Best Cities for Remote Workers in 2018
As a remote worker, the world is your oyster. You can work anywhere in the world - but what cities are actually best for your lifestyle? These are our 2018 picks.
Location independence is an emerging lifestyle pioneered by a growing group of nontraditional thinkers. In a recent study by Remote Year and And Co, 24% of respondents that worked remotely considered themselves “digital nomads”, with 17% of those saying that they traveled to five or more countries every year.
When it comes to their on-the-go lifestyle, remote workers have two primary things on their minds: where will I live and work and what city has the infrastructure for me to get my job done?
These questions are essential to a successful remote work experience, as not every city is designed to be remote work-friendly. While setting up shop in the world’s most remote locations may be feasible for a short period of time, to be an effective remote worker you need access to high-speed Wi-Fi, a community to network within, and copious amounts of coffee.
With that being said, we’ve tapped into our community of remote workers to bring you the list of the best destinations for remote workers in 2018. Add these places to your list of “can’t-miss” cities, or pack your bag, book a flight and hit the road. We’ll see you there.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is known as a melting pot of cultures, a place where choosing what type of cuisine you want to indulge in can be one of the day’s most difficult decisions. Thai food? Chinese? Indian? The world is your oyster. Literally.
In Kuala Lumpur you’ll find all of the necessary amenities available to you,including fast Wi-Fi, a diverse community of inspiring employees, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and expats, as well as access to great public transportation.
When you’re not on the clock, Kuala Lumpur is the jumping off point for weekend trips to incredible places like Bali, Penang, and the Perhentian islands. This is a great way to embrace the perks that come with location independence and explore beyond the city limits to make the most of your journey.
Remote Year participants say: “The combination of different cultures you will find in Kuala Lumpur is an experience like no other.”
If you’re keen on the collision between storied culture and modern innovation, head on over to Chiang Mai, Thailand. The readers of Travel + Leisure recently named it the best city in Asia and the second best city in the world - and we can see why.
Food and friendliness reign supreme in Chiang Mai, which is why many remote workers decide to make it their temporary homebase, whether they’re traveling on their own or with a group. It’s a great place to find your remote tribe if you’re missing a bit of human companionship. Grab a few of your newfound friends and head out to find some grub. Eat the khao soi, eat the curry, eat the sai ua. Eat it all.
To get your taste of Thai culture when you’re not working away at your laptop, you can visit the local temples that hold thousands of years of history. This is one of those cities that will make you take a look around and say, “Is this real life?”
Remote Year participants say: “Chiang Mai is an oasis to ground your senses and find your chi. Love this place because you can maintain a great work-travel balance.”
Fast-paced energy pulsates through Hanoi, Vietnam, which makes it perfect for adventurous remote workers. With hundreds of motorbikes, cars, and trucks racing through the streets at all times, you’re reminded that everyone has a goal, a plan, somewhere to be. And, for now, your place is here.
Hanoi is a perfect combination of oxymorons. Its bustling streets contrast with its slow coffee culture, where patrons sip egg coffees in cafés at their leisure. Traditional values are held close to the heart, while residents simultaneously embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. You’ll find plenty of other location independent professionals joining you in Hanoi, as it is affordable, culturally-significant, and not overrun by tourists. Consider this city a secret remote worker paradise.
Remote Year participants say: “Hanoi is loud, chaotic, hot, rainy, humid, sticky, and occasionally smelly. It’s also surprising, welcoming, fast-paced, delicious, friendly, challenging in the best way, beautiful, affordable, and always exciting.”
Santiago, Chile is an up-and-coming city in the world of location independence. Cosmopolitan, with a signature Latin American flair, this city holds everything a worldly digital nomad looks for in their next destination.
Spend some time exploring the revamped art scene, taking in the perspectives of Chileans who are finally getting the chance to share their stories with the world. You’ll be surrounded by picturesque mountains immersed in nature, while enjoying the perks of being in a modern city.
There’s no end to the inspiration that you’ll feel in Santiago. From beautifully organized greenspaces to performing arts centers to rival the world’s most well-known metropolises, this is the city to choose if you’re searching for a spark of genius.
Remote Year participants say: “Santiago was one of the best stops this year. The city was a great place to live for the month. The country was awesome and my side trip down the coast was magical. I can't think of anything that could be done to improve my time there, except add more time maybe.”
Medellín, Colombia is known for its past as a city in turmoil, and for its present as a city focused on renewal. If you’re looking for a place to live and work that enjoys spring-like weather year round, Medellín could be the one for you.
Paisas (a phrase used to describe people or things from Medellín) are strong-willed and resilient, bringing their beloved city back to life after years of violence and upheaval. Because of their determination, Medellín is booming with creative professionals, entrepreneurs, and others who are enjoying a location independent lifestyle.
Remote Year participants say: “I still cannot believe the beautiful jungle landscape that covered Medellín. It was one of the most green and unexpected places that I visited.”
Mexico City is a favorite among Remote Year participants. It’s thriving with diversity, creativity, and contagious energy, beckoning to those who are looking for a unique, cultural experience while they work toward their professional goals.
CDMX (the abbreviation for Mexico City) is a hub for innovation, whether that is in healthy living, traditional and contemporary cuisine, or urban development. You’ll be surrounded by art, both historic and modern, that draws on the iconic past of the sprawling metropolis.
For those who are looking for an experience that’s a little less high-brow, we present to you: the taco scene. No matter where you turn, you’re sure to find a food truck or a restaurant that’s doing tacos a little differently. Our advice: try them all.
It’s safe to say that this is the place to be, no matter your industry, if you’re looking to be a part of a cultural revolution.
Remote Year participants say: “Mexico City is raw, vibrant and alive. It took me some time to get used to it, but by the end, I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people.”
In Lisbon, Portugal you’ll quickly get used to climbing up hills, but not without reward. Beautiful architecture will become a part of that daily commute to work, whether you’re headed to a coworking space or a local spot with great Wi-Fi.
No matter what time of year you’re in Lisbon, it’s likely that the sun will be shining, filling you with unavoidable positivity and energy to take on the day. Indulge in the seafood and embrace the slower pace of life. You’re here to work, but you’re also here to find a better balance. Spend some time wandering around Lisbon’s beautiful streets and reflect on your larger purpose.
Remote Year participants say: “Lisbon is super busy so there is always something to do. Do your research beforehand so you don't miss out on day trips, places to see, things to do. There seem to be concerts and festivals most days. Great place for foodies, many beautiful rooftop bars/restaurants. Stunning view points. Get fit for the hills!”
Valencia, Spain might be one of the least-surprising cities on this list, but its obviousness warrants its inclusion. Its many amenities offer remote workers a quality of life that is impossible to overstate. Valencia is filled with both engineered greenspace and easy access to nature’s own gift to the city: the sea.
Other ways to live like a local: eat tapas, embrace the siesta, and soak up the sun at the beach. You’ll find that when your lifestyle is this good, you’ll work harder to ensure that you can maintain it.
Remote Year participants say: “Whether you're simply strolling the streets of the Old Town, cooling down in the refreshing waters of the Mediterranean, running in the undulating (and totally ingenious) Turia Park, gawking at the otherworldly City of Arts & Sciences complex, or eating a traditional paella in its birthplace, Valencia literally has it all.”
When you’re deciding which city to live and work in, keep these picks at the top of your list. Or, better yet, make it a point to visit all of them at some point or another. Every city has its own unique flavor, its own special story to tell, and you’re not going to want to miss out on a single moment.