Ever catch yourself daydreaming about swapping your everyday routine for a life of adventure abroad? Well, buckle up because the digital nomad lifestyle is your ticket to making that dream a reality! Imagine working online, earning a living while exploring the world. It’s not just a fantasy – it’s totally doable. All you’ve got to figure out is how you want to make that online moolah and which of these digital nomad cities you want to set up your temporary office.
So, in this post, I’ve got the lowdown on all the things to consider when picking your next home abroad.
Plus, I’ll share the hottest digital nomad cities where you can live your best remote-working life.
Ready to turn those travel dreams into a plan? Let’s dive in!
What To Look For in a Digital Nomad Destination
Choosing one of the best digital nomad cities for you is a huge decision, particularly if you are traveling far from home. There are a range of factors to consider, so it can be overwhelming!
Below are the top 7 factors, that will influence which of the best digital nomad cities you should decide on.
This will change from person to person as it is very dependent on individual circumstances, values, and needs. You will need to take some time to really think about what is most important to you in deciding where you want to work, travel, and live.
1. Visas and work permits
Firstly, you will need to assess if you can legally work and reside in the country you have your heart set on.
If you intend to stay and work remotely in a place for a longer period, you will need to assess the visa policy.
Visa policies can differ a lot from one another, so when researching new locations, you should look at the visa requirements. Consider the process for getting a visa, possibly for extensions, and whether there is a digital nomad visa.
Also, consider the rules for ‘working’ while in a country. While most countries don’t allow employment with a local company without a work visa, digital nomads are usually considered tourists. It is, however, a good idea to check this before departure.
2. Cost of Living
Can you afford rent, food, transportation, entertainment, WiFi, and healthcare?
The cost of living is one of the most important factors to assess, especially if you are income as a digital nomad is incredibly variable and inconsistent.
If you can’t afford to live in a certain city, do yourself a favor and move on to the next city. Financial stress will put a huge burden on your time abroad and will mean having to cut expenditures on trips and other non-essential activities/things.
But if you can afford to live in an expensive city, ensure you still weigh up the pros and cons to ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck.
3. Internet Connectivity & Coworking Spaces
Next, we have internet connectivity and work-friendly spaces. These days you can travel and work without a strong internet connection thanks to travel routers, however, in the long run, this is not a sustainable or cost-effective approach.
Make sure you are aware of the local internet situation, including what’s available in your potential residence, at cafés, and data offered by mobile internet providers. Another important consideration is security, hackers often target free Wifi due to the lack of security systems in place.
Moreover, consider where you will be working. If your living space doesn’t cut it for a working setup, it’s good to know that there are other alternatives available. Cities with a vibrant digital nomad scene and coworking spaces on offer are preferable.
4. Travel Potential
Consider if the city has travel potential and is of interest to you. Does the city have neighboring places to explore and if so how accessible are they?
For example, comparing Auckland, New Zealand, and Vienna, Austria. Auckland is much more remote with only a few neighbouring countries such as Australia and South Pacific regions. On the other hand, Vienna is centrally located in Europe so you can explore a range of countries and cultures right on your doorstep.
5. Weather and climate
This next factor is often up to personal preference. Are you a summer beach bum or do you prefer cosying up in front of the fire during winter?
Consider how often it rains, what the hottest and coldest seasons will be like, and how seasonal changes will impact your day-to-day.
Extreme heat and humidity, torrential rain or snow storms can put a damper on your mood and can impact your daily schedule. For some, it’s for the better, skiing anyone? For others not so much!
Safety is a top priority for us young women living the digital nomad lifestyle, particularly in a city you are not familiar with and with no one you trust close by.
Before you book that plane ticket, assess the crime rates, protective laws, and political stability.
The peace of mind that you are out of harm’s way, will go a long way, particularly as a solo female traveler.
7. Access to Quality Healthcare
Lastly, we have access to quality and affordable healthcare, including health insurance costs and regulations.
There are government regulations that require you to stay in your country for a few months every year and only then you can pay the tax and access free healthcare.
This may not work if you are planning on moving around a lot. And yes, some countries, for example, Poland will actually check if you’re home, which has caught digital nomads out in the past.
Furthermore, some private insurance companies don’t allow you to travel with a one-way ticket, so you need to plan your trip with a return flight.
Best Digital Nomad Cities in the World
Let’s now dive into the best digital nomad cities of 2024!
1. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Moving over to South-East Asia. Chiang Mai in Thailand is a popular hub for digital nomads looking to keep costs down and be immersed in Thai culture.
A stunning yet low-key city that boasts modern coworking spaces, historic temples, amazing food, and stunning nature.
If you’re a travel lover and want to spend your days off exploring, there are some fantastic countries near Thailand just a quick flight away that won’t break the bank.
Over 60 countries are permitted to enter Thailand without a visa for up to 30 days sometimes even 60 days.
If you want to stay more long-term, there isn’t a specific digital nomad visa so it may be more difficult than in other cities. The most recent addition to the list was the 10-year Long-Term Resident (LTR) visa in the Remote Worker category that aims to attract wealthy individuals.
To qualify for the visa you need to work for an established international company and earn over USD 80,000. Other visas to explore are the Smart-S visa which applies to entrepreneurs setting up a start-up in Thailand or the Student/Education visa.
Overall Score 4.5/5
2. Canggu, Indonesia
Arguably the best area to live in Bali with loads of fun things to do in and around Canggu, it is one of the all-round best digital nomad cities. With beautiful scenery and a range of activities, it’s the perfect backdrop for content creators.
Located on the west coast of Bali, about an hour’s drive from the airport, Canggu is a picturesque resort village surrounded by rice fields and stunning black sand beaches.
The allure of Canggu lies in its abundance of hip cafes, co-working spaces, bars, beach clubs, and even surfing and yoga classes – making it a hotspot for digital nomads seeking both productivity and leisure.
Canggu is an incredibly affordable place to live. Plus there are loads of great Canggu hotels and places to stay for your friends and family when they come to visit!
Although Canggu is one of the more expensive areas in Bali, that being said it is still very cheap in comparison to cities in Europe, Australia, and America.
Most nationalities (over 160) do not technically need a visa to go to Bali. You can stay in the country for 30 days visa-free. If you plan on staying in Indonesia for longer, you can get a 30-day visa on arrival which can be extended once for another 30 days, or apply for a 60-day visa before you go.
If you want to stay longer, many digital nomads are known to do what’s called a “visa run” to other countries every 60 days. But this can be tiresome and expensive.
The other alternative is to apply for a Sosial Budaya Visa which is meant for visiting Indonesian friends and family but is issued quite liberally.
With this visa, you can stay for 60 days and can extend four more times for 30 days each giving you a total of 180 days in Indonesia.
Overall Score 4/5
3. Lisbon, Portugal
Next, we have the beautiful coastal city of Lisbon, one of the most up-and-coming cities for digital nomads.
It’s the go-to destination for those craving warm weather, a vibrant culture, and a pocket-friendly European base. With a staggering 300 days of sunshine annually, proximity to stunning beaches, and an overall laid-back atmosphere, Lisbon effortlessly blends work and play. The city is witnessing a surge in modern co-working spaces and internet cafes, a testament to its growing popularity among digital nomads.
Connecting with like-minded people is a breeze, thanks to the sizable expat community and the locals’ proficiency in English. When you’re ready to unplug, Lisbon invites you to explore its rich history, navigate its charming hills, marvel at ancient architecture, indulge in mouth-watering local cuisine, and revel in the nightlife at some of the country’s finest bars and clubs.
What makes Lisbon even more enticing is Portugal’s digital nomad visa and Golden visa program, offering a path to a more permanent stay. However, it’s fair to mention that, like any city, Lisbon has its quirks. Some nomads have pointed out the bureaucratic hurdles, a more relaxed pace of life, and the upward trajectory of prices as potential downsides.
Nonetheless, for those seeking a perfect blend of work, culture, and sun-kissed leisure, Lisbon remains a top contender.
Overall Score 4.5/5
4. Mexico City, Mexico
For those seeking an energetic city with an impressive cost of living, Mexico City takes the crown as the ultimate digital nomad haven. There is not only lightning-fast wifi here but also boasts an abundance of co-working spaces, creating a thriving community of remote workers. The sheer size of Mexico City ensures a perpetual stream of new experiences, ensuring that monotony remains a distant memory.
Dive into the city’s rich history, explore charming neighborhoods, savor mouth-watering delicacies (fajitas, anyone?), and sip on coffee without burning a hole in your wallet.
In terms of safety, Mexico City is generally welcoming, though a few precautions are advised. By staying vigilant, remaining aware of your surroundings, and avoiding certain areas after dark, your experience as a digital nomad in Mexico City is likely to be smooth sailing.
