If you don’t know, digital nomads are those that live abroad and work remotely, either for themselves or for a company, with the flexibility to move around as they please.
With the recent shift in workplace trends, allowing people to work remotely seems to be not only a requirement but also highly desired. What follows are some reasons to look for jobs that allow for remote work, what to consider when choosing a place to live and work remotely, and different countries and cities around the world that are friendly to foreigners while providing everything you need to work virtually.
What To Consider As A Digital Nomad
Whether you try being a digital nomad for the short term or want to adopt a long-term nomadic lifestyle, there are several things to consider beforehand.
WiFi connection & capabilities – Most remote job gigs involve working online, taking conference calls, video conferencing, or FaceTime. So, Internet access and strong capability is essential.
Walkability/public transportation – Many places abroad have a culture of walking and using public transportation. Those that do are usually best for digital nomads as it eliminates the need for a car. Plus, strong walkability signals that it’s easy to get around, and you’re more likely to find places to stay close to things to do, such as cafes, restaurants, and bars.
Cost of living – An affordable cost of living can be a significant distinguishing factor and be a dealbreaker when choosing your home abroad. While remote work is convenient, living abroad can get expensive. Your salary and lifestyle will dictate the affordability of different locations.
Safety – Some areas of the world, while the most exotic and exciting, may not be the safest to live and work. Do your due diligence, especially if you are going to be on your own.
Visa costs & application – The ability to get a work visa and how long it lasts can vary significantly across the world. Be sure to understand the limitations and constraints of the countries you’re considering.
Expat culture and life – Moving into an unknown region can be daunting. Having an established community can help you with getting settled. Some countries are more popular than others for ex-pats. See which ones appeal to you. Having a community of ex-pats to reach out to can also help facilitate making new friends in your new hometown.
Language and dialects – Language is a huge barrier to living abroad and can impact your quality of life. If you are fluent in the country’s primary language, then this won’t be an issue. However, if you rely on English to get around, then be sure to understand the language and culture of the areas you’re interested in.
Other helpful information to arm yourself with includes a city’s demographics, healthcare system, and the best places to live.
The Best Places for Digital Nomads
This list is not all-inclusive of the options available to digital nomads. It was put together with input from several different people, whose names are listed below the destination for reference. The descriptions are direct experiences from having lived, traveled through those areas, or knowing someone who has.
Hopefully, it kickstarts your search for work and travel!
(Nabila Ismail, Dose of Travel)
Lisbon is a great place to live for so many reasons. The people are warm and friendly, the food is amazing and there is no shortage of things to do in the city or in the countryside.
It’s not the cheapest place to live; however, it is cheaper than neighboring countries. On average, an apartment will cost you around $700-900/USD for a 1 bedroom.
The downsides are that it does get chilly in the winter.
(Sanjana Vig, The Female Professional)
Edinburgh has a huge ex-pat population, and not just from the United States. People from all over the world travel there, fall in love with it and then decide to move there. The country’s main language is English, and the local natives are super friendly.
The average rent for a one-bedroom is $650-$850 depending on the location. The city has every modern convenience you could ask for while maintaining its old-world charm. During the summer, you’ll get daylight until 11 pm. WiFi is a non-issue no matter where you go. The downside will be the chilly winters, but I think some Scotch can keep you warm if you need it.
Barcelona is another excellent location for being a digital nomad and working remotely. The city itself is charming, the food is terrific, and the people are super friendly. Plus, with beach access, you have an entire world of activities available.
It’s easy to get around, though it is a bit more pricey than other European options. Average rent varies greatly, ranging from 600-1200 Euros depending on location. It made this list for its ease of living and how welcoming it is to outsiders.
Medellin is becoming more popular for travel and digital nomads. There’s still a lot of weariness about Colombia in terms of safety; however, I felt pretty safe. I traveled to Colombia alone for about 10 days with no issues.
The cost of living and weather are definitely bonuses, with rent for a 3b/2ba apartment that’s unfurnished running about $400-$1000 per month. The internet, however, can be iffy. I enjoyed the city and thought there was a lot going on. Plus, the country itself is beautiful, and there’s so much to explore! They have a fairly decent amount of co-working spaces and plenty of coffee shops to work from!
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
While Cancun mostly brings the spring breakers, Tulum has become the Miami of Mexico, and Playa Del Carmen draws families and ex-pats.
Even when the US was on strict lockdown, many people were flocking there due to its proximity to the states, warm weather, and its relative affordability compared to other beach cities (average rent here for a 1 bedroom in the city center is $300 USD). You will undoubtedly pay more than you would be compared to other parts of Mexico, but you’ll find prime shopping, conveniences of home like Starbucks, and cuisine from all over the world.
The Internet is better than most places in Mexico, and it’s a walkable city, so those are a bonus.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires has a lot of character, with several distinct neighborhoods that reflect its unique heritage. From French architecture to colorful buildings, or the hipster bars and restaurants of Palermo, there’s a lot of places to choose from to live and work in this cosmopolitan city.
It’s relatively affordable, with monthly rent for a one-bedroom ranging from $232-$314 outside and inside the city center. The city is walkable, the people are warm and friendly, and the internet is fast. It does get cold in the typical summer months because the seasons are flipped, so make sure you’re prepared for that!
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul has all of the best parts of Asia with street food, vibrant culture, beautiful temples, and palaces, plus the added benefit of high technology and some modern-day conveniences.
You can live a good life in terms of cost as rent for a one-bedroom outside the city vs inside the city is $582-$839, respectively. Plus, you will have no shortage of things to do, especially at night. They really know how to work hard and play hard.
These three locations are grouped together due to their similarities in working remotely and geographical proximity:
- Vietnam – Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh (Rent $400-$900)
- Thailand – Bangkok (Rent $360-$700)
- Cambodia – Siem Reap (Rent $150-$300)
Each of these places is amazing. They are incredibly affordable to live in, have plenty to do to keep you busy in your free time, and are friendly to foreigners. I’ve never lived in these areas, but I have traveled through them, and I’ve heard first-hand accounts from people who have lived there for short periods. I always hear rave reviews.
Since these locations are further from home, doing your work or serving your clients from completely different time zones might be a challenge. However, the rest of the experience of living there is one worth taking.
I lived for six months in Mysore, Bangalore, and Pune. India is very rich in culture and a very inexpensive place to live. Also, anyone who can speak English can get around easily.
I usually would work during the week and spend my free time traveling to different parts of the country, visiting palaces, touring tea farms, and seeing the Taj Mahal.
Living and working in the big cities in India (not just Bangalore) will give you all the creature comforts you’re used to, and public transportation is affordable and readily available. Plus, much of city life there is pretty tech-savvy, so obtaining the internet connection you need shouldn’t be a problem.
The Future Of Remote Work
Given the changing trends in the workplace and people’s shifting preferences, companies and countries will likely try to capitalize. In addition to the areas Nabila and Jonathan mention above, locations worldwide will likely start to open up to attract foreign workers. There are rumors that Hawaii, Bulgaria, and some areas of Italy will likely start offering incentives for remote workers.
While not every job or industry can offer remote work, it is important to understand this shift, especially since it seems to be here to stay. As business owners, CEOs of startups, or managers, you may have employees interested in working from home or wanting to live abroad.
The Draw Towards a Nomad Lifestyle
The work culture in the US, especially, emphasizes work and often penalizes us for taking breaks. It’s all about productivity. And we are seeing the effects of that overwork: there’s burnout, reduced job satisfaction, and unhappiness.
Given how the world is connected and how easy it is to complete work online, this shift to work from home is understandable and is likely here to stay. Remote work opportunities are likely to become more in demand. If you can maintain a job, travel, and get paid while living anywhere, why wouldn’t you?
Knowing the best places to go can make your decision easier. Hopefully, this list helps with your search for job opportunities and gives you the boost you need to push your comfort zone and travel the world.