400 Cities for Digital Nomads:
Cheap. Safe. Sunny. Fast Internet
New website 400Cities.com answers the question:
Which cities globally are Cheap, Safe, Sunny, and have fast Internet?
A proprietary algorithm determines the #400Cities Index from crowd-sourced data on each of these factors.
No judgement is made about how attractive individual cities are. Users can investigate their own preferences in their filtering and sorting.
There are several other surveys of liveability of cities globally. One of the best known is that of the Economist Intelligence Unit. But that survey takes no account at all of Cost of Living. As a result it always throws up a Top 10 of extremely expensive cities.
You will need to hit the ground earning $40,000 to $50,000 gross to get by in any of these cities, so that you clear $2,500 monthly after tax, social security deductions etc. to rent a decent apartment and live a comfortable life for a single person.
When you do account for Cost of Living, you get a HeatMap of promising Nomad cities that looks like this (note the concentration of dark blue in South-East Europe and Mediterranean countries):
A word about data.
Data on cost of living and crime are crowd-sourced.
Cost of living in any city measured in US Dollars is going to vary from day to day as FX rates change. This is accounted for by the live FX feeds supplied to the site 400Cities.com
We try continuously to improve the data. For example, we incorporated this data from the OECD on broadband fibre optic penetration:
400Cities.com: A User Guide
The 400 Cities page of the site opens a Google Sheet in a new browser tab that you can sort and filter to find your perfect Nomad City. It shows the 400 cities sorted by their Index score and the monthly budget Nomads need to live there comfortably. That’s the budget for young professionals. Rent a nice apartment, visit restaurants, cafes and bars, shop, take excursions from the city.
The sheet is dynamic: Cost of Living automatically adjusts for changing FX rates in real-time. As a result the #400Cities Nomad Index will change fractionally minute by minute, depending on how lively or calm FX markets are. So, depending on how FX markets pan out over coming months, the Top 10 is quite likely to change. For example, if the Turkish Lira gets a lot more expensive against the USD, Antalya might lose top spot. FX rates are continously evolving:
The CurrenciesYTD page reveals which destinations have become more expensive, and which cheaper in 2016.
The Big Mac Index page is another approach to discovering good value destinations. The 400Cities Big Mac Index feeds off live FX rates and adjusts PPP valuations of currencies in real-time. (This improves on the iconic Economist Big Mac Index where FX rates are only updated twice a year.)
The 400Cities Top 15
Here are the results at August 2016 (remember, changes in FX rates can affect these rankings):
Countries that rank best in the Top 15 are
- Turkey: 4 cities (Antalya, Ismir, Istanbul, Bursa)
- Romania: 2 cities (Cluj-Napoca, Brasov)
- Bulgaria: 2 cities (Varna, Plovdiv)
- Palestine, Georgia, Slovenia, South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, Austria (one city each)
Pictures of the Top 50 Cities in the 400Cities survey (at August 2016) (Courtesy of Sözcü newspaper).
Here is a piece about the attractions of Romania as a destination for Digital Nomads:
And here is another piece about the attractions of Plovdiv, Bulgaria:
If you identify any anomalies in the data, or have ideas for improvement or for working together to generate revenue from these ideas, please let me know on Twitter (@BambouClub). I want continuously to improve the data and will engage on Twitter with anyone who is intelligently sceptical about specific items of data.
This is the first blog on the #400Cities project. There are lots of interesting questions which I hope to blog about. For example:
a. Before constructing this index, or before writing the 400Cities algorithm that constructed the index, I had a sort of prejudice that the countries of the Caucuses were bandit country. But the results for that region are really interesting (every country in the region scores higher than the top-ranked US city). I have never visited those countries — Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan — but a little bit of Googling suggests there might be something in that idea, and that region is progressive and forward-thinking:
b. Can the #400Cities index be right that there are five Mexican cities and two Colombian cities that score better for Cost, Safety, Climate and Internet infrastructure than any single US city?
Footnote: Let’s look at that Top 10 by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
This is how The Economist’s Top 10 cities score in the #400Cities Index:
And Calgary? Really? Here is Calgary on 9 November 2014, when the peoples of the Mediterranean and South-East Europe are collecting the grapes from the vineyards:
According to the Weather Network's outlook for winter, Calgary is going to see "wild swings, as we typically do, on…calgaryherald.com
For Calgarians who dread the back-breaking snow-shovelling and bone-chillingly cold of winter, they will have some chinooks to look forward to for occasional blasts of warmth.
“Most certainly we’ll see some chinook events as well this year,” Vettese said. “We’ll certainly see some going forward this winter.”
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