Becoming a digital nomad means you never have to leave a beautiful place to return to an office cubicle, but long-term work and travel isn’t always about living large. You’ll also have to make sure to choose affordable destinations where the cost of living doesn’t exceed your earnings.
When deciding between countries, you’ll want to find that sweet spot where the infrastructure for tourism already exists and is improving. Think stable and reasonably fast internet, delicious local food that doesn’t cost more than the drive-thru back home, and comfortable accommodations in the best neighborhoods for remote workers. We took a look at accommodation prices across booking websites and found that these are the best countries to go to if you’re looking to save money a the start of your digital nomad journey.
Colorful landscapes, fantastic coffee, friendly locals, and a vibrant start-up and art scene give Colombia a lively buzz that is hard not to love. Outside the busy capital of Bogota, the lush rolling hills of the coffee triangle, the stunning liquid rainbow of Caño Cristales, and the towering palm trees of Cocora Valley await.
Home to startup unicorns like Rappi (food delivery) and Addi (fintech), Colombia has a vibrant startup and coworking scene. There are hundreds of affordable coworking spaces across the country—from the capital city Bogota where you can enjoy the widest international food choices and biggest clubs, to the picturesque coastal city of Cartagena for warmer weather.
For hipster nomads who love their cuppa and art, the coffee triangle makes for a fantastic remote working destination, thanks to its pleasantly cool year-round climate and abundant greenery. You can savor your morning coffee for less than a buck and go on a half-day coffee tour (and even pick your own beans) for less than $10 USD. The best part? Reward yourself after a day of hard work with delicious fusion food at cozy restaurants like Helena Adentro or El Portal de Cocora and watch the sunset across the rolling hills.
Between the two distinct cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, most travelers prefer northern Hanoi for its charming old town and laid-back vibes. Explore its bustling old quarter for an eclectic mix of traditional bamboo or wood furniture shops, modern art galleries, hole-in-the-wall eateries, and brightly lit tourist souvenir shops, but beware that sidestepping constant scooter, trishaw, and cyclist traffic to get around is all part of the fun.
With downtown private rooms starting from $7 USD a night, Vietnam is one of those countries where a little goes a long way. Even if you hop into one of the best restaurants in town like Hoang cuisine, you’ll find it tough to spend a lot more than $10 USD per person. Most hostels and hotels offer decent WiFi connections, but if you need blazing fast internet speeds, you can check into a hot desk at one of the many coworking spaces in tourist hotspots like the charming tailoring capital of Hoi An or the beach town of Da Nang.
When you see for yourself that Uber and Grab motorcycle or taxi rides cost less than a dollar for a short trip, you will wonder why you ever bothered with the bus or even a rental car. There are over 17,000 islands in Indonesia to choose from, and Bali is just the tip of the iceberg. The cultural capital of Yogyakarta offers breathtaking views from its famous temples like Borobudur at sunrise, gorgeous batik textile products at numerous traditional markets like Beringharjo, and delightful, cheap street food being sold on every corner.
Just over 100 kilometers outside Jakarta, Bandung is another option that has cooler temperatures and is very popular with locals from Jarkarta. You can get the same cosmopolitan conveniences as the capital without being stuck in the traffic and while enjoying the greenery of the tea plantations and colonial-era architecture from the window of a room that costs about $7 USD per night.
Should you fancy working outside your accommodation, you’ll be happy to note that beautiful, modern cafes offering decent WiFi are a dime a dozen across the popular cities and towns in Indonesia. Most of them are within a short walk if you live downtown. Top it off with delicious, spicy, and super cheap street food (you can get a fulfilling meal for less than $1 USD) and restaurants around most corners, and you might just find it hard to leave this diverse and beautiful country.
Often confused with the American state of Georgia, this country in Eastern Europe offers breathtaking mountain views, skiing opportunities, and one of the most exciting wine festivals in the world. Georgia, the Caucasus country bordering Turkey is an underrated destination that’s rising on the list of the best remote working countries thanks to its good infrastructure and great public transportation.
This mountainous country offers the “Remotely from Georgia” state program that allows travelers from 95 countries to stay in the country for at least 360 days, as long as you have a monthly income of at least $2000 USD. The capital of Tbilisi—the choice location for many expats and startup founders—offers many affordable coworking options, great restaurants (less than $10 USD for a fulfilling Khachapuri meal), and affordable accommodation amidst an eclectic backdrop of art and architecture. Flying into Tbilisi is a breeze, with many budget flight options like Wiz-Air and Pegasus from popular European cities and getting downtown from the airport is equally pain-free, with the hour-long Tbilisi Airport bus running every 15 minutes.
Montenegro is a fantastic destination for nature-lovers with deep canyons and enough hiking trails to keep you busy for a full year. Most travelers and digital nomads make a beeline for Kotor Bay. Located right on the Adriatic, it’s a popular tourist destination that has many amenities and restaurants within walking distance.
The lesser-known and perhaps more endearing place is Cetinje, where you could stop in at a nice restaurant in the middle of the old town and enjoy a plate of grilled meat and chips for $5 USD. Take a walk along Njegoševa Ulica, the main street lined with linden trees that turn a brilliant yellow in autumn, past the colorful houses, and soak up all the charm. More affordable than most places on the coast, in Cetinje a-one bedroom apartment can cost as little as $20 USD a night in the peak summer season.
Even though prices in the digital nomad hotspots have steadily increased over the years, Montenegro’s coworking, co-living and accommodation options still remain more affordable than its western neighbors. Besides the crystal clear Adriatic waters set in front of the rugged mountain peaks, Montenegro has an established digital nomad community of several thousand members, letting you discover new activities with fellow nomads effortlessly.
Ecuador may be small in size compared to its South American neighbors, but it’s big in its heart. While major bucket list items like diving in the Galapagos island are not cheap, visiting a local fruit or cacao farm is relatively inexpensive or possibly free, and there are many natural areas to explore like volcano Cotopaxi and the scenic Quilotoa loop. Skip the mayhem of Quito and stay in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Cuenca to enjoy the numerous romantic plazas or squares, and get lost in the many cobblestone alleys. You can pop in one of the many artfully decorated cafes like Café San Sebas or Café Nucallacta that offer fast WiFi and various charging points to enjoy a cuppa, hot chocolate or one of the exotic local fruit juices. Ecuador also happens to use the U.S. dollar as its official currency, due to a financial collapse in 2000, which means you don’t have to worry about conversion rates if you’re coming from the U.S.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
A stone’s throw from Croatia, the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina stands out for its natural beauty, rich Ottoman history, and it is also an affordable place to work remotely. You can find a studio apartment for less than $20 USD a night in Sarajevo, and explore the numerous museums, a historic war tunnel, and hike the nearby Trebevič Peak on foot. Tuck into Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national dish ćevapi (sausages with flatbread and onions) for less than $3 USD in most restaurants, and utilize the city’s good bus connections to visit the pretty waterfalls of Una National Park or the picturesque ancient city of Jajce.
With free, decently fast WiFi offered throughout affordable accommodation in this lush green nation and plenty of historical and natural sights to see, Bosnia and Herzegovina might be the most underrated remote working destination in Europe yet.
Peru’s crown jewel is Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel, but there’s much more to do after you visit famous ruins. Head north to view some of the world’s highest waterfalls of Gocta and Yumbilla located in the rainforest or take a scenic cable car ride up to 3,000-meter high Kuélap, a spectacular ruin that rivals Machu Picchu in terms of views without the crowds. Both Cusco and Arequipa are fantastic cities to find a remote work base in, with two-bedroom apartments starting from $18 USD a night, and a fancy ceviche and cocktail in the best restaurant downtown will not cost more than $10 USD.
Navigating the Andes with public transportation is not for the faint-hearted, but Peru’s famous attractions are connected by a network of comfortable long-distance buses. Remote workers may also take advantage of Peru Hop, which is a hop-on, hop-off bus service that connects Lima to Cusco, and allows you to visit all the attractions in between on a flexible schedule.
Jolyn is a former Discovery Networks marketer and freelance writer from Singapore and has visited over 50 countries and lives and works mostly in her campervan.
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