Start your digital nomad life with the right gear
If you have been asking ‘which countries are best for digital nomads?’, well read on. For quite a while people have been travelling the world and making money by working online. These people have become known as digital nomads. Now, with covid, the world has become a much more connected place and working and making a living while travelling the world has become a very realistic proposition for anyone. And now, you want it to be you, but you aren’t sure where to start. Before you grab your passport and hit the road you should take into account a few things of where you are heading to first. Frankly, I think you can be a digital nomad anywhere. If you have your heart set on swapping your current home office for an office near a white sandy beach, or a bustling European city, or a jungle villa then here are my top 10 destinations for where you could start your digital nomad journey.
Firstly, What is a Digital Nomad?
Digital nomads are people who travel to different locations and use technology to perform their job. A lot of people who love to travel become digital nomads. They make money online to fund their travelling lifestyle.
The Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
While being a digital nomad sounds glamorous, believe me, it can be hard work. It all sounds so simple, travel to a destination, set up your equipment, work, make money and travel. I wish it was that simple. This is probably why, digital nomads spend at least 3 months in the one place so they don’t have to keep setting up their equipment all the time! But there are plenty of positives to digital nomad life and as you travel the world, making money on line, you will discover what these are for yourself.
What makes a great digital nomad destination?
Every digital nomad is different and your needs may vary, but I believe these things are essential.
The Internet and Wifi
As we work online, fast internet access is essential. Without it, we cannot work effectively online. Obviously there are more frustrating things in life, but not for us digital nomads. A little investigating of how fast the wifi is in your next destination will not go astray. There is nothing worse than arriving somewhere with the intent of staying only to find wifi speeds are slow. I have found facebook groups in the city I am heading to very helpful for finding out such information. You can also google the speeds.
Cost-effective daily living
When starting out as a digital nomad, the cheaper your expenses the better. This is why many digital nomads set themselves up in cities known to be cheaper to live in. In general, these seem to be in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America. But I believe, you can be a digital nomad in any city. You just may need to budget more for living expenses.
Connecting with other Digital Nomads
Some digital nomads enjoy working in co-working spaces and living in places where they will meet other digital nomads. You don’t have to though, many digital nomads set themselves up in their own apartment and enjoy what the city has to offer.
Ability to Immerse yourself in your new city
This is the best part of being a digital nomad – and makes up the nomad part. And this is why most of us are doing what we are doing which is travelling the world and working on line. So don’t forget to take the time to immerse yourself in your local surroundings. Discover the culture, discover the food and enjoy what the city and it’s country has to offer.
Top 10 Digital Nomad Destinations
Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
work on or by the beach
Canggu in Bali is the digital nomad destination that really put the digital nomad lifestyle on the map. It is said it was visiting surfers to Bali who hit on the idea to work online between breaks. It wasn’t long that co-working and co-living spaces were introduced to ensure a cheap lifestyle. So if you are seeking to enjoy warm weather, surf, enjoy great food, live cheaply in villa accommodation then Bali is for you.
Visa: no digital nomad visa. Tourist visa for 90 days then you will need to do a visa run.
Fast Wifi: yes, but depends on where you are.
Co-working spaces: yes, check out Dojo Bali and Outpost Canggu.
Living: easy to rent a villa, check out the Facebook group Bali Canggu Housing & Accommodation.
Networking: check out Facebook groups Digital Nomads Bali.
READ MORE: Bali Digital Nomad Guide
Portugal is known for its beautiful beaches and football players, amongst other things. If you are looking for a nice sunny base in Europe then Lisbon in Portugal may be your chosen digital nomad base. Lisbon is also a vibrant city with plenty of places to play, eat and drink. There is a very good digital nomad infrastructure set up with co-living and co-working spaces and plenty of cafes for working. And the wifi speed is fast.
Visa: yes, there is a temporary residence for independent workers. One problem though, applications must demonstrate that their skills are needed in the country. You also have to register as a freelancer and the application process is lengthier than some of the others but it is worth it in the end. Read more about the Portugal Freelance Visa here.
