If you can work from home, where should home be?

If you can work from home, where should home be? NomadList has combined data on internet speed, the cost of rental housing and food, local weather conditions including air quality and other factors to come up with an interesting list. Here’s the top ten.

CityList

The third edition of the textbook is on the way but maybe a sabbatical in Chiang Mai or Prague for the fourth edition. One advantage of Prague is that from there it’s easy to get to anywhere else in Europe, Chiang Mai is more restricted and the Philippines even more so. Either way, however, these would be good places to write¬†about purchasing power parity, assuming it hasn’t kicked in by then.

Comments

The same question could be asked of where you would want be a full-time

Online college student.

Distance matters (I know!). So do time zones.

Prague or Budapest

What about good local schools? That's a must-have for any families planning to relocate.

The site seems to be down, but regarding schools and children, this list appears to be for the "digital nomad" community who tend to go from place to place rather than long-term expats. In most cases it's just on a tourist visa of up to 90 days, so it tends to be single people and couples rather than families.

I know Chiang Mai, Prague and Bangkok.

Chiang Mai is beautiful, but I got bored pretty soon there. Too far from the rest of the world.

Prague is a good choice if you don't mind local winters and cuisine. A Western country with emerging market prices. Short flights to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Milano, Stockholm, Barcelona.

Bangkok is a hell on the Earth, no, thanks.

The cuisine is improving fast. :-) Prague is undergoing a little gourmet revolution with new restaurants, food markets and festivals popping up every week.

3rd edition? So odd to me you two are doing MRU and playing the textbook game.

MRU is a group effort that goes far beyond two professors.

As for the copyright - well, the books they write are clearly theirs. As are the royalty checks.

Just kinda surprised these two mopes are comfortable bilking the kiddos. Certainly don't dispute the legality of it.

bangkok? weather is awful. muggy, changmai nice though.

I would move to palermo. Cheap, warm, and in beautiful Scicily with great food, and connected to all of europe. Prague and budapest are cold, and the food much less my thing. Amazing blend of old culture, on the med. Really, Palermo is the place to work from home from.

How do these compare to the "best" the U.S. has to offer, purely in terms of affordability? Small-town U.S.A., for instance. Tulsa, OK, Harlingen, TX, Memphis, TN or Buffalo, NY? Or smaller still. (Ignoring the fact that any sane person would rather live in Prague than Tulsa).

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say the type of young, single person moving from place to place based on living in international locales super cheap, probably enjoys doing drugs. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). If you add in that dimension Prague, where all drugs are decriminalized, probably should rank above Chang Mai, where drugs are super-criminalized.

Meant to be a standalone comment, not a reply...

work from home, can confirm

There are remote U.S. areas that are some of the best of what the world has to offer if you don't have to live next to your job.

Such as?

Wyoming? Vermont? The Carolinas?

Can't get too rural or the internet quality will be a problem. Assuming that's a requirement for the person working remotely; it may not be.

Yup.

And buddyglass is right, that's a factor, as is access (particularly winter access) to airports, etc.

But I'd say those three are top of the list, would add much of parts of the West. In the U.S. it is largely about liking wilderness or farming areas but not being able to make a living there.

Chattanooga, TN comes to mind. Gigabit internet access, affordable housing, 90 minutes drive from downtown Atlanta or Nashville. Winter is nominal.

Moving somewhere rural is the classic way to drastically lower living expenses (and free up time) for writing a novel or engaging in some other artistic endeavor.

Oddly, start-up culture mostly hasn't figured out how to exploit this, and there's a considerable premium on certain places and their ecosystems. I guess remote collaboration doesn't really work that well yet, but that seems a little hard to believe what with the relative success of the open source community which is the antithesis of collocated.

To respond more directly to your comment, though, in many cases collaborating across time zones and large distances just doesn't work. You need very well defined interfaces and workers that don't need a lot of supervision to do that. You can't hire some guy fresh out of undergrad and expect him to function in an apartment in SF when his peers are in Austin and his boss is in Denver, much less Thailand. Telecommuting within the same time zone, or especially within a two hour drive so the occasional meet-up is feasible, works a lot better.

I've been surprised that folks in technical fields, who should be able to write their own tickets and can work from home, frequently still seem to live on the coasts -- usually California. Seems like if you have that going for you you should be able to do it most anywhere. But I think there are factors that get in the way -- collaboration, needing access to air travel, and just the fact that when you live remotely you have to spend a lot of time on non-work activities. If a generator goes out, you have to fix it or get someone to fix it, but if you live in CA and power goes out it's not a problem for long -- and if it is, it's eveyrone's problem so no one is working that hour.

That sort of thing, more infrastructure support for intense professions.

