About Author: Hi, I’m Jessica Suess, an Aussie who moved to the UK for studies and ended up on a global journey as a freelancing digital nomad. I’m recently settled in Brazil, navigating finances and sharing what I have learned. See My Full Bio.
When I was choosing locations to spend an extended time as a digital nomad, finding an affordable destination was always a priority. An affordable cost of living means that my dollars go further, so I can enjoy a better quality of life and even potentially save money.
But what are some of the best budget-friendly destinations for digital nomads? If you’re looking, I’ve done some of the legwork for you. I’ve chosen my two best budget destinations from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa.
How To Choose a Budget-Friendly Digital Nomad Location?
I’ve used the cost of living and traveling, digital nomad-friendly facilities, and things to see and do as criteria for picking my destinations, as well as the availability of a good visa.
Cost of Living
Eating well, transport and tourist activities should all be affordable. But remember, while checking the overall cost of living on sites like Numbeo is a great place to start, this only gives you part of the picture.
Short-Term Accommodation Options
The biggest expense for most digital nomads is accommodation. If you look at the cost of living sites, they mostly provide you with accommodation costs if you are a local. But digital nomads will struggle to access this market. Short-term rentals such as Airbnbs always cost more. So, the availability of short to medium-term rentals is also a criterion.
Flights are also a major cost for digital nomads, so I’ve also looked for places with major transport hubs nearby. This increases the likelihood of finding affordable flights and transportation.
Digital Nomad Visas
For this list, where possible I’ve also chosen countries that offer a digital nomad visa or equivalent that lets you stay for at least six months. I’ve also considered the cost of obtaining that visa, both in terms of the visa fees and the minimum income requirement.
Activities and Infrastructure
Of course, your chosen destination should have lots of things to see and do, and good facilities for digital nomads, including decent internet infrastructure and a collection of coworking spaces.
Asian Gems: Wallet Friendly Paradises
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has been making headlines lately because, according to a recent report by Flamingo App, it is currently the most affordable country in the world for digital nomads. Numbeo estimates that a single person can live on less than USD 500 per month excluding rent.
Sri Lanka has a fairly flexible rental market, so you can probably find a local rental for between three and six months. Book an Airbnb before you go and look for a longer-term rental when you arrive.
Sri Lanka recently launched a digital nomad visa with an accessible minimum income requirement of just USD 2,000 per month. The fee to apply for the visa is relatively high, at USD 500, but you can stay for one year and the visa is renewable. While Sri Lanka’s international airport may not be a major hub, plenty of affordable airlines operate between India and Sri Lanka.
For reliable internet coverage, digital nomads will want to set up a home base in Colombo. Outside the capital, power outages and Wi-Fi issues are common and disruptive. In Colombia, my favorite coworking spaces are Likuid and HomeTree Coworking.
I love Sri Lanka for its beautiful beaches, stunning jungles, and chilled vibe with a focus on Ayurveda eating. However, by the time I left Sri Lanka, I was desperate for some diversity in my diet, since you can only really get local food and products in Sri Lanka.
Malaysia has done a lot to open its borders to digital nomads in recent years. They released their one-year digital nomad visa in 2022, which has an accessible minimum monthly income of USD 1,400 but as of 2023, their minimum income requirement has increased to USD 2,000 per month or USD 24,000 per year and you must also prove that you have USD 17,000 in your bank account when you make the application.
But more than just launching the visa, the country has introduced a variety of programs to help digital nomads. Perhaps their most important is a partnership with Airbnb to ensure that more short and medium-term rentals are available in Malaysia. This means that it is increasingly easy to find affordable accommodation.
While any visitor to Malaysia will want to spend time in the bustling capital of Kuala Lumpur, I recommend basing yourself in Penang because it is less crowded and closer to beaches and jungles. Colorful Georgetown makes a great home base. It is estimated that a single person can live well in the region for less than USD 500 per month excluding rent.
European Escapes on a Budget
If you are looking for an affordable European destination, Hungary should be near the top of your list. Their White Card visa for digital nomads allows you to stay in the country for up to two years if you can demonstrate a minimum income of EUR 2,000 per month. Since Hungary is in the Schengen Area, this also gives you the right to visit other Schengen countries for up to 90 days at a time as a tourist.
Budapest is a strikingly beautiful city with stunning architecture intersected by the Danube River and natural thermal baths. It is bursting with museums, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. But it also has a highly affordable cost of living, estimated at around USD 750 per month for a single person before rent. The local accommodation market is flexible and there are also lots of Airbnbs. You can probably find something for USD 1,000-1,500 per month.
Albania is not on everyone’s radar as a stunning Mediterranean country, but it should be! As well as kilometers of beach overlooking the Adriatic Sea, it is full of amazing ancient sites and stunning mountain scenery to explore.
I visited Albania before they released their digital nomad visa, which is now available and granted for a year. While the minimum income requirement is not stated, it is estimated to be less than USD 500 per month. A single person is estimated to need around USD 650 per month to live comfortably in Tirana before rent.
