The concept of digital nomads has been around for some time, but the trend has really picked up in the last decade as remote working technologies and opportunities increased. As the digital nomad community grows, it has also led to the emergence of “digital nomad hubs” – hotspots where digital nomads tend to gather.
When choosing a destination, there are a few standard criteria that appeal to most digital nomads. These include an affordable cost of living, robust internet infrastructure, and accomodating visa requirements. However, there are also a lot of other factors that simply boils down to personal preferences. After all, digital nomading is essentially just a lifestyle choice, and lifestyle preferences vary across individuals.
You will find many nomads advocating different cities that have pulled their heartstrings and purse strings as well. Some might love a particular city while there are bound to be others who find it “meh”. It’s all about what suits your lifestyle.
Even I have other preferences over some of the more popular nomad destinations and have enjoyed places where the nomadic community might not be as strong.
That said, there are a few cities that have emerged as very popular bases among digital nomads. In these cities, you can find a strong and active digital nomad community. Consequently, they also have established infrastructure that supports the digital nomad lifestyle.
If you are just starting on your digital nomad journey and want to find a city that has been well trotted by other nomads, these are some great options.
Digital Nomad Hubs in Asia
Chang Mai, Thailand
While the usual tourists flock to Bangkok with the vibrant shopping and food scene, digital nomads have found their base in Chang Mai, Thailand.
Chang Mai has a low cost of living that makes it super attractive and practical for digital nomads. Throw in a captivating nature backdrop, great food scene, and cultural landscape, this UNESCO heritage site becomes hard to beat.
There are now many cafes and coworking spaces in Chang Mai for your selection. You can find events for nomads and expats every week. In addition, it is not difficult to find good accommodations at affordable prices. This city is also great for mediation and yoga practitioners. With all the right check marks, it is no wonder that Chang Mai is considered one of the holy trinity of digital nomad hubs.
Bali has long established itself as a hotspot for tourists, and without surprise, it has also become a popular spot for digital nomads.
With the fantastic and diverse nature that Bali has to offer, it is not hard to understand why. The golden beaches in Canggu provide an ideal setting for catching the sunset after a long day. In Ubud, the lush greenery brings you into a different world – calming for both working or relaxation. Bali is a great place to connect with mother nature.
With the growth of both short-term visitors and mid-long term nomads, you can now find various bars, cafes, and coworking spaces. Crossfit gyms and yoga spaces have also popped up catering to expats and nomads. There are also many surrounding islands to visit and can serve as a convenient base to check out surrounding areas.
Apart from affordable prices, one of Georgia’s greatest attraction for digital nomads is an extremely lenient visa requirement. A good number of nationalities get a one-year visa-free entry to the country. I have yet to meet any digital nomad that has been to Tibillsi and is not raving about it.
Being in the intersection of Europe and Asia, Tbilisi has a diverse food scene. The city boasts a cheap and convenient transportation system with buses and metro. It is also an excellent base to travel around Georgia; you can access the ocean and mountains with a short drive.
Despite the conflicts around the region, I can see tourism continuing to grow here. Amenities such as coworking spaces, cafes, and gyms are also sprouting up. There are also not many digital nomad hubs in this part of the world, making Tibilisi an attractive city for nomads in the area.
Tbilisi is probably one of the least established digital nomad spots on this list. However, it is certainly up and coming. It can be a great option to visit now if you prefer to hang out somewhere that is not overcrowded with nomads yet still has a strong community in the making.
Digital Nomad Hubs in Europe
Budapest is a well-established tourist destination recording over 5 million visitors in 2019. It has often been said to offer a taste of Western Europe at Eastern Europe prices. While this doesn’t do justice to the amazing stuff that Eastern Europe has to offer, Budapest certainty provides a good mix of both.
With the boom in tourism, prices have no doubt increased throughout the years. However, it is still a much more affordable destination compared to Western Europe.
Well known for its scenic riverfront, the Hungarian capital is an attractive destination for digital nomads. The Danube river splits Budapest into the Buda and Pest side, each with their unique charms to offer. From heritage and historical attractions to ruins bars and thermal baths, there is plenty to explore and enjoy in the city,
While the city is friendly for walking, Budapest also has a pretty convenient and cheap transportation network, making it easy to get around. The city also has a stable internet infrastructure, so you can always hop into one of the charming cafes around the city to work. There is also no lack of coworking options if you prefer a more dedicated space.
Here is the Nomad Travel Guide for Budapest with tips to plan your trip to Budapest!
