Last updated February 10, 2021
Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In this day and age, having fast internet is a necessity. Whether you’re a serious location independent entrepreneur, running a local business, or just a casual surfer, slow internet is a real drag.
It’s bad for business, and in today’s connected world, it can cause stress in all areas of your life.
International internet speeds are an essential factor when you’re going to travel or live overseas. As someone who has spent thousands of nights of my life in hotels figuring this stuff out, I can tell you that hotels, and even some Airbnbs and vacation rentals haven’t figured this out.
To me, one of the great tips to having the best internet no matter where you go is controlling your environment by having some sort of long-term lease or owning your own property. This might be something to consider when constructing your trifecta nomad strategy.
Especially for those who are operating businesses that rely on fast speeds for video calls, uploading videos, transferring large files, etc. — fast internet can mean the difference in hours of productivity and thus thousands of dollars in sales.
If you’re like me and need to get serious work done, you simply cannot allow yourself to stay in hotels, Airbnbs, or rely on public cafés or airports that don’t stay up to speed.
I don’t allow my team to be based in a place where they cannot have a reliable, non-stop connection.
While there are trouble spots, internet speeds around the world are typically much better than you think and — believe it or not — even emerging countries have some of the fastest internet speeds.
In fact, the countries with the best wifi are often outside of the western world. No longer are the ‘old world’, high-tax countries of the west the leaders in many areas – and that includes tech.
In this article, I’ll go through the top 10 countries, as well as some countries of interest to the Nomad Capitalist using the speedtest.net report. They break down some of the countries based on mobile broadband speeds and home broadband speeds.
We’re going to focus more on the home speeds which are generally faster. It’s also important to note that these numbers fluctuate regularly, so some of the rankings could be different next month. Plus, some of these countries are actually better than their averages.
For example, Georgia came in at 110th with an average speed of about 26 mb/s. This seems really low. However, in Georgia, you can get internet that goes up to 100 mb/s or faster. I have it in my home there and it works very well. It compares to pretty much anywhere where I have internet.
But comparing averages is a great place to start. It shows you how much effort a country is putting in and what the general conditions are. Just understand that you could do better or worse.
Now, before we dive into the list of countries with the fastest internet, let’s set a baseline for some of the countries that you may be coming from. The US has actually made some improvements in recent years. They did decrease in 2020, just missing our top ten by coming in at 11th place. But it’s not terrible considering that they used to be the laughing stock among the western world for internet speeds.
The UK, however, also dropped 2 spots and came in at 47th place. Australia, somewhere I constantly hear people complaining about internet speeds, came in at a dismal 60th place. It’s interesting to note that a lot of countries are better than the UK and Australia.
So, now that you know where your home country stands, let’s see where you can go to find the countries with the fastest internet speeds.
The Top 10 Countries with the Fastest Internet Speeds
1. Singapore – 241.1 mb/s
Singapore tops the list of the world’s fastest peak internet speed (the top speed accessible to internet users) at 241.1 mb/s.
This tech-savvy, pro-business, and pro-expat country continues to be a favorite among entrepreneurs who want to live in a society that makes being successful and productive easy.
2. Hong Kong (SAR) – 222.92 mb/s
Hong Kong is no slouch when it comes to providing top-notch services to its tech-savvy residents. That’s why it’s no surprise that the hyper-dense Special Administrative Region of China dominates the list of countries with the fastest internet speeds.
Hong Kong is second in peak internet speed, trailing just behind Singapore at 222.92 mb/s, and is ranked #1 on our Quality of Life Index – high internet speed has certainly contributed to that fact.
I can speak to the speed of Hong Kong’s internet myself. While traveling not long ago, I downloaded an entire hour-long TV episode from iTunes in just 86 seconds (yeah, I timed it). It’s all thanks to Hong Kong’s commitment to “Fiber To The Home” service, as well as companies’ use of aggressive high-speed internet pricing.
Like most Asian super-cities, Hong Kong will make it easy to connect to the internet in most, if not all, public places. Any hotels or apartments you are spending time in will likely provide high speeds as well.
3. Thailand – 213.14 mb/s
Another nomad hotspot that has made serious improvements is Thailand. You probably wouldn’t think the internet is that fast there, but with the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, Thailand has had a great focus on technology.
I know people in Thailand who have challenges with their internet, but on average, they’ve made it up to #3 with download speeds of 213.14 mb/s.
4. Monaco – 206.66 mb/s
The ultra-wealthy, tax-free country of Monaco comes in at #4 with speeds of 206.66 mb/s.
This alluring city-state, located along the French Riviera, has long been home to or a destination of some of the wealthiest and most successful people. The services, including fast internet speeds, thus fit the desires of its people.
Monaco also proves that you can have a great standard of living in a tax-free country.
If you have money to invest, Monaco is a beautiful place to invest and work towards getting a second residency.
5. Switzerland – 192.13 mb/s
The famed hub of everything privacy, wealth, and safety, Switzerland also offers fast internet.
If one of the best passports in the world, good banking, and low taxes for intellectual property aren’t enough for you, Switzerland can also fulfill your technological needs and provide world-class infrastructure for business and wealth management.
Some may find the very orderly and reserved society a bit ‘too sterile’ at times, but generally, Switzerland can be considered one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe and a place to aspire to travel to or potentially reside in for high-achieving entrepreneurs.
6. Denmark – 191.4 mb/s
Denmark is consistently rated as one of the most developed economies and is a member of the European Union (but not the euro-zone, as they negotiated to be able to still use their own currency, the Danish krone).
If you are looking to spend time in a highly advanced Scandinavian country with fast internet that is known for its national happiness, Denmark may be a great place for you to focus your travels.
While notorious for its regulations, its extremely high tax rate, and its redistributive social framework, Denmark is one of the best places for asset protection and is rated #1 for respect of rule of law and #2 for least corrupt countries. It is also a country that is attractive for copyright royalties if you are someone who needs a low-tax jurisdiction to protect your intellectual property.
7. Romania – 188.08 mb/s
Beating out many western countries is Romania. It’s one of the nomad hot spots that may not have been on your radar, but perhaps you might want to consider.
They have long been a top-performer for internet speeds as they have made fast internet a priority. Even Moldova next door seems to pick up some of their juice because their internet speeds aren’t as bad as you might expect.
Romania has long been a place where people go to hire remote workers for their team. There’s a lot of outsourcing there simply because they’ve had great internet speeds. If you’re looking to set up a micro-business, Romania — with both fast internet speeds and an affordable, high-quality workforce — is a great place to consider.
8. Andorra – 182.17 mb/s
The small European principality of Andorra also boasts very high internet speeds. With attractive residency programs, a great banking industry, and low-tax rates, Andorra is both a beautiful tourist destination as well as a great place for business and investment.
Its residents claim the second-longest life expectancy in the world and the country offers a relatively low cost of living and almost non-existent crime rates.
Andorra has remained neutral and stable for centuries and has worked to create a favorable environment for investment and business, including its high-speed fiber-optic coverage throughout the country.
9. France – 177.25 mb/s
While not one of my top picks for the Nomad Capitalist by any significant measurement, France can boast of having high internet speed. Most of its fiscal and economic policy keeps me far away from investing and doing business there, but on a positive note, it has finally rolled back it’s 75% income tax on the wealthy to pay for poorly mismanaged government budgets.
10. Hungary – 175.01 mb/s
Another European country that you might want to consider is Hungary. It is increasingly becoming popular with digital nomads. While it does struggle with fiscal irresponsibility, there are some real estate investment and residency permit possibilities in Hungary.
If you are looking for a location to start a business, Hungary does offer a central location in Europe and an affordable, yet well-trained and educated labor force.
There are also many industrial sites – thanks to it’s Communist history – which can be beneficial for manufacturing companies. Combine all this with average internet speeds approaching 200 mb/s and Hungary can be a great option.
