Want to travel and work abroad? The world is a big, magical oyster waiting for you to explore it with limitless options! After spending time in a multitude of digital-nomad friendly places, I’m constantly asked my favorite places to live and work abroad as a creative.
I could go on and on, but I created this guide specifically to highlight the best locations to live and work remotely for a substantial period of time. These are the places I felt the most creatively inspired that are sure to get your creative juices flowing!
Here are my top recommendations of destinations to live and work abroad as a creative right now. They are based on low costs, wifi reliability, work-life balance, and overall culture:
1. Lisbon, Portugal
After I left Portugal you could hear me singing “I Love Portugal” by Sun Kil Moon for the next few months. Portugal as a country is a beautiful, laid back place. The vibe is just right and conducive to work-life balance. I visited Lisbon for a month and Porto for a couple of weeks, and can recommend both entirely to live and work as a creative.
While many travelers will stay away from the western side of the continent, which is more expensive than its Eastern counterparts, Lisbon is still an incredibly affordable city compared to some of its neighboring cities. It’s a bustling city filled with street art and a warm vibrancy, waiting to welcome you with sunshine.
There’s an established community of bloggers, writers and online entrepreneurs based here, particularly in the winter when the rest of Europe is just that little bit too cold.
The streets are oh so photogenic, with the famous Tram 28, the picturesque rooftops, and the sounds of fado music. It’s a slower pace than many European cities I’ve been to which make it ideal to live for a while, take it all in and find your pace. Of course, the cafe culture is thriving and there isn’t a shortage of third-wave cafes and roasters to explore.
I felt at peace, inspired, and creatively stimulated here in such a beautiful city. How could you not be?
2. Bali, Indonesia
Bali, heard of it? There’s totally a reason that Bali is at the top of every guide of digital nomad hotspot blog posts. It’s not overrated, maybe a bit touristy as it’s catered to us westerners, but it’s basically heaven on earth. Just please, don’t go there and act entitled. The Balinese have got to be some of the kindest people on this earth and deserve so much respect.
There’s two nomad hubs, Canggu and Ubud. I personally stayed in Canggu for most of my trip, as it’s near the ocean which is important for me. Both are amazing choices however, it just depends on the vibe you’re seeking. Ubud is more of a spiritual hub in a bustling town, with plenty of cafe’s and restaurants, where you’ll find the most out of this world spas and yoga studios here (ie. Yoga Barn)
There are so many entrepreneurs here doing cool shit, it’s an awesome place to network and build connections in business. Chances are you’ll meet someone that can help you with just about anything at your co-working spot. I recommend Dojo Bali for co-working, it’s steps to the beach, has tons of interesting workshops hosted by creative entrepreneurs, and embodies a great co-working community.
Full disclaimer, I went to Bali because I had never been to Asia, and I had to see if it lived up to the hype. It totally does, and frankly, I wouldn’t have left after a month if it wasn’t for the Mt. Agung eruption. That’s another story for another time, however, there was no shortage of beauty in Bali. If you enjoy surfing, lush greenery, top notch vegan / vegetarian food, cheap massages, and a warm, welcoming culture, go to Bali.
It’s important to note, Bali isn’t the most walking-friendly city. You’ll need a motorbike, and it’s worth taking a lesson or two. I rented mine for about $30 USD a month and felt comfortable biking around after a week or so. It isn’t for everyone though, and you can hire a motorbike for insanely cheap. Check out the “Go Jek” app to hire a bike.
You can stay up to 30 days without worrying about visa technicalities. If you plan on staying longer, which I mean.. why wouldn’t you? You should ask for a “visa on arrival” when you arrive at immigration. This will allow you to extend your stay. It’s about $35 USD but will give you the option to extend your visa and stay another 30 days. You can hire someone to do a visa run for you for about $50 USD.
Bali is a serene, warm and welcoming place. I felt so much gratitude while I was there just for being alive and being able to witness such an incredible landscape, and living in luxury for a fraction of the cost at home. With that said, tip generously and be kind and respectful of Balinese culture.
3. Mexico City, Mexico
Bustling with vibrancy and life, Mexico City isn’t a place to relax, but a place of intense stimulation and inspiration. Especially as a creative, if you go to Mexico City you’re going to see life through an unfiltered, honest lens. Which sometimes is exactly what we need to get our creative juices flowing. With a ton of museums, mayan history, markets and loud primary colors, Mexico City is FULL of life. Head here to see and smell and taste it all, then perhaps retreat to Playa Del Carmen to enjoy a slower pace and perhaps, write a book or pursue a project you’ve been meaning to finish.
For digital nomads who are looking for a place to work and travel, Mexico City is not a place to skip. You can live extremely frugally while eating the best Mexican food in the world. The cafe culture is ample, and Mexican coffee is some of the best. You don’t hear much about it because Japan and Austrailia buy most of it in bulk as soon as it’s roasted. If you can, try Café de olla while in Mexico City. It’s a delicious traditional Mexican coffee beverage with cinnamon and piloncillo.
Learn about the history of Mexico and enjoy the beautiful parks. There are so many museums you should not skip. You must go to the “Museo Nacional de Antropología” which contains significant archaeological and anthropological artifacts from Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage, such as the Stone of the Sun (or the Aztec calendar stone) and the Aztec Xochipilli statue.
Head to Coyocan 30 minutes south and check out Frida Khalo’s “Casa Azul”. This is another place I highly recommend, it has a more neighborhood feel and slower pace, with plenty to do.
Mexico City is so close to the states, there’s no reason not to visit. Stay in the Condesa or Roma Norte neighborhoods for treelined streets, ample “fruiteras” IE. fresh juice for $1 – and beautiful cafe’s to work from. But, the best authentic Mexican food you’ll eat is on the street.
Pack some activated charcoal and slippery elm (it’s a magic herb that coats your stomach before eating to help digestion) you’ll definitely need it. Travelers D in Mexico is inevitable. Thank me later 😉
4. Krakow, Poland
Underrated by European city standards, but a city not to skip. Imagine stepping into an old fairytale, and that’s what Krakow is like. It’s Poland, there’s a lot of loaded history. And that’s why this magical city is perfect to work and live, while getting your creative juices flowing. With cobblestone streets with horse-drawn carriages, inexpensive yet delicious food, plenty of cafes and terraces to work, and affordable rent, definitely visit Krakow between March – October.
Consider staying in the Kazimierz neighborhood. It’s the bohemian part of Krakow and full of different murals and street art. New Square is the most classic place for locals to hang out and there are no shortages of bars / restaurants, and many locals spend the entire night in this one spot. You could meet up with friends at one corner of the square and then spend hours visiting the different bars around it. Every Sunday morning there is a huge flea market, where you will find eclectic vintage furniture, old records, and handmade pottery.
There are also an array of daytime work-friendly cafes that don’t lack in aesthetic. If you’re looking for the most instagrammable cafe’s, consider checking out Krakow City Guide made by the most stylish local blogger, Margo.
5. Berlin, Germany
Berlin… oh how you hold a special place in my heart. I’m feeling funky even thinking about you. Go to Berlin if you want to get a little weird. It’s a massive city of major intensity. History, art, and openness embody the Berlin landscape. There’s something for everyone here, and you’ll appreciate the liberal free-spirited essence of the city. It’s a place that you grow to appreciate over time, not so much what I would call traditionally a beautiful city, but it’s really respectable what they do to make sure history does not repeat by blatantly un-glorifying their past.
I talked with many business owners when I was there, many people flock to Berlin from various places in order to hatch their ideas and bring it to fruition. It’s relatively easy to get a visa there as a freelancer (I didn’t get one but some friends have). Berlin is a mishmash of creative tolerance, and now has an abundance of co-working spaces. One of my favorite spots in Berlin is Be’kech — an “epicentere of all things cultural, social & entrepreneurial”. Basically, you show up and pay 5 cents a minute and can stay as long as you’d like and consume whatever you’d like while your there, including eating from their buffet and drinking all the coffee you can.
Among the best areas to stay are Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg, and Wedding. There aren’t any tourist attractions in Kreuzberg, but its not far from popular attractions. Kreuzberg is a vibrant area with lots of restaurants, fast food, and bars, and increasingly popular with digital nomads. It has a lively nightlife and not too many tourists, but rent has been increasing due to its popularity.
Charlottenburg is a bustling busy area that feels like it could be the city center, although it isn’t actually. Wedding is an attractive and more affordable area that is popular among immigrants. I personally stayed in Wedding for about a month and loved the slightly off-the-grid location that had many eccentric, literal hole in the wall places to pass time.
If you’re looking for more of the best co-working spaces, bars, and cafes, check out this guide by the Freelance Travel Network. Berlin is definitely a bustling, dynamic place to live and work as a creative.
Take your time and enjoy the journey. All of the places mentioned above are incredible – and perfect hotspots to live and work as a creative entrepreneur.
…But there’s no rush to see them all at once! Here’s my advice:
Enjoy the journey. Take your time in each country. And appreciate everything each of these stunning places has to offer!
Where’s your favorite digital nomad hotspot? Drop a message via the comments section below and let me know!