Best Cities to Enjoy the Digital Nomad Lifestyle?
You’re not the only one considering a life change that might see you locate to a new city or country, to cut your living expenses, relax, work better, and enjoy a higher quality of life.
There are millions of people, mostly entrepreneurs, employees, and digital tech workers ready to do their digital work remotely. Some have been dreaming of that for a long time for mental health reasons, or the affordability to start their business, boost work creativity, a change of scenery, or just to experience travel to some amazing places.
That’s a lot of benefits, which may be the reason Nomadism is a growing industry. MBO released their report on the state of Digital Nomads. It’s trending but why? Are there tangible benefits for employers and employees?
The MBO Partners 2022 State of Independence research study found that 16.9 million American workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads, increasing 9% from 2021 and a staggering 131% from the pre-pandemic year 2019. — from BMO State of Digital Nomads 2022.
Distant Shores Beckon
Distant cities in Costa Rica, Australia, Thailand, Viet Nam, Mexico, Belize, Panama, Spain, Portugal, and other exotic locale are certainly captivating. Blogs, YouTube videos and Facebook posts from Nomads all attest to it being a great decision for them. Certainly seeing all your stress disappear as you behold mountain vistas, or sunny beaches with ocean waves rolling in is compelling for sure. It’s most people’s vision of heaven.
Of course, the Maldives, Hawaii, Vancouver, Banff, Cabo San Lucas, San Diego County, Miami and the Keys, along with Switzerland and Iceland are left out because they are much too expensive. If you can figure how to be a nomad in those places, you’re clever. Yes, some nomads even dream of being in Silicon Valley!
My own thoughts on which cities/countries might be best has certainly changed too after viewing nomad and expat blogs and YouTube videos. There are incredible places I was unaware of such as Thailand, Spain, and the Canary Islands. The low cost of these places is shocking too. You can live well in Mexico or Thailand, with food, medical care, and accommodation is affordable.
You’ll find large expat communities in many of these countries so you’ll have others who speak your language to socialize with.
So why would you not do this digital nomad adventure? For many people, the logistics, cost, confidence and challenge are perhaps the reason. Yet, if you start envisioning the possibility, this is an opportunity that might be a wonderful thing for you — a life boosting event, which takes your career to new levels.
Those Nomads who publish online seem really engaged in their journey, something they likely didn’t feel when back home. You’ll find links below to a variety of digital nomad blogs. You’ll experience their enthusiasm.
A Great Source of Value to Tech Entrepreneurs
The US, UK, Canada, France are negative to tech and entrepreneur nomads. They don’t get it. It’s an investment in their company, it’s profitability and sustainability (keep your best talent).
A warm, year round climate is on the Nomad menu, so you’ll be looking at countries such as Mexico, Thailand, Portugal, Argentina, Belize and other countries that offer the right mix of benefits including safety.
Entrepreneurs and digital business owners need to access the best talent at the lowest price. Flexible hours, better lifestyle, lower costs mean this great talent pool are willing to work for less. The value proposition for hiring good nomads is high and employers in high cost cities should be searching for nomad talent. Visit Digital Nomad World.
The Dread of WFH Slavery
WFH is a great evolution matching employers to the best employees in the country. Yet, working at home, being at home 24 hours a day is exhausting and can crush creativity and imagination which are essential to high performance work. It’s a problem that needs a solution. Digital nomad travel is perhaps one viable solution.
These reasons and more are why many are looking more seriously at working far away, often in the tropical climate paradises mentioned.
Important: The recession and pandemic has ruined tourism for many countries, and they’re eager to welcome these “working tourists.” That is the best way to describe yourself, present yourself, and approach this venture — a working, value-producing tourist.
From Nomad Girl:
Before the Covid-19 pandemic Thailand had about 40 million visitors a year which would spend about $57bn, this number was reduced to only 400,000 for 2021. However in 2022 the Thai government opened up to tourism on a large scale in June, dropping all vaccination requirements in October and granted long stays for visa exempt and visa on arrival tourists.
This resulted in a return of 10.5 million international tourists for 2022 and a projected 30 million tourists for 2023. Thailand is powering ahead of it South East Asia peers when it comes to a rebound of tourism, with Vietnam lagging behind badly.
A few countries are offering citizenship to nomad digital workers to relocate there, yet those who open up get flooded with nomads and others pretending to be nomads. You’ll have to prove your income to get in.
Digital nomads work in a wide variety of fields, with the main professions including information technology (21%), creative services (12%); education and training (11%); sales, marketing, and PR (9%); finance and accounting (9%); and consulting, coaching and research (8%) — from MBO report on Digital Nomads.
