Attention free spirits and adventure-seekers! Are you dreaming of leaving behind your 9-5 cubicle for a bit more adventure? Let’s talk about the best cities for digital nomads.
As technology has made it possible for people to work from anywhere in the world, more and more people are embracing the digital nomad lifestyle. No longer bound to a traditional office or even a specific location, digital nomads can travel the world while earning a living.
But with great freedom comes great responsibility (and choice overload). Digital nomads need to find the right place with the right vibe to thrive. It’s not just about access to reliable Wi-Fi and co-working spaces, it’s about finding a city that fits your style, offers a great quality of life, and has a community of like-minded individuals.
One of the biggest draws of living in the best cities for digital nomads is the low cost of living. Many of these cities offer affordable housing, food, and entertainment, making it easy to stretch your budget and live comfortably. But it’s also about experiencing the world in a way that’s only possible as a digital nomad. From tropical beaches to snow-capped mountains, these cities boast some of the most ideal climates on the planet. And when it’s time to explore, digital nomads have the freedom to travel at their leisure.
The rise of the digital nomad has sparked a global movement, with cities around the world competing to attract this new breed of traveler. So whether you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, or remote worker, it’s time to explore the best places for digital nomads in 2023. Let’s dive in!
What is a digital nomad?
Digital nomads are the new generation of free spirits and work-from-anywhere enthusiasts who are breaking the mold of traditional 9-to-5 jobs. They are the workers and travelers of the 21st century. From graphic designers to copywriters, software engineers to marketers, digital nomads come from all types of professions and industries.
In recent years, tons of corporate jobs have erased their in-office requirements, and an increasing number are actively recruiting remote workers! This makes it a breeze to relocate, and set up shop anywhere in the world. Digital nomads are taking advantage of this opportunity to travel and work abroad, in exciting cities far from home.
Many remote workers and digital nomads may spend a month or two at a time in one city, explore the area and see as much as they can, and then head to their next home! However, many countries are now offering incentives and making it easier for digital nomads to relocate. Countries on every continent are creating their own visas specifically designed for remote workers. Some of them may even allow you to live there for years!
Qualities of a digital nomad
But what makes a digital nomad unique is not just the type of job they have, but their personality and lifestyle as well. A digital nomad is someone who craves adventure, has a thirst for exploration, and is unafraid of taking risks. They are independent and self-motivated, often working on their own projects or managing their own businesses. They value experiences over material possessions, and prioritize travel and personal growth over stability and comfort.
Another common quality of digital nomads is their ability to adapt to new environments and cultures. They are highly flexible and adaptable, able to navigate new situations and solve problems on the fly. They are also highly social, often forming connections and communities with like-minded individuals in the cities they visit.
In short, digital nomads are the modern-day explorers and pioneers of the remote work revolution. They are an innovative and exciting group of individuals who are changing the way we think about work and travel. So if you have a strong sense of curiosity, a passion for adventure, and a willingness to take risks, perhaps the digital nomad lifestyle is right for you.
Looking to make the most of your daily grind?
What makes a good digital nomad city?
The beauty of being a digital nomad is that you can go anywhere you like! But realistically, there are some amenities you’ll need and characteristics you should look for in any city. Remember, you’ve got to be able to get yourself there and successfully live and work while you’re there.
Accessibility of travel
Before you can work in a city far from home, there’s one major concern to consider. How do you get there? And once you’re there, can you get around? How easy is it to get back home or to your next destination? The best cities for digital nomads will be relatively close to international airports, train stations, and/or other centers of transportation. This is why you won’t see a lot of rural destinations on this list. While it might be fun to get off the grid, it does make the logistics significantly more challenging. Furthermore, the spirit of the digital nomad lifestyle is one of travel. To truly explore your surroundings, you’ll want at least a few good day or weekend trips accessible by public transportation. All of the digital nomad cities on this list are well connected and provide a wealth of opportunity for more travel.
Wifi / internet connection
In the 21st century, it’s pretty true that all you need to work is a laptop! However, you do need that laptop to work. That means that you’ll want to set up a home base somewhere with a consistent and strong internet connection, and wide access to Wifi. Whether it be in your accommodation, a coliving space, or a coworking cafe, Wifi makes the world go round.
