Best Cities for Digital Nomads: Destinations for Remote Work

Best Cities for Digital Nomads: Destinations for Remote Work

Remote work has empowered many of us to travel to, and work from, anywhere in the world—as long as there’s internet, of course. Over the years, a virtual movement has taken shape, and some cities have become hubs for digital nomads.

These places check many of the “must-have” boxes for digital nomads looking for a place to call home while also being able to work productively. So, if you’re on the hunt for new places to live your best location-independent life, I’ve put together this list to help and inspire you.

In this guide, learn about:

The digital nomad lifestyle

A nomad is someone who travels from place to place and usually has no permanent home. A digital nomad gives this a modern twist: someone who works online and travels often.

You no longer have to be an expat working for a company overseas to live abroad. Digital nomads have shattered the idea that you must live in the same country as your employer or client. They work remotely, taking their work with them and working from anywhere with a WiFi connection.

While it’s not a new reality, the movement has gained even more popularity post-pandemic. Curious about this lifestyle and want to learn more? I share more advice and insights in this article on How To Become a Digital Nomad.

Top cities for digital nomads

For years (decades, even), some cities have repeatedly appeared on “best places for digital nomads” lists. Of course, any “best of” list can be subjective, especially when it comes to travel. A city that may be perfect for one location-independent professional may feel dull or too difficult for another.

Digital nomads take some key factors into consideration when choosing a city to base themselves in. According to my research (and some personal experience), the places listed below are crowd favorites.

So, in no particular order, the top digital nomad cities include:

  1. Bali, Indonesia
  2. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  3. Lisbon, Portugal
  4. Berlin, Germany
  5. Barcelona, Spain
  6. Tbilisi, Georgia
  7. Prague, Czech Republic
  8. Medellín, Colombia
  9. Mexico City, Mexico
  10. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  11. Bonus cities to consider

1. Bali, Indonesia

Bali

Photo by Niklas Weiss on Unsplash

Bali has been a digital nomad favorite for many years. Tropical weather, affordability and a thriving digital nomad community are reasons remote workers love spending time in Bali. Canggu and Ubud are two of the most popular hubs for digital nomads in Bali. Both locations offer plenty of coworking spaces and cafes from which to work, and since Bali is a popular tourist destination, there is plenty to do on the island.

Personally, I loved Ubud. I enjoyed eating at the local warungs (restaurants), exploring the rice fields and, as an avid yogi, I was a fan of the easy access to yoga studios.

Also popular: The Nusa and Gili islands are popular spots near Bali. I loved visiting Nusa Lembongan and Gili Trawangan. The internet wasn’t as reliable but it was fine to work from for a week or so.

Average cost of living per month:  $1500 USD to $1800 USD.

Visa requirements: Many nationalities receive a Visa on Arrival, which works well for those who want to stay in Bali for less than 60 days. For longer periods, digital nomad visa options include the  211A Visit visa (up to 6 months) or the E33G Remote Worker visa (up to a year.)

2. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai

Photo by billow926 on Unsplash

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to refer to Chiang Mai as the digital nomad capital of the world. The low cost of living, quality of life, great food and people, fast internet, and plentiful cafes and coworking spaces to work from make it a very remote work-friendly city. My husband and I lived in Chiang Mai a few different times, and we absolutely loved our time there.

Also popular: If you want to explore beyond Chiang Mai, digital nomads are also drawn to Bangkok and Phuket.

Average cost of living per month: $800 USD to $1400 USD.

Visa requirements: Many digital nomads use the 60-day tourist visa (with a further 30-day extension) to spend time in Thailand. The Thai government also offers a Smart Visa that allows a four-year stay.

3. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon

Photo by Aayush Gupta on Unsplash

Culture, an affordable cost of living, access to good surfing, and, of course, good internet have made Lisbon a digital nomad hotspot. The city has a thriving digital nomad community, and events like Web Summit continue to attract entrepreneurs and like-minded professionals.

Also popular: Beyond Lisbon, remote workers are drawn to Funchal, Madeira, Porto, and Lagos, Algarve.

Average cost of living per month: $3000 USD to $4000 USD

Visa requirements: While EU nationals don’t require a visa to live in Portugal, the D8 visa offers non-EU remote workers and digital nomads a way to live in the country. The visa starts with a one-year temporary stay and can then be renewed.

4. Berlin, Germany

Berlin

Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash

Berlin is historical yet fun, and remote workers love it there. Super fast internet is, of course, essential and a huge bonus! Easy access to coworking spaces, a unique culture, and a city bustling with tech and creative people make it easy to understand why Berlin is a remote work favorite.

Also popular: While the German capital is everybody’s favorite, other digital nomad destinations in the country include Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne.

Average cost of living per month: $3000 USD to $4000 USD.

Visa requirements: For non-EU citizens, Germany’s freelancer or self-employed visa options are probably the best bet for a longer-term stay in the country.

5. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona

Photo by Miguel Migg on Unsplash

Popular with tourists and digital nomads alike, Barcelona is one of those eternal favorites that people from around the world flock to. Beautiful architecture, beaches, a fun culture, lots of cafes and coworking spaces, and a digital nomad community all come together to make it a great place to work remotely. I personally loved the energy in the city and enjoyed eating my way through all the tapas.

Also popular: Spain is one of those countries that seems to have so many great digital nomad destinations that it seems impossible to list them all. A few favorites include Madrid, Valencia, Tarifa, Las Palmas, and Alicante.

Average cost of living per month: $3000 USD to $4000 USD.

Visa requirements: If you’re from outside the EU, Spain offers a digital nomad visa for up to a year to remote workers and digital nomads.

6. Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi

Photo by Denis Arslanbekov on Unsplash

Tbilisi has grown in popularity among digital nomads over the last few years. The beautiful and affordable city especially attracts remote workers because of its affordability, mild climate, and culture. Visitors say while the destination still has an off-the-beaten-track feel, it’s still a great place to work due to the up-and-coming coworking spaces, cafes, and good internet.

Also popular: Not many other cities in Georgia qualify quite as “digital nomad friendly” as Tbilisi, but it’s a good base from which to explore this part of Europe.

Average cost of living per month: $600 USD to $900 USD.

Visa requirements: Georgia has an extremely generous visa-free policy that allows more than 95 nationalities to enter the country without a visa and stay up to one year. Under this scheme, you can work or study without needing a special permit.

7. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague

Photo by wobbuffet13 on Pixabay

Digital nomads love Prague for its beauty, diverse cafes and coworking spaces to work from, festivals, and reputation for great beer! The city is also affordable, and its central location makes it an excellent hub for cheaply exploring more of Europe. A growing community of expats and digital nomads makes it attractive for foreign remote workers hoping to meet like-minded professionals abroad.

Also popular: Most nomads choose to base themselves in Prague when in Czechia, but many like to visit Český Krumlov for more tranquil surroundings. Brno is also a great choice.

Average cost of living per month: $3000 USD to $3500 USD.

Visa requirements: Highly skilled remote workers can take advantage of the Czech government’s digital nomad program, which allows freelancers and digital nomads to work from the country for up to a year.

8. Medellin, Colombia

Medellin

Photo by Bryan Bravo on Unsplash

Medellin is another digital nomad destination that has grown in popularity over the last decade. I lived there in 2013-14 and loved the people, weather, culture, coffee, and, of course, the affordable cost of living. These days, there are plenty of cafes to work from, and digital nomads are also drawn to the vibrant nightlife and salsa scene in the city.

Also popular: Colombia’s capital, Bogota, is just as interesting and attractive as Medellin. Many small towns in the coffee region of Antioquia or the Caribbean city of Cartagena also make great digital nomad bases.

Average cost of living per month: $1400 USD to $1800 USD.

Visa requirements: Colombia offers a digital nomad visa that allows remote workers and entrepreneurs to live in the country for up to 180 days each year and is valid for two years.

9. Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City

Photo by admknowdns on Pixabay

Mexico’s capital is the number one digital nomad destination for many. Great WiFi speeds, plenty of coworking spaces and cafes, great food, and a lively nightlife are a few of the reasons remote workers love it there. Roma Norte, Condesa, and Polanco are the city's most popular areas for digital nomads.

Also popular: Mexico is another country with a lot to offer digital nomads and plenty of great cities from which to work. Personal favorites include Guadalajara and Playa del Carmen. Others also love Oaxaca City, Puerto Escondido, Puerto Vallarta, and Guanajuato.

Average cost of living per month: $2000 USD to $3000 USD.

Visa requirements: Many nationalities can enter Mexico with a visa on arrival that allows a stay of up to six months. While there’s no specific digital nomad visa, Mexico offers temporary residence visas (up to four years) that allow for longer stays in the country.

10. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires

Photo Art Tower by on Pixabay

Argentina’s capital is not only affordable to live in but also offers great internet, a fun culture and way of life, friendly locals, and fast WiFi. Digital nomads love the thriving music culture and nightlife in the city, and with plenty of expats, it’s a great city for meeting new people.

