Throughout the pandemic, working remotely has become the norm for many white-collar employees. And while things maybe, kinda, sorta are getting back to some semblance of normalcy, a flexible work life is still high in demand and will likely stick around. We could even see remote work options expand in the coming year.
According to data scientists at Ladders, 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022 — a percentage that is predicted to grow through 2023. For the employees who have the luxury of working remotely, a new question emerges: If I’m not tied to working in an office, where should I work? For digital nomads, the answer is obvious: everywhere.
Yes, there are plenty of cities around the world with great culture, strong Wi-Fi connections and tons of gorgeous scenery that are inviting to those with an adventurous attitude looking to explore a whole new place. Best of all, many of these cities are far cheaper than those in the U.S., so you won’t feel guilty about buying a latte (or a Turkish coffee) while you’re there.
“I recommend Antalya, Turkey, because it is a beautiful and affordable city with great weather and access to Wi-Fi,” said Burak Ozdemir, a web developer and digital nomad. “The city is perfect for digital nomads because it is cheaper than the US and has plenty of stylish places to work from. Konyaaltı Beach, for example, is a great place to work from with its beautiful scenery and Wi-Fi access.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Argentine Peso isn’t doing too well these days, which is terrible for Argentines and great for U.S. dollar holders and one of the key reasons that Rax Suen, founder of Nomads Unveiled, recommends Buenos Aires as a destination for Americans working remotely.
“There are a selection of coworking spaces in the city but my favorite is the endless selection of cafes all scattered across different neighborhoods,” Suen said. “Regardless if you like to revisit the same places or hop around different cafes, you will never get bored.”
“I could talk about the beauty of Tbilisi (which definitely exists!); however, the great thing about this city is that U.S. residents can work there for 365 days without a visa,” said Rhoda Woehlke, owner of the blog 4tadventure. “They offer a visa free regime for 98 countries.”
Tbilisi is also exceptionally inexpensive compared to the U.S.
“You can live comfortably in Tbilisi for only $600 dollars a month (including rent),” Woehlke said. “It’s 64% cheaper than New York, so you’ll also have plenty of money left over to enjoy yourself.”
“Lisbon feels like a youthful city and the easy-going vibe made the workday feel more fun,” said Antonina Pattiz, who spent two months living in Lisbon. “I’d park myself at a cafe and people-watch between emails and meetings. The Portuguese people are some of the kindest I’ve come across in my travels (I’ve visited 22 countries to date). There’s something about the relaxed vibe that made the workday seem more manageable and served as a reminder to clock out on time and enjoy the sunshine, food and energy.”
Also worth highlighting is the affordability — especially if you’re into nights out on the town.
“Drinks are insanely cheap, beer is typically $2 and a glass of wine is less than $3,” Pattiz said. “The affordability of Lisbon is the biggest draw for me.”
“Nothing beats working from your laptop while looking out over the water with a refreshing drink in hand and the warm breeze off the Mediterranean cooling you down,” said Loredana Elena of Destguides. “Plus, you can never get bored here, and it’s a beautiful historic town.”
Another plus? It’s not bad for the budget.
“As long as you don’t come in the height of summer (July — August), accommodation is reasonable,” Elena said.
Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune, India
Ian Kelly, CEO of NuLeaf, avid international traveler and former remote worker, found a number of cities in India to be hospitable to American employees.
“Monthly internet costs were around $11 for unlimited data,” Kelly said. But the biggest perk lies in the cheap rent.
“People on a budget should know that rent in these areas was around $200 a month for a decent one-person stay — significantly cheaper than most single bedrooms in U.S cities,” Kelly said. “I stayed in a luxury 2BR/2BA 1200 square foot apartment for only $700 a month.”
“Of the over 35 countries I’ve been to, Bali is my favorite for working remote,” said Chen Yen, a digital nomad and the founder of IntrovertedVisionary.com. “It is beautiful and the people are amazing: warm, hospitable, spiritual and welcoming.”
Best of all, it’s pretty cheap to get pretty stylish accommodations.
“The cost of living is such that Americans can live like a king there and you can still rent a place on the beachfront at a really good price,” Yen said. “There is beauty all around and you can live in style on your terms, whether style means integrating into the community while feeling at home, enjoying a luxury resort, a bungalow, exploring and experiencing all the culture and delicious food Bali has to offer.”
For Charles Breitbart, owner of the travel blog TripTins.com, there’s not just one city in Sri Lanka that feels the best — so many are great for the remote work life.
“The historical capital city of Colombo offers plenty of co-working and digital nomad spaces for those that want to spend some time in city life,” Breitbart said. “The towns of the southern coast (Galle, Mirissa, Tangalle, etc.), offer digital nomads the chance to have that relaxing beach time. Cities more inland such as Nuwara Eliya or Ella in Hill country have tea plantations, hikes and plenty of peaceful coffee and lunch spots to set up shop.”
When Breitbart was living in Sri Lanka back around 2019/2020, he spent on average $40 per day. This included accommodation, food and transport.
Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
“The area has been settled by many different groups over time, and the Malay, Chinese, Indian and English colonial elements lead to a unique vibe,” said former digital nomad Nicole Gustas, now director of marketing at International Insurance. “Georgetown has a thriving arts scene, from the street art adorning the walls to the historic architecture from many different cultures to the zines that are in many coffee shops. While it is a tourist destination, they have not displaced the locals.”
Georgetown is considerably less expensive than the U.S., particularly when it comes to the cost of food.
“Delicious and cheap street food is plentiful – a plate of mee goreng will set you back $1.50,” Gustas said. “In addition, Malaysian hotels often include a breakfast buffet and an afternoon tea with a gigantic food spread as part of your room rate – so you have to work to save room for that street food.”
“Cuenca, Ecuador is a great, affordable, and interesting place to live, especially if you want to practice Spanish,” said Michelle Chang, an entrepreneur and travel blogger. “It’s also not so exciting as to be distracting from getting work done.”
Living on a shoestring budget is easy in Cuenca.
“Ecuador uses the US dollar, but the cost of living is less than half and so far, their inflation rate has remained below ours,” Chang said.
“You can easily score a 1-bedroom Airbnb for under €1,000 per month during off-peak seasons, especially in the southern part of the island,” said Luisa Favaretto, founder and editor of the travel guide site Strategistico and experienced digital nomad. “I’ve even booked monthly stays with an ocean view for as little as €550.”
Other costs in Sardinia are also very reasonable.
“An authentic, high-quality pizza can cost as little as €4-6 and a whole meal at a restaurant normally totals €20-30,” Favaretto said. “From my experience, the overall cost of living per month in Sardinia comes out to about 25% lower compared to a typical big city in the US.”
Chiang Mai, Thailand
“The second-largest city in the ‘Land of Smiles’ offers a great infrastructure for digital nomads: Coworking spaces, various accommodation options, a large choice of local and international food, exciting nightlife, rich cultural heritage in and beyond the city, easy access to neighboring mountains and waterfalls,” said Michal Jonca,a digital nomad currently living in Thailand and travel leader at the Polish adventurous travelers club Soliści.
Chiang Mai is jaw-droppingly cheap compared to the U.S.
“You can rent a high-quality, private apartment for less than $400 monthly, the average price for a local lunch is $3, and if you want to use your own means of transportation you can rent a scooter for $2.5 per day,” Jonca said.
“Sitges is an ideal city for expats and digital nomads, located just 30 minutes away from Barcelona,” said Mar Pages, co-founder Solo Female Travelers Tours. “This 30,000 inhabitant town has become a thriving international community and hosts many interesting events and conferences every year.
“The city has become a great hub for remote workers, with the creation of many cowork spaces, good access to Wi-Fi (90.86 Mbps, 2.25% above the Spain national average) and an affordable lifestyle,” Pages said.
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