There are countless databases online that will report on the internet quality in various cities and countries. Make sure to do your research before you make the move! Generally speaking, there are two things to make sure of. You’ll want to have reliable internet connections and cell service in the whole of the city, for mobile connections and phone calls, and at least a few places with strong Wifi that you can hunker down and send some emails!
If you want to make the most of a digital nomad lifestyle, you’ll want to be living on a budget. One thing you’ll most certainly want to avoid is running out of money and having to come home early. The cities on this list are ones where you can make your dollar last! Costs of living vary greatly around the world, so find the city with the budget that’s right for you. In general, cities in Europe and North America are among the most expensive. That’s why so many digital nomads are migrating to South America and Southeast Asia. In these regions you’ll find the cheapest accommodation, food, and travel expenses.
A digital nomad community
Moving halfway around the world is a great adventure. But it can also be hard. If you haven’t lived abroad before, it can be really challenging to navigate. Plus, leaving behind most of your friends and family is difficult. That’s why moving to a city where there’s already a lot of digital nomads can be incredibly helpful!
Not only will there be loads of resources and amenities, but there’ll also be a large community already in place. When adventuring around the world with people who have the same interests and priorities as you, it’s hard not to make (lifelong) friends! And anyone you meet on your journey can serve as a helpful resource as well.
Visas and permissions
Depending on the passport you hold and the country you want to relocate to, you might need a visa. Visas for digital nomads are becoming more and more popular. In fact, countries are quickly adding and improving programs to attract more people. Many allow remote workers to live there for a number of months, while some provide tax incentives for years!
In many countries without special programs, you can stay for a short time on a tourist visa while you plan the next step of your journey. If you come from a country with limited passport power, that may minimize the number of places you can live and work. And considering the places you might want to live, each country will have different visa costs and processes. Do a good amount of research, and make sure to plan well ahead if you’ll need a visa.
Where should I be a digital nomad?
Now, let’s rank some of the best cities and countries across the world to be a digital nomad in. If you have an idea of where you’d like to go, we’ll organize our descriptions by continent. Or, in the true digital nomad spirit, you can always throw a dart at a map!
Best digital nomad city for beginners: Austin, Texas
Most popular digital nomad city: Medellin, Colombia
Best affordable digital nomad place: Bali, Indonesia
Most unique digital nomad city: Perth, Australia
Safest city for digital nomads: Lisbon, Portugal
Best city for natural beauty: Cape Town, South Africa
If you’re interested in moving abroad, check out this article:
Best cities for digital nomads in South America
In the world of digital nomads, South America is an undeniable classic. This region of the world was one of the first to see a boom in digital nomad lifestyles, and is still one of the most popular – for good reason! Especially popular among Americans and Canadians, heading south rewards young professionals with excellent climates, adventurous travel, and high quality of living at a fraction of the cost. But South America is a large continent, and you can’t exactly plug that into your GPS. Let’s look at some of the best places to head to!
If South America is the utopian land of digital nomads, Medellin is its capital. The city is overflowing with digital nomads, expanding in numbers since the early 21st century.
Situated in a valley of the Andes, Medellin is also known as the “City of Eternal Spring.” This is due to its unwaveringly pleasant climate year round, rarely straying from temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, the mountains don’t just provide shelter from weather – they create a truly stunning backdrop, with jaw dropping scenery in every direction.
Medellin is the prime example of a rapidly modernizing city and it’s truly world’s apart from Bogota. Coming from a rocky history involving drugs and violence, the city has made an astonishing change into a modern metropolis. With advances in infrastructure leading to increases in tourism, Medellin has launched itself into a cycle of improvement. Most notable is the public transportation network. The introduction of a Metro system and cable cars reaching the suburban districts higher in the mountains, helps the city thrive.
