Since we’re going back to Bali next week to start working on our next course, and to see the progress of our hotel Belajar, a lot of you have been wondering why we chose Bali as our base.
Truth is, we just absolutely love everything it has to offer: good weather, stunning nature, very affordable places to live and eat at but most importantly, the people we get to meet there - local or not. Bali is full of like-minded people and everyone is always super welcoming. In our eyes, it really is one of the best places in the world to live in as a digital nomad.
But of course, there are a lot of other countries that are great for freelancers, entrepreneurs or anyone that works remotely. More and more companies are now realizing that most work CAN actually be done remotely, which means that more people get the chance to go fully online and start working from anywhere in the world! This inspired us to share our favorite places in the world to live in as a digital nomad!
So what are the best countries for digital nomads right now? Well, there are quite a lot of candidates but before we share our list with you, let’s set some criteria of what makes the ideal country or city for a digital nomad.
What to look for in a digital nomad city
- Community: Having a great community around you is a must. Whether it’s just someone to go and grab a drink with or people you can collaborate on a project with — don’t underestimate a good community. Many digital nomads either work for themselves or work remotely for a company. That means a lot of time is spent alone, which makes it so important to have great people to enjoy your free time with.
- Good weather and beautiful nature: When working inside and staring at a computer screen all day, we usually try to go for a walk at the beach or a quick swim early in the morning before starting work. It’s the best way to start the day right. Living somewhere with a place to walk, swim and breathe fresh air makes a big difference!
- Internet: Having a reliable and fast wifi connection is a must. Since you’ll be reliant on being connected; you’ll need to have a good data plan or find great cafes and restaurants that have a strong internet connection.
- Co-Working: While we usually work from home, or go to a cute little restaurant, many people enjoy co-working spaces. There’s a monthly fee, but usually, the wifi is very fast and reliable, and there are ergonomic working spaces. (It’s also great for networking!)
- Good work-life balance: You don’t want to live somewhere boring. We often spend days working nonstop, so it’s super important that the place we live in also has some great activities and entertainment to offer. We always try to look for places that can offer history, culture, arts, networking events, and activities we can partake in. In our case, we also try to find places that are good for creating pictures or other content, so if the places are “Instagramable” it’s a big plus for us!
- Cost: The cost of living will vary from person to person. How much you want to spend really depends on how much you’re earning, and how much you want to save. Sometimes accommodation can be a bit higher, but anything else such as food and activities can be more affordable and vice versa.
Our top places to live in as a digital nomad
Bali is probably on every list of the top 10 digital nomad destinations - it just doesn’t get more iconic than here. The island of Bali just has so much to offer; cute cafés with high-speed WiFi, gorgeous beaches, wild nature and beautiful villas at affordable prices. Without being biased, there’s probably no other place like it. And the best part of all is the community, a culture supporting self-development in any way possible.
There are plenty of cool spots to settle down outside of Bali’s most popular areas too! We chose Canggu as our base because we love the variety that it offers. From boutique shops to stunning beaches and endless restaurants and coffee shops as well as corporate spaces.
And best of all: outside of the pandemic times, getting a visa is incredibly simple. Most people get a visa on arrival that allows you to stay for a month or two even! And there have been rumors that there will soon be a digital nomad visa for Indonesia, and as soon as we know more we will share it with you!
If you are a digital nomad you’re destined to spend time there at some point in your life. All in all, we can say that Bali ticks all the boxes and we just can’t wait to get back!
Next on the list is Malaysia. Southeast Asia, in general, has been another go-to place for digital nomads: stunning nature, vibrating metropolises, and delicious food at low prices! And it doesn’t hurt that Malaysia is insanely well-connected - Kuala Lumpur is one of the busiest travel hubs in the region so hopping around other Southeast Asian destinations is super easy and very cheap.
Some of you might know this already, but we used to call Kuala Lumpur home. We really believe that it’s a great place to settle down. Even though the city can be a bit dull, it has a lot of expats and international workers. English is widely spoken and internet speed is excellent which makes Kuala Lumpur one of the best places to live in Southeast Asia. Other popular areas in Malaysia include Penang, known for its street art, Langkawi which is great for scuba divers, and Malacca, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia.
We could go on and on with amazing places for digital nomads in Asia but there is one more place that we need to mention: Thailand. Shaking off its party reputation over the recent years, this Southeast Asian destination is becoming well known as a digital nomad’s paradise. Perfect weather and dreamy beaches combined with incredible temples and impressive mountains.
Bangkok is the classic mix of Asian-brand metropolitan chaos, Chiang Mai in the north is a peaceful town, especially great if you love nature, and the Thai islands in the south, such as Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan which will transform you into a business, beach person.
