The Top 8 Crypto-Friendly Countries for Freelancers

September 28, 2021

Are you a crypto-native freelancer researching the best country for remote work? As a remote-first blockchain company, we share our thoughts on 8 countries we’d recommend.

We’ll compare the quality of life, cost of living, taxes, and overall approach to crypto in these countries.

By the end of this article, you’ll know which is the best fit for you.

The future of work is remote

The traditional work environment underwent a huge shakeup as a result of recent events, especially the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees had a taste of working from home and they liked it. Companies didn’t implode by allowing remote work. A Gartner survey found that 47% of companies intend to let employees continue working remotely. 

Forbes claims every employee working from home reduces company costs by an average of $22,000. That’s a lot of potential savings and many companies are eager to take advantage of it. 

Remote work can also benefit you. The cost of living and tax laws vary wildly depending on where you live. This means you can receive a high-paying income from a country like the US, but live in a low cost of living country with favorable tax conditions.

This alone can do wonders for your financial health. Crypto can improve it even further. Getting paid in digital currencies drastically lowers international transaction fees and transfer times. 

There’s a concern about having to pay extra taxes on crypto assets. This is true for certain countries. However, others are positioning themselves as ‘crypto hubs’. Some have even passed laws that have made crypto appealing from a tax perspective. 

Accepting digital payments as a crypto freelancer

Before we dive into the best countries to live and work in, let’s have a quick look at what you need to be a freelancer that accepts crypto payments.

As a freelancer that accepts crypto assets, you’ll use almost exactly the same tools as any other freelancer. With one big exception. You need an easy way to issue compliant crypto invoices to your clients. More than that, they need to be easy for your clients to pay – crypto can be daunting at the best of times.

Keeping track of all your income is one of the big challenges of being a freelancer. That’s where Request Invoicing comes in. It’s the easiest way to get your invoices paid in crypto. It comes with all the functionality you expect from traditional invoicing software: payment notifications, 1-click payment based on email addresses, and the ability to track processing status on the invoices you’ve sent.

Where it differs from fiat solutions is that it offers cross-currency support. Issue invoices in your client’s preferred currency and get paid in your cryptocurrency of choice. E.g. send an invoice for $100 and get it paid in crypto without worrying about how to record it for tax purposes. Request Invoicing handles that for you. All you need to do is spend 8 seconds creating the invoice. 

Simplify crypto payments for your business today

Best countries for digital currencies

This isn’t an exclusive list of crypto-friendly countries. We’ve picked our top 8 that achieve a good balance between cost of living, quality of life, and crypto acceptance. The country that’s best for you is going to depend on your earnings and how much importance you give each category. In no particular order:

Portugal

Good food, pristine beaches, and red-tiled roofs make this a popular destination for everyone. In a report by InterNations, Portugal was ranked #3 for Quality of Life (QoL) and #5 for the best expat destination. SmartAsset says that $1400/month is enough to live comfortably.

The tax situation also benefits freelancers. The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program has loads of perks. One of the biggest for freelancers is that almost all foreign income is tax-exempt for 10 years. Don’t qualify? The tax rate is 25% for non-residents.

Portugal’s attitude to crypto is great too. According to Case C-264/14, only professional traders will pay capital gains tax. This means you can be paid in crypto and if the value increases, you don’t have to pay any tax on the gains.

Switzerland

Beautiful alpine landscapes, delicious chocolate, and picturesque cities make Switzerland stand out. It was ranked #9 for QoL on the InterNations report. Unfortunately, it’s not a cheap country. SmartAsset estimates $4000/month to live comfortably.

However, the tax benefits make up for the high living cost. Be aware, these vary slightly depending on where you stay. The town of Zug is a known tax haven. According to The Local, income tax can be as low as 3% but is typically 10–20%.

It’s been nicknamed ‘Crypto Valley’ for its progressive laws on digital currencies. As in Portugal, capital gains tax is only paid by professional traders. Residents can even pay for government services with Bitcoin. It’s also home to several popular crypto projects.

Belarus

A rich historical past, huge old-growth forests, and a sweet tooth are some of the selling points of Belarus. LivingCost estimates $510/month for a comfortable experience. It wasn’t included in the QoL report due to a lack of data from the country – it’s not swamped by expats yet.

The Digital Economy Development Ordinance and development of a crypto-friendly Hi-Tech Park (HTP) are trying to change that. Anyone registered there is subject to very favorable rules. Personal income tax is capped at 9% and there are VAT exemptions for a range of supporting businesses – an excellent opportunity for freelancers.

Digital currencies are fully legal. Businesses registered in the HTP are exempt from all crypto taxes. Non-registered people still benefit – they only pay taxes when withdrawing profit from an exchange.

Costa Rica

Stunning natural landscapes, extreme biodiversity, and an emerging reputation as a foodie hotspot all make Costa Rica an appealing location. It was ranked #14 for QoL on the InterNations report. Especially important for freelancers is that it’s ranked the 3rd best destination for expats. International Living estimates about $1400–1700/month for one person to live comfortably.

Recent events hit their tourism industry hard. In a bid to generate more revenue, the government has introduced the “Law to Attract International Workers and Remote Service Providers”. It’s not yet passed but looks likely to do so in the next few months.

This will create a 1-year visa open to anyone making at least $5,000/month from sources outside the country. The exciting bit for freelancers is that anyone who’s accepted will pay no income tax.

Costa Rica is very receptive to crypto. The government has taken a hands-off approach to regulation. The national banks don’t support crypto payments within their system, but many shops within the country will accept it as a payment method. On crypto earnings, there’s no capital gains tax – it’s only payable if you’re actively trading crypto.

Slovenia

Beautiful castles, huge areas of forested land, and a nationwide love for bees make Slovenia unique. The real estate market is booming so accommodation isn’t cheap. However, the cost of living is affordable and helps balance it. Expatistan estimates that a single person can live comfortably on $1750/month.

The tax system is easy to understand. Residents are subject to a progressive tax system ranging from 16% to the highest tier at 50%. Non-residents only pay tax on local earnings. To be classed as a resident you must have your primary home in Slovenia or reside in the country for more than 183 days in a tax year.

Slovenia has a positive outlook on crypto. Kranj was the first town in the world to have a monument to crypto – it’s the Bitcoin logo on a roundabout! Resident freelancers will have to pay income tax on crypto payments. However, due to how crypto is legally defined there’s no capital gains tax payable on price fluctuations.

Malaysia

Stunning beaches, a huge selection of delicious food, and national parks with orangutans secure Malaysia’s spot. It’s ranked #19 for QoL on the InterNations report and #4 for the best expat destination. Expatistan estimates $1005/month for a single person’s costs.

Income tax is only payable on income earned locally within the country. All foreign-sourced income is exempt which means a 0% tax for remote workers.

Cryptocurrency has been legally recognized as a security and a commodity in Malaysia. In fact, in 2018 land was purchased with Bitcoin in the state of Sabah. Freelancers who get paid in crypto won’t have to pay capital gains tax if their assets appreciate in value. Capital gains tax only applies to active traders. 

Malta

Fantastic architecture, coastal living, and being the filming location for many popular films are just a few things that make Malta stand out. At #54 on the InterNations report, it’s ranked significantly lower than some of the other countries on the list, but we feel the scenery and attitude towards crypto justify its inclusion. Expatistan estimates $2500/month for a single person’s living costs.

The tax rules are simple. Expats in Malta will pay 30% income tax derived from Malta – 15% if certain conditions are met. More importantly for remote working freelancers, all foreign-sourced income is tax-free.

Malta is known as a finance hub and it’s now trying to position itself as the ‘Blockchain Island’. They’ve established a legal framework for cryptocurrencies and in November they’re hosting AIBC – a globally recognized blockchain summit. Capital gains tax is only payable by active traders, so freelancers receiving crypto payments pay no additional tax. 

Singapore

A huge selection of high-quality street food, so much greenery it’s known as the Garden City, and world-recognized safety and cleanliness make Singapore a digital nomad’s dream destination. GuideMeSingapore and Wise estimate $1200–$2000/month for one person’s living costs.  It was ranked #3 for QoL on the InterNations report.

It has a reputation for being welcoming to businesses. As such, it became a global hub for finance and it’s now embracing crypto. They use a very generous progressive income tax system. If you’re earning $90,000 you’ll pay a total of about 7% income tax. For very successful freelancers it’s worth noting it’s capped at a maximum of 22%.

The approach to crypto is encouraging. They believe in regulation without stifling innovation. Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is on record saying:

"We will continue to encourage experiments in the blockchain space that may involve the use of cryptocurrencies. Some of these innovations could turn out to be economically or socially useful. But equally, we will stay alert to new risks.”

This is reflected in some of the clearest guidance on crypto taxes we’ve seen. The short version for freelancers being paid in crypto is that you pay income tax on your earnings. If the token price appreciates after you’re paid you don’t pay capital gains tax – assuming you recorded the token value accurately.

Sleek’s CEO and cofounder, Julien shares this, “As a one-stop shop that enables digital incorporation, remote accounting services and corporate secretarial services, with convenience and ease, we have seen a surge in requests for companies looking to operate out of Singapore”

Over the last few years, hundreds of leading crypto companies have flocked to the crypto-friendly island state. For good reason too. For more than 10 years, the World Bank has ranked Singapore among the top 3 countries globally for its ease of doing business. More importantly, the central bank and tech industry regulators are crypto-friendly, and have some of the most progressive and clear laws governing crypto activities.

It is no coincidence that among those seeking economic haven in Singapore include high-profile industry figures like Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, Binance’s billionaire founder Changpeng Zhao, and Jihan Wu, the billionaire co-founder of Chinese crypto mining tech group Bitmain.

Request has similarly chosen Singapore as one of our main offices to operate out of.

Final thoughts

Remote work is here to stay and forward-thinking freelancers and businesses are taking advantage of it. We’ve given you 8 different countries that are excellent for anyone looking to work remotely and receive digital payments. 

With their favorable laws, getting paid in crypto is becoming commonplace in these countries. Remember, crypto invoicing doesn’t need to be difficult. Request Invoicing makes it easy to send and receive digital payments.

Now you’re ready to choose the country that best fits your unique needs. Where will you call home?

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