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The 10 most underrated spots for digital nomads

by | Oct 21, 2019

In the last few years, remote working has truly taken off. An increasing profusion of digital tools and great Wi-Fi allows teams (including ours!) to be dispersed across the globe, and businesses are far more relaxed about traditional work practices than they once were.

The result of this has been the rise of the digital nomad – employees and freelancers who work from various corners of the planet.

All that’s needed is a simple Wi-Fi connection, and a quiet place to work. Because of this simplicity, people now work from increasingly remarkable spots. From hammocks on the beach to alpine villages, the options on offer are both varied and endless.

But while most nomads are aware of the popularity of destinations like Bali and Chiang Mai, there’s a whole host of other locations that are equally as brilliant — yet somehow manage to fly under the radar.

So, if you’re a digital nomad who’s looking for something a little different – an isolated city near a deserted mountain range, perhaps, or a city as yet undiscovered by far-roaming freelancers – then keep reading.

 A street market in Mexico City. Credit: Daniel Lerman

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is one of the most exciting cities in North America, and one of the world’s most overlooked and underrated spots for digital nomads.

The rents are cheap, the food is amazing, and the trendy neighbourhoods of Condesa, Roma, Juarez and Escandón are full of coworking spaces and beautiful little coffee shops that are perfect for some downtime.

The city is a wonderful mix of excitement, surprise, and a refreshingly laid-back approach to life, too – and its combination of quality of life and affordability makes it a wonderful place for a remote working lifestyle.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

While places like Indonesia and Thailand take the headlines, Cambodia has been quietly building a reputation for itself. It’s the perfect digital nomad hotspot if you’re looking for somewhere exotic, but still not totally overrun by tourists.

Phnom Penh is a charming capital — small enough to get around easily, and home to some beautiful, historical architecture. But it still has enough “edge” for that added dash of excitement that many adventurous travellers crave.

And best of all, Cambodia has some of the least restrictive working visa requirements in the world. Ideal for us nomads, then!

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Bocas del Toro is a picturesque archipelago in the northwest of Panama, with gorgeous year-round sun, and some truly spectacular snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing opportunities.

Being a nomad isn’t all fun and games, though, and Bocas has extremely decent internet connectivity — plus a growing community of young expats, many of whom work remotely, too. So the city is well-equipped for some hard work, as well as a bit of fun!

One of the main draws of Panama as a location for digital nomads is its accessibility. English is widely spoken and understood, and the US dollar is one of its two official currencies.

On Istanbul’s Prince Islands — a cheap ferry ride from the heart of Istanbul — horses run wild along the car-free roads. Credit: Osman Köycü

Istanbul, Turkey

Literally straddling the border of Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a vibrant and exciting city, ideal for those looking for that elusive combination of liveability and exoticism.

It has great flight connections, it’s surprisingly cheap, and it has a superb public transport system. There’s a lively, youthful feel to the place — especially in cosmopolitan suburbs like Kadıköy and Moda. The working atmosphere is also tremendous – with loads of co-working spaces, comfortable cafes, and an entrepreneurial spirit that infuses the whole city.

Best of all, the boat trip that connects the main town with the picturesque islands in the Sea of Marmara is included on your metro card — so one of the nicest ferry rides in the world ends up costing you a couple of dollars.

Toulouse, France

France might not be somewhere that immediately springs to mind as a particularly great spot for digital nomads, but you would be surprised.

The country is very welcoming to freelancers, and has a relatively simple and hassle-free long-stay visa option, too.

Toulouse is one of the youngest, trendiest cities in the country; it’s doused in history but teeming with life, thanks to its booming startup scene and world-renowned university.

Add in cheap, delicious wine, and some of the best food on earth, and the picture certainly starts to make some sense!

The old town of Tallinn in winter. Credit: Ilya Orehov

Tallinn, Estonia

Estonia – Europe’s startup capital – has built a solid reputation for being a country driven by tech. It was the first country to declare internet access a human right. Now that’s definitely something we nomads can get behind.

Tallinn is also one of Europe’s most affordable capitals, and English is widely used and understood. To top it off, Estonia has even started issuing visas specifically for digital nomads!

If ever a city seemed made for remote workers, Tallinn might just be it.

Xi’an is one of the most beautiful – and digital nomad-friendly – cities in China. Credit: Samule Sun

Xi’an, China

China rarely features on the radar of digital nomads – possibly because of its size – but it’s actually a pretty great country in which to work remotely.

Flight connections are generally excellent, the cost of living is low, and with a decent VPN, you’ll have no trouble with internet access.

Xi’an is one of China’s most beautiful major cities. Surrounded by a stunning mountain range and encircled by an ancient city wall, it’s a fantastic place for a travelling freelancer to base themselves for a few months.

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

While it may not be quite as affordable as other Latin American countries, the quality of life in Costa Rica is truly unparalleled. After all, the unofficial national motto – Pura Vida– literally means “simple life”, which sums up the Costa Rican way quite nicely.

Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco are great for digital nomads, too. They’re small, friendly towns with a young expat crowd, just 20 minutes from the Liberia International Airport. Plus you’ll have some of the most incredible beaches in Costa Rica right on your doorstep!

Phong Nha, Vietnam

Phong Nha is one of the most picturesque spots in Vietnam, and is fast developing a reputation as the adventure capital of the country.

The influx of young, adventurous tourists – combined with fast, cheap internet – makes it a superb destination for any remote worker who craves a workplace off the beaten track. Especially if you like the idea of truly incomparable views.

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand – a three-hour drive from Chistchurch. Credit: Tobias Keller

Christchurch, New Zealand

The cost of living in New Zealand isn’t quite as low as many of the other suggestions on this list, but the surrounding landscapes might just be worth the price tag.

The vibe in New Zealand is extremely laid-back, and Christchurch has a reputation for being even more sedate than cities like Auckland and Wellington. Located in the middle of the South Island, it’s also a fairly short drive from the most beautiful (and ski-friendly) mountains in the country.

When you add an amazing coworking and startup scene – with places like The Ministry of Awesome leading the charge – it won’t be long before Christchurch is established as a go-to location for digital nomads across the globe.

Time to get planning?

With these ten underrated spots for digital nomads to choose from, there should be at least one that strikes your fancy. Whether you’re heli-skiing in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, or leisurely floating with your laptop across the Gulf of Mexico, just make sure you don’t forget the deadlines!

Want to keep reading? Check out our tips on how to make friends as a remote-worker, and our guide on the smartest way to book a flight.