The number of people who are trading in cubicles for plane tickets are on the rise. Commonly known as ‘digital nomads’, these remote workers have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. Being able to live in different cities around the world certainly the biggest draw to the lifestyle. Here are the 10 best cities to live and work remotely for digital nomads.
First, it’s important to understand that there are certain factors that make a city ideal for digital nomads. Here’s what most digital nomads look for in a city.
Low Cost of Living. Why pay $2,000/month to live in New York when you can get a nice villa equipped with a pool, and cleaning staff for $600 in the paradise island of Bali?
Warm Weather. Most nomads prefer to trade up their winters for a warmer climate.
Good/Reliable Internet (not all internet is created equal!). Of course, in order for digital nomads to do their work, they need good AND reliable wifi and not all countries make the cut with their infrastructure. Check out: How to Always Have Good Internet as a Digital Nomad
A Community of Remote Workers. A sense of community is really important for digital nomads. Connecting with like-minded people who live a similar lifestyle allow you to connect on another level and quite frankly, make you feel not so alone on your journey.
Good Transit or Easy to Get Around. As a digital nomad, you want to be able to get out there and explore a new city or country and living in a place with good transit just makes it easier to get around.
Co-working Spaces/Cafes. Digital nomads value having a variety of places to work from. I mean, we left the 9-5 for a reason. We don’t want to sit in the same spot all day. Having a variety of co-working spaces and cafes to work from keeping things fresh and exciting, and are an added source of creativity. Check out: The Top 10 CoWorking Space in The World (That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of).
Air Quality. I never thought in my life I would say “air quality” matters until I stayed in Hanoi, Vietnam. Holy pollution. I couldn’t even walk outside for more than an hour without my eyes burning and chest hurting. So yes, air quality matters.
English Speaking. English tends to be a universal, commonly understood language and it certainly makes things “easier” especially if you’re a native English speaker.
Safety. I think this is a given.
Female/Racial/Sexuality Friendly. Depending on your gender, race, or sexual orientation, you should be aware of the different rules and roles in various countries around the world. There are some countries where it’s illegal to be gay, for example, which means it’s important you pick a country where you can feel safe being yourself.
For those digital nomads who are new to working remotely and just starting out, the following cities are a great place to start your journey. All the cities mentioned below more or less have all the factors that digital nomads look for. As a result, these top 10 cities for digital nomads allow for the most ease when transitioning to a new country.
1.Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand is THE most well-known and popular destination among the digital nomad community. A lot of people who are just starting to work remotely will start their journey in Chaing Mai. The city is abundant with a digital nomad community, it’s warm and the cost of living is very low. Just be sure you don’t go to Thailand during “burning season” because the low air quality at that time can be uncomfortable.
2. Canggu/Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Woo represent. I’ve spent a lot of time in Bali which is why I’ve even put together, ‘The Ultimate Bali Travel Guide’. There are two towns in Bali that are abundant with remote workers and digital nomads. Ubud is more inland (not near a beach) and is full of yogis. The nightlife there is more low key. On the other hand, there is Canggu which is a surf town on the beach. This town is more lively and certainly has a nightlife scene. People come here for the sun, low cost of living, and abundant community of digital nomads… oh and I guess the waterfalls, delicious food… the list goes on.
3. Valencia, Spain
Valencia Spain is a popular tech hub, has a lower cost of living and it’s beautiful. So it’s no wonder that it has become a popular destination for digital nomads to flock to. You may think of Spain as a bit more of an expensive country, but in the city of Valencia, it’s much more affordable. Just be mindful, since Valencia is in the Schengen Zone. The Schengen Zone rule states that, depending on your country, visitors can stay up to 90 days during any 180-day period. And yes, this applies to Americans and Canadians. So consider that when planning your trips.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
This is another popular spot for digital nomads and remote workers. Again, Lisbon meets the standard digital nomad criteria. It’s a beautiful city, affordable, and you can certainly find like-minded people and remote workers here. Again, just a reminder that Lisbon, Portugal is in the Schengen Zone as well which states visitors can stay up to 90 days during any 180-day period. I haven’t personally been here yet but I hear wonderful things and it’s on my list!
