The pandemic has caused a massive shift in the way people work and live. According to a new study, more than 15.5 million American workers now describe themselves as “digital nomads,” embracing a lifestyle that allows them to work remotely and live anywhere—whether that means working from home or traveling the world. That’s a 42% increase from 2020 to 2021 and a 112% increase from 2019. And this number is sure to rise: A recent FlexJobs survey found that only 3% of workers would prefer to return to the office full-time after the pandemic.
So where are the best places to live if you want to work remote, what are the best remote jobs and how can you truly enjoy being a digital nomad? Here, we’ve got the results of two recent studies that ranked not only the best places to live in America and around the world, but also the best remote jobs. Plus, we’ve got tips from one digital nomad who shares how she has been making the most of the remote work lifestyle since 2013—and how you can do it, too.
Where to Live: The Best Places to Work From Anywhere
As remote work becomes the new normal, many places—both abroad and in the U.S.— have put in place incentives to lure new residents as well as work-from-anywhere laws to help people relocate and live the dream. The company Remote recently released the Best Destinations for Remote Work report, showcasing the top 100 global destinations for remote workers, along with unique insights into location-specific incentives. The report is paired with an interactive tool and database with information on hundreds of cities across the world for users to create personalized rankings on where to work remotely based on their individual preferences.
“For a long time, workers were restricted to living near major urban hubs if they wanted to access the best job opportunities,” says Remote’s CEO and cofounder Job van der Voort. “The freedom to work from anywhere opens the door for employees to choose their home—or travel—without compromising their work.”
Some interesting stats emerged from the report. Aruba offers the best incentives for digital nomads through its “One Happy Workation” program. Emilia Romagna, Italy has the largest cash incentive, paying young families (under 40 years old) $34,000 to relocate. Stateside, Topeka, Kansas, provides up to $5,000 in funds to rent in one’s first year and up to $10,000 in funds for a home purchase as a relocation incentive. St. Louis, Missouri, has the best housing incentive where individuals can purchase city-owned property for only $1. Want to avoid paying tax? Remote workers in Cabo Verde are exempt from income tax. For companies, Colorado grants employers cash awards for each remote worker employed in an eligible rural county outside the county where the project is based.
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Here’s list of the top 10 cities in the United States to be a digital nomad, as well as the top 10 cities around the world.
Top 10 Cities in the U.S. to be a Digital Nomad
- Salt Lake City
- Denver, Colorado
- Concord, New Hampshire
- Portland, Maine
- Montpelier, Vermont
- Jackson, Wyoming
Top 10 Cities Around the World to be a Digital Nomad
- Toronto, Canada
- Madrid, Spain
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Madeira, Portugal
- Helsinki, Finland
- Svalbard, Norway
- Berlin, Germany
- Valparaiso, Chile
- Dublin, Ireland
- Sydney, Australia
The Best Remote Jobs
For remote job seekers interested in becoming digital nomads and to showcase a few of the types of job opportunities available, FlexJobs recently identified the top career fields for remote jobs in 2021 and the ones to watch in 2022. These are:
Working Remotely: Tips From an Expert
Meet Peggy Bree, a digital nomad and digital savvy project manager who is currently based in Colombia. She’s been dabbling in the digital nomad world since she was 23, when she moved from her native Toronto to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Bree is passionate about helping other purpose-driven women with brands that will do the world better through her agency (where she helps women grow in the digital landscape) and a podcast called Branding Gems (where amazing women share their tips and stories about their unique brands and businesses).
Bree says she was attracted to being a digital nomad from an early age. “I remember when I was younger, I would see so many cliché images online where people had their laptops on a beach,” she says. “I would wonder, ‘Is this real? Can you combine making a living from the internet with the world outside the screen?’”
While many people work remotely for the freedom, Bree says she pursued being a digital nomad because she loves slow travel and working online. That said, as the remote culture is growing, people often confuse being a digital nomad with just working remotely and living somewhere. “To me, digital nomadism is a lifestyle and commitment of some sort—it’s more than just a quick two-week thing,” says Bree.
Here, Bree shares some of the tips she has learned by being a digital nomad.
It’s Not a Vacation: I don’t think that people understand that you are moving somewhere when you are a digital nomad. It’s not a vacation. You have to “restart” and find new friends, community and a routine. My day-to-day involves working from either a co-work spot, cafe or home. It sounds mundane because it can be on most days. However, I’m not vacationing: I’m still working. The difference is that I have a different set of adventures. For example, last weekend I went horseback riding in Palomino.
Take it Slow: This is one of my top tips. I find that being in a new location often invites a feeling of adrenaline in wanting to see everything that beautiful location has to offer. With this lifestyle, I realized that it is very similar to slow travel, as it allows me to really soak into that location and enjoy any planned excursions in a quality manner.
The Importance of Community: Having a community goes a long way when you are in the digital nomad world, so find a community that shares the same values that you do. You can find a host of reasons to connect with them, either about business, life chats or to bounce digital nomad tips off each other. I personally look for the local church communities. (Pro tip: You don’t need to proactively make 100 new friends in the community—one to two quality friendships are enough.)
Practice Common Sense: To say it bluntly: Have discernment and good sound judgment in practical situations. For example, if a Facebook post about a new place available for rent in an expat group looks sketchy, I would avoid it altogether. Personally, I avoid situations with any slight problematic chance, especially in an unfamiliar location.
The Importance of Being Offline: Mental health is important and should be a regular and recurring intention in your schedule. Whatever that may be, make sure to have some enriched quiet times. Though digital nomadism can look like an exciting lifestyle to many people on the outside, it can be overwhelming when you have to base yourself in a location and “restart.”
Meet the Locals:
There’s no better way to get to know your area than from locals. Just use precaution and meet locals in professional settings. Of course, strangers have great tips, too, and can be a nice form of potential friendships, but I personally find that when I meet a local person in a professional setting, I am more taken care of because there is accountability involved. Example: Try the walking tours in your area.
The Downside: Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye to the friends I make. People come and go; that’s life. But it’s a true blessing to be able to meet other digital nomadders every time I move to a new location. I love hearing their “why” and “what.” Everyone is so different.
Internet Security: Obviously, digital nomads need the internet (if not, tell me your secrets!). I always make it a priority to have data on my phone, in case the internet is down, so I can hotspot it. And of course, before your actual work days, I would definitely go to your picked work location first, to test out the Wi-Fi.
Essentials: Wherever you are working and per your schedule, I’m sure you have a set amount of hours per day with some long hour days. This means that you need to pack accordingly. My items are usually: an external battery, an external back-up and water. These are the items that are essential to have in your workbag for obvious reasons. Also: extra cash no matter what. Some of my friends pack a laptop stand.
Schedule in Fun: A perk about being a digital nomad is that there can literally be a desert right next to your town or an Eighth Wonder Monument like Machu Picchu just three hours away. Don’t forget to schedule some fun times for that work-life balance.