There are so many great bases for today’s digital nomad to choose from, whether it’s an established hotspot or a less popular location just waiting to be discovered.
But you can only choose one at a time. So, how are you supposed to decide between them? We’ll tell you.
These 10 criteria will help you choose your next digital nomad destination.
Cost of Living
One of the first things that any digital nomad should consider when choosing a destination is cost of living.
After all, you can’t live somewhere you can’t afford. At least, not for long. And even if you’re makin’ bank, you’ll still want to get good value for your money.
Take a full assessment of the location’s cost of living, from rent to food to entertainment.
If you’re from a country with a relatively strong passport, getting a visa for short-term travel is pretty easy. In fact, you can often just show up and get in for a month or three without paying a dime.
But things get a bit more complicated when you want to stay – and work – in a place long term. And there’s a pretty big disparity between countries here.
That gap is only getting bigger with the recent introduction of digital nomad visas.
So, when researching new locations, the visa requirements should be one of the first things you look at. How easy is it to get a visa? How hard is it to extend – and how often can you do so? Do they offer a digital nomad or similar visa?
As a remote worker, you need the internet. But you won’t exactly find fiber-optic connections in Colombia coffee shops.
So, you should not only make yourself aware of the local internet situation, including what’s available in your potential apartment, at wifi hotspots around town, and through the local mobile providers. But also assess your own tolerance – or lack thereof – for slow or spotty internet.
For instance, some online work requires you to be constantly connected, while others can get away with only connecting a couple times per day to communicate with clients. And there’s your personal life to consider too.
If you’re used to streaming a few shows per day through Netflix, you’ll need to find a place with solid internet speeds.
Infrastructure and Amenities
There’s a lot more to infrastructure than just internet speeds, whether it’s conveniences like public transportation or basics like tap water.
Beyond that, there are other amenities that digital nomads might look for, including gyms, parks, beaches, and housing. And the variance between cities can be huge. In some places, you’ll find an endless selection of modern, furnished apartments and state-of-the-art gyms. In others, you’ll have to settle for an older building and a slightly more “authentic” gym.
How much each of these things matters to you is a personal question.
There’s more to weather than just “good” or “bad”, hot or cold.
Are there diverse seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter? Are there storms during certain times of year? How dry or humid is it?
Of course, some digital nomads will simply hop around to take advantage of the best seasons in various locations, avoiding oppressive heat in one place and the depths of winter in another.
Pace of Life
Most of the top spots for digital nomads are major cities in their own right. However, there’s a wide spectrum when it comes to pace of life.
And different people prefer different paces, whether it’s one of the two extremes or something in between.
Things to Do
All work and no play makes a digital nomad a dull boy or girl.
That being said, everyone has different preferences when it comes to their hobbies and activities, from the beach bum to the history enthusiast to the shopaholic.
Another big factor is flight availability. For example, a European city with a major airport will give you access to cheap and quick flights all over the region. But there are plenty of cities popular with digital nomads that don’t.
Some people just click with the local culture in a specific region or place. Meanwhile, another traveler can’t stand it there and much prefers somewhere else.
Of course, a lot of this comes through first-hand experience. You can’t always predict if you’ll like a place or not. But you can at least get an idea of your potential compatibility by looking at the local culture from afar.
Language is another factor to consider.
How common is English? How well do you know the local language – or how willing are you to learn? Difficulty shouldn’t be ignored either. On average, a native English speaker can learn Spanish in half the time it takes to learn Serbian or Vietnamese.
And how much of a language barrier can you tolerate? Some people cringe at the mere thought of not being able to comfortably communicate with the people around them, while others can get along just fine in a place where they don’t share a common language.
As a digital nomad, your assessment of the local food may need to be a little different than a short-term travelers.
For instance, Thai cuisine is delicious, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find keto-friendly or low carb Thai dishes, since they not only revolve around rice or noodles, they almost all have some form of added sugar. Fortunately, Bangkok also has some great supermarkets.
But whether you follow a specific diet or not, it’s worth considering not just the local cuisine, but other factors that may come into play when you’re actually living in a place for months or years.
Will you have access to good produce? Meat? Are there good Western-style or other foreign restaurants in town, for when you’re craving pizza or something “different”?
Everything from the local culture to the economy to geography can influence what food choices are available.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories