Best Cities for Digital Nomads
The beauty of being a digital nomad is getting to live in and travel to anywhere in the world. However, there are a lot of different cities to choose from, and all those options can be a little bit overwhelming. And how do you know which ones are best suited to digital nomads? To help you plan your next month-long or year-long stay in a new city, we have compiled a list of the best cities for digital nomads with the most up-to-date information.
We are witnessing a rapid rise in people choosing to live a digital nomad lifestyle. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies realized that they do not need staff on-site and have allowed their employees to continue to work remotely. This has prompted much of the workforce to abandon long-term leases and move to a lifestyle that will enable them to see the world.
In general, nomads from all different fields are looking for similar things from cities around the world. People want a sense of community among other nomads. They need access to reliable internet to work remotely. They want affordable places to stay that are in safe locations. Some prefer cold mountains and others prefer warm beaches. At the end of the day, we are all looking for a place to call home, whether for a couple of weeks or a couple of years.
To put together this list, we looked at a variety of different factors, including:
Digital Nomad Visa availability
Presence of a nomadic community
Places to work
Cost of living
Access to amenities
Attractions/activities in each location
While all these factors are important, we especially emphasize the importance of digital nomad visa availability. This will determine how long you can stay in a destination. If you are from the United States, many tourist visas allow you to stay in countries for up to 90 days at a time. However, given the rise in popularity of remote work, some countries are launching digital nomad visas, which allow remote workers to stay in the country for longer. Each destination has its own specific requirements and culture, so read on to find out about our best cities for digital nomads in 2022.
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a fantastic place for novice and expert digital nomads alike. There is no digital nomad-specific visa, but they offer a D7 or entrepreneur visa, which can be great options for digital nomads. There is no limit on the length of stay once approved for this visa, which is great for people who want to live in Portugal long term. The visa also allows unlimited access to the rest of the Schengen Zone, which is a huge perk. With the visa, you can open a Portuguese bank account and rent property, making it easy to set up your life in Portugal.
Lisbon is constantly ranked one of the best cities for digital nomads, as it’s safe, medium-level cost of living, and the lifestyle is relaxed and easy-going. The Portuguese are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we have ever met. For a capital city, it is relatively small, with a population of around 500,000. You can find both beaches and city life here. Lisbon is more expensive than other Spanish or Portuguese towns nearby but is still doable for many digital nomads. There is a bright culture and extensive community of remoters that you can plug into.
Lisbon has excellent Wi-Fi at cafes and in most Airbnbs or apartments throughout the city. You can also find several co-working spaces at various budgets throughout the city, which is another excellent way to meet fellow digital nomads. The weather in Lisbon is perfect for those that like warm summers and mild winters. Southern Europe is a great place to spend time, and Lisbon is no exception.
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Playa del Carmen, México
Although Mexico does not have a specific digital nomad visa, foreign nationals can enter the country on a 6-month visa or apply for a temporary residency permit. If you want to stay for more than six months or need to be able to open a bank account, rent a car, and travel in and out of Mexico with no limits, then a temporary residency visa is the way to go.
Playa del Carmen offers fantastic beaches and reefs and a vibrant coworking and digital nomad culture. The city has grown to cater to foreigners. Although this means you might not get the fully immersive Mexican experience, you will get everything you need as a digital nomad, like fast Wi-Fi. If you like to snorkel or scuba dive, there are plenty of opportunities to get in the water.
Playa del Carmen is a great option for those working remotely that need to stay in an American time zone. It’s only one hour behind east coast time and two hours ahead of west coast time, making it easy for anyone who needs to be on calls with North American offices during the day. The cost of living is generally low, but restaurants can get expensive if you’re dining out in the tourist zone. You can expect lots of crowds throughout the year, so be prepared to deal with tourists.
Playa del Carmen is an excellent option for digital nomads who love the water and want an easy way to spend an extended amount of time outside their home country.
Georgia borders Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan and is an underrated spot in Eastern Europe for digital nomads. Tbilisi is the capital and has a population of about 3.7 million people. Georgia has launched a “Remotely from Georgia” campaign to help combat the losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. You can get a digital nomad visa, which will allow you to live and work remotely in Georgia for up to a year making it one of the best cities for digital nomads.
Tbilisi is an up-and-coming digital nomad hub and offers great experiences at exceptionally low prices. Due to its location, it has a blended culture of European and Asian references. Tbilisi is one of the cheapest cities to live in in the entire world. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and the cost of an Airbnb is the cheapest in Europe. The only downside is difficulty with Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is widely available but can be slow at times. If your work does not require video calls or streaming, you will be good to go. More and more low-cost airlines are flying to Tbilisi from the rest of Europe, making it easier than ever to get to.
Although there is no digital nomad-specific visa for foreigners entering Colombia, you can get a 90-day tourist visa upon arrival, which is fine if you are not planning to spend more than three months in the country. Medellín is frequently referred to as the top digital nomad hotspot of South America. You can easily connect with like-minded people and find the amenities you are looking for.
Medellín is the City of Eternal Spring, which means year-round temperatures fall between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The cost of living in this beautiful city is low, and there is always something to do. Due to its status as a digital nomad hotspot, locals are accustomed to remoters working from cafes. There are also coworking spaces spread out throughout the city if you prefer to work from them. Apart from the digital nomad scene, there is tons to do in Medellín and around the country. Make sure to visit a coffee farm to learn how world-renowned Colombian coffee is made.
Safety is a top concern for digital nomads and regular travelers alike. Medellín has undergone a massive transformation in recent years and has rapidly increased in safety. For example, one of the most dangerous parts of the city, Communa 13, is now a tourist hotspot. However, we advise against walking around the city alone at night, especially when you first arrive to the area.
Hungary has the standard 90-day tourist visa, but if you want to stay for longer, there is a new White Card visa which is specifically designed for digital nomads. It allows people who work for a foreign company to spend a year in Hungary, with the option to extend it for another year. You must possess a valid work contract or hold shares in a company outside of Hungary, and you must not pursue work for a Hungarian company. You cannot currently apply online, but the whole process takes around 30 days, so it’s not as time-consuming as other visas out there.
Budapest is a very underrated city for digital nomads, and it deserves more love. Budapest can be considered one of the highest values for cost cities globally. There is lots of beauty to behold at only a fraction of the cost of some of the other capital cities in Europe. Budapest is safe and filled with unique energy throughout the city. Wi-Fi is widely available, whether it be from cafes, coworking spaces, or your apartment. Hungary is ranked in the top 10 for Wi-FI speeds globally.
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Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand
You are unlikely to find a digital nomad that has not dreamed of spending time in Thailand. Ko Pha Ngan is Thailand’s fifth-largest island and is only 70 kilometers away from the mainland. It is one of the most iconic islands in the Gulf of Thailand and also one of the best cities for digital nomads. Known for its monthly Full Moon Party, Ko Pha Ngan is a great option for digital nomads.
The cost of living in Ko Pha Ngan is affordable, just like in the rest of Thailand. You can expect decent Wi-FI in the major urban centers, but we also recommend purchasing a local SIM card to use your phone as a hotspot if necessary. Although Thailand does not currently have a digital nomad specific visa, you can get a 30-day tourist visa on arrival, which can be extended for another 30 days two times, or apply for a Smart Visa to live and work in the country legally for at least a year.
The culture and life on the island are unique, to say the least. You can expect to find great food at affordable prices, an active nightlife, and plenty of beaches, hikes, and waterfalls to fill up your downtime.
Istanbul is a colorful and vibrant city in Turkey. Turkey does not have a digital nomad visa, but you can get a 90-day tourist visa on arrival. Istanbul has the fastest Wi-Fi in all of Turkey, and a variety of different coworking spaces and cafes, so it is set up for digital nomad life. The city is split between east and west, each having its own vibe.
Istanbul was the last stop on the Silk Road from Beijing, which means it has excellent food. Street food can cost as little as $2USD, making Istanbul a fantastic budget option in Eastern Europe. Istanbul is a city that never sleeps, so you can find exceptional nightlife throughout the year. The city’s vibrant history means that you will never run out of things to do or see when you are not working. The weather here is mild, with summers being warmer and wetter and winters being cold and dry. It all comes down to personal preference as to when you want to visit.
Public transport is affordable and efficient throughout Istanbul. The city is a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures, and the locals are welcoming and friendly. Istanbul would be a great destination to visit after spending time in its neighboring country of Georgia.
São Paulo, Brazil
Brazil is one of the newest hotspots for digital nomads to spend time. People love its climate and will often escape winter in the States or Europe to head to warm and sunny summer destinations from September through March.
Luckily, spending extended time in Brazil just got easier with the launch of a new remote worker visa in January 2022. You cannot currently apply for this visa online and will have to visit a Brazilian Consular office. The visa allows workers employed by a foreign company to live in Brazil for up to a year, and then extend for another year. You must show that you make $1500USD or more per month or have $18,000USD in a foreign bank account. You will also need private medical insurance that is valid in Brazil and a cleared criminal background check from your home country.
Brazil is a massive country, and many people think of popular destinations like Rio de Janeiro when they think of spending time there. However, we believe São Paulo is one of the best destinations for digital nomads because of its affordability, culture, and community. This city had over 12 million residents in 2020, which means that you can find just about anything and everything here. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants are aplenty, the average cost of living is around $1200 per month, there is an easy and reliable subway system throughout the city, good internet is easy to find and reliable, and it’s situated where you can get to anywhere else in South America in a flash.
São Paulo is generally safe, but there are spots to avoid like any other major city. The most common threat is petty theft, so always keep valuables hidden when walking throughout the city. With the new remote worker visa, we anticipate the digital nomad population to explode in São Paulo and throughout Brazil.
Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang is on the east coast of Vietnam, about 845 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. The low cost of living mixed with the tropical climate, relaxed atmosphere, and stunning beaches make this a digital nomad haven. However, Da Nang is much more under the radar than some of the other digital nomad hotspots in Asia like Chiang Mai, so there is somewhat less of a community here than in other cities. You can find some meetups through Facebook to connect with people when you go. Da Nang more than makes up for a smaller community with its location – perfect for exploring the rest of Vietnam or traveling throughout more of Southeast Asia.
Digital nomads could easily live in Da Nang for less than $700 – $800USD per month, making this city a perfect option for digital nomads with a tight budget. Flights out of the Da Nang International Terminal (AHT) are inexpensive, so you can get to other cities easily. Most apartments in the city will have sufficient Wi-FI, but if it’s not strong enough, you can work from a cafe for just the price of coffee.
Da Nang has various attractions for everyone, both in the city and on easy day trips. Arguably the most famous is the Golden Bridge, in the Bà Nà Hills, where a bridge is held up by large hands. Vietnam does not currently have a digital nomad visa, but it is easy to get a 90-day tourist visa on arrival. If you plan on staying longer than 90 days, all you must do is complete a visa run to a different country and get a new 90-day visa when you reenter.
Valencia is located on the east coast of Spain and offers an unparalleled experience of Mediterranean culture. Spain is also one of the most welcoming destinations for immigrants and remote workers. Obtaining a Spanish Freelance Visa is relatively affordable and straightforward compared to many other visas in Europe. It will take around six months and anywhere from 400 to 600 euros to complete the process, which includes registering your business and obtaining documentation from a doctor that you are in good health.
Once the visa is taken care of, you will be welcomed into a vibrant community of locals and expats with open arms. Depending on what kind of environment you like to work in, you can find coworking spaces or plenty of cafes that offer fast Wi-Fi. The cost of living in Valencia and throughout Spain is quite affordable. For reference, Valencia is about 60% cheaper to live in than Atlanta, Georgia. The culture offers an excellent work-life balance, as the Spanish are known for living life to its fullest.
In terms of nightlife, you can find just about anything. If you want to grab sangria at a swanky cocktail bar or spend the night at a disco until 5am, you can do just that. The weather allows for year-round outdoor activities, with winter highs around 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 degrees Celsius, and summer highs at 87F or 30C.
If you are looking for a laid-back culture with a great community of remote workers, then Valencia is the perfect city for you.
Best cities for digital nomads
We hope this article has inspired you to visit one of these amazing cities on your next trip. Each one offers a unique culture and experience, so you cannot go wrong no matter where you find yourself. If you plan on staying in your next destination longer than a tourist visa will allow and you are interested in which digital nomad visa you qualify for, enter your details into our Visa Wizard to find out what your options are.
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