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working spaces: yes, check out Heden (ww.heden.co) and Workhub Lisboa (www.workhub.pt).
Living: plenty of hotels, hostels and guesthouses but many opt to rent an apartment. Some co-working hubs have accommodation attached to them.
Networking: check out Facebook group Lisbon Digital Nomads.
READ MORE: Set yourself up with the right Tech Gear
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Get around like the locals
Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is a hot digital nomad city. It is often one of the first cities, digital nomad’s ‘cut their teeth on’ on their digital nomad journey. Why? It has everything a digital nomad needs. Great facilities, fast wifi, cheap living, plenty of co-working spaces, networking opportunities and a fabulous and exotic culture to discover. Richard Branson once described Ho Chi Minh City as the next silicone valley due to the large tech workforce. And there are plenty of opportunities to explore this interesting country.
Visa: eVisa available for a stay up to 3 months
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working spaces: yes, check out Dreamplex has a number of spaces in different districts. Also, Spieced CoWorking
Living: most digital nomads base themselves in Districts 1 – 3 and rent an apartment.
Networking: check out Facebook pages Expats in Ho Chi Minh City and Saigon Digital Nomads.
Medellin, Colombia, South America
If spending time in South America is on your radar, then consider this up and coming digital nomad hotspot of Medellin in Colombia. Medellin offers digital nomads many of the things they want. The weather is rather good with very pleasant, sunny days. There are plenty of cool cafes, bars and restaurants to enjoy. And the cost of living is cheap compared to some of the other digital nomad destinations. Wifi is also very fast. All these things, as you know, create a very welcoming city for expats and digital nomads to set up. Medellin is a great base for travels in Colombia and further travels throughout South America.
Visa: Colombian Freelance Visa, Also you can work as a digital nomad on a visitor visa. Apply here.
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working and co-living spaces: for both co-working and co-living space check out Selina or Siembra Coworking/Ofizen or you could rent an apartment in areas such as Ciudad del Rio, Estadio or Laureles.
Networking: check out Facebook page Digital Nomads Medellin.
READ MORE: Best jobs for digital nomads
Discover old and new architecture
Tblisi, is the capital of Georgia which is a country in the Caucasus region. This is an area in the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. And Tblisi is a city increasingly being chosen by digital nomads from around the world to set up in and live, work and play. As well as Georgia offering vibrant cities, diverse culture and beautiful landscapes it is a great base to explore the rest of Europe from. Digital nomads love Tblisi because it is safe, affordable, you only pay 1% tax if you are a business (up to USD150,000 annual turnover) and there is a digital nomad visa allowing you to stay for up to a year. Add plenty of co-working options and cafes and a good network of other digital nomads. No wonder, with all this on offer, many are choosing Tblisi are a digital nomad destination.
Visa: yes, get the details on working remotely here.
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working: check out Impact Hub Tiblisis
Living: Just outside the centre of town in the districts of Vake and Avlabari you will find some inexpensive apartments. However, heating is minimal so ensure you have warm clothes for winter.
Networking: check out the Facebook groups Tbilisi Digital Nomads and Tiblisi Expats Community.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is found in the north of Thailand, some 700 km north of the capital of Bangkok. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a mix of nature, temples in a bustling city. It was the digital nomad capital of the world before the pandemic started. Let’s hope it retains that name when Thailand and the world reopens.Chiang Mai is hugely attractive to digital nomads because of its low cost of living, great street food, 24-hour cafes, co-working spaces, great lifestyle and fast wifi. Sounds very conducive to working online and being able to immerse yourself in the local environment. What else could you want?
Visa: 90 day visitor visa. Thailand government has approved a 10-year program for remote workers and investors. Read this info on being a digital nomad in Thailand first.
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working: check out Punspace and C.A.M.P.Ais
Living: Hostels and hotels are cheap and many digital nomads stay in them. However, if you want some space there are serviced apartments and rooms for rent.
Networking: check out the Facebook groups Chiang Kai Digital Nomads and Digital Nomad Coffee Club.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Enjoy the watersports while in Mexico as a digital nomad
Playa del Carmen is found on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexica. Facing the Caribbean Sea it offers digital nomads a fabulous tropical vibe with lively cafes, fast internet connection and co-working spaces. Throw in Mexican food and culture along with Mayan ruins and you will know why this has become a popular, if not one of the most popular digital nomad and remote worker hotspots.
Visa: It is possible to stay in Mexico for up to six months on a tourist visa but The Mexico temporary resident visa is the way to go if you want to stay for a full year in the country. And it can be extended for up to three times. Read more about the Mexico Temporary Resident Visa here.
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working: check out Nest Coworking and Work Zone Coworking .
Living: There are plenty of cheap hostels and hotels to get your bearings in as well as Airbnb accommodation. There are loads of letting agencies to find an apartment through.
Networking: check out the Facebook pages of Digital Nomads Play Del Carmen Cancun Tulum and Expats in Playa del Carmen.
Estonia is a Northern European country bordered by Latvia in the south and Russia to the East. And there is plenty of north and western coastline that borders the Baltic Sea. So it may not be the Caribbean but there is plenty of ocean to enjoy. There are also many towns such as the Baroque inspired capital Tallinn. How inspiring would that be? Throw in a cheap cost of living and fast wifi and you have a popular digital nomad city.
Visa: Since 2014 Estonia has been running an e-residency program to attract entrepreneurs. And has so far attracted around 70,000 foreigners to the program. From 1 August 2020 Estonia launched a digital nomad visa that allows a stay to live and work for up to 12 months. Read more about The Republic of Estonia Digital Nomad Visa here.
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working: check out Lift 99 and Spring Hub
Living: Most digital nomads start out in a hostel of which there are a number targeted at remote workers. Most find an apartment outside the city centre in neighbourhoods of Telliskivi and Noblessner.
Networking: check out the Facebook groups Digital Nomads Tallin and Expats in Tallinn, Estonia.
READ MORE: Best travel insurance for digital nomads
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Enjoy the local foods on your digital nomad journey – Mojo Picon Sauce in the Canary Islands
Wanting a place with year-round warm weather, great wifi, cheap living and plenty of culture to run your online business? Well Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain might have to be top of your list. People love this place because it is big enough to have all the ‘big city’ things you want, plus is small enough to discover by foot. Add great beaches and plenty of water sports there are plenty of activities to keep you busy when not working online.
Visa: check out the self-employment work visa allowing you to live and work in Spain for up to a year. Read more about the Spain Self-employment Work Visa here.
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working: check out CoworkingC and The House
Living: The House as well as offering co-working spaces offers co-living with kitchens, a roof top deck plus other homely offerings.
Networking: check out the Facebook pages Gran Canaria Digital Nomad and Las Palmas Info.
Budapest, Hungary, Eastern Europe
The Hungarian capital of Budapest has beautiful grand historic buildings that are very inspiring to digital nomads. Add cheap living and great food then you will know why this is becoming a hot digital nomad destination. If you don’t want the constant year-round heat of some destinations, Hungary offers warm summers and freezing cold winters with snow. There is also great wi-fi and co-working spaces.
Visa: holiday visa up to 90 days
Fast wifi: yes
Co-working: co-working is very strong at Kaptar and Kubik Coworking
Living: Digital nomads are preferring the suburbs of District X1 in Buda and then play in the centre of town.
Networking: check out Facebook pages Digital Nomads Budapest and Digital Nomad Hungary
More popular digital nomad cities
As I said previously, any where could be your next digital nomad or remote worker destination. Here are a few that meet the digital nomad requirements.
Seoul, South Korea
Cape Town, South Africa
Bocas del Toro, Panama
Final Words on Top Digital Nomad Destinations
As you have read, there are many cities that are very attractive to digital nomads and remote workers for a number of things. Are you currently a digital nomad? Or starting your journey? I’d love to hear in the comments following or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.