While Southeast Asia tends to steal the spotlight when it comes to digital nomad destinations, Latin American can often be the right choice for many. That’s because it offers a lower cost of living compared to the US and Canada, a laid-back lifestyle, great weather in many of its cities, and the ability to stay close to Eastern or Pacific time zones. The places are listed in geographical order, from North to South.
Mexico City, Mexico
Probably not the cheapest city on the list, but definitely one of the most exciting and accessible. I absolutely love Mexico City and its colourful vibe. The food, the history, the arts, the pace – it’s all there. Home to nearly 20 million people, it is huge, with many vibrant neighbourhoods to suit any taste. It is the city with the most museums in the world and offers unparalleled access to delicious local and global cuisine. For a digital nomad, Mexico City has a great infrastructure in terms of internet connection and international flights. You can live in different areas of the city for a few months at a time and never get bored, with so much to explore. Plus, Mexico allows stays of up to 6 months at a time. The biggest downside of Mexico City is security. Unfortunately, it’s not the safest place, even in Latin America, so that’s an important factor to consider.
Panama City, Panama
I spent about 4 years in Panama and can safely say that it is an easy place to live. It has a large, but welcoming expat community, year-round tropical weather and a great digital infrastructure. The international airport in Panama has direct connections to the main cities in the US, Canada, Europe and all of Central and South America, making it a great base to explore the region. There is also an opportunity for those looking for a permanent residency since it offers many nations a friendly nations visa. Expats find Panama particularly easy to live in since it has an abundance of international brands readily available in stores, plenty of international restaurants and many English-speaking businesses. That said, rental prices in Panama City have been steadily rising as more people arrive, so the cost of living is not as low as it once used to be.
One of the latest hubs for digital nomads, Medellin is the top choice on many lists. The city of eternal spring, Medellin used to be associated with drugs and violence. But intensive social and government investment has changed the city dramatically. Today, it is one of the most exciting cities in Colombia, full of arts, culture, lovely public spaces, and a growing international community. The reason so many people flock to Medellin? Partially, due to the fact that Colombia offers special visa opportunities for digital nomads. At the same time, Colombians are very friendly, prices are still largely affordable, the weather is great and the food is delicious. However great Medellin is, it does come with its own downsides as well. Safety continues to be a concern in Colombia, and it does not offer the same metropolitan environment as some of the other cities on the list.
Looking for something more laid back? Then the colonial town of Cuenca may just be the right choice. Ecuador is a beautiful and welcoming country, with stunning Andean landscapes and rich history and culture. Cuenca sits about 2,500 meters above sea level, which means it has a mild climate during the entire year. While it’s a relatively small place, it’s popular both for digital nomads and for students looking to learn Spanish. The Spanish spoken in Ecuador is supposed to be one of the more neutral accents. It is also a dollarized economy, which means you don’t need to worry about spikes or drops in exchange rates. Keep in mind, however, that you can only stay in Ecuador for 6 months out of a year, meaning you may need another destination for the other half of the year.
A more home-like atmosphere is what Santiago will afford you. The capital of Chile, Santiago is more organized and less hectic compared to other Latin America’s capitals. It is also pretty safe, which is one of the main reasons I’ve included it on the list. The other one is the growing scene of digital entrepreneurship in Chile – one of the innovation hubs in Latin America. The internet here is fantastic, there is public transportation and plenty of public spaces, but still, that bit of laid-back Latin American environment that many nomads seek. The big downside with Chile is that it’s not cheap, at least not the way Medellin or Cuenca are. But that also means that the country has a very stable economy, so building a start-up here could be a great opportunity.
I haven’t actually been to Montevideo, but I feel like that if I were to become a digital nomad in Latin America, Uruguay is where I would look to. Sure, it’s a bit expensive, but that comes with many perks. Amazing weather, without the insane tropical heat or the cold winters. Tech-friendly environment, with policies that cater to technological development and great tax options for foreign income sources. A stable political environment and a safe city – not something you easily find in Latin America, particularly as the new election cycle rolls around. And of course, the super friendly, laid-back Uruguayans. That said, the reason I never did make to Uruguay is that it’s so far south! So that’s something to consider if you need to travel as part of your business.