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Move Your Remote Office to a Bargain Destination That’s Sunny

As I write this I’m looking out at hills and mountains bathed in sunshine. I’ll go out for a walk later with no jacket on and be pleasantly warm. I’ll see an orange and red sunset at the end of the day as I’m shutting down the laptop in my remote office. Best of all, I’m doing it in a bargain destination where I’m spending a fraction of what it costs in places that are far less pleasant outside. 

workation in Thailand - my remote office

This post is going up in December, when I’m having video calls with people talking about snow outside their windows and temperatures that are already below freezing. But I could have painted that scene throughout the year when my remote office was situated in a warm place I was traveling in and this time last year, I was getting my work done from near a beach in Phuket, Thailand. That shot above is from the apartment we were renting for $52 a night with all fees, a big place with a shared swimming pool. 

More than a few people find themselves drifting to warm places in the winter so they can escape the cold and shed some clothing, but if you’re location-independent because your job is remote or you run an online business, you’ve got lots of great choices these days on where to land. The lodging company Holidu revealed the best destinations for a winter workation in a recent research report and most of them will cost you far less than you’re spending just to exist in Canada, USA, UK, or Australia. 

Bargain Destinations for a Winter Workation

First of all, I’m not in love with the term “workation,” but it’s what we’ve got for describing a place you go to where you’re working part of the day and sightseeing or having fun part of the time. This arrangement is more common than not with a lot of remote workers and it’s nothing new. After all, many people who carry their job along wherever their laptop goes don’t even have a real home anymore. They move around the world like nomads, staying two months here, three months there like a temporary resident. 

remote office workation in winter

We’ve done that a lot ourselves, including a few places that showed up in the report, which was based on factors like Wi-Fi speed, the number of co-working facilities, average temperature, the number of sunny days in a month, and costs for a few key items. These items were housing, meals out, coffee, and beer. All the essentials if you ask me. 

Which cities ranked the highest? 

3) Chiang Mai

2) Buenos Aires

1) Bangkok

You could beam me off to any of those right now and I’d be happy to do my work from there. I’d rather be in Buenos Aires than the other two if I’m going to work remotely though because I need to do a few phone calls and video meetings each week. Trying to do that from the other side of the planet is no fun: your day is completely reversed from everyone you’re doing business with in North America. It’s much easier if your base is normally Australia. 

As is usual with these lists, I’ve got some issues because the rest of the top-10 has some gems and some head-scratchers. The study has New Delhi at #4, a city where you often can’t see the sun if it is out because of all the smog. It also has Mumbai on the list, which shows up in other surveys as one of the most expensive places in the world to live. If I were going to go to India for a workation, it would be to somewhere more mellow, less polluted, and less congested than those huge cities. 

They also had Yangon in the top 10, from the pariah state of Myanmar, a country run by a genocidal military junta. That’s not a place I want to be handing over my money in support. 

The others were more attractive though and actually do pull in a lot of nomads and remote workers. Here’s who else was in the top 10: 

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Lima, Peru
Mexico City
Cape Town, South Africa

For the moment, South Africa’s currency is near its low, so if you’re coming in with dollars or euros, you’re going to fare quite well there. Mexico City isn’t exactly hot this time of year as it’s at a high elevation, but it warms up each day. You’ll never run out of things to do there. 

laptop office view remote workation

Lima is rather gray and gloomy much of the year, but it does clear up in January and February, the months this study is based on, so it makes sense. You’ve got a lot of great excursion opportunities when you take some time off, from the Amazonas region to the Sacred Valley to Paracas. 

Ho Chi Minh City, otherwise known as Saigon, has been a popular expat spot for decades and if you love the heat, you’ll get it all year there. You’ll also get bargain living expenses and great street food. 

Top Remote Office Work Getaways Close to Home

If you’re American or Canadian, you can look well beyond Mexico’s capital to find a good spot to work remotely and have some fun. Places above 6,000 feet can get cool at night, but not cold, and as I’ve laid out before, Mexico cost of living is quite low in the central part of the country. If you’ve got a higher budget, you could kick back in a beach area like Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, or Playa del Carmen and still be sure you’ve got a great internet connection. (In more remote spots like Sayulita or Mazunte with no cable competition, not so much.) 

On that note, you can’t be guaranteed of fast internet where I just was in Guatemala or in some other Central American countries. Step up the budget a bit and head to Panama instead. Or keep going down to Colombia. The cost of living in Colombia is quite low whether you’re passing through or putting down roots. Here was my apartment office in Medellin, where I had very fast internet.

remote work location with bargain prices

For Europeans who want to stay close and be on a similar time zone with the remote office, here are the places that showed up the highest on that survey, destinations that are a short budget flight or long train ride away: 

10. Split, Croatia
9. Palma de Mallorca, Spain
8. Seville, Spain
7. Faro, Portugal
6. Malaga, Spain
5. Porto, Portugal
4. Madrid, Spain
3. Lisbon, Portugal
2. Barcelona, Spain
1. Valencia, Spain

Man, sign me up for any of those! Seville was on my Andalucia trip itinerary the year before last and I said at the time that I would live there in a heartbeat. A few remote worker friends have picked up and moved there the past few years and really liked it. I was also in Malaga on that trip and could easily live there for a while too.

Travel prices in Spain were more reasonable than I expected and they’re even less in Portugal. Loved the train system there. 

traveling around spain and working remotely

I’ve only been to two other cities on that list but at least for a couple of months, they all sound attractive. Quite a few people I’ve met on the road were using Valencia as their home base.

Just be advised that rent prices in Lisbon have gone up a lot for the prime neighborhoods and it’s getting harder to find a short-term rental for a good price there. Barcelona has been dealing with overtourism and housing stock issues since last decade, so they may not welcome you with such open arms.

These aren’t the only warm and sunny places in Europe, of course, and we had a great time last April and early May staying on what they call the Apollo Coast or Athens Riviera in Greece. It’s on the ocean but a tram ride away from the capital. We would work all morning and then go hang out on the beach in the afternoon. From Europe you could take a ferry to Morocco or a short flight to Tunisia or Egypt as well. I could see Africa from the southern coast of Spain when I was there; it’s not far. 

Have you moved your remote office to a warm destination to escape the winter in your home base? How did it go? 

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