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Digital Nomad Destination Checklist

If you’re lucky enough to be able to work remotely anywhere in the world for your job, that’s amazing. Many people don’t get this opportunity. However, the choices for where to base yourself are endless and deciding on a location can be overwhelming (literally, the world is your oyster). To help you out, I’ve put together a digital nomad destination checklist. There are a number of different factors you should consider when deciding on your next digital nomad destination.

When making this decision myself, I tend to break my checklist down into two separate categories. Firstly, work requirements and secondly, personal preferences. My work requirements tend to be less flexible than personal preferences. For instance, I always need strong reliable internet however, my love for the beach doesn’t mean I’ll never opt for a city break.

Here is a checklist of what I look for in each category to help you decide where to base yourself next:

Work Requirements

Strong and reliable internet

I think this is probably at the top of most people’s digital nomad checklist as it’s a remote working essential. I work a traditional 9-5 job and have multiple zoom calls daily. As such, this is a basic requirement to be able to perform my job effectively. My home download/upload speeds are approximately 390/50 Mbps so I tend to look for this as the average requirement. To test internet speed, all you have to do is google search “internet speed test” and run the test by clicking the link that pops up. Hotels, hostels, and Airbnb hosts should be able to run this and provide you with a screen shot of the results.

Privacy

I handle and discuss confidential data, therefore I need space to discuss this privately and somewhere I know people won’t be looking over my shoulder seeing information they shouldn’t.

Good workspace

What people consider “good” will vary, however for me, I tend to look for the following:

  • Relatively quite
  • Has a surface to set up my laptop with a power supply (yes, those photos of people working on their laptop from a sun lounger by the pool make for great Instagram content, but it’s not really sustainable)
  • Well lit
  • Clean and nice surroundings
  • Access to snacks – negotiable lol

Personal Requirements

Geo Preference

This seems like a no brainer, but to easily narrow your search, consider if you’re looking for a beach, city or outdoorsy mountain type place. I’m a beach bum personally, and the photo below is where I spent a week working in Playa del Carmen!

Cost

Maybe it’s the accountant in me, but I think this should be one of the first things you consider. Make a quick monthly budget for yourself and determine what you can spend on food, accommodation, activities, etc. and stick to this! Don’t stretch yourself thin here or else you’ll just be stressed about money the whole time.

Pro Tip: Be sure to look for the cost of living in a destination during peak and low season. Also, check to see if there are any large events being held in your destination which might temporarily drive up the cost. For example, one year I was absolutely certain I was going to work from Greece in August, until I pulled up the accommodation costs on Airbnb and realised they’re 4 times more expensive than in low season. Or the other time I flew to Hong Kong from Vietnam when I was backpacking because it was the cheapest flight I could find, and realised just how freaking expensive Hong Kong was AFTER I got there. Do your due diligence before you book your flights or turn up to a place.

Accommodation

I could write an entire post on finding the best accommodation (and I will!) but here is a summary of what I tend to look for:

    • Good host – This can make or break your stay. At a minimum your host needs to be a good communicator. Bonus points if they provide tips and suggestions!
    • Location – I look for something in a safe, relatively quiet location but one that is still within walking distance of shops, restaurants, nature, etc. 
    • Sociable – I ask myself, does this look like somewhere I could possibly meet other travellers or digital nomads? Pro Tip: Booking a private room in a villa or hostel is a great way to maintain your privacy and personal space but still be able to meet people.
    • Plenty of options – If you’re a digital nomad, chances are you’re not basing yourself somewhere for months at a time, as such, it’s best to find somewhere that has plenty of options available if you’re booking from week to week. That way if your first choice or current accommodation gets booked up, you have plenty of backup options. I also come back to my original point about costs, more options mean lower costs and more availability in peak season, it’s all about supply and demand.
    • Clean and nicely decorated – My surroundings really do have an impact on my mood and productivity levels, so this is important to me but not necessarily everyone.
    • Shower situation – I know this seems trivial, but consistent warm water isn’t always a guarantee, so be sure to double check this if you don’t want to be showering in cold water daily.
    • Kitchen – Make sure you have the basics if you tend to cook at home more often than not. Also, ovens are not as common in places with hotter climates so make sure you check this.

People/Community

One of the more important things I look for in a location is how easy it will be to meet people. Places that have strong expat or digital nomad communities already are great for this. It’s a nice feeling having friends and a supportive community around you. If you need some advice on how to make friends while traveling solo, have a read of my article.

Food

I love trying new foods and don’t have any dietary requirements, so I’m pretty flexible with this. If you do have dietary requirements or are a picky eater, just be conscious of your options.

Activities

If you’re someone who loves to keep busy, check out what type of activities are available in the area. My favourite activities tend to revolve around the water (swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, etc.) but when I’m in a city, I love to go on walking or food tours, take a cooking class, or just wander around and sightsee.

Transportation

Think how easy it is to get there and also how easy it is to get around once you’re there. Consider if you’ll be hiring a car or walking. If you’re trying to get off the beaten path, make sure you can easily get help in an emergency. 

Language

Do you speak the local language and if not, are you ok learning a bit to get around or having a language barrier? You will find that in the more touristy spots, English will tend to be the common second language.

Safety

Do your research before you go somewhere by speaking to friends who have been before, reading travel websites or blogs, looking at social media posts, etc. I literally never go off of government website warnings. If you did that, you’d think the entire world is the scariest place on earth. 

That’s pretty much it! Let me know in the comments if you think of any other factors you would consider as part of your digital nomad destination checklist!

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