For the past year we have been travelling around Southeast Asia and Mexico to some of the best digital nomad, expat and retiree hotspots, staying longer periods of time to get a really get a gage on what it's actually like to live in these places.
In this blog we are going to give you our list of our favourite places we lived and why you should consider moving there in 2023!
We are going to base our recommendations on the following criteria:
Cost of Living
It's important to keep in mind this is just OUR list based on where we have visited in the past year, there are many other beautiful options for digital nomads in the world!
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Cost of Living - 3/5, it's still a lot cheaper than a lot of other countries, but rent isn't that cheap, expect to pay around $800 minimum per month for a decent apartment near Centro/Playa.
However, it's still reasonably cheap to eat out, we usually spend around $20-$30 on a dinner for 2 at a bar/restaurant. Cost of groceries are pretty standard, but alcohol is cheap. If you eat locally you definitely save money.
Visas 5/5 - 6 Month visa on arrival makes it very easy if you want to come and check it out first. The temporary resident visa is relatively easy to get and gives you 4 years of residence, The visa is open to nationals from all over the world. However, you must meet a few income requirements such as:
- Bank balance of $43,000 for the last twelve months.
- Income of $2,595/month for the last six months (when bringing a dependent, this increases by $861 for each dependent).
Geographical Location 5/5 - For us the location is great, it's very close to the US and not too far from Canada, it's also the same time zone as US which makes working very easy. There are a lot of places to visit within a short distance, not just in Mexico but around central and South America.
Getting around 5/5 - Probably the best part about PDC is 5th Ave, taxis are cheap too, expect to pay around $50MXN per trip don't let them over charge you!
Vibe/People 4/5 - While the people are nice and the locals friendly, there are a lot of holidaymakers here which maybe takes away from the vibe a bit depending on what your looking for, there are a lot more retirees here than other destinations.
Food 4/5 - Great Mexican and Argentinian food, but not as cheap as other places. Pretty good grocery stores though so you can cook yourself easily.
Fitness 3/5 - Only a couple of gyms/yoga studios, very crowded but also very cheap and pretty decent, doesn't compare to Bali though.
Fun 5/5 - Tours, resorts, bars, nightclubs, it has everything, which can be dangerous if you want to get work done!
Safety 3/5 - Technically the least safe on the list for obvious reasons, but we haven't had any problems and haven't heard of anyone else having any.
total score 37/45
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Cost of Living 4/5 - Similar to PDC
Visas 5/5 - Same as PDC
Geographical Location 4/5 - Only reason it doesn't get 5/5 is it isn't as close as PDC to places like Tulum Cancun airport.,
Getting around 4/5 - Pretty cheap to rent a scooter or ride a bike.
Vibe/People 5/5 - Feels like the new Canggu, especially La Punte
Food 4/5 - Not as many options as PDC but a bit cheaper
Fitness 4/5 - Surfing, gym right on the beach, yoga.
Fun 5/5 - Beach, surf bars
Safety 4/5 - Still Mexico but safer than carribean coast etc.
Cost of Living 4/5 - Cheaper than PDC but is definitely getting more expensive, when we were there we were able to rent a nice apartment for around $500/month but it was still quiet, in general it is a cheap place though.
Visas 3/5 - 30 day tourist visa on entry which can be extended up to 180 days, but it was a hassle.
Geographical Location - 3/5 Close to other SE Asian countries and Australia, but that's all. Different timezone to US.
Getting around 4/5 - Cheap to rent a scooter, taxis cheap, but LOTS of traffic and getting worse
Vibe/People 5/5 - If you're a young digital nomad this is the best place to meet people, not many locals there anymore though.
Food - 4/5 - In general, Indonesian food tastes great but is not healthy, but lots of healthy "western" cafes, a little pricey though
Fitness 5/5 - Best gyms, yoga, MMA. a bit expensive though ($150/month)
Fun 5/5 - Beach Clubs and House Parties
Safety 4/5 - Mostly safe except for petty theft
Cost of Living 4/5 - Cheaper than Bali and Mexico for rentals, but scooters cost more.
Visas 5/5 - 60 day Tourist visa and Digital nomads, retirees with pensions, and wealthy investors can now apply for the long time residence visa and live in the country for 10 years as long as they meat certain requirements.
Geographical Location - 3/5 Close to SE Asian countries, pretty far from Australia and very far from anywhere else.
Getting around 3/5 - Need a car or bike which isn't cheap, lots of highways
Vibe/People 3/5 - Lot's of holiday makers, retirees, some people just there for sex tourism.
Food 4/5 - Great Thai food, but more expensive than other places in Thailand
Fitness 4/5 - Great for MMA, not so great for Yoga etc.
Fun 4/5 - Tours, nightclubs mostly
Safety 4/5 - Some sketchy people out late at night, but other than that it's safe. You must be weary of police in Thailand as well as in many cases they are not always on tourists sides.
Cost of Living 5/5 - Very cheap for accomodation, cheaper than Canggu
Visas 3/5- Same as Canggu
Geographical Location - 2/5 Similar to Canggu but 90 mins drive to the beach
Getting around - 4/5 Not great for walking, but scooters are cheap.
Vibe/People 5/5 - Chill mix of nomads, yogies and retirees.
Food 5/5 - The best restaurants in Asia in our opinion, from indonesian food to western and thai.
Fitness 4/5 - Yoga is 10/10 but not much else there.
Fun 3/5 - A bit slow paced, not many bars, some day clubs though.
Safety 5/5 - Never felt unsafe at all, the police will pull you over from time to time for minor offences but we only had this happen to us once and it cost $50USD.
If you are planning on travelling in the near future you will for sure need travel insurance. We use Safetywing Nomad Insurance and it is the best!
It completely covered us when we both contracted Dengue fever in Bali and had to have a doctor come to our hotel for a week!
I'll leave the link here if you are ready to get you some affordable travel insurance: