How to choose your first digital nomad destination

Are you just starting your digital nomad journey? Picking up the first place you want to go is not always easy and straightforward, especially when you can literally go anywhere in the world. 

We compiled a quick list of steps to follow so you make an easy first choice. 

What are you in the mood for? 

At this first step you’ll have to think about what exactly you are looking to get from your first destination. This will help you narrow down your options and make the choice easier. Here are some useful questions you can ask yourself: 

  • Do I want to be in a warm climate surrounded by beaches? 
  • Do I want to be in an urban atmosphere?
  • Is the time zone important for my work? 
  • Do I have to be in a country compatible with the time zone back home?
  • Is there a culture that I particularly want to explore and that I’m interested in?
  • Do I want to quickly visit a place or do I want to stay longer and try to establish a routine there? 
  • Is there a place, where I for sure don’t want to go? (might sound funny but this will actually make the process way easier)

Once you start answering these questions you’ll have a better idea of where you want to head to. At this stage you’ll probably have a couple of destinations in mind and you’ll start comparing them. 

What is the cost of living? 

It’s advisable to have a dedicated budget before you start traveling. This will help you understand how long you could stay, what type of accommodation you choose and ultimately what things you’ll be able to do. 

There are many websites that offer a breakdown of the cost of living. You can try Numbeo which gives an overview of almost all cities in the world so you can get an idea of what you’ll spend. Keep in mind that the accommodation costs might vary especially if you’re visiting in peak season or if you’re staying for a shorter period of time. Usually stays for 28+ days are where you’ll get the best deals. 

Do I need a special Visa? 

It goes without saying that checking the Visa requirements should be one of the first steps in your process. This will also help you determine how long you can stay in a country. 

The visa you’d need depends on which country you’re from.  Keep in mind that not many countries offer Digital Nomad Visas. And if you’re a freelancer make sure to check out the difference between Digital nomad visa and self-employment visa.  In most cases if you’re staying for under 90 days, you’d only need a tourist visa.  

Lastly, something to consider if you’re coming from the US is the Schengen zone rule or how many consecutive days you can stay in the Schengen area. The limit is 90 days. Good idea is to choose a country outside Schengen and visit it to save some Schengen days. 

What’s the digital nomad community like? 

It may not be the first consideration but it’s definitely important to know how big and developed the community is in the destination. This will help you get an idea of how many fellow nomads you can expect to meet; will there be any bigger events and meetups. 

This can even determine how many coworking options there will be and what the internet situation is like. Is there a fast and reliable WI FI connection that is sufficient for your work? We all love the idea of being on a tropical beach with our laptop (and there are places where this is possible) but we have to do some research beforehand. 

For some people, a bigger, more developed community is a bonus. Others prefer to look for quieter destinations. 

What’s the lifestyle like? 

Seems obvious but we have to mention it here. Think about what aspects you normally enjoy (or don’t like at all) and look for a place that offers them. Do you like a buzzing nightlife scene where you can find a cool event on each street? Do you like the feeling of being in a very big metropolitan area or do you prefer being in a smaller town close to nature? Are you a beach town person or do you prefer the tranquility of the mountains? 

Answering all these questions will help you find a place that fits perfectly with your needs and feels right. 

Magdalena Grozdanova
In the past years I've been living in different countries in Europe (I'm potentially the slowest slowmad). Sofia is my home base now and in my free time I like reading, spending time in nature and practicing yoga.
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