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When we left our corporate jobs in 2018 to finally become digital nomads, we couldn’t wait to finally be able to live and work from anywhere in the world. After all, the only thing a digital nomad destination needs is a little bit of wifi, right?
In our time spent working from places all over the world, we’ve learned that not all digital nomad hubs are created equal.
We’ve been to places that made us laugh hysterically at the thought of ever returning to office life.
Conversely, we’ve also tried to work from places where the lack of reliable workspaces or decent wifi had us feeling like we’d been cursed by the remote work gods.
Now, we have a pretty good idea of what makes a solid digital nomad spot.
Though digital nomads flock to destinations for different reasons, each location shares a few key characteristics that make it suitable for both living and working.
Of course, there are a few other things in the ‘nice to have’ category, such as convenience, and level of English spoken. You can check how different locations score in these categories on helpful sites like Nomad List.
To get you started on picking your next landing spot, we’ve compiled a list of 16 of the most popular digital nomad destinations to consider in 2020.
Just because it’s obvious doesn’t make it any less true.
Chiang Mai has long been considered the digital nomad capital of the world and it’s not hard to see why.
The ‘Rose of the North,’ as it’s long been called, has everything a digital nomad could want: ample places to work, great hospitals, western-style grocery stores, a massive expat and digital nomad community, and cheap delicious Thai food. All at a fraction of the cost of Bangkok.
Bali has long been a holiday destination, but over the last few years, it has exploded as the second most iconic destination for Digital Nomads.
It’s easy to poke fun at some of the Bali cliches out there (Amanda knows that I often can’t resist) but as a digital nomad destination, it’s hard to argue that it gets much better than Bali.
One thing to consider, and it’s a very real one, is that wifi in Bali is known for being pretty bad.
The coworking spaces and most accommodations have gotten ahead of this in recent years, but it’s still worth checking out when you’re looking for a place to stay.
We personally preferred Canggu to Ubud but that’s entirely subjective.
Canggu shares a lot of similarities with Ubud but definitely has a vibe all its own. More surf town than yoga retreat, Canggu is a great choice for those who need to be close to the beach at all times.
Honestly, the beaches here aren’t the best in the world. But at the very least, they’re a great place to grab a Bintang and watch the sunset.
There are several coworking spaces and nomad-friendly cafes in Canggu, so you’ll never be without a place to work.
The city of eternal spring is rapidly climbing the digital nomad destination charts. With the dark days of widespread violence and Pablo Escobar behind them, the city has invested heavily in technology and infrastructure.
New coworking spaces seem to be popping up monthly, the city is just highly affordable as some of the other Southeast Asia hotspots, and there are ample hikes in the surrounding hills for your days off.
This is the most expensive destination on the list so far, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t tremendous value to be found in Lisbon. The cost of living here is still relatively low and the infrastructure is modern. Thanks to the beautiful weather, large expat community, and amazing food, Lisbon has seen digital nomads flocking to the city in recent years.
Lisbon is an especially attractive spot for Europeans thanks to their status as a member of the E.U.
If you’re looking for the total digital nomad package, Bangkok is hard to beat. The cost of living, while more expensive than Chiang Mai, is still very affordable. The city is filled with coworking spaces, massive air-conditioned malls, cheap street food, and a modern transit system. And if you want to treat yourself to a nice dinner or a cocktail at a Skybar after signing that new client, Bangkok is the place to do that.
The biggest knock against Bangkok, as with any city, is that it’s absolutely massive. Things can feel a little spread out and Bangkok traffic can truly be the stuff of nightmares.
While Vietnam and Thailand have a distinctly different vibe to them, Saigon’s closest comparison is probably Bangkok. The city is Vietnam’s main financial hub and has a much more modern feel to it than other parts of the country.
Vietnam as a whole is still very low cost, making Ho Chi Minh city a great place to start your location independent journey. There are ample coworking spaces throughout the city and a solid community of digital nomads. And because it’s Vietnam, there’s no shortage of cafes here.
