For crypto enthusiasts, choosing a location to live in that supports an ideal lifestyle extends beyond searching for a city with a high number of shops and retail outlets that accept crypto.
Sure, any crypto enthusiast will benefit from living in an area with easy access to crypto-related amenities. However, as the world of crypto evolves and more crypto debit cards appear, crypto enthusiasts are realizing that direct crypto spending is not the only factor to consider when choosing a place to call home. The political stability of the location, the weather and internet broadband speed are some of the critical considerations for crypto enthusiasts looking to become global citizens.
In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Juan Otero, the CEO of Travala.com — a crypto-friendly travel booking service — said that nowadays, cryptocurrency enthusiasts have embraced a nomadic “decentralized way” of life, as cryptocurrencies allow them such levels of freedom. With regulation in mind, Otero pointed out that Japan, Switzerland and Singapore are top choices for those looking for jurisdictions with progressive crypto regulations.
Popular crypto YouTuber moved to Saipan
Just recently, a crypto YouTuber by the name of Vin Armani, who is known for founding CoinText and also for being a former star on Showtime's Gigolos, moved out of the United States to Saipan with his entire family. In a tweet and subsequent conversation with Cointelegraph, Armani pointed out that his move to relocate out of the U.S. was due to the fear of being labeled “undesirable” by the “totalitarian tyranny” that he predicted was about to happen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Located in the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan boasts of a population of just 52,000 people. Also, the country's proximity to the U.S. makes it an ideal location to be. Like some other members of the crypto Twitter community, Armani is concerned that the government could soon overstep its authority and use technology to restrict the use of crypto. This, he says, can be done through contact tracing technology currently being used to track down and isolate individuals infected by the coronavirus.
Armani also said in a tweet that he chose Saipan because it has “no IRS or ICE jurisdiction. No national guard. No real military presence. Very laid back police. [...] No code enforcement dept.” The case with Armani is evidence that crypto enthusiasts are now more considerate of factors such as political stability, security and overall friendliness of financial regulations toward crypto than whether an area has enough retail shops for spending crypto. Taking into consideration all the factors discussed above, here is a sample list of some of the countries that are ideal places for crypto enthusiasts to live.
Whether one is looking at political stability or a country’s tax policy toward crypto as a criterion, this city-state with a population of slightly above 5.8 million people easily ranks at the top. Singapore is one of the few countries that support a policy of zero capital gains taxes on crypto income. What’s more, regulatory bodies in Singapore, including the Monetary Authority of Singapore, have initiated several crypto-friendly initiatives, including the publication of initial coin offering guidelines back in November 2017.
Even though the country’s government does not recognize crypto as legal tender, the Monetary Authority of Singapore granted an exemption to several crypto companies under the new Payment Services Act, giving firms a grace period of six months in which they can operate without a license. Singapore also has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world at around 180 megabits per second.
Singapore ranks high among politically stable countries worldwide, making it one of the best places to register a business while avoiding the long-term risks that often emerge in politically unstable states. In terms of the availability of retail outlets that accept crypto payments, Singapore has around 40 shops, according to CoinMap. Housing costs in Singapore are comparatively expensive, with average rents ranging from as low as $1,766 Singapore dollars ($1,250 U.S. dollars) all the way to SG$3,366 ($2,400 dollars) per month.
Australia also ranks high among countries in the world for its political stability. Additionally, Brisbane — one of Australia’s largest cities — stands out for its warm attitude toward crypto, being among the first to introduce crypto payments in the shops of its local airport back in 2018. According to CoinMap, the number of retailers that accept crypto payments in Brisbane sits at about 22, ranking as high as other large cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, which have over 30 and over 70 outlets, respectively.
Brisbane is also home to the Australian Bitcoin (BTC) payment platform Living Room Of Satoshi, a company that facilitates crypto payments for utility bills, tuition fees and even taxes. The solution makes it easy for crypto enthusiasts in Brisbane to transfer money to their loved ones, not to mention receive payments in crypto.
Crypto-accepting shops aside, Brisbane has a warm and welcoming climate with beautiful historic landmarks, not to mention sun-soaked beaches and vibrant art scenes. For those who love warm sunny days, Brisbane boasts of nearly 300 of those every year, making it an ideal location to settle down. In terms of quality of life, Brisbane is one of Australia’s most affordable cities to live in.
Even though median weekly rents in the city have gone up by 1.4% according to reports, the median rent price is set at about $453 Australian dollars ($300 U.S. dollars) per week, and the city’s rental market affordability has increased, prompting increased migration from Sydney and Melbourne.
The regulatory landscape in the U.S. is as dynamic as it comes. Even though the federal government has yet to adopt a universal regulatory framework, several states are pushing crypto regulations in different directions as the regulatory gap continues to grow wider. The state of California, arguably, stands out from the bunch in that it does not oblige crypto firms to obtain any specific licenses.
As far back as 2014, California emerged as the first U.S. state to come up with crypto regulation. Even though the state is not as popular with crypto and blockchain enthusiasts as it once was, it still has the largest population of professionals in the crypto industry.
