Tired of the same old routine?
Picture this: Waking up to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. You go to a nearby cafe and do a few hours of work. Then, you explore the city and its culture and scenery. You have new and exciting experiences every day.
That’s the digital nomad lifestyle. That’s what semi-retiring and traveling the world is all about.
This sort of lifestyle is not as elusive as you think. With the right plan, you can make it happen. That begins with knowing where to go.
So, consider your destination. Consider the best cities for working remotely. The best digital nomad cities not only offer the chance to do lucrative remote work, but also enjoy life.
In this article, we’ll cover the best digital nomad cities. These destinations have it all: affordability, safety, convenience, and access to healthcare and other necessities.
How We Chose the Best Digital Nomad Cities
To determine the best digital nomad cities, we looked at a combination of factors, including:
- Cost of living
- Level of safety
- Quality of internet
- Entertainment and leisure activities
- Ease of visa and residency requirements
- Quality of medical care and other services, such as transportation
In short, we chose cities that offer a high quality of life along with affordability. After all, when you work digital nomad jobs, you don’t want to spend too much on rent and food. Certain destinations, such as New York City and Hong Kong, are too expensive to sustain a digital nomad lifestyle (unless you have a high income).
Some cities that make the list also make lists for the best early retirement abroad destinations. That’s because they’re affordable and have good amenities.
Without further ado, let’s get to the list of the best digital nomad cities!
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Why Ho Chi Minh City makes the best digital nomad cities list: Interested in the FIRE lifestyle? Then put Ho Chi Minh City on your list of destinations. As Lonely Planet states, Ho Chi Minh City is “a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the country forward with its pulsating energy.” Dive in!
Ho Chi Minh City’s advantages: There’s a young, dynamic workforce. The city has fast internet and great transportation. Cost of living is also low. According to Numbeo, a cost-of-living database, you can rent a flat in the city center for about $530 per month and live off $490 per month outside of rent. That means your budget would be barely over $1,000 per month!
Why Lisbon makes the best digital nomad cities list: Lisbon has become an increasingly popular destination for early retirement abroad. With a rich culture and Mediterranean climate, the cosmopolitan city impresses at first sight. You’ll be wide awake at every turn, whether you’re riding the yellow tram or visiting ancient ruins.
Lisbon’s advantages: For the FIRE lifestyle folks, Lisbon offers easy access to the ocean and the rest of Europe. It’s also quite safe. The city boasts a world-class dining and nightlife scene. And, according to SmartAsset, you can live comfortably in Portugal on $1,600—$2,000 per month. How nice is that?
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Why Buenos Aires makes the best digital nomad cities list: Buenos Aires gets you in touch with your senses. The city seamlessly blends Latin passion and European style. In one day, you could view mind-blowing street art, have the best steak of your life, and do the tango. Sounds like the place to be, right?
Buenos Aires’ advantages: The city offers a lot for digital nomads, including fast internet, exceptional public transportation, and incredible nightlife. This place has tons of energy and you’ll feel motivated to work and have fun each day. If you live in a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, you can get by on less than $1,000 per month, according to Numbeo data.
Costa Rica is one of the latest countries to jump on the digital nomad trend. The country has scenic nature coupled with great weather all year round. It welcomes foreigners and offers many programs that help them obtain legal residency, whether temporary or permanent. Read on to learn more about different visa types for Costa Rica!
Why Budapest makes the best digital nomad cities list: A gem on the Danube River, Budapest takes you back in time with its architectural treasures. The city also comes equipped with all you need to enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle, from bustling cafes and tasty Hungarian food to cozy thermal baths. Work, eat, relax, and repeat.
Budapest’s advantages: A very walkable city, Budapest features top-notch wifi, high-quality apartments, and plenty of entertainment. You also won’t have trouble finding work spots. If you want to semi-retire and live abroad, you can also stretch your dollar in Budapest. If you live in a smaller apartment, $1,000 per month should get you by, according to Numbeo data.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Why Chiang Mai makes the best digital nomad cities list: A calm, laid-back place, temples dot the city of Chiang Mai and jungles surround it. Chiang Mai provides so many unique things to do. Shop for veggies and spices at a local market, visit an elephant sanctuary, trek through Doi Suthep–Pui National Park, and more. Chiang Mai is simply a great place to enjoy a digital nomad lifestyle.
Chiang Mai’s advantages: A modern, pedestrian-friendly city, Chiang Mai has arguably the best mix of affordability, safety, and entertainment. You can live on a budget of $1,000 per month, according to an Investopedia report. One of the favorite destinations for early retirement abroad, Chiang Mai also offers access to great medical care.
Why Taipei makes the best digital nomad cities list: Tamara Hinson, a travel journalist, describes what makes Taipei so great in a piece she did for The Independent. She writes that Taipei “feels like nowhere else on earth.” The city is “wonderfully accessible” and a mesmerizing blend of “fragrant night markets and skyscrapers.” Simply put, Taipei will pull you in for an amazing time, and you won’t want to leave.