Much of tech recruiting seems to be about clubbish "guess the dress code" games and other frivolous measures of fit. It would not surprise me if there's just a prejudice at work, rather than any overriding practical issue.

A stinging comment. At odds with the usual "aren't they wonderful free spirits" commentary on tech culture, but sounds true. Same power games there as at GE, I'd bet, but where choice of T-shirts and jeans takes the place of the quality of your tie and suit.

Interesting comment. I know nothing at all about the industry, but it definitely syncs up with what I know of human nature.

I bet the U.S. compares pretty terribly, since the other places are fully accessible without owning a car.

Why would that make any difference at all??

Walking is not a cheaper form of transport than auto. For a 180 lbs man, walking a mile requires about 93 calories. The cheapest form of palatable calories, bulk rice, you can get about 3200 calories for $8. Each miles costs you about $0.23 in food. In contrast gasoline is about $3.50 a gallon, and it's not unreasonable to get 25 miles to the gallon. Auto transport only costs about $0.14 in fuel. Reliable, but older lower-end cars are quite cheap, as is insurance on them. So overall economical auto transport's probably $0.2 a mile or less. If you split a car or rides between people it becomes even cheaper. Plus if you're transporting any cargo, groceries, etc, your walking calories costs go up a lot, whereas your car cost barely budges.

I would have never thought about it that way. I'm guessing that you're probably lowballing maintenance costs, but still a good comparison. Americans are overflowing with caloric storage at the moment, and walking would probably do them some good even at a higher price.

Ivan Illich wrote about this years ago:

"The model American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes, and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts, and garages; time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve the quality of the next buy. The model American puts in 1600 hours to get 7500 miles: less than five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only 3 to 8 percent of their society's time budget to traffic instead of 28 percent. What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry."

http://ranprieur.com/readings/illichcars.html

I love Ivan Illich!!!! So cool to see him referenced.

Walking 5mph is ambitious, particularly for the elderly.

That is a little too cetarus paribus I think, like the passenger-mile comparisons they use to disparage the efficiency of public transport. There is a much broader context at play.

Sure, it's like the comparison of walking a mile drunk vs driving a mile drunk. It's much more dangerous to walk home drunk than to drive. But when every drunk person is forced to walk, then the drunkards and the bars end up quite close to each other, and alcohol related deaths fall. The magic wasn't stopping people from drinking and driving, it was raising the personal cost and inconvenience of traveling distance while drunk, which is dangerous in any form.

The same is true of living car-free vs owning a car. Getting around by car is actually cheaper, but the if you commit to the former you'll be forced to pick somewhere that's close by to most places you need to go on a regular basis. The relative savings of living in a dense city core isn't from not owning a car, it's from being close-by to things you need. However you can probably reap the same cost benefits in the suburbs by keeping the car and picking a location within a half a mile of a major shopping plaza. It's just a lot less charming than Castle Town.

Try walking to and from the grocery store with three small children and their shopping.

It's easy to live car-free in an urban center when you're a single 26 year-old male.

In your reasoning it seems you are supposing that you don't need to eat if you drive

Hmm. Again, I think what makes a place desirable in the U.S. is often that it is remote and has qualities you don't get ordinarily. In that way, car costs can be a factor if you intend to go a lot of places.airport

If you're a writer, for example, who actually is able to supplement his chicken and subsistence farm with writing income and only leaves the property a couple times a month, you're probably golden.

If you are an engineer and have to drive to the airport to fly to client meetings, and run to the grocery once or twice a week, and drive your kids in to the school an hour down the road, you're not.

A silly mock up like this obscures what living in a given city is really like.

Let me say a few things about my home town, Prague, that might be of interest to foreign visitors.

The public transport is great - cheap, reliable, dense.

Cost of living is the highest in the country - no surprise there. But I guess its quite reasonable in an international comparison. The cost of services - doctors, tailors, hairstylists etc is low (sometimes rediculously). The cost of goods (food, clothing, electronics etc) is comparable to or higher than in western countries.

Language is going to be a problem. Older people will probably speak no english at all. Younger people will likely speak very broken english. Running into a police man who doesnt speak english isnt uncommon. And its going to get only worse as you move out of the city center.

Prague is also way behind cities like Vienna in providing infrastructure for bicycles. On the other hand you will be the king of the world with a car in a prague.

Then there are many drawback common to all post-communist countries. People are grumpy, they drink a lot, eat bad food, try to scam other people - especially clueless foreigners. But its slowly getting better.

I'm curious what the list would look like if it were limited to only to cities where a majority of people speak English (either natively or as a second language). An unrelated point: looking only at internet bandwidth may not entirely capture internet "quality". Australia & New Zealand may pose some latency issues given the mobile worker is most likely going to be accessing sites hosted in the U.S. with some regularity. Less of a problem when working from Europe.

I assume ski tracks relatively near to Prague are not that good to be considered in the evaluation of the city.

Jan,

I spend a lot of time in Southern Bohemia and Moravia, often on week-end trips from Vienna. The price of food in general in the Czech Republic is almost ridiculously low compared to Austria, and Czech restaurants are generally better value than Slovak or Polish restaurants. Are food costs in Prague that much higher than in the rest of the CR?

If you want to, you can spend a fortune in luxury restaurants in the tourist districts of Prague. Aside from that, restaurants are quite cheap in Prague, especially if you're used to Austrian price level.

Sushi is a bit more expensive in Prague than in the West, though. Either that, or worse quality for the same money. This has been slowly improving in the last decade.

Food prices do not vary much across the country.

You might get some bargains for produce at farmer's markets, which are becoming popular lately.

I meant the cost of raw food.

Restaurants are IMO closer to service providers than sellers of goods

@Jan--it sounds like you know what you are talking about. I have lived for more than a month in four of the cities mentioned by Alex, and now am in the Philippines for the last few years, formerly I was in Greece. Time zones are a problem in the PH, being 12 hours ahead of the US east coast time zone, but otherwise it beats nearly everywhere I've worked (online) for the last 10 years, due to cost and the fact they speak English (unlike Eastern Europe, as Jan says, or Greece). And you can have a lover less than half your age and not raise an eyebrow.

I think that local English skills are getting better over time. When in doubt, pick a youngish person who looks vaguely intellectual.

Interestingly, the guys who check tickets on the notorious tourist tram lines (22, 23) speak English, Russian etc. Too many people tried to cheat their way out of a fine by pretending to be foreigners. Behold the invisible hand of the market! :-)

"Younger people will likely speak very broken english." My dear Sir, broken English is the international language of science.

Im aware of this. Is that a legitimate excuse?

My hovercraft is full of eels.

Recipes here

http://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/eel.html

You're welcome.

I've lived and worked in enough developing countries, and I'm old and grumpy enough now, that a key criteria is that infrastruture and government services work, all the time. I want to turn on the tap/faucet and get clean water, and flick the light switch and know the light is going to come on, call the police and know I'm not going to get shaken down, etc.

That's why may last traditional go-to-the-office every day job was in Singapore. But I hate hot and humid. So when I made the transition to location neutral work, I picked Colorado. I'm not so sure about the government services sometimes, but skiing :-)

criteria is plural

"The plural criteria has been used as a singular for over half a century..."

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/criterion

Unresponsive rural Western government services is a plus, not a minus!

I'm quite surprised that there are so many wintery and tropical places on that list. I think they underweigh the sun, party and drugs components, or the 'Med and the Caribbean would have scored higher. I only see Zagreb which is quite far from the coast. Moreover, the southern hemisphere is underrepresented. Why not Buenos Aires or Florianopolis?

Florianopolis, Brazil, where dat? Ah, I see now: " The city is known for having a very high quality of life, being the Brazilian capital city with the highest Human Development Index score (0.905)." -- I bet you have to speak Portuguese, so count me out...but it looks very liveable. Argentina is also out since they are insular and you have to speak Argentine Spanish fluently, and for the same reason of non-English, count out living in France for me (not to mention it's too expensive).

I do work from home and I have to let my employer know if I change rooms my "office" is located in so I doubt they really want me moving to Thailand...

I am pretty sure that there are some country-specific implications for taking a sabbatical overseas, so I would want to consider that.

Overall, those answers underweight the importance of the English language.

Yeah that's why I give a big boost to rural/small-town America.

Well, I would not say that's a big problem, people should be able to speak at least two languages, right? BUT, all the countries listed there have very hard to learn languages with few native speakers around the world....

If they were easily accessible and spoke English they would have been used long ago for the same purpose, driven up costs, and not belong on this list.

Stimmt nicht, denn viele von uns finden Englisch gar nicht wichtig.

Aber viele mehr von uns finden Englisch sehr wichtig.

I am surprised Madrid is not higher on the list. One can find a place for EUR 1200, far cheaper than the EUR 2,131 on the list.

The rental costs make no sense to me. Vienna is nowhere near that expensive - 1300 USD can still get you a decent 50M2 bachelor pad right near the ring road. I know Berlin has gotten worse, but over $3000 a month? Come on. Hong Kong is far more expensive than the NomadList tells you, at least for desirable places to live. And if you are paying $1,600 a month in Istanbul you are probably very far out from the center.

Restaurants and other services in Vienna are quite expensive, especially in comparison to nearby Czech prices (I happen to live in Brno at the moment, and for 2 cities less than 2 hours apart prices are ridiculously different). Also 50m2 is rather small by US standards, especially outside of NYC and maybe SF (and we are talking mostly about relatively wealthy US residents used to having their space, right? :) )

But Vienna is terrific, not least because the level of English proficiency is quite high. I'd be my first choice if I were in a position to relocate anywhere, and could afford it.

I work from home 3 days a week and fast internet is really not necessary. Reliability is the much more interesting metric. I use a remote desktop application with my work computer that was created back in the days of dial-up and works great on 3MBps. When it doesn't work great is when my connection drops.

Finger Lakes. I am renting a 3 bedroom house right on the lake during the off-season (Sept through May) for $600 a month.

This is a nice example of the perils of incomplete information. They're missing some salient variables--crime, corruption, pollution, etc.

Try clicking the place names.

They give Pnom Penh 3/5 on safety, which is quite hard to fathom. PP is a dangerous place. They also greatly undervalue freedom from corruption.

In response to some of the comments about the rural US, I feel that the meme of low cost rural USA is largely a myth. It's like saying that the cost of living in Golden Gate Park is very low. The best bang for your buck in the USA is in small to moderate sized metropolitan areas.

Well, I'm doubtful if many of the people on here, truly meant rural. Rural, as in 45 miles to the nearest large grocery store rural. Those kind of areas are too far out to get decent broadband or even reliable cellular service. Most commenters probably mean on the fringe of a metro area, just as you describe.

There are areas that I think are properly called rural but that also are technically within moderately sized metropolitan areas. I grew up with well water and crop fields on two sides of me, but my dad was able to commute to the city in about 45 minutes. I have recently returned to this area after having lived in Boston, and my cost of living has dropped substantially.

You did it! Cool.

The far in rural areas can be of two types -- the first is the luxury vacation home uber-rich areas. But there are also fairly rural areas that have low cost of living -- but to live there you have to be willing to, for example, live with a trailer next door.

There are areas that are far from the city because they are the playgrounds of the rich, but there are other areas that are just little spots where there aren't many jobs but there's a few old and grizzled folks hanging out.

A sister of a friend bought a house (a small one, but an honest-to-god house) in rural Arizona for $6,000. She probably put in another $6,000 in fix-up costs.

But, yeah, you probably wouldn't want to live there even to drop your housing costs by 20x or more.

Exactly.

I mean, I'd want to live there, but most reasonable people wouldn't.

There are new rules for spending time in Shenzen EU area. I think it's a maximum of 6 months in any 12 month period, unless you get special permissions. So, for example, a freelancer would have to go through some processes to register their business and operate out of Europe in order to be legally allowed to stay for any extended period of time.

With "Purchasing Power Parity" you can save a lot of money by moving to the third if you have a middle class "working from home" job, but very few people do. It's because of culture, language, and race, things "libertarians" tend to ignore. Those things matter to people, it's not all about maximizing money.

Amusing. We did a similar review many years ago to set up our family home base between international assignments. Other things to consider:
1. Ease of getting tourist and working visa
2. Access to International Schools (if you have kids)
3. Proximity to an international airport.

Everybody has different priorities. We settled for Kuala Lumpur. With the lower cost of living, I can take longer breaks between jobs.

LGBTQ friendliness is probably overweighted for most...

Some cities I wish had been evaluated:

Kigali, Rwanda
Casablanca, Morocco
Astana, Kazakhstan

Guanajuato.

For me, time zone is relevant as my partners and customers are in the US. It's also nice to be able to fly back to visit the folks without the trip being arduous either way.

With that said, I prefer Guanajuato, Mexico. Good food, a university to keep things stimulating, a reasonable bus ride to D.F., some climbing and mtn biking just outside of town, inexpensive housing, sunshine. A few, but not too many foreigners.

The most generous thing that I can say about the list is that it's weird: Santa Monica, CA, is considered to be a better place to live and work than Paris, Rome, Istanbul, Amsterdam, and Barcelona! Yeah, maybe - if you think surfing trumps the Louvre...

I am surprised about the absence of Latin American cities. Specifically Costa Rica. I have been to Chang Mai, Prague and Bangkok .

San Jose, Costa Rica is at 3,000 feet so the temperature is moderate. I lived comfortably without air conditioning. Costa Rica has a pretty good educational system so English is more widely spoken than in Thailand. And Spanish is relatively easier to learn, at least to the level of ordering in a restaurant. Taxis are cheap and safe.

(Just because they're new to i - Tunes doesn't make their music any fresher, people) Good choice.

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