The Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Eastern Europe
The life of a digital nomad offers freedom, adventure, and countless opportunities to travel. But you can soon find your budget stretched in places like North America, Australia, and Central Europe, where living costs are pretty high.
Fortunately, it’s a big world. So, let’s think outside the box and take a look at some of the best cities for digital nomads in Eastern Europe!
Why Eastern Europe?
Eastern Europe is a diverse and exciting part of the world, home to a number of different countries. Each has its own particular culture to separate it from its neighbors. At the same time, there is an unconscious connection and a spirit of belonging felt throughout the region.
I’ve spent the past decade traveling and living throughout Eastern Europe, and like many others, have fallen in love with its charms. In fact, the vast majority of Eastern European countries have large expat communities, so you’re never far from someone who is in the same boat as you.
Eastern Europeans themselves are famed for their hospitality and friendliness, something many westerners find surprising at first! And, if you’re worried that language might be a struggle, think again. Most of the locals are at least bilingual, with many younger Eastern Europeans speaking English at a high level.
Still not convinced that Eastern Europe is a top choice for digital nomads? Check out these additional perks that all of our featured cities offer:
- Low cost of living: compared to the US and Central Europe, living costs throughout Eastern Europe are typically far lower.
- Relaxed immigration policies: visa-free travel is common.
- Great internet connection: most Eastern European cities enjoy high-speed internet for a great price.
- Low crime rates: cities across Eastern Europe enjoy relatively low levels of crime, with violent crimes being exceptionally rare in all the cities we’ve listed below.
The best cities in Eastern Europe for digital nomads
I couldn’t write about the best places in Eastern Europe for digital nomads and not mention Poland’s Wrocław and its famous dwarfs. Call me biased — I did live here for a year — but this severely underrated city in the south-west of Poland is well deserving of a place on this list.
Normally digital nomads talk about the more well-known Kraków, which is also a superb choice, but for me, Wrocław is more authentic. As a vibrant university city, it has a youthful population, and rather than feeling touristy, it offers a more ‘lived in’ vibe. With its historic center and many bridges spanning the surrounding rivers, it’s become known as the ‘Venice of the north’.
It’s also within Schengen space, so nomads from the US can stay for 90-days visa free. Plus, when you inevitably fall in love with the city, you can apply for a longer-term Schengen Visa. Here are some more bonuses:
Low cost of living
If you’re torn between Kraków and Wrocław, it’s worth bearing in mind that the cost of living is generally slightly lower in Wrocław. Rent prices for a spacious 1-bedroom apartment in the city center average out at about $590 per month. Meanwhile, a pint of beer will cost less than $2, which is 20% cheaper than in Kraków.
Wrocław has a great nightlife, with a buzzing cafe culture and bar scene. From snug craft beer pubs and rustic Armenian restaurants located in the arches beneath the railway bridge, to classy cafes and throwback milk bars, there’s something for everyone. Additionally, you’ll find a veritable treasure trove of places offering themed nights and interesting entertainment, including alternative theater, jazz evenings, and underground movie screenings (check out Kalambur).
Thriving expat community
You’ll find many like-minded people enjoying all that Wrocław has to offer. There are several groups that welcome newcomers with open arms, such as the friendly CouchSurfing community who generally meets weekly. On top of that, there’s no shortage of coworking spaces within the city, as well as cafes, that provide the perfect spot for both getting down to business, and meeting fellow nomads.
Next up is Budapest, which frequently tops the charts for being the most popular place for digital nomads in Eastern Europe. Indeed, Hungary as a country, and Budapest in particular, featured on our list of the top ten best countries for digital nomads in 2020. With regular international flights landing directly in the city, and 90-day visa free travel, it’s easy to see why.
Inner city rents are extremely affordable compared to the US, and the general cost of living is fairly low (you can eat a good meal out for less than $10), making it a tempting place to stay awhile. The language takes a little getting used to, but the majority of residents speak pretty good English.
As the capital city of Hungary, it’s a great choice for those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of big city life. At the same time, it strikes the balance between big city and small town, and never feels overly hectic. Here are a few more reasons why Budapest is worth checking out:
Vibrant nomad community
Budapest attracts digital nomads with its low cost of living and vibrant nightlife, making it one of the best places to meet with like-minded souls. There are countless opportunities to meet with your fellow nomads, and if you need a hand, you’ll find plenty of online guides to help you find your feet.
