10 Top-Ranked Cities for Digital Nomads Where You Can Live for $2,000 or Less a Month 

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Getty Images.

A new ranking sorts cities by both digital-nomad-friendliness and affordability.

With recent research from consultancy MBO Partners showing that an incredible 48 million Americans are interested in becoming digital nomads, it’s no surprise that more and more countries are rushing to attract freelancers, location-independent entrepreneurs, and employees at companies with very relaxed remote work policies.

With more than four dozen countries now offering some kind of digital nomad visa, new hubs are competing with established hot spots. Which destination should you choose if you’re determined to try the digital nomad lifestyle?

Good vibes + affordable living = the ideal digital nomad city

Personal preference certainly plays a role in selecting a destination — some will dream of ski towns and others of surf spots — but so too do finances. One of the biggest advantages of digital nomadism (aside from the adventure and the learning opportunities) is the ability to live more cheaply than back home and save money toward your goals.

But the math only works if you choose the right destination that combines the infrastructure you need with a relatively low cost of living. Helpfully, digital nomad community site Digital Nomads has done a lot of the work for you. The site recently published its picks for the best cities for digital nomads, taking into account things like internet speeds and cost of living as well as the intangible vibe of the place (hat tip to Insider).

I’ve scoured the list for those cities where the cost of living comes in under $2,000. These numbers likely don’t include travel costs and splurges, but rather reflect the bare-bones sum you need to stay fed and housed. Still, they should give you a rough sense of how much you need to get by in each location as well as a relative comparison between cities. Here are the 10 places that slip in under the two grand mark:

  1. Lisbon, Portugal ($2,000): One of two European cities on the list that come in under $2,000 a month. (Insider tip: I live in Nicosia, Cyprus, and you could totally make that math work here, too). Digital Nomads says the city offers “great value for money” compared to other European capitals and boasts yummy food, a vibrant startup scene, and good surfing.

  2. Chiang Mai, Thailand ($950): Chiang Mai “has been a digital nomad hub for years, and for good reason,” according to Digital Nomads, which cites the city’s incredible value for money and bumping nightlife.

  3. Bali, Indonesia ($1,200- $1,350): Bali too is overrun with digital nomads for a reason. The lush tropical island offers beautiful surroundings, a vibrant community, and a low cost of living. Two cities in Bali made Digital Nomads’ list: Ubud, a chill spot for nature lovers that’ll cost you $1,350 a month, and the bustling surf town Canggu, which is filled with co-working spaces and other digital nomad infrastructure. Canggu will set you back $1,200 a month.

  4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam ($950): Vietnam’s exceptionally low cost of living “makes it especially attractive to digital nomad lifestyle beginners,” says Digital Nomads, which also praises the local cuisine as “among the world’s best.”

  5. Cape Town, South Africa ($1,800): Cape Town has it all, from beautiful beaches to plenty of co-working spaces and cafs. The fact that English is the official language doesn’t hurt either.

  6. Budapest, Hungary ($1,450): “If you want to experience Europe without breaking the bank, Budapest is a great choice,” enthuses Digital Nomads, which notes you can get a Michelin star lunch for $30 in the charming city on the Danube. If you go, try the thermal baths. But — another hard-won insider tip — don’t forget sunscreen.

  7. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain ($1,800): The biggest draw of the Canary Islands may be the year-round sunshine, but the relatively low cost of living is certainly attractive, too. Digital Nomads describes Las Palmas as “friendly and relaxed.” Spain’s new digital nomad visa program should make the logistics easier.

  8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ($1,500): With its world-famous beaches, annual carnival, and renowned football (soccer) team, Rio pretty much sells itself. Though Rio is also known for its slums, Digital Nomads insists the city “is safe for foreigners when staying in the right neighborhoods.”

  9. Medellin, Colombia ($1,050): Another city which still has a bit of a bad reputation thanks to its past as a cartel hub. But “Medellin has left its dark past behind,” according to Digital Nomads, which notes that the city’s lively digital nomad scene is centered on the El Poblado neighborhood.

  10. Tulum, Mexico ($1,800): If your dream is to work from a tropical beach, then Tulum might be a great choice. With easy access to the U.S. and a laid-back vibe, the city attracts many creatives and digital nomads.

Excited for one of these options but worried about the practical details of making a digital nomad lifestyle work? Then check out this column rounding up a bunch of helpful tools for would-be digital nomads, including a calculator that will tell you what visas you qualify for and a number of guides on issues like financial planning and accommodation options. This recently launched city-by-city guide from a digital nomad travel insurance company might also be helpful.