Best VPNs for Digital Nomads & Remote Workers


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Finding the best VPN as a digital nomad, remote worker, or freelancer can be difficult. There’s a huge amount of conflicting information out there – and many providers.

With frequent travel come many possibilities to be exposed to compromised WiFi networks, restrictive government internet blocks – and the annoyance of being blocked from your favorite streaming platforms.

A VPN is a simple solution to all these issues.

I’ve tested multiple VPNs over the past several years and collected my top 4 here. I’ve focused on the most important elements for you: speed, security, ease of use, price, and access to streaming services – after all, you should enjoy your downtime!

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Best Overall VPN – NordVPN

FEATURES

  • 5,800+ servers globally
  • Class-leading Wireguard encryption
  • 6 simultaneous devices
  • Fully security audited
  • 30-day refund policy

REASONS TO BUY

  • Fastest VPN on this list
  • Unblocks Netflix, Prime, HBO Go, Disney +, and more
  • 24/7 customer support

BEST DEAL

NordVPN wins the top spot on this list due to its consistently fast servers, affordable monthly cost, broad access to streaming services, as well as being fully audited and secure.

For my work I need high speeds for stable browsing, high-quality video calling, and downloading/uploading large files. During my speed tests (scroll to them here), NordVPN was the clear winner with average speeds of 136 Mbps. Whether you have a passion for streaming, downloading, or simply need reliable connectivity for browsing, NordVPN has you covered.

With so much of my day spent online with several devices, security is crucial to me. Especially when I move between cafes and other spots with unsecured WiFi, I need to know that my devices and information aren’t open to being compromised. NordVPN’s class-leading encryption and integrated kill switch ensure your data stays hidden from would-be attackers and protected from accidental leaks.

NordVPN is actually one of the first major VPN providers to implement the cutting-edge Wireguard protocol – initial testing shows it as faster and even more secure than OpenVPN. However, it hasn’t been fully audited yet. So while promising, if you want thoroughly-vetted encryption, stick with OpenVPN for now.

And for those moments when you’re not hard at work, NordVPN can unblock multiple streaming services, including Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, and several more.

This is all rounded out with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try NordVPN without risking anything. Simply contact customer support via live chat to get a refund in a matter of days.

Best Budget VPN – Surfshark

KEY FEATURES

  • 1,700+ servers globally
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Unlimited device connections
  • 30-day refund policy

REASONS TO BUY

  • Most cost-effective VPN on this list
  • Unblocks Netflix, Prime, HBO Go, Disney +, and more
  • 24/7 customer support

BEST DEAL

Surfshark’s 2-year deal brings its monthly cost down to just $1.99 per month – by far the cheapest premium VPN I’ve tested. It’s a strong value proposition for a VPN that offers high speeds, secure encryption, and access to several blocked streaming services.

This great value is further backed by Surfshark’s ability to support an unlimited number of devices. This means you can share 1 subscription with family or friends, or simply protect all of your devices. If you travel with a combination of phones, tablets, and computers, this allows you to protect everything at once and at no extra cost.

While Surfshark hasn’t yet implemented Wireguard encryption, it does utilize OpenVPN, meaning all your data is securely sent across the web. If you’re worried about data leaks, an integrated kill switch ensures that even if your VPN connection drops, your data remains safe. However, while Surfshark claims they’ve undergone a security audit, this only included their browser apps instead of the full backend infrastructure and testing their no-logs policy. If this is important to you, the other VPNs on this list are all audited.

Surfshark is no slouch when it comes to streaming, either. With support for Netflix, Prime, HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, and several more, I’ve never run into a situation where it couldn’t unblock a service I needed.

If you want to see for yourself, Surfshark offers a 30-day refund period in which you time you can get your money back at any point. Just contact their customer support via live chat or email to initiate the process.

Best Runner-Up VPN – ExpressVPN

KEY FEATURES

  • 3,000+ servers globally
  • Advanced encryption
  • 5 device connections
  • Fully security audited
  • 30-day refund policy (no questions asked)

REASONS TO BUY

  • Most cost-effective VPN on this list
  • Unblocks Netflix, Prime, HBO Go, Disney +, and more
  • 24/7 customer support

BEST DEAL

ExpressVPN is a runner-up to NordVPN primarily due to one reason: its price. While some would argue that it’s a price worth paying, it’s also simply multiple times as expensive as both NordVPN and Surfshark. However, it’s still a great VPN, regardless of its price.

ExpressVPN reached an average speed of 128 Mbps during my tests, just 8 Mbps slower than NordVPN. But it doesn’t just have a fast download speed, its servers are also extremely low-latency, meaning there’s practically no wait between you clicking something and the server responding to you. This means you can video call without any annoying delays, or start streams from Netflix or other streaming services without having to wait for a stream to load.

Where ExpressVPN has the security edge over other VPNs is with its TrustedServer infrastructure. Instead of using traditional hard drives (as most VPNs do), all of its servers run on RAM, which only temporarily stores data. This means that whenever a server is rebooted all data is lost and all software is freshly installed, keeping the server completely updated (great for security) and wiping any security threats. Of course, your online data is kept secure and leak-proof with industry-standard encryption and the integrated kill switch.

Perfect for the moments when you need some downtime, ExpressVPN supports Netflix, Prime, HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, and several other streaming services. As I mentioned earlier, my tests showed that buffering times were essentially instant, eliminating the waiting times for a video stream that can often be upwards of 20 seconds with other VPNs.

ExpressVPN is the only VPN on this list with a no-questions-asked refund, meaning you can simply initiate a request within 30 days and your refund will be immediately granted. This is ideal for trying out the service out with zero risk.

Best Alternative VPN – ProtonVPN

KEY FEATURES

  • 800+ servers globally
  • High-end encryption
  • Unlimited device connections
  • Fully security audited
  • 30-day refund policy

REASONS TO BUY

  • Same team behind privacy-focused email service ProtonMail –
  • Unblocks Netflix, Prime, HBO Go, Disney +, and more
  • 24/7 customer support

You may already know the team behind ProtonVPN from ProtonMail, the Swiss-based secure email service with end-to-end encryption and increased user anonymity. With Switzerland’s strict privacy laws and a background in security-centric technology, Proton Technologies was well-placed both an email provider and now equally as a VPN service. While I list it as an alternative, this is for two main reasons; it has the smallest server network on this list and the slowest average speeds – although this doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely capable. In fact, if you value company transparency, it might be your #1 pick.

ProtonVPN’s average speeds of 94 Mbps may be the slowest on this list, but this is still a great speed. For reference, Netflix recommends 5 Mbps for a full HD stream and 25 Mbps for a 4K stream. Practically, you won’t notice a difference between these speeds besides perhaps saving a few minutes when downloading large files. Web pages loaded just as quickly and video calls were high-quality and reliable.

Security is probably ProtonVPN’s strongest draw, as not only is the technology cutting-edge, but the company is honest about who they are, too. While the 3 other VPNs on this list are anonymously owned, ProtonVPN is openly registered in Switzerland, with their leadership team all public. This means they can be held accountable by Switzerland, or even the EU, in the event of misuse of customer data or other legal troubles. While I don’t necessarily think the other VPNs have anything to hide, I respect the lengths of transparency that ProtonVPN goes to.

Apart from their solid company background, they also offer high-end encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection – so your data stays secure. Split tunneling can be used to exclude (or only include certain apps) from being connected to the VPN – useful if the VPN connection causes issues with certain applications.

ProtonVPN’s Plus tier can also unblock streaming services including Netflix, Prime, HBO Go, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. I tested it primarily with Netflix, Prime, and HBO Go, and was happy with the minimal loading times and instant high-quality streams.

ProtonVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, however, you only get a partial refund calculated from the time you have left. If you prefer to check the basic service first, ProtonVPN also offers a free tier that you can use as long as you like and upgrade at any time.

Comparison Test Results

Speed – How fast can these VPNs go?

To give you an idea of how these VPNs perform, I did some speed tests while connected to a few different server locations.

These tests were carried out in the Netherlands, so these speeds change due to the distance from the servers tested. Your mileage may vary.

For comparison, my normal internet speed is 200 Mbps.

United StatesUnited KingdomJapanGermany Average
NordVPN114 Mbps153 Mbps109 Mbps168 Mbps 136 Mbps
Surfshark97 Mbps103 Mbps94 Mbps109 Mbps100 Mbps
ExpressVPN129 Mbps140 Mbps111 Mbps133 Mbps 128 Mbps
ProtonVPN74 Mbps107 Mbps91 Mbps104 Mbps 94 Mbps

As you can see, NordVPN and ExpressVPN went head-to-head, although NordVPN had the highest average speeds. Surfshark and ProtonVPN performed well but were on average 23% slower.

These speeds are all more than respectable and will let you download quickly, stream or video chat in high-quality, and browse without your connection being interrupted.

Streaming – Can you access your favorite blocked content?

I’ve chosen 6 of the most popular streaming services to see which my VPNs support. As you can see, it’s an even match across the board.

NetflixPrimeDisney+BBC iPlayerHuluHBO Go
NordVPN
Surfshark
ExpressVPN
ProtonVPN (Plus)

You can check on their respective websites to see whether the services unblock the countries you need.

Netflix

With Netflix being by far the most popular streaming service, it’s worth look at which countries are supported by each VPN:

USUKCanadaGermanyJapanAustraliaItalySpainFrance
NordVPNx
Surfsharkxx
ExpressVPNx
ProtonVPN (Plus)xxxxx

Price – How affordable are these VPNs?

Surfshark is the cheapest of my recommended VPNs, for both 1 and 2-year plans.

1 Month6 Months (/month)1 year (/month)2 Years (/month)3 Years (/month)
NordVPN$11.95N/A$6.99$4.99$3.49
Surfshark$12.95$6.49N/A$2.21N/A
ExpressVPN$12.95$9.99$8.32N/AN/A
ProtonVPN (Plus)$10N/A$8$6.63N/A
ProtonVPN (Basic)$5N/A$4$3.29N/A

However, if you need a VPN for a single month, ProtonVPN Plus is the cheapest at $10 – if you ignore ProtonVPN Basic. However, ProtonVPN Basic offers fewer servers, fewer devices, and can’t unblock streaming servers.

ProtonVPN also has a free version that has access to 3 countries, no data limits, and no adverts. It’s one of the best free VPNs (if not the best) available right now. You can try out their basic features and upgrade later if you want more features.

Security – Is your data secure?

All of my picks include the standard premium VPN security features:

  • High-end encryption support for private browsing.
  • OpenVPN protocol (the current leading VPN protocol).
  • No-logs policy (to ensure no data is tracked and stored).
  • Integrated kill switch (to prevent data leaks in case your connection drops).

NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and ProtonVPN have also been independently security audited – testing their code and no-logs policy. Surfshark only had their browser extensions audited, which likely won’t be comprehensive enough for you if you rate security transparency highly.

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are also the only two of my VPNs that offer Tor servers. Tor is an ultra-secure browser that “bounces” your data across 3 nodes in the network, vastly increasing your anonymity. However, these servers will slow your connection and aren’t always available due to capacity limits, so it’s best to save them for essential usage.

Customer support – When are they available and how helpful is the service?

24/7 supportLive chatEmailTroubleshooting guides
NordVPN
Surfshark
ExpressVPN
ProtonVPNxx

I’ve used customer support from all of these VPNs and have had generally positive experiences. Apart from ProtonVPN, all of them offer 24/7 support and live chat, which makes getting in touch simple and fast.

What’s a VPN and Why Do I Need One?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a network of servers shared around the globe. When you connect to this network, all your data is encrypted and you’re given a new IP address (a unique number that reveals information on your real location).

A VPN is useful for several reasons:

Unblock streaming content

While moving around the world or just from your home country, getting access to your favorite shows or movie can be difficult, especially if they’re hosted on international streaming platforms.

Unfortunately, Netflix, Prime, and many other streaming services block access to content from specific countries due to licensing agreements. This means the largest content libraries, such as the US or UK, will be off-limits.

Streaming services do this by checking your IP address, which tells them where you currently are.

By using a VPN, your real IP address is temporarily replaced with one from your country of choice. The streaming provider will think you’re actually there yourself, and gives you access to previously blocked content!

Just be sure to use a VPN that is known for unblocking streaming services, or you’ll see an error like this:

Many low-quality VPNs are still blocked by streaming services

Download torrents safely

Torrenting copyrighted material without hiding your IP address can lead to legal trouble or fines.

Torrents are downloaded from peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, so you’re downloading from various different users at once. These users can all see your IP address – and with your IP address, your real identity can be figured out by copyright holders. It is normal for copyright holders to “seed” (upload) material themselves as a way of catching downloaders.

By using a VPN, you hide your real IP address and can torrent safely.

Your IP address is visible to all other connections when you torrent – hide it with a VPN

Protect your devices

A VPN isn’t just for easy access to entertainment. A VPN helps secure your devices by:

  • Encrypting all your data, so it can’t be intercepted by anyone who might be snooping on your connection.
  • Hiding your real IP address, for safer torrenting and browsing.
  • Blocking trackers, adverts, and malware, for a safer and more anonymous browsing experience.

A VPN is a truly multi-purpose tool that I recommend everyone has in their software arsenal. Whether you simply want to secure your device from attackers, access blocked content from around the world, or download torrents anonymously, a VPN has you covered.

NordVPN is my #1 pick, although I’ve extensively tested all other VPNs on this list and can recommend them all!

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