The rise of location independent work and business opportunities lead to more and more people from both the First World and Developing countries pursuing the digital nomad lifestyle. But how do you really choose the best city to be your temporary home in your pursuit of the lifestyle that will keep you on the road? Personally, more than fast internet speed, I would be concerned with high purchasing power, low crime rate, and a bustling nightlife.
NomadicList.com is a web-based application which ranks the best cities to live and work remotely for Digital Nomads based on several factors such as cost of living, internet speed, weather, and many other metrics. I tried filtering the list of different cities using those three metrics- Low Cost of Living (< USD1,000), Safety, and Nightlife.
The result returned was ZERO.
I did several combinations by removing one of the three metrics and got the following results: Low Cost of Living + Safety (2 Cities); Low Cost of Living + Night Life (14 Cities); Safety + Nightlife (82 Cities). Which leads us to the question: Can Safety, Bustling Night Life and Low Cost of Living Go Hand-in-Hand in a single city?
Cost of Living vs. Safety
In a case study conducted among eight cities in the United States of America (Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Seattle), it was established that reduction in violent crimes such as murder, rape, assault, and robbery would lead to a wide range of savings and other financial benefits for individuals, property owners, and taxpayers. More specifically, 10 and 25 percent reduction in violent crimes should lead to 0.83 and 2.1 percent increase in real estate values.
Moreover, studies among the European countries revealed that crime also imposes a huge toll on local and national budget as authorities are forced to spend billions on the prevention crime, including detection, prosecution, and incarceration. In the Netherlands, the cost of crime is estimated to be approximately 4.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while 2.5 to 3.8 percent of the GDP for England and Wales.
Safety vs. Nightlife
Being the home for some of the major nightlife centers in the United Kingdom, the North-West of England boasts of about 10,000 pubs and clubs of which more than 1,500 have permits to operate beyond the normal licensing hours. It attracts thousand of people during weekends and, thus, provides a huge boost to the economy in terms of employment and tourism, among others. However, based on a survey conducted among the attendees of dance events in the region, a person consumed an average of 11.5 units of alcohol (one unit is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol) and that 64.8% of the attendees used at least one illegal drug during the night. According to a report by the North West Safer Nightlife Group, 19% of all violent incidents in the UK occur outside a pub or club and 40% and 19% of all violent incidents were related to alcohol and drug use, respectively.
Based on above reports, there surely is a direct correlation between nightlife, crime, and, ultimately, a high cost of living; safety amid an active lifestyle does come with a price. But how much of those three metrics are we willing to alter for the sake of the others?
In a forum where I am actively participating, a few seasoned travelers suggest university towns and cities are often reasonably cheaper with a rather lower level of crime. Nightlife is considerable vibrant but you're still missing out on many other options. Capital cities such as Berlin ranks high on safety and nightlife but you're essentially paying for the luxury of vast choices while never having the time to visit them all.
By raising the bar a little bit on the cost of living while opting for safety and active nightlife, you're still in for an array of great options.
5 Best Cities for Digital Nomads with an active nightlife, low crime rate, and cost of living starting at USD1,035.
Belgrade, Serbia (USD 1,035/month)
Bars and pubs can be found almost anywhere in Belgrade and drinks are relatively cheap. Cocktails or a glass of wine only costs USD3 to USD5 while a bottle of vodka or whiskey can be bought for just USD60 to USD90. Some of the more popular pubs are located along Strahinjica Bana Street, Obilicev Venac Street, and Ada Ciganlija. The establishments are usually open until midnight during weekends but could extend until wee hours during weekends.
Pros: Nightlife, traffic safety, walkability, A/C or heating
Cons: Not gay-friendly
Budapest, Hungary (USD 1,290/month)
The rise of the ruin pubs has greatly revolutionized the nightlife in Budapest. The war-torn neighborhoods of the old District VII (old Jewish Quarter) awakened to become the center of nightlife when the ruins of the abandoned buildings were converted to underground bars. These ruin pubs would seem like normal houses from outside but once you got inside, prepare to be dazzled with an array of differently themed bar interiors and bustling with crowd partying with loud and funky music.
The best part is that the bouncers and the signage inside ensure that people would quietly go out so as to not disturb the neighborhood outside.
Pros: Air quality, traffic safety, walkability, co-working spaces
Cons: Not gay-friendly
Gdansk, Poland (USD 1,420/month)
Being a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland and due to its proximity to the coastal resorts of Sopot and Gdynia, Gdansk is a popular place for hanging out, drinking and socializing, especially during summer.
Pros: Air quality, traffic safety, free WIFI in the city, walkability, co-working places friendly to foreigners
Cons: Poor A/C or heating, poor racial tolerance
Krakow, Poland (USD 1,428/month)
Krakow is said to have the highest concentration of bars in the world; hundreds of bars and pubs are sitting side-by-side along the medieval walls of the Old Town to the districts of Kazimierz. Establishments are open until past midnight and, as what the locals often say, "if people are drinking, the barman is pouring."
Pros: Fun, traffic safety, weather, walkability
Cons: Not much
Shanghai, China (USD 1,502/month)
While The Bund is popular for upscale bars, the Yongfu Road near Fuxing Road is still a popular destination among the expats looking to spend their nights drinking and socializing. Meanwhile, the old city area of Xiantiandi is lined with Western pubs and bars open until daylight.
Pros: Fun, walkability, nightlife, foreigner-friendly, female-friendly
Cons: Poor air quality, not gay-friendly, poor quality of life, poor healthcare, no freedom of speech
About The Author
Noel Cabacungan was born and raised in the Philippines but is currently working in Saudi Arabia. He suspects the universe often conspires to put him in the unfriendliest of places and believes assimilation is the only way to survive. This belief made him capable of seeing the beauty beyond the most dreary locations. His favourite form of entertainment involves observing people do crazy things in the most mundane situations. Read more about his exploits on his blog, Ten Thousand Strangers, or follow his stormtrooper alter-ego on Instagram @troopertravelsph