Ok, you’re just about ready to start the digital nomad journey. You either have a good idea how you’ll work and earn money or have already started. You’re sold on the lifestyle and have probably read about it a lot (hopefully using the many resources in our Getting Started As a Digital Nomad Guide!).
The question is… where should you go first? You might be inexperienced traveling or have never done a solo trip. You also might have never done long-term travel (something beyond a short vacation). So what’s the best starting point? We have 8 suggestions based on our own experience…
This is probably where the majority of people start out. It’s cheap, has a huge digital nomad community, and is generally an easy city to live in. The visa situation isn’t bad either, as you can stay indefinitely as long as you periodically cross the border.
Dan (Reverse Tide’s founder) didn’t start his digital nomad journey there but did go after a few years into the lifestyle. He writes about his experience in Digital Nomad in… Chiang Mai.
The downside to Chiang Mai is that it’s almost too easy. Everyone goes there and it’s easy to fall into a bubble of digital nomad lifers (and fall behind in your work). It’s also not the greatest city in the world. However, it’s definitely a great starting point for this lifestyle.
This beautiful South American city is one of the other most common digital nomad cities. It’s laid back and has an amazing culture. While it’s not quite Chiang Mai cheap, your money still can go a long way here. Medellin also has a very consistent climate and great remote work culture. Plus you can learn Spanish (the world’s second most spoken language) while you’re there.
The downside? Safety has vastly improved these last few years but there is still a high crime rate compared to other places on this list. Most people don’t have any issues but you still have to be aware of your environment. Overall, however, it’s popular for a very good reason and well worth your consideration.
If you like big cities, this is an intriguing option. Also known as Saigon, this is one of the world’s most popular hotspots for digital nomads. It is fun, has a warm climate, great food and cafes, and everything a big city would offer. Oh yeah, and it’s super cheap!
The downside is that it is a clear example Southeast Asia chaos. There will be culture shock watching how people drive here (and trying to cross the street). Pollution is pretty bad and the infrastructure is often lacking. You will probably either love it or hate it here. But it’s a low risk price wise and since so many digital nomads choose it, it’s set up for easy integration.
This is an amazingly beautiful city and right in the center of Europe. It’s still quite cheap for an EU capital city and is thus attracting a lot of digital nomads lately. We love Budapest and this is probably our favorite city on the list.
The downside is that you have to like the Eastern European culture here. Some people are turned off by the seemingly cold demeanor of locals (although once you get to know them, they turn out to be lovely). It’s also quite cold in terms of weather for half the year. We think this is the top place for digital nomads in Europe and well worth your consideration though.
With mild winters by European standards, good prices, and a beautiful city/ culture, Lisbon is becoming a hotspot for nomads. It is extremely safe here and gives you an opportunity to explore other parts of Europe.
The only downside is that it’s slightly more expensive than most places on the list. It’s still cheap but you’ll want to be earning or have saving reserves (compared to southeast Asia where you can easily live for less than $1000/month). Altogether, it’s a really good choice and easy one to adjust to culturally.
Digital nomads go to Bali all the time. And why not? You can live the island lifestyle and work all at the same time. It’s cheap, fun, has a huge tourism and digital nomad scene, and awesome weather.
The downside is that the facilities aren’t amazing for a digital nomad. Wifi and connectivity is known to be problematic and force you to either sign up for co-working or find a reliable solution. The beach lifestyle might also be great to live in but might be less motivating for beginning your remote working career.
However, it’s hard to argue against those images of people hanging out in the sand and living the good life.
This is a little less common for digital nomads but an interesting choice for someone that wants a quality step up from Southeast Asia. Taipei has great connectivity and wonderful facilities no matter what you need. It’s also appealing as an “off the beaten path” destination.
The downside is that it might be a better spot for your third or fourth city. Without a thriving expat or digital nomad community and more limited tourism, you might get lonely or feel unsupported as you begin your journey. It’s also a bit more expensive than other locations on this list.
Altogether, people love their time here. This is a prime candidate for strong growth in the digital nomad rankings.
Berlin is a great choice for just about anyone. It has great culture, a thriving business and startup scene, is in the center of Europe as a hub for travel, and is a popular spot for tourism.
The downside is that it’s a bit more expensive than other spots here. However, compared to other major European capitals, your money goes a long way.
This isn’t a historically popular digital nomad spot but is getting a lot of buzz and may soon be one of the biggest. Definitely an easy choice to start your journey.
While these are our suggestions, there are plenty of other great choices. We wanted to choose nice cities that have a good community of people and where your money goes a long way. That will make it easy to adjust to your lifestyle and hit the ground running as a digital nomad. However, your comfort and preferences are key. So think about your priorities and research from there. But if you can’t make up your mind, take the plunge and pick one of these! Since they’re so popular, it is highly likely to be a great choice.