What is a digital nomad exactly? Not yet acknowledged by Webster's Dictionary, Investopedia describes the term as "people who are location- independent and use technology to perform their job..." and Springer Link has written a paper, summarizing the concept with "those who work while traveling and travel while working". Regardless of your definition, the idea has been loosely defined since 1997. I don't work in technology per se, but I do use technology to provide services in economic and business development, and have been doing so for a number of decades. Long before our current pandemic made the idea a top discussion amongst thousands of those newly sanctioned to work from home indefinitely.
I have been honored to work in a number of locations around the globe. My top three locations are listed below - are there more options to discover? You betch'ya! AND just because these are my favorites, they may not work for you. Being in my 50's, I am much older than the typical Digital Nomad, which means my perfect environment may not be the same for everyone. Ease of connectivity is of course number one in my book. I also want a destination which has great public transportation or is walkable and is dog friendly. A quick google search will show you that places like Bali and Thailand are very popular destinations for the nomad, neither of these remotely interest me. High heat and humidity are the last things I want to work in. Lot's of green space for outdoor pursuits with temperate weather, is much more my style.
#3 - RENO, Nevada USA
This mid size city found in the high Sierra's is a dream location, not only for those who work from home, but also for a potential partner who may want a more traditional job. Heaps of employment options in the greater Reno / Sparks area with high tech and corporations like Tesla, clamoring to make this location their home. Wi-Fi is fast and reliable, there is a super local bus company providing transportation around the region, and there are literally hundreds of miles of bike paths through the city; you can even ride from Lake Pyramid which is north west of the city by about 40 miles, all the way to Lake Tahoe, which is just west of Reno by about 45 miles. Yes, that Lake Tahoe - the blue gem of the States, the largest alpine lake in North America, surrounded by over a dozen ski resorts and straddling both California and Nevada.
- international airport
- lot's of activities, including; museums, galleries, hiking, biking, skiing
- University, Colleges and a lot of employement options
- safe and easy to get around, though a car is recommended
- numerous broadband options
- several co - work space opportunities
- a number of live performance locations which draw big names
- the Truckee River flows through downtown offering swimming, tubing, kayaking
- Lake Tahoe and California Wine Regions are a short drive
- housing is limited and very expensive
- a vehicle is recommended if you are going to take advantage of all there is to offer in the region
- a lot of casino's and associated mental health challenges
- snow...well this is actually a PRO for me, but many other's will find it as a CON, your choice
#2 GUANAJUATO, Mexico
Also a mid size city located in the mountains of North America, though this time in Mexico; about 2,000 additional feet above Reno, coming in at 6,500. Many American's especially, will go on and on about San Miguel D'Allende as their favorite Mexican mountain town, which is about 90 minutes away, but I much prefer Guanajuato. It's a University Town for sure, with just under 34,000 students from around the globe taking part in the classes here. With the City of Leon about thirty minutes away offering a large international airport, the altitude subscribing to pleasant and sunny mild year round temp's in the high 70's during the day, and a variety of cultural experiences, this is by far my favorite place to work for extended periods in Mexico.
- culturally diverse with a large number of residents speaking English
- numerous educational opportunities
- easy to walk everywhere and surrounded by mountains which to hike
- long term visa's are relatively easy to come by
- incredible food and fresh market's located around the city
- inexpensive (You can easily live here, quite nicely, for less than $1000 USD per month)
- safe with super fast internet found everywhere
- historically and architecturally stunning
- it can be difficult assimilating into a different language and culture
- potential language barriers
- utilities and infrastructure may not be up to the standards you are used to
- mail and shopping may not be what you are used to
#1 LONDON, Great Britain
You would think a gal who grew up in the Pacific Northwest with rain 300 plus days per year, would not embrace yet another dark and dreary global location, but London is by far and away, my top pick, and I would head back without a moments hesitation. A very large city with extended villages comprising of over 14 million people. Exceedingly dog friendly with public transport easily accessible everywhere, no car needed, ever. I lived in Hampton, a village about 45 minutes by train to the heart of London. The best of city and country life for sure. The river Thames was a couple blocks away, and everything I needed was within a short walk, including the train station. JeliBën was allowed in pubs, on busses and trains and generally accepted anywhere I went. Yup, it rains. BUT the amount of museums, sporting events, galleries, pubs and historic destinations far outnumbered getting wet on occasion. Parks everywhere, and as an island, Great Britain has hundreds of miles of shoreline, much of which, within a couple hour train ride. I could never tire of the history and architecture which came with super fast and affordable internet connections. Numerous large international airports with super inexpensive flights getting you to the Mediterranean Sea or the ski slopes of Austria, sometimes in less than an hour.
- any and every kind of entertainment or cultural experience can be found
- huge variety of musuems and galleries
- no language barriers
- easy and abundant transport
- dog friendly
- accessiblity to all of Europe via train or flights
- ton's of educational access points with Universities and Colleges everywhere
- super fast, reliable and inexpensive broadband options
- as an American, it is difficult to attain a long stay visa
- housing is expensive
- temperate year round with damp winters
Runners up? Yes! These options are also favorites. Plovidv, Bulgaria; considered one of the oldest cities in Europe and an absolute gem filled with incredible architecture and eclectic shops and galleries within old town. Just about anywhere in Spain, but specifically the Costa del Sol region. The friendliest of people with wonderful food and stunning pueblo's blancos. Both of which offer language challenges, especially the former, which also has a completely different alphabet to learn as well. I enjoyed my time in both countries immensely, so did JeliBën. Also considered Eastern Europe, Croatia has much to offer the nomad. All of these locations can have challenges for long term visa's, however because of the influx of pandemic related work from home options, many countries and states are offering incentives to spend some time in their locations. I would expect to see more of these options in the near future.
A lot of information and still so much of the globe to explore.
There are a number of places I have visited, but have not lived, they are certainly on my list to return to, places like Laos, New Zealand, Taos and Vietnam.
I can also attest to having spent heaps of time in Australia, an amazing destination, but the worst wi-fi on the planet. Happy to suggest locations to explore, especially in Western Australia, my personal favorite, but definitely NOT for remote work.
As always, I would love to hear about YOUR favorite locations to work remotely and how you are managing your work / social life, during this pandemic.
Be safe, be well, looking forward to hearing from you and your adventures.