India is a country that will change you forever, promising an unprecedented sensory explosion of sounds, color, and tastes that digital nomads should take their time to experience. With so many varying cultures and climates, India has something to appeal to virtually every type of remote worker and the best part is that it’s incredibly affordable.
I began my digital nomad journey in India and after spending around five total months in the country, I can say it’s absolutely worth it for adventurous travelers. While it certainly is possible to splurge—especially in amenity-filled cities like Mumbai, I managed to travel in India as a digital nomad for around $10 to $15 USD a day, while still staying in private rooms and getting off the beaten path.
However, India is also a huge country—we’re talking about a nation with 28 states, 8 union territories, and a population of over one billion people—and planning an adventure here can seem overwhelming to say the least. So to help you get started, here’s a breakdown of where to go and what you can expect to spend on your digital nomad journey in India.
If you love the beach and are seeking a community filled with other nomads, then Goa is the ideal place to begin your journey. Famous for its palm-tree-lined stretches of sand and crazy raves, being in Goa can sometimes feel like you’ve left India altogether. After spending 450 years as a Portuguese outpost, you’ll still feel and see traces of Portugal today in the state’s cuisine and architecture. Many nomads end up moving to Goa, and you’ll find people from every corner of the world in the various towns and villages. You may want to move on when monsoon season comes around though, usually towards the end of March,
Where to Live in Goa
If peaceful seaside living is what you’re after, then consider looking for a place near Patnem Beach and Colomb Bay. Situated in South Goa, noise and rowdy nightlife will be far, far away. You can check out the more popular (and nearby) locales of Palolem and Agonda. Or if you’d like to be closer to the “action” per se, you’ll find hordes of nomads and backpackers alike in either Baga, Calangute, Anjuna, or Vagator.
Cost of Living in Goa
Goa is slightly more expensive than some other places in India, but you’ll still find plenty of cheap hostels, guesthouses, and Airbnbs throughout the state. You can rent private rooms for as low as $10 USD a night, and monthly rentals can be as low as $250 USD or sometimes even less. Haggling in person will almost always get you a better deal than booking online though, and that goes for all of India.
You’ll be able to find street eats and local fare in Goa for the usual $1 to $3 USD per person—get comfy with cooking and you’ll easily be able to survive on $30 to $40 USD per week. If you eat most meals in Western cafes and restaurants though, your costs will shoot up to $80 USD per week or more, depending on your choices.
Perhaps my favorite place I worked in India is the magnificent mountain state of Himachal Pradesh. Home to lush never-ending forests, snow-capped mountains, and strikingly blue rivers, the many towns, and villages of Himachal are some of the most beautiful in the country. Some even call it the Goa of the North thanks to its chilled-out vibes and frequent psytrance events. Cafes designed with nomads in mind—think WiFi, trippy wall art, and your favorite comfort foods—combined with lots of other perpetual travelers makes Himachal the place to be, especially in summer when the rest of India is boiling.
Where to Live in Himachal Pradesh
There are many places to base yourself in Himachal, but of course, some have much better WiFi than others. Manali has plenty of colorful cafes serving up everything from falafels and hummus to chicken cordon bleu. The peaceful riverside town gives you the chance to work from the Himalayas and has long been a hippie (and hashish) haven.
Kasol may be overflowing with concrete these days, but it’s a great place for digital nomads because you can easily find necessities like well-designed cafes and strong WiFi. Not to mention that both towns, which are located 75 kilometers away from one another, pose unparalleled access to lush hiking trails and opportunities for weekend or week-long trips.
Cost of Living in Himachal Pradesh
Hostels and cheap guest rooms will cost around $8 to $15 USD a day. But for a long-term stay, you should be able to work something out for between $200 to $300 USD a month depending on your taste and where exactly you want to stay. If you like to cook, you can easily spend $30 or less on food per week. Otherwise, expect to spend around $3 to $8 USD per day for street and local food and $15+ USD if you plan to eat every meal in a cafe.
If you’re a yogi and a digital nomad, then Rishikesh is the perfect place to go. Known as the yoga capital of the world, the spiritual town is situated on both sides of the holy Ganges River, and is surrounded by Himalayan hills as far as the eye can see. As one of the most sacred places in India for Hindus, Rishikesh is visited by both pilgrims and travelers alike. These days, this walkable and cafe-filled mini-city is one of the most digital-nomad-friendly destinations in India.
Where to Live in Rishikesh
As Rishikesh is a town and not a state, your stay options are much closer together. Upper Tapovan is perhaps the best place for nomads, with ashrams and nearby waterfalls being just some of the neighborhood’s highlights. Your other options include nearby areas like Lower Tapovan, Laxman Jhula, and Swagarsham. Nowhere is too far away in Rishikesh.
Cost of Living in Rishikesh
You can find a room for anywhere from $150 to $300 USD per month, though expect to pay a bit more if you’re looking for luxury. Western-style cafes get a little pricy, but you can still find delicious local meals (do try the momos!) for as little as $1.50 USD per person and cooking for yourself can virtually cut the per-meal budget in half.