The capital of Vietnam has a significantly more “exotic” feel to it than Ho Chi Minh City and provides quite a bit more of that trademark Vietnam organized chaos. Once you leave the Old Quarter for expat friendly areas like Tây Hồ, the city adds its own personal touch to the Southeast Asia hotspot recipe: low cost of living, great food, and warm weather.
While we didn’t stick around either for more than 2 weeks, I can’t really see myself staying long term in Hanoi. It’s a cool city and there are some absolutely amazing trips that you can do from the city, but when I’m looking to get into a consistent workflow, the city is just a little too hectic.
Everyone has that place that they swear is a real “undiscovered gem” that is guaranteed to be the “next digital nomad hot spot” and guess what? Da Nang is absolutely my pick for that distinction.
After years of being passed up for nearby Hoi An, Da Nang has exploded in popularity recently. With a river that naturally cuts the city into a river and beachside, Da Nang is large enough (just passed 1 million in population) but still very manageable. There are great beaches, a large expat community (mostly teachers), and it’s extremely affordable.
As for places to work, coworking spaces are beginning to pop up and there are plenty of cafes. I loved one so much that I even wrote an article about it.
This Thai island is most known for the famous (or infamous) Full Moon Party that takes place once a month. During the rest of the time, however, the island is relatively quiet but there’s still a sizeable expat population, as well as western-style cafes and restaurants. There’s currently a small handful of coworking spaces of varying levels of quality on the island. Though we recently met a group who has plans to bring an entire coworking + coworking space there in the near future.
During our last visit to Koh Phangan, we were there for about 1 month. If you’re looking to decompress a bit but still get some work done all while enjoying Thai food and island life, Koh Phangan is a solid choice.
Koh Lanta probably has an even more laid back vibe than Koh Phangan. The island is home to a popular and impressive coworking space called KoHub.
KoHub’s property offers places to work, eat, or even get a relaxing Thai massage. They offer all-inclusive packages that include coliving, coworking, and meals.
Most digital nomad hot spots are known for their cheap accommodation or lower cost of living. But it’s hard to exclude a city that has consistently been ranked as having the world’s fastest internet.
Seoul is certainly not as cheap as other cities on this list. Not by a long shot. But it’s a modern city with quality infrastructure, amazing food, and plenty of cafes and coworking space to get stuff done.
As an international city in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur draws the most comparisons to nearby Singapore. Though, Kuala Lumpur boasts a significantly better value when it comes to the cost of living.
Though its’ a modern city with ample cafes and amazing food — thanks to an eclectic mix of cultures — we’ve heard mixed reviews about Kuala Lumpur as a digital nomad destination. Guess we’ll just have to go check it out for ourselves.
Buenos Aires is a great pick for those looking to swap the Southeast Asia beaches in favor of Latin America. Said to be a mix of European, North American, and Latin American influence, the city rich in culture. In addition to plenty of spaces to plug in and work, Buenos Aires also offers plenty of things to do when you’re not working on your business.
Learn to dance the Tango, take advantage of the vibrant nightlife, attend a futbol match, or enjoy the incredible weather in one of the city’s parks.
It’s probably because I’ve never visited but Berlin’s popularity with digital nomads has always somewhat surprised me. That could be because we don’t usually think of prominent European cities to be as digital nomad friendly.
But the city consistently ranks among the top spots for location independent workers. Berlin earns high marks for the reliable internet, world-renowned nightlife, central Europe location, and their friendly, English-speaking population.
Budapest is probably the city that I’m most looking forward to checking out as a digital nomad. The Hungarian capital is becoming more and more popular with tourists and digital nomads alike. Thermal spas, grandiose architecture, ample coworking, and super fast wifi can all be credited with Budapest consistently ranking in the top digital nomad destinations on sites like Nomad List
We are a couple that travels the world full time while running our own online businesses. We want to be your one stop shop for a location independent lifestyle full of travel inspiration and useful tools and knowledge to grow your own online business.