Remote & Async Work 6 min

The best cities for remote working and openness

Written by Rachel Mantock
May 27, 2024
Rachel Mantock


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Whether you're all-in on the remote work lifestyle or just testing the waters, you might be eyeing a move to a new city, state, or even country. Perfect for anyone from remote-first employees to digital nomads, our Best Destinations for Remote Work tool is a game-changer, alongside its accompanying report. We've crunched the numbers and gathered insights to highlight top cities for remote workers. Plus, we've included some insightful pointers from our very own, because they live and breathe the remote worker ethos worldwide.

The top 10 cities for remote work and openness

Openness signifies how welcoming a society is to diversity and how transparent its government operates. It often goes hand in hand with freedom, fulfillment and the discovery of enriching life experiences. It’s no wonder then, that those looking for more flexibility for their work-life balance, would seek out destinations with high levels of cultural openness. We’ve listed the top ten cities for remote workers and openness below, according to our research data. 

  1. Auckland, New Zealand

  2. Toronto, Canada

  3. Zürich, Switzerland

  4. Lisbon, Portugal

  5. Copenhagen, Denmark

  6. Sydney, Australia

  7. Reykjavík, Iceland

  8. Berlin, Germany

  9. Birkirkara, Malta

  10. Madrid, Spain

Next, we delve into our top picks from the list, highlighting their plus points. Each of the following cities offers unique advantages for remote workers, from flourishing tech scenes and supportive communities, to rich cultural experiences and progressive environments. Whether you're looking for innovation, sustainability, or a bustling social scene — these top cities cater to all aspects of the remote working lifestyle, for those who want to live in places that are open, accepting and celebrate diversity.

Toronto, Canada

Toronto is a vibrant city, famous for its cultural and population diversity. As the largest city in Canada, Toronto has an eclectic, melting pot style environment where over 140 languages are spoken, making it a true global city.

This diversity is thought to extend into the workplace, where inclusion and acceptance are (seemingly) deeply embedded in the corporate culture (though please note, the lived experience of those who work in Toronto will vary widely). For remote workers, this means access to a broad network of professionals from multiple backgrounds and perspectives, enhancing creativity and collaboration.

Progressive thought and tech innovation

The city’s infrastructure has moved in line with the growing popularity of remote work, with a number of coworking spaces, reliable high-speed internet, and experimental cafes. Toronto is also home to an innovative tech sector, including start-ups and established companies that embrace flexible working. This makes Toronto not only a hub for tech talent, but also an ideal option for remote workers seeking dynamic work settings.

Home to the largest Pride events

Arguably Canada’s most famous city (more so than its capital, Ottawa), Toronto is also known across the global stage for its inclusive policies and energetic LGBTQ+ community. This becomes when you take note of events like Pride Toronto, one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world. The city’s progressive stance on social issues is reflected in its inclusive public policies and community programs that support diversity across race, gender, and sexuality. This culture of openness works towards helping and supporting everyone.

Though, it’s worth noting that the Indigenous population in Toronto remain the most marginalized and disenfranchised community in the city — which means there’s still a big gulf between an overarching culture of openness, and some progressive sounding policies, and how this plays out in reality.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon has become a magnet for remote workers and those seeking other types of work flexibility. We can thanks its affordable cost of living, pleasant climate, and burgeoning tech scene for this. The Portuguese capital offers a blend of old-world charm and modern innovation, making it top choice for those seeking a balance between work and leisure. The city’s picturesque neighborhoods, vivid coastal views, and exciting nightlife are all part of its open nature.

Connectivity across Europe

Lisbon’s investment in technology and innovation is paying off, with a growing number of coworking spaces and startup incubators. The city’s strategic location also provides excellent connectivity with other European cities, making it easy for remote workers to travel for business or fun. The local government has been proactive in supporting the remote worker and digital nomad communities, offering a number of incentives and programs to attract international talent (like their remote work visa) — solidifying Lisbon’s reputation as a top destination for remote work.

Driven by multiculturalism 

With a rich history of multiculturalism, the city has been heavily influenced by centuries of maritime trade. This legacy continues today with a vibrant immigrant community and an inclusive social environment. Initiatives to support LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality are visible throughout the city, from legislation to events and festivals. For remote workers, this means they can walk into an accepting community, to thrive personally and professionally.

Zürich, Switzerland

The country’s financial center, Zürich combines a high standard of living with cutting edge infrastructure that makes it ideal for remote workers. Known for its strong economy and unrivaled quality of life, the city’s financial stability and innovative environment make it a top spot for entrepreneurs, those in finance, and tech enthusiasts looking to make a mark.

Leading on sustainability 

The Swiss city is also a leader in sustainability and environmental initiatives, which is a significant draw for eco-conscious remote workers. Zürich’s green spaces, clean air, and commitment to reducing carbon emissions contribute to a healthy and enjoyable living environment too. This focus on sustainability extends to the workplace, where companies prioritize eco-friendly practices and support remote work to reduce commuting and its environmental impact.