Even more, Medellin is ideal for digital nomads. It is well-connected to the rest of South America and the southern United States through its international airport. The cost of living is low and the quality is high, and new coworking spaces designed for young professionals are popping up every day. English is common in both professional and tourist circuits. There is a large community of digital nomads, creating a prime network for new connections among coworkers and friends alike. The most classic digital nomad city, Medellin is calling the name of anyone seeking a new chapter of adventure in their life.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
If you’re looking for the true hub of South American culture and a Latin lifestyle, look no further than Buenos Aires. The booming metropolis is a fitting capital for Argentina, and is filled to the brim with unapologetic vibrance. The nation is proud of its past and its present, and Buenos Aires is the beating heart of that pride. Its modernity does not detract from, but rather protects its history. Any nomad who settles in the city is sure to be enveloped and immersed in the way of life immediately.
The city takes advantage of its warm, tropical weather and preserves it with large amounts of green spaces and environmental acts. Its expansive public transportation network includes trains, buses, and subways, connecting neighborhoods with convenience and without high cost. Plus, the city is lucky to have a striking three airports as well as train and port stations. This makes travel easy to practically every other corner of the globe.
In terms of digital nomads, the city is very welcoming. Argentinian immigration laws allow international remote workers to stay in the country for a year on a special renewable visa. Even without that, people of many nationalities can enter the country for up to 90 days at a time in the course of international travel without such a visa. Hip cafes and coworking spaces offer internet and other amenities, while the cost of living is low. There are also numerous opportunities for English speakers teaching the language, leading tours, and more. To truly immerse yourself in the lively culture of Latin America, there’s no better destination than Buenos Aires.
Best cities for digital nomads in Asia
Here are some of the best places for digital nomads across Asia:
Thailand is arguably the most popular country in the world for digital nomads, with young and adventurous workers flocking to the Southeast Asian nation in increasing numbers every year. Unfortunately, the country’s visa requirements can be a bit challenging, and may limit digital nomads to shorter stays. However, there are a number of workarounds regarding tourism around the region and a new visa with incredible flexibility for wealthy expats, in hopes of enriching the national economy. If you can find your own visa into Thailand, even if only for a short time, it is certain to be a rewarding experience.
The reasons for Thailand’s popularity among foreigners are obvious and undeniable. Remarkable natural beauty, rich culture with intense cuisine and low prices for any lifestyle, and a warm and tropical climate that most Americans can only dream of. Really, a quick Google Images search for “Thailand” should be more than enough to convince you to pack your bags. But there are even more benefits to choosing a remote lifestyle in Thailand. In fact, this country is home to two of the world’s most popular digital nomad cities: Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Let’s see why these two cities top every digital nomad’s dream list.
The Best of Thailand: Bangkok vs. Chiang Mai
The country’s second-largest city, Chiang Mai is a calmer alternative to the bustle of Bangkok. Locals pride themselves on the authenticity of their city, as well as its striking scenery due to a mountainous location in the north of Thailand. An incredibly spiritual destination, and a site of pilgrimage for many, Chiang Mai attracts travelers from all over. And once they come, encourages them to stay. This is a great place for adventurous digital nomads to get a bit off the beaten track, without sacrificing any of the comfort or amenities that other cities may offer.
In contrast to Chiang Mai, Bangkok is the bustling metropolis fast paced city dwellers might be looking for. With relatively easy access to all of the natural beauty and serene landscapes the country has to offer, Bangkok is a different world altogether. It’s becoming a growing hub for nomadic workers rapidly, due to the thrills it offers. Low costs of Thai living are found here but Bangkok’s culinary and nightlife scenes are popular and still expanding. Plus, the city’s capital status makes it a great connection to other parts of Southeast Asia, and more easily reachable from the rest of the world.
Arguably one of the most iconic tourist destinations in the world, Bali tops any true traveler’s bucket list. Its low prices, leafy natural attractions, spiritual culture, and crystal blue waters beckon to anyone with a hint of wanderlust. And today, the region calls digital nomads to stay for more than just a honeymoon. Though close to the Oceanian continent, and just above Australia, the Indonesian culture is more Asian, making Bali on the edge of Southeast Asia.
The title for the biggest draw of Bali for digital nomads is highly contested – with anything you can dream of, it’s hard to pick a favorite! However, ours might have to be the government’s new digital nomad visa. Open to all, it allows you to live and work in Bali tax-free for up to five years! Talk about a good deal. This makes it a very popular destination, which comes with pros and cons. Benefits abound, as you won’t encounter any shortage of amenities. Wifi, cafes, and friends are all within an arm’s reach! The only drawback is that if you’re not careful, you might find yourself stuck in an expat community. If you head to Bali, make sure to branch out and get a healthy dose of the local life as well!
The Best of Bali: Ubud vs. Canggu
Two cities in Bali are constantly topping the charts and wish lists of digital nomads: Ubud and Canggu. The two are only a short drive apart, but choosing one to make a home can be a tricky choice. The simplest answer is this – don’t choose! The beauty of a digital nomad lifestyle is just that. Be a nomad! If you can get yourself to Bali, spend as long as you like exploring the area and finding your perfect place to settle. But if you’re looking for a more solid destination, there are a few things to consider. Ubud is the tourist hub of the island, more connected to amenities and all-around a bigger city. Canggu on the other hand is more of a beach town, and has more hip shops and cafes to appeal to its increasingly young crowd.
Best cities for digital nomads in Europe
Here are some of the best places to be a digital nomad across Europe:
When it comes to up-and-coming, Portugal has all of the answers. Over the past few decades the beautiful country on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula has seen a surge in tourism.
And in recent years, it’s become a hub for British and American expats. Foreigners are drawn to the Portuguese way of life, similar to its laidback neighbor of Spain, but with its own flair.
The culinary scene is rich as can be, and is only complemented by incredible scenery (not surprising, seeing as the country is practically all coastline). But the real secret to Portugal’s success is its prices – the cheapest in Western Europe. Reap all the benefits of Portugal’s location and status, with EU membership and easy access to travel around the world, at unbeatable cost.
The Best of Portugal: Lisbon, Porto, & Faro
Let’s check out three of the best Portuguese cities for digital nomads. First up is Lisbon, the country’s biggest city and capital. Lisbon is lively and colorful, teeming with tourists but still authentic. The city is gorgeous, and is very well connected to the rest of Portugal, as well as Europe and beyond.
The second city, Lisbon’s younger sister to the north, is Porto. Smaller but no less charming, Porto is less touristy and more reasonably priced. Porto is prime for a more local experience, without sacrificing the convenience of a European metropolis.
If you don’t feel the need to be tied down to a major city, venture further out of the city to Faro. Faro is the capital of the famed Algarve region, known for its stunning coastline. Faro is quieter than Lisbon and Porto, but has a strong internet connection and an international airport. These three cities make for a perfect Portuguese pick-your-own adventure, and you won’t be disappointed with any one.
On the opposite corner of the European continent from Portugal, you’ll find Estonia. This small country sits at the top of the Baltics, and is within easy reach of Russia and Finland as well. Tallinn, its capital and most populous city, is a jewel of the Baltic Sea. The old town overflows out from the city center, until it merges into ultra-modern apartment and office buildings. There’s no shortage of cute alleys and sleek condos, and the city’s under-the-radar status means that you won’t have any trouble finding the best places to work and live for you. Tallinn is ideal for a traveler who wants connections to the rest of Europe and the world (with direct flight connections to fifty major European cities), while still having an immersively local experience.
As a growing hub for digital nomads, Tallinn is the perfect locale for remote work abroad. You’ll have excellent internet connection, plenty of co-working spaces, and gorgeous surroundings. The city natives are friendly and welcoming, and English is common. The country is known for its long and cold winters, but if you brave them you’ll be rewarded with the winter wonderland of a snowy Tallinn, and the summers are pleasant. If you choose to stay in the city, you will be subject to the tourist flow – quiet until it overflows with Finnish day-trippers and other cruise-hoppers. When you have the city to yourself, you’ll never want to leave!
Want to live in Europe on a budget?
A highlight of any trip to Europe, Budapest is an excellent city to move to as a digital nomad. It’s a major European metropolis, but manages to escape the overwhelming crowds in the likes of London, Paris, and Rome. It’s incredibly affordable, and has a rich culture protected by the convenience of the European Union. English is widely spoken, and its international past makes for a fascinating history lesson. But the best way to learn about Budapest is by exploring! Awe-inspiring architecture is found on both the Buda and Pest sides of the city. Pest is modern and quirky, where you’ll find backpackers in hostels and nomads in coworking platforms. Buda is a steep hill of history, offering views of the surrounding area from attractions such as the Fisherman’s Bastion.
What makes Budapest a top digital nomad city
Budapest is especially ideal for those looking to travel throughout Eastern Europe. It is easily reached from major cities and transportation hubs such as Vienna and Prague. It allows for side trips to relatively undiscovered gems including Slovakia and Romania. And, mostly with access to a car, you can jump off to explore the Balkan region and enjoy some of Europe’s best coasts.
That said, you might not even want to leave the city! Public transportation is excellent (and scenic), and the nightlife is legendary – check out the city’s iconic ruin bars, some of the most interesting and exciting places to party. Any time spent in Budapest will introduce you to fun-loving young people from across Europe and the world, so if you’re interested in taking a deep dive into Hungarian culture make sure to make some local friends as well. (Plus, be warned – linguists may be scared off, as Hungarian is known to be one of the most difficult languages for English-speakers to learn).
Best cities for digital nomads in North America
Mexico City, Mexico
A gateway between North America to the Central and Southern continents, Mexico City is another growing hub of digital nomads. It’s gaining popularity due to its location, connections, amenities, and accessibility. Mexico is a large country stradling the bottom of North America, bridging the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It’s packed with natural beauty, ancient ruins, and lively cities from coast to coast, and Mexico City is the center of it all. The city is well connected to countries North and South, and makes for a great home base. Side trips can take you to parties in Cancun, ruins at Chichen Itza, and stunning beaches on the Baja California Peninsula. A large population of expats and digital nomads has introduced cool hostels, cafes, and co-working spaces to the city, and even the most popular neighborhoods are affordable.
If you (like half of America) took Spanish and school and can’t remember how to say hola, Mexico City is the perfect international digital nomad spot for you. Practice your Spanish and experience a different culture, without straying from easy access to domestic and international transportation. Some may be scared off by the city’s reputation – and yes, there are some areas that are dangerous. But if you stick to the safest neighborhoods, especially full of tourists and expats, you’ll be able to experience the rich culture of the city without a worry! This is probably the best city for Americans looking into working remotely in a different country, due to the huge reward in cultural experience for such easy transport!
Just a little bit north of Mexico City lies another city full of digital nomads: Austin, Texas. Known as the hip and progressive capital amidst the otherwise conservative Lone Star State, Austin is emerging as both a tourist destination and a home for digital nomads. While Americans starting a digital nomad lifestyle may be looking abroad, this is a great option for foreigners planning a move to the US. It’s well connected to most American cities, as well as South America and Europe. If you can brave the heat of the Texan summers, you’ll enjoy mild winters and can spend your time exploring the many cities and sites in Texas.
The city has great internet connections, coworking spots, and any other resources you might need for remote work. In terms of leisure, Austin is known for cuisine, from fine dining to funky food trucks, as well as events and activities to keep any fun-seeker busy (and don’t forget Austin City Limits, for the music lover in you). Though certainly more expensive than other cities on this list, you’ll get a good bang for your buck. You certainly won’t regret your time as a digital nomad in Austin.
Across the North American continent from Mexico City and Austin, Canada’s best offering for digital nomads is Vancouver. At the Southwestern corner of Canada, it’s just a stone’s throw from the US’s most Northwestern metropolis, Seattle. Despite its large population and commercial importance, the city’s industrial aspects do not detract from its surrounding of natural beauty. Hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and more are some of the pastimes of Vancouverites. Within the city, its diverse population gathers in the cobblestoned Gastown district to discuss their latest excursions at micro-breweries and gastropubs. Vancouver, like the rest of Canada, is famed for a high quality of life, modern amenities, social programs, and hockey teams. If you’re an outdoorsy hipster with a zest for life, you can’t go wrong in Vancouver.
Best cities for digital nomads in Oceania
Oceania has no shortage of best places for digital nomads. Here are the cities and destinations that stand out among the rest:
Due to their distance from the rest of the world, as well as relatively high cost of living, The Oceanian countries of Australia and New Zealand are not the most popular among digital nomads. However, Perth is a notable exception. It has been called the most remote city in the world, so if you choose to trek to Perth you will be truly immersed in the city and its surroundings. It is the capital of Western Australia, and is a small city with a large impact.
The city is a paradise of determined backpackers and laidback locals, all of whom enjoy the pristine beaches and natural escapes. For a complete lifestyle change (on a bit of a bigger budget), come to Perth and you’ll never want to leave. When you’re not basking in the allure of the city, you can work from one of the city’s cafes, work spaces, universities, libraries, or parks. The quality of life is high, and you won’t want much!
Best cities for digital nomads in Africa
Some of the best digital nomad destinations are also found in Africa. Here are the top digital nomad places you should know about:
On the Northern tip of the African continent, Tunisia is the epitome of a hidden gem. This small country is an ideal spot for digital nomads, especially those coming from Europe. Tunis is easy to reach from many cities in Europe and Africa, and is an excellent bridge between the two. Tunis is a mixture of new and old – and older.
The city center includes a maze of medina, where you’ll immediately be lost in the center of Tunisian life. On the outskirts lie the residential neighborhood of Carthage, which is home to marvelous ancient ruins, and Sidi Bou Said, a Santorini look-alike popular with tourists. The weather consists of a pleasant Mediterranean climate similar to that of Italy, while the southern part of the country edges into the Sahara Desert. Internet connection and work spaces are more limited in Tunisia, as in much of Africa, but remarkably affordable lifestyles can make up for the decrease in resources.
Bordering the Indian Ocean on Africa’s eastern coast, Kenya is one of the most popular nations on the continent for tourists. But there’s a lot more to this country than safaris and national parks (although those are more than worth a trip). Its capital, Nairobi, is a rapidly growing tech hub for central Africa, and makes for a great home for the adventurous digital nomad. Its internet connections and workability are among the best in Africa, and the cost of living is lower than competitors such as Lagos, Nigeria. English is widely spoken (as well as Swahili), and the city is generally welcoming to tourists and workers alike. Nairobi has all the connections that digital nomads need, but is a still-emerging locale sure to impress your peers. Plus, its central position makes it a great home base to explore the rest of Africa.
Cape Town, South Africa
Making our way down to the southern tip of the African continent, we reach Cape Town. Just a few minutes on Google Images might be enough to convince you to pack your bags and book a flight to CPT. It’s set where dramatic mountains meet clear-blue waters, and as such is world-famous for outdoors activities such as hiking, surfing, and more.
Generally regarded as the most modern and developed city in Africa, Cape Town is a dream for digital nomads. It’s one of the most international and linguistically diverse countries in the world. Because of this identity, you’re bound to connect with other travelers and expats from every corner of the globe. Cape Town’s relevance on the global stage means there’s no shortage of events and attractions. But even though its costs of living are higher than those of other African cities, it’s still much more affordable than Europe and the US. The city is progressive, as is the rest of the country, making Cape Town an ideal choice for LGBTQ+ digital nomads looking for a taste of Africa.
Recap: Best places for digital nomads in 2023
As we’ve seen, there are countless options for a digital nomad. They can be a bit overwhelming, so let’s review the basics. Here are the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys of digital nomads.
Who: Anyone who loves travel and adventure! Whether you have a remote job already, or you’re in the market for a new gig, you can easily build your latest career path into a lifestyle of travel.
What: The experience of a lifetime! As a digital nomad you’ll appreciate new cultures, meet new people, and see new places. And this isn’t just a sales pitch. Moving your normal work life to a new place, far or near, is the best way to incorporate adventure into the daily grind, without sacrificing the stability of a job.
When: Now! There’s no time like the present to become a digital nomad. The remote job market is hot, and countries are rapidly adapting to welcome new nomads, and the community of international travelers is evergrowing.
Where: Anywhere! Above we’ve listed some of the best places for aspiring digital nomads to go, and each one is highly recommended. But the city that’s right for you is totally up to you! It’ll depend on your budget, your nationality, your interests, your job, and more. Even then, it’s a hard choice – good luck!
Why: Whether you’re an experienced traveler or a homebody looking to get a move on, working as a digital nomad can be the right step for you. It’s become easier than ever to travel around the world in the 21st century. And though quitting your job to travel full-time sounds appealing, it’s not necessary anymore! In many cases you can even keep your current job while making the most of your free time.