5 Digital Nomad Spots Where You Can Live For Half The Cost

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

As the new wave of digital nomadism, location independence and off track offices sweeps the planet, more and more people are considering new alternatives for the place they call home. If you’re able to make money online, overseas or on the go, then you have probably already considered moving some place where your dollar, pound, euro or yen can go a little further.

In this article I’m going to break down a few of my favourite countries where travellers, expats and nomads can get much more bang for their buck. How much more? Literally twice as much! I chose these countries based not only on cost of living, but also quality of life.

NOTE: If your home country is already cheaper than a western country, you won’t see the savings that I’ve listed in this post, which is comparing to the cost of living in the US using Numbeo’s Index. But these are still relatively inexpensive places to live. Enjoy!

1. Colombia





Purchasing Power

73% Lower (1-bedroom from $290/mo)

64% Lower

61% Lower

70% Lower

After travelling around Colombia for 6 weeks in late 2016, it quickly shot to the top of our list of favourite potential digital nomad spots. The wi-fi is good, the people are friendly and said to be the happiest on Earth, the food is tasty and places like Cartagena and Medellín have a lot of amenities and charm.

Cartagena Travel Restaurant
The Old Town of Cartagena Colombia.

Getting around Colombia is easy thanks to comfortable buses and cheap domestic flights, plus it’s well-connected internationally with two major airport hubs in Medellín and Bogota. If we were to live in Colombia, we would definitely go straight to Cartagena. A captivating and colorful Spanish colonial city right on the Caribbean Sea.

Travel to Isla Grande colombia
A gorgeous slice of sand on Isla Grande, an island near Cartagena

The old town is as charming as they come, the nearby beaches are safe to swim in and offer breathtaking sunset views and there are countless apartments and homes available, mostly outside of the old town.

In our experience, the wi-fi was really good and there are plenty of amenities for expats and digital nomads like good grocery stores, excellent cafes (Colombian coffee is unbeatable) and a plethora of restaurants.

where to eat in medellin colombia planning a trip

Colombia is also a safe place to live. There are some bad areas around the country, but they’re easy to spot and avoid, so expats wouldn’t likely have any issues while living in the country. The visa situation is pretty easy too! You get 3 months on arrival (Canadians have to pay a 171,000 peso / $77 CAD reciprocity fee) and you can extend it ($40) for a maximum of 180 days stay within a calendar year.

Colombia is a safe, affordable and viable place to post up as a digital nomad and is becoming increasingly popular, so get here fast.

Mobile Data in Colombia (Claro)

Validity Volume Price
1 day 10 MB 990 COP
1 day 30 MB 1 900 COP
7 days 450 MB 13 900 COP
15 days 1 GB 20 900 COP
30 days 2 GB 42 900 COP

Useful Colombia Links

2. Bulgaria





Purchasing Power

78% Lower (1-bedroom from $250/mo)

58% Lower

59% Lower

58% Lower

Bulgaria is a country where few people first hear and think: “Yeah, I definitely want to live there”, but this is mostly due to its relatively unknown charms. Bulgaria has excellent wine, friendly people, delicious (albeit heavy and hearty) food and surprisingly fast wi-fi.

GoatLife TV Episode 67 - Travelling to Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The Balkan country is not in the Schengen Zone but follows the same rules, so visitors get a 90 entry on arrival and can stay no more than 90 days in any 6 month period (3 in 3 out). However, the Bulgarian embassies abroad can also issue Long-Term Stay Visas (Type-D) which allow foreigners with sufficient means of living to stay for upwards of a year.

If we were to live in Bulgaria, we would definitely choose Plovdiv. This small ancient town has Roman ruins at every turn, boasts a buzzing nightlife, great restaurants and some of the most ailak (chilled-out) people we’ve ever met. Plus the country’s best vineyards are growing right on Plovdiv’s doorstep.

wine tour in plovdiv

The cost of living in Bulgaria is so low that many locals choose to eat out rather than buying groceries because booze and meals in restaurants are so affordable. On average, the quality of life for locals in the country is very high and most people live quite comfortably.

The entire country is relatively safe, the capital of Sofia has a relatively well-connected airport and there are even some nice Black Sea beach towns on the east side of the country. The only downside that Bulgaria may have is the colder winters, but if you enjoy skiing, there are a few winter opportunities in the country, as well as great skiing in neighbouring Macedonia.

skiing mavrovo macedonia

Mobile Data in Bulgaria (Mtel)

Data package Price Volume Period
Prima Free Data 512 MB 19.90 BGN 512 MB 60 days
Prima Free Data 1500 MB 29.90 BGN 1.5 GB 60 days
Prima Free Data 2 GB 9.90 BGN 2 GB 14 days
Prima Free Data 5 GB 24.90 BGN 5 GB 30 days

Useful Bulgaria Links

3. Croatia





Purchasing Power

74% Lower (1-bedroom from $310/mo)