Given the city’s vast expanse, choosing your base wisely is key. Some neighborhoods rival the safety standards of New York and London’s upscale areas. La Condesa, Roma, Polanco, Reforma, Santa Maria La Ribera, and Coyoacán stand out as the safest havens for your digital nomad escapade in Mexico City.
Technically, Mexico’s digital nomad visa is called a temporary residence visa, and many remote workers are eligible. Make sure to check the criteria before booking your plane ticket!
Overall Score 3/5
5. Austin, USA
Now, let’s talk about Austin – a city pulsating with the energy of a thriving digital nomad community, an abundance of outdoor adventures, and a great food scene. As an up-and-coming hub, Austin not only houses numerous successful start-ups and entrepreneurs but also showcases modern infrastructure and a community that thrives on fun and acceptance. Fun fact: Texas claims the numero uno spot in America for starting a business, making Austin an ideal launchpad for taking your digital career to new heights.
In this city, expect to be surrounded by a dynamic mix of creative, passionate individuals who embody a laid-back yet eclectic vibe. Make sure to immerse yourself in Austin’s lively Latino and Hispanic scene, where culture seamlessly intertwines with everyday life, creating a truly distinctive atmosphere.
When the workday winds down, prepare for evenings filled with dancing under the stars and weekends brimming with the beats of over 250 live music venues, offering every genre imaginable.
And for those who crave sunshine, you’re in luck – Austin basks in the glow of 300 sunny days annually, thanks to its subtropical climate. While summers may sizzle with hot and humid vibes, winters bring a pleasant contrast to neighboring cities. Whether you’re chasing the sun, music, or entrepreneurial dreams, Austin welcomes digital nomads with open arms and a promise of a uniquely vibrant experience.
Overall Score 4/5
6. Prague, Czech Republic
The unassuming gem, Prague, secures the 6th spot on our list of the best cities for digital nomads in 2024. Located in the heart of the Czech Republic, Prague boasts the well-deserved title of one of the most beautiful cities globally, setting the stage for a picturesque digital nomad experience.
With an excellent transport network, a plethora of cafes, diverse co-working spaces, and a reputation for amazing beer and hearty meals, Prague stands out as an underrated haven for digital nomads. The city’s charm transcends seasons, with festivals, events, and fun activities dotting the calendar year-round – providing the perfect backdrop for forging connections within the growing expat community.
One remarkable aspect of Prague is its language accessibility – surviving without knowing a word of Czech is entirely possible. However, for those keen on a deeper cultural dive, embracing the local language can add a rich layer to the experience of connecting with the friendly locals.
Affordability is another feather in Prague’s cap, with living expenses hovering around $2000 per month – a stark contrast to the budget-busting realities of Paris and London, where costs can easily double. Plus, Prague’s central location in Europe transforms it into a travel hub, allowing you to easily (and cheaply) travel across the continent via bus, train, and plane.
Plus, Prague stands tall as one of the safest cities in Europe, making it an ideal haven for young women venturing solo.
Differing from conventional “digital nomad visas,” the Czech digital nomad visa stands out as a long-term residence permit, granting you the freedom to work independently as a freelancer in the Czech Republic for up to 365 days
Overall Score 3.75/5
7. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as the cool cats call it, is the unsung hero of digital nomad destinations.
Experience vibrant street markets, sizzling street food, and a contagious energy that fuels your remote work hustle.
The cost of living? A digital nomad’s dream. You can live like a king for a very reasonable price or live comfortably without denting your savings.
From cozy coffee shops to buzzing co-working spaces, Saigon’s got your back when it’s time to work. The blend of rich history and a burgeoning tech scene creates an inspiring backdrop for your 9-to-5 (or whenever-you-feel-like-it) grind.
Plus, the city’s diverse culture and warm vibes make it easy to trade business cards by day and swap travel stories by night.
Overall Score 4/5
8. Madrid, Spain
Get ready to pack your bags and head to Madrid, Spain – a sun-soaked haven tailor-made for digital nomads seeking a vibrant and trendy hub. This city has become a magnet for young wanderers, with approximately 16% of its population hailing from places far and wide. From paella to tapas with a glass of Sangria, Madrid is a culinary paradise serving up a feast of both Spanish delicacies and global treats.
Now, let’s talk savings – compared to the hefty price tags of Paris, Amsterdam, and Zurich, Madrid offers a more budget-friendly cost of living for long-term digital nomads. Stretch your hard-earned dollars further while immersing yourself in an epic city.