Taipei’s advantages: Taipei is one of the best cities for digital nomads because of the world-class tech infrastructure, excellent public transit and walkability, tasty cuisine, and non-stop activity. The city is also safe and welcoming. Taiwan has a reputation as being friendly to foreigners and as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in Asia and the world. Taipei does have a higher cost of living than others on the list, but many digital nomads report being comfortable with a total budget of around $2,000 per month, including rent.
Cape Town, South Africa
Why Cape Town makes the best digital nomad cities list: There are plenty of reasons why Telegraph Travel continually votes Cape Town as the best city in the world. Cape Town wins folks over with its stunning nature, adrenaline-fueled activities, rich and raw history, and great dining and entertainment. Surf and hike, trace Nelson Mandela’s footsteps, and have fun along Long Street—all in one day. On top of all that, you get proximity to Africa’s Big 5. Lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffaloes…oh my!
Cape Town’s advantages: Talk about marvelous weather! In addition to warmth, sunshine, and beach vibes, Cape Town offers digital nomads spacious living, ease of transportation, cozy accommodations, and an abundance of spots to get work done. Imagine working with coastal views! Cape Town is an English-speaking city, which eliminates the language barrier for many travelers. The city is also quite affordable. According to Expatistan, a cost of living comparison site, you can enjoy a comfortable standard of living for about $1,300 USD per month.
Mexico City, Mexico
Why Mexico City makes the best digital nomad cities list: A guide in Culture Trip sums up the charm of Mexico City well: The city boasts a thriving arts scene, delicious street food, a diverse nightlife, and lots of cultural sites. On any day, you can explore the country’s most important Mesoamerican ruins. And within Mexico City, you’ll find activity 24/7. As soon as you get a taste of the town, you’ll unpack your bags and stay awhile.
Mexico City’s advantages: Mexico City has speedy internet, solid healthcare, quality apartments, and good transportation options. The capital of Mexico is highly regarded among digital nomads for another big reason: It’s fun! Whether you’re partying in Zona Rosa or soaking in the buzz of the Zócalo (main square), you’ll be making lasting memories. And according to Numbeo, you can get by well with a budget of $1,300 USD per month. How awesome is that?
>> If you’re looking to semi-retire or retire abroad, check out our article on why people are flocking to Mexico!
Auckland, New Zealand
Why Auckland makes the best digital nomad cities list: Auckland delights every step of the way. From the fine wineries on Waiheke Island to the stunning volcanic mountains to the shopping on Queen Street, Auckland offers a variety of things to do. When it comes to having a work-life balance, few places compare. Auckland is rated as the third most liveable city on the planet. So, obviously it deserves a spot on our list of the best digital nomad cities.
Auckland’s advantages: Auckland is safe, tolerant, and laid-back. The city has a warm and temperate climate, as well as great air quality. New Zealand is considered one of the freest countries in the world too. Within town, you have access to world-renowned healthcare and super-fast wifi. Your cost of living does get higher than most on this list, but the pros of living in Auckland make it one of the best digital nomad cities. It’s a good tradeoff. According to Numbeo data, plan for a budget of $2,100—$2,700 USD per month.
Why Medellín makes the best digital nomad cities list: A striking hillside metropolis, Medellín has emerged as a popular destination for digital nomads in recent years. Called the City of Eternal Spring, thanks to its pleasant climate, Medellín comes ready to please. From nature spots like Arví Park to cultural gems like the Museum of Antioquia, this city has a lot to offer to any visitor. And when it comes time to let your hair down, Medellín sweeps you off your feet (and to the dance floor!).
Medellín’s advantages: El Poblado, a commune in Medellín, has become one of the famous neighborhoods among digital nomads. With chic cafes, nice apartments, and amazing restaurants, you have all you need right in this ‘hood. Overall, the city has what digital nomads covet: reliable internet, good food, plenty of social activities, access to nature, and affordability. You can live well on $900—$1,100 per month, according to Expatistan.
Why Montreal makes the best digital nomad cities list: This French-infused city lives life to the fullest. With an unmatched arts scene, festivals galore, happening nightlife, and good food (it’s time for poutine!), Montreal puts it all on the table. No wonder the Economist’s Global Liveability Index places Montreal among the 20 most liveable cities in the world. The city makes it easy for you to live well.
Montreal’s advantages: Yes, it’s cold. But the cold brings the fun in Montreal, as residents and visitors ski and snowboard by day and sit around the fireplace at night. Overall, the city offers a high quality of life. Digital nomads enjoy pedestrian-friendly streets, fast internet, high-quality housing, plenty of green space, and world-class healthcare. You have everything you need—and more—in Montreal. And compared to Toronto and New York, Montreal is quite cheap too. Expect to spend around $1,800—$2,100 per month.
>> Looking outside of Montreal? Check out our guide to the best breweries in Quebec City!
Making Life in One of the Best Digital Nomad Cities a Reality
This list details our favorite cities for living the digital nomad lifestyle. Some of the other best digital nomad cities and places we plan to highlight soon include:
- Casablanca, Morocco
- Bali, Indonesia
- Phuket, Thailand
- Lima, Peru
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Valencia, Spain
Check back periodically. We plan to update and expand the list over time. Because we know there are plenty of other great cities for living the digital nomad or FIRE lifestyle.