There is a strong informal rental market, so you can probably access the local market and find something for less than USD 1,000 per month. Double-check if Wi-Fi is included in your accommodation because it usually isn’t. While connectivity can be patchy in other places, Tirana offers high-speed internet. There are also some nice coworking spaces including Coolab and Destil Coworking.
The one negative for Albania that I would flag up is that while I was expecting delicious Mediterranean cuisine, the food was disappointing. It can be hard to find quality food, which seems to be reserved for certain markets.
It is worth remembering that Albania is not part of the European Union or Schengen area. Transport links are still good, but you need to consider your visa options to visit other countries.
Latin American Paradises for Thrifty Nomads
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina tops the list of most affordable countries for digital nomads in South America. Buenos Aires also makes a great hub for digital nomads since its airport is probably the most well-connected in the region. So, you can explore Argentina’s beautiful regions including Patagonia and Iguazu Falls, plus you can travel to nearby countries such as Uruguay and Brazil.
Numbeo estimates that a single person can get by in Buenos Aires on just over USD 400 per month. Airbnb is booming in the capital and you can get a full apartment through Airbnb for less than USD 1,500 per month. You can also find cheaper options on the local market. Wi-Fi infrastructure tends to be good in all the major cities. There are some nice coworking spaces in Buenos Aires including Huerta Coworking and Manawa Coworking Creativo.
Just don’t keep too much of your money in Argentinian pesos, since it is highly volatile. I had quite a bit of trouble spending money in Argentina. I had to pay high fees every time I made a cash withdrawal using my foreign card, which was often due to low daily limits on cash withdrawals. If I went back, I would probably open a local digital bank account with a service like Brubank. Locals were also more than happy to accept payments in US dollars.
Argentina has a digital nomad visa that is granted for 180 days in the first instance and extendable for a further 180 days. The minimum income requirement is USD 2,500 per month and visa fees are around USD 200.
Colombia is another very accessible country with a digital nomad visa that has a minimum income of just USD 684 per month and a USD 177 fee. It is granted for two years in the first instance but is only open to passport holders from the United States, Germany, Australia, Canada, Spain, Indonesia, and Portugal.
While the capital city of Bogota is certainly worth visiting, I recommend making Medellin your base. It is a haven for digital nomads with lots of excellent facilities. It has an affordable cost of living estimated at around USD 500 per month for a single person excluding rent. It is not difficult to find short-term accommodation since there are many Airbnb and coliving spaces available to service the vibrant digital nomad community. It is a great idea to connect with the digital nomad community in Medellin via their Facebook group before you set off.
Medellin is well connected to explore Colombia’s northeast. You can spend time in the lake town of Guatape, hike the green mountains of San Rafael, kayak down the Rio Claro, and head up to the Caribbean coast.
African Retreats: Hidden Budget-Friendly Havens
In Africa, I’m going to break some of our rules, because Namibia is the only mainland African country currently offering a digital nomad visa. Some of the island nations offer visas, including Cape Verde, Seychelles, and Mauritius, but they all tend to be relatively expensive. Plus they tend to have limited infrastructure for digital nomads and not that much to do if you want to spend several months. So, for Africa, I’ve chosen countries that only offer 90-day tourist visas.
According to a recent report, Morocco actually beat South Africa as the most popular African destination for digital nomads. I’m not 100% convinced by the findings, but it is still a great place for digital nomads who can travel there on a 90-day tourist visa.
There is a long-standing myth that you can stay longer in Morocco and just pay a daily overstay fine when you leave. I have a friend who did this, thinking that it would be cheap, but she ended up paying around USD 80 per day.
It is estimated that a single person needs less than USD 500 per month to live comfortably in the capital Marrakech. This excludes accommodation, but you can book a nice hotel for less than USD 50 per night, and something more humble for as little as USD 10 per night.
From Marrakech, you can explore the beautiful country characterized by a long coastline and fascinating cities with grand mosques and vibrant sooks.
There is a bigger digital nomad community in the country than many imagine, and the internet speeds are fine in the larger cities. Marrakech even has a few decent coworking spaces. L-Blassa is my favorite.
Kenya is becoming increasingly popular with digital nomads, especially the capital Nairobi, which has a very “middle-class” lifestyle and a strong expat community. The bar and restaurant scene is very friendly, and the shopping is unique and interesting. Internet connectivity and other services are excellent and English is widely spoken.
To travel there, you should get an East African Tourist Visa, which lets you travel around Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda for three months. This gives you a great opportunity to explore the wildlife reserves and palm-lined beaches.
The cost of living in Nairobi is affordable, estimated to be around USD 450 per month for a single person before rent. Accommodation can be more expensive than you expect because, for safety reasons, most foreigners need to live in gated communities with good security. But you can find affordable options for between USD 500-1,000 per month.