Getting around is a breeze, and you’ll find a plethora of cafes and co-working spaces, creating the ideal setting for a successful digital nomad lifestyle. Madrid is also the city that never truly sleeps (except during the Siesta hours of course) with a range of after-dark activities – the perfect recipe for forging new friendships.
Strategically located in the heart of Spain, Madrid serves as the ultimate home base for exploring the country. Take day trips to the beaches of Barcelona or immerse yourself in the rich history and architecture of Seville during weekend getaways.
And here’s the cherry on top – Spain now has an enticing digital nomad visa, loaded with perks for remote workers like you. Glide into the country with ease and enjoy the freedom to stay for 1-5 years, complete with a generous tax break for the first 4 years.
Overall Score 3.5/5
9. Berlin, Germany
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect digital nomad hub in the heart of Europe, Berlin is undoubtedly a top contender that deserves a spot on your radar.
The city truly comes alive during the summertime, with temperatures ranging from a comfortable 20°C to 28°C. There are also ample festivals and events allowing you to stay busy and connect with fellow nomads. However, be warned, when winter hits, Berlin can transform into a cold, dreary space with temperatures hovering between 0-5°C – not the most romantic European winter without a magical snowfall.
Situated at the crossroads of Central Europe, Berlin is a gateway accessible from all directions, making budget-friendly travel across the continent a breeze. Despite being a capital city, Berlin has managed to retain its status as one of the more affordable options in Central Europe, although accommodation prices have seen a notable increase in recent years.
Navigating the city’s vast ever-growing landscape to find the perfect place to live can be a challenge. To kickstart your search, consider focusing on districts like Mitte, Prenzlauerberg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain, known for their digital nomad-friendly vibes.
An exciting initiative called Freelance Friday adds an extra layer to Berlin’s appeal. Once a month, freelancers, remote workers, entrepreneurs, and creative minds converge at different coworking spaces. It’s not only an opportunity to spend the day working and connecting with like-minded individuals but also a chance to explore some of the best coworking spaces in Berlin for FREE – a definite win for the savvy digital nomad!
Now let’s talk visas. Also called the German freelance visa, the digital nomad visa is a residence permit that will allow digital nomads to live in Germany while working remotely. It applies to freelancers and those who want to do business in the country.
Overall Score 3.5/5
10. Medellin, Colombia
Medellín, Colombia – where the digital nomad scene is as lively as the salsa beats that echo through the streets!
This city, located in the Andes, is not just a Pablo Escobar relic; it’s a vibrant hub for remote work enthusiasts.
Imagine trading your office view for panoramic vistas of mountains, interspersed with colorful neighborhoods.
Medellín boasts a stellar public transport system, making it easy to explore the city’s diverse pockets. Cozy cafés and modern co-working spaces are scattered across the city perfect for those days when your creative juices need a little boost.
The affordability factor? It’s a digital nomad’s dream come true. After a day of hustling, immerse yourself in the local culture, be it through salsa dancing, street food adventures, or exploring the city’s botanical gardens.
To work as a digital nomad in Colombia you will need to apply for a Visa V Nómadas Digitales. To be eligible you must:
- hold a passport issued by one of the countries exempt from a short-stay visa
- work remotely for a foreign company
- intend to work in Colombia for a period longer than 90 days and;
- demonstrate an income over the past three months that equals three times the legal minimum wage.
So, pack your laptop, embrace the warmth of the locals, and get ready to salsa your way through a digital nomad experience like no other!
Overall Score 3.5/5
The Wrap-Up: Best Digital Nomad Cities 2024
And there you have it – our whirlwind tour of the best digital nomad cities comes to a close.
As we wrap up this journey, one thing’s for certain: the world is ripe with possibilities, and there are plenty of digital nomad cities just waiting to be explored!
From the vibrant cultural hubs to the serene coastal escapes, each destination on this list offers a unique blend of opportunities and experiences.
Whether you find yourself sipping coffee in a bustling cafe in Lisbon, gazing at a breathtaking sunset in Bali, or conquering the co-working spaces of Berlin, your journey as a digital nomad will be nothing short of fulfilling.
May your laptops be charged, your Wi-Fi signals strong, and your wanderlust forever unquenchable. The world is your office, your playground, and your canvas – go out there and paint the most vibrant, fulfilling picture of the digital nomad life.
Safe travels, nomads!
Keep reading: Best cities for expats