While most of the crypto landscape is filled with speculators, California’s Silicon Valley is filled with individuals who are working on blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. It is no wonder California is home to large crypto companies such as Coinbase, Kraken and Ripple. Apart from a regulatory-friendly framework and a solid crypto community, another factor that makes California a great place for crypto enthusiasts is its weather.
California is home to beautiful beaches and breathtaking landscapes, not to mention a fairly warm climate and a flourishing winemaking region. The state boasts of thrilling and adventurous night scenes, especially in cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. The only downside is that the cost of living in California is relatively high, with the rental cost of a furnished apartment in a lavish neighborhood starting at about $2,967.
Sweden ranks above most other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Better Life Index. Most Swedish citizens enjoy fast internet speeds and affordable and reliable public transportation, not to mention one of the best social welfare systems in the world. Even though the country has yet to formulate any specific regulation targeting cryptocurrencies, Sweden’s central bank stated in March 2018 that “Bitcoin is not money.”
Several government agencies in the country such as the Swedish Tax Agency have also published guidelines in regard to crypto, with a 2014 statement from the STA indicating that digital currencies are exempt from tax.
Furthermore, despite the country’s cautious attitude toward cryptocurrencies, Sweden is one of the few countries in the world that has embraced digital payments as the government prepares to launch a digital version of its fiat currency.
When it comes to its climate, Sweden is known for its cold winters, with February’s temperatures ranging from minus 22 C (minus 8 F) to minus 3 C (27 F), but what makes up for it is access to winter sports. Another upside to Sweden is that it has a cheaper cost of living, especially when compared to over half the countries in Europe. For a family of four, the monthly cost is estimated at about 39,038 Swedish kronor ($4,133 U.S. dollars).
New Zealand has established itself as a crypto-friendly country even though the government has made it clear that it does not consider cryptocurrencies to be legal tender. The New Zealand Inland Revenue Department released a paper on Feb. 24 that proposed excluding cryptocurrencies from specific goods and services tax requirements. While admitting to the speedy growth of the country's crypto market, the government agency mentioned that it does not intend to create barriers for crypto-related developments.
Crypto regulation aside, New Zealand is considered one of the world’s most peaceful places to live, with the Institute for Economics & Peace’s Global Peace Index showing the country’s maintenance of a top position for close to a decade. Also, the country was rated second in the world for achieving work–life balance. The ranking came from HSBC’s 2018 Expat Explorer Survey that considered the choices British expats made when looking for a place to relocate to with their families.
In terms of climate, New Zealand has warm summers full of sunshine and moderately cold winters. The climate in New Zealand is pretty similar to that in the United Kingdom. Plus, if one is looking for retail shops and businesses that accept crypto payments, there are over 40 businesses in New Zealand that accept crypto payments.
Despite being one of Europe's smallest countries, Liechtenstein passed a law in October 2019 aimed at enticing crypto companies. The law, called the Token and Trusted Technology Service Provider Act, was enforced on Jan. 1 and became the first-of-its-kind comprehensive regulation for the token economy. The law introduced regulatory clarity in the country, thus allowing unencumbered future development of the crypto industry.
Given that Liechtenstein is a member of the European Free Trade Association, crypto companies in the jurisdiction have easy access to the common European market and are able to operate on a compatible legal framework with other countries in the region. Furthermore, the nation of Liechtenstein occupies a breathtaking location in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland.
The country’s broadband internet speed is well above 100 megabits per second, and for those looking for a quiet place with a spectacular view, the mountain scenery of this small country is something to behold. It boasts of a high gross domestic product, not to mention a stable political environment as well. As a result of having one of Europe’s highest wage levels, most people in Liechtenstein can afford high living standards. House rentals range from 790 Swiss francs ($800 U.S. dollars) to 1,830 francs ($1,902 dollars).
Living in the future
Despite the delay, crypto regulations all over the world are starting to evolve, and governments are tailoring their approaches, as seen in the case of Gibraltar. If you are looking to set up shop or live in a jurisdiction that has crypto-friendly tax policies, countries such as Germany, Portugal and Switzerland are among the few in the world that offer tax exemptions on cryptocurrencies.
However, if your considerations go beyond a country’s tax policy on cryptocurrencies, some critical factors to have in mind include a country’s political stability, quality and affordability of life, and adaptability to the new environment.
Related: Gibraltar Succeeding in Crypto Regulation Where Others Fall Short
Furthermore, as the global pandemic has exposed the underlying problems of the existing financial system, it is evident that Bitcoin and the crypto economy at large will increase in popularity worldwide.
Therefore, for crypto enthusiasts, the smart move is to live in countries that are set to become the crypto powerhouses of the future. Given the rapid advancements in the crypto payments infrastructure facilitated by Cash App, Revolut and other notable companies, it means looking beyond the number of shops that accept crypto to considering other factors that prioritize the personal needs and desires of a modern global citizen. Travala.com’s Otero hopes that more places, propped up by a regulatory regime, will appear on the map soon: “Governments will start to take a more positive approach toward crypto so more countries across the world will embrace the benefits.”