Also popular: Bariloche, Mendoza, and Cordoba are the go-tos outside Buenos Aires.

Average cost of living per month: $1500 USD to $1800 USD.

Visa requirements: Argentina offers a digital nomad visa for a stay of up to 180 days, which is renewable for another 180 days.

11. Bonus cities to consider

Bonus pictures

I know I said I’d give you ten cities to consider for your digital nomad lifestyle, but I couldn’t help but add a few more suggestions.

  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: A personal favorite with great food, lots of cafes with good coffee, and good internet.
  • Tallinn, Estonia: Great WiFi and a beautiful city. It also offers a digital nomad visa.
  • Cape Town, South Africa: Rich in beauty and culture and affordable.
  • Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: Popular among surfers and those seeking a break from city life.

Emerging destinations for digital nomads

Places like Chiang Mai or Barcelona seem evergreen in a way. I started out as a digital nomad in 2013, and even back then, other nomads were talking up the benefits of these fantastic digital nomad destinations. However, if you’re looking to head somewhere different, here are some emerging destinations also becoming digital nomad hotspots.

  • Tokyo, Japan. Japan has announced a digital nomad visa that is promising for remote workers. Fast internet and exciting culture make Tokyo even more attractive to nomads than many traditional destinations.
  • Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan’s capital is becoming a favorite for remote workers because of its fast internet and accessible public transport.
  • Dubai, UAE. Fast internet, good infrastructure, a well-connected airport, and the Golden Visa for remote workers make Dubai a popular destination.
  • Pipa, Brazil. It is not a giant metropolis like the others on this list, but this small beach town is home to a nomad village and a growing nomad community. It is especially popular if you just want to surf and enjoy the laid back Brazilian beach scene.

Factors to consider when choosing a city

So what really makes a city digital-nomad worthy? Plenty of cities around the world are great for remote workers. But if you’re new to the game, what factors should you consider before picking a city to work from as your digital nomad base?

I’ve compiled a list of things for you to consider while deciding. Some of these factors may be more important to you, while others may not matter to you at all. Make a decision based on your priorities and preferences.

By the way, if you’d like to research these factors, Nomad List is a great place to start. Search for the city you’re interested in and then check out the scores, plus additional, very useful information about the city, such as cost of living, best coworking spaces, climate, internet speed, and more.

Factors to consider


Cost of living and affordability

Your income and your budget will be huge factors when it comes to deciding where to live. Digital nomads are often attracted to places with a low cost of living because even if you’re on a modest income, it allows you the opportunity to grow your business without spending much on living expenses.

Consider your lifestyle and expenses to get an idea of your ongoing costs. Ultimately, you may want to pick a city where you can live your ideal lifestyle comfortably without blowing the budget every month.

Check out the information on Nomad List or Numbeo as a starting point for your research. Asking in city-specific or digital nomad Facebook groups or Reddit threads can also be helpful.

Reliable internet

It goes without saying that you must have fast and reliable internet wherever you choose to set up base as a digital nomad. If a country or a place is known to have poor internet speeds, then don’t even consider it. You don’t want to get there and not be able to work. It’s awful for business, and if you get cranky like me when the internet goes down, it’s also bad for your personal well-being!

On a related note, when my husband and I first arrived in Vietnam, the internet connection was slow for about a week, and we were going crazy trying to get work done. When we asked around, multiple people told us apparently sharks chewed on the submarine internet cable that connects Vietnam to the web. True story.

Thankfully, it eventually returned to its usual high speeds, and we had no issues for the rest of our time there. But it was certainly a unique reason for the internet to be down!

Visa regulations

Look up your visa options for the country you plan to head to. For example, a 14-day visa for one country may be too limiting to set up base whereas a generous six-month allowance may be much more inviting.

Many countries now also offer digital nomad visas, designed to provide digital nomads with residency permits. These permits vary and can offer stays from 90 days to a year. Visa regulations vary depending on what passport you hold and what country you’re heading to, so do your research before you book any flights.

Availability of accommodation

The availability of affordable, comfortable, and often short-term accommodations is a huge factor in choosing a place to live. In popular digital nomad cities like Chiang Mai, for example, finding accommodations is significantly easier, and there’s often something to suit every budget and need.

Some destinations also offer co-living spaces; these shared living and working spaces can be a great way to get acquainted with a new city while meeting other digital nomads and expats. Selina offers a co-living program for digital nomads in various locations worldwide.

