Where do digital nomads go?
Anywhere they want! Some places are better than others, naturally, and a number of cities around the world have developed a reputation for being digital nomad friendly with an active digital nomad community. With that said, let your own interests win out over ‘popular’ places or places where lots of digital nomads have gone before.
The more you find yourself hanging around digital nomads, of course, the less time or energy you may have for meeting locals, so look for a balance.
- Bali, Indonesia — while sometimes dismissed as a cliché, the strong Balinese culture combines nicely with a cheap cost of living. The internet is supposedly everywhere (though it’s not always fast or reliable), as are the co-working spaces. Watch out for the traffic, don’t bother trying to drive, and stay hydrated in the heat.
- Bangkok, Thailand — an excellent introduction to urban southeast Asian life. Since it’s big, there’s plenty of co-working spaces, international food, and networking to be had. Cheap massages, too. More than a few nomads have complained about it being hot and dirty… but that’s Bangkok for you. Step inside a mall or a 7/11 for a blast of air-conditioning, but watch for scams.
- Barcelona, Spain — while the city is dealing with an over-tourism problem, Barcelona remains a beautiful urban hub to welcome you to the European Schengen Zone. Expect moderate weather and cheap wine but, being part of Western Europe, it’s not the cheapest place to live.
- Bucharest, Romania — it’s outside the Schengen Zone, it’s about as cheap as Europe gets, and it has some very fast internet. It’s also still a little rough around the edges. You can’t judge the Communist-era buildings by their exteriors, though — peek inside and you’ll find plenty of modern touches. As elsewhere in Eastern Europe, many people under the age of 35 speak English well.
- Budapest, Hungary — Budapest is a buzzing hub for expats / digital nomads, and a hub of history and architecture as well. It’s part of the Schengen Zone, but currently uses the forint (not the euro). Plenty of co-working spaces around.
- Chiang Mai, Thailand — the largest city in northern Thailand is arguably the epicenter of the digital nomad lifestyle. It’s cheap, has plenty of places to work from, and offers a nice mix of modern and history. Protip: rent a scooter to get around town instead of worrying about where the songthaews will take you (always wear a helmet, naturally!).
- Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam — while crowded, chaotic, and full of traffic, the internet is fast, the coffee is great, and the street food fantastic. It’s one of the cheapest places to live in the world, and visas for 6 or 12 months are fairly easy to get. Hanoi and Hue are worth a look as well.
- Lisbon, Portugal — while its location in the Schengen Zone may limit your stay to three months, it’s considered one of the more affordable parts of Western Europe. The internet is fast, and its location near the coast makes it ideal if you’re into water sports.
- Medellin, Colombia — the city formerly known as the murder capital and Pablo Escobar’s headquarters is now one of the best introductions to South America you can find. Cheap, excellent food and beautiful weather make a powerful duo for anyone that might be on the fence. Knowing Spanish is helpful, but you can get by on English only. Protip: head to the Poblado neighborhood to party or eat well, but live elsewhere to get some of the local flavor.
- Toronto, Canada — the cultural capital is one of the most diverse cities in North America. The climate and higher cost of living might make this a less desirable choice for some, but it’s a fun city with lots of opportunities to connect with locals. Consider Scarborough and Mississauga as two other cities connected to the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA.
This is just getting good.
Hey, I'm Chris. That's my book to the right, Becoming a Digital Nomad. It's a step-by-step guide that helps you test and transition into the digital nomad lifestyle. It comes with 12 worksheets and access to a Facebook group to connect with other digital nomads.