With the freelance work force predicted to rise to 43% by 2020, more and more people are ditching the traditional office environment and are instead working remotely. Working remotely has proven to have a lot benefits for workers’ health, productivity and retention with their employer or contractor. It’s no wonder then that many have opted to live the digital nomad lifestyle.
If you’re thinking of packing your suitcase to work from an exciting, remote location, the world is your oyster. But you do need to mind your costs. Relocating is always a costly process. So where can you get the most bang for your buck while working abroad?
Here is a list of the top five most affordable cities for digital nomads.
1. Vilnius, Lithuania
The capital city of Lithuania is consistently ranked as one of the most affordable cities in Northern Europe. The region, in general, is a rapidly growing economic power, but prices have stayed low. In fact, you can even rent an apartment in the city for around 400 Euros per month—the equivalent of about 425 USD. The city has one of the fastest public wifi systems in the world and with a booming tech scene and many companies moving their bases to Lithuania, you can be sure you’ll find support for your work anywhere in the city. For a foreigner, Vilnius is especially attractive for the high level of English speakers, allowing you to avoid many of those difficult language barriers you’ll find in many other countries. The city itself is small and cozy with a historic Old Town that’s been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vilnius is home to many cafes, coworking spaces, bars and restaurants in the up-and-coming downtown section.
2. Taipei, Taiwan
This underrated and bustling East Asian city is perfect for the digital nomad. With a population of just under 3 million, the city isn’t massive compared to others in the region, but it’s packed with people eager to create something new. Taipei is home to fast internet and efficient public transportation, giving you easy access to work from anywhere in the city. Locals in Taipei are extremely friendly and welcoming to foreigners, so you don’t have to worry about making friends. However, there may be a slight language barrier. Many Taiwanese students learn English, but fluency is certainly not the standard. But most importantly, it’s an extremely cost-efficient city: Renting a one-bedroom in the city center is an average of under $600 USD.
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Join an ever-growing community of digital nomads in this ancient city in Northern Thailand. The small yet exciting city is more affordable than many others in the East Asian/ Southeast Asian region. The cost of living is so low, compared to other major cities, that in Chiang Mai you can rent an apartment for the equivalent of 200-300 USD per month. Other major draws to the city are the moderate to hot climate, the food, and the fast internet speeds — something you may not find in other cities in the region. The city of Chiang Mai is home to many of Thailand’s top temples, bazaars, jungle treks, zip lining courses, and river activities. Sit down with religious monks and learn about Buddhism first hand or climb the 300 steps up to Wat Doi Suthep, one of Thailand’s most important temples. With the number of sites and activities in Chiang Mai, you’ll never run out of things to do.
4. Santiago, Chile
This creative and sprawling capital city is perfect for a creative digital nomad. Santiago is a city of just over five million citizens and has one of the best broadband connections in all of South America. Hop into any of the dozens of cafes all around the city, ask for the wifi password, and you’re in business. Santiago is one of the more expensive cities in South America, but is still much more affordable than most cities in the US. You can easily rent an apartment in one of the nicest neighborhoods of Santiago for the equivalent of 500 USD per month. You’ll be best to brush up on some Spanish before heading to Santiago, however. While many people are likely to speak English well, the majority will struggle with the language or not speak at all. Plus, if you decide to travel outside the city, you may be less likely to find an English speaker.
5. Budapest, Hungary
While European cities generally have a higher cost of living than those in other regions of the world, you can still find a lot of value in Budapest. With incredibly fast internet speeds, efficient public transportation, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment at 500 USD per month, and top-notch health care, it’s easy to see why so many digital nomads choose to move and set up shop here. The capital city is home to unique bars and restaurants, historic sections, winding streets, cultural museums, all giving you plenty to do, see, and eat during your free time. Due to the high number of digital nomads coming in every year, Budapest also has a growing number of coworking spaces spread throughout the city. You’ll be likely to find that many people, especially in the city’s center, speak at least some English. However, it may be likely that the majority of your deep conversations will be with other travelers or expats. That said, many Hungarians won’t expect you to speak Hungarian.
6. Medellin, Colombia
Another South American city on the list, Medellin is quickly becoming the “place to be” in South America. The city is both affordable and a creative and innovative hub in Colombia. With an excellent exchange rate, your money will go farther here. Rent for a nice apartment can range from around 200 USD in most neighborhoods to 500 USD in some of the nicest apartments in the wealthier neighborhoods of Medellin. Wifi may be hard to come by in some parts of the city, so it’s best to stick to the touristy areas for a reliable wifi connection. If you can’t find that, check out one of the many coworking spaces popping up throughout the city.
Andrea Ramirez is a Growth Hacker at All The Rooms. When she’s not writing about the best places to visit around the globe, she’s enjoying her own beautiful city of Medellin, Colombia.