Places to work from

Working from home is great but can also make meeting people difficult and feeling lonely all too easy—especially if you’re in a new city alone. If a city has excellent coworking spaces or Wi-Fi-enabled cafes, it’s a great bonus. Working from these spaces can help with productivity and focus. They can also be a great place to meet people and make connections.

Social life and community

As much as I loved traveling with my husband, I also missed my friends and family at home while we were abroad. For leisure (and sanity!), you’ll want to make friends and have some sort of social life as a digital nomad living abroad.

This is easier in some places than others. For example, Vietnam was difficult for us because of the language barrier. Cities that have an active expat community are a good choice. It can be a great way to make friends if you’re struggling to meet or connect with locals.

Coworking spaces can be useful for connecting with the digital nomad community in the city. Also check out city-specific digital nomad Facebook groups, Facebook events, and Meetup groups, and participate in language exchanges or other local events for more opportunities.

Overall quality of life

Finally, consider the overall quality of life you’ll be able to have at this location and if it matches your expectations. This can be highly subjective and your priorities may be completely different to other nomads’. Remember, you’re not on vacation and if you’re planning to stay a few months, certain things may be important to you.

For example, my husband and I always prioritized living a healthy lifestyle “on the road.” This meant having access to gyms or fitness classes. We also picked places that had good supermarkets or local markets with a variety of food like fresh fruit and vegetables.

We also tried to choose places that had lots of travel opportunities nearby. This could mean having easy access to an airport or plenty to do near the city. While living in Guadalajara, Mexico, we explored a lot of the country—by car, by bus, and also by flying to further parts of the country.

Other factors to consider could include the climate, nightlife, healthcare, whether you prefer a cityscape or an ocean view, the arts and culture scene, and anything else that may seem essential to you.

Tips for the nomadic lifestyle

I’ve worked remotely for 11 years and spent six of these traveling and living abroad as a digital nomad. The flexibility of being able to work from anywhere has given me the immense privilege of seeing so much of this diverse world we live in. The lifestyle has also taught me a lot about learning to manage my time, creating my own work-life balance, and living a healthy life.

So I wanted to share a few quick tips that I hope will help you adjust to the nomadic lifestyle.

Have a source of income before you go

The digital nomad lifestyle sounds fun—and it is—but it’s also work. My advice is to get your remote-work ducks in line before you head abroad. If you’re a freelancer, make sure you have some clients before you leave. If you’re selling something online, have a sales pipeline in place. This will be much less stressful than trying to get something up and running while you chew through your savings abroad.

Do your research

It goes without saying, but don’t just head out into your digital nomad journey without doing any research. Read blogs, research on social media and join local groups to find out everything you need to know about basic logistics such as visa, accommodation, coworking spaces and other local regulations that may be relevant. You’re likely to have a much better experience at your new destination if you arrive informed, not ignorant.

Travel slow

The digital nomad life is about traveling but it isn’t a vacation. Base yourself in a place for a while instead of trying to jump around between cities too often. Slow travel will allow you to get to know a place well, make some friends locally, and most importantly, get productive work done.

Immerse yourself in community

If you’re choosing to go to a digital nomad hotspot, make sure you take advantage of that by actually meeting people like you. If the opportunity presents itself, also make an effort to get to know locals as there’s no better way to understand a culture. Immersing yourself in a local community will make you feel less lonely when you live abroad. Plus, making friends while abroad is one of the best things about travel.

Don’t forget to have fun

Finally, don’t forget why you’re doing this—to travel, see the world and experience other cultures. Don’t get so immersed in work that you forget to do that.

Find remote work on Upwork

When I first became a digital nomad in 2013, I had just a handful of clients, and along the way Upwork helped me grow my business. I was able to find clients no matter where in the world I was living.

For digital nomad freelancers, Upwork is a great place to start and grow your freelance business. Find clients from around the world and work remotely from home today or maybe from Barcelona tomorrow. Having Upwork in my back pocket gave me the confidence to continue traveling, secure in the knowledge that I always had a way to find more work if and when I needed.  

Sign up for a freelancer account on Upwork and fuel that work-from-anywhere digital nomad lifestyle you’re dreaming of.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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Author Spotlight

Best Cities for Digital Nomads: Destinations for Remote Work
Radhika Basuthakur
Content Writer

Radhika is a self-confessed word nerd and content expert with over 15 years of experience writing content for businesses around the world. She is a cheerleader for flexible work, a passionate world traveler, and spends her free time alternating between a good book and a good hike.

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