The Cities Best Facilitating
Remote Work: A Global Index

The Cities Best Facilitating Remote Work: A Global Index

Study uses data to reveal which global cities are most accessible and attractive for remote workers by assessing factors related to employment compliance, living costs, infrastructure and liveability, in addition to showing current location trends.

At WorkMotion, we help companies overcome international compliance hurdles to hire people based anywhere in the world. With office work no longer the default option, an increasing number of employees are able to relocate to destinations that best suit their lifestyles while working remotely, or seek opportunities at foreign businesses. Companies, meanwhile, can now hire the world’s top talent regardless of their place of residence. Using our deep knowledge of compliance regulations, we decided to conduct a study to understand which cities are most accessible and appealing for remote workers.

The first topic we considered was compliance, both in terms of companies hiring remote workers and for employees looking to relocate. To do this, we assessed how easy it is for companies to comply with employment laws in each city, the legal requirements for remote working and whether each location offers a remote working visa.

We then looked at the cost of living, to reflect that financial factors often influence a city’s attractiveness for relocation. For this, we researched the tax rates, cost and availability of housing, and day-to-day living costs in each location.

Next, we studied each city’s civic infrastructure. This involved assessing levels of gender equality, minority equality, LGBT+ equality and political stability in each city. In addition, the quality of the public education system and the access citizens have to healthcare were studied as factors that contribute to how appealing a city is.

Finally, we considered liveability by analysing the level of happiness that citizens have in each city as well as the cultural attractions on offer and the mobility options.

The result is an index that analyses the ease of working remotely in 80 cities around the world and the attractiveness of each location for remote workers.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR JOURNALISTS

The table below reveals the results, where a higher score indicates a more accessible and attractive city for remote working. You can filter each factor from highest to lowest and vice versa by clicking on the icon above each column. For a full explanation of how each factor was calculated, please see the methodology at the bottom of the page.

Remote Working Compliance

Ease of Compliance (Score)

Legal Requirements (Score)

Remote Worker Visa Availability

Cost of Living

Taxes (Score)

Cost of Housing (Score)

Access to Housing (Score)

City Affordability (Score)

Civic Infrastructure

Political Stability (Score)

Safety & Security (Score)

Minority Equality (Score)

LGBT+ Equality (Score)

Gender Equality (Score)

Quality of Public Education (Score)

Access to Healthcare (Score)

Liveability

Happiness (Score)

Cultural Attractions (Score)

Mobility (Score)

METHODOLOGY

The Cities Best Facilitating Remote Work: A Global Index analyses and compares 80 global cities against a range of factors related to remote working. It uses open source data to rank each city’s suitability for remote workers based on compliance, cost of living, infrastructure and liveability indicators. The final ranking reveals which cities are the most attractive for remote workers looking to relocate. The cities were selected from an extensive list of global locations known for being attractive relocation destinations.

FACTORS AND SCORING

Remote Working Compliance

Ease of Compliance (Score)

Legal Requirements (Score)

Remote Worker Visa Availability

Cost of Living

Taxes (Score)

Cost of Housing (Score)

Access to Housing (Score)

City Affordability (Score)

Civic Infrastructure

Political Stability (Score)

Safety & Security (Score)

Minority Equality (Score)

LGBT+ Equality (Score)

Gender Equality (Score)

Quality of Public Education (Score)

Access to Healthcare (Score)

Liveability

Happiness (Score)

Cultural Attractions (Score)

Mobility (Score)

Scored factors are made up of one or more indicators that were scored and averaged. The following equation was used for scoring:

For columns where a low value is better, the score is inverted such that a high score is always better:

Data is normalized to a [50-100] scale, with 100 being the best score. The higher the score, the better the city ranks for that factor in comparison to the other cities in the index. The formula used is min-max normalization:

The final score was determined by calculating the sum of the weighted average score of all of the indicators. Below you can find a detailed description of each factor within the study, and the sources used.

REMOTE WORKING COMPLIANCE

Ease of compliance

A score that measures the ease of corporate compliance for employing remote workers. A high score indicates a more straightforward environment for ensuring compliance. The factor is made up of the following indicators:

  • Rule of law

  • Regulatory quality

  • Cost of starting a business

  • % of income per capita

  • Government efficiency

Sources: World Bank; World Economic Forum.

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS (SCORE)

A score that measures the legal requirements employers must follow to remain compliant and the share of jobs in a city that can be performed remotely. A high score indicates a more flexible legal system and a greater share of jobs that can be performed remotely.

Sources: DLA Piper; KPMG; World Bank.

REMOTE WORKING VISA AVAILABILITY

An assessment of whether visa legislation exists for remote workers in each country. The following four categories were possible:

  • None: the country does not have a specific visa for remote workers.

  • Announced legislation: the country is in the process of establishing a specific visa for remote workers.

  • Freelancer visa: the country offers a specific visa for remote workers employed by foreign companies.

  • Digital nomad visa: the country offers a specific visa for remote workers.

Source: national government websites.

Cost of living

TAXES (SCORE)

An assessment of each country’s tax rates, looking specifically at income tax and the obligatory social security contributions that employees must make. A high score indicates a lower tax rate.

Sources: talent.com; PwC, national government tax calculators.

COST OF HOUSING (SCORE)

A score that assesses the cost of housing in each city. The score factors in average monthly rent prices for properties of different numbers of bedrooms, and assumes that remote workers who move to new cities need extra space in which to work. A high score indicates more affordable housing.

Source: local and national property rental portals.

ACCESS TO HOUSING (SCORE)

A score that assesses the availability of suitable apartments in each city for remote workers. The score assumes that remote workers require extra space in which to work. A high score indicates a greater availability of suitable apartments.

Source: local and national property rental portals.

CITY AFFORDABILITY (SCORE)

A score that assesses the affordability of living in each city, incorporating a range of food costs, rent costs, energy costs and other goods and services. A high score indicates a more affordable city.

Source: Numbeo.

CIVIC INFRASTRUCTURE

POLITICAL STABILITY (SCORE)

A score that measures the level of political stability in each city, incorporating data on terrorism, corruption and freedom of press. A high score indicates greater political stability.

Sources: Reporters Without Borders; The Economist; World Bank.

SAFETY & SECURITY (SCORE)

A score that measures the level of safety and security in each city, incorporating data on citizen safety, crime and violence. A high score indicates better safety and security.

Source: World Bank.

MINORITY EQUALITY (SCORE)

A score that measures the level of minority equality in each city. A high score indicates greater minority equality.

Source: Freedom House.

LGBT+ EQUALITY (SCORE)

A score that measures the level of LGBT+ equality in each city, based on rights, legal protection and security data. A high score indicates more equal rights for the LGBT+ community.

Sources: Spartacus; local crime statistics.

GENDER EQUALITY (SCORE)

A score that measures the level of gender equality in each city. A high score indicates greater gender equality.

Sources: OECD; The Economist; World Economic Forum.

QUALITY OF PUBLIC EDUCATION (SCORE)

A score that assesses the quality of the public education system available to families in each city. A high score indicates a higher quality of education and higher public spending on public education per capita, as well a greater reliance on public education versus private education.

Sources: OECD, World Bank, World Economic Forum, UNESCO.

ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE (SCORE)

A score that measures each city’s healthcare system based on the ease of access for citizens, level of quality and the happiness of citizens with the system.

Sources: European Commission; The Lancet; World Health Organisation.

LIVEABILITY

HAPPINESS (SCORE)

A score that assesses the happiness level of each city’s residents as reported by the World Happiness Report.

Source: World Happiness Report.

CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS (SCORE)

A score that assesses the quality and variety of each city’s cultural fabric, incorporating data on the hospitality industry, museums and galleries, sporting venues and visitor numbers.

Sources: Euromonitor; Mastercard; Time Out; World Stadiums.

MOBILITY (SCORE)

A score that assesses the quality of the public transport and mobility offering in each city. A high score indicates low cost, high quality public transport, as well as good traffic flow and access to parking.

Sources: Numbeo; TomTom.