World’s best cities for remote work

Filipe Coutinho

5 min read time

It’s a new dawn for many workers. Those who have always dreamed of living in a different city, or even a foreign country but felt tied down due to workplace responsibilities, may now have an opportunity to broaden their horizons. As the world moves towards a hybrid work model, workers and employers are prioritizing flexible schedules, which means that geographical location may not matter as much.

If you’ve been considering a move, the following cities are fantastic options:

LISBON & PORTO, PORTUGAL

Portugal has been on every digital nomad’s watch list for the past ten years. This country, founded in 1143, is a prime attraction for tourists from all over the world due to its natural beauty, the quality of the local cuisine, its enchanting beaches, the relaxed lifestyle, and how cost-friendly it can be. There’s also a vast history, colorful architecture, and the friendly natives. It’s a dream to visit, but also an attractive destination to settle in for work. There are two main contenders: Lisbon and Porto. The former is the capital and it’s located in the South, while the latter is the second-largest city and claims the North. Both are cozily tucked in by the Atlantic Ocean and have also major rivers running through them (Tagus and Douro), making it very a dream for anyone who wants to live by a body of water. On the work front, the Portuguese government has been making great strides to attract more foreigners by fomenting its emerging tech industry, investing in a robust high-speed internet infrastructure, and encouraging foreign investment in companies and start-ups through the Golden Visa program. The downsides of working remotely in Portugal include the language, which can be very hard to learn, and the fact that you become a tax resident after 183 days.

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $850
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $30
  • A beer: $2.50
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $115
  • A fitness club membership: $42/month

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

Mexico City is another historical metropolis that has plunged into the 21st century with an eye towards a diverse community and a dynamic work force. It has all the amenities of American cities like New York, Chicago, or LA, but at a fraction of the price. It also features a thriving scene of young professionals, a vibrant and varied nightlife, and an active social scene, especially in the neighborhoods of Roma Norte and Condesa. Remote workers tend to love the work-life balance that Mexico City provides. There are plenty of coffee shops and coworking spaces in every neighborhood, filled with both foreigners and Mexican remote workers. After the work day’s done, it’s easy to be roped into the high-end cocktails bars and clubs. And those who are LGBTQIA+ can find a welcoming community and a spirited gay nightlife district. Plus, those who love street food will find Mexico City to be a paradise with unlimited options. It’s worth noting, however, that unlike Porto or Lisbon, the inland capital has balmy weather year-round and is densely populated. Those who struggle with noisy environments may want to look into a different option.

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $380
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $30
  • A beer: $1.5
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $75
  • A fitness club membership: $44/month

TENERIFE, SPAIN

If you always dreamed of living on an island, Tenerife might be the answer. Located in the beautiful Canary Islands, Tenerife has 7 different microclimates, and all lie within close proximity from each other. This means that if you wake up to a cloudy sky and moderate temperature, but are in the mood for something different, you can make that a reality by simply hopping in a car. It’s the sort of rare privilege that makes this destination so appealing. But there are other aspects to consider. The island is known for its vast number of outdoor activities (from windsurfing to hiking), delicious traditional Canarian food, and a great geographical location that allows you to travel to both Europe and Africa on a whim. Plus, if you speak a little Spanish, the local community tends to be very friendly and helpful. And did we mention there are coworking spaces pretty much everywhere? However, there are some cons to consider, such as the large number of tourists, which may mean you’ll often be treated as one, and that after a while you may start to feel ‘stuck’ on the island.

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $670
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $50
  • A beer: $1.15
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $130
  • A fitness club membership: $41/month

AUSTIN, UNITED STATES

In 2020, Carphone Warehouse conducted a study of some top cities for freelancing and found numbers on factors such as average salary and rent, internet speed, and leisure activities. Austin came in first place. According to LinkedIn's Workforce Report from this past July, the city also ranked as the top U.S. relocation destination, with the bulk of workers coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York City. It’s easy to understand why. There’s live music everywhere, a food scene that’s gaining relevance by the day, and plenty of large lakes that make it easy to go boating, fishing, and swimming. On the work front, the internet infrastructure is top-notch, and coworking spaces are easy to find. Despite being more expensive than other cities on this list, Austin makes up for it with its sense of community and a high quality of life. 

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $1900
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $60
  • A beer: $5
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $200
  • A fitness club membership: $45/month

BALI, INDONESIA

Located in one of the lesser Sunda Islands, the province of Bali has been an important tourist center for the past 40 years. Canggu is perhaps the city that has attracted the most remote workers, as it offers white sand beaches, luxury resorts, delicious street food, a lively nightlife, and proximity to awe-inspiring nature. And all at a very amiable cost. Bali also provides a friendly local culture, modern establishments with stable internet connections, and an overall standard of living that rivals plenty of big metropolises. As for the cons of what many consider to be a paradise on earth, some digital nomads claim that this province lacks in comfortable places to work long hours from and that most cafés are overcrowded and overpriced.

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $340
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $25
  • A beer: $2.5
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $120
  • A fitness club membership: $55/month

Note: All average prices have been taken from Numbeo and are updated monthly.

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Filipe Coutinho

Filipe Coutinho is a writer, filmmaker, and a 2020 Black List Feature Lab alum. He also works as a freelance brand consultant and cultural forecaster, creating valuable insights on future trends and movements.

World’s best cities for remote work

Filipe Coutinho

11/2/21

It’s a new dawn for many workers. Those who have always dreamed of living in a different city, or even a foreign country but felt tied down due to workplace responsibilities, may now have an opportunity to broaden their horizons. As the world moves towards a hybrid work model, workers and employers are prioritizing flexible schedules, which means that geographical location may not matter as much.

If you’ve been considering a move, the following cities are fantastic options:

LISBON & PORTO, PORTUGAL

Portugal has been on every digital nomad’s watch list for the past ten years. This country, founded in 1143, is a prime attraction for tourists from all over the world due to its natural beauty, the quality of the local cuisine, its enchanting beaches, the relaxed lifestyle, and how cost-friendly it can be. There’s also a vast history, colorful architecture, and the friendly natives. It’s a dream to visit, but also an attractive destination to settle in for work. There are two main contenders: Lisbon and Porto. The former is the capital and it’s located in the South, while the latter is the second-largest city and claims the North. Both are cozily tucked in by the Atlantic Ocean and have also major rivers running through them (Tagus and Douro), making it very a dream for anyone who wants to live by a body of water. On the work front, the Portuguese government has been making great strides to attract more foreigners by fomenting its emerging tech industry, investing in a robust high-speed internet infrastructure, and encouraging foreign investment in companies and start-ups through the Golden Visa program. The downsides of working remotely in Portugal include the language, which can be very hard to learn, and the fact that you become a tax resident after 183 days.

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $850
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $30
  • A beer: $2.50
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $115
  • A fitness club membership: $42/month

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

Mexico City is another historical metropolis that has plunged into the 21st century with an eye towards a diverse community and a dynamic work force. It has all the amenities of American cities like New York, Chicago, or LA, but at a fraction of the price. It also features a thriving scene of young professionals, a vibrant and varied nightlife, and an active social scene, especially in the neighborhoods of Roma Norte and Condesa. Remote workers tend to love the work-life balance that Mexico City provides. There are plenty of coffee shops and coworking spaces in every neighborhood, filled with both foreigners and Mexican remote workers. After the work day’s done, it’s easy to be roped into the high-end cocktails bars and clubs. And those who are LGBTQIA+ can find a welcoming community and a spirited gay nightlife district. Plus, those who love street food will find Mexico City to be a paradise with unlimited options. It’s worth noting, however, that unlike Porto or Lisbon, the inland capital has balmy weather year-round and is densely populated. Those who struggle with noisy environments may want to look into a different option.

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $380
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $30
  • A beer: $1.5
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $75
  • A fitness club membership: $44/month

TENERIFE, SPAIN

If you always dreamed of living on an island, Tenerife might be the answer. Located in the beautiful Canary Islands, Tenerife has 7 different microclimates, and all lie within close proximity from each other. This means that if you wake up to a cloudy sky and moderate temperature, but are in the mood for something different, you can make that a reality by simply hopping in a car. It’s the sort of rare privilege that makes this destination so appealing. But there are other aspects to consider. The island is known for its vast number of outdoor activities (from windsurfing to hiking), delicious traditional Canarian food, and a great geographical location that allows you to travel to both Europe and Africa on a whim. Plus, if you speak a little Spanish, the local community tends to be very friendly and helpful. And did we mention there are coworking spaces pretty much everywhere? However, there are some cons to consider, such as the large number of tourists, which may mean you’ll often be treated as one, and that after a while you may start to feel ‘stuck’ on the island.

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $670
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $50
  • A beer: $1.15
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $130
  • A fitness club membership: $41/month

AUSTIN, UNITED STATES

In 2020, Carphone Warehouse conducted a study of some top cities for freelancing and found numbers on factors such as average salary and rent, internet speed, and leisure activities. Austin came in first place. According to LinkedIn's Workforce Report from this past July, the city also ranked as the top U.S. relocation destination, with the bulk of workers coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York City. It’s easy to understand why. There’s live music everywhere, a food scene that’s gaining relevance by the day, and plenty of large lakes that make it easy to go boating, fishing, and swimming. On the work front, the internet infrastructure is top-notch, and coworking spaces are easy to find. Despite being more expensive than other cities on this list, Austin makes up for it with its sense of community and a high quality of life. 

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $1900
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $60
  • A beer: $5
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $200
  • A fitness club membership: $45/month

BALI, INDONESIA

Located in one of the lesser Sunda Islands, the province of Bali has been an important tourist center for the past 40 years. Canggu is perhaps the city that has attracted the most remote workers, as it offers white sand beaches, luxury resorts, delicious street food, a lively nightlife, and proximity to awe-inspiring nature. And all at a very amiable cost. Bali also provides a friendly local culture, modern establishments with stable internet connections, and an overall standard of living that rivals plenty of big metropolises. As for the cons of what many consider to be a paradise on earth, some digital nomads claim that this province lacks in comfortable places to work long hours from and that most cafés are overcrowded and overpriced.

Average cost of:

  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment: at least $340
  • A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: around $25
  • A beer: $2.5
  • Basic Utilities and internet: about $120
  • A fitness club membership: $55/month

Note: All average prices have been taken from Numbeo and are updated monthly.

Filipe Coutinho

Website
Filipe Coutinho is a writer, filmmaker, and a 2020 Black List Feature Lab alum. He also works as a freelance brand consultant and cultural forecaster, creating valuable insights on future trends and movements.

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