Other Nomad Hotspots with Reliable Internet
12. South Korea – 168.26 mb/s
A country that we’ve started talking about more recently is South Korea. Its ranking has actually slipped a little bit, as other countries have been catching up. But South Korea has been one of the top performers on some of the major indexes over the last 10 years.
So, even though it’s coming in lower, South Korea always has great internet.
South Korea is one of the success stories of Asian economic growth over the last generation. The country is very pro-business and technologically advanced. Seoul is one of Asia’s foremost cities and a favorite of many travelers.
As an extra perk for Nomad Capitalists, South Korea has several great options for residency or second citizenship, but even just traveling in this country will be very easy on the internet front.
25. Portugal – 138.16 mb/s
Another country of interest is Portugal. It has become an increasingly popular place to go thanks to things like the Portugal Golden Visa program.
Its pro-business and pro-investor policies have really made it an attractive place to look into. It even offers a non-habitual resident tax program which allows you to pay zero taxes on foreign-source income.
36. Panama – 102.59 mb/s
Panama, a long-time favorite of US and Canadian expats, came in at #36. It has one of the easiest, fastest and still desirable passports to obtain and welcomes investors and businesses with open arms.
There are major tax breaks for foreign real estate purchases and their country has boasted economic growth for decades, even in years when the rest of the world has declined.
Panama is one of the freest countries in the world and a great option to look into for a second residency. It’s a beautiful country with a relaxed atmosphere, yet still provides a high quality of life with quality, high-speed internet.
43. Malaysia – 91.4 mb/s
Again, with this country, I want to point out that while the average may be slower than some of the top performers, you can get speeds of 500 mb/s or even 1 gig. I have this in my home and it works great.
Remember, these reports just give the averages. It might be worth looking into what your specific area of interest offers and not just going off of an average.
Some of the Worst Countries for Internet
Now, where is the worst internet? Statistically, it came in at Turkmenistan. If you’re one of the thousands of people who visit there each year, you’re probably going to have trouble connecting.
Here’s what I can tell you about the worst in all my experiences: Even going back into the early 2010s, I’ve had few very bad experiences. Laos was tough all across the country. But by and large my bad experiences, really anywhere in the world, were limited to a specific place I was staying.
I’ve had bad experiences even in a 5-star hotel. I remember staying at a JW Marriott property. The manager was super nice, but said his country just doesn’t care about investing in high-speed internet. A lot of these hotels that you go to – especially the corporate hotels – are stuck in 2000. They advertise 1 mb/s internet – whoo! If you’re a VIP member it’s 5 mb/s.
You can get faster than that in Turkmenistan.
The worst countries – if we’re talking about countries that a Nomad Capitalist might be interested in – would be Nicaragua and Antigua and Barbuda.
Nicaragua – particularly outside of the capital where you probably wouldn’t want to spend much time anyway – has had major challenges with the internet. Down in the beach resort of San Juan del Sur, it was a little slow for my tastes.
We have also done interviews and calls with people in a lot of the Caribbean countries, like Antigua and Barbuda, and it can be tough to get connectivity at a fast speed in the Caribbean.
Both countries came in right around the 17 mb/s mark. Not that many years ago, that wasn’t a bad speed. What it shows, however, is that they’re not really keeping up.
These are the exceptions though. Pretty much anywhere I’ve gone these days I’ve had really good access to stream videos, get on video calls, and do everything I need to do.
As internet has become a necessity, most places that you’re going to go will have great internet. I don’t know too many people who are actually moving to places like Antigua.
By and large, the state of internet speeds worldwide has improved greatly. A couple interesting countries to note — like Romania and Thailand and Monaco — those are countries with some of the fastest internet in the whole world.
But overall, I think if internet speeds are your issue, it’s a pretty easy issue to solve.
Have you had a positive (or negative) experience with internet speeds while traveling or living abroad? Share it in the comments below.