Nowadays, it’s possible to carry out many jobs with nothing but a laptop. Combined with more flexible working hours, this freedom has allowed people to work a stable job and travel the world at the same time. These types of people have become known as ‘digital nomads’.
Unfortunately, as many digital nomads soon discover, this glamorous lifestyle comes with its challenges. Whilst you can take a laptop anywhere, this doesn’t mean that you can easily work anywhere. Some places are too crowded and have poor internet access. Other places are too expensive to live or may have high taxes/little economic support. Other places have too much criminal activity and aren’t the type of places you want to be taking a laptop out.
Finding somewhere that is safe, developed and affordable is important. Fortunately, there are many places around the world that tick these boxes. Here are just several cities that are perfect for digital nomads.
Berlin has long been hailed as a digital nomad haven. As one of the business capitals of Europe, it’s well catered to freelancers and there are unlimited co-working spaces and coffee bars to work from with good internet connection. Meanwhile, in your free time, there are all manner of sights to see from historical monuments to quirky museums, plus plenty of bars and places to eat.
The only drawback to Berlin is the living costs – rental costs can be astronomically high. Fortunately, subletting is popular and can be a cheap source of accommodation (you’ll find many students renting out rooms in flats). Hostels meanwhile can be a cheap option if you’re’ staying short-term. Berlin’s saving grace is its public transports, which is fairly cheap and reliable, making it easy to get around.
Hungary’s capital Budapest shares many of the same perks as Berlin, only with much more affordable prices. It’s a growing tourism hotspot, but it’s not so crowded that you won’t find anywhere to work. In your free time, you’ll find plenty to do in the city – Budapest has a rich history to explore and its nightlife is notorious around the world. Its extensive public transport network also makes getting around easy.
Budapest isn’t quite the business capital as Berlin, although it’s getting better. There are still a good ranges of places to work from and some of these have free wi-fi.
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, may well be the best catered city for digital nomads in Europe. Estonia happens to be the birthplace of Skype and it’s a country in which everything is done online from voting to opening bank accounts. As you can imagine, it’s well catered for people working digitally. There’s even a visa specifically for digital nomads.
As capital cities go, Tallinn has very cheap living costs, including free public transport. There’s plenty to see and do in the city – it’s a very historical city with palaces and museums to explore. The only downside is the weather – it’s cold for most of the year.
Singapore is often ranked the easiest place in the world to do business. It’s well set up for digital nomads with plenty of places to work from and citywide available wi-fi. It’s also a great escape for those craving hot weather, plus it’s a great place to try the finest South East Asian cuisine.
The city definitely suffers when it comes to affordability. Accommodation can be expensive, but if you keep your eyes peeled for a HDB Singapore resale you might get lucky and find something within your budget. Fortunately, public transport is very cheap and has been ranked amongst the most affordable city transport in the world.
Chiang Mai in Thailand has garnered a reputation as being the perfect city for digital nomads – and rightly so. It has the ultimate mixture of fantastic weather, delicious food, affordability and a strong digital nomad community. Compared to other Thai cities, you’ll rarely ever get hassled and it’s very safe for foreigners.
Unfortunately, the word has got out, and Chiang Mai is now very crowded. You may find it easier to work from your accommodation than to work in a coffee bar or coworking space.
South Korea’s capital Seoul has the highest internet speed in the world. It also commonly comes at the top of lists for city safety – you’re more likely to get your belongings stolen in Europe than you are in Seoul. On top of that, the temperature is warm and there’s a buzzing culture to explore.
Seoul is one of the more expensive cities in Asia, but if you’re visiting short term you can find plenty of cheap places to stay on AirBnB. Purchasing a T-card could save you money on public transport (it can be pricey otherwise – although it has to be said, their public transport service is extremely organised).
Mexico City has recently started topping lists of best cities for digital nomads. The cost of living is low, the wifi is reliable, the weather is good and you won’t struggle to find great food if you love Mexican cuisine. There’s also a lot of history to explore here and there are no shortage of bars.
Mexico often gets a bad rep for being unsafe. Whilst there are certainly parts of the country where criminal activity is high, Mexico City is largely safe – if you stick to the popular areas, you likely won’t come into any trouble.
Last but not least, Cape Town is another city that often tops lists of best cities for digital nomads. It’s a well-connected city with much of South Africa’s tourist attractions on its doorstep. The weather is fantastic and there are plenty of great restaurants serving tasty local dishes (not to mention the country’s famous wine). It’s also fairly affordable as cities go.
There are problems with crime in Cape Town and those that visit should stick to the more touristy areas to minimise this threat.