Being a digital nomad in 2020 has been a wildly different experience from what we’re used to. Far more digital but a lot less nomad. With borders opening and closing more than the revolving door at LAX, digital nomads should consider basing themselves for longer in a single location.
Where should that place be? Well, it should be welcoming to entrepreneurs with some kind of infrastructure and community. It should offer a high quality of life at an affordable price.
In 2021, though, it needs to do more. It must be somewhat COVID-safe, meaning that the rate of infection is low and there’s the possibility to work from a more rural location.
I’ve whittled down the options for digital nomading in Europe to my top four. Here they are and why they’re the ideal place for digital nomads adapting to a new, post-COVID way of life.
I’ve talked about it before and it’s Europe’s digital nomad Mecca. Tallinn still has a lot to offer in 2021, although I would say that since it’s where I’m working from now. Importantly, though, it has one of the lowest – if not the lowest – rates of COVID in Europe.
Borders remain largely open, subject to a 10-day quarantine. The rules are changing all the time but you shouldn’t have any problems getting in. Once there, there are few regulations, with life generally continuing as normal. There are likely to be more restrictions coming in over the winter period, but the safety-conscious among you will view this as a positive step.
Tallinn’s Old Town has felt more like a ghost town recently, with tourism all but completely dried up. If you want to help out local businesses, then why not bring your custom to Tallinn? The long-awaited and highly-anticipated Digital Nomad Visa promises to be ready soon, making this an even more desirable city in which to base yourself.
You’ll have access to some of the world’s best internet, low living costs combined with fantastic infrastructure, and an educated population who possess great English skills. Moreover, this is one of the most sparsely populated and nature-obsessed countries, making it a good place to avoid the plague.
If you’re looking to avoid the expensive Nordic countries, then the only people who speak English better than the Estonians are the Slovenians. And Ljubljana is, by all accounts, one of the most charming and beautiful cities in Europe. I think the only reason it’s not more popular is its unpronouncability. People find it less hassle to just say they’re going to Rome.
But with a population of less than 300,000, this is a capital city which never gets too overcrowded. Plus, as I recounted in my story for Intrepid Times, you don’t have to travel far to find yourself deep in the Alps, breathing the fresh, clean, COVID-free air. Ljubljana is a stone’s throw from the likes of towns like Bled, where the threat of a virus seems to vanish behind the mountainous horizon.
The capital is a fun and friendly city, with plenty of places to work from. My only warning would be that, at least while I was there, the internet was a bit slow. Maybe I got unlucky but it certainly doesn’t offer the super fast internet you may be seeking. It does the job, though.
I’ve never been to Kotor but it’s top of my list. With just 13,510 residents, you may not have even heard of this place. But that’s exactly what makes it so perfect for being a digital nomad in 2021. The town is literally fortified, acting as a metaphorical defence against Coronavirus. Of course, it doesn’t actually stop the virus from getting in. Still wash your hands.
However, this is by far one of the most dazzlingly picturesque towns in Europe; the perfect calming escape from the stress that 2020 brought us. There’s a growing digital nomad community as well. It may not be as big as the one in Tallinn or Chiang Mai but why not be a trailblazer?
Kotor is one of the best value locations, with the average one-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre costing just €300 (you can definitely find something for less). This is a part of Europe I’d love to explore and I think you should too.
Montenegro was the last country in Europe to report a case of COVID-19 and was one of the few countries on Earth to eliminate it completely. You’re not completely safe there, of course, but a small town like Kotor is bound to be safer than a large city.
Unlike its neighbour, Spain, Portugal is considered to have coped with COVID well. 3000 deaths are nothing but a tragedy, though you have to concede it’s a lot better than the more than 50,000 reported in my home country. Head to Portugal for a taste of incredible weather in a relatively safe destination.
In particular, Lagos has a thriving digital nomad community. You shouldn’t struggle to find a co-working space to get some serious business done. If you’re a digital nomad traditionalist, then this is a good option to combine the strong community, reasonable living costs, and stunning scenery bathed in glorious weather. Portugal also has its own version of a digital nomad visa, making the bureaucracy a little easier.
Where will you go in 2021?
There are still so many options for digital nomads in 2021. The hardest part is deciding which option is right for you. Hopefully, the above suggestions offer a range of possibilities but there’s so much more out there to explore. I wish to write about them all eventually. I’ll try my best.