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Best Places to Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

Photo by Peggy Anke on Unsplash

The digital nomad lifestyle appeals to people who embrace location-independent, remote work, and want to have fun while at it. 100% remote work means your office can be anywhere, as long as you have internet access.

For digital nomads, the question is: why somewhere, when it can be everywhere?

Research shows the number of digital nomads is increasing yearly. Software developers and related fields make up almost one-fifth of the global digital nomad community. But there are other workers like writers, tutors, virtual assistants and marketers. It’s a new, exciting lifestyle that allows you to travel the world while earning a living. But that doesn’t mean you should go just anywhere on the map.

What to Look for in a City

The Digital Nomad Index and Safe Cities Index have standards you can use to rate cities for digital nomads. Some important things digital nomads should look for:

  1. Cost of Living

Cost of living is a major consideration when you are picking your next destination. You need to consider accommodation, food, and living costs in your preferred city. Budget-friendly cities with good quality living conditions are best.

2. Visa & Work Permit

Travel is central to the digital nomad lifestyle. Some countries offer special visas for digital nomads, and you should take full advantage of this.

You should ask how long you can stay, the country’s visa requirements, the work requirements, and if there are policies that may stop you from working legally during your stay.

3. Social Amenities & Infrastructure

As a digital nomad, you should consider the city’s infrastructure. The transportation, quality of healthcare, recreational centers, and restaurants are important amenities that can support or ruin your stay. These social amenities should be available and accessible.

4. Internet Speed & Connectivity

You should prioritize fast, reliable internet. Not every job may require blazing internet speed, but having swift internet access makes working easier, smoother and more seamless.

5. Safety

Digital nomads should avoid high-crime cities, regions with political and civil unrest, and those prone to natural disasters.

6. Weather and Climate

The weather conditions of a city affect your living experience. With warmer weather conditions, you can enjoy more outdoor leisure activities, thriving nightlife, and a bubbling social culture. Some people may enjoy colder regions, so it’s best to look out for weather that suits you.

Best Cities for Digital Nomads

Here are some of the best places to live and work as a digital nomad.

  1. Lisbon, Portugal

The capital city of Portugal has become a top choice for travelers, digital nomads, tech entrepreneurs, start-ups, and tourists around the globe. Lisbon is an affordable city, compared to many others in Western Europe. Lisbon has many coworking spaces, work-friendly bars and cafes. It has reliable internet, and an affordable transport system. Lisbon is home to many tech start-ups, and hosts global tech and creative events and meet-ups. It is often referred to as the Digital Hub of Europe.

The weather is warm and sunny, and you can enjoy its beautiful parks, gardens, and beaches during the day. It also has a vibrant nightlife, great food, and a rich cultural heritage.

Lisbon is ranked top as one of the friendliest and safest cities in the world for expats. Portugal also offers a digital nomad friendly visa.

2. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is ranked as the best city in Asia for digital nomads on many lists. It is a preferred location for freelancers, remote workers, and tourists. Bangkok has high-speed WiFi hotspots across the city, good intra-city transportation, affordable cost of living, and beautiful scenery.

Bangkok was the most visited city in the world in 2019. It’s warm for the most part of the year and its local dishes are a delight. The city has a thriving digital nomad community and an active nightlife. Bangkok’s proximity to other nomad-friendly places like Malaysia and Bali make it even more attractive.

3. Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, otherwise known as Colombia’s City of Eternal Springs, is another good choice for digital nomads. With a near-perfect climate and an arresting landscape, Medellin is one of the most beautiful cities in South America.

It is favored by people living or working in North America, because it’s within their time zone. Medellin has affordable accommodation, co-working spaces, and fun nightlife. You can enjoy its restaurants, bars, and some dancing in any of its salsa clubs.

The government has set up a digital nomad visa, making it even more desirable for remote workers.

4. Berlin, Germany

Berlin, the largest city in Germany, is considered the cultural center of Europe. It is Europe’s startup hub, attracting entrepreneurs, tech hubs, startups, and remote workers all year round. It has world-class infrastructure, and there’s no language barrier because almost everyone speaks English.

The quality of life here is almost unrivaled across Europe — from affordable food, accommodation and utilities, to a good transport network — Berlin has it all. The internet speed in Berlin is super fast and reliable. You can find several co-working spaces, hubs, and cafes. The food is also good, and cheap. Berlin is a diverse city, with a great history, rich art scene and bustling nightlife.

Germany offers an independent worker visa for digital nomads.

5. Canggu, Bali

Canggu is a beach town in Indonesia’s Bali Island. It is a popular destination for surfers, and beach lovers; perfect for digital nomads who love to enjoy the waves, waterfalls and ocean view. It is a safe, affordable tourist destination, and a popular destination for female digital nomads. Canggu has great weather all through the year.

There are many coworking spaces and hubs that cater to remote workers, the internet connection is swift, and reliable. In Canggu, you can enjoy good quality living and available infrastructure on a budget.

Transportation within the city is mostly with bikes or scooters. Accomodation and living costs are affordable, so you can combine work and a social life on a budget. You can destress after work by playing water sports, like swimming and surfing, or enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife.

6. Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is a colorful, diverse, and culturally rich capital city. It is a top-rated location for digital nomads, attracting visitors from across the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Mexico has many work-friendly hubs, cafes, and co-working spaces. The internet is fast and reliable, and Mexico City has an active digital nomad community.

The ambience in the city is remarkable, from historical buildings to museums, art galleries and food scenes. The nightlife here is amazing, and Mexican cuisine is delicious. The main language is Spanish, but most people speak some English.

Mexico offers special visas for remote workers.

7. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is the gateway from the East to the West, sitting between Asia and Europe. It is a dynamic, culturally diverse city, and a great choice for digital nomads. There are 24-hour work-friendly hubs and cafes, the internet speed is fast, and living costs are affordable. Istanbul has top-notch infrastructure, and ranks high for liveability among tourists and digital nomads. The city is well-connected, with great public transport, and a renowned airport giving you many travel options. You can shuffle between continents from Istanbul, and explore more locations. The food is great, and the locals are welcoming to visitors.

While there is no specific visa for digital nomads, you can apply for an e-visa and stay for up to three months. Residence permits are available for those who wish to stay longer.

8. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, is positioning itself as a digital city of the future. UNESCO has listed it as one of the best preserved Medieval European cities, and it has a rich culture to share with visitors. Tallinn has high-speed internet and many free WiFi spots within the city. It has several coworking spaces and workable cafes, and is intentional about attracting independent workers, digital nomads, and entrepreneurs. Its bubbling tech culture fuses with its old towns to offer visitors the best work-fun experience during their stay.

The cost of living here is affordable. It’s a hotspot for remote workers, and has a growing digital nomad community. Estonia offers digital nomad visas for independent workers.

With more people embracing remote work, the number of digital nomads is likely to keep increasing. More countries are likely to create digital nomad-friendly policies to attract visitors. A digital nomad lifestyle can give you the best of both worlds, allowing you to work with top companies in the West while enjoying the sights, sounds and cuisines all over the world.

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Interested in jumpstarting a remote career in a tech or tech-adjacent field? With Unpluggd Academy, we offer courses and bootcamp programs in coding, design, product management and more, along with soft-skills training in interview prep and other areas to help you land, and keep, that ideal job.

Sign up to join our next cohort of candidates on their way to a flexible remote-work life!

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Kareem P. Jackson

Kareem P. Jackson

Product Engineer💻….Global Citizen🛩Blockchain Enthusiast🔗….Stoic….Founder of Unpluggd Media Group. I build things and tell stories….https://kareempjackson.com