Also, similarly to Bali, Thailand’s digital nomad hotspots attract very laid-back people and endless co-working spaces with speedy WiFi. There’s a reason Thailand is such a classic location for the digital nomad lifestyle - the landscape and what’s on offer basically sells itself!
Who said you have to travel the world to find the perfect place to stay as a digital nomad? Europe has so many great places to offer and most importantly a big variety, so there is something for everyone. And the best thing for Europeans is there are no visa requirements!
The first place worth mentioning is definitely Portugal, and it seems like Portugal has become the Bali of Europe when it comes to digital nomads.
Most areas of Portugal are suitable for remote work, but if you ask us, the best city for digital nomads in Portugal is probably Lisbon. The second most popular spot is Porto, which is a very lively student city known for its gorgeous old town along the river and blue-tiled buildings.
No matter which city you’ll choose, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful beaches and a lower cost of living than most of Western Europe (and as you can imagine from explorerssaurus’ stories, the food will leave you dreaming).
Talking about good food. Another great option for anyone seeking to work under the sun and enjoy a glass of Sangria with some tapas, Spain might just be the destination you’re looking for. There are many great places for freelancers or any sort of digital nomad. From Barcelona to Valencia, to islands like Mallorca or the Canary Islands - the country has a lot to offer.
All of the cities are popular for an affordable digital work life, with many public parks, long stretching beaches, and cafés to spend your workday at. You’ll be able to enjoy the Spanish culture with affordable living conditions and amazing food all day long!
The last European destination we want to put on the list is Croatia. Croatia is filled with beautiful areas and has endless potential for digital nomads. There are many different sides to this beautiful country: a lazy beach day, a scenic hike through the mountains, or even a visit through historical Mediterranean towns? Name it and you’ll find it! Oh and the weather in the south is another big plus: it’s warm for most of the year!
The digital nomad community in Croatia is scattered around, so you have many options to choose from. The coastline (like Split, Pula, and Zadar) is super popular for sun-loving ex-pats, but Zagreb is also worth a try! The capital has a booming tech and start-up scene, lots of museums, delicious food and breathtaking landscapes.
Did you think we’re gonna forget about the other side of the world? Of course not! If you prefer the western hemisphere of the world then how about Mexico?! Now Mexico might have a reputation for being dangerous, but if you know where to stay in the big cities (such as Colonia America, Guadalajara) or head towards the beach (Sayulita or Playa del Carmen for example) then you’ll be able to have the dream life of any digital nomad - beautiful places for great for content, cheap food, a great atmosphere and good WiFi everywhere.
We never lived there ourselves, but we have visited several times and absolutely love it. There is also the Temporary Resident Visa which allows you to stay for one year and can be renewed after that for another 3 years, which is great! Mexico has so much to offer and it’s definitely another great option!
Who said you had to pick one place? Why not rent or buy a van? Hit the highway, and literally work on the road! Vanlife is booming at the moment and we totally understand why. In Australia, we started our travel adventures with our van “Pumpkin”, and we absolutely loved it. We enjoyed the lifestyle so much that we partnered up with Kapten & Son this year and drove around parts of Europe with our own, new van!
This is a great opportunity for adventure-hungry digital nomads who prefer to have a very dynamic and ever-changing workplace. Having a home on four wheels gives you the freedom to work and sleep almost anywhere, you’ll save on accommodation costs, and can go pretty much anywhere you want! Of course, it’s not always easy to find good wifi but that’s easily fixed with a good data package or a portable wifi device. Personally, we use a portable router from TP-Link.
We think that vanlife is a great option if you plan on working in more expensive countries or regions such as the USA, Australia or Western Europe. The infrastructure in these places is usually pretty well-set for roadies and you’ll be able to discover so many new places!
Is the digital nomad lifestyle for you?
So, what do you think? Is the digital nomad lifestyle right for you? Breaking into freelancing, learning a new skill, and finding clients are all obstacles you might need to overcome. But why not face these challenges in an environment that makes you feel safe, comfortable, and happy? Moving to a new country, or even a new continent is a big step for many. Though it will all be worth it because of the growth, independence, and balance you’ll discover - no matter what country you choose to call home. Btw, if you didn't find your perfect place to stay in our list head over to the "Nomad List", where you can find a list with the best places for digital nomads, evaluating and comparing the most important aspects amongst the different cities such as their "overall experience", "cost", "internet", "fun" and "safety"!
We couldn’t be happier with the life we chose and we can only recommend to at least experience it once in your life.