Work Without Borders: New Study Reveals the Best Cities for International Careers

A man working on a laptop outdoors at the beach. A man working on a laptop outdoors at the beach.
  • New data has revealed the best cities for digital nomads to live and work in, with Hoi An, Vietnam, taking the top spot, with an index score of 73.94
  • Delhi, India, was identified as the second-best city for digital nomads, with a score of 73.77, followed by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in third, with a score of 72.02 
  • The research looked at criteria influencing the appeal of cities for digital nomads, such as internet speed, co-working spaces and visa options

With the increasing popularity of remote working, more and more people are looking to take advantage of their flexible circumstances by travelling more or moving somewhere new. 

In fact, as reported by WFH Research, 12.7% of Americans employed in full-time roles worked remotely as of 2023 – a statistic that is expected to increase to 22% by 2025, according to Upwork.  

With that in mind, digital nomad publication Freaking Nomads created an index of the best cities for digital nomads according to relevant criteria, such as broadband and mobile speed, cost of living, rent, and other expenses, proximity to co-working spaces and accessibility to remote working visas.  

Each city was scored on each factor and an appropriate weighting was applied to create a total index score out of 100. 

Coming out on top was Hoi An, Vietnam, with a score of 73.94 out of 100. A hidden gem on Vietnam’s coast, Hoi An ranked 3rd for cost of living with a score of 85.48 out of 100, and joint 34th for visa accessibility with 77.78 out of 100. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient city is home to well-preserved old buildings, colourful lanterns and winding streets that create a magical atmosphere. Hoi An’s quaint historic charm will appeal to digital nomads wanting to start afresh in a unique corner of the world. 

In second place was Delhi, India, with 73.77. India’s capital placed 1st for cost of living with 89.03 out of 100, and joint 34th for visa accessibility with 77.78. Delhi is a dynamic melting pot of culture that has something for everyone – from its vast historic attractions, such as the majestic Red Fort, to markets offering local artisan products and diverse food from all over India. 

Ranking third was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with 72.02 out of 100. Malaysia’s capital city ranked joint 19th for visa accessibility with 83.33 and 21st or cost of living with 76.06. Known for its instantly recognizable skyline and the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur will appeal to digital nomads seeking a friendly and invigorating atmosphere that features traditional monuments and an impressive shopping scene. 

Da Nang, Vietnam, followed in fourth with an index score of 71.32. The busy metropolis ranked 10th for cost of living with 80.72 and 34th for visa accessibility with 77.84. Da Nang is popular for its dazzling coastlines and striking natural beauty, with landmarks such as the Marble Mountains providing breathtaking views for digital nomads to enjoy. 

Rounding out the top five was Mumbai, India, with a score of 69.81. The financial hub placed 18th for cost of living with 77.21 and 24th for coworking spaces with 61.15. As India’s most populous city, Mumbai is beloved for its expansive beaches, bustling street markets and delicious cuisine, cementing it as the perfect choice for digital nomads wanting to immerse themselves in a different environment. 

Top ten best cities for digital nomads 

Rank 

City 

Country 

Index score out of 100 

1. 

Hoi An 

Vietnam 

73.94 

2. 

Delhi 

India 

73.77 

3. 

Kuala Lumpur 

Malaysia 

72.02 

4. 

Da Nang 

Vietnam 

71.32 

5. 

Mumbai 

India 

69.81 

6. 

Buenos Aires 

Argentina 

69.40 

7. 

Bangkok 

Thailand 

68.15 

8. 

Santa Cruz de Tenerife 

Spain 

68.14 

9. 

Bucharest 

Romania 

67.99 

10. 

Las Palmas 

Spain 

67.89 

Placing sixth was Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a score of 69.40 out of 100. The capital city is known for its lively neighbourhoods and its delicious food, offering a haven of passion and excitement for residents and tourists alike. The city will appeal particularly to those looking for somewhere with a distinctive Latin American flair.  

Following in seventh place was Bangkok, Thailand, with a score of 68.15. The capital of Thailand is home to ornate temples, delectable cuisine, and energetic street life. Bangkok’s dynamic atmosphere makes it a coveted hotspot for any digital nomad looking to embrace a heritage-rich city that uniquely blends modernity and tradition. 

In eighth was Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, with an index score of 68.14. Tenerife’s cultural centre boasts a warm climate and relaxed island vibe ideal for any digital nomad wanting to indulge in sub-tropical surroundings. Santa Cruz is particularly notable for its annual carnival, which showcases colorful parades, music, dancing and costumes. 

Ranking ninth was Bucharest, Romania, with a score of 67.99. An artistic hub, Romania’s capital has plenty for digital nomads to explore, such as its elaborate and diverse architecture, an arts scene featuring some of the world’s best galleries, museums and theatres, and tranquil parks ideal for nature lovers. 

Completing the top ten was Las Palmas, Spain, which had an overall index rating of 67.89. Located on the island of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas boasts vibrant beaches, beautiful weather and stunning cultural attractions, such as the historic district of Vegueta, making it the perfect place for someone hoping to experience new surroundings while they work. 

Commenting on the findings, Irene Wang, co-founder of Freaking Nomads, said: 

“While it may seem daunting at first, living a digital nomad lifestyle gives people the freedom to forge their own paths and enrich their lives with cultures they wouldn’t otherwise experience.  

“Some people are put off by expenses and accessibility, but there are plenty of places with a lot to offer working professionals. Many of these will welcome remote workers with open arms and a sense of community. 

“Cities such as Hoi An, Delhi and Kuala Lumpur are ideal spots that have an ease of access and won’t break the bank. Their internet connection and co-working spaces also provide an infrastructure that allows digital nomads to flourish. 

“The monotony of day-to-day life can leave people feeling stagnant and uninspired, but travelling more, exploring curiosities or expanding our horizons doesn’t have to be limited to a vacation. Being a digital nomad provides endless possibilities, and these cities are sure to make anyone feel at home, no matter where they’re from.” 

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