Best Cities to Live in South America for Digital Nomads
The freedom that comes with being a digital nomad is great. However, it can also be daunting in countries like the United States, where the cost of living in a city center is jaw-droppingly high. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best cities in South America for digital nomads.
These cities offer a much more affordable cost of living yet still have plenty of recreational activities (including nightlife) to enjoy.
Why South America?
South America’s best cities to live and work in have a lot more going for them than just low living costs. Many of these cities are known to have large ex-pat communities, which you’ll appreciate if you ever feel homesick.
South American culture is also quite enjoyable; in these cities, you’ll have plenty of great food, music, and company to enjoy when you’re not working.
If you ever get tired of one city, traveling elsewhere in South America also tends to be quite easy thanks to relaxed visa requirements for Americans.
All in all, there are many good reasons to move to South America as a digital nomad. If you’re not convinced yet, wait till you see some of these awesome cities we’ve chosen.
To ensure the quality of these recommendations, we’ve only chosen cities that have the following:
- Low crime rates
- Immigration policies that welcome foreigners
- Good internet access
- Political stability
The Best Cities in South America for Digital Nomads
After an 82% reduction in violent crime, Medellin has become one of the safest places to visit and work in South America. The city is nowadays a universal favorite among digital nomads.
While Colombia is still an emerging country, its GDP ($7,992 per capita) is much higher than many of its peers.
This is great for you as a digital nomad because, assuming you make a decent salary online, you’ll have no problem thriving financially in Medellin.
If you’re a United States citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Colombia for 90 days or less. If you enter and decide you’d like to stay for longer, you can easily apply for an extension with Colombian officials.
Here are some more perks worth mentioning.
1. Very Low Cost of Living
According to Numbeo, rent costs about 91% less in Medellin than in New York City. You’ll spend roughly $300 on a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, which is unheard of in the United States. A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost you about $17, compared to an average of $95 in New York.
2. Thriving Local Nomad Community
If you’re looking for fellow digital nomads in Medellin, you’re in luck. There’s a strong digital nomad community here, with local startups like VamosA hosting regular entrepreneurial training and networking events.
3. Reliable Internet Speed
Medellin is home to no less than three major internet providers: Claro, Tigo-UNE, and Movistar. If you base yourself in the city center (which is quite large), you should have no problem getting work done.
Once you catch a glimpse of the stunning landscape and Spanish Baroque architecture in Antigua, Guatemala, you’ll understand why it’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Guatemala has similar entry requirements as Colombia. United States citizens can visit visa-free for 90 days or less and apply for an extension if needed.
Here are some other reasons Antigua is among the best cities in South America for digital nomads.
1. Booming Nightlife industry
For a small city, Antigua has a surprisingly active nightlife scene. Because it’s such a popular destination among tourists, there are stretches of the year where the party never stops. Pro tip: if you prefer something quieter, stay in Antigua from November-April.
2. Easy Travel to Other Regions
Guatemala is part of the Central America-4 Border Control Agreement (CA-4). This agreement allows you to travel freely between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. If you’re planning on working remotely in Guatemala for an extended period and have an interest in seeing more of South America, you may find this advantageous.
3. Lots of Internet Cafes and Coworking Spaces
In Antigua, you’ll find lots of popular workspaces, including Impact Hub and Bella Vista Coffee. Because the city is so walkable, you can easily hop between spaces (which are quite cheap) to keep things interesting.
The capital of Ecuador is another one of the best places in South America for digital nomads, thanks in large part to its stunning architecture and landscape. As with much of South America, Ecuador allows entry to U.S. citizens visa-free for 90 days.
If you want to stay longer than 90 days, you can acquire the appropriate visa from an Ecuadorian embassy in the United States (see the list here).
Now, onto the reasons Quito is one of the best cities to live and work as a digital nomad.
1. Big City Feeling and Amenities
Personally, I’m one of those digital nomads that feels safer in crowded spaces, which is why I love Quito. Even if that’s not important to you, though, you’ll enjoy the big city amenities here. For example, getting a good internet connection is no issue at all and the Trolleybus system is quite convenient.
2. Great for Making Friends
The Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito is one of South America’s busiest. Many people use Quito as a starting point for exploring the continent. As a result, you’ll find a constant stream of digital nomads to enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife and culture with.
3. You’ll Save on Currency Exchange Fees
Did you know that Ecuador actually uses the U.S. dollar as its main currency? This is partially what makes the country such a popular investment hub for foreigners.
The cost of living in Quito is quite low so you still come out ahead. Plus, you don’t have to worry about converting your income into a different currency and paying applicable fees.
Lastly, we have Cordoba in Argentina, another one of the safest places in South America to live as a foreigner.
Cordoba is home to a number of Argentina’s major universities. This, along with its rank as Argentina’s second-largest city, makes it a bustling metropolis throughout the school year.
American citizens are allowed to enter visa-free for — yup, you guessed it — up to 90 days.
Here are some more strong points.
1. Renowned Nightlife Scene
Given the concentration of universities in Cordoba, it should come as no surprise that the city is very well-known for its nightlife. There are so many great clubs to visit that you’re unlikely to ever have a dull Friday night while and living and working here.
2. Solid Infrastructure
The presence of several universities in Cordoba also means you’ll have no problem accessing infrastructure such as a good internet connection and public transit.
3. Good for Solo Travelers and Introverts
Because Cordoba is such a big city with a seemingly endless number of students, the digital nomad scene isn’t as tightly-knit as you’ll find in some of the other places on this list. This may be a plus for introverts. You can easily blend in and do your own thing.
4. Lots of Relaxing Getaways Near the City
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of university students, you can take a quick day trip to one of the several more serene areas outside the city. Medina Azahara, Puente Genil, and Espiel are all popular getaways as close as 45 minutes from Cordoba.
South American cities are quite popular among digital nomads for several reasons. Most obvious are the vibrant culture and low cost of living that you’ll find throughout the continent.
Just as important are the large communities of ex-pats and digital nomads that occupy these cities. Between relatable foreigners and hospitable locals, you’ll never find yourself feeling out of place in these cities.
Just be sure to plan ahead and get the necessary paperwork based on how long you plan to stay. All of these countries offer visa-free entry for American citizens up to 90 days. You’ll need to make special arrangements if you’re staying longer than that.