Remote & Async Work 10 min

The best cities for remote working and safety

Written by Rachel Mantock
May 20, 2024
Rachel Mantock


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If you're fully engaged with the remote work lifestyle or just exploring its possibilities, you may be contemplating a move to a different city. You could be a digital nomad enjoying the liberty to work from any location at any time. Or you might be looking for a more fulfilling work-life balance, keen to break away from the tedious cycle of living just to work. In either scenario, you should find our Best Destinations for Remote Work tool to be incredibly beneficial, and the comprehensive report that comes with it is essential reading.

We've analyzed a variety of criteria with this tool, deriving key insights and pinpointing the top cities for remote workers. We've also included real-life stories from team members at Remote who fully embrace the remote, asynchronous, and flexible work model — providing you with authentic insights from those deeply familiar with this way of life.

The top five cities for remote workers and safety

Some of the world’s most iconic, busy cities are simply not the safest. It’s not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the greats that get the most press — like New York, London, Paris (interestingly, London scored relatively highly on safety indexes from 2023, which may or may not surprise locals and frequent visitors).

On the other hand, other major cities that consistently top icon lists (like Tokyo and Singapore) have made our top five cities for safety and remote working, in second and third place. Switzerland’s capital of Bern took first place (no surprise there), while Iceland’s Reykjavík and Amsterdam came in fourth and fifth. 

1. Bern, Switzerland

Bern is frequently listed as one of the world's safest cities, with minimal crime rates and a stable political climate. Bern's crime index (via Numbeo’s Crime Index by City 2024]) is especially low at 22.52, well below the global average of 44.07. While Zurich often garners more attention, Bern, the Swiss capital, arguably has better advantages for remote workers.

As a nation, Switzerland's focus on social unity, a robust legal system and effective law enforcement play key roles in the safety felt across its capital city. 

Community strength 

The city also benefits from well-lit streets, dependable public transport and strong community involvement, fueling a secure atmosphere. The serene environment, highlighted by beautiful parks and the calming Aare River, bolsters Bern's status as a secure and peaceful place to live for those who work remotely, or otherwise.

2. Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Singapore is a vibrant island city-state renowned for its exceptional stability and safety. Known for its immaculate streets and stringent laws (for some, controversially so), Singapore also consistently ranks as one of the world's safest cities.

Strict law enforcement

The city-state's strict legal enforcement and harsh penalties for law violations (again, controversially) contribute significantly to its safety reputation, ensuring a secure environment for residents and visitors alike. 

High CCTV coverage

Plus Singapore's meticulous urban planning and investment in advanced infrastructure, including extensive CCTV coverage (though some might take issue with this) and well-lit streets, enhances its security credentials. Adding to this, the city-state’s effective public transportation and reliable emergency services further highlight its status as a safe haven. 

Social harmony

With a multicultural society that encourages social harmony, Singapore also has an extra civic layer of security, especially for those new to the area. The Safe Cities Index 2021 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, places Singapore at the top for personal security, with a score of 97.4 out of 100.

3. Tokyo, Japan

The annual Global Peace Index evaluates the safety and peacefulness of countries based on 23 factors, including crime rates, violence, political stability and access to weapons. Japan, and by default, Tokyo, scored highly within the rankings.

Political stability and restricted access

For the Global Peace Index’s 2023 edition, Japan was ranked as the ninth most peaceful country (out of 163), noted for its low rates of violent crime, few violent demonstrations, restricted access to weapons and high political stability (but generally, opinions will vary on these factors).

Unrivaled culture meets safety

Tokyo, in particular, stands out as a major city highlighted for its safety credentials. It appeals as a safe, exciting, and welcoming cityscape like no other because of its unique cultural offering.

4. Reykjavík, Iceland

This capital city is consistently listed among the world's safest cities, with minimal violent crime and theft, which offers comfort around security for remote workers, especially those looking to relocate alone. The Work in Iceland visa allows non-EU citizens to work remotely for six months tax-free, as long as you can provide proof of employment and a substantial monthly income.

Trust and mutual responsibility 

Reykjavik’s safety credentials largely play into its close-knit community atmosphere, where nearly everyone is familiar with each other, creating a strong sense of trust and mutual responsibility. 

A geographic safety advantage 

Iceland's geographical position as a remote island nation naturally shields it from many external threats, mostly eliminating the need for city-wide curfews or concerns about unsafe neighborhoods.

A different approach to policing

The Icelandic police force is often described as friendly, rather than scary or intimidating (if we’re applying cultural and worldly competency here, this experience will undoubtedly vary). They’re thought to be accessible, proactive and willing to assist when compared to that of other major cities. 

So whether you're setting up your office for the day, in a cafe down one of Reykjavik's many vibrant streets, or venturing out to see the Northern Lights in your downtime, safety shouldn’t be a concern.

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Renowned for its safety, Amsterdam offers a peaceful cityscape for visitors and those who call the city home. It has a considerably lower crime rate than many other European capitals, with violent crime being especially uncommon. 

