5 fun and affordable cities for working remotely
With the right location, it’s possible to actually spend less money traveling than you would at home. Better yet, if you can work remotely, you can stay for an extended time and save even more. This article will walk through the best locations across the world for working remotely on a budget.
There’s a lot to consider when picking a city for remote work. Usually, budget is the first thing people think about, however too often travelers will look only at flight costs without considering the cost of living at their destination. For a truly affordable long-term stay, you must find a healthy balance between cheap flights and an affordable cost of living.
This article will focus on cities that have an affordable cost of living, and have great amenities for remote workers and digital nomads, all while being fun for day-to-day life.
Another consideration to keep in mind when choosing your remote working location is the time zone. For example, if you work on EST and you’re looking to work from Portugal for a month, keep in mind there is a 5-hour difference. In Portugal, you will need to work 2 PM – 10 PM GMT+1 to stay in the eastern time zone.
Finally, you’ll want to consider internet speeds at your location. Some countries have better internet infrastructure than others. Trust me when I say this: unreliable internet will produce an anxiety-ridden remote work experience. An easy way to avoid this experience is to research WiFi speeds in the cities you are visiting. You can also reach out to your Airbnb host for details on their WiFi speed.
Without further ado, here are my top 5 choices for fun and affordable cities for remote work:
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Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
If you’re an American, you may never have heard of this small Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco, but let me tell you… it’s time to learn. Madeira competes with the natural beauty of Hawaii, whilst drenched in the ever-so lovely culture of Portugal. There’s cheap and delicious food, award-winning Coral beer, and friendly people across the island. Not to mention, Madeira has impressive infrastructure that rivals countries like Switzerland, with over 100 tunnels and many more bridges that interconnect the mountainous island. This infrastructure makes it easy to explore the hundreds of spine-tingling hikes and levadas (aqueduct walks) – I cannot recommend the Peak to Peak walk enough, you will remember it for the rest of your life.
Another highlight is the beautiful city of Funchal, a vertically built, classic European city. Something you’ll learn immediately in Madeira: there is no flat ground. They built the airport over the ocean because there was simply no other suitable flat land. That means that most cities on the island, including Funchal, are built right into the mountains. It makes for absolutely jaw-dropping views (and occasionally some curse-worthy walking). For the wandering entrepreneur, this place is paradise. The autonomous region has invested heavily in infrastructure for digital nomads – including free coworking spaces, lightning-fast wifi, and world-class communities that make digital nomading feel like study abroad all over again. Be sure to check out Digital Nomads Madeira and join their slack community!
I know most people don’t think about Barbados as an affordable location, but if you stay in the right part of the island and eat local, you can absolutely live comfortably on a budget. I know because I started Grovia in Barbados with almost no money to my name – Insider wrote an article about it
Oistins is my recommended city – it has uncrowded beaches, great food, fast wifi, affordable short-term rentals, and my all-time favorite nightlife: Oistins Fish Fry. Every Friday, people from across the country come to Oistins to eat fresh fish from local stands, listen to live music, and drink the all-mighty Banks beer. Oistins is the best place to escape the resort towns and indulge in the Bajan culture!
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo is a laid-back surfer town on the west coast of the country. It’s just over an hour’s drive from the Liberia airport and boasts fast internet, a safe and friendly digital nomad community, and beautiful beaches that are great for surfing. With Costa Rica’s attractive new Digital Nomad Visa, this city becomes a no-brainer. Pro tip: if you live on the west coast of the United States and have an Alaska Airlines credit card, this is the #1 best place to use your Companion Fare!
Prague, Czech Republic
Ahhh, the crisp, malty sip of a Czech pilsner. It should be any traveler’s first step once arrived in the fairy-tale land of Prague. I cannot get enough of that damn beer. I literally took a bath in it (I’ll spare you from the pictures).
Prague is lively, historical, inspiring, beautiful, and overflowing with cheap, delectable beer. I’m sorry, but if that doesn’t sound like a place you can call home, then perhaps you’re reading the wrong blog.
If you’re into premium co-working spaces, I recommend visiting both the WeWork and the Spaces locations in Prague – even if it’s just for a one-time day pass. You will be met with some of the most gorgeous views of Prague while you type away at your laptop.
Like many once-affordable places, Prague is getting more expensive every day. Yet, as of writing this, it’s still very accessible compared to some of the major western european cities. Affordable short-term rentals, reasonably priced food, and lovely public transportation make this a fantastic stop on any digital nomad’s itinerary.
Where the beer flows freely in Prague, wine flows freely in Porto. You have probably heard of Port wine, and you may not know that it all comes through Porto via the Douro river. The city is brimming full of delicious wine, fresh seafood, and mouth-watering red meat.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and feels like the trendy little sister of Lisbon. It’s growing fast. Portugal’s Golden Visa has made it an attractive location for real estate development, and it certainly feels like the whole city is always bustling with growth. The streets are filled with interesting, highly-educated people. The city center is full of theaters, museums, and stunning architecture. The Douro river cuts through town and provides glimmering views of Gaia – the home to many of the Port wine houses.
The city is affordable (for now), and is an eclectic destination for wandering entrepreneurs. Fun fact: it is believed that J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter in part during her stay in Porto. The inspiration is immediately apparent when walking by the long, black-robed students of the local university.