Superb coworking spaces
The locals haven’t been oblivious to the influx of digital nomads, and as such a number of coworking spaces have been set up. Most of them offer a superb working environment, reliable internet, great prices, and plenty of additional facilities. Two of the most well-known are KAPTÁR and Mosaik.
Great nightlife and attractions
Budapest is famous for its nightlife, attracting thousands of visitors every year to the renowned ruin pubs and insane party pools and baths. There’s always something fun to do, and exciting new experiences are around every corner!
For reasons unknown, many digital nomads miss Romania from their lists. But there are hundreds of reasons why it’s perhaps the best country for digital nomads in Eastern Europe. Any city in the country would make a suitable candidate, but Timişoara stands out for its small city vibe, laid back atmosphere, and abundance of things to do.
It’s one of the safest cities in the country, and with Romania enjoying a low crime rate nationwide, that’s saying something! Indeed, the vast majority of people feel comfortable walking alone at night in this amazingly friendly city. Of course, you’ll have no problems getting to know the locals, many of whom speak English more or less fluently, and are always keen to practice.
There’s also plenty to see and do within the city, with historic sites, trendy bars and cafes, galleries, and much more. In terms of working, you’ll find several coworking spots, such as Cowork Timişoara and Timişoara Startup hub where you can network with fellow entrepreneurs. Need more reasons? Check them out:
Super-fast, affordable internet access
Did you know that Romania frequently ranks within the top-ten countries with the fastest internet in the world? As of December 2019, it also provided the cheapest super-fast broadband connection in the world. Digital nomads in Timişoara enjoy superb internet access, with far faster than average download speeds, all for a fantastic price that averages out at less than $10 a month.
No visa requirements
While Romania is not in the Schengen zone, don’t let this deter you! It’s actually rather advantageous. US citizens can enjoy visa-free stays for up to 90-days in Romania. After this, you can return to Schengen space for another 90-days, or even neighboring Serbia.
Superb cost of living
If you thought Budapest was cheap, wait until you see the cost of living in Timişoara! With rents for city center apartments of around $300 per month, it’s almost 40% cheaper than in Budapest and over 90% cheaper than New York City. It’s also marginally cheaper than most other larger cities in the country.
Slovenia is another great country that falls off the radar for many digital nomads, but it’s well worth seeking out. Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, it packs mountains, forests, lakes, beaches, and charming towns and cities within its borders. Ljubljana is the capital city, and a fantastic spot for digital nomads.
I was in two minds about adding Ljubljana to the list, but decided that it does deserve a mention. It has all a digital nomad could need in terms of coworking spaces and fast broadband, and lacks only a large digital nomad community. However, sometimes this is just what the nomad needs.
Living costs are relatively cheap (rent in the city center averages out at around $650), the food is fantastic, and the surrounding scenery is breathtaking. Here are some more perks to Ljubljana:
Super safe and friendly
As a small city, it’s extremely safe, and offers a respite from the hustle and bustle, while providing all you need to get down to some serious work. When you do long for company, you’ll find the locals are a charming and hospitable bunch. Ljubljana is home to the country’s largest university, lending the city a youthful vibe, and providing an array of places to socialize.
Ljubljana is the ideal base from which to enjoy an array of excursions into the breathtaking countryside. In such a small country, everything is nearby, and you can find yourself on the beach, in the mountains, or deep in the forest within an hour of leaving the city. Nearby Lake Bled is a fantastic place to spend a day or 2 in stunningly peaceful surroundings (be sure to try the famous cream cake!). Alternatively, Croatia, Italy, and Austria are all just a stone’s throw away.
Eastern Europe has so much to offer to the digital nomad in terms of both low living costs and world-class facilities. But there’s so much more. Eastern Europe is diverse, with a plethora of unique cultures to discover. You could spend years in the region and still find something new to excite you!
And that’s the beauty of it, it’s the ideal stomping ground for a digital nomad, simply because there is so much to explore. And, with visa free travel for 90-days in most countries, you can hop in and out of the Schengen Zone to extend your stay without the hassle of obtaining a longer-term visa.
Live like the locals; be open, friendly, and curious, and life as a digital nomad in Eastern Europe will never get boring!