Top 3 cities in Asia for Digital Nomads

Digital Nomad (noun): a person who works remotely, either full-time or part-time, while traveling to new places. A lifestyle with flexibility that allows you to see the world…

Digital nomad? The concept is not new. In fact it’s Asian in origin, with the term having been first coined by Japanese technologist Tsugio Makimoto in his 1997 book of the same name that predicted the coming of digital nomads. Makimoto believed remote working would eventually force nations “to compete for citizens”, and that digital nomad-ism would prompt “declines in materialism and nationalism” and lead to a better world.

We will all have to wait and see.

All of this, of course, was revolutionary back then, but it’s now becoming a way of life for millions all around the world, including throughout Asia.


What’s driving digital nomadism?

But exactly where in Asia? When you look at the top few cities you quickly begin to understand the key drivers behind the rise of digital nomadism. Remote workers who are on the move in Asia look for several key attributes in a city that make it a real destination of choice. Amongst them are things like:

  • the connection speed of mobile and broadband
  • the number of Wi-Fi hotspots
  • the average number of hours of sunshine per year
  • the average cost of a meal, a beer or a coffee
  • the average cost of an Airbnb accommodation, and the overall quality of life.


Bangkok the number one destination for digital nomads

All of these drivers came into play in a recent  ‘Best Places to be a Digital Nomad in 2022’ survey by Instant Office (1).

The fascinating survey ranked Bangkok in first place in Asia, ahead of Seoul; Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, and Delhi.

Bangkok’s high ranking was attributed to its offering of “stunning local cuisine, and vibrant street-food markets” complemented by “more than 15,000 Wi-Fi hotspots”, and “some of the most affordable accommodation of all the cities researched”.

According to calculations, the average cost of an Airbnb accommodation in Bangkok, for instance, is US$46.60 a night.


One in three employees could become digital nomads

The survey’s authors also noted that advances in technology, remote working and workplace culture indicate that by 2035 a billion people worldwide could be living and working as digital nomads. Capable of plugging in anywhere in the world with a decent internet connection, they could eventually make up 1 in every 3 employees.

In fact, there are already 35 million digital nomads worldwide, with the trend being driven by technology, a growing demand for flexible workspace, and the increasing adoption of remote and hybrid work, which began with the pandemic.

The Instant Office survey also showed that within the Asian region, Singapore took 11th position – ahead of cities in Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, Manila in the Philippines, and Taiwan.

Though there are many dimensions to the of ‘digital nomad’, especially with cities like Singapore.


Asia’s number one digital destination is Singapore

For example, a 2021 global study by Boston Consulting Group and The Network surveyed and analysed thousands of workers in digital fields.(2) Participants were asked which cities throughout the world would they be willing to move to. Singapore was noted by 10% of the respondents – coming in second place closely behind London which received 12%. In the third spot, Amsterdam received 9%.

That makes Singapore the number one digital destination in Asia. Not necessarily for nomads, who may stay three months to three years, but certainly for techies looking to further their careers.


The best jobs for digital nomads are…

And the most common jobs for digital nomads? They are generally location-independent and suitable for an itinerant digital lifestyle. All you need really is a stable internet connection.

  1. Blogger or writer
  2. Graphic designer
  3. Software developer or similar IT profession
  4. Virtual assistant: an independent contractor who provides various administrative services for a client or business from a remote location.
  5. Digital marketer
  6. Entrepreneur

For most of us, the digital nomad lifestyle offers so many attractions. Among them are flexibility, travel, freedom and a lower cost of living.

If you’re interested in nomadism or any form of remote or hybrid work in Asia why not contact a workforce recruitment specialist like CXC!  CXC are the experts on Asian employment and are involved in all aspects of workforce recruitment, hiring and management throughout the entire region.