Safety infrastructure and harm reduction

With brightly lit streets, robust public transport and comprehensive bike lanes — Amsterdam has approached its city planning with safety at the forefront. Progressively, ‌Dutch police tend to lean more toward community engagement and harm reduction, rather than harsher forms of immediate policing. This enhances an overall sense of security for many, taking a diverse and inclusive approach. 

Public health and wellbeing

The city places a strong emphasis on public health, with a range of comprehensive healthcare services on offer as standard. With its commitment to safety coupled with its lively culture and historical allure, Amsterdam remains a top choice for remote workers looking for a change of scenery.

Cycling home, worry-free

Remote’s social media manager, Paola Rosciano, made the move from Mexico to Amsterdam. She says it’s like a weight she didn’t know was there had been lifted, with a deep, newly renewed sense of relaxation.

“Coming from Mexico, one of the things I value the most about living in Amsterdam is the sense of safety,” she explains. “I didn’t feel unsafe in Mexico, but after a while living here in Amsterdam, I could tell I’d relaxed.”

“There was this worry that wasn’t present anymore. From the little things, like I didn’t have to think about not leaving my phone on the table at a restaurant; to the bigger things like not worrying about which route home was safer, or what time was safer to go home.”

Adding, “I can cycle home at 2am in the morning and I feel safe. In Mexico, it’s common to follow each other in the car for parts of the ride, or all the way home, and you’ll always let your friends know when you’re home.”

Running errands on a whim

As for her remote worker lifestyle in the city, Amsterdam’s “unpredictable” weather and beautiful night skies are favorites for Paola. 

“I don’t like going to the supermarket after dark, which in the winter could already mean 4pm,” she explains. “Thanks to remote working, I can run errands anytime during the day. It’s also great to have the flexibility to go out when it’s not raining, or to go for a walk when it’s sunny.”

Honorable mention for safety credentials

Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

Dubai is a major draw for remote workers and has a huge expat community, making up 85% of its population. It came in at number ten when using our Best Destinations for Remote Work tool and setting “safety” as the main factor, largely due to its incredibly low crime rates. 

Not everyone is safe here

It's important to note that local laws are hostile to the LGBTQ+ community and secular behavior displayed in public, even acts that may seem insignificant to many. Bodily autonomy related to how women present themselves in public is restricted in Dubai, meaning you’re at greater risk of being seen as dressed inappropriately or indecently, without necessarily intending to. 

High costs, high salaries 

The city is known for its impressive attractions, including vast shopping malls, indoor ski slopes and giant, colossal skyscrapers. It gains major remote worker points for its excellent wifi, abundance of coworking spaces, and impressive tax benefits. Generally, the cost of living is on the higher side, but this is typically reflected by local salaries for expats. 

A luxe offering all around

Kevin McKernon, a senior CRM and lifecycle marketing specialist at Remote, who is dual-based between Dubai and elsewhere, gives the city a thumbs up for its clean-cut modernity, beaches, safety and government initiatives. These are his main plus points (followed by his pain points).

  • Timezone: “Dubai is ideally situated between Europe and APAC, making it easy to connect online with global teammates.”

  • Infrastructure: “The city is highly modernized with excellent internet speeds, even in cafes. Everything you might need from technology to everyday essentials is readily accessible. Although I haven't used them myself, there are numerous co-working spaces available.”

  • Safety: “Dubai and the UAE are among the safest places on earth. It's common for residents to leave their house doors unlocked when they're out, which speaks volumes about the safety here.”

  • Beaches: “While natural spaces are limited, the beaches and the ocean are beautiful, especially outside the city. Even within the city, there are plenty of free public beaches.”

  • Government initiatives: “Despite some controversial views from the outside, the government frequently organizes public benefit initiatives at no cost. An example is the 30x30 challenge, which encourages everyone to get active for 30 days, with events like a major run led by the crown prince.”

But there are drawbacks

  • Cost of living: “Dubai is quite expensive, especially if you’re used to living in more budget-friendly countries. Costs for co-working spaces, transportation, dining out and nightlife can be significantly higher compared to other cities.”

  • Nature: “If you value being close to nature, you might find Dubai challenging. The environment is predominantly desert and most green areas are heavily cultivated.”

  • Approach to governance: “The government operates as a non-democracy, which might be difficult for those used to more liberal settings. Personal freedoms can be restricted, and religion is deeply intertwined with government decisions and laws, which might not suit everyone's lifestyle preferences.”

Methodology and the best cities for remote work

The dataset used for Remote’s global destination rankings pulled from a 25 series of information, across countries globally and from individual U.S states, using eight categories. When measuring for “quality of life”, data was analyzed for key objectives like the happiness of residents, relying on self-reporting. These results were then combined with data from a closely linked topic (like pollution)t o give more all-rounded final results on quality of life and remote worker cities.

Discover more best destinations for remote work

Use our Best Destinations for Remote Work tool to find the cities that meet your top priorities. You can choose from openness, attractiveness, quality of life, internet, safety, cost of living, inflation and incentives. It’s easy to use with a toggle feature to set the level of importance for each element. Once you’ve done this part, the tool will auto-generate a list of 100 cities that are great for remote working, ranked in consecutive order for the priorities you’ve selected.

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