places to Visit:

  • Explore the vibrant capital, Tbilisi, with its historic Old Town, bustling cafes, and lively nightlife.
  • Hike through the breathtaking Kazbegi National Park, marvel at the Gergeti Trinity Church perched on a mountaintop.
  • Discover ancient cave monasteries like David Gareja, offering incredible views and historical significance.
  • Explore the charming coastal town of Batumi, with its modern boulevard, Black Sea beaches, and botanical gardens.
  • Travel through the scenic wine regions of Kakheti and Imereti, indulging in local wine tastings and cultural experiences.

Average Download Speed:

  • Expect moderate internet speeds, averaging around 45 Mbps, sufficient for most remote work tasks.
  • Co-working spaces and cafes often offer reliable Wi-Fi connections.
  • Consider investing in a local SIM card for mobile data usage, especially in remote areas.

Disclaimer: Although not technically part of Europe, Georgia’s cultural influences, visa regulations, and proximity to several European countries make it an attractive option for digital nomads seeking unique experiences beyond the Schengen zone. It’s important to note that the LGBTQ+ safety and acceptance situation in Georgia is complex and varies regionally. While major cities like Tbilisi and Batumi offer the most inclusive environments, public displays of affection might not be widely accepted, and respectful behavior is crucial.

Sources:

3. Montenegro: 

Nestled on the Adriatic Sea, this small Balkan country offers a captivating blend of history, adventure, and affordability. Let’s delve into what makes Montenegro as one of the Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads :

LGBTQ+ Safety and Communities:

  • While social attitudes are generally good, the most accepting environments are found in coastal towns like Budva and Kotor. Public displays of affection might not be widely accepted.
  • There are no official LGBTQ+ community centers, but several organizations and online groups provide support and resources.
  • Respectful behavior and discretion are crucial when navigating cultural norms.

Affordability:

  • Montenegro presents a moderately priced option compared to Western Europe, offering budget-friendly choices alongside higher-end experiences.
  • Housing options range from affordable apartments and co-living spaces to charming guesthouses and boutique hotels.
  • Groceries, dining out, and transportation costs are generally lower than many European destinations.

Interesting Facts:

  • Home to the deepest canyon in Europe – Tara River Canyon, offering breathtaking beauty and adventure opportunities.
  • Features charming medieval towns like Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting Venetian architecture and a unique atmosphere.
  • Boasts over 300 kilometers of stunning coastline, dotted with pristine beaches and hidden coves.

Food:

  • Savor the fresh seafood dishes influenced by the Adriatic Sea, including “crni rizotto” (black risotto with squid ink) and succulent “cevapcici” (grilled sausages).
  • Explore regional specialties like “kapama,” a slow-cooked meat and vegetable stew, and “pasticada” (beef stew with prunes).
  • Don’t miss “rakija,” a potent local fruit brandy, and locally produced wines for an authentic experience.

Places to Visit:

  • Explore the charming and historic Kotor Bay, with its medieval town, fortified walls, and picturesque churches.
  • Hike through the dramatic Durmitor National Park, offering stunning mountain scenery and outdoor activities.
  • Relax on the pristine beaches of Sveti Stefan, a former island resort transformed into a luxurious haven.
  • Discover the ancient town of Budva, known for its vibrant nightlife, charming Old Town, and beautiful beaches.
  • Explore the historical city of Cetinje, the former royal capital, with its museums and cultural attractions.

Average Download Speed:

  • Expect moderate internet speeds, averaging around 27 Mbps, sufficient for most remote work tasks.
  • Co-working spaces and cafes often offer reliable Wi-Fi connections.
  • Consider investing in a local SIM card for mobile data usage, especially in remote areas.

Sources:

4. Serbia:

Nestled in southeastern Europe, Serbia offers a vibrant mixture of history, culture, affordability, and friendly faces, making it a compelling choice for digital nomads seeking an off-the-beaten-path European adventure. Let’s dive deeper into what makes Serbia one of the Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads :

LGBTQ+ Safety and Communities:

  • Social attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community are evolving, with Belgrade and Novi Sad offering the most accepting environments. Public displays of affection are generally not recommended, and discretion is crucial.
  • While no official community centers exist, several organizations and online groups provide support and resources.
  • Respectful behavior and understanding local customs are essential for a smooth experience.

Affordability:

  • Serbia boasts one of the lowest living costs in Europe, making it a haven for budget-conscious nomads.
  • Housing options range from affordable apartments and co-living spaces to charming guesthouses and boutique hotels.
  • Groceries, dining out, and transportation are significantly cheaper than many Western European destinations.

Interesting Facts:

  • Birthplace of Nikola Tesla, the renowned inventor who revolutionized electricity and wireless communication.
  • Home to stunning medieval monasteries like Studenica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Boasts diverse landscapes, from the rolling plains of Vojvodina to the mountainous Tara National Park.

Food:

  • Immerse yourself in hearty Serbian cuisine featuring “pljeskavica” (grilled meat patties), “djuvec” (stew with rice and vegetables), and regional specialties like “proja” (cornbread).
  • Don’t miss “rakija,” a potent fruit brandy, and locally produced wines for a quintessential experience.
  • Vegetarians and vegans will find options, but exploring beyond staples might require some planning.

Places to Visit:

  • Explore the vibrant capital, Belgrade, with its lively nightlife, historical landmarks like Belgrade Fortress, and bustling cafes.
  • Discover the charming city of Novi Sad, known for its laid-back atmosphere, colorful Petrovaradin Fortress, and Exit Festival.
  • Hike through the breathtaking Tara National Park, offering stunning scenery and outdoor activities.
  • Explore the historical town of Kruševac, the former medieval capital, with its Lazarica Church and medieval atmosphere.
  • Relax on the shores of Lake Zlatibor, a popular mountain resort with hiking trails, skiing opportunities, and stunning views.

Average Download Speed:

  • Expect moderate internet speeds, averaging around 30 Mbps, sufficient for most remote work tasks.
  • Co-working spaces and cafes often offer reliable Wi-Fi connections.
  • Consider investing in a local SIM card for mobile data usage, especially in remote areas.

Sources:

5. Ukraine:

This resilient nation offers a unique blend of historical richness, cultural diversity, and breathtaking landscapes, all at an affordable cost. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the ongoing conflict in the eastern regions and plan your trip accordingly, prioritizing safety and responsible tourism. Let’s dive deeper into what makes Ukraine one of the Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads :

LGBTQ+ Safety and Communities:

  • The situation regarding LGBTQ+ rights and safety in Ukraine remains complex and varies regionally. While major cities like Kyiv and Lviv offer the most inclusive environments, public displays of affection are generally not recommended.
  • Several organizations and online groups provide support and resources, but official community centers are limited.
  • Respectful behavior, discretion, and awareness of local customs are essential.

Affordability:

  • Ukraine boasts one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, making it a budget-friendly destination for nomads.
  • Housing options range from affordable apartments and co-living spaces to charming guesthouses and boutique hotels.
  • Groceries, dining out, and transportation are significantly cheaper than most Western European destinations.

Interesting Facts:

  • Features diverse landscapes, from the Carpathian Mountains to the Black Sea coast, offering historical treasures and natural beauty.
  • Birthplace of renowned artists, writers, and scientists, including Kazimir Malevich and Marie Curie.

Food:

  • Immerse yourself in hearty Ukrainian cuisine featuring “borscht” (beetroot soup), “vareniki” (dumplings), and “salo” (cured pork fat).
  • Explore regional specialties like “holubtsi” (stuffed cabbage leaves) in western Ukraine and “paska” (sweet Easter bread) across the country.
  • Don’t miss “horilka,” a traditional vodka, and locally produced wines for an authentic experience.

Places to Visit (Prioritizing Safety):

  • Western Ukraine: Explore the charming city of Lviv with its historic Old Town, vibrant coffee culture, and artistic scene. Hike through the Carpathian Mountains, offering breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities. Discover the Ivano-Frankivsk region, known for its medieval castles and traditional villages.
  • Central Ukraine: Visit the capital, Kyiv, with its iconic landmarks like St. Sophia Cathedral and the Golden Gate. Immerse yourself in the city’s museums, theaters, and vibrant nightlife scene. Explore the historical city of Chernihiv, with its ancient churches and monasteries.

Important Note: Due to the ongoing conflict, eastern regions of Ukraine, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and Mykolaiv, are not recommended for travel. In fact, at this moment, we would discourage visiting the country for tourism purposes as the situation is ongoing. Always consult official travel advisories and prioritize your safety when planning your trip.

Average Download Speed:

  • Expect moderate internet speeds, averaging around 55 Mbps, sufficient for most remote work tasks.
  • Co-working spaces and cafes in safe regions often offer reliable Wi-Fi connections.
  • Consider investing in a local SIM card for mobile data usage, but be mindful of network coverage limitations in certain areas.

Sources:

Remember: This information is intended for general purposes only and may not be exhaustive. Always research visa requirements, LGBTQ+ safety, the latest developments regarding the conflict, and other relevant details specific to your situation before planning your trip.

Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, we are aware of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and would not advise traveling there currently. However, as soon at this situation is resolved we cannot wait to return to Ukraine and promote much needed tourism.

I’ve made two previous visits to the country and had such an incredible time. The people are friendly and fun, Kyiv is a city full of well educated young people and Lviv is a total vibe.

We had a lot of internal discussion whether to include Ukraine on the list but as we hope this content is evegreeen, we do want to encourage tourism as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Embarking on a digital nomad adventure in the Best Non Schengen Countries for Digital Nomads offers unique experiences and cultural immersion beyond the well-trodden path. Remember to prioritize safety, responsible tourism, and respect for local customs. With careful planning and research, you can discover an ideal destination that aligns with your individual needs and interests. Happy exploring!

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