5 Overlooked Digital Nomad Destinations
When reading about other digital nomads and backpackers’ experiences online, it seems like no other place exists outside of Chiang Mai and Ho Chi Minh.
As incredible as it is in South East Asia, many overlook destinations around the world that can be just as cheap, or just as exciting. Here are five digital nomad destinations that are often overlooked.
1. Madrid, Spain
Spain is one of the most popular destinations in the world when it comes to sun-seeking tourists. As a result, coastal regions in the East and South often get all the love, whilst Madrid is sometimes neglected. But it’s Spain’s capital, and an incredible place to be, which is why we consider it to be overlooked.
A hotel in the centre of Madrid can situate a digital nomad perfectly between so many incredible restaurants, activities, and nightlife. For those looking to network, Madrid clearly has a booming startup culture and many other like-minded local folks. There are a lot of job opportunities if you learn the language, but equally as many co-working opportunities too. Plus, Madrid is actually cheaper than Barcelona and many touristy towns, which is a bonus.
2. Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia is a stunning place that feels just as Scandinavian as it does Baltic, thus getting the best of both worlds. For a digital nomad, Tallinn is a dream. There is WiFi everywhere you go and the speeds are blisteringly fast. The infrastructure is incredible considering the low costs of the city, which has resulted in attracting tech firms around the world. So now job and networking opportunities are rife, too.
Tallinn also has an e-residency program. This is a personal, government-issued online authentication that can give remote entrepreneurs digital access to Estonia’s e-services. But it gets better. There’s also a digital nomad visa that allows 1-year visits and to legally work online in the country.
3. Valparaíso, Chile
Some of the concerns around South America, like crime, disappear when talking about Chile. It may be slightly more expensive, but Chile is a very safe, happy, and warm country to visit. Valparaíso is estimated to cost around $1,500 a month to live and work remotely in. Beyond the friendly culture, there’s great air quality, a beach, nice weather, and some stunning scenery.
Valparaíso is a port city with lots of color. It received a lot of European immigration, making it a multi-cultural hub that is ideal for nomads. It’s also near Santiago, making it easy to fly in and out and access. There’s also Lago Peñuelas National Reserve nearby, though you’re never far from natural beauty when in Chile.
4. Istanbul, Turkey
One word that comes to mind when thinking about Istanbul is ‘buzzing’. Istanbul is a very vibrant and lively place to be, which is great for nomads that don’t mind a bit of hustle and bustle. Despite being a capital city, Istanbul is very affordable - even more so for Americans exchanging their strong USD for cheap, debased Turkish lira.
The Old City may not be the first thing that comes to mind for many nomads, but there is a decent community already existing there. It’s a great palace to meet other nomads, be it local or foreign.
Istanbul has an incredible cafe culture. Not just the world-class teas and coffee, all with an interesting local variation or method, but the WiFi and working environment are also great. Istanbul has a lot of accommodation options, and even has an e-visa valid for up to 3 months.
5. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia can often be overlooked by travelers heading to South East Asia, but Kuala Lumpur is a special place to be. The city has great infrastructure, making it easy to get around with modern accommodations and strong WiFi. It’s also a safe city.
Where Kuala Lumpur is truly unique is that it’s perhaps the most multicultural place in South East Asia. With leftovers of British colonialism and an influx of Indian, Bangladeshi, and Chinese immigrants, you’re left with wonderful food culture and some stunning architecture. Plus, it has some of the best Nepalese food in the SEA region.
Kuala Lumpur is cheap, safe, and has many co-working spaces. It’s a good in-between for those looking for South East Asian culture, but that is a little more accessible or European-like. It’s built up, but not too built up. There’s small, local authentic food, but there are also clean and tourist-friendly parks and skyscrapers.
For most digital nomads, they want to visit somewhere with an existing digital nomad community that isn’t overly saturated and lost its authenticity. This makes for a fun challenge, but every country has something to offer, and the above is a good balance of being affordable, authentic, and good networking. Some honorable mentions include Vilnius in Lithuania, Tirana in Albania, Tbilisi in Georgia, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Medellin in Columbia.