A new index ranks cities according to how they treat digital nomads financially and in terms of how friendly they are to tourists.
It should come as no surprise that an increasing number of nations are competing with one another to woo freelancers, location-independent entrepreneurs, and employees working for businesses that have very relaxed remote work policies. Recent research conducted by the consultancy MBO Partners showed that an incredible 48 million Americans are interested in becoming digital nomads.
New hubs are competing with established hot spots, as more than four dozen countries now offer digital nomad visas. If you’re set on experiencing the nomadic lifestyle of a digital nomad, where would you recommend you go?
The perfect city for digital nomads would have good vibes and low costs of living.
Some people fantasize about visiting ski towns, while others imagine themselves in surf towns, but personal preference and budget are also important considerations.
The ability to live more frugally while working toward your goals is a major perk of digital nomadism (along with excitement and education). However, this calculation only holds if you pick a location with both the necessary infrastructure and a low cost of living. Digital Nomads, an online community for remote workers, has kindly done much of the legwork you need.
Considerations such as internet speed, cost of living, and general atmosphere were factored into the site’s recent list of recommended cities for digital nomads (hat tip to Insider).
To find places where monthly expenses are less than $2,000, I’ve gone through the entire list. These estimates are likely to be lower than the actual amount you’ll need to cover basic living expenses such as food and shelter.
Even so, you can use them to roughly estimate how much money you’ll need to survive in each city and to make comparisons between them. The following are the top 10 budget-friendly destinations:
One of only two European cities on the list with monthly costs of less than $2,000 is Lisbon, Portugal ($2,000). (Here’s a secret: even if you’re in Nicosia, Cyprus, you can make that equation work).
Compared to other European capitals, digital nomads say the city provides “great value for money,” and they point to the city’s tasty food, thriving startup scene, and good surfing as reasons to relocate there.
$950.00 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. With its low cost of living and lively nightlife, Chiang Mai “has been a digital nomad hub for years and good reason,” as stated by the website Digital Nomads.
There’s a good reason why digital nomads have flocked to Bali, Indonesia ($1,200-1,350 per month). The lush tropical island is home to stunning scenery, a thriving culture, and a manageable cost of living.
Ubud, a relaxing spot for nature lovers that will cost you $1,350 per month, and Canggu, a bustling surf town that is full of co-working spaces and other digital nomad infrastructure, both made the list. Living in Canggu will cost you $1,200 per month.
Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City costs $950.00. Digital Nomads, which calls Vietnamese cuisine “among the world’s best,” cites the country’s low cost of living as a major draw for those just starting ie nomadic lifestyle.
Travel to Cape Town, South Africa ($1,800): Cape Town is replete with cafes and coworking spaces in addition to its stunning beaches. Another plus is that English is the de facto lingua franca.
Digital Nomads recommends Budapest, Hungary ($1,450) for those who want to “experience Europe without breaking the bank,” praising the city for its affordability and highlighting the fact that a Michelin-star lunch can be had for $30 in this picturesque city on the Danube. Checkermal baths if you go. An additional piece of wisdom learned the hard way is to always carry sunscreen.
Spain’s Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (US$1,800): Despite the fall, though lands’ year-round warmth and sunshine may be their biggest selling point, the low cost of living is also a major selling point. Friendly and laid-back sums up Digital Nomads’ description of Las Palmas. With Spain’s new visa program for digital nomads, getting there shouldn’t be too difficult.
At Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ($1,500): Rio’s beaches, carnival, and soccer team are all so well-known that the city hardly needs marketing. Despite Rio’s notoriety for its slums, Digital Nomads claims the city “is safe for foreigners when staying in the right neighborhoods.”
Another city with a somewhat negative reputation because of its association with drug trafficking is Medellin, Colombia ($1,050). Digital Nomads, however, claims that “Medellin has left its dark past behind,” and that the city’s bustling digital nomad scene can be found in the El Poblado area.
If you’ve ever wanted to live out your tropical beach bum fantasy while making a living, Tulum, Mexico ($1,800) could be the place for you. Creative types and nomadic workers flock to the city because of its proximity to the United States and its easygoing atmosphere.
Concerned about the logistics of living like a digital nomad but intrigued by one of these possibilities?
Then you should read this column, which compiles a wide range of resources for aspiring digital nomads, such as a visa eligibility checker and numerous guides covering topics such as budgeting and where to stay.
It’s also possible that this recently released city-by-city guide from a travel insurance company catering to digital nomads will prove useful.