Community programs and events celebrate cultural diversity and promote social cohesion, to create a sense of feeling valued and included. This inclusive undercurrent, combined with Zürich’s professional opportunities, makes it an ideal location for remote workers seeking a supportive and innovative community.

Sydney, Australia 

Sydney’s gorgeous natural beauty and metropolitan buzz have made it a top choice for remote workers, long before remote working became mainstream. The city is home to a number of iconic landmarks, such as the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach, with a thriving business district that supports a range of industries. This combination of natural and urban attractions provides remote workers with options for work, play and an elevated approach to wellbeing.

A growing tech sector

Alongside a leading, well-developed infrastructure, Sydney’s tech sector is rapidly growing too, supported by government initiatives aimed at bolstering innovation and entrepreneurship. This has created fertile ground for remote workers in the tech industry (and industries that are intertwined with the tech space), who benefit from the city’s professional network and collaboration opportunities. 

Influenced by many cultures

Sydney is also renowned for its inclusive culture across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, while making strides in its understanding and cultural competency around other marginalized groups (though it still has a long way to go, especially around its Indigenous community). The city openly celebrates multiculturalism (from the outside, those living there may have varied takes on this), with a population representing multiple ethnicities and backgrounds. 

The city’s zest for cultural curiosity is also reflected in Sydney’s food, festivals, and community events, which promote a collaborative atmosphere across different cultures. In fact, in 2020, a slice of Sydney was renamed Little Greece to pay homage to the contributions Greek Australians had made to the area (and of course, because the glorious Greek food on offer in that part of town had become famous, nationwide).

Lush beaches, great food scene

Remote’s Manager of Content Production, James Dillon, says “the quality of life for Sydneysiders is something that always lures us back home.”

Adding, “Our beautiful climate, pristine beaches, and deliciously diverse food scene all make up for the punishing cost of living. Luckily for us, hanging out at the beach, and hiking in the nearby bushland is free.”

A thriving LGBTQ+ scene

 “Sydney is also a proudly LGBT-friendly city, home to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras — one of the world’s largest Pride events. We’re a multicultural society with a huge proportion of migrants from all corners of the globe, and this makes Sydney a comparatively inclusive place for anyone to live and work remotely.”

Australia’s best coffee (allegedly) 

As for the coffee rivalry they have going on with Melbourne — “Who could forget the coffee scene (in Sydney)? Don’t listen to those Melbourne jokers, Sydney is home to the best flat whites in the world.”

Berlin, Germany

Embodying creativity, innovation, and diversity (and arguably one of the most cool, and daring cities on the global scene), Berlin is not only a top choice destination for remote workers, but for everyone (for a vacation, or relocation). 

The techno capital 

Berlin’s historical elements are varied and interesting, while its cultural scene is unrivaled — the stuff of movie scenes full of fluorescent red lights, techno and all black leather outfits in the club.

It’s also home to the world famous Berghain nightclub (which is named after where it’s based, just by the border between Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain) — iconically dubbed the global techno capital.

A liberal approach

The city’s openness and inclusivity are central to its appeal. Berlin has a long-standing reputation for being a liberal and progressive city, welcoming individuals from all walks of life. This is evident across the city’s policy effort and community initiatives that promote equality across race, gender, and sexuality. Events like Christopher Street Day, Berlin’s version of Pride, and various cultural festivals build a sense of belonging.

Madrid, Spain

The Spanish capital is known for its friendly locals, world-class museums, and exciting nightlife. Madrid’s cost of living is relatively affordable compared to other Western European cities too. The city helps remote employees balance work and leisure brilliantly, and with a growing tech scene, new work opportunities are on the horizon locally. 

An inclusive European hub 

The city’s strategic location in the heart of Spain also offers easy access to other European markets, making it a convenient base for international remote workers. Its population is a blend of multiple nationalities, creating a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Madrid is also known for its strong support for LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality. 

Events like Madrid Pride, one of the largest in Europe, and a whole yearly timetable of other cultural festivals underscore the city’s inclusivity.

Methodology and the best cities for remote work

Remote's global destination rankings were compiled using a dataset that drew from 25 different series of information, spanning countries worldwide and individual U.S. states, categorized into eight distinct areas. The "openness" metric was assessed by examining a host of key factors, from government, national and global data sets, plus surveys.

Discover more best destinations for remote work

Explore ideal cities for remote work with our Best Destinations for Remote Work tool, tailored to your main preferences. Options include openness, attractiveness, quality of life, internet access, safety, cost of living, inflation, and incentives. The tool is user-friendly, featuring a toggle to adjust the significance of each criteria topic. Simply set your preferences, and watch the tool work its magic.

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