There are lots of benefits to being a digital nomad, but one of them is that you can make your paycheck go further. Salaries are great in countries such as the UK and USA, but the cost of living is skyrocketing, so your hard-earned dollars don’t necessarily go very far. But as a digital nomad, you can live in places with a more affordable cost of living and therefore enjoy a better quality of life.
Well, that’s the theory anyway. Digital nomads should never forget the additional costs that come with traveling such as visas, insurance, flights, and the premium cost of short-term rentals. You can certainly enjoy a better cost of living as a digital nomad, but you should expect your expenses to be higher than those of the average local.
Of course, all of this depends on traveling to countries with an affordable cost of living. To help with that exact challenge, Flamingo App has published new research on the most affordable countries that also offer digital nomad visas.
They have looked at 50 countries with digital nomad visa schemes and estimated that disposable income left to a single person with an average UK or US salary after paying for cost-of-living essentials including rent, food, transport, and utility bills.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 most affordable countries and Flamingo App’s estimated cost of living for each. For comparison, they estimate the cost of living in the United Kingdom for a single person to be $2028 per month, and in the US to be $2966 per month.
We’ll look at the digital nomad visa option for each country and the pros and cons as a destination for digital nomads.
#1: Sri Lanka – Estimate monthly cost of living $624
Sri Lanka recently launched their digital nomad visa, which allows remote workers in technology fields to live and work remotely in the country for one year in the first instance, and it is renewable. You must also be able to demonstrate that you have a minimum monthly income of $2,000, and this will have to pass through a local bank account. There is a $500 fee for the visa application, but this covers the applicant, their spouse, and dependents.
Aside from the affordable cost of living, Sri Lanka is a popular destination for digital nomads because of its beautiful beaches and stunning jungles, plus its chilled vibe with friendly locals and a focus on living and eating well.
However, travelers should be prepared to adapt to the local way of life. Imports and international foods are limited, and power outages and Wi-Fi issues can be common. Outside of the capital Colombo, the digital nomad community is limited.
#2: Argentina – Estimated monthly cost of living $728
Argentina has a digital nomad visa that will allow you to live and work remotely in the country for up to 12 months. The visa is for 180 days in the first instance and can then be renewed for a further 180 days. You must be able to prove that you can work remotely and that you have sufficient income to support yourself. A specific figure isn’t given but it is estimated to be around $2,500 per month. Fees are around $200.
Aside from the affordable cost of living, Argentina has great infrastructure in terms of accommodation, transport links, and internet connection. Buenos Aires feels like a big European city. But the culture is unique and interesting, and the countryside is stunning. Patagonia is only one of the many places to visit.
But digital nomads should be aware that the Argentinian peso is extremely volatile, which means prices are hard to predict, and managing local money can be challenging. Political unrest, while usually peaceful, is also quite common.
#3: Colombia – Estimated monthly cost of living $734
The Colombian digital nomad visa is granted for two years for you, your spouse, and your dependents to discover the country while working remotely. The visa requires that you demonstrate a remote income of at least $684 per month to qualify and there is a $177 fee to apply. The visa is currently only open to nationals of certain countries, including the United States, Germany, Australia, Canada, Spain, Indonesia, and Portugal.
Colombia is an attractive destination for digital nomads, especially in the major centers such as Bogota and Medellin. There is a strong digital nomad community, lots of cafes, and coworking spaces, and you are never far from an amazing natural wonder to discover. The culture is friendly and fascinating, the food excellent, and the overall vibe is positive.
However, it is worth noting that Colombia is more challenging for female digital nomads due to a very male-oriented culture. While it is a relatively safe country, women may feel less so. It also rains more than you might think!
#4: North Macedonia – Estimated monthly cost of living $734
North Macedonia has already announced their new digital nomad visa, but we are currently awaiting its official launch. It will probably be similar to visas offered in neighboring countries so will probably be offered for two years, but may have a relatively high salary requirement around $2,500+ per month.
North Macedonia is ideally located for exploring Europe as it shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria and is close to Italy and Turkey. It is also a beautiful country, but not beachside.
However, it is worth remembering that North Macedon is not in the Schengen area, so you may need visas to visit neighboring countries. It is also not as developed as other European countries, which can be a bit of a culture shock. But that’s all part of the experience.
#5: Indonesia – Estimated monthly cost of living $751
Indonesia is another country that has announced a digital nomad visa that will let remote workers stay for up to five years. In the meantime, the B211A visa is the best, which lets you stay for 60 days in the first instance and renewable for another 60 days.
In addition to the affordable cost of living, Indonesia, especially Bali, is a great place for digital nomads with a thriving community. The beaches and jungles and beautiful, the people are welcoming, and the culture is laid back and welcoming. Split your spare time between yoga, surfing, visiting temples, and partying with the tourists.
The problem with Indonesia is that it can often feel overcrowded, and there are lots of things that come with that such as traffic and pollution.
#6: Malaysia – Estimated monthly cost of living $824
Malaysia also offers a digital nomad visa for remote workers in the IT and digital sectors. The visa is granted for between 3-12 months in the first instance depending on your employment contract, and it is renewable for another year if you still qualify. You must show a minimum income of $24,000 per year.
Malaysia is another beautiful country with great beaches, amazing jungles, and everything in between to discover. The food is delicious and the people welcoming. They recently collaborated with Airbnb to attract digital nomads.
But Malaysia is another densely populated country, so it can feel crowded, the infrastructure can feel insufficient, and pollution and rubbish can be an issue.
#7: Brazil – Estimated monthly cost of living $860
Brazil has a one-year digital nomad visa for remote workers with a minimum income of $1,400 per year, but you must also prove that you have around $17,000 in your bank account when you are making the application.
Brazil is a beautiful country with spectacular beaches, incredible mountainous regions, and, of course, the Amazon! The culture focuses on enjoying life and there are parties every day! The food is incredible, the music infectious, and the people very welcoming.
However, crime in Brazil is high and it can be dangerous, especially if you struggle with the language barrier since English is not widely spoken. Brazil can feel crowded, especially since a lot of life happens on the street rather than at home. But this makes it easy to slip into the lifestyle.
#8: Ecuador – Estimated monthly cost of living $882
Ecuador has a digital nomad visa that lets people stay in the country for up to two years. You must be able to prove a minimum monthly income of $1,275, increasing by $250 for each dependent.
Ecuador is sometimes called the land of eternal spring, so you can expect to be able to enjoy yourself year-round. This complements a slow and peaceful pace of life where you will be welcomed by the local community. Ecuador is also known for its healthy lifestyle.
The infrastructure in Ecuador is not great, which can be a challenge for some travelers. The language barrier can also be a challenge, so brush up on your Spanish. It does rain quite a bit but think spring showers followed by drying sunshine.
#9: South Africa – Estimated monthly cost of living $937
South Africa is another country that is in the process of launching a digital nomad visa. It is granted for 3-12 months in the first instance. The minimum income requirement has not been officially announced but is estimated to be around $3,000 monthly.
South Africa is a uniquely beautiful country with a vibrant and diverse culture. Enjoy breathtaking landscapes, safaris, and stunning beaches. The cities also have good infrastructure that will work for digital nomads and English is spoken by most of the population.
Travelers should be aware of the high crime in some areas and the need to be vigilant. Power cuts are also a relatively regular occurrence in some areas to help relieve stress on the electrical grid.
#10: Cabo Verde – Estimated monthly cost of living $948
Citizens from Europe and North America are eligible to apply for a digital nomad visa for Cabo Verde if they can prove a remote income of at least $1,500 per month. It is granted for six months in the first instance and can be extended for an additional six months.
In addition to the great cost of living, Cabo Verde is known for its incredible natural beaches and always warm weather. It also has a unique combination of African and European culture which means great food, wonderful music, and nice architecture. The lifestyle is relaxed, and it is a relatively safe place.
But it is worth remembering that Cabo Verde is a small country, so there isn’t that much to explore. Poverty is also rife and can be challenging to engage with.
Which of these destinations is on your wish list? Let us know!