It’s no surprise that the world of remote workers and digital nomads is growing at a rapid rate. With more and more yearning for an independent work environment coupled with the freedom to travel, remote working is on its way to the mainstream field. Not to mention, the ongoing pandemic has especially forced many to reconsider where they are basing themselves. Simply put, remote working is the future, and it’s on its way fast. That’s why we put together a list of the best cities to work from remotely in 2021.
Our core data of affordability and internet access has been gathered from the folks over at Nomad List with many other variables taken into account, including countries which offer specific Digital Nomad visas, and where to find the coolest co-working spaces and expat friendly communities. Whether you are already living a digital nomad lifestyle, or are aiming for one, this list has you covered.
Best Places for Remote Working in Asia 2021
By now, everyone knows that the Indonesian province of Bali is a mecca for digital nomads. Countless coworking spaces, connected community, colourful night scene and unbelievably rich local culture are just a few draws that make Bali the place to be. Thanks to its solidified status as one of the world’s most dense digital communities, wifi is rarely a problem. Additionally, Bali is affordable and an excellent option for those who want to dive into a new culture when they aren’t working. After all, you can snag a cosy cottage with rice terrace views for no more than $400/mo; and enjoy a delicious Balinese feast for shy of $5.
2. Chiang Mai
Over the past decade or so, Chiang Mai has become something of a rite of passage for digital nomads worldwide. It’s the perfect makeup of affordability, visa flexibility, fast internet speed and overall atmosphere. You can network your tail off here in the incredibly diverse and connected expat community, take advantage of the countless coworking spaces or just do your own thing in your super affordable accommodation. After all, a studio in the centre will only set you back about 300-400 bucks. Then, there’s everything else. Chiang Mai is the perfect entry into Thai culture and a great hub for exploring the rest of the region.
Singapore is constantly topping lists for one of the best places for expats to live in the world. Thanks to its stable economy, favourable business environment and melting pot of opportunity for remote workers; it’s not hard to see why. Depending on your career, Singapore is an excellent gateway to the Asian market. It’s more costly than most counties that are remote worker-friendly; but the 93 Mbps internet, high level of safety and endless career opportunities far make up for it.
Crazy rich history, unbelievable food and mega-affordable accommodation are a few things to look forward to at Vietnam’s capital. Hanoi is loaded with cheap coworking spaces; plus a well-connected digital nomad community, and loads of comfy accommodations to make it feel like home. Spend the day coworking at UP or COGO or hit up one of the many cafes perfect for afternoon productivity. When you aren’t working, there are an infinite number of local dishes that will literally warm your soul. Plus, tons of nearby sites to explore such as the Temple of Literature and Hoan Kiem Lake. See more about the monthly cost of living here.
Despite China flying largely under the radar in most remote worker circles, Shanghai offers a whole world of opportunity. The ultra-modern city is surrounded by stunning landscapes, ancient city walls and loads of history within the city and region. Peppered throughout you’ll find loads of accommodation on the cheap and hundreds of working spaces from buzzing coworking spots to every type of cafes you can imagine. Thanks to its massive size, there is an infinite number of neighbourhoods to choose from with affordable rent that shouldn’t set you back more than $700 a month.
Dubai is one of the world’s most sought after travel destinations for tourists and long term remote workers alike. When it comes to expats, Dubai puts up some pretty impressive numbers, too. Each year, the Emirate gem reels in more than 200,000 expats looking to live the luxe life and indulge a little bit. Is the price tag pretty steep? Well, yes. But Dubai is easily one of the most luxurious cities in the world. Not only that, Dubai is regularly ranked as one of the best places to live around the globe and boasts an incredibly high quality of life. If you’re prepared to pay the price of around $2,000 for a studio in one of the Middle East’s most interesting cities, Dubai might be the right fit for you.
If you’re not as concerned about the cost of living and are more about a work hard, play hard lifestyle, Tokyo is for you. This vibrant, bustling city is fantastic for its stellar transport, incredible nightlife, mind-blowing cuisine and general atmosphere that will leave you breathless. In addition, Tokyo is known for its high level of safety, reliable internet (28 Mbps) and kind locals. Thanks to its massive size and melting pot of cultures from all over the world, there are tons of coworking spaces to choose from. If you play your cards right, you can land a one-bedroom studio in the city centre for around $1,500.
Seoul has a huge reputation for being the most influential tech hub in Asia and possibly the world. Thanks to this, you’ll never be left wanting for super-fast internet and insight into the digital world. While employment prospects for westerners are pretty slim, if you’re a remote worker, you’re in huge luck if you can afford the slightly higher cost of living. In addition to being the beating heart of South Korea, Seoul is loaded with some of the best food east Asia can offer and a lively local culture that just can’t be beaten. A one-bedroom in the city centre should put you around $1,000 in rent, and your total cost of living should hover around $2,500.
9. Kuala Lumpur
Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of culture, history and insanely good food. Even better, it’s surprisingly affordable, is home to super friendly locals and is loaded with comfortable accommodation that’ll really bring your new home together. While there may not be a ton of large coworking spots, there are an infinite number of cafes that function as a coworking space and are 10x as charming. Plus, the internet stays at about 17 Mbps, a one-bedroom shouldn’t set you back more than around $600 a month, and dinner should run about $5, tops.
10. Ho Chi Minh City
If you’re looking for a bang for your buck, year-round balmy sunny days and incredible quality of life; Ho Chi Minh City is the place to be. This vibrant city in southern Vietnam is famous among expats and locals alike for its great affordability, variety of local markets and ease of living. Whether you’re looking for consistent coworking spaces or just want reliable internet and a variety of work cafes, you’re covered. In fact, there are even co-living initiatives such as Spiced.
Bangkok is an assault on the senses in all the right ways. It’s loud, it’s exciting, it’s chaotic and rough and yes, a bit challenging at times. Bangkok offers almost 10 million residents so you’ll find everything from NYC skyscrapers with a bustling business centre to infinite food carts and buzzing markets to ancient temples and sprawling ruins. Thanks to the low cost of living, you can explore it all and more in your off time. Thanks to its huge reputation as an expat hub in recent years, there are loads of coworking cafes, 20 MBPS internet and well-connected networking groups.
Taiwan’s capital city is an unbelievably great option for remote workers. High quality of life? Check. Safety? Check. Reliable, fast wifi? Check. Affordability? Double-check. No matter your remote occupation, Taipei is a great option. It’s loaded with quirky coworking spaces, affordable accommodation and is a great gateway to explore the rest of Asia in your downtime. Another perk is that it hasn’t been completely overrun by tourists, meaning most of the local culture is still incredibly preserved, and your life there will feel more authentic.