The digital nomad lifestyle is synonymous with a love of travel and a desire to see every corner of the globe.
If you've been experiencing a lot of wanderlust and are thinking about dropping it all and getting a one-way ticket, then you've landed on the perfect article.
My first experience with the travel bug was studying abroad back when I was in college. After school, I spent years working and traveling in countries across the globe, so I can attest to the advantages of visiting destinations with a low cost of living.
When money isn't stretched thin, you can visit more attractions and experience things more deeply, not to mention stay on the road for longer durations.
If you're interested in digital nomad jobs and want to start on the right foot, let me be your guide on a short trip through some of the most popular and cheapest places for digital nomads.
Let me say this now. Although this article focuses on the cheapest places for digital nomads, I factored in much more than cost.
The truth is, what's cheap to one person could be expensive to the next, meaning it's tough to come up with a list that everybody likes. Certain digital nomads are known to pull in five-figure sums, while others travel on a shoestring budget.
Therefore, all my recommendations come from the viewpoint of an average earner. After all, my goal is to provide a list of places you can work and travel for an extended period without breaking the bank.
You're free to go to Berlin or Buenos Aires if that's what you choose, but locations in Greece or Mexico might prove just as scenic at much more affordable prices.
I'm trying to say that the "cheapest places for digital nomads" will have different meanings for different people, so feel free to disagree. Either way, here are a few other things that factored into my decision.
Many members of the digital nomad community prefer to stick to places with an active expat population. Expats live outside of their native country, and they're a good resource if you're new in town.
Integrating into such a group can help you find potential co-living partners and maybe even lifelong friends. It helps to have someone to talk to if you're, for example, an American in Romania, and you can only speak English. Or vice versa.
It's essential to have some level of community support when you're frequently traveling in foreign countries where you don't fully understand the language and customs. And the expat community offers lots of help for people interested in exploring the cheapest places for digital nomads.
Going to expat meetups is also an excellent way to find people who know a bit more about the city, the nightlife hotspots, cafes, hostels, the best coworking spaces for freelancers, and so on.
You can quickly locate these sorts of meetups under the expat tag on social media or various travel websites. In areas with a large backpacking scene, it's not uncommon to see posters around the tourist areas advertising expat events, so pay attention to your surroundings.
Alternatively, you can join Nomadlist and immediately get involved with an active community of remote workers across Europe, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East.
I recommend the last method since it's the easiest way to contact people, regardless of whether you're staying in Argentina, Bulgaria, Estonia, or pretty much any country with a tourist industry.
In our beginner's guide to digital nomadism, we iterate the importance of creating a careful travel budget to avoid running out of money. And because lodging is by far the most expensive part of remote work, you need to estimate based on the rate for travelers.
Therefore, I based the living costs on the overall monthly Airbnb rent prices. While this isn't flawless, major cities generally have international prices. So be prepared to pay a lot of money to live in just about any famous city around the world.
After all, when you're traveling around for extended periods, the cost of room and board gets expensive quickly, even when exploring the cheapest places for digital nomads.
So unless you speak the language or have local connections, you're more than likely not going to find a cheap place to stay, at least in the beginning.
Once you've spent enough time there, you'll no longer need a guide because you'll have the resources to live cheaply. Until then, this information should come in handy.
Aside from estimating how much USD you'll need for lodging, I included safety tips alongside UNESCO attractions and local cuisines for each of the cheapest places for digital nomads. These are limited to my personal experiences and online travel forums, so conduct your research before booking one-way tickets to digital nomad destinations.
As stated, you'll probably pay a lot more money to get by in the beginning. So during your first week, I suggest recording how much you spend each day on food, lodgings, and essential travel so you can get an idea of how much to budget.
Within no time, you'll be able to decide when to live cheap and when to splurge in the big city.
In general, as long as you avoid fancy restaurants and don't take an Uber or taxis everywhere, you should be fine. But again, it depends on how much money you make working as a digital nomad and your unique spending habits. Either way, here's my list of ten of the cheapest places for digital nomads.
Cost of lodging: If you have $500 to spend on rent, you have enough for a mediocre apartment in the capital city of Bangkok, Thailand.
Coworking: There's a thriving coworking scene in Bangkok. If you're looking for a place to get some work done, use free wifi to track down some coffee shops and coworking spaces. You can search for them by city using the tool on Coworker.com.
Safety tips: While crime isn't at an all-time high, I recommend you don't wander too far outside of the city center at night without any prior knowledge of the neighborhood. Like most capital cities, a lot is going on in Bangkok at night.
Local cuisine: If you enjoy food, you'll be in heaven in Bangkok as it's one of the world's most famous street food cities. Try local dishes like hot and sour prawn soup, spicy papaya salad, and the iconic pad thai noodles.
Attractions: In your free time, visit the Royal Grand Palace, Khaosan Road, and Wat Arun, to name a few.
Travel tips: Thailand has the same tourist visa options regardless of nationality. Prepare the required documents and pay the sum if you want to visit.
Cost of lodging: Housing prices in Budapest start at around $500, but you'll probably need to spend at least $1000 a month to get an apartment that has air conditioning, decent internet speed, and a good location.
Coworking: For those in need of a place to work in Eastern Europe, check out the Impact Hub. It's also an excellent resource to get in contact with the city's expat community and pin down a coworking space catered to digital nomads.
Safety tips: As with most tourist-friendly places, Budapest is relatively safe. Just be on the lookout for pickpockets and other petty crimes, especially at night.
Local cuisine: If you're hungry, track down some Hungarian classics like goulash, chicken paprikash, or jókai bean soup.
Attractions: While you are there, visit famous sights, including the Hungarian Parliament Building, Széchenyi Thermal Bath, and Buda Castle.
Travel tips: Month-long tourist visas are easy to acquire, and you'll have the option to extend them at the end of each month.
Cost of lodging: You can get an average apartment in Ubud Indonesia for as little as $300, which is why Indonesia is one of the cheapest places for digital nomads.
Coworking: Bali also has an expat or coworking site called Dojo Bali. You can view upcoming meetups and find expat meetings to attend.
Safety tips: Ubud is one of the safest cities in Indonesia. Like most cities on this list, mind your belongings and don't leave items sitting around the table.
Local cuisine: After that, be sure to try out some local dishes, including 'Babi guling,' fish head soup, or 'Nasi campur.' Food in this part of the world is bold, so don't be afraid to explore.
Attractions: Visit stunning attractions like the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Campuhan Ridge Walk, and Saraswati Temple.
Travel tips: Native residents of the US, UK, and Canada may receive a month-long tourist visa upon arrival, with the option for a single month-long extension.
Keep in mind this part of Southeast Asia has high and low seasons, so prices fluctuate with the influx of travelers. In general, prices are lower during the winter months, so visit during this time if you're looking to experience one of the cheapest places for digital nomads.
Cost of lodging: Since this is a popular tourist and honeymoon destination, the rent prices are much steeper than the rest of the country, coming in around $1500–$2000 per month.
Coworking: Because it's thought of mainly as a tourist hotspot, the expat community is not quite as prevalent as in Ubud. Dojo Bali is still a good resource if you're looking for coworking in Canggu. For a more comprehensive overview of Canggu options, check out A Brother Abroad.
Safety tips: Aside from petty thieves, you need to pay attention to adverse weather conditions in this part of the world, as natural disasters are common. If you're traveling by motorbike, wear a helmet and drive carefully, especially in the mountains.
Local cuisine: When hunger strikes, there's no shortage of good food around. Try ‘Lawar, ‘Sate lilit,’ or ‘Nasi jinggo’ if you’re in the area.
Attractions: Don't forget to take a break from work and visit laid-back sites like Batu Bolong Beach, Canggu Beach, and Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong. Bali is one the most famous locations for ancient temples, and it doesn't disappoint.
Travel tips: Most digital nomads start with the Visa on Arrival for Bali, Indonesia. It's been around for decades. Although they're expensive, they're easy to acquire.
Cost of lodging: For the most part, the apartments in Ho Chi Minh City (and Hanoi) are getting more expensive by the day. However, at the moment, they'll cost you anywhere from $500-$1,000, depending on your preference.
Coworking: You'll have access to plenty of coworking spaces and a vast expat community to help you navigate the incredibly dense city.
Safety tips: The crime rates are average, but pickpocketing frequently happens in the backpacker districts, so don't make yourself an easy target. If you're riding around on motorbikes, always keep your bags tucked under your arm or inside the seat.
Local cuisine: Street food is king in Vietnam, so don't be shy. Try out the Vietnamese beef noodle soup (Pho bo), banh mi sandwich, or 'Banh xeo,' a savory crepe.
Attractions: If you're looking for something to do, I suggest visiting the Cu Chi Tunnel, War Remnants Museum, Independent Palace, and the famous Ben Thanh Market. You could also make a day trip to Danang or the jungles of southern Vietnam.
Travel tips: Understand you can't get a visa upon arrival in Vietnam. Make sure to visit the official e-visa website at least two weeks in advance. Otherwise, authorities won't let you through the border. You'll need photos, official documentation, and money.
Cost of lodging: Apartments in Lisbon can go for anything between $1500–$2000; however, one-room options exist for half the standard price.
Coworking: Be Portugal.com has a solid blog featuring 20 of the best coworking places in the city. There's a wide range of price points and styles, so take the time to find one that suits your specific needs and budget.
Safety tips: The crime rates in Lisbon and Portugal are above average, so take precautions if you decide to give this location a shot.
Local cuisine: Aside from finding the cheapest places for digital nomads, there's a lot to see and eat in Portugal. The sardines are an absolute must if you're visiting in the summer. Otherwise, make it a point to try ‘bacalhau,’ ‘Cozido à Portuguesa’, and whole crab.
Attractions: When you're not eating or working, visit the spectacular sites of Belém Tower, Castle de S. Jorge, and Jerónimos Gothic Monastery.
Travel tips: Any American citizen planning to stay in Lisbon for less than 90 days doesn't need a travel visa. Keep in mind that this only applies to anyone who has a valid passport for more than six months beyond the departure date.
Cost of lodging: The average rent in Chiang Mai is usually just below $500, meaning that it deserves its place on our cheapest places for digital nomads list.
Safety tips: Chiang Mai has a reasonably low crime so don't expect to get into trouble here unless you're careless or making yourself a target.
Coworking: Unsurprisingly, the city has a large expat community, and there are plenty of active resources that provide information to meet up with fellow nomads and expats. Digital Nomad Asia is one of my favorite resources for coworking spots in SE Asia.
Local cuisine: Although I could write an entire article about food in Thailand, I'll save that for another day. In the meantime, here are five to try that won't disappoint: 'Khao soi' (egg noodle curry), 'Khanom jeen,' sticky rice, and fried quail eggs (my personal favorite).
Attractions: Some of the most notable sights include Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, and 14th-century temple Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan.
Travel tips: If you're looking for sightseeing, remember that this area is Buddhist. Therefore, many pagodas (called 'wats') have a dress code so bring an extra pair of pants and a jacket to cover up excess skin. Always be respectful of local customs.
You can get a tourist visa upon arrival in Thailand. Just understand you can only renew it once.
Cost of lodging: The rent prices in Taipei are all over the place, so it's hard to pin down an exact number for this location. With that said, be on the lookout for something within the wide range of $500 and $2000 per month.
Coworking: Taiwan's coworking scene is growing, and there are increasing options for digital nomads in this part of the world. Take a moment to read through this Hive Life blog to learn more.
Safety tips: The crime in Taipei is incredibly low, so don't expect much trouble in this part of the world. With that said, laws are tight, meaning it's best to follow the rules in Taiwan.
Local cuisine: Eating in Taipei is for the adventurous. If you want to explore the vibrant food scene here, hit the streets for local delicacies like beef noodle soup, scallion and daikon pancake, stinky tofu, and the legendary bubble tea.
Attractions: Taipei is a modern city alongside relics and ancient temples. Be sure to visit breathtaking sites like the National Palace Museum, TAIPEI 101 Observation Deck, and the Shi Lin Night Market.
Travel tips: Short-term visitors that don't plan to stay for more than 90 days are free to enter without a visa, and there are no extensions. If you're a resident of the US planning to stay for a more extended period, you'll need to apply for a visa with a valid passport.
Cost of lodging: The rent prices vary around the $1000–$1500 mark. Just be aware that you'll pay more for perks like air conditioning and a fast internet connection in most major cities in South America.
Coworking: Those who decide to take a chance on the city will find it a beautiful place with a thriving expat scene. Medellin is one of the cheapest places for digital nomads, and it's gaining popularity. Websites like Medellin Living and wifi Tribe have plenty of helpful information about coworking spaces in Medellin and Colombia.
Safety tips: Colombia is notorious for its high crime rates. I suggest you avoid going out at night with heavy pockets unless you have a guide. Especially if you're drinking alcohol. Anything can happen here, so you need to take crime seriously.
Local cuisine: Every visitor must try the fried egg Arepa, fried plantain with salty sauce, and 'mondongo' or tripe stew.
Attractions: Medellin is known for its annual Flower Festival, Metro Cable, and artwork. Soak in the views at Plaza Botero, Antioquia Museum, and Botanical Garden.
Travel tips: Travel visas are valid for half a year, after which you'll need to leave the country for at least two weeks before you can re-enter.
Cost of lodging: Apartment prices gravitate around the $500 mark, but you can also find much cheaper alternatives, as well as more luxurious accommodations.
Coworking: Although Tbilisi is one of the oldest cities in the world, coworking spaces are relatively new. However, they're popping up more recently, making this one of the cheapest places for digital nomads today. Digital Nomad World lists out seven spots you should try.
Safety tips: The overall crime rates in Tbilisi are average, signifying a relatively safe travel experience. Overall, the city is tranquil and peaceful.
Local cuisine: Georgian food is highly underrated, so don't miss any opportunities to try their ancient cuisines. I suggest Khinkali Georgian dumplings, Lobio (bean soup), and most importantly, Qababi (kebabs).
Attractions: Tbilisi, Georgia, is known for the Narikala Fortress, Sulfur Baths, and medieval churches like the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi and the 6th-century Jvari Monastery.
Travel tips: Residents of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand need to obtain a travel visa if they plan to stay for longer than a year.
As stated, I based this list of the ten cheapest places for digital nomads on my personal experiences and some basic online searches. Although all the locations on this list are relatively inexpensive, it depends on your financial status and desired quality of life.
As always, conduct your research on the best cities, formulate a travel budget, and make a plan before you disembark on your first digital nomad journey.
Whether you decide to go to Spain or Cambodia is up to you. Remember that 'cheap' is always subjective regardless of your first destination. Either way, here's a quick recap for those who might have missed it.
If you liked this article, take a moment and check out some of our blogs that help you explore your adventurous side.