Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the plunge and make a living remotely. You’ve given the 9 to 5 – and its associated commute – the heave-ho. You can work as and when you want: all you need is a laptop and a passport. But there’s one small snag: You’ll need somewhere inspiring to live while you tap away at your computer – somewhere conducive to work – and to play.
Globally, there are of course thousands of towns and cities to choose from. So where to begin? Will you choose a buzzing metropolis with dazzling night-life? Or will you opt for a sleepy town with friendly natives? Will you go urban or rural? Tropical or temperate?
Here are five of the best places to enjoy life as a digital nomad, balancing living costs, food, culture, weather, Wi-Fi access and transport.
1. Chiang Mai, Thailand
It may be the fourth-biggest city in Thailand, but Chiang Mai has an engagingly sleepy vibe, perfect for the laid-back digital nomad. It attracts thousands of nomads with its old-world atmosphere, augmented with a vast choice of co-working spaces and cafés for getting some work done. Wi-Fi is super-fast, and finding accommodation – both long and short term – is easy and low-cost. The perfect city to enjoy Thai culture (temples are abundant) while meeting plenty of other nomads from around the world – so you can find collaborators and inspirational entrepreneurs with ease. Chiang Mai is safe, friendly and boasts superb night-life, fantastic food, and if you ever needed it, high quality healthcare.
Cost: Around £700 a month, but you could spend much more if you wanted. Equally, you could get by on £300.
2. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Yoga, meditation, massage, health foods… Ubud, in the heart of Bali, is ideal if you want revitalise body and soul. It’s also surrounded by stunning rice terraces and is a stone’s throw from volcanoes, waterfalls and top surfing spots. Food is delicious and cheap, with plenty of vegetarian options. The centre of Ubud can get rather busy in high season, so we recommend finding somewhere to live on the outskirts. If super-fast broadband is an absolute must for your work, then Ubud might be a little disappointing, since the Internet can get rather laggy. The tropical climate delivers plenty of sunshine, with torrential downpours in rainy season. Friendly locals complete the picture.
Cost: Around £800 a month, but more if you indulge in massages, yoga retreats and Western food on a regular basis.
3. Barcelona, Spain
If you want to start your new digital nomad life a little closer to home, Barcelona could be perfect. While not as cheap as Thailand or Indonesia, you can still find affordable flat shares, and if you cook for yourself, your dining bills will be low. Famed for its dazzling architecture (Gaudi’s incredible Sagrada Familia is here), amazing theatre, art exhibitions, comedy and cabaret, Barca is a culture vulture’s dream city. And don’t forget the football team or the fact the city has its own beach. Delicious tapas, a vibrant night life and a truly cosmopolitan (and friendly) population, Barcelona is a winner among digital nomads. WiFi is fast and good, with numerous free public hotspots available. EU citizens can stay for as long as they like.
Cost: A comfortable lifestyle would cost a minimum of £1,300 per month, but as with so many cities, you could spend a lot more.
4. Berlin, Germany
Germany’s moody capital is a mecca for artists and bohemians of all stripes – and is a wonderful place for the digital nomad with an urban bent. Fast Internet, reasonably-priced accommodation, and a plethora of Internet cafés and co-working locations make this a fantastic city in which to get your digital head down. Winters can be very cold, but you’ll never be starved of culture or interesting company in the cafés and bars of this eclectic city. Another big bonus is you can stay for as long as you like – so long as the UK is part of the EU.
Cost: Around £1,400 a month, although some nomads manage it for much less by sharing accommodation. Equally, you could spend much more
5. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
This relaxed surfer town offers lush green jungle and long sandy beaches, together with a range of adventure activities – chief among which is of course surfing. Located in a rainforest, you can expect high temperatures – and some serious downpours. The Internet is pretty slow, so if you need fast access, Puerto Viejo might not be for you. However, for the laid back digital nomad who loves the outdoors, this town could be perfect.
Cost: Around £900 per month as a minimum – but much would depend on your chosen accommodation and how often you like to party.
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