Our Expert Guide to the Best Digital Nomad Destinations
The top places to set up life and work abroad
While all the talk during the pandemic was of being grounded, isolated and cut off from the world, many were already right where they wanted to be. Life is a holiday, when you’re a digital nomad. Well, not quite a holiday, as the digital part of the title suggest they have to work...but at least they’re able to live out their dreams by earning a living abroad. According to a report by MBO Partners, 4.8 million Americans today consider themselves digital nomads, and the figure is rising fast. So, where will you move to in order to join the craze? We’ll be looking at several factors when picking digital nomad destinations. Climate, beauty and location all come into play, while the ease of learning the language (or the proficiency of the locals in English) makes for a linguistic cherry on top. Affordability is another important aspect. Most digital nomads work online, so their earning power doesn’t change in each city, while the price of local goods and one’s ability to enjoy the region’s upscale gems varies quite dramatically. So, we at Plum Guide have done the hard work, and pooled together some of our favourite spots for digital nomads to reside.
Stay long-term in Berlin
Despite being the capital city, Berlin is one of the most affordable places to move to in Germany, making it one of the best digital nomad destinations. Its cultural and historical highlights dating back to the time before the wall fell also make this city an intriguing and unforgettable choice for a place to stay as a digital worker. While German isn’t the easiest language to learn (Mark Twain coined it ‘the awful German language’), the city has a thriving international culture with many locals speaking perfect English. That said, there are still enough locals who don’t communicate in the Sprache of Shakespeare that you have ample opportunity to practice your Deutsch while there. Countless hip and trendy cafés serve as hubs for hungry freelancers, laptops out on tables as they tackle a slice of apple strudel. While in the city, check out the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building (register online to see the dome) and the Museum Island.
Live a life of luxury in Lisbon
Portugal is the on-trend country of choice for digital nomads. In fact, its year-on-year growth for foreigners living there has set records in recent years, while it appears that around 80% of those new to the country are between 25 and 44. This makes them prime suspects as wanderers who work on the web (or digital nomads). Like Berlin, Lisbon is (for now), very much affordable relative to other capital cities in Europe. The language is probably not quite as daunting as German, although some of the pronunciations and spellings are a little more complex than the idioma of neighbouring Spain might seem to English ears. Practice your Portuguese, as you wander through the quaint neighbourhood of Alfama or take an old-world tram up the alleys of the Bairro Alto. Head west to Sintra for the majestic castles and beaches, stopping in at the Convento dos Capuchos and the Palácio & Parque de Monserrate.
Book a long trip to Barcelona
Hey, do you like surrealist gothic architecture? You do, huh? Well, you’ll feel right at home in Barcelona. It’s not bad at all in terms of affordability, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a Gaudí (the architect) dream (or nightmare, depending on your taste). Admire the iconic gothic features of the Cathedral of Barcelona (it’s been under construction for a million years, so it better be worth it), and hang around the otherworldly works of art in the Park Güell. Work on your tan down at the beach or watch a game at the world-famous Camp Nou Stadium. Oh, and put down those Spanish translation books…the locals speak Catalan and can sometimes get a little uppity at the sound of Spanish. Well, most do understand and speak it, so maybe a few phrases won’t go amiss.
Leave city life behind at the Canary Islands
If you’re looking for something different, away from city life, why not fly out (in a plane, that is) to the Canary Islands. You’ll still want to be vaguely connected to the world, with strong Wi-Fi and a host of cultural activities to do during down time, so Las Palmas makes for one of the best digital nomad destinations around. The weather is mild-to-hot, the city is affordable and the language is – finally – Spanish. We’d say that it’s the easiest of the languages we’ve mentioned today for English natives, so get learning. That said, there’s a lot of English going around these parts too. Visit the Pueblo Canario for an insight into a typical old Canarian village, and relax on one of the many sandy strands. You may want to stay in the upmarket Ciudad Jardín district that was set up by the British in the late 1800s.
Live a sustainable lifestyle in Greece
Greece is arguably becoming the place for all digital nomads looking for their next stop. The Greek government recently announced that they are planning on bringing in a special visa, allowing internationals engaged in remote jobs to work from Greece. It comes with tax incentives to support those opting for the modern way of earning, so any fears of sustainability will be eased significantly. As well as that, it is also still Greece, so there really doesn't seem to be a downside to this plan. Whether you're taking in the history of Athens, discovering the ancient theatre of Epidaurus or working from a boat on the Aegean, your time will be well spent. The language is tricky, but that just makes it even sweeter when you finally learn how to say 'I want to to stay here forever'.
Earn with confidence in Croatia
Like Greece, Croatia liked the idea of introducing a special digital nomad visa, and implemented it from January 1st 2021. The visa allows remote workers from outside the EU (yep, that includes the UK now) to gain a one-year permanent residence, and omits them from having to pay any income tax. Sounds good, right? Well, it'll sound even better when you remember that Croatia is also full of beaches. Who would want to work from an office when instead you can earn money while dipping your toes in the Adriatic? And if you get bored of lounging around on the beach every day (is that possible?), then instead spend a day as a tourist. Visit Diocletian's Palace or Amphitheatre de Pula, and wonder why it's taken you so long to discover the digital nomad lifestyle.