1 Year & 12 destinations for the sun seeking Nomad – Part One

If you are anything like me then you’ll be a seeker of an eternal summer too.

There are of course many destinations around the globe that offer a year round perfect climate for the digital nomad. Cities such as Antigua in Guatemala, Medellin in Colombia and and Kigali in Rwanda offer a year around Spring like climate that appeals to many.

However being nomadic will probably mean you will tire of being stuck in one place and the world is a big place and is getting smaller. Always remember that medical cover too when you are going overseas!

So with that in mind I am going to take you through a year of perfect weather in remote worker friendly places.

Starting off from January to June.

JANUARY

Auckland, New Zealand – Jan average temp 20C

It’s the start of a new year and while the Northern Hemisphere shivers under grey skies, the South is approaching mid-summer and frolicking on the beach and in the warm sea.

My pick for January would start off in the largest city of New Zealand, Auckland. The city of sails is in full outdoors mode in January with lots of events, festivals with great city beaches packed with sun-seekers.

The cafe culture of Auckland will ensure you will always have somewhere cool to work from when you are not having a BBQ by the beach.

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Auckland, New Zealand

 

FEBRUARY

Sydney, Australia – Feb average temp 25C

A three short hope across the ditch from NZ and you land in Australia and there aren’t many places on the planet better than Sydney in Feb.

Sydney’s long and enviable summer is very much in full swing this time of year with lots of events and activities to get in to.

Wake up early and head to Manley Beach for a surf then head to one of the 100s of beach side cafes that line Sydney’s shores. If you want to cool off from the fierce Australian heat then take a commuter train up to the Blue Mountains and be awestruck by the views.

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Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

 

MARCH

Saigon (HCMC) Vietnam – Mar Average Temperature 30C

So leaving Australasia behind we now move into one of the most popular regions for nomadic workers, that being Southeast Asia, famous for year round tropical sun and affordable living.

HCMC is very much on the backpacker’s trail in Asia and is a great base for the month of March which heralds the finish of the dry season.

The city can be over-whelming but has all the right ingredients for a digital nomad including free wifi in the many coffee shops and co-working centres. Accommodation is available for all budgets and the friendly locals will ensure you are never short of great food or a cheap beer.

Saigon, Vietnam
Saigon, Vietnam

 

APRIL

Bangkok, Thailand – average temperature 32C

OK so Bangkok is often quoted as the hottest city on earth (based on average daily temperatures) and April is one of the hottest months where temperatures can reach 40C! So why are we including Bangkok in April?

Well the Songkran water festival that takes over in April is worth a look for sure, just make sure you don’t have your laptop on you or put it in a waterproof bag!

Bangkok, the backpacker capital of Asia (the World?) is also a major centre for Digital Nomads, many of whom make the city their home for the year. It’s not hard to see why because compared to Europe and North America, the Thai capital is very affordable but has all those western comforts too.

The city is modernizing real quick but there are still street sellers and  strong Thai culture running through the traffic-clogged streets.

Just don’t forget your waterproofs!

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Tuk Tuk, Bangkok, Thailand

 

MAY

Bail, Indonesia – average May temp 29C

So we are flying South again across the Equator to the resort island of Bali. Bali is a well established destination for sun seekers and digital nomads alike. It’s a small island and can be crossed in a couple of hours (traffic permitting, and the traffic can be bad!) and punches well above it’s weight in terms of what it has to offer.

The predominantly Hindu island has beach resorts, artistic centres such as Ubud, high mountains and volcanoes that can be climbed. Bali also has all the modern western comforts and suits budgets grand and small.

Ubud in the hills and Seminyak in the south by the coast are the two most popular destinations for expats and many split their time between the two. Villas can be had for a few hundred dollars per month, and while it’s not as cheap as it once was, it’s certainly affordable if you are earning anywhere near a western wage.

As of May 2014 the local currency Rupiah has crashed against major currencies such as the dollar, euro and sterling making it even more affordable

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Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

 

June 

Rome, Italy – average June temperature 28C

Rome is not one place you’d immediately associate with a digital nomad hangout but the Italian capital in many ways ticks a lot of boxes.

Firstly Rome is heating up nicely in June and is still bearable before the heat of July which can be quite oppressive to say the least.

Since the economic crash in Europe the Italian economy has suffered pretty bad along with other Southern European countries such as Spain and Greece. This was not good news for the country but it has been good news for visitors as Italy has become affordable again. While Rome is the capital and therefore more expensive than many places it is cheaper than it’s Northern rivals of Milan and Turin.

Rome is packed full of affordable accommodation both long term apartments and hotels too. There are many deals to be had on Airbnb and other booking sites.

The cafe culture is huge is Italy, the food is sublime and if you need a break from your work then you have 2000 years of history to immerse yourself and explore.

Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy

 

Look our for Part Two coming along soon that will feature the UK, Spain, USA, Mexico to name a few.

 

Established places to live as a remote worker

Being a digital nomad means you can generally live and work anywhere on the planet. There are of course some basic requirements for a place to have to make it a viable option e.g. living in a hut in the Borneo rainforest is going to be pretty cheap but you’ll need wifi, cafes and a social life!

The list below is not an exhaustive one by any means but do represent great value for money and an established digital nomad community. The focus of this article is on Southeast Asia.

Luang Prabang,  Laos

luangLuang Prabang, or LP as it’s known by many is a colonial riverside town in the northern part of Laos. The mighty Mekong river sweeps through the town and orange clothed monks go about their everyday business in a similarly majestic way.

The former French colony town is an architectural masterpiece and so laid back it’s a joy to stroll around at any time of the day.

Accommodation range is vast and you can easily pay $10 for your own room even on a short term basis. Apartments are becoming more common now.

Cafes/coffee shops are everywhere and they nearly always offer wi-fi. Laos telecom does also offer 3G services which can be a great back-up if you cannot get online.

There is great scope for a social life as LP attracts many long stay expats as well as a steady stream of backpackers. There are lots of bars although nightlife tends to be low-key compared to neighbouring Thailand.

In terms of cost of living LP is very cheap, excellent quality food can be had all over the town, from boutique restaurants.

The downside to LP is the remote location and relative difficulty getting there, for instance the road trip to the capital is still an all day bumpy ride and to the Thai border your best bet is a two day slow boat up the Mekong!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

tuk-chiangFast becoming the capital of the digital nomad world Chiang Mai has a lot of appeal to the remote worker. The biggest reason why you should consider Chiang Mai is because it’s cheap!

You can rent a great apartment for just a couple of $100 or stay in a nice hotel/guesthouse for $20 per night. I stayed in one last year, it was newly built so didn’t have a name even, but offered luxury for $15, huge modern flat screen TV so I could plug my laptop into, top quality furnishings and most importantly a super fast wifi connection!

One thing Chiang Mai doesn’t lack is places to work. At one end you have a couple of Starbucks but beyond that there are lots and lots of independent coffee shops all competing for your baht.

CM also has a selection of shared work spaces, ideal for those who are in the city for a longer period of time and who are looking to hook up with other nomadic workers.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

bali-beachUbud is probably more famous for being a centre for arts, yoga and all things cultural. The ever expanding town which is actually and conglomeration of villages sits on the fertile plains away from the madness of the Southern Bali resort towns of Kuta/Seiminyak.

Ubud has been attracting travellers for years and it’s no longer off the beaten track. With a huge array of accommodation options it is actually very much on the beaten track now.

The temperature is ideal too and being up in the hills means no air conditioning at night. However it does seem to rain a lot, even in the dry season, but don’t let that put you off because the rains are usually over very quickly.

Wifi is available in many places throughout Ubud from coffee shops, guesthouses to shared office spaces such as Hubud.

I would say Ubud is particularly interesting for those digital nomads who are in holistic trends, yoga and the arts. There are many Yoga studios that double up as places to hang out and even work from such as the Yoga Barn.

Ubud is a pretty cheap destination to stay particularly if you are prepared to sign up for a number of months on a lease for a villa. Even those who only plan to stay there short term will be impressed with what you can get on a short term basis and it’s still possible to find a basic room for under $20!

If you do want to escape the lush green rice paddy fields of Ubud (why would you?) it’s possible to head to a number of beaches that are an hour or so away by shared car or minivan. One of the negative aspects of Bali is the fact the island is becoming over-populated and traffic is a nightmare to say the least and getting anywhere can be time consuming.

If you are happy to stay in Ubud then you will probably need a motorcycle or bike to get around as the area is quite spread out.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

angkorSiem Reap (means Siam defeated!) is one of the fastest growing small cities in Southeast Asia. There is one reason for this and it’s in the shape of the World Heritage site of the ancient city of Angkor and the temples including the main attraction Angkor Wat.

SR is located in the north of the country and not too far from the border with Thailand. The route to the border use to be legendary with hardcore backpackers who spent the best part of a day being trucked from the Thai border along a very poor road to the city but this has been upgraded and Siem Reap is well and truly on the tourist map now.

This has also been helped by the relatively new airport of Siem Reap which has direct flights from many of the capital cities in Asia as well as domestic flights to Phnom Penh.

SR is well and truly on the radar of digital nomads these days. This is in part to the international feel of the city and the very many cafes and bars that caters to all from jet-setting high roller tourists to shoestring backpackers.

Also the visa situation is very good compared to all other Southeast nations, particularly the likes of Thailand and Indonesia. This is because anyone can arrive in Cambodia and buy a business visa for $25 month that actually means you can legally work there, so you could open up a local business to go along with your online ventures.

SR is small enough to walk pretty much anywhere although it is fast spreading out into the surrounding countryside so this may not always be the case.

Accommodation is very affordable and widespread catering to all budgets. A small apartment could be had long term for $200 to $300 which is cheap even by South-east Asian standards, yet you have all the facilities a Westerner would hope for such as international restaurants and supermarkets catering to Expats.

Indeed import tax is pretty low in Cambodia so foreign goods can be bought cheaper than in neighbouring countries.

There are lots of cafes and wifi is available pretty much everywhere. Also Cambodia has a surprisingly good 3G mobile network too so you won’t always need that wifi password.