The Top 5 Cities To Consider If You’re A Digital Nomad

If you’ve been paying attention to the digital landscape, there’s been a growing trend to work from home — or more specifically, to make a temporary home anywhere in the world and work freely from there. Whether you’re a website creator, a freelance writer, an app developer, or basically, a solopreneur, you can make the world your home.

The life of a digital nomad involves plenty of travel and adventure; and naturally it appeals to a large number of e-commerce people today. After all, why stick to one place if you can manage your team from the beaches of Thailand, for example? As long as you have an internet connection, you will surely be able to run your small business.

So what makes it a good idea to pack your laptop and fly across the globe to set up a temporary workstation? Although each person manages a unique set of criteria, there are some common denominators:

  • Affordable cost of living
  • Cheap, reliable internet
  • Good weather, good food, interesting cultures
  • Co-working spaces

It turns out that the majority of nomad destinations are in Southeast Asia. The combination of exotic culture, sunshine, affordable living, and fun make it a great place to start out your nomad trail.

Europe and South America have great locations as well, and there are a number of emerging cities in Africa as well. Here are the top five cities for digital nomads today.

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Top 5 Cities To Consider If You're A Digital Nomad

The Silver Temple in Chiang Mai. ©Aleah Taboclaon

This is probably the most popular destination for aspiring digital nomads to begin their journey in.

Food and housing are very affordable and you can get free Wi-Fi in just about every café.

Chiang Mai also has plenty of co-working spaces (e.g., Punspace) and the city is relatively small, so you won’t find it intimidating and the presence of a growing digital nomad community makes it a friendly location to transition to.

Chiang Mai has over 700 years of history and you’ll find dozens of colorful Buddhist temples in every corner. The city has lots of fresh fruit markets and cozy Thai vegan restaurants that make it a health-conscious location for travelers.

The night life isn’t as exciting as some other famous Asian cities but there are still a lot of spots to visit and just enough excitement to keep you entertained when you’re not working.

Chiang Mai takes on a relaxed pace of life that has many people coming back or extending their stay, and it makes a great base to start exploring the region.

2. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Ubud is the spiritual heart of Bali and a cultural melting pot. It’s a wonderful place to learn yoga, recharge your batteries, and fill up on positive energy as you go about your work.

The internet isn’t very fast (perhaps the only downside) however you can find lots of co-working spaces available there, such as Hubud. Ubud is entirely inland, so if you plan on hitting the beach during your stay, there are other co-working spaces available in Bali.

3. Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Pho, Bangkok. Photo by Solitary Wanderer

Wat Pho, Bangkok. ©Aleah Taboclaon

If the cool, laid back atmosphere of Chiang Mai doesn’t get your wheels turning, Bangkok is the embodiment of in-your-face excitement. Bangkok is a major metropolis and the biggest tourist hub of Southeast Asia.

The city is a shopper’s paradise and the nightlife is notorious: there’s always something interesting going on, and the food is versatile and in good supply.

For today’s digital nomads, Bangkok presents lots of advantages: accommodation is cheap (although slightly higher than Chiang Mai), transportation is readily available, and the overall cost of living is far lower than that of Western cities.

Co-working spaces are available (e.g., Launchpad, HUBBA) and visitors feed off the excitement of living in a city that is always alive and buzzing with activity. That definitely describes Bangkok well.

4. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

There are a lot of similarities between Playa del Carmen and Chiang Mai in Thailand; the obvious difference is the cheap Mexican. If you don’t like your food extra spicy then your time here would be just fine.

Unlike Chiang Mai with its scores of temples, markets, museums, and massage places, you won’t find a lot of spots in PDC. But if you head out of town there are a lot of things to do.

During your off time you can visit ancient Mayan ruins, swim with the sharks, and generally live it up along the Caribbean coast. Co-working spaces are available but you may not have too many options (Nest is available), but the lack of competition hasn’t stopped Nest from providing premium services.

Mexico has very affordable cost of living, although Playa is a bit more expensive compared to other locations in the country. Still, it’s far cheaper than Europe.

5. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest Photo by Solitary Wanderer

Budapest Parliament. ©Aleah Taboclaon

Eastern Europe has a relatively low cost of living and that makes it a great destination for digital nomads. Hungary — or more specifically the capital, Budapest — boasts a rich history and wonderful architecture.

The city also has an interesting nightlife and it really comes alive during the summer months; which also makes it a great time to move there because most of Southeast Asia is hit by monsoon right around the same time.

High-speed Wi-Fi is readily available, and co-working spaces are plenty, providing the perfect environment to settle down for work while you surround yourself with a peaceful, enabling community.

So if you’re a running a startup from your laptop, and aching to see the world, there is no reason whatsoever for you to stay in one place. As a website creator, graphic designer, or web developer, you can run your business anytime and anywhere. Head to any of these digital nomad havens and work and see the world at the same time.

Photos by Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer.

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