10 Ways Why Busan is The Next Chiang Mai as Digital Nomad Hub

Images : The Pusan National University (PNU) neighborhood, Kijang beach and the working space where I spent most of my time in Busan.
Chiang Mai has been ranked as a top choice for best cities for digital nomads to live or work remotely for many years, but no one has really talked where is another potential hub after Taiwan — for those who want to start their own location independent entrepreneur journey in East Asia.
Busan, a second big city in South Korea actually has much more potential you might never think about.

Personally, I found a home both in Busan and Chiang Mai. My first relationship with South Korea began when I visited Seoul and Busan in October 2009, and while Chiang Mai also really good friend of mine since October 2014. I would like to share another perspective why Busan actually can be the next digital nomad hub as lovely as Chiang Mai, especially if you are looking for affordable place to live with life quality at its best.

1. Nature, beautiful beaches and mountains are both in your front and backyard!

Whether you are a beach or mountain person, you don’t have to choose, because Busan has them both to anchor the city. Since Chiang Mai doesn’t have beach, after staying for a while- those who longing for a beach mostly will go down to south part of Thailand or Bali, while actually in Busan you can always reach them both in just one way metro ride.

The Best season to visit Busan is relatively almost all-year long, unless it gets really cold during winter in December until February. However, winter in Busan still considered as nicer and warmer than Seoul.

2. The fastest internet connection in Asia

Is there any better place in Asia that gives you the most convenient, decent, affordable and always well-connected than South Korea? If you can’t find any better comparison then I rest my case here.

Also read: Asia’s mobile and broadband internet speeds, in one infographic

3. (Still) Reasonable Cost of Living

Based on my experiments of living in the cities where most of the digital nomads, location independent entrepreneurs or remote workers are landed, I found my living cost in Busan still relatively close to my living cost in Berlin and even Bangkok. Living cost in Busan is definitely much cheaper than Seoul, especially if you choose to live near the university area.

Why can university area be the best location to start? Because you’ll easily find those decent restaurants, accommodations, entertainments and some other prices with students living cost standard who generally spend around $500–700/ month, so relatively will help you to cut off some unnecessary fancy budget.

4. Proper Public Transportation. No need to rent bike or bargain all the time.

I’m a fan of Public Transportation, especially on how South Korea treating their citizens and travelers with well-connected and cheap public transportation all over the country. After traveled to almost every major city in Asia, I couldn’t find any better transportation system compared to the efficiency in South Korea: the $1 ride metro (1150–1300 KRW), the bus stops just in the nearest corner, the well-designed pedestrians and those bike lines — all in one brilliant integrated system.

No hassle to bargain your tuk-tuk or red truck ride or even waiting for your uber driver, just jump over the metro when you need to go.

Also read: getting around by public transit in Busan

5. Home is where you always feel safe

South Korea is known as the safest place to live in Asia, and this is one of the reasons why I always feel home whenever I’m back in Korea. No one will bother you to walk alone in midnight, low criminal cases and even no need to worry about unexpected street dogs that might feel curious on you in the middle of night.

Also read: another perspective of living and working in Busan.

Images : The affordable university areas, “workable” cafes and the friendly city to be explored on foot.
6. Cheap+ ‘Workable Cafes’ mixed with more diverse Southern Korean cuisine

It’s very easy to find cafes to work with good coffee in Busan, definitely again — much cheaper than Seoul. You’ll find even the $1 slow drip coffee if you walk around the university areas.

As Busan located in the south, you’ll find that Busan style Korean recipes with the touch of Ocean cuisine. The cold noodle (naengmyeon) with its own signature, the variety of side dishes and Korean pancake (Jeon) also significantly different than Seoul, especially the Haemul-Jeon. Walking around Jagalchi market and having your own meal by the beach is worth to try once you get there.

7. Established Startup community, so Digital Nomadism is not so new thing for Korea
Korean Government has been working super serious to make Korea as Asia’s Startup Hub, so the digital nomadism is definitely not so new thing too. At some point, to get connected with the community or people who are like-minded, meeting the new generation who are improving the way we work — more friendly city for location independent entrepreneurs are always on the top of my list. At least, you’ll feel less lonely to land in the place where people are seeing you less alien than them.

Also read: Digital Nomad Guide — 5 Reasons Why South Korea Should Be The Top of City for Digital Nomads

8. Improvements and Innovations are everywhere in Korea

South Korea is still the most exciting country in Asia you should try to live in. I love the energy on how South Korea always trying to innovate themselves. Since South Korea is always aiming to be the first one to innovate, it means they are open (or should open themselves) for improvement. This kind of energy always brings the positive influence to me too, especially if you are always seeking for an improvement for yourself by learning from the communities around you.

9. It’s lovely spring, while Chiang Mai….. is burning.

Thinking of going up to the north instead of another tropical south when Chiang Mai is in the hottest and burning season during March — May? Then Busan can be an alternative, because the lovely spring weather will be there to welcome you.

10. Co-living as an easy way to start it

If you are still in doubt about how actually you can start your independent location work in Busan, joining co-living movement can be a good start. Because you’ll not only find the like-minded ones, but also the community and local connections right away after your first step in this friendly and livable city.

General living cost estimation (per month):
Bed + Co-working space: $600 -700
Meals (or cooking in between)+ Entertainment : $300
Public Transportation: $1 per ride

Sounds too good to be true? So let’s give it a try :)