November 15, 2023 — In today’s fast-paced world, where most employees get a mere 14 days of leave per year, the concept of being a digital nomad—a remote worker who travels globally—is increasingly appealing. With many companies adopting remote work policies and even offering “work from anywhere” options, this lifestyle is becoming more accessible.
Southeast Asia, known for its beautiful landscapes and affordable living, has become a hotspot for digital nomads. Jane Tor, who transitioned from the insurance industry to remote work in 2018, chose Bali for its natural beauty and cost-effective lifestyle. In Amed, a rural area four hours from Bali, she enjoyed affordable living, paying just S$350 a month for a well-equipped room. Ubud, known for its spiritual healing, and Canggu, popular among younger crowds for its vibrant atmosphere and surf culture, are also top choices, though more costly.
However, the best accommodation deals in Bali are often not found on popular platforms like Airbnb or Agoda. Instead, Jane recommends joining local WhatsApp group chats or communities like Nomeo.io and Instagram (@goingslowig) to find better rates. For longer stays, negotiating with locals directly can lead to substantial savings.
Bali’s lack of public transport means learning to ride a motorbike is almost a necessity, as Sarah Tan, a design lead in the Web3 space, discovered during her two-month stay. For those not comfortable on two wheels, ride-sharing services like Gojek or Grab are viable alternatives.
Chiang Mai in Thailand, another favourite among digital nomads, offers affordable co-working spaces and a vibrant expat community. Sabrina Tan, who left her job in Kuala Lumpur to work remotely as a translator and travel writer, recommends renting a scooter for mobility. Dealing with visa extensions can be challenging, so staying updated with the latest rules is crucial. Stay tuned for more updates in DEI.
For those looking to venture beyond Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe offers affordable living with rich cultural experiences. Many travelers highly recommend Croatia because of its digital nomad visa. Cities like Zagreb and Zadar provide an excellent base for nomads. However, Jane advises avoiding the tourist season when prices soar.
Countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania also offer great value for money. For Marilyn and JS, a couple travelling while waiting for their flat in Singapore, choosing affordable destinations like Spain, Portugal, and Greece has been key to their journey. They utilise budget airlines, train search engines, and buses for cost-effective inter-city travel.
Public transport in European cities is generally efficient and affordable, making it easy to explore without a personal vehicle. Planning for mobile data is also essential, especially when travelling to more remote areas.
The digital nomad lifestyle offers an exciting alternative to the traditional work-life balance, allowing individuals to explore the world while maintaining their careers. With careful planning and strategic choices, long-term travel in Southeast Asia and Europe can be both enriching and cost-effective.