Being a digital nomad offers the kind of freedom and flexibility that most people never dreamed possible. Trading in the 9-to-5 grind and morning commute to be able to move freely around the world and work at your own pace? Yes, please!
But first—where will you go? Choosing a host city is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a digital nomad, and there are several important factors to consider before booking your next flight to realize your location independent dreams. This chapter outlines a few important considerations to keep in mind as you plan your epic nomadic experience.
Does The Locale Have An Established Digital Nomad Community?
Nestling into a city that has a vibrant community of digital nomads will no doubt lead to a more secure and enjoyable experience. If socializing with fellow nomads and meeting like-minded professionals is “up there” on your list, then you’ll want to make sure that the cities you vet are nomad-friendly.
Cities like Chiang-Mai, Medellin and Berlin are flourishing with digital nomads, and a quick Google search reveals many more international destinations sorted by popularity. Nomad List, founded by nomad pioneer Pieter Levels, is widely heralded as the top resource for vetting a city’s nomad potential.
Being in a city with other nomads will offer you a built-in network of open individuals who can help familiarize you with the culture, and of course to introduce you to all the hot spots around town. If the community aspect is important to you, make sure you check this box first before going any further in your planning efforts. Similarly, if your aim is to get off the beaten path entirely, take this into consideration as you research potential host cities.
Are There Co-Working Spaces Aplenty?
Co-working spaces, a natural by-product of a strong nomad presence, are key for those who thrive under the structure of an office-like environment but still appreciate the freedom to come and go as they please.
Sharing space with others who are also on-the-grind can help you stay on track throughout the day during those moments when you’d rather turn on the TV or take an after lunch siesta. Taking a break to socialize can help increase productivity in the long run and can lead to more creative ideas and solutions in your work.
Established nomad hubs will no doubt have co-working spaces aplenty, and tools like ShareDesk (www.sharedesk.net) make it easy to browse by region. Another resource to bookmark is Workfrom (www.workfrom.co). Workfrom provides a provides an up-to-date database of coffee shops, cafes and co-working offices across 1,250 cities worldwide. The resource is curated by 2,000 nomad contributors, so you can be sure you’re always uncovering the most reliable, nomad-friendly locations no matter where your travels may take you.
What’s The Wi-Fi Situation?
Wi-Fi is a digital nomad’s lifeline. Being a productive digital nomad necessitates that you have a strong and consistent connection to the rest of the world. When you are working hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from your team and employer, it’s imperative to have access to a steady connection at all times.
While places that are off-the grid may seem appealing at first, if you’re not able to effectively work from your laptop, the trade-off is probably not worth it in the long run. There are of course exceptions to this rule: for example, if you’re hard at work on the next great American novel or plugging away on a screenplay, perhaps the lack of distractions could work to your advantage.
Are There Safe And Affordable Rentals?
For many nomads, couch-surfing and hostel-hopping aren’t going to cut it. Settling down somewhere for a month at the very least is critical to avoid travel burnout and to maintain productivity long-term. For this reason, safe and affordable housing is an absolute must.
Settling down somewhere for a month at the very least is critical to avoid travel burnout and to maintain productivity long-term. Get more tips for #DigitalNomads here. Click To Tweet
For the cheapest rentals, it’s best to conduct a search in the native language of your host country to avoid hiked-up tourist prices. It may also help to have a local by your side to make sure you’re in a safe location, and to negotiate with the landlord to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Month-to month pre-furnished rentals are ideal, and proximity to public transportation and restaurants and cafes can be added perks. For a solid listing of long term rentals, check out Long Term Lettings (www.longtermlettings.com).
Is the City Close to Other Areas of Interest?
If you’re stationed somewhere for more than a few months, chances are you’ll want to explore areas outside of your selected city. You may not always have the time or the money to hop on a flight to go somewhere new on a whim, so selecting a location that is within a reasonable distance to other destinations by car, bus or train is a huge plus.
Are There Weather Extremes?
Choosing a place that is neither too hot nor too cold is essential to be able to move around comfortably. Because you’re not on vacation and can’t escape the sweltering heat or the frigid cold and run back home to safety, making sure the climate in your host city agrees with you is pretty much a non-negotiable.
Being able to go outside for walks to clear your mind, exploring the city at your leisure, and being outside in nature are just a few things that will allow you to live somewhere longer than your average backpacker. You are ultimately the one who decides what works (and doesn’t work) for you climate-wise, so make sure to read up on average yearly temperatures and weather patterns so you’re not in for any surprises.
Is There Friendly Local Culture?
Arguably one of the most rewarding aspects of travel is being able to experience the local culture and connect with people who live there. Even if you don’t speak the native language, a friendly smile or a head-nod is sometimes all you need to feel welcome and safe in your host country.
Developing a relationship with the locals is not only a great way to learn the language, but it also allows you to experience nuances and everyday aspects of their culture that may not be visible to travelers or other digital nomads. Having a local community that is somewhat integrated with the expat or nomadic community makes for a friendlier, more dynamic, and less “us vs. them” experience overall.
At the end of the day, your criteria for selecting a host city will be personal and unique to your business and particular goals. The most important thing is that you actually want to be where you are going, so make sure you don’t choose your destination based solely on a checklist, but allow it to be a balance between the things need to get by, and the things that reflect your personal tastes.
Considering making the leap? Be sure to read the full Handbook for Digital Nomads, by Digital Nomads before you do.