Best Places for American Digital Nomads [research]


The digital nomad lifestyle has become even more attractive in the aftermath of COVID-19 as working online has become more popular and doable even in industries otherwise regarded as office dependent. We’re seeing an increase in medics practicing telemedicine, lawyers offering advice online, and realtors taking buyers on virtual tours, and much of this work can be done anywhere there’s a good internet connection.

As travel bans are eased and borders open again, digital nomads can start exploring and enjoying the world once more. But where should you go? To give you a head start if you’re thinking of joining this wanderer cohort, we’ve asked globe-trotters to share their opinions about the best places to stop and smell the roses, all the while working to keep the economy alive and well. The map below shows the top ten most popular, with Colombia’s Medellín standing out as the must-go place for digital nomads.

When zooming in on the originating states of American travelers, our research revealed that New Yorkers and Californians are most eager to jump on the digital nomad wagon, with 18% and 15% respectively of our survey respondents coming from these two states. As for the destinations they favor, New Yorkers are drawn to exotic locations like Playa del Carmen but far-off, culture-infused places like Tbilisi are also on their radar. Californians express an interest in historic European cities such as Prague and Dubrovnik but are also drawn to sun and sand destinations.

Best Global Destinations: Da Nang, Cancún & Mérida Help Nomads Chill and Save Their Dollars

Places like Medellín, Chiang Mai, Bali, and Lisbon are popular, which is no surprise as they have great weather and plenty of natural and cultural attractions. But we wanted to find out if they really are the best ones for digital nomads in the aftermath of the pandemic that changed the world. Starting with the recommended locations provided by our survey respondents and using data coming from several reputable sources, we used 20 metrics based on criteria we had ascertained to evaluate 100 popular nomad destinations. Five criteria concerned cost of living expenses, including accommodation and dining costs; seven concerned the infrastructure a digital nomad needs to work, including internet speed and availability, coworking costs and healthcare; three related to culture, including the extent to which English is spoken locally; and then there were three about lifestyle, plus metrics for air quality and people density (important when social distancing is recommended). The final ranking, along with some of the most important criteria, is shown in the graphic below.

The high placing of Latin American resorts, such as Cancún and Mérida in Mexico and Costa Rica’s Sámara, indicates a sunny and well-developed tourist resort will provide what US nomads want — and thanks to their time zones there’ll be no need to take a conference call at 2am.