Living as a digital nomad has a lot of perks. You get to explore different countries and get to know different cultures. You get to meet new people and make new friends. You get to eat all kinds of food, from the most exotic to the most disgusting. You get to have a good balance between working and actually living your life to the fullest.
However, finding the best country for your digital nomad life isn’t exactly the easiest. Lucky for you, we’re here to point you in the right direction. But before we go to our top 10 countries for the digital nomad life, check out first the things you need to consider when picking which country to fly to.
INTERNET CONNECTION – Good internet connection is essential to a digital nomad. But you don’t necessarily need blazingly fast internet speeds. About 20-40 Mbps should be enough. Unless your line of work absolutely demands that you run with no less than 100 Mbps. In which case, simply disregard this list and buy a plane ticket to one of the top countries with the fastest internet speeds in the world.
COST/QUALITY OF LIVING – Ideally, a country where you can comfortably live for around $2000 per month is great for a digital nomad. This immediately eliminates the US and almost all European countries from the list. Especially the Nordic countries where everything seems perfect except for the cost of living.
FOOD CHOICES – Conduct an intensive research on what kinds of food you should expect in a country, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Many countries have restaurants that offer cuisines from other countries. But for the real experience, we recommend sticking to the local cuisine. More specifically, stick to “hole-in-the-wall” local food joints or non-fancy local restaurants or food houses.
WEATHER/CLIMATE – Digital nomads have to adjust to different kinds of weather and climate. It’s important to research the weather and climate during specific months in a country in order to prepare the necessary clothing. For example, you wouldn’t want to go to Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Philippines, and Cambodia during the dry season with nothing but thick sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, and other gear meant for cold weather. It gets incredibly hot and humid out there.
ENTERTAINMENT – Many people like to have a go-to place where they can hang out or relax after working all day in front of a laptop. It can be in the form of bars or nightclubs. It can be in the form of night markets or local shows and events. Living a digital nomad life can be really lonely, especially during the first few months. So going to a place where you can relax or interact with other people is a good way to keep the loneliness at bay.
TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS – Fast and convenient transportation options are essential for digital nomads. It’s the key ingredient to being able to fully explore a country. In countries where English isn’t the main language, getting around can be a real pain in the beginning. Sure, you can simply use Uber, which is now available in many countries, to get around. But the most convenient and affordable options are still buses and trains, especially when going out of the city.
VISA – The last thing to consider is your visa. Before buying a plane ticket, check first whether you can actually travel to your destination without a visa. Southeast Asia is popular among digital nomads because countries in the region are visa-free. You can go in and out without worry, provided you have all the necessary travel documents (mostly identification).
Consider all of the above first before choosing which country to go to for your digital nomad life. Here are our picks for the top 10 countries for the digital nomad life in 2018.
Thailand is often cited by many as the best country for digital nomads to live in. The Southeast Asian country checks all the boxes. The cost of living is extremely affordable, with meals typically going for less than $2.00. The transportation options are all affordable and convenient. The internet connection is fast and readily available practically everywhere – except in particularly remote regions.
Bangkok and Chiang Mai are considered the best cities for digital nomads in Thailand. Bangkok has a better night scene. Chiang Mai has a more laid-back vibe. Both cities have an established community of digital nomads, so make sure to seek them out in co-working places for tips on how best to live in the country.
Vietnam is food haven. Digital nomads who run food blogs are going to love living in Vietnam, which also has a rich history and culture. If you’re running with a very tight budget, you can easily live on pho, which is available for less than $2.00. In some places, you can even buy pho for less than $1.00. It gets really cold in northern Vietnam between December and February. Translation: more pho for you.
The internet connection is fast in the country, though it depends on your location – big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh typically have faster internet. Vietnam is rife with tourist destinations to keep you busy during weekends and off days, so be sure to check them all out. The only drawback in the country is that English isn’t widely used in the country. But thankfully, most locals can understand “how much is this/that?”
Surprised to see Germany on this list? Living in Germany is one of the best experiences for digital nomads. Living in Berlin, specifically, isn’t too financially demanding compared to other European cities. You can get by with around $2,000-2,500 per month including rent. Maybe more, maybe less. It depends on your way of living.
Like in most European countries, internet speed is a non-issue in Germany, so don’t worry about missing out on deadlines due to a faulty or slow internet connection. Transportation is fully modernized in Berlin, making it easy to travel around. Walking and biking are great options as well. Digital nomads with an affinity for architecture and art are going to love Berlin.
As with other Southeast Asian countries, living in Indonesia is incredibly inexpensive. Rent is cheap. Food is cheap. Transportation is cheap. Everything is cheap. In fact, a $1,000 monthly basic budget in Indonesia might even be overkill. Bali, in particular, is the preferred choice of most digital nomads because of its relaxing vibe.
Internet connection is also reliable in Indonesia. You can buy a pocket Wi-Fi with a decent data package for a long-term stay or you can simply rely on all the free Wi-Fi available in cafes and restaurants in cities. The country also boasts lovely tourist destinations, perfect for adventurers.
Portugal is another European country with a relatively inexpensive cost of living. Lisbon and Porto are considered the best cities for digital nomads in the country. In both cities, a single person can live comfortably for less than $2,500 per month including rent.
The food is incredible in Lisbon and Porto, and the locals are all very friendly. Portugal is also one of the cleanest countries in the world, so no need to worry about randomly catching an illness while walking around town. And of course, the internet speed is excellent in the country, with many restaurants and cafes offering fast free Wi-Fi.
For digital nomads who don’t want to deal too much with language barriers in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is arguably the best option. The country is multi-cultural with people coming from different religions. And many of them speak English. For internet connection, mobile internet is the more recommended option for digital nomads in Malaysia.
The cost of living in Malaysia is surprisingly affordable. It’s not as expensive as in Singapore. It’s more like the cost of living in Thailand, though some food options may be a bit more expensive. Speaking of which, the food in Malaysia is incredible. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on food during your first few months while you get a feel for the awesome local cuisine.
Hungary has recently become a huge hit among digital nomads. More specifically, Budapest, Hungary. The cost of living in Budapest is relatively affordable compared to other European cities. You can get a comfy 1-bedroom unit in the city center for about $600-800.
Fast free Wi-Fi is also everywhere in Budapest. And with several co-working places such as Impact Hub Budapest available for digital nomads, you will never have to worry about missed deadlines while living in Budapest. The city also has a vibrant night scene, with hip bars and crazy nightclubs scattered around the city center.
Living in Spain as a digital nomad is a bit more expensive than living in Portugal, its neighbor country. But the price is most definitely worth it – the paella alone is worth the price of admission. Valencia and Barcelona are the best cities for digital nomads in Spain.
Transportation is also convenient. For digital nomads who want to explore every nook and cranny in Valencia and Barcelona, we recommend exploring by foot most of the time. Both cities have excellent weather, drool-worthy food, friendly locals, and, most importantly, fast internet everywhere.
Ecuador is a cozy South American country that shares similar time zones to most of the US. So if you want a so-called home away from home, Ecuador should be at the top of your list. The cost of living in the country is a lot more affordable compared to the US, with 1-bedroom units usually going for less than $1,000.
Food is affordable. Internet connection is fast. Locals are warm and friendly. And best of all, Ecuador uses the American dollar, which means no more lost earnings on exchange rates. Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is hands down the best place to stay for digital nomads in the country.
Serbia rounds out our list of the top 10 countries for the digital nomad life. The country has one of the most amazing architectures in Europe, making it a must-see for digital nomads who dig picturesque buildings and structures. Getting around is easy as well, with friendly locals willing to point you in the right direction should you get lost.
Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Serbia is relatively inexpensive, with 1-bedroom units going for way below $1,000 per month in Belgrade, the best city for digital nomads in Serbia. If you want to live in an under-the-radar European country, Serbia is an excellent choice.
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