I've been talking a lot recently, along with everyone else, about the rise of the digital nomad. The ability to earn a living doing what you love while travelling, is such an alluring prospect that it's hardly surprising that so many people are now taking advantage of the opportunities that the combination of modern technologies and freelance working bring. But in all this chat of escapist dreams there's one issue that has been largely overlooked: the small matter of affordability. If I'm a freelance programmer living in Bristol, can I really hope to survive on my typical income while living and working in Bermuda?
It's something of an obvious thing to say, but travel isn't cheap. That's why most of us only do it once or twice a year. While the average digital nomad won't be racking up many nights in five star luxury accommodation, they do still need to be able to pay the rent, access the internet and perhaps a workspace to do their job, oh, and eat from time to time. So how do you know where to go to make nomadism worth your while? Somewhat predictably, destination is everything... But it depends on what you're looking for.
If you want cheap rent, then Croatia is the go-to place, typically coming in at £327.50 per month. Like eating out a lot? Then you should consider Mexico, where a good meal for two is a snip at £17.70... Unlike Switzerland, where that would barely cover a McDonalds for one, with a Big Mac coming in at £10.97, and that's before you get your 'shake and fries. While for best broadband rates (£4.98 pcm), you might want to head to Russia. Overall though, according to PeoplePerHour's research, it's India that comes out on top as being the most affordable destination for the travelling freelancer.
With the typical cost of living in India totalling just £523 per month - almost £1,200 less than that of the UK - and the typical British freelancer earning £829.20 per 40 hour week, even after your initial travel outlay, you'll be quids- in in just a fortnight or so.
Of course, saving money isn't generally the sole - or even main - driving force behind digital nomadism; it's about experiencing new cultures, taking in fabulous scenery, enjoying amazing food, and meeting new people. Brits dream beach destinations; Mexico, Brazil, Thailand and Jamaica are some of the cheapest places to live - you could expect to have more 70% of their annual earnings left and be basking in unbroken sunshine while you work.
If you're looking for somewhere closer to home, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Croatia all offer exceptional weather, lifestyle and value for money
As for the most expensive destination... let's return to my opening question. If I'm a freelance programmer living in Bristol, can I really hope to survive on my typical income while living and working in Bermuda? The answer is: afraid not. As residents of one of the most costly destinations in the world, Bermudans typically spend £5,122.35 per month just to get by on the essentials. Broadband prices are sky-high at £107.17 pcm - it makes the UK's £20-30 look like a bargain, doesn't it? - a litre of milk will cost you £3.01, chicken breasts are more than £14 per kilo and utilities come in at more than £190 per month, and that's before you get to the £3430.77 you'll have to fork out each month on rent.
The lesson is, really, if you're planning to take the digital nomad plunge, assess your options, work out your priorities and go where you can afford to go, not just where you want to, if you want a carefree time. For most of us that rules out Bermuda, but Goa is definitely a goer for the freelancer with the freedom to move.
Xenios Thrasyvoulou founder and CEO of peopleperhour.com