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Bangkok is the capital of Asia for digital nomads, study finds


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Bangkok has been ranked as the most popular city in Asia for digital nomads, according to a new study.

 

The Thai capital, ranked in fourth place overall, in the study carried out by online resume maker Resume.io.

 

The study said that Bangkok is a "firm favourite for a post-pandemic influx of nomadic workers", which in part is due to its low cost of living and affordable internet.

 

Resume.io said it analysed the geolocation data of 90,000 Instagram posts tagged #digitalnomad as well as data from a cost of living index to determine the rankings. 

 

Overall, Vancouver was ranked as top spot among digital nomads, followed by New York and London, in second and third place, respectively.

 

Dubai came in fifth place, followed by Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. Los Angeles, Tulum in Mexico, Paris and Lisbon made up the rest of the top 10 rankings.

 

Resume.io said that “"a whole new flock of online freelancers may find their place in the world" post pandemic.

 

Financial newspaper Nikkei Asia previously called digital nomadism “the most lucrative and fastest-growing migrant worker trend of the digital era”, explaining that digital nomads “stay overseas for longer periods than regular leisure tourists, and, even during the pandemic, the market is growing”.

 

But Bangkok’s popularity for digital nomads - those who can work online from anywhere in the world, typically only needing a laptop and internet connection - comes despite Thailand currently not offering any type of visa classification for location-independent remote workers.

 

But that could be about to change.

 

Earlier this year, the Thai government said it was considering reforming its ‘Smart Visa’ in order to allow digital nomads to work legally in the country.

 

Under the proposals, digital nomads would be allowed to extend their ‘Smart Visa’ for up to four years and work in Thailand without needing a work permit. 

 

They would however need to prove they have a regular salary/finances and demonstrate they have expertise or qualifications. 

 

Thailand’s Smart Visa is available via the Board of Investment and is aimed at attracting highly qualified and skilled foreign workers. However, take up of the visa has been slow. 

 

Changes to the Smart Visa could be announced before the end  of the year and form part of Thailand’s post-pandemic recovery.

 

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Why any digital nomad would stay in London or New York over Bangkok, is beyond me, given the geographical arbitrage. Probably something to do with networking, like your chances of meeting a mover and shaker are increased exponentially in these centres of excellence -face to face interactions aren't quite dead it seems. Also, the days of whipping around the world on a whim are dead, you need to be physically where it's happening; you get stuck in some ghetto, well, you're stuck.

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Bangkok pre pandemic was nearly always winning travel awards and for good reason. Prefect big city base with one of the world's best connected airport hubs. 

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Low costs of living in Bangkok!  Only if you wish to live like the Thai´s!

Trying to maintain western living standards will easily cost you the same as in many European countries

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Excellent news for those who can continue to capitalize on decades of specialized experience and work as (grey) digital nomads like myself. Able to pick and choose our work hours to maintain a useful cash flow and also at the same time keep the brain engaged and in top working condition.

 

It's a great opportunity that has come from the rise of the internet and laptop computers that many will take advantage of I'm sure. Go the nomads!

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25 minutes ago, Xonax said:

Low costs of living in Bangkok!  Only if you wish to live like the Thai´s!

Trying to maintain western living standards will easily cost you the same as in many European countries

But Bangkok is still about half the cost in the more expensive European cities, according to Cost of Living Index.

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Ah, the "Smart Visa". Much discussed, but how many have been issued altogether? Not many. How many have been issued specifically to digital nomads? Probably none whatsoever; they have been "coming soon" for years...

 

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I'm sure that the use of VPNs has skewed these results wildly. 

 

PS. It is illegal to work in Thailand on any visa except the difficult to obtain work permit. 

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3 hours ago, webfact said:

The study said that Bangkok is a "firm favourite for a post-pandemic influx of nomadic workers", which in part is due to its low cost of living and affordable internet.

If you can qualify to get in the country.

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Thailand has missed this opportunity for over a decade. Lets get real here. Allow digital nomads to stay in thailand and pay taxes on what they earn. Simples.

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40 minutes ago, chrisbangkok said:

Tax ?? 

Taxes can be quite low if you take all available deductions.
 

Oh. Are you asking about those who work without work permit? Well, they don't pay taxes in Thailand...

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Digital nomad ie: a backpacker with a laptop posting rubbish on social media all day.

That's not a job or a business. 

I haven't met one one yet that actually makes money

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6 minutes ago, Peterw42 said:

Digital nomad ie: a backpacker with a laptop posting rubbish on social media all day.

That's not a job or a business. 

I haven't met one one yet that actually makes money

I'm not exactly a backpacker, but I do publish rubbish on my website and social media virtually all day, and I'm doing fine. 🙂

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4 hours ago, webfact said:

The study said that Bangkok is a "firm favourite for a post-pandemic influx of nomadic workers", which in part is due to its low cost of living and affordable internet.

Post-pandemic?

When did it finish?

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3 hours ago, Xonax said:

Low costs of living in Bangkok!  Only if you wish to live like the Thai´s!

Trying to maintain western living standards will easily cost you the same as in many European countries

Being from Vancouver and having been back and forth between there and Thailand, I can compare living costs and I did for many years before making Thailand our primary residence.  For 250,000 baht a month we live reasonably well with my Big Boy Toys, a wife and son and a first class 200 m2 condo.  When in Vancouver, where our condo is 150 m2 and in the center of the financial district, our monthly costs are easily, no very easily more than double for a similar quality of life. 

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1 minute ago, kuzmabruk said:

Being from Vancouver and having been back and forth between there and Thailand, I can compare living costs and I did for many years before making Thailand our primary residence.  For 250,000 baht a month we live reasonably well with my Big Boy Toys, a wife and son and a first class 200 m2 condo.  When in Vancouver, where our condo is 150 m2 and in the center of the financial district, our monthly costs are easily, no very easily more than double for a similar quality of life. 

Looks like a dick waving competition is about to commence.....

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2 hours ago, chrisbangkok said:

Tax ?? 

 

Yeah, I wonder how long it'll take them to decide they have to tap that revenue possibility as well now it's become such a big thing ...

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1 hour ago, Peterw42 said:

Digital nomad ie: a backpacker with a laptop posting rubbish on social media all day.

That's not a job or a business. 

I haven't met one one yet that actually makes money


Online teaching? Website design? (Mobile) app programming? Art design? Music production? Remote assistance? - If you are a digital creative with transferable skills, you can make some pretty decent coin on freelance websites.

 

I get a bit confused by this nomad thing, I don’t see how it’s possible for these mystery nomads to move about - for me, I have a drawing tablet, scanner,, multiple screens, monitor mounts, midi keyboards, speakers, decