How to choose a digital nomad destination

  • nomade numerique
Published on 2024-02-20 at 10:00 by Asaël Häzaq
Digital nomads are reshaping work norms and altering work and personal life dynamics. Many countries now offer special visas to acknowledge their significant economic impact. However, several questions arise: How do you choose the ideal "digital nomad" country? What criteria should you consider to make the right decision?

Interest in the country

What's the point of selecting a country that meets all practical criteria if you have no genuine interest in it? We're not suggesting you must be fascinated with the place or have dreamed of visiting since childhood. It's about having enough interest to consider settling there for a few months. This curiosity becomes crucial when navigating the administrative procedures that mark the beginning of a digital nomad's journey—tasks that can be tedious. Therefore, genuinely appreciating the country will make enduring long waits and exchanging numerous emails with immigration authorities more bearable. Your stay will be all the more satisfying because digital nomadism is also a state of mind.


Do you speak the language of your future host country? If you do, you'll have no trouble communicating with the locals, making your integration smoother. If not, do you have any plans to learn it? Basic survival vocabulary might suffice if your stay is short, like 2 or 4 months. However, learning the language becomes more important if you plan to stay for a few years. You might think it's unnecessary, especially if you work with other expats and only encounter locals at the neighborhood grocery store. Perhaps you depend on their English proficiency and don't hesitate to express your disapproval when it falls short. It's worth reconsidering the primary motivation for your trip. Despite common belief, English isn't universally spoken. The effort to bridge language gaps should be mutual. If this is a challenge for you, consider choosing a country where you're well-versed in the language.

Visa cost

Would you prefer Germany with its $100 visa, Cape Verde with its $60 visa, or Barbados with its $2,000 visa? Visa costs can escalate rapidly, but it all depends on your budget and, more specifically, the relationship between your budget and your desire to visit a particular country. If you've been dreaming of the Cayman Islands, the $1,470 visa fee might not deter you; you might consider it an investment to realize your dream. On the other hand, if visa costs are a crucial factor influencing your choice, it should be high on your list of priorities. You're perhaps not ready to invest more than a certain amount to embark on your digital nomad adventure.

Can I use visa exemptions to work as a digital nomad?

Visa waiver agreements typically allow citizens of two countries to enter each other's territory without a visa, usually for three months. These exemptions are intended for tourists, explicitly prohibiting work within the country. However, digital nomads operate in a gray zone. Despite being physically present in the territory, they work with foreigners. This is why numerous digital nomads take advantage of the visa-free privileges granted by their nationality, allowing them to travel abroad without needing a visa. Governments, on their part, are introducing digital nomad visas to formalize the practice and provide these workers with official status. Having a foreigner on-site for an extended period, typically 6 months to a year or even longer, is advantageous as it contributes to the local economy. Some speak of ecology. The short-term stays of digital nomads are considered a source of pollution and contribute to serial expatriation.

Visa duration

Directly linked to the visa cost, the duration of the visa is a crucial factor to consider. Many digital nomad visas have a validity period of one year (such as in the United Arab Emirates, Croatia, and Mauritius). Others may last for six months (like in Cape Verde, Iceland), two years (for example, in the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Ecuador), or even longer (36 months in Germany, 48 months in Norway). Predicting how long you'll stay can be challenging. Some digital nomads use their status to explore different countries. Rather than working for a local company, they simply reside there. This mobility allows them to transition between regions or even countries easily, provided they meet the respective visa requirements.


The Internet is one of the primary considerations for any aspiring digital nomad. Is broadband readily accessible, and at what price? Will you require coworking space, and if so, at what cost? Countries that have embraced digital nomadism often highlight the quality of their networks. A quick Internet search can provide insights into the "capabilities" of your prospective destination.


Whether you're a fan of cold climates, a sun enthusiast, or someone who loves the wind, dry weather, or the sea – weather preferences matter, and it's wise to take them seriously, especially if you have allergies. Weather conditions can vary significantly. Some regions have temperate climates, while others are tropical. If you seek warmth, you might not be comfortable with heatwaves or hot, humid summers. If you prefer cold weather, you probably wouldn't want to work during a blizzard. All these factors play a role in selecting your destination.

Jet lag

Is your work full of meetings, appointments, and calls? If so, be cautious about jet lag. While you may dream of a country on the other side of the world, your clients or company might be on the opposite side. In such cases, finding a suitable debriefing time can be challenging unless you're willing to work during odd hours or request your colleagues to adjust. You're likely aware of how they might respond. It's up to you to make an effort, even if it means reconsidering your destination.


Many cities still have a long way ahead in terms of accessibility. Even Paris, occasionally hailed as an accessible city, falls short compared to Grenoble, Rennes, or Nantes. According to a 2020 survey published by APF Handicap with IFOP, 9 out of 10 people "encounter difficulties with accessibility when moving around." If this applies to you, it's essential to ensure that your chosen expatriate city meets your accessibility criteria. Not to rule out a city permanently but to facilitate better trip organization and planning.

Cost of living

This aspect goes up much faster than you think. What's your current cost of living, and how does it compare to the cost of living in your desired country? It's crucial to meticulously assess all your expenses, particularly if you intend to travel extensively within the country or pursue several moves. First of all, you'll need to consider your expenses prior to your move, like visa fees and health insurance. Then, consider on-site expenses such as accommodation rent, Internet, transportation, phone bills, groceries, etc. The cost of living for a digital nomad can vary significantly from one state to another, from region to region, and even based on the type of lifestyle you are looking for.


Regarding comfort, lifestyle, etc., ultimately, the ideal destination for you is the one that resonates most with who you are. Therefore, your primary motivation plays a crucial role. The wisest choice is to opt for a country that aligns with your preferences and values.

Should you live in a digital nomad community?

Opinions vary on digital nomad communities. Supporters argue that these communities connect foreign workers who might never have met otherwise. Designed specifically for digital nomads, these spaces aim to simplify expats' lives, providing workspaces, leisure activities, and essential broadband. However, critics view these communities as fostering exclusivity, light years away from that of digital nomadism. They argue that such communities isolate foreigners from the local population. Some outspoken critics even refer to it as a form of "neo-colonialism." They highlight instances of excesses observed in places like Portugal (which opened its digital nomad village in Madeira in 2021) and Mexico, where the high concentration of expatriates is causing frustration among locals.

Why should you choose a particular destination?

Many digital nomads rely on practical considerations when choosing a particular country. Their thought process might not be as intricate as someone immigrating to a country with work or residence permits. Digital nomads face less pressure to find work in the host country since they already work abroad. Their attachment to the host country might be weaker, especially if they are making a short stay. In the initial months, they might see the foreign country more as a tourist, not fully immersed in the daily routine of a foreign national working for a local company.

However, other digital nomads take a different approach. They appeal to the term's origins and associate nomadism with a genuine way of life. For them, "digital nomadism" aligns with self-discovery, sharing, questioning, and continuous learning. These travelers avoid digital nomad villages and prefer more human-scale neighborhoods. In places like Italy, digital nomads are accommodated differently. In Tuscany or Sardinia, they are welcomed on farms and actively participate in the local way of life.