Being a ‘digital nomad’ – someone who travels and works remotely – is a growing trend. It’s not without its challenges, but many people are still nonetheless attracted to the lifestyle for the freedom, flexibility and work-life balance that it offers.
Also, if you can work anywhere that has Wi-Fi, then you can work close to the beach if you want, and move around so that you’re always in a place where the sun is shining.
The greatest obstacle in becoming a digital nomad is, of course, being able to earn enough from online work so that the lifestyle is sustainable, and not a cause for constant stress and worry. But once you’ve jumped over this hurdle, you then have the opportunity to travel to so many places all over the globe.
So where should you go?
You can work anywhere that has a reliable internet connection (which doesn’t limit you that much). However, some countries are renowned for fast internet, while others are infamous for frustratingly slow internet.
In addition, some cities are amazingly cheap to live in, while others are notoriously expensive. Essentially, some cities are more digital nomad-friendly than others. And there are three cities in Southeast Asia in particular that stand out as top destinations for remote workers.
1. Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand in the north, is regularly touted as the best city in the world for digital nomads. It’s crazy cheap, first of all. You can easily find apartments for under £100 a month. Think about that for a second. £100 a month, with bills included, to have your own studio apartment.
Admittedly, at that price it’s not going to be super luxurious, but when compared to the cost of rent in the UK (London especially), it’s pretty good going!
Chiang Mai has some great co-working spaces, such as Punspace, StarWork and M-A-N-A. Again, since the city is so affordable, you can buy a monthly membership for a coworking space without breaking the bank (like you would do in the UK). Food is also incredibly cheap. You can eat delicious Thai food every day, with meals costing no more than £2.
Chiang Mai is a great hub for exploring some beautiful spots in the north of Thailand, including Pai, Chiang Rai, Chiang Dao, Mae Hong Son, Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep.
Thailand’s capital Bangkok should also be included as a quality digital nomad destination. If you’re a big city person and want nightlife, then you might find yourself getting a tad bored in Chiang Mai since, in comparison to Bangkok, it’s a very small city. And there’s not much in the way of clubbing.
Some coworking spaces worth checking out include The Hive Thonglor, HUBBA Thailand, Mint WorkLounge and Launchpad.
What’s also great about being based on Bangkok is that you can easily travel throughout the rest of Southeast Asia, with budget airlines taking you to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia for under £100 return.
Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali in Indonesia. Made famous by the book and film Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud attracts yoga enthusiasts, honeymooners, families, backpackers, and digital nomads.
Although not quite as cheap as Chiang Mai, according to Nomadlist you can live as a digital nomad in Ubud for about £750 a month. Which isn’t bad! The most popular coworking space in Ubud is Hubud, with some digital nomads saying it’s the best one in all of Asia.
And if you’re a nature lover, then there really is no better place to be than Bali. If you’re based in Ubud, you can rent a scooter and check out lush rice paddy fields or verdant mountains and volcanoes further up north. Ubud and the rest of Bali is also dotted with many important temples (such as Gunung Kawi and Tirta Empul) which are definitely worth checking out.
Everyone has different preferences, so many digital nomads may not rate Chiang Mai, Bangkok or Ubud very highly as digital nomad cities. However, if you’re after affordability, good food and plenty of opportunities for exploration, then they could be the perfect destinations for you.
Sam Woolfe writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse their graduate jobs London listings, visit their website. For senior roles, see the Inspiring Search page.