If you’re interested in living and working remotely around the world, then you’re probably wondering “what are the most popular destinations for digital nomads?”

Below we look at 3 of the most popular digital nomad cities in the world: Medellin (Colombia), Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Lisbon (Portugal). 

Each of these cities offer a unique set of attractions and benefits for nomads. That includes an affordable cost of living, a range of natural and cultural activities, an abundance of coworking spaces and thriving nomad communities. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to choose the best destination for a location independent lifestyle and at the top 3 nomad cities in more detail.

How to choose the best destination for a location independent lifestyle

When you are making a shortlist of countries in which you’d like to work and travel as a digital nomad, you may want to consider some of the factors that other digital nomads use to assess their options.

It may be tempting to just follow your heart and go wherever you want. But if you’re wanting to be compliant with local laws, you’ll need to figure out whether you can get a visa to work and live in another country.

It’s also smart to think ahead of the tax implications of where you choose to live and work. Some countries may require you to pay tax while working there and you could even end up in the unenviable position of owing double tax, depending on the taxation treaties that apply.

Further, you’ll want to make sure that the country you plan to live in suits you culturally and that there’s a thriving nomad community for you to network and socialize with.

A digital nomad working with her laptop outside.

Most nomads are also budget conscious and are looking for places that offer an affordable standard of living, as well as having great lifestyle options and standards of living. And of course, connectivity is vital for any nomad’s career – so checking internet availability, cost and speeds is another vital thing to put on your checklist.

Weather may also be a consideration, especially for places with extremes. And safety is also on the list of things to check before diving into a new location, as this can vary greatly around the world. 

In summary, here are the key factors to consider when choosing the best digital nomad location:

  • taxes
  • visas
  • culture and community
  • cost of living
  • connectivity
  • weather
  • safety

3 of the world’s most popular destinations for digital nomads

There are a growing number of digital nomad hotspots around the world. Some of the most popular destinations for digital nomads, which we look at in more detail below, include:

  • Medellín, Colombia
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Lisbon, Portugal

A view of Medellin, Colombia.

Medellín, Colombia

The South American city of Medellin in Colombia is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads. Its vibrant and friendly culture, affordable cost of living, abundance of coworking spaces and networking opportunities for nomads, exciting nightlife, and range of accommodation are all attractive features of living there.

With its recently introduced 2-year digital nomad visa, it’s now easier to organize living there as a nomad. And there are many attractions nearby including museums, parks, botanical gardens, restaurants and bars. 

However, crime is one of the major drawbacks to living in Medellin, even though it’s much safer than it was some years ago. 

Snapshot of factors to consider as a digital nomad living in Medellín, Colombia:

  • Tax: If you stay in Colombia more than 183 days, you’ll be considered a tax resident and will owe tax there
  • Visa: Digital nomad visa available for up to 2 years (you must have a health insurance policy and can only stay 180 days a year in Colombia at most)
  • Culture & community: Wide range of coworking spaces in Medellín as well as a thriving nomad community
  • Cost of living: Affordable at US$1520/month (according to NomadList)
  • Connectivity: Good, but slow internet
  • Weather: Warm year-round
  • Safety: Crime is still an issue in Colombia and is one of the drawbacks of living there

A view of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Asian city of Chiang Mai in Thailand is a trendy and popular nomad hub

Chiang Mai boasts a wide range of coworking facilities, restaurants, cafes and fast internet speeds. It’s generally a safe city to live in (although it does have bad air quality) and is known for being a chilled and relaxing place to live. 

The city is surrounded by natural beauty with nearby forests and mountains and is filled with many interesting cultural places to visit. 

It’s also particularly attractive to nomads because of its very affordable cost of living, range of accommodation options, warm tropical weather and the fact that Thailand has launched a new 10-year long term residence visa. 

Snapshot of factors to consider as a digital nomad living in Chiang Mai, Thailand:

  • Tax: The new long term residence visa offers tax benefits including exclusion of foreign-earned income and a lower tax rate in Thailand
  • Visa: Thailand has just introduced a new 10-year ‘golden visa’ or long-term residence visa which may suit wealthy and highly skilled nomads 
  • Culture & community: Great, with an abundance of coworking spaces, coffee shops, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs
  • Cost of living: Affordable at US$1209/mo for digital nomads (according to NomadList)
  • Connectivity: Fast internet
  • Weather: Warm and tropical, can be humid and rainy at times
  • Safety: Good

A view of Lisbon, Portugal.

Lisbon, Portugal

This Western European capital city is situated along the coast and is a bustling and popular city among nomads and location independent professionals. 

Lisbon boasts world-class business facilities, fast internet, good transport links, a Mediterranean climate, good safety and an affordable cost of living compared with many other European cities.

It’s also surrounded by stunning beaches, hills and cultural attractions, and has a range of accommodation and coworking spaces to choose from. 

Many nomads live and work in Lisbon on a D7 visa and excitingly, a new Portugal digital nomad visa is expected to launch soon. 

Snapshot of factors to consider as a digital nomad living in Lisbon, Portugal

  • Tax: For nomads who apply for and receive ‘non-habitual resident’ status in Portugal, there are some tax benefits including not having to pay tax on fireign-earned income as well as paying a lower tax rate
  • Culture & community: Living in Lisbon as a digital nomad offers a vibrant culture and an excellent range of coworking facilities and opportunities to network for entrepreneurs, expats and nomads
  • Cost of living: Good, at US$ 3381/mo (according to NomadList)
  • Connectivity: Good, fast internet
  • Weather: Mediterranean climate
  • Safety: Good

Three people with surfboards on a beach.

Final thoughts on the best cities to live and work as a digital nomad

The rise of digital nomadism has meant that more cities around the world are becoming hubs for location independent and remote working professionals. 

Medellin, Chiang Mai and Lisbon are just 3 of a growing list of popular digital nomad hubs. Their popularity is based on a range of factors including an affordable cost of living, good weather, connectivity, the ease of getting a working visa, tax benefits for nomads, safety, and a thriving nomad community.