Being able to combine travel and work has long been a dream scenario for many people. In the past, that has meant finding a job with travel opportunities. But over the last decade, an entirely new way of achieving this lifestyle has been born. Working for yourself, not an employer and using technology to earn a living that is not dependent on where in the world you are. This is the definition of a digital nomad. Perhaps it’s no surprise that we are becoming more comfortable with this scenario when, according to Forbes, 35% of the US workforce was already working on a freelance basis by 2016. We’ve got increasingly used to working for ourselves, so why not take the logical next step to enjoy the benefits of that freedom.
There are some personal traits and experience that are essential to making a success of a digital nomad lifestyle. Firstly, you need to be confident and self-motivated as you have no manager or team giving you structure or support. Secondly, you need to have in-demand skills and be able to sell them effectively to keep new customers and work coming your way. If you have a successful career background and a network of contacts, that’s going to make it much easier than relying on making new contacts wherever you go.
But if you have the right skills and attitude the opportunities to be a successful digital nomad are amazing. As well as what you bring to the party as an individual, your success and enjoyment of living as a digital nomad are also going to be dictated to some degree by your environment. There are a few key influencing factors that you’re going to want to ensure are in place. These are things such as cost, internet access, safety, language/cultural considerations and overall quality of life.
Clearly, you’re not going to embark on a period of time in a new country if you think it’s going to be too stressful financially or emotionally. The beauty of the nomad lifestyle is that, if you do find challenges to be too much, you can always move on, but there is cost and hassle associated with doing that repeatedly, so you’re going to want to find the continent or region that works best for you.
Asia is the birthplace of digital nomadism because it offers the best combination of positive environmental factors, being cheap to live with excellent internet infrastructure and regions which are both safe and fun to live in. Let’s take a look at some of the popular Asian cities to live as a digital nomad:
The top 15 cities in Asia, as ranked by Nomadlist, are:
- Chiang Mai – Thailand
- Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam
- Da Lat – Vietnam
- Hoi An – Vietnam
- Chongqing – China
- Kathmandu – Nepal
- Yogyakarta – Indonesia
- Nanchang – China
- Chengdu – China
- Nha Trang – Vietnam
- Kuching – Malaysia
- Bandung – Indonesia
- Sanur – Bali, Indonesia
- Thiruvananthapuram – India
- Hanoi – Vietnam
This list contains something for everyone, from major metropolitan centers like Ho Chi Minh City with a population of over 8 million people to much smaller cities like Chiang Mai or Yogyakarta with just a few hundred thousand.
One of the key aspects to being a digital nomad in Asia in 2018 is that these places have developed, not just great infrastructure but thriving nomad communities with co-living and co-working spaces developed especially for the lifestyle.
Every one of the cities on our list offers something different, Kathmandu may not have the best internet speeds but is a friendly place with English being fairly widely spoken, something you may find more challenging if you opt for a Chinese city for example. Da Lat, offers exceptional value for money on accommodation but lacks the nightlife you’d enjoy in larger cities.
The fact is that a digital nomad lifestyle is what you make it, whether you choose to spend weeks or years in each location. But unless your mission is to travel as extensively as possible, you may find spending some time in different cities within a particular region or country allows you to get comfortable with the local lifestyle and customs more easily. In that case, looking at Asia as a starting point may well give you an ideal starting point to define your own way of living as a digital nomad.
We understand the importance of a secure and reliable internet connection wherever you are. You can stay connected for work anywhere in the world by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time). Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack!