Being a digital nomad, working where ever you want and not being tied down to the same desk in the same office from 9-5 is the dream. Cost of living is a heavy consideration for digital nomads as well as other factors such as connectivity, lifestyle, and safety of a country.
We’ve put together a chart showing cost of living by country to show you where the cheap countries are to be a digital nomad.
Cost of Living by Country for Digital Nomads: Consumer Price Index Plus Rent Index
What does the consumer price plus rent index mean?
Unlike many other cost of living indexes, this data collected by Numbeo includes rent as a factor, a major cost for digital nomads.
Taking New York City as a baseline to compare against, countries are given a score out of 100 for cost of living including groceries, accommodation, utilities, restaurants etc. If a country is given a score of 150, Numbeo estimates that a country costs 50% more to live in than New York City. If a country has been given a score of 20, Numbeo estimates that to live in that country it costs 20% of living in New York City.
Cheap countries to be a digital nomad
It comes as no surprise that in the cheapest 20 countries (all of which have an index of less than 31) out of 50 there are many Asian countries, in fact 8 out of 20. India the travel haven for budget backpackers has an index of 15.6! Other favourites such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Nepal are also in the cheapest 20 countries out of 50.
You may be surprised to find some European countries such as Croatia and the Czech Republic, where you may experience better connectivity and a more modern lifestyle than Asian countries. There are also other eastern and central European countries in the cheapest 20 countries worth considering that provide interesting travels which are still not on the heavily beaten path yet such as Romania and Balkan countries such as Albania.
Somewhere more Exotic
If you’re after something more exotic, how about Fiji (30.2 index) which is surprisingly in the cheapest 20 countries, or Brazil (26.1), Kenya (26.78), or Sri Lanka (21.85).
A Digital Society of Value
Estonia declared internet access a basic human right and it sure is a necessity for digital nomads. Free wifi is in abundance around Estonia check wifi.ee, it has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the world and has great coverage in cities and rural areas.
In fact the Estonian government is famous for being the most tech savvy governments in the world offering around 3,000 e-services to citizens and businesses through its e-Estonia digital society.
With the great internet connectivity and support of digital communications by the government Estonia has to be a top consideration for digital nomads. Not only is it also the 21st cheapest country in our chart with an index of 31.98, but the beautiful cities, countrysides and coastlines in Estonia are great places to explore.
Surprisingly Expensive Cities
Well it’s no surprise to see the likes of Switzerland, Hong Kong, Norway, Iceland and the UK in the top 20 most expensive countries to live in. We also see Ghana in the top 10 with massive inflation and a devalued currency all driving up the cost of living, making citizens protest on the streets.
Despite being neighbours, Argentina (41.97) is considerably more expensive than Brazil (26.1). Spain is also surprising high as the 20th most expensive in our chart given that it is still considered as a top choice for budget holidays for many Europeans.
If you really want to flaunt your wealth, then perhaps there is no better place than Bermuda to show off your success as a digital nomad, which costs over 27% more than New York City. But you’re so successful you don’t care about the cost of living anymore and just want to enjoy pristine beaches, water sports, and the digital nomad dream.
One thing you might care about is internet connection. If you’re a freelancer who can’t survive on free wifi and need permanent high speed access you may want to avoid countries like Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, and Tanzania who are all rated in the top 10 for most expensive internet.