46% Lower

46% Lower

52% Lower

Croatia is a beautiful, ancient and naturally blessed country with nearly 5,800 kilometers of coastline. In fairness, we didn’t see much of Croatia and just spent 5 days in Dubrovnik and 2 weeks living in an apartment in the seaside former-Roman capital of Split. But, I really can’t see there being a better option for digital nomads in the country than Split.

where to stay in split croatia renting an apartment
Our Apartment in Split Croatia (Booked Through Booking.com)

Split had it all. Lots going on, a stunning old town, some nearby beaches, a beautiful forested hill for hiking and countless bars and funky restaurants. The seaside promenade made for great late afternoon walks and you could even spot dolphins there sometimes! The only downside of the city was that (in our experience) the people weren’t as friendly as some other parts of Europe.

However, the wi-fi was blazing fast (our apartment downloaded at 30mbps), the capital of Zagrab has an airport that’s well-connected with the rest of Europe (you’d probably have a layover if leaving the continent), and the country is very safe.

Croatia Travel
Dubrovnik – Croatia’s Game of Thrones Castle Town

Mobile Data in Croatia (Telekom)

Name Volume Price Speed
Surf S 100 MB 10 kn 3G #
Surf M 250 MB 20 kn 3G #
Surf L 1 GB 50 kn 4G/LTE
Surf XL 2 GB 75 kn 4G/LTE

Useful Croatia Links

4. Mexico





Purchasing Power

78% Lower (1-bedroom from $307/mo)

61% Lower

61% Lower

52% Lower

Whenever we make a list of the best places to live, whether it be for retirees, digital nomads or just people looking for an extended vacation, Mexico always makes the cut. Partially due to its close proximity to Canada and the United States (it’s also easy to fly into from further abroad thanks to Mexico City’s well-connected airport) and largely due to the fact that Mexico is just awesome.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

The cost of living in most cities in Mexico is extremely cheap. We lived in San Pancho for 2 months, a small fishing turned expat village on the west coast near Puerto Vallarta, and our budget was very low. We rented a 2 level, 2 bedroom apartment for $350 US / month and we frequently ate out for less than $3 per meal.

The wi-fi is a bit slower in Mexico, but major cities and digital nomad hotspots like Cancun and Playa del Carmen have relatively fast internet. Despite what the news may say, Mexico is a very safe place to live. Almost all of the turmoil and unrest happens near the border and in known drug-trade towns.

mexican cities worth visiting

One downside of Mexico is corrupt police in some parts, but they’re usually easy to avoid. The country is home to fascinating historical sites, world-class beaches and some of the best food anywhere on the planet.

The visa situation is (currently) very relaxed as well with citizens from most western countries getting up to a 180 day visitor permit (Forma Migratoria Multiple, or FMM) which can be extended quite easily while in the country.

border crossing mexico to guatemala

The officials typically stamp for 90 days, but if you’re willing to go through some additional questioning, you can request the full 180 days at the border or immigration desk. Extending this for an additional 180 days is typically a painless, $35, 24 hour process.

If we were to move to Mexico on a more permanent basis, we would probably choose Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, Guanajuato, Oaxaca City, Guadalajara or Isla Mujeres. No matter where you choose in Mexico, the country is full of culture, friendly people, delicious food and free-flowing tequila! What’s not to love?

Merida, Mexico

Mobile Data in Mexico (Movistar)

Time Volume Price
1 day 30 MB MX$ 10
2 days 60 MB MX$ 20
3 days 100 MB MX$ 29
7 days 200 MB MX$ 49
15 days 600 MB MX$ 99
30 days 1 GB MX$ 149
30 days 2 GB MX$ 249

Useful Mexico Links

5. Malaysia





Purchasing Power

73% Lower (1-bedroom from $340/mo)

70% Lower

42% Lower

41% Lower

Here’s one that we don’t normally add to our lists of ideal digital nomad spots! Maybe it’s because we simply forgot about how amazing (and affordable) Malaysia is. I have to admit that a big part of the reason that Malaysia came to mind is because I was salivating over roti canai, nassi gorang, satay, tea terik and other incredibly tasty Malay specialties.

the cost of travelling in malaysian borneo

Nevertheless, Malaysia is a great place to live. It’s extremely safe, has a vibrant and well-connected capital (with flights within Asia for as little as $10), has – as I may have mentioned – great food and of course, friendly people.

The country is Islamic but generally liberal and progressive compared to most other muslim countries, however, we still would prefer to not be seen drinking in public, which is a bit of a bummer.

But Malaysia has it all, stunning beaches, mountains, jungles, buzzing cities and a welcoming feel. The visa situation is pretty simple, with visitors from most countries getting 90 days on arrival which is extendable in-country for an extra 60 days (around $30).