If you want to find a nomad hub in Western Europe, look no further than Lisbon, Portugal. The digital nomad scene here has sprung up rapidly, and Lisbon is now easily one of the world’s most popular nomad hotspots. While western Europe is one of the most expensive continents, Portugal is pretty affordable comparatively.
Winter is not as harsh in Lisbon, making it a good destination to tide through the colder months within Europe. That said, Portugal is in the Schengen zone, so E.U. citizens don’t have to worry about visa issues and can stay as long as they want.
Internet infrastructure is strong in the city, ticking off one of the primary considerations for digital nomads when selecting a destination. There is a wide range of café, coworking spaces, and bars to cater to different preferences.
Apart from the city’s cultural charm and attractions, natural landscapes and beaches are not too far away either. You can be sure there is always something to do.
With the availability of budget airlines and an established rail system, Lisbon also serves as a great base to explore West and South Europe.
Digital Nomad Hubs in Latin America
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Being a beach town, it is evident that Playa del Carmen’s biggest draw is the pristine beaches along the gulf. Playa del Carmen has been a popular beach holiday destination for a long time now. These places usually have the potential to develop into digital nomad hubs when the infrastructure catches up. This is the case for Playa del Carmen.
Coworking spaces and cafes with good internet speed have started increasing, making it an excellent destination for digital nomads to work and stay longer. You can find a thriving digital nomad community there and get plugged in almost instantly.
The wide range of accommodations on offer is diverse, catering to different budgets. Another element that is usually well known in beach towns is the nightlife, and Playa del Carmen does not disappoint on that front either.
The city is well-positioned as a base to explore the east region of Mexico. Take the opportunity and time to explore the ancient heritage and impressive structures from the Aztech civilization.
Playa del Carmen also offers easy access to a good range of beaches, not just on the mainland but also islands off the Gulf of Mexico.
However, the crowd and prices can go high during the peak seasons. If you are a long term traveler who has flexibility in time, consider visiting outside the peak season.
The story of Medellin is one of a turnaround inspiration. Emerging from the shadows of drug and violence, Medellin has evolved quickly to become a digital nomad and startup hub in the region.
Medellin is the first city in Colombia to have its own metro system, and they are super proud of it. The city also has a cable car system that locals use daily to travel across different areas of the city. The changes in communal 13, a once-notorious drug hub, is also very inspiring.
Colombia sits around the mid-tier range in terms of cost in South America. The cost of living in Medellin is considerably cheap, especially if you are coming from the more expensive continents.
The ability to rent great apartments at affordable prices is undoubtedly a big draw for digital nomads. With the inflow of tech investment, it is not surprising that Medellin now also has a stable internet infrastructure.
The Colombian culture certainty draws a good crowd. Colombians are passionate and friendly, making for a good place to enjoy the relaxing and fun South American vibe.
While safety is much better than in the city’s darker days, it is still not as safe as some of the other cities on the list. Petty crime is common, and you should definitely exercise more caution and know where are spots to avoid when visiting.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires has really started to become a digital nomad hub in recent years due to the drop in living costs. Argentina’s capital city is now way cheaper than before, making it a suitable destination for an extended stay.
Buenos Aires has significant European influence in both architecture and cuisine. It is very much a metropolitan city compared to other capital cities in South America.
The vibrant city has a lot of cultural heritage and greenery. There is great diversity even amongst the usual tourist districts, making it an exciting city to visit. Therefore, it is easy to see why digital nomads and expats find it a good place to stay for some time. That said, the nomad and expat community in Buenos Aires is very strong, and you can always find events to attend.
With the metro, buses, and Uber/Cabify services available, the transportation system is cheap and convenient in Buenos Aires. Internet infrastructure is good, and there is no lack of cafes and coworking spaces for your selection.
The city is generally safe for South American standards, although you should take usual precautions in crowded or very quiet areas. That said, you should exercise extra cautions in some districts, especially during the night.
Buenos Aires is also a great transport hub to visit the rest of Argentina and the surrounding countries like Uruguay and Brazil. There are direct flights or ferries that bring you to a different landscape or culture quickly.
Here is the Nomad Travel Guide for Buenos Aires with important information and insights to plan your trip to Buenos Aires!
Creating a Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Looking to transit into a digital nomad lifestyle? Here are some tips to becoming a digital nomad.
And if you are starting to plan a freedom lifestyle that allows you to become a global citizen (diversifying income, having multiple residences/citizenship, offshoring businesses etc), check out Abundantia, a community of freedom seekers.