Three Alternative Digital Nomad Hubs for South America

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We rarely accept guest posts but we liked this useful guide from Sam of Indefinite Adventure as it highlights some lesser known potential digital nomad bases in South America. Of Sam’s picks Arequipa is the only one we’ve visited ourselves, a city we enjoyed but had an unsuccessful apartment search, so we’re glad to see it on the list.

Around the world there are certain cities that seem to pull in digital nomads, bloggers and location independent types. Chiang Mai and Playa del Carmen are perennial constants, but increasingly popular are Istanbul, Lisbon and Berlin, among others.

If a city has some combination of good weather, fast internet, affordable prices and a good selection of good food, it’s likely to become the next digital nomad hotspot. In South America, the three names I see thrown around are usually Buenos Aires in Argentina, Cusco in Peru and Medellín in Colombia.

Buenos Aires’ reputation as a good base for digital nomads is well deserved, with its many cafés and entrepreneurial vibe, and since it’s the only one of these three cities I managed to visit on my recent 10 month trip in South America, it’s also the only one I can comment on.

However, I’d like to propose three alternative South American cities that could be set to become the next hubs for digital nomads on the continent which seems like a more popular place to travel through than to stop and stay a while in (unlike Asia) among us location independent types.

Córdoba, Argentina

Cordoba canal

Cordoba canal

Argentina’s second city may not have the obviously cool edge compared to its big brother on the coast, but once you delve a bit deeper, this university town can be just as hip, and even more intimate.

Cool cafés line the streets in the area around the canal, and people come out to dance tango on the streets on Sunday evenings wherever the space allows. Being away from the capital, everything is cheaper, the many university students means a riotous nightlife if that’s your kind of thing and the surrounding countryside, even just an hour or two outside of the city, is beautiful and extremely varied.

Cordoba countryside

Cordoba countryside

Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa plaza

Arequipa plaza

This colonial city has all the makings of the perfect digital nomad hub for southern Peru, yet it seems no one has caught on yet. There are oodles of cool cafés, all with reliable wifi, cheap, varied and excellent food options, dry sunny days, gorgeous views from almost everywhere in the city of two dormant volcanoes and many options for day trips out into the surrounding countryside, especially towards the Colca Canyon, the world’s deepest. Plus, everything in the city is within walking distance.

View of Volcano Misti from Arequipa

View of Volcano Misti from Arequipa

For us, it was where we found one of our cheapest apartments in South America: a duplex, two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with fast wifi for just £330 ($540) per month.

Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca Riverside

Cuenca Riverside

Cuenca has the perfect combination of things that the other Ecuadorian cities we visited didn’t quite have balanced: nice weather, digital nomad friendly cafés, clean streets, a focus on art and cultural events and excellent food.

Like Arequipa, the entire city is walkable with many lovely outdoor spaces, the weather pleasant and predictable and there are strong wifi connections in the many nice places to sit and work over a cup of coffee. The surrounding countryside is lovely, and there are easy day trips out to El Cajas National Park for some light hiking or hardcore trekking, depending on your preferred style. The strong expat community also makes it an easy place to slip into comfortably for a short time.

About the Author: Sam is a sometimes-EFL teacher with a penchant for trains, napping, finding vegan food in unlikely places and podcasts. He recently spent 10 months travelling in South America with his partner, Zab, and is now back in his native Europe for a while. Follow Sam and Zab’s travels on their blog, Indefinite Adventure, through Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare.

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39 Comments (2 pingbacks)

  1. Argentina is a place that I also wanted to know . I’m Brazilian , I’m close and I’m scheduling me to know the country. Congratulations on the blog , the content is very interesting.

    Reply

  2. It’s wonderful to hear about a few new digital nomad hubs that aren’t Chang Mai, really.

    I would love to visit these towns even if I didn’t commit to staying for a long, long time as they sound pretty wonderful! Pretty too. 🙂

    Reply

    • Oh, they’re definitely all worth a visit, even if just for a few days. For me at least, a place that isn’t worth visiting for a short trip (if because it’s boring, ugly, badly connected etc.) wouldn’t make a good temporary base, no matter how fast the internet and how cheap renting an apartment might be!

      Reply

    • I can contribute that I read a LOT about Chiang Mai. I’ve followed it for years and I hear that the air up there has been getting progressively worse during the ‘burning time’ of the year (when the farmers in the surrounding area burn off their fields). I have heard the internet in Thailand is very good and, in fact, is one of the national government’s priorities.

      I’ve also heard the lifestyle is a lot more relaxed in Sihanoukville AND the internet is decent enough. There’s a guy (can’t remember his name right now…he’s on my Facebook though) who writes a VERY good blog from there (and he’s also a free-lance writer) called “Sihanoukville Journal”.

      Thailand has, over the last couple of years, been getting really rough for low budget travelers… even to the point of getting downright dangerous. It’s OK if you’ve got money but the Thais are very mercenary and if you don’t have cash…they’re often not very friendly.

      There’s a guy named “JC”, an American living in Chian Mai, who has a blog called retirecheap.asia . He has free content and a memership but I haven’t kept up with it for at least a year. His specialty is Chiang Mai but he does cover other areas of Thailand and has even gone to Cambodia. My guess is that he either has some free videos about internet service there OR has would supply that information in his paid membership which is pretty cheap (I was ‘in’ it for awhile).

      I’ll tell you another place that would probably surprise you..Seoul, S.Korea. It’s a really happening town…especially for Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba dancers (I taught in SK for 4 years…near Seoul). Rooms and apartments are a bit on the high side but for somebody who had regular work, I think it would be worth considering….plus it would be EASY to pick up online English students there.

      Regards,
      Art

      Reply

  3. I loved Arequipa and we ended up spending a lot longer there than we initially anticipated. I just loved the buildings and architecture in the town. We were also there around Easter time so we saw alot of the parades that seemed to happen every night! I haven’t been to any of the other places mentioned, but I am hoping I can explore more of South America soon!

    Reply

    • Yes, we definitely felt the same about Arequipa, it was a pleasant surprise. And for a reasonably small city, there did indeed feel like there was a lot happening!

      Reply

  4. I have been to all three, of which Córdoba was most to my taste. Highest quality of living and most diversity. Arequipa is great but quite limited in the long term. I also like to add Bogota. Perhaps not as beautiful overall, but great atmosphere, very diverse and good wifi. Allthough this might be due to my preferences for cosmopolitan cities 😉

    Reply

    • Though Córdoba was the place on this list we spent the least amount of time, I can see why you liked it so much; and indeed, I agree that Arequipa could be a bit limited after a while. For us, 1 month was just the right amount of time there. I wish I could comment on Bogotá, but unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend any time in Colombia due to time restrictions. Though, I too am a fan of cosmopolitan cities, so can imagine I’d enjoy it a lot too!

      Reply

      • Hey Sam,
        same question that I asked Daniel: I am looking for a a location to stay 5-6 months and was considering Arequipa since I know somebody there. Can I ask what you found limiting about Arequipa in the long term?

        Reply

        • I like cities that are a bit bigger than Arequipa if I’m going to be staying for a while. I wouldn’t say Arequipa is limiting, but for me, I would crave more vibrancy, diversity and culture after a couple of months there. If cities of this size (Arequipa has a population of 860,000) work for you, then I don’t see any reason not to stay for that long. It’s really ideal in many ways.

    • Hey Daniel,
      I am looking for a a location to stay 5-6 months and was considering Arequipa since I know somebody there. Can I ask what you found limiting about Arequipa in the long term?

      Reply

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