The wi-fi in Kuala Lumpur and other major cities is pretty quick, but outside of that the internet can be a little slow. If we were to live in Malaysia, we would probably choose Malacca, Penang or the well-connected capital of KL.

Where To Eat In Kuala Lumpur

If Malaysia never crossed your mind a digital nomad hot spot, maybe it should! It has everything a nomad could ask for and is incredibly affordable.

Mobile Data in Malaysia (Digi)

Volume Validity Price
30 MB 1 day (24 hrs) 1 RM
150 MB 7 days 5 RM
300 MB 7 days 7 RM
600 MB 7 days 10 RM
300 MB 30 days 10 RM
1 GB 30 days 20 RM
2 GB 30 days 30 RM
4.5 GB 30 days 48 RM
7.5 GB 30 days 68 RM
10.5 GB 30 days 88 RM

Useful Malaysia Links

Where do you want to live?

There are simply too many great countries to choose from. As much as we love travel, we also love finding an apartment or temporary home, laying down some roots (for a month or two), making friends and really immersing ourself in the local culture.

We’ve done this in Grenada, Guatemala, MexicoCosta Rica, Barbados, Croatia, Argentina, Chile and more. It’s a great way to unpack our bags for a bit, get some work done on the blog and enjoy a new place. A great bonus is when the place we choose has a lower cost of living than our home country of Canada.

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you did, please share it by clicking the share button at the top left of your screen. Also, leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you. What’s your favourite digital nomad spot or, if you’ve never lived somewhere else, where would you choose to live if it were to be anywhere besides where you are now?

Thanks for reading and happy living / travelling abroad!

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Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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16 thoughts on “5 Digital Nomad Spots Where You Can Live For Half The Cost”

  1. If I’m choosing locations based on your list, I would go with Mexico or Bulgaria. I might just be dreaming of Mexico because it’s so cold right now and it looks so wonderfully warm there. I’d love to get my husband on board with going away to live somewhere for three months or so and for that, Bulgaria is definitely the best bet. He loves Europe and the wine and cheap meals out would be great bargaining tools for me. 🙂

  2. Interesting post, Nick. I really love MX, and have spent a considerable amount of time visiting locales large and small. But I don’t believe it is a safe place to live. Nearly everywhere I visited over the past couple of years has had a very strong police presence out on the streets. They wouldn’t be there if there wasn’t a strong need. Same with Colombia. I haven’t been to Cartagena, so can’t comment on that, but the police presence in Bogota is dumbfounding! Would definitely be interested in visiting Malaysia at some point in time. Cheers, and stay safe!

  3. That was interesting! Most lists of digital nomad spots mention Thailand so it was nice to see other options. I’m actually starting my digital nomad life in Penang, Malaysia. I’m happy that it’s in your list, so I’ve chosen a good place 🙂
    Regarding the internet connexion in Malaysia I find that using the phone (4G) as a hotspot for the computer usually works faster than the accommodation’s wi-fi (at least in the places I’ve been in Penang).

  4. I never thought of living in Split, even though Croatia is one of my favourite countries. Lately, every time I think about settling down for a little while, I think of Lisbon. It’s such a great city and also much cheaper than your average European city!

  5. Spent over a month in Croatia during our travels, and yeah, a great place to be a nomad. Split is also great because it is the jumping off point for all of the islands like Vis, Bol, Hvar, etc.

    We encountered quite a few friendly folks in Croatia, but not so much in Split. Zadar and Istria are also both great places to visit, with lots of friendly people, plenty to do, and good wi-fi for getting work done depending on where you stay.

  6. Thanks for the great explanation of these places! We really want to go to Colombia next so this is great info!! Would love to try Croatia, too!! We try to take our cat with us so we need places where we can stay as long as possible so we don’t have to keep dragging him around 🙂

  7. Love these recommendations! Places like Bali and Chiang Mai always seem to top these lists, so happy to see some alternative suggestions. Am really surprised that Mexico hasn’t become more of a digital nomad hotspot. Retirees have figured it out, but it only seems like a trickle of digital nomads in some of those same destinations in Mexico that are popular with the retired expat crowd. We’ve love it there! I also like your suggestion for Malaysia – I think it’s so underrated and often overshadowed by Thailand. But Malaysia is awesome, as you point out. Haven’t made it to Bulgaria but am very intrigued by your suggestion there. Plovdiv sounds great and we may be passing by there next year, so thanks your suggestion, maybe that’ll be a temporary home for us for a month or so. 🙂 Cheers!

  8. If it were up to me, I’d move to Malaysia first. But I was surprised with Mexico. I just visited in February for the first time (Playa del Carmen) and loved it! I didn’t realize that was an expat village!! This list is well put together and offers tons a solid advice. I greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

  9. Awesome post, super helpful for us as digital nomads! Just wanted to add that Croatia is not in Schengen Zone just yet! It’s scheduled to enter but so far is not so us non Europeans can still hop over there once Schengen is up!

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