Thinking about working remotely overseas? Here are the 10 best cities for 'digital nomads'

With borders reopening and working online the new norm, perhaps now's the time to head to a far-flung destination

Da Nang in Vietnam was found to be the best city for digital nomads in a new survey. Unsplash
Powered by automated translation

One of the most notable shifts to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic is that, for many of us, we don't need to be in the office to get our jobs done.

Remote working – working out of the office typically using digital tools – is more popular than ever, and that means, going forward, perhaps we don't have to live quite as close to our workplaces as we did before.

Enter the age of the digital nomad. The term, which describes a person who uses technology to work while they are based in anywhere from coffee shops to co-working spaces, whether at home or abroad, isn't new. But, could it find more followers from 2020 onwards?

Whether freelancing or in agreement with an employer to work remotely, the practice allows people to travel the world while still earning a living. And, with borders slowly reopening and travel restrictions lifting around the globe, more people may be looking at the possibility.

But where should you go?

The beauty of the concept is that the world is your oyster, so long as you have decent Wi-Fi access. But, not all cities are the same when it comes to affordable accommodation, co-working spaces, safety and more.

Storage Cafe, an online platform that lists self-storage units for rent, polled a number of "digital nomads" to come up with a list of the best destinations for remote workers.

The platform conducted research on the 100 most recommended locations, rating destinations on everything from cost of living, quality of life and internet infrastructure, to safety, healthcare, air pollution and entertainment.

Rental rates, hotel costs, the price of an average dinner and friendliness to foreigners were among the factors considered when crafting the rankings.

According to the results, Da Nang in Vietnam is the city best-equipped for digital nomads after the pandemic, with affordable accommodation, plenty of co-working spaces and good levels of free Wi-Fi. The study found the average rent for a studio apartment was $370 (Dh1,359) a month, with a typical dinner ringing in at $3. The only metric the coastal city got a "bad" ranking in was traffic safety.

"Da Nang, Cancun and Merida emerge as the best places to escape the 9 to 5 as they provide great settings that combine attractive natural landscapes with affordability, internet infrastructure and good quality of life overall," a statement from Storage Cafe added.

"Da Nang is a beautiful city, not too large, but very lively and well-maintained; add to that the amazing food, friendly locals, and fabulous beaches and you've got the perfect place for a digital nomad."

Cancun in Mexico is the second best-placed city for remote workers according to research. Unsplash
Cancun in Mexico is the second best-placed city for remote workers according to research. Unsplash

Cancun ($321 for a studio apartment) and Merida ($272 for a studio apartment) in Mexico came in second and third place respectively, with internet speed and access to healthcare receiving the only negative rankings.

The top 10 was rounded out by George Town in Malaysia, Oaxaca in Mexico, Samara in Costa Rica, Florianopolis in Brazil, Medellin in Colombia, Koh Phangan in Thailand and San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

While Mexico still has a heavy presence in the top 20, Bansko in Bulgaria (No 11), Kathmandu in Nepal (No 13), Canggu in Bali (No 14) and Buenos Aires (15) in Argentina also made the cut.

The survey was predominantly conducted with US remote workers, which could account for the high inclusion of Mexican and South American cities. The slim time difference between such countries means workers could stay on a similar work day to their North American counterparts.

The 10 best cities for remote workers

1. Da Nang, Vietnam

2. Cancun, Mexico

3. Merida, Mexico

4. George Town, Malaysia

5. Oaxaca, Mexico

6. Samara, Costa Rica

7. Florianopolis, Brazil

8. Medellin, Colombia

9. Koh Phangan, Thailand

10. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico