My wife and I have been travelling full time for the last 5 years, and I’ve been living abroad since the early 2000’s.
One of the most important factors in our travel plans is connecting with friends in the digital nomad community; lifestyle satisfaction and productivity improves when I can meetup and talk business with like-minded individuals (people who love freedom, travel and adventure as much as we do). We’re still trying to find the “perfect” place, so we can stay long-term and get more work done, but it’s hard:
When you can live anywhere, it’s easy to get FOMO and never be truly satisfied (so you live for new experiences and novelty, rather than daily rituals important for constant growth).
“Living anywhere is a lot like living nowhere.” https://t.co/HPhqNFUqwE
— Derek Murphy (@Creativindie) February 8, 2018
However, once I’ve visited all the digital nomad hubs, I’ll make a more in-depth comparison between common destinations. Here are some notes.
Lisbon vs. Barcelona: We prefer Lisbon. Lots of light, food, energy, and beautiful scenery and architecture. Barcelona feels a bit too crowded and run down (though I did appreciate Barcelona’s Cannabis Clubs).
Portland vs. Austin: I’m biased but we weren’t fans of Austin. However…. Austin is a place a lot of big players go, so you may meet more millionaires or serious entrepreneurs. Portland is more laid back and friendly (rains a lot, but I prefer it to Austin’s heat). There are more “creative” people in Portland, but they’re mostly working on personal passion projects and not thinking like entrepreneurs.
Saigon vs. Bali: so far I’m really impressed with Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city). The first few days it was chaotic, dirty and overwhelming; not all the food was great and it’s too hot to go out in the day time (in March!) I was afraid I’d never get comfortable… but I’ve actually been super productive so far. We’ve found some excellent restaurants, and for some reason I’m waking up earlier and working on projects all day without getting fatigued. I’ll update this when I get to Bali next month.
Medellin vs. Cuenca: We weren’t impressed by Medellin. It’s alright, but mostly a city with too many tall buildings. For adventure tourism, if you get outside the city and explore Colombia, it’s interesting – we don’t find food we loved outside the touristy areas (full of overpriced foreign restaurants). It also seemed seedy, like parts of Thailand. Locals were really friendly and nice, and there’s a digital nomad scene, but we won’t go back. Cuenca is more popular with expats and retirees, but it’s a much more comfortable city (there’s no cheap or easy way to go between the two though, so be warned). I also thought Quito was one of the most interesting cities I’d ever been to; I wouldn’t mind living there for a month. We’ve also been to Peru, and though we loved the ruins and history, it wasn’t somewhere we’d want to live long-term.
But otherwise… If we go back to central America, it will probably be to Mexico – Playa Del Carmen or Tulum were both great, with good food – though we may try some other areas of Mexico next time.
Chile vs. Argentina: I’ve been to these countries twenty years ago, in my teens, but I’d love to go back soon and see how things have changed. Buenos Aires in particular.
Best places to live as a digital nomad in 2018
Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Barcelona
Chiang Mai, Ho Chi Minh, Ubud, Canggu, Bangkok, Davao
Latin American Hubs
Medellin, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Playa del Carmen
Austin, Portland, San Diego, Boulder
Location which are becoming regional Hubs
Krakow, Lisbon, Taipei
Hidden Recommended Locations
Sofia, Plovdiv, Bucharest, Brasov, Cluj Napoca, Zagreb, Split, Thessaloniki, Yerevan, Tbilisi, Malta, Haifa, Galway, Phuket
Best Value Locations
Lviv, Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, Saint Peterburg, Minsk
Top Level Hubs
Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, London, Munich, New York, San Francisco
Here’s a video I made at the beginning of 2017…