7 Cheap Places Where Digital Nomads Can Live and Work Remotely

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Imagine breaking free of the shackles of cubicle life and working from the beaches of Thailand or the cafes of Portugal. This doesn’t have to be just a fantasy; if you work for yourself or can get your employer to agree to let you telecommute, these countries and five others are the best places for remote workers to live — or at least to travel to on an extended working vacation.

Their low cost of living means your earnings go further as a digital nomad, and you can more easily afford to save money than while living in America.

How we chose the best countries to work remotely

  • Cost of living: Some of the most popular travel destinations in the world are also some of the most expensive, so remote workers on a budget need to find a place with a low cost of living and affordable housing. We evaluated the 2018 Cost of Living Index by InterNations, a global expat network. We also looked at their index of the best and worst cities for expats, which factors in numerous other financial aspects and quality of life.
  • Safety: Unfortunately, some countries that have a low cost of living also have higher levels of poverty and crime. We reviewed Gallup’s index of the safest — and least secure — countries. While Mexico had the second lowest cost of living in InterNations’ ranking, it also showed up on Gallup’s list as the country with the ninth worst “law and order” ranking in the world, so we removed it from consideration. We also looked at the International SOS map of countries with travel risks and eliminated countries with risk ratings of medium or higher, such as Colombia and the Philippines. We only kept destinations with no or low risk to travelers since it’s not optimal to stress about your safety while working abroad as a digital nomad.
  • Internet speed: For digital nomads and other remote workers, a solid internet connection isn’t optional. So we reviewed an index by British company Cable.co.uk of countries with the fastest upload and download speeds. We also looked at a list of countries with the best Wi-Fi compiled by telecommunications company Ooma.

Best places to work remotely

1. Taiwan
2. Thailand
3. Bulgaria
4. Vietnam
5. Portugal
6. Malaysia
7. Ecuador

1. Taiwan

Why it’s the best: With the world’s fastest internet, low cost of living and no visa requirement, Taiwan tops the list for the best places to live for digital nomads.

Digital nomads require reliable internet, which can be harder to find in less developed (and more affordable) countries. But Taiwan’s technology infrastructure is on point: According to Cable.co.uk’s analysis, this East Asian country has the fastest internet speeds in the world. Taiwan also has dozens upon dozens of coworking spaces, making it an ideal location for digital nomads who want to get outside of their Airbnb or hotel room and meet locals.

Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is ranked by InterNations as the top international city for expats due to its high quality of life, affordable housing and a great work/life balance. In its cost of living index, InterNations ranked Taiwan as the 10th most affordable country in the world. You also don’t need a visa if you’re an American traveler staying for less than 90 days, making the logistics of traveling easier than many other countries in Asia.

2. Thailand

Why it’s among the best: Affordable living, beautiful scenery and a large expat community make Thailand a popular destination for digital nomads.

Postcard-worthy beaches, delicious street food and a huge expat community; what more could you ask for in a location for digital nomads? Chiang Mai has been a popular spot for travel bloggers and digital nomads for many years, in large part due to its low cost of living and large expat community. In the InterNations index for cost of living, Thailand comes in fourth worldwide, so if you’re earning American dollars from remote work, your money will go far here.

You won’t need a tourist visa if you stay for less than 30 days, though you can easily get one for two or three months if you’d like to stay longer. While its internet speeds aren’t remarkable, they have been increasing more quickly than most other countries, according to Ooma.

3. Bulgaria

Why it’s among the best: This underestimated country has the lowest cost of living worldwide and some of the fastest internet speeds.

Bulgaria may not be the first place you think of for a journey abroad, but this Eastern European gem is a wonderful place to work overseas and stretch your dollars. Of all nations worldwide, InterNations found that as of 2018, Bulgaria has the very lowest cost of living, which will make it easy to save money. Additionally, Ooma ranks Bulgaria as one of the top 20 countries in the world with the best public Wi-Fi. No tourist visa is required if you stay for under 90 days.

Bulgaria is known for its gorgeous coastline along the Black Sea in addition to picturesque mountains where you can go skiing. The country has a diverse population and is rich in history and stunning architecture. Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, is a busy urban destination that makes it one of the best cities for digital nomads. It also has a unique East-meets-West feel due to its Soviet-Era history.

4. Vietnam

Why it’s among the best: Vietnam is popular among digital nomads for its affordability and friendly locals — not to mention its yummy cuisine.

In the InterNations index, Vietnam is ranked as the country with the third lowest cost of living, meaning a little money goes a long way here for digital nomads. The organization also ranked one of Vietnam’s major cities, Ho Chi Minh City, as the third best city in the world for expats, in large part due to its affordable housing and friendly population.

While it’s not ranked as high on the internet speed charts, Vietnam is one of the countries with the fastest internet growth speeds in recent years, according to Ooma. Note that you are required to obtain a visa to enter the country, adding a little bit of a headache factor, but it’s a beloved place for American travelers that’s considered low risk by International SOS.

5. Portugal

Why it’s among the best: This gorgeous country is the most affordable in Western Europe, with excellent internet quality, many coworking spaces and delicious food and wine.

As a Western European country, Portugal is a little more expensive than some of the others on the list. But according to the InterNations cost of living index, Portugal is the most affordable country in Western Europe, coming in as the country with the 11th lowest cost of living worldwide (just before Spain). Additionally, it’s one of the top 20 countries with the best public Wi-Fi, according to Ooma, and in the Cable.co.uk analysis, it was the nation with the 32nd fastest broadband speed worldwide, so you shouldn’t run into internet issues here. No visas are needed for visits to Portugal under 90 days.

The country is known for its mild, sunny weather, hundreds of miles of coastline and beaches, delicious cuisine (lots of seafood!) and superb wines, including its famous port. Lisbon, the colorful capital of Portugal, is ranked by InterNations as the sixth best city in the world for expats and is teeming with jaw-dropping architecture, art and historical sites.

As an emerging tech and startup hub, Portugal has an increasing number of coworking spaces that make it one of the best places for digital nomads.

6. Malaysia

Why it’s among the best: Malaysia is a culturally rich country with affordable living and the bustling, modern metropolis of Kuala Lumpur.

While you may be drawn to the beaches of Southeast Asia, the country of Malaysia also has much to offer digital nomads. Kuala Lumpur, the modern capital of Malaysia, is ranked by InterNations as the second best city in the world for expats, partly due to the ease of getting settled there and affordable housing options. There are also numerous coworking options in the area.

Malaysia also has the 30th fastest internet in the world, according to the Cable.co.uk analysis. You don’t need to obtain a tourist visa if you’ll be here for fewer than 90 days.

Malaysia is also a diverse country with rich culture; digital nomads working here will not only enjoy affordable living but also delicious cuisine, beautiful scenery and rich history to explore.

7. Ecuador

Why it’s among the best: Ecuador is one of the safest countries in South America, with a low cost of living and stunning landscape.

If you want to practice your Spanish while working remotely from another country, Ecuador could be the place for you. Home of the unique Galapagos Islands and ancient Incan history, the small country of Ecuador has the sixth lowest cost of living in the world, according to InterNations’ index. Ecuador is one of the countries in South America with the fewest safety risks for travelers, according to International SOS. Visas aren’t required from Americans for under 90 days within a 12-month period.

While the country’s mobile connectivity isn’t as good as in other countries, Ecuador’s capital of Quito could be a great place to work if you want some hustle and bustle. But the country’s diverse terrain also features gorgeous Pacific coastline, the Andes Mountains and tropical Amazonian rainforests, making it a wonderful place to work remotely for outdoorsy, adventurous types.

How to land a job in the cheapest places for digital nomads

Unless you’ve amassed enough savings to travel long periods without working, you’ll need to find a way to make money as a digital nomad. Traveling and living or working in another country can sound like a dream, but be aware that most countries require you to obtain a work visa if you want to work for local businesses. Depending on the country, this can be a difficult task. Because of that, many American travelers find it easier to land a telecommute-friendly job based in the United States or work for themselves as a freelancer for clients based back home.

One of the best places to find remote jobs, both full-time and part-time, is job site FlexJobs.com. While the site requires a small subscription fee, they find and curate listings for flexible jobs, many of which are location-independent. If you want to go the freelance route and don’t have any leads, consider looking for gigs on Upwork.com.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

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Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

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Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.

2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

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The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

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3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: 1. Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.99% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.53% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.12% plus 2.38% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score.Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.