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Why I Chose Chiang Mai as My First Digital Nomad Trip

Chiang Mai, Thailand is easily one of the most popular cities in the world for Digital Nomads to call home, or at least spend a few months in. For some, Chiang Mai is the total package. It certainly is a unique town, busting at the seems with culture and a thriving nomad scene.

So what makes Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads and remote workers the best? Check it out!

Excellent Wifi

Cafe views on Nimman Rd. Loving the people watching and bustling vibe in Chiang Mai!

A post shared by Digital Nomad 🌀Solo Travel (@hashtagtourist) on

Chiang Mai is a cafe capitol of the world, that’s for sure. I lived in the trendy Nimman area of town near Doi Suthep and there was no shortage of cozy spots to work for creatives like myself. Strong coffee paired with strong internet connection is just one of the reasons why I had such a successful and productive couple months in Thailand.

I had internet access my entire time I was in Chiang Mai, although that changed dramatically when I spent a weekend in rural Pai.

 

A Strong Nomad Community

One of the perks that drew me to Chiang Mai was the already established group of Digital Nomads that inhabit the city. Especially in the neighborhood of Nimman, where I resided. Because of the strong ties between Chiang Mai and remote workers, you can easily make friends from all over the globe and bounce your business ideas off people who understand and “get it.”

To meet fellow nomads and get work done in a productive environment, definitely think about joining a Coworking Office. A few of the most popular and recommended include:

Punspace (Tha Pae Gate)

Punspace Nimman

CAMP (in the MAYA Mall)

MANA

For weekly organized presentations on a variety of different business, nomad, skillshares themes, join the Digital Nomad Coffee Club.

Digital Nomad Coffee Club in Chiang Mai
Digital Nomad Coffee Club in Chiang Mai

Access to Western Culture

Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads is the best of both worlds. I was surprised at how modern parts of the city are and the western influences you can find throughout the city. KFC is huge in Thailand, and there’s also your typical fast food restaurants like Pizza Hut and McDonalds – both of which deliver 😉

The cafes are also modern and luxe, featuring brews from all over the world and tea served in glass decanters. And if you’d rather get your fast wifi and coffee in a more familiar setting, Starbucks is conveniently located throughout the city as well. But be warned, the Thai Starbucks locations are western priced. Meaning, you’re still going to pay about $5-$6 USD for a coffee, instead of the more typical $1.50 – $2.50 brew at a local cafe.

Successful afternoon at the #NomadCoffeeClub networking and hearing stories from entrepreneurs. See you all next week! ☕️

A post shared by Digital Nomad 🌀Solo Travel (@hashtagtourist) on

 

If you live in Nimman or Huay Kae, the MAYA Mall is a particular treat. You can walk to the mall and find 5 floors of tech, shopping, a food court, grocery store with western foods… basically anything you could ever need! My typical day included eating Pad See Ew in the “basement” of the mall at one of the food stalls, heading up a floor to Starbucks and working for several hours, then heading up another floor and getting a massage for about $5 USD. Ahhh, the life.

PS. If you tell your songtaew or Uber drive you want to go to MAYA, it’s pronounced “May-YAH” with an emphasis on that second syllable. You’d be surprised how often a driver didn’t know where the heck I wanted to go if I pronounced it like “May-a” or “My-ah”

MAYA Mall Chiang Mai
MAYA Mall in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is Hella Affordable

OMG you guys. If you ever need a reason to pack up and move to Chiang Mai, this is it:

I SAVED money by living abroad.

Yep. MHMM. And I didn’t even penny-pinch. Actually, I lived like a damn Queen. Weekly massages, nice meals, lots of lattes, you name it – I did it. I liiiiiiived in Chiang Mai, and I was still able to put a few dollars in my savings account thanks to the low cost of living.

I lived in 2 adorable studio apartments that I rented on Airbnb that were about $400/month, however, if you don’t rent on Airbnb and just walk into apartment complexes in town, you can easily find studios for $250 to $300 USD. I did have to pay an electric bill at the second apartment I stayed at that was 600 baht which is a grand total of… $18.

In one sentece: Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads is an affordable alternative to paying rent and bills in your hometown.

One of my studio apartments
One of my studio apartments in Chiang Mai

Some of the most common expenditures in Chiang Mai and their prices include:

Massage: 250 Baht / $7 USD

Local Specialty Coffee: 50 baht / $1.40 USD

Songtaew Ride from Nimman to Tha Pae Gate: 30 baht / 0.86 cents

Street Cart Dinner: 40 baht / $1.15 USD

Large bottle of water at 7-11: 14 baht / 40 cents USD

Chang or Leo pint of beer at a restaurant: 60 baht /  $1.70

Reputation for Friendliess Towards Expats

For the overwhemingly most part, Chiang Mai locals were extremely friendly and helpful to myself and my friends. There’s a reason Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles.” The Thai that I interacted with were always warm and inviting. I made friends with the schoolgirl baristas at my local Starbucks, sat in the front seat of a Songtaew and helped the driver practice his English, and practiced my Thai with anyone who was willing to listen.

I don’t know if I had a unique experience or not, but all I can say is that I always felt nothing but inclusiveness from those around me. I always felt safe, I never felt like I had to guard my personal belongings or walk faster in dark alleys.

Chiang Mai was the perfect home away from home and I can’t wait to return <3

 

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

How to Become a Female Digital Nomad

how to become a female digital nomad

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal.” – Paulo Coelho

I became a Female Digital Nomad out of necessity. Necessity to explore and out of fear that 20 years from now I would be filled with regret. And as luck would have it, the planets aligned and I became a location independent worker after years and years of wishing I had the opportunity to travel.

As I’ve said before, I think working remotely is the key to a happy and successful work/life balance and I could scream from the rooftops how much I believe in its mystical *powers*. So let me give you a brief outline how to become a Female Digital Nomad. Because, let me tell you, the hardest part is 100% buying the ticket. Everything else, you figure out as it comes!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Why More Companies Are Embracing the Digital Nomad Work Culture

Attracting better talent has never been more lucrative for businesses and why the Digital Nomad work culture has never been more within reach.

We’ve never been more accessible than we are now. Coworkers, clients, employees, and potential business relationships have never had more access to each other, thanks to incredible advances in technology. Technology grants us the ability to be in constant communication, and with that, many companies and employees are inquiring if an employee must spend 40+ hours a week in the office in order to be successful.

Those seeking the Digital Nomad lifestyle aim to challenge those antiquated requirements by spending part-time of full-time working remotely, often from exotic corners of the world.

Traveling new landscapes and seeking adventure beyond the cubicle of course has an appeal to employees, but what makes this arrangement attractive to companies and employers?

Attracting High Quality Talent

If your company doesn’t have an unlimited hiring budget, most hiring managers have to get creative with incentives to motivate top candidates to work at their respective businesses. Many young adults view perks like having a healthy work/life balance to be non-negotiable when it comes to choosing new opportunities.

Kristin Messina, the Founder of Yonderwork, an international traveling experience for professionals says work flexibility is essential in 2016:

“Flexible hours is now the #1 desired job benefit in the United States and 92% of millennials polled desire the ability to work remotely (oDesk) so I think more companies acknowledge that they need to consider remote working to attract and retain top talent. I think we will see this trend continue to grow over time as employers continue to realize the benefits of remote working.”

Hiring the most qualified and inspiring employees often leads to an energized staff brimming with new ideas, which greatly contributes to the success of the business as a whole.

Not being in a physical office full-time means you have the ability to hire anyone in the world. If your operation is based in a rural area, you may still have a shot at hiring the candidate you’ve had your eye on, but who is unwilling to relocate from their current fast-paced city.

Higher Productivity and Less Turnover

When your employees are happy, they are your best ambassadors, and are 12% more productive and often go above and beyond what’s expected of them. And, of course, happy employees keep turnover rates low.

One of the most common frustrations of today’s work culture is the time it takes to commute to and from the office. Just think, instead of spending up to 2 hours a day commuting, your employees could be spending that time devoted toactually working by working from home.

Other benefits for employers include saving money on office space and office supplies.

From The Telework Coalition‘s Wired Working As A Lifestyle Report:

  • Businesses saved an average of $20,000 a year for each full-time employee who worked remotely.
  • Employee productivity increased by an average of 22% when remote working was allowed.
  • Remote working reduced employee turnover by 50%.

Why More Innovative Companies Are Letting Their Employees Become Location Independent

Increased Network of Experts All Over the Country and Beyond

By having employees cultivating their lives beyond one permanent city, working remotely offers advantages of reaching potential markets and customers. Having a “man on the ground” promoting your brand from all corners of the globe is especially fruitful for salespeople or affiliates.

You now have the capability to obtain knowledgeable insights from competing or potential markets, making your niche that much more competitive worldwide.

Clearly, working remotely is the way of the future. Just ask these companies who are thriving from embracing this new culture:

Amazon

American Express

Adobe Systems

Apple

Kaplan

Buffer

Upworthy

SXSW

Alternatives to Working Remotely Full-Time

remote travel digital nomad

Yonderwork Founder, Kristin Messina, also advises that for some companies, it’s simply not feasible to allow employees to become full-time nomads. But there are alternatives that are just as exciting! She goes on to say,

“The transition to a remote working culture doesn’t happen overnight. I would advise companies who are considering remote working to do a test run. Set expectations up front (starting with how, how often, and when you will communicate) and then allow remote working a few days a week or for a specific project. Monitor your results so that you can build on what is working and you can tweak what isn’t. Remote work and travel programs like YonderWork offer a great trial platform. For two-months, employees work alongside other remote workers and learn about best practices and the communication and collaboration tools that are available to support success in remote working.”

 

What I’ve Learned from the Digital Nomad Work Culture

After two months of living the Digital Nomad work culture and almost two years of working with The Modern Connection, I can confidently agree to all of these benefits. As a millennial, our generation is job-hopping more than ever and having the flexibility to work and grow beyond the office walls has inspired me to thrive as an employee and I am happy to call The Modern Connection home.

I think work perks such as working remotely has incredible potential and is the ~*way of the future*~ that modern businesses will have to adapt to – or fear being surpassed by employees or clients in favor of companies who are trailblazing in unique ways.

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

The Best Cities in the World for Digital Nomads

Dreaming of becoming a Digital Nomad and don’t know which city to kick off your world tour? Or are you an experienced nomad and in search of your next destination? Try out one of these hotspots for remote workers + best cities in the world for digital nomads!

#8 Budapest, Hungary

Best Cities in the World for Digital Nomads

City of Spas, the Good Life

  • Its rich spa heritage make Budapest a destination to relax your soul and body. Spend the day working at numerous cafes and exploring excellent public transportation, and your evening relaxing at a bath.
  • Budepest celebrates art, architecture, history, and life’s best indulgences – take in all the city as to offer on weekends. Use Foursquare to find places to work and attractions to visit.

#7 Medellin, Colombia

best cities to be a digital nomad

Eternal Spring, Live the Latin Life

  • Modern infrastructure and mountainous region makes it a paradise for both hikers and digital nomads. This city is equal parts caribbean oasis + haven for location independent entrprenuers.
  • Celebrate the traditional culture during annual holidays such as Christmas  and the Flower Festival. Experience Latin music, food, nightlife and more in Medellin!

#6  Ubud, Bali

best cities to be a digital nomad

Live like Royalty, Work in Paradise

  • Exchange rates fluctuate, but you will more than likely have more Indonesian rupiah than you’ll know what to do with. This means you can swap hostels for lavish apartments for less money!
  • The center of Ubud is very walkable, or rent a moped. Fresh produce markets and yoga classes are abundant and a nice break during the work day.

#5 Prague, Czech Republic

best cities to be a digital nomad

Where the beer is cheaper than water!

  • Prague is perfect for solo females, nightlife, co-working spaces, safe and affordable living. Find friendly and cheap rentals on Airbnb.com
  • Prague is a modern hotspot that boasts a bustline  tech epicentre, paired with historical arthitecture and plenty of streets perfect for Instagramming.

#4 Split, Croatia

best cities to be a digital nomad

Sunshine and Tech, Panoramic Views

  • Fast internet, beautiful history, and unique architecture and scenery make Split a rising city for DM culture.
  • Locals speak excellent English, although nighlife is fairly non-existent Monday through Thursday, but bring your bathing suit and hit the beach instead.
  • Virtually untouched by WWII, Split blends a trendy city with Instagram-worthy skylines and 360 degree views.

#3 Ljubljana, Slovenia

best cities to be a digital nomad

Untouched and Invigorating, Laid Back 9-5

  • Ljubljana is incredibly clean and relaxed. There’s great city-wide  internet access and a lively nightlife on weekends.
  • Locals speak English and Ljubljana is a central spot in Europe to take the train to many nearby countries and landscapes!

#2 Chiang Mai, Thailand

best cities to be a digital nomad

Startup City, Popular for First Timers

  • Super affordable living and a strong community of Digital Nomads make Chiang Mai a popular destination for newcomers to the Digital Nomad lifestyle.
  • Stay in the Nimman area to meet other expats expanding their business or startup. Chiang Mai is a coffee capital of the world, so get your work done in one of hundreds of cafes.

#1 Lisbon, Portugal

8

Europe’s San Francisco, A Warm Welcome

  • Lisbon features a growing tech scene while retaining it’s local charm and spirit. Travelers from all over the world rave about this seaside town.
  • Cosmpolitan, vibrant, and bursting at the seams with Digital Nomad culture. Hit the beaches and surf the internet here in Lisbon. Brand new world-class hostels make it easy to find a short-term home here.
Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!