Accepting digital nomads is wise because they:
- are young, healthy and educated
- are productive and ambitious keen on developing skills with the latest technology
- appreciate the wonderful lifestyle opportunities
- want the cost savings
- want the rejuvenation of living in another culture
- love travelling and enjoying living
- can help support that country’s economic challenges in 2023/2024
Any business owner or entrepreneur wants access to the very best work talent because that’s the only talent to have. Competing well and generating a top brand/product means hiring the best. Mediocrity will never create success in today’s business world.
If you’re a digital worker such as an IT engineer, software developer, digital marketer, web designer, or sales person, it might be wise to investigate the nomad or remote role. But you’ll have to sell the idea to top employers/clients.
Which Cities are Best and most Affordable for Digital Nomads?
How about this list of amazing places to do your work as a digital nomad:
- Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- Valencia, Spain
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Hoi An, Vietnam
- Granada, Nicaragua
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
- Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
- Malaga, Spain
- Phuket, Thailand
- Marrakesh, Morocco
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Taghazout, Morocco
- Split, Croatia
- Tulum, Mexico
- Cartagena, Colombia
- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
- Budva, Montenegro
- Galle, Sri Lanka
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
These cities listed offer a warm climate throughout most of the year, a low cost of living, and a range of amenities that digital nomads desire including co-working spaces, good internet connectivity, exercise and outdoors opportunities, and a vibrant expat community.
Personal safety and rising competition for living spaces are two issues nomads are contending with however. The drug cartel wars in Mexico are becoming more heated, threatening a lot of expats living there. Nomads will gravitate toward safer more fun destinations. And as each winter in Northern US, Canada and Europe take their toll, there will be more demand/opportunities in destination countries.
Yet being a nomad isn’t necessarily a forever thing, even if some are supposedly retiring in these great locations. Many move around until they find a place, they just can’t leave — Mexico, Thailand, Australia.
Best Nomad City Overall?
It’s debatable, but for Europeans, Lisbon, Portugal is mentioned frequently as a top destination city for digital nomads. In South America, Buenos Aires Argentina gets the nod, and in North America, Tulum Mexico may be the most mentioned. In the US, Austin, TX is cited the most.
Lisbon, Portugal offers affordability, a vibrant culture, thriving startup scene, good weather, low cost of living, and a welcoming community. Its tech center has evolved to create co-working spaces and other amenities for remote workers. Yes, there’s coffee shops nearby.
Lisbon is very accessible to people across Europe and citizens of many countries can enter Portugal for up to 90 days without a Visa. The city may not have been discovered by a lot of nomads compared to the usual favorites, making it perhaps more livable. Porto, Braga, Madeira, Aveiro, and Peniche are smaller cities for those prefer a quieter lifestyle.
There’s plenty of employment regulations to face whether you’re living in these cities 3 months or 3 years. That will be one of the big challenges you’ll be facing. If you save for the move, speak with other nomads about living and working there.
The decision to do the digital nomad or remote work lifestyle still has many challenges yet, the first step to making it happen is research.
Digital Nomad Blogs
Here are some more recent, 2023 blog resources on the digital nomad lifestyle which you might find useful in your quest to explore the possibilities and what’s required from travel, to visas, to costs.
Rebecca Safier — Benefits of the Remote Lifestyle: https://remotebliss.com/benefits-of-being-a-digital-nomad/
Abdol Rauf — Best Cities in Thailand for Nomads: https://travelingrauf.com/best-places-in-thailand-for-digital-nomads/
Shelley Marmor — Best Cites in Mexico for Nomads: https://www.goatsontheroad.com/digital-nomad-mexico/
Vicky Flip Flop — How to be a Nomad: https://vickyflipfloptravels.com/how-to-live-the-digital-nomad-lifestyle/
Bucketlist Bri — Is Oaxaca City the best city in Mexico ($1200/mo): https://bucketlistbri.com/living-in-oaxaca-digital-nomad/
Explore with Lora — Best places in Thailand: https://www.explorewithlora.com/digital-nomads-in-thailand/
Safest places for Digital Nomads — https://www.travelinglifestyle.net/safest-countries-for-digital-nomads/
54 Countries with Digital Nomad Visas — https://nomadgirl.co/countries-with-digital-nomad-visas/
Mexico Nomad Visas — https://www.remoteyear.com/blog/mexico-digital-nomad-visa-
Belize Digital Nomad Visa — https://citizenremote.com/visas/belize-digital-nomad-visa/
Available Visas for Digital Nomads in Australia — https://expatmoney.com/blog/available-visas-for-digital-nomads-in-australia
Thailand Digital Nomad Visa — https://nomadgirl.co/thailand-digital-nomad-visa-what-is-there-and-what-is-coming/
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