7 Affordable Cities Where Digital Nomads Can Live, Work & Save Money
When I was traveling around Thailand, I wasn’t planning to save money. I worked part-time as a blogger and spent the rest of my days trekking with elephants, eating at restaurants and living it up.
But to my surprise, my bank account balance kept increasing.
Even with all my travel expenses, I was spending less than I would have in the U.S. The cost of living was so much lower that I could work less, save more and enjoy the experiences usually reserved for vacation.
Because it’s one of the cheapest places to live in the world, Thailand is a popular destination for digital nomads. Here are seven of the best places to work remotely, based on cost of living, fast Wi-Fi and quality of life.
1. Chiang Mai, Thailand
This ancient city in northern Thailand often tops lists of the best places to work remotely — and for good reason. Chiang Mai has a large community of remote workers, thanks to its low cost of living, speedy Wi-Fi, sunny weather and amazing food.
According to Numbeo, Chiang Mai’s cost of living is over 50 percent lower than that of New York City. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment costs between $200 and $300 per month. Plus, you can keep your other monthly expenses around $500.
“I can attest that Chiang Mai is indeed an excellent place to call home as a burgeoning digital nomad, thanks in large part to the low cost of living,” said Leah Davis, world traveler and blogger at The Sweetest Way. “For example, while sharing a large house with three other Americans, we each paid roughly $115 in rent each month.”
Chiang Mai also has a flourishing community for remote employees. “The digital nomad community already exists,” Davis said. “There will be no shortage of support groups, mentors and meetups to help new entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.”
Many of these professionals congregate at Chiang Mai’s most popular co-working space, Punspace. You’ll get 24/7 access to locations around the city, a reliable internet connection and unlimited coffee for $105 per month.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive city with a close-knit expat community, Chiang Mai fits the bill.
2. Medellin, Colombia
Anyone looking to stay in a U.S. time zone might consider moving to Medellin. According to Nomad List, you can get by on just $928 per month, with rent for a one-bedroom apartment costing about $625.
Despite its past, Medellin is much safer for visitors today. “I feel incredibly comfortable living in Medellin,” said Ann Davis, founder of “workation” company Venture with Impact.
“Medellin is an incredible city for remote workers for various reasons, [including] a large number of co-working spaces, free Wi-Fi at almost all cafes and restaurants and an incredible public transportation system,” she said.
Davis also spoke about the city’s expat community, friendly locals and great weather. “Medellin is the city of eternal spring, and therefore there is sunshine and warm weather year-round,” she said. “The pleasant climate reflects the attitudes of paisas (Medellin residents), who are incredibly friendly and welcoming.”
Not only is Medellin one of the cheapest places to live in the world, but its welcoming atmosphere has attracted visitors from around the globe as well.
3. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Cities in Southeast Asia are some of the cheapest places to live in the world for digital nomads. Ho Chi Minh City is no exception, with its cost of living at just $430 per month, not including rent, according to Numbeo. With a meal at a restaurant averaging $1.76 — and street food costing even less — you could eat out for every meal.
Remote workers like the city’s walkability, lively nightlife and, of course, free Wi-Fi. “Vietnam boasts the fastest Wi-Fi speeds after South Korea, making it the best country in Southeast Asia for digital nomads,” said Liat Tzoubari, founder and CEO of Sevensmith.
“Saigon (its local name) is an urban, relatively modern city that still has a distinctive Vietnamese feel to it, making it the perfect hybrid of useful nomadic resources and cultural experience,” she said.
According to Tzoubari, it’s not uncommon for people to work at cafes around the city. “Saigon has tons, and I mean tons, of beautifully designed cafes with open layouts, delicious food and incredible coffee,” she said. “Cafes are always filled with other patrons on their laptops, so waiters are used to customers sitting at a table for hours at a time.”
Considering the low price of food, it’s no wonder you could spend so much time at cafes without hurting your budget.
4. Budapest, Hungary
For a taste of Europe on a budget, consider visiting the capital of Hungary. According to Numbeo, you can rent an apartment in the historic city center for $500 per month. Altogether, your other living costs shouldn’t add up to much more than $600.
“Budapest has been one of our favorite places to live,” said Katie Matthews, who blogs with her husband, Geoff, at Where to Stay in Budapest. “The cost of living in Budapest is excellent. We have a gorgeous two-bedroom apartment in the city center, which costs about €730 [$871] per month.”
Not only is rent cheap, but Budapest has others perks too. “Other pros of living in Budapest include high-speed internet, availability of most consumer goods, ease of online shopping … and the fact that it’s an airline hub,” said Matthews. “There are also a ton of restaurants, bars and cafes, and there’s always something to do.”
Now that digital nomads have discovered this beautiful city along the Danube, co-working spaces have popped up to accommodate them. You can find a community of like-minded workers in spaces like KAPTAR, Impact Hub and Loffice.
And when you’re not working, you can explore the city’s gorgeous architecture or burgeoning craft beer scene.
5. Siem Reap, Cambodia
If you’re not afraid to venture off the beaten path, consider living in Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia. Megan Cox lived in Siem Reap while she ran her e-commerce store and did manufacturing consulting.
“Hostels start at $2 per night, and nice boutique hotels are about $20 per night,” Cox said. “You can live in a hostel (with a pool!), eat three meals a day and have an unlimited phone plan for $300 per month or less.”
According to Cox, Siem Reap is easy to get around, especially if you have a motorbike, and most hotels have reliable Wi-Fi. Plus, you’ll find a community of other remote workers. “It’s small,” said Cox. “All the foreigners who live there for more than a few months will end up knowing each other.”
While Siem Reap might be one of the cheapest places in the world, it’s also one of the hottest. “It’s a scorching hot, dusty country, so sometimes it feels like there’s no relief from the weather,” said Cox.
Anyone moving from a U.S. city to Siem Reap could cut down their cost of living dramatically — just make sure you pack sunscreen.
6. Berlin, Germany
Although it isn’t the cheapest place to live in the world, Berlin’s cost of living is relatively low, especially for a city in Western Europe. According to Numbeo, rent for a one-bedroom apartment falls between $640 and $880. As a single person, your other expenses might add up to $1,035.
Despite its slightly higher cost of living, Berlin is popular among the location-independent. “Berlin is a great place to live and work because of the creative energy and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Adam Groffman, a graphic designer who blogs at Travels of Adam. “It now even seems that there are more co-working spaces in the city than there are traditional cafes!”
As a relatively young city, Berlin has developed a health-focused culture. “The fact that Berlin has a lot of parks, green spaces and a city cycling culture just makes it an enjoyable and generally healthy place to work from,” he said.
If you’re going to set up shop in Berlin, get ready for its famous nightlife. “In Berlin, we also party as hard as we work,” said Groffman. “Berliners manage to turn off the work and spend weekends at parties, clubs, open-airs and whatever event or festival might be on for the weekend.”
If you’ve got your sights sets on Western Europe, Berlin could be the city for you.
7. Ubud, Indonesia
No list of the best places to work remotely would be complete without mentioning Ubud on the island of Bali. This Indonesian town has long been popular among remote workers. You can get by on about $1,000 per month, according to Nomad List. When you’re not working, you can explore temples or visit the Ubud Monkey Forest.
“Bali is a great place for digital nomads,” said Clemens Sehi, co-founder of travel magazine Travellers Archive. “Bali can not only be extremely cheap, [but] it is also full of great co-working spaces like Hubud in the small town of Ubud.”
But beware: You might have trouble focusing on work in this beautiful spot. “The best and worst part of the digital nomadic life in Ubud is … the fact that one always has paradise at one’s footsteps,” added Sehi. “It can be hard to concentrate on the work that needs to be done.”
Save money and live well in one of the cheapest places in the world
Chances are you’re not going to double your income tomorrow. But you could get the same result by cutting your cost of living in half.
By living in one of these cities, you could dramatically ease the burden on your budget. Plus, you’ll join a vibrant community of globe-trotting digital nomads.
Living in another country comes with its fair share of challenges. For one, you need to meet visa requirements to live abroad. But if money concerns are standing in your way, they probably don’t need to. Moving to one of the cheapest places in the world could be one of the best decisions you make for your finances.
This article was originally published on Student Loan Hero. It is reprinted with permission.