Looking for one of the world’s best alternative cities for digital nomads? Check our stunning spots to base yourself.
Walk into a coffee shop anywhere in the world and you’ll spy a digital nomad. That guy, or gal, looking busy on their laptop supping a flat white.
There are some cities that attract the remote working laptop crowd more than others. In no particular order, the current favorites around the world are:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Medellin, Colombia
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Budapest, Hungary
- Berlin, Germany
These cities all offer the enticing mix of pleasant lifestyle, good local culture and reasonably cheap rent.
But you don’t need to join the hoardes. When it comes to working remotely, the whole point is that you can get away from the rat race.
There are of course benefits to heading to one of these hotspots. Networking and having support, or the ease of finding friends are some of the key reasons people head to these hotspots.
But if you want to be that digital nomad who thinks outside the box and goes for somewhere new, try one of these alternative destinations for the remote worker.
Georgetown (Penang), Malaysia
While most digital nomads in Asia head to Thailand (with good reason), Penang is a very good alternative.
What gives it the edge?
Chaing Mai is a long way from the sea (which is a consideration for a lot of people) and Penang Island has a glut of great beaches. Malaysian food is arguably more diverse and varied than Thai food and Malaysia slightly shades Thailand for cost of living.
The island of Penang itself has nature reserves and hidden tropical beaches as well as a sprawling city with a choice of cool neighbourhoods. The nightlife too is fantastic with regular big DJ’s and bands in attendance.
A months rent for a decent apartment in Georgetown city is around US$250-300.
There is decent wifi everywhere, including on public buses. There is also a good selection of co-working spaces, with 5 registered on coworker.com.
Penang airport is well connected internationally with flights to KL, Bangkok, Singapore and most of the big Asian hub cities.
Panama City, Panama
South America on your doorstep and North America a short hop? Panama is well connected and a good place to base yourself for all the amenities of the modern world with adventure just hours away.
You can be meeting representatives from a multi national corporation for lunch and then be on the beach 15 minutes later. Surf beaches on the other side of the country are just over an hour by car.
Anyone in shipping and logistics or finance will find Panama City a great place to be based thanks to the many companies based here. You can also choose from a great selection of co-working spaces in the city. There is also a diverse population, with many English speakers and a great nightlife scene packed with bars and clubs.
Be warned, it’s not the cheapest place to live in South or Central America. Average rent for a one bed apartment in the centre of town is around US$650 per month. Compare that to Medillin, which is around US$250 per month and you’ll see why that city attracts the nomad crew.
But for lifestyle options it’s hard to beat.
Panama City also has two airports which are well connected both regionally and internationally with regular flights to Europe, North and South America.
Dubrovnik or Zagreb, Croatia
Why Croatia? Well… It’s stunning, it’s cheap and it’s nomad friendly. Internet speeds are decent, rent is low, food is cheap, locals are friendly and there is loads to do. Nightlife tends to be vibrant with lots of festivals in the summer and the outdoor options range from snorkel or scuba diving to mountain climbing or biking. Skiing in neighbouring Slovenia is also some of the cheapest in the world (as mentioned previously).
Croatia is perfectly placed on the edge of Eastern Europe with easy air and surface connections to Italy, Germany and the rest of Europe. Zagreb has a decent international airport with connections to Asia and North America.
Rent in Dubrovnik is between €350-450 per month. Head to Zagreb and it gets even cheaper at between €250-350.
Besides these two there are several other spectacular alternative cities for digital nomads including Split, Pula, Zadar and Rijeka.
Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Cambodia is hot on the Asian tourist trail, but for the digital nomad it’s still crazy cheap. OK, the internet isn’t as good as Thailand or Vietnam but it still works fine. If you’re doing straightforward writing or design/editing work you’ll find it more than sufficient for your needs.
Sihanoukville obviously offers the beach lifestyle and all the trappings that come with that and it’s surely one of the best cities for digital nomads. Why?
It’s very cheap to live here with apartments from US$150 a month and up. This rises to around US$400 in Phnom Penh.
Sihanoukville in particular is very much a party hotspot with beach bars and nightclubs. It can be a little bit sleazy too but hey, this is South East Asia. Whaddya expect?
The main airport in Phnom Penh is well connected to the region, with daily flights to Singapore and Bangkok. However Sihanoukville too has regular connections to BKK and SIN as well as seasonal connections to Hong Kong and Korea.
With Africa’s emerging economy, don’t overlook this fantastic continent. The hottest spots for digital nomads are Cape Town, Durban and Jo’Burg in South Africa – but Kenya is a great alternative city for digital nomads.
Sprawling Nairobi has teeming markets, buzzing nightlife and a diverse expat community. Kenya is also one of Africa’s most stable economies
For a hard days work there are a good selection of coworking spaces as well as decent internet connections. With English as one of the local languages you’ll find business a breeze, well, to understand the lingo anyway.
For extra cirricular activity you’ve got Tsavo, Masai Mara and the Great Rift Valley – some of the best safari destinations on earth. The Indian Ocean around Mombasa is stunningly beautiful and a great place to go diving or snorkelling. Oh and not to forget Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya for the intrepid explorer.
Rent clocks up between US$200-400 for a decent apartment in the centre of town.
Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport is well connected to the region and further afield including Europe and Asia.
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Bang on the money or way off the mark? If you know of any other cities which are best for digital nomads then share your comments below.
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