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Why Digital Nomads Are Flocking Into These Two Vibrant Caribbean Cities In 2024

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Offering a higher quality of life, warmer weather, and incredible food, the Caribbean is one of the top destinations for sun-seeking digital nomads looking to escape the bleak weather and fast-paced life of their Northerly home cities, but there's one major downside:

Most destinations in the turquoise sea cater primarily to the luxury tourism sector.

With five-star resorts lining beachfronts and increasing levels of gentrification, relocating to the region as a budget-conscious traveler can prove challenging, to say the least.

Aerial View Of Santo Domingo, The National Capital Of The Dominican Republic, Latin America

Luckily, these two underrated Caribbean spots have not been converted into tourist playgrounds just yet, and taking into account their cheap cost of living and invaluable cultural wealth; it's no wonder nomads are claiming them for themselves:

The Caribbean's Top Two Digital Nomad Havens

Two vibrant coastal cities unfolding along the Caribbean Sea, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic (DR), and Cartagena in Colombia rank as two of the top digital nomad destinations right now on Nomad List, the most popular platform for tracking ‘workcation' trends globally.

two young female digital nomads looking at laptop in a sunny park in mexico

Based on their findings, these two cities offer ‘great' fun, an amazing temperature averaging between 95°F and 102°F during the Northern Hemisphere winter, an ‘okay' quality of life, and most importantly, affordable living.

Let's take a closer look at each one of them and try to establish why exactly they're great options for remote workers:

Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic

palm trees in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo is a cosmopolitan hub with a fascinating History: it was the very first city to be founded by Europeans in the American continent, and its strategic location on the banks of the Ozama River, which flows directly into the Caribbean, makes it a unique national capital.

A Beautiful Colonial Zone

Basing themselves here, nomads can experience the kind of Old World charm normally restricted to the European continent, thanks to Santo Domingo's high concentration of historical monuments, some dating back as early as the 15th century.

Historical Colonial Street In Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic, Caribbean Sea

We're talking the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and university of the New World, and a Spanish-built colonial zone dotted with ornately decorated Catholic shrines and palatial complexes, so beautiful it has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage Site list.

When it comes to nomad infrastructure, Santo Domingo is probably one of the best-equipped capitals in the Caribbean to host foreign residents, with a variety of work-friendly coffee shops and as many as 66 well-rated coworking places.

Worlds Apart From Punta Cana
Aerial View Of Boca Chica, In The Metropolitan Zone Of Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic, Caribbean Sea

Furthermore, it is a short half-hour away from the beautiful beach zone of Boca Chica, though it is not directly on the oceanfront.

Since its main appeal is its rich colonial heritage, it may serve as repellent against your usual Punta Cana drunken beach bum type.

The local nightlife isn't as world-renowned as Punta Cana's or Sosua's, but there is still a varied selection of laid-back bars serving two-dollar beers around the colonial center and plenty of clubs to choose from around a busy Avenida Venezuela.

Santo Domingo, Capital Of The Dominican Republic, Latin America

The cost of living is also incredibly low for Caribbean standards, which may come as a shock for some, seeing that Punta Cana, the leading resort destination in the country, is widely known for its pricey hotels and dollarized economy; Santo Domingo, on the other hand, feels more genuinely ‘Dominican'.

In total, it costs only $1,941 per month to live in Santo Domingo, with rent being particularly cheap – a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center, in a quieter residential area can cost as little as $392 to rent – and prices for food in inexpensive restaurants average an acceptable ten dollars.

Santo Domingo Can Feel Less Safe
santo domingo cable car

The main downside? Santo Domingo is not as safe as it could be, and nomads must exercise caution when walking certain crowded areas, where petty theft is rife, and ensure they do extensive research ahead of booking accommodation in dangerous areas.

Still, the Dominican Republic remains a Level 2 destination according to the U.S. State Department, meaning Americans are not discouraged from visiting, but they are encouraged instead to maintain a higher level of situation awareness.

Pros of living in Santo Domingo

  • The weather is warm year-round
  • It has a ton of historical landmarks
  • Social life is vibrant and exciting
  • It's near the beach
  • It's cheap to live in

Cons of living in Santo Domingo

  • English isn't a widely-spoken language
  • Safety levels are lower

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia. Church of St Peter Claver

Moving over to Cartagena, it has a lot of similarities with Santo Domingo, in the sense that it was also founded by European settlers at the turn of the 16th century, it's one of the first cities to have been built in the continent, and it was just as important a Caribbean port.

Much like its Dominican counterpart, Cartagena's historic center is surrounded by protective walls erected by the Spanish in an attempt to ward off pirates, fellow European naval powers, and native Amerindians who lived in the territory at the time.

A Charming Walled City
Historical Torre De Reloj At The Gateway To The Ciudad Amurallada In Cartagena, Colombia, South America

Identically to Santo Domingo, Cartagena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing a plethora of well-preserved colonial buildings, with the iconic tall-dome cathedral, completed in 1612, and a bright-yellow Clock Tower to name a couple.

All around the Old Town, you'll see Andalusian-style houses with the typical protruding balconies, except Cartagena's are bedecked with tropical flowers, traditional plazas flanked by palatial monuments, and picturesque, cobbled streets that have remained virtually unchanged since the colonial era.

Historical City Center In Cartagena, On The Caribbean Coast Of Colombia, Mexico, South America

Other than the amazing culture, Cartagena is every nomad's gateway to the wider Colombian Caribbean, boasting ferry connections to a number of paradisaical islands fringed by crystal-clear waters just off the coast and unspoiled maritime reserves.

Digital Nomads Love Cartagena For The Cheap Prices

Cafe culture is just as strong as Santo Domingo's, with nomad favorites including the charming, library-themed Ábaco Libros y Cafe and the rustic, local-frequented Cafe Del Mural; as for coworking spaces, Nomad List has counted a whopping 57 in the municipality.

Woman On Computer Working From A Cafe, Unspecified Location

Now, there's a reason why Colombia is often touted as South America's best digital nomad destination: long-term rentals are among the lowest-priced in the entire continent (between $204 and $505 per month) and monthly expenses come in at a very affordable $1,802.

If you're watching your budget closely, you can eat fulfilling meals for as cheap as five dollars every day, or even treat yourself to a three-course dinner in an upscale restaurant every now and then, knowing you'll hardly ever be billed over fifty bucks.

Is Cartagena Dangerous?
Skyline Of Cartagena, A Caribbean City In Colombia, South America

We probably sound like a broken record at this point, but regrettably, just like Santo Domingo, safety is a major concern for remote workers relocating to Cartagena: they are urged to keep a low profile, not ‘dar papaya‘ (look less like naive gringos) and leave valuables at home.

Cartagena may be a beautiful city, and it certainly has a lot going for it on the culture front, but it's not without its risks, and its inclusion in the U.S. State Department's ‘higher risk' Level 3 list should serve as a warning to all American visitors contemplating a longer sojourn in the Colombian coast.

Pros of living in Cartagena

  • It's never cold in the Colombian Caribbean
  • The cultural wealth is immense
  • Old Town Cartagena is beautiful
  • It offers ferry connections to stunning Caribbean islands
  • Plenty of work-friendly cafes and coworking spaces available

Cons of living in Cartagena

  • Scamming and petty crime is rampant in the Old Town
  • It can get busy at times with day-trippers, especially in the peak cruising season
  • It's not as safe

Bottomline

cartagena old town in colombia

All in all, these are perfect destinations for low-budget nomads hoping to bask in the sun while sampling some culture, but we're inclined to say it's best avoided by non-experienced travelers who may not be used to stricter safety guidelines and don't know how to navigate life in Latin metropolises.

Of course, we would never openly discourage you from traveling anywhere in the world or keep you from making your own judgments, but every coin has two sides, and it's our responsibility to ensure you're better informed so you can make a more sound decision.

When working remotely from the Dominican Republic or Colombia, make sure you follow the latest travel advice from the relevant authorities.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Noname

Sunday 31st of March 2024

I don’t recommend living there. Noise and construction everywhere. Service below unacceptable. Water contaminated. A con city.