Digital Nomad Cost | Travel Expenses And Budget Hacks

by Diego Navarro | LAST UPDATED June 28, 2021

Digital nomad cost
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Putting a price tag on the digital nomad lifestyle is not an easy task. But every seasoned traveler understands how important it is to come up with a budget that accounts for all the primary digital nomad costs. 

You’ll want to take a lot of factors into account; local rent prices, food, living costs, and healthcare and travel insurance for many countries. And that’s just the beginning. 

Regardless of your travel route, understand that travel expenses vary depending on each location. We can’t estimate digital nomad costs for multiple countries in a single article, so we did our best to put together figures reflecting general expenses. 

We hope that the information provided is helpful no matter where you travel, whether it’s Southeast Asia, Croatia, or Paris. So, if you’re looking for advice on how much to save and where to visit for your next big adventure, you’ve landed in the right place.

The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Inside an airplane

Being a digital nomad is an easy concept to explain; you earn money working online while traveling worldwide.

If you’ve never heard of digital nomadism, we suggest taking a quick moment to read our beginner’s guide to digital nomads first. After that, you’ll be ready to put together a killer travel budget to account for basic digital nomad costs. 

With that said, many people get this lifestyle confused with the location-independent lifestyle. Granted, digital nomads and location independents make their living online by doing remote work, but there is a crucial difference between them. 

Digital nomads are freelancers who earn money online to focus on traveling the world. Location independents are remote workers that don’t care where they go as long as they have access to a decent internet connection.

We bring this up because a big difference between the two lifestyles would significantly affect your monthly expenses. Let’s take a few moments to discuss digital nomad costs.

Estimating Digital Nomad Costs

If you’re working and living in a single location for months, you’ll generally spend about half as much as the standard digital nomad without a home base. Travel is the most significant appeal of digital nomad life, but it’s also its most costly aspect. 

There are specific shortcuts for plane tickets and even some public transportation. For example, instead of going from the USA to Europe, you can choose to go to Mexico, then to Spain, and finally end up where you originally wanted to go.

This is a bit more of a roundabout path, and you’d end up paying for four $500 tickets instead of one $2,000 ticket (for instance). The good news is, you’ll see much more of the world. Consider that the prices don’t reflect the ticket costs in most cases. Our point is that you can travel at a lower cost with even a modest amount of planning. 

digital nomad cost

While it’s true that pinning down cheap flights and affordable living conditions can help you save a few bucks on travel expenses, there are plenty of other digital nomad costs that deserve your attention. 

For example, you’ll need time to research and purchase essential things like travel and health insurance. While it’s vital to account for these costs, consider that the actual amounts are subjective. The price of travel insurance will depend on your travel route, and the health insurance coverage depends on whether you’re privately insured and various factors. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to avoid paying the insurance costs. The only thing you can do is bite the bullet and pay whatever amount is required. We don’t say that to discourage you from trying to be a nomad yourself, but rather to prepare you for the digital nomad costs that you’ll encounter. After all, accidents happen, and you’ll regret not having insurance when they do. 

Preparing A Budget

Your monthly budget primarily depends on your financial status, location, and individual needs. For most people, it boils down to the size of their paychecks. Specific remote jobs can net anywhere from $6,000-$8,000 a month, while others pay a few hundred dollars per week. If you want to learn more about remote work opportunities, take a moment and read our article, Digital Nomad Jobs: 14 Popular Gigs For World Travelers

There isn't any way to tell how much money you’ll make personally, so we can’t tailor our travel tips to your exact standards. However, we can still split the difference and set the average pay of a digital nomad to about $4,000 a month.

We believe that this is a reasonably accurate pay range, and it should serve as a guideline as to how much money you need to live and travel as a digital nomad. In the section below, we want to suggest some of the most exotic destinations instead of the places with the lowest digital nomad cost. 

We included places with a generally low cost of living to make sure that digital entrepreneurs of every background can afford to visit the cities on this list. 

We should also mention that we won’t go over any plane tickets since the prices are location-dependent. Tickets from New York to Mexico aren’t the same as tickets from Russia to Mexico, so that part of the equation is up to you.

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Digital Nomad Hubs: Cheap Places to Live & Work

As a world traveler, the key to seeing as many places as possible is to minimize spending. While you may struggle to keep the digital nomad cost on the low end, it’s essential to avoid reducing your quality of life.

Below are some of the best locations to visit without putting a hole in your wallet. They’re all fantastic destinations, and you can easily see them if you manage your short-term finances wisely.

Just keep in mind that visiting all of these cities means footing the bill for all expenses listed below and the travel costs and additional items like the insurance.

Canggu, Bali, 

digital nomad cost Bali

Canggu, a small island in Indonesia, is a feast for the eyes and a legitimate break for your credit card. Among the most notable attractions are the beaches, the multiple internet cafes with free wifi, and the street food stalls chocked full of delicious exotic cuisine.

One of the most significant advantages of Canggu, Bali, is its low price point for accommodations. Although you’ll find many people that disagree, any basic Google search will yield a plethora of options well within the budget for most digital nomads. 

According to our search, prices range between $10-$30 per night for an average hostel or basic villa. You can expect to pay a minimum monthly rate equating to $300 and up with costs this low. 

Like the rent, your average spending can be as low or as high as you want. How much you pay depends on your lifestyle and your individual needs. In our opinion, you should budget anywhere between $700 to $1,000 per month for living expenses in Canggu, Bali. Keep in mind that this figure doesn’t reflect your total digital nomad cost.

Budapest, Hungary

Digital nomad cost Hungary

Budapest is a trendy spot in the digital nomad community. Part of its popularity is the high density of affordable hostels and coworking spaces. While you might be more of a coffee shop person yourself, having the option to rent a room and get your work done in peace is always a plus. 

Budapest also has meager rent rates, with most moderately-sized Airbnb apartments around $500-$700 per month. You can split the modest bill into two or more parts if you're not traveling alone. However, if you’re riding solo, there are plenty of small apartments in or near the city center with even lower prices! 

With that said, you should plan on spending around $600 per month (on average) for accommodations in Budapest, Hungary.

Lisbon, Portugal

Digital nomad cost Lisbon

Lisbon has rent prices that are uncharacteristically low for a popular tourist destination in this part of Europe. You would expect to pay more because Lisbon is teeming with life from dusk till dawn all year long. As a result, Lisbon has become a hub for digital nomads. 

Unfortunately, because Lisbon is the capital city and a tourist destination, the living costs aren’t relatively as low as Budapest. Digital nomads should pay between $1,500 and $2,000 in general monthly costs.

However, as long as you keep the Uber usage to a minimum and prioritize buying groceries over eating out, you shouldn’t have any trouble supporting yourself in this city.

Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Digital nomad cost Chiang Mai

The city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, has been one of the most popular destinations for expats worldwide for decades. The rent and the living costs are meager even though this is a relatively large city that sees millions of people come and go each week.

Chiang Mai is a perfect blend of practical and beautiful, meaning that it can offer some stunning sites and attractions and a large number of coworking spaces and affordable accommodations. You shouldn’t need much more than $500 per month for rent. Although the cost of rent is incredibly cheap, the average price has increased more than 7% in the past year. 

In addition, the street food scene is nothing short of iconic, and you can eat like a kind for only a few dollars per meal. There’s such a variety of cuisine that you can go a few months without eating the same dish twice.

Medellín, Colombia 

Digital nomad cost Colombia

Medellin also has an active expat community, which will allow you to meet up with other digital nomads that know the area and people a lot better. For inexperienced travelers, connecting with the local expats can help you better grasp your surroundings quicker. 

Although Medellin is a bit more expensive than other cities on this list, it’s still relatively easy to get by if you have limited funds. Although we only stayed a few weeks, it’s safe to say that $1,000 per month is enough to pay for basic accommodation and a good portion of your food. One good thing about Medellin is that it offers a range of options, including low, middle, and high-end. 

Of course, the city also has lively nightlife, which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to live it up and spend big. But that’s ultimately up to you.

Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City

Digital nomad cost HoChi Minh

Odds are, if you’re interested in the digital nomad lifestyle, you’ve already heard about Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam doesn't need much advertisement when it comes to places with cheap digital nomad costs. 

With that said, Ho Chi Minh City is getting a bit more expensive in recent years, so accommodation is a bit more than it was a few years ago. On average, apartments are more expensive in the center, and you can expect to pay around $500-$700 per month for an average-sized apartment with basic amenities. 

In most cases, full-time digital nomads in this location need around $2,000 per month to pay for rent plus basic living expenses. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a top-rated expat destination, chock full of stunning attractions, delicious street food, and a buzzing social scene with something for everyone. 

Are you enjoying this content? If so, take a moment to read more about digital nomad costs in our previous blog, 10 Cheapest Places for Digital Nomads & World Travelers.

Final Thoughts About Digital Nomad Costs

If you’re looking for more potential destinations with a lower than average digital nomad cost, check out Nomad List. It provides incredible resources organized by city, including estimated monthly expense, average internet speed, and slews of helpful information for travelers and nomads. It’s also host to a community of over 58,000 remote workers living worldwide. 

Between this article and our previously published pieces on the digital nomad movement, there should be no shortage of information to help you get started living the ultimate nomad experience. 

As always, the next step is for you to lock down a solid remote working position and put together a budget that adheres to your level of income. Once that’s complete, it’s time to start mapping out your journey and accounting for digital nomad costs for each country.

Feel free to reach out to us on social media or contact us by email if you need advice about digital nomad costs. Otherwise, best of luck planning your journey into the world of digital nomadism!

Diego Navarro
Diego became interested in a nomadic lifestyle during a semester abroad during college. He spends most of his time in central Europe and the American southwest (where his family is from). He loves exotic food and playing video games on his Nintendo Switch.

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