Best Digital Nomad Cities of 2023
Go west, young entrepreneur.
Or north. Or south or east! Heck, where do you want to work!?
The opportunity to work abroad is more prominent than ever. Whether you’re an independent contractor or freelancer, you can travel the world as a “digital nomad,” earning your living through your virtual office while seeing the world.
And while the prospect of working in this fashion may be exciting, it can also be overwhelming when contemplating so many wonderful choices. So what should you consider when choosing where to put that push pin on your world map?
Here are some of the factors we’ll discuss in highlighting the best places to work remotely.
- Cost – The obvious consideration. If you’re well established and can afford a more luxurious virtual workspace, then more power to you. But what about entry level digital nomads? Are there cost-efficient spots that won’t ruin your new career before you’ve started?
- Culture – Surely you’re not working abroad because you like sitting in a plane for ten hours or more. No, you’re going to see the world! So are you looking for peace and tranquility? A vibrant nightlife? Festivals and music?
- Climate / Seasonality – In general, do you prefer tropical climates? Mild? Do you like bone dry sunshine? And beyond that, which season provides you the best of what you desire?
- Connectivity – It would be quite frustrating indeed to have your virtual shop all picked out only to learn that you can’t upload a single instructional video without adjusting the rabbit ears. So where in the world are the best internet locations? We’ll take a look.
- Co-working Spaces – You’ll obviously be renting a room in your temporary digs, but maybe you like working in an office environment. Co-working spaces are blossoming all over the world, offering wifi, cafes, food, and networking opportunities from a varying level of costs.
- Expat Community – Where can you find other travelers like you? Are there many? Are you going to struggle with language barriers without any kind of support?
Our priorities are all different. Make sure you have a concrete plan about your needs before you launch.
Here are some of the best the world has to offer, in no particular order.
Table of Contents
We’ll start with the capital of Lithuania for the simple fact that Vilnius is known for offering some of the fastest average public Wifi in the world. In fact, it was named by Forbes in 2015 as THEE fastest average public Wifi in the world!
Napoleon once called Vilnius “the Jerusalem of the North” for its stunning architecture. You can walk the same cobblestone streets he walked while taking in several centuries’ worth of different architectural styles.
Summers are moderately warm, and the night-life in Vilnius is known for being especially festive during the warm summer nights. But, be warned, winters are very cold. Any place that has a popular pastime of ice fishing is bound to be on the icier side.
Vinius has plenty of co-working spaces and is known for being friendly and welcoming to foreigners. It’s also considered to be a relatively safe city, so you can be confident your nomad life will continue comfortably.
Vilnius is affordable, the average nomad will spend about $2,000 a month for living costs.
This gem in the center of Europe is best suited for a more low-key nomad who likes a cozier setting in a history-rich environment. There’s plenty of night-life to be had if desired, but Vilnius’ population is just over half a million, so you won’t be enduring the large city life of some of the other world-renowned spots.
Cape Town, Africa
Look up any digital nomad “best of” list on the internet, and almost all of them will include Cape Town. Known for being a tech hub, Cape Town has been nicknamed “Silicon Cape” to parallel the Silicon Valley in California.
But you don’t need to be a tech maniac to love Cape Town. It’s stunning ocean views and flourishing wine industry can leave you feeling like royalty. There’s lots to explore from an outdoorsy perspective: hiking, horseback rides, country drives, and the beach. The water might be a bit cold depending on the season. After all, your nearest southern neighbor is Antarctica! You can even meet penguins in Cape Town.
Cape Town offers something unique in that two oceans officially meet here at Cape Agulhas. So the cold Atlantic Ocean mixes with the warmer Indian Ocean, creating unique weather patterns and stunning sunsets. Who doesn’t want to see that? While you might see some heavy rain, the temperature in Cape Town is one of its sweet offerings – never too hot in summer and never too cold in winter.
Another reason that makes Cape Town attractive to digital nomads is Visa policy. Residents of many countries in Europe and the United States can stay in South Africa visa-free for up to 90 days.
So how’s the Wifi? South Africa is ranked 2nd amongst all African countries for internet speed. You’ll find Cape Town provides plenty of work spaces with good connectivity. The coffee industry is also booming there so you’ll be plenty wired, in more ways than one!
Another great advantage of Cape Town is the cost of living, which is about 40% cheaper than the United States.
A couple of the cons to consider. Cape Town has a reputation for being less-than-safe in some areas at night, and there are still problems with racism in some parts, especially on the more upscale, private beaches.
So while Cape Town isn’t perfect, it is an affordable beach town with good connectivity, pleasant weather, and spectacular scenery. For the digital nomad who loves the outdoors for his or her work life balance, head on down to South Africa!
Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
Canggu, Bali is one of the most polarizing digital nomad locations. While one person might call it paradise, another might call it stuffy and hipster. The truth is, its both, but if you’ve got a chance to try it once, here are some excellent reasons why.
Let’s start with the most prominent reason: beauty. Bali has been adorned with names like “The Last Paradise” and “Island of the Gods.” Walk along gorgeous beaches, live in open environments surrounded by rice fields, or go on hikes along mountainsides. You’ll of course have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with year-round warm temperatures. Be ready for those overnight monsoons though, accompanied by high humidity, in the early months of the year.
And if inner peace is your quest, Canggu is a great place to seek-and-find. Spirituality permeates every corner of the island, bathing you in incense from coast-to-coast. You’ll experience the infectious spirit of Balinese Hinduism. Yoga is a way of life in Bali, complemented by a wide array of vegan and vegetarian shops or restaurants. Don’t forget to try some of the local, organic tropical fruits and veggies.
So, sounds like a great vacation spot at least, right? But what does it offer expats and nomads?
On an island, you can’t expect the internet to be the best. However, according to Nomadlist.com, Canggu gets about 20mbps. Not too shabby, and well worth a little loss of connectivity for self-actualization!
There’s good news in regards to cost of living. Bali has a uniquely variable range of costs depending on the nomad. As a baseline, the average person can probably live comfortably for $1,200 a month, though that number may rise should you choose to partake in more fine dining or yoga activities. Essentially, you could live comfortably if you keep to your budget, but — you’re in Bali, so why would you?! Extra excursions are abundant, and they’ll cost you, but at least you have the flexibility here to decide for yourself.
The expat community is absolutely booming. You’ll find plenty of fellow nomads/expats to meet up with, and some even group together to share living quarters. If meeting fellow travelers sounds appealing to you, more points to Canggu!
Now let’s explore why Canggu — or Bali, in general — might not be right for you.
Bali is known for being touristy… because it is. The cities can be stuffy and the traffic overwhelming. It is bustling, crowded, and the public transportation is basically non-existent. If you don’t like weaving through large crowds on a scooter, you might want to consider another option.
Just like any spot in the world, there are the crowded beaches, and there are the hidden gems. If you’re really interested in visiting Canggu, but are not interested in feeling suffocated by the condensed nature of the island’s population, then see if you can make friends with other expats. They are sure to give you information on more secluded locations where you can actually enjoy a bit of paradise without the headaches.
You can see why Bali can be such a divisive topic amongst digital nomads. But if you’re looking for a healthy lifestyle in a tropical setting, and don’t mind a vibrant, chaotic environment, Canggu, Bali in Indonesia is certainly worth considering.
Gorgeous weather. Friendly people. Stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Sound good to you?
Then head to Portugal. Lisbon, Portugal.
Lost in the reputation of popular European cities like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona, Lisbon is a gem of a city. It also happens to be the perfect place for a digital nomad. If your a nomad looking to gain your first experience out in the world, you should start here, for a few reasons.
First of all, the people of Portugal have a reputation for being welcoming and genuinely warm to foreigners. Most everyone speaks English and you won’t find it hard to strike up friendly conversations. If you’re curious about being a nomad, but find the prospect of learning cultures and languages terrifying, you might want to bump Lisbon to the top of your list for it’s easy transition.
The nomad community is an extension of Lisbon’s welcoming culture. Check out this meetup group with over 5,000 members, just for nomads! As for co-working spaces, check out the popular Cowork Central.
Next let’s talk about the comfortable climate. If you’re not a fan of extreme swings in weather, then come to Lisbon! It’s Mediterranean climate is as consistent as a nomad could ask for. During the winter, temperatures average in the low 50’s Fahrenheit and in the summer you’ll be warmed by a lovely mid-70’s. Mild summers. No frigid winters. You convinced yet?
And in case you forgot, you get all of this while settling up on that Atlantic Ocean. Lisbon has picturesque beaches, including one stretch of almost ten miles of accessible oceanic beachfront. There is a bustling nightlife along the beaches too, allowing you to unwind after a long day with the laptop.
Beach gatherings are not all Lisbon offers. There are free jazz concerts in the summer, a craft beer scene, fancy coffee spots, and lively bars and clubs.