>> You may also like: The Essential Office Set Up for Remote Workers and Digital Nomads
5. Medellin, Colombia
If South America is more your vibe then you might want to consider Medellin, Colombia. This again is a popular destination for digital nomads. It’s a beautiful city, where mountains make the perfect backdrop. Once you’re there you can visit the different cities in Colombia such as Bogota, Cartagena, or even the Amazon. Although Colombia has had a rocky past with drug cartels, that is WAY in the past. Colombia is no longer what the movies and media have made it out to be. You will love and enjoy Colombia - and feel safe as well!
6. Buenos Aires, Argentina
I highly recommend Buenos Aires, Argentina! I was completely surprised when I stayed here for a couple of months. I had heard it was a nice place but never gave it much thought and boy was I wrong. It’s my favorite place in the world to be a digital nomad, next to Bali, and I’m not even a city person, so that says a lot. It’s like Europe meets South American flair. If you go, stay in Palermo. It’s hip and trendy and you won’t feel like you’re in a big city. There are a ton of young people, mid-20s to 30s, and the city completely comes alive at night. Remember, they usually eat dinner at around 9 pm. Two of my favorite co-working spots in the world are also located here. Oh, and did I mention Argentinians are some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen in the world!
PRO TIP: Do not walk around with your phone or electronics visible. They’ll likely get stolen if you do. This doesn’t mean Argentina isn’t a safe place but it does happen. I had friends get their phone stolen from their purses/pockets at bars. It’s better to be proactive and avoid any trouble so just be mindful of your electronics.
7. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico is another hotspot destination for digital nomads. Again, it ticks most of the boxes that remote workers look for. I personally haven’t been to Mexico City, but I studied and live in Guadalajara in University and loved Mexico. The people are super friendly, the food is AMAZING and the cost of living is really low. Oh, and of course, the beaches don’t hurt as well. And again, Mexico is not some violent place that the movies and media make it out to be. I always felt quite safe there. Of course, there are always good areas and bad areas of ANY city so just be mindful of that and you’ll be ok.
8. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic has to be the most underrated city for digital nomads. Prague checks all the boxes and more. First of all, it’s a BEAUTIFUL city with incredible architecture. There are lots of cute cafes and restaurants, and the transit system is really good - affordable, reliable, and easy to navigate. And this has to be the only place in the world where beer is actually cheaper than water! Yes! And of course, it’s affordable. This is a must-visit city for digital nomads.
9. Ho Ch Minh City, Vietnam
Another Asian hot spot is Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, known for warm weather and low cost of living. I haven’t personally been to Ho Chi Minh City but I did go to Hanoi (also in Vietnam), which I actually enjoyed despite the smog. For me, Vietnam had a distinct culture. You KNEW you were in another country when you were there just by the look and feel of the city, how they do things, and the lack of English. It was that uniqueness that made me love Vietnam, despite not being a city person. Ho Chi Minh City is definitely on my list. It seems to have more of a digital nomad community (and cleaner air!).
10. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is also a popular spot for digital nomads, although it’s certainly not one of THE most popular spots. I passed through Kuala Lumpur when I was there to head to Penang. Malaysia seems like a really great place to visit (I would definitely add it to your list) but I’m not completely sold on the idea of spending a long period of time here as a digital nomad. The plus side of living here is that because its airport is a hub in Asia. This means you can easily fly all around Asia from here for really cheap which makes it a good base. Ie. round trip tickets to Bali from Kuala Lumpur will likely cost you no more than $100.
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What’s the first destination you want to go to as a digital nomad OR if you’re already working remotely, what’s been your favourite city for digital nomads? Let me know in the comments below.
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