Your first introduction to the vibrant desert state that is Rajasthan will likely be in Jaipur, and personally, I found it to be one of my favorite cities in India. Rajasthani food is different and delicious, and the city’s internet connections are strong. The region is home to many historical palaces, and you’ll find that the elevated stairwells—like the one that overlooks the Amer Fort—are some of the best places to catch a sunset.
Where to Live in Jaipur
Deciding where to settle down in the “Pink City” will make or break your stay. The Old City might be great for sightseeing or bazaar-hopping, but it could be too loud for digital nomads with work to do. Bani Park might fit the bill, since the upscale neighborhood is less chaotic than other parts of the city and you’ll find plenty of places to stay, from hostels to Airbnbs and hotels.
Cost of Living in Jaipur
Jaipur is cheap overall (as is most of Rajasthan), but posh areas are still a bit pricy. Personally, I find budget guesthouses or hostels to be the cheapest option in Jaipur, at least when compared with Airbnbs. Expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $400 USD for a room or apartment in a nice area.
You can save money by eating local and indulging in street food. You’ll quickly fall in love with the Rajasthani thali, which uses a round kind of roti that is unique to this part of India. You can get a chai or smoothie anywhere in the city, so $5 USD per day or less is a reasonable food budget if you commit to eating on the cheap.
As the “Silicon Valley of India” Bangalore might just be the city for the entrepreneurial digital nomads out there. Easily one of the most developed cities in the country, Bangalore attracts business minds from all over the globe. Aside from dedicated digital nomad hostels and a good amount of coworking spaces, you’ll also find a thriving nightlife scene and a wide variety of places to eat, from upscale sushi restaurants to street food where stall owners serve up dishes for cents. The WiFi and data speeds are both lightning-fast.
Where to Live in Bangalore
Koramangala is where you’ll find all the amenities of a thriving city combined with the tranquility of a street in the suburbs. Here you’ll get to choose between fully tricked-out coworking spaces—some with luxuries like showers and sleeping pods—and artfully designed cafes that are still varied enough to cure almost any craving. The social scene is also alive and well with pubs, cafes, and lounges to mingle with other young people in the city.
Cost of Living in Bangalore
For the convenience that Bangalore provides, prices are pretty fair, but it’s still one of India’s most expensive cities. You can expect to spend as low as $200 USD (for a private room in a home) to more than $800 a month for a cushy, separate apartment. As with most places in India, budget guesthouses and hostels may offer discount rates for long-term stays.
If you stick to local dishes like idli, vadapam, and uttapam, you can easily make $10 USD per day as a Bangalore food budget. Assuming you get friendly with food stalls and splurge on western favorites at a cafe a few times a week, you’re looking at around $80 to $100 USD a week to eat in Bangalore.
Perhaps the most picturesque place in India, you’ll quickly fall head over heels for Pondicherry. Now officially known as Puducherry, this Union Territory is situated along the Bay of Bengal near Tamil Nadu. The small city’s idyllic French-colonial architecture and peaceful ambiance make it one of the best places to be a digital nomad in India. The city is incredibly cycle-friendly (quite a rarity in India,) and every single cafe seems like it can be categorized as “Instagrammable.” Yet somehow, this seaside hamlet has yet to be ruined by mass tourism.
Where to Live in Pondicherry
With so much to do in and around the city, I’d recommend spending a month in Puducherry—you can always take a short trip to Tamil Nadu if you need a change of scenery. Heritage Town and White Town are two of the poshest places to stay and you’ll see that reflected in the rates. However, with price does come convenience and everything (including the beach) will be within walking distance!
Cost of Living in Pondicherry
Airbnb tends to have the best online rates for long-term stays in Pondicherry, where one can find a room for around $300 USD per month. If you find a hostel or hotel you love, see if they have monthly discounts. Private apartment listings tend to be about $500 USD a month, so the downside is that it’s not the cheapest place to base in India.
If you love seafood, then remote working in India will peak here. The seafood in Pondicherry is to die for, and luckily a lot of it is budget-friendly, especially if you’re down to cook your own! Its heritage lends itself to a thriving French pastry scene, so you’ll also want to factor into the budget. Add in a few trending restaurant outings and you’re looking at about $80 to $100 USD a week give or take.
Auroville is hands-down the most unique place to be a digital nomad in India. The experimental community is only 15 kilometers from Pondicherry, but in many ways, it is its own world. Founded in 1968 by “The Mother”, Auroville seeks to be a “universal town where men and women of all countries live together in peace and progressive harmony.” Today, more than 2,000 people from around the world call Auroville home—and basic digital nomad infrastructure is now present like cafes with semi-decent WiFi and organic, vegan food.
Where to Live in Auroville
Auroville is not meant to be a tourist destination, but rather a place where you can learn about the community and take part in different experiences. Locals have a number of registered guesthouses inside the town, though there are even more on the outskirts. However, you’ll only have access to the Aurocard and community events by staying inside the town.
Cost of Living in Auroville
A budget of $400 USD permonth should cover a decent guesthouse stay in Auroville. There’s a wide variety of options to choose from, with some options being more expensive and some even less. If you commit to cooking (and eating vegetarian), you can keep your weekly food bill under $50 USD. in Auroville. Eating out will cost more, but you should still be able to make do with a weekly budget of $70 USD.