Living the dream: the top 10 digital nomad destinations

From Berlin to Chiang Mai, we look at some of the best hotspots for digital nomads around the world, selected by Felicia Hargarten from the digital nomad conference DNX

Strike the perfect balance between work and play: Chiang Mai is one of several destinations that allows you to live the dream

Strike the perfect balance between work and play: Chiang Mai is one of several destinations that allows you to live the dream

Category Tips & tricks

Date 8th September 2016

This is the century of the digital nomad – a time in which better technology is facilitating remote access to the internet far away from home and flexible, nomadic lifestyles that allow one to combine working and holidaying with ease. What is a digital nomad you might ask? 

We’ve teamed up with Felicia Hargarten from the digital nomad conference DNX, and selected some of the top locations worldwide where leading the lifestyle of a digital nomad is a comfortable, if not rewarding experience, along with links to all the essential cafes, events, and networking opportunities at these locations.

Best digital nomad destinations in Europe

For the seasoned digital nomad: Berlin, Germany

Berlin, a digital nomad hub replete with cafe working spots such as this one, the laptop café Sankt Oberholz
Berlin, a digital nomad hub replete with cafe working spots such as this one, the laptop café Sankt Oberholz

Berlin has evolved into one of Europe’s hottest start-up hubs. The German capital is a young, vibrant city full of creative, unconventional people. During the summer months in particular, it reels in lots of digital nomads from all over the world. Berlin is the sort of city in which you can go out, network and meet interesting people every single day. Finding your way around using English is easy, and food and living expenses are cheap by EU standards.

Plus, Berliners LOVE to have fun – the city is abuzz with a vibe of freedom that is incomparable with most other places. In the summer, Berlin acts as an ideal base for many, given the ease and affordability of plane travel into and out of the city. Other European cities and beach destinations are only a short flight away, making this a great base to operate from.

Find a flight to Berlin

In search of southern climes: Lisbon, Portugal

Inspiring work spaces in Lisbon: the multi-disciplinary art space, Lx factory
Inspiring work spaces in Lisbon: the multi-disciplinary art space, Lx factory

Lisbon has evolved into one of the best European capitals for digital nomads and creative workers. This is a city in which fast, reliable internet is driving the co-working scene to new heights. Unique workspaces and cafés help you to instantly feel productive, stay inspired and connect with a young, international crowd of entrepreneurs.

For a Western capital, living costs are still affordable and you can find some good deals on housing. A melting pot of the traditional and the cosmopolitan, Lisbon stimulates your explorer gene with magical sights, hidden paths, intriguing colors and stunning sunset views over the city and seaside. Lisbon is also home to incredibly friendly locals, and has lots of really good restaurants, cozy cafés and bars. Equally, its buzzing night life is well and truly world-class.

Find a flight to Lisbon

For the digital nomad with a hankering for ski slopes: Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria, is the perfect digital nomad destination for alpine aficionados
Sofia, Bulgaria, is the perfect digital nomad destination for alpine aficionados

Eastern Europe is reinventing itself. As such, this is an area of the globe that is constantly changing; evolving into a location that is on an upward streak, when it comes to attracting young creatives.

One would be hard-pressed to find a city that is calling out to digital nomads more than Sofia is at the moment. If you’re looking to get some work done in a pulsating, growing metropolis, then this is the place to be. Cheap rent expenses, the low cost of eating out and blazing internet speed are some of the perks of this vibrant city.

‘Betahaus’ is but one example of the city’s groovy co-working spaces, and very much a forerunner in terms of the co-working culture. In addition, Sofia is a beautiful and safe city. Kind, helpful locals and a pairing of Southern Europe with a dash of the Balkans makes for an unrivaled experience. Top your Sofia experience off with a trip to some of the highest skiing areas in the region, located close to the city, or cut yourself loose after dark by indulging in Sofia’s epic party culture.

Find a flight to Sofia

Best digital nomad destinations in Asia

The ultimate digital nomad destination: The Southern Thai Islands

What better way to get work done than from a warm, tropical island? Add these two gems to your list.

Koh Lanta (West coast) and Koh Phangan (East coast) are two Thai islands that usher you in with some of the most amazing co-working spaces we’ve ever been to. Such spaces can be found in lush, tropical garden settings a stone-throw away from the beach, and in some cases even on the beach itself. Both communities stand out due to their unique family vibe, quick internet, healthy food and lots of opportunities to create meaningful connections with other nomads. Costs are highly dependent on the season, but are generally  low.

Paradise found, Koh Lanta is one big tropical workspace
Paradise found, Koh Lanta is one big tropical workspace

Koh Lanta boasts some of the best diving spots in Asia, long white beaches and a relaxed, friendly local community, whilst Koh Pangan has a unique hippie feel, a great expat scene and world-famous nightlife. It goes without saying that both islands have stunning beaches and beautiful nature that is still very much intact. While on the islands, you can stay fit and fresh by taking yoga and meditation classes, eating fresh fruit all day long, going on long runs on the beach, or taking part in crossfit and other sports. There are also numerous opportunities to engage in eco-minded activities and other social initiatives.

Find a flight to Koh Phangan

In need of a winter break: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand: the perfect mix of work and rest
Chiang Mai, Thailand: the perfect mix of work and rest

Chiang Mai draws digital nomads in like flies around meat. This city boasts the ultimate mix of good weather, the highest concentration of digital nomads anywhere on earth, incredibly cheap costs of living, good Wi-Fi and friendly people. Chiang Mai is a popular winter meetup location for most of the digital nomad community, who trade the cold of other parts of the world for a sunny Asian excursion.

As such, many cafes in Chiang Mai are hardly distinguishable from co-working spaces. When you’re not too busy working, there’s lots to do and discover, thanks to Thailand’s beautiful nature. Thailand is also great for beginners, as it is a tourist friendly country in which it is easy to get around. Moreover, the friendliness and helpfulness of the Thai’s allows one to feel at home from the word go.

Find a flight to Chiang Mai

For the digital nomad on A budget: Bali, Indonesia

Bali is the sort of place where work and pleasure are synonymous
Bali is the sort of place where work and pleasure are synonymous

Bali has turned into a veritable hub for digital nomads and entrepreneurs from all over the world, mainly due to its high quality of life and low cost of living. Its vibrant entrepreneurial community is growing and branching out more and more with each passing month.

Stimulated by this trend, local businesses do their best to cater to ones needs. As such, there are lots of Wi-Fi cafés & workspaces with high speed internet. In Bali, you will find a tropical environment, great weather, lush nature, breathtaking sights and a vast choice of activities. Think surfing, hiking, spas, crafts, workshops etc. All of these perks come at an exceptionally affordable price: you can live well for $1000 a month, depending on where you are on the island.

Ubud and Canggu are two locations that are particularly popular among nomads. In addition, both the health food as well as the yoga scene are vibrant, providing the perfect fuel for a productive work day.

Find a flight to Bali

For the adventurous nomad: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, home to more and more entrepreneurs
Ho Chi Minh City, home to more and more entrepreneurs

Even though Vietnam is currently experiencing a tourist boom, it still remains a stronghold for digital nomads.

Great weather, widespread use of the English language, affordable prices and lots of other entrepreneurs on-site make Ho Chi Minh City an attractive location. Take advantage of soaring internet speeds and great networking opportunities with other nomads. High season in Chiang Mai, Thailand, can also be felt in Ho Chi Minh, where business booms and the season peaks.

Ho Chi Minh is also a temporary home to many members of the Dynamite Circle; an English speaking community for online entrepreneurs, who host regular meetups in the city.

Find a flight to Ho Chi Minh City

Best digital nomad destinations in The Americas

Get creative: Medellín, Colombia

Medellin, Colombia, one of South America's creative hubs
Medellin, Colombia, one of South America’s creative hubs

Colombia is a relatively new insider’s tip among digital nomads. After Chile, Colombia is said to be the most creative country in South America, where its digital scene is enjoying a boom.

Medellín is a centre for digital innovation aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the city and region. Once a cocaine capital, the Colombian metropolis is now a safe, hospitable city that is home to a large international nomad community, who take advantage of stable internet and high-quality work spaces.

Combined with consistently warm temperatures, a vibrant, youthful spirit, friendly locals and affordable costs of living, Medellín is just the right size for you not to get too lost and distracted. At the same time, it also boasts lots of outdoor activities, numerous entertainment venues and epic nightlife spots.

Find a flight to Medellín

Time for a shorter work week: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires offers infinite opportunities for the digital nomad
Buenos Aires offers infinite opportunities for the digital nomad

Buenos Aires is a hotspot for expats, and one of the most popular meeting points for location independent entrepreneurs from all around the world.

Many are drawn to Argentina by its affordable living costs, delicious steaks, the tango scene and an impressive country on the whole. The months between October and April are particularly busy, so expect to find plenty of digital nomads taking advantage of the vibrant and wholeheartedly unique café-culture and environment. This is also a place where the internet startup scene is constantly expanding, particularly in the Palermo valley.

Find a flight to Buenos Aires

For the Silicon valley types: San Diego, USA

Sun, sea and Silicon Valley, San Diego has it all
Sun, sea and Silicon Valley, San Diego has it all

San Diego is our hottest tip, if you want to escape the roaring prices of San Francisco, but still want to soak up some of California’s revered entrepreneurial vibe and creative energy.

Why? Well, it is much more affordable, has sunny weather all year round and plenty of lifestyle entrepreneurs as well as digital nomads to connect with. Boasting a pleasant 77–86°F  in summer and 64–77°F in winter, the weather is actually rated best in the USA!

San Diego offers you the best surf spots in the country, suitable for all skill levels. Combined with amazing beaches, hip bars and coffee shops and the fact that San Francisco and Mexico are only a stone’s throw away, San Diego truly is a digital nomad’s paradise. Be sure to squeeze in a visit to Silicon valley while you are in the area.

Find a flight to San Diego
Follow Felicia and her travels on Medium, and keep an eye on DNX Camp for tips and tricks on how to get your digital nomad lifestyle started. To find out more, visit the Let’s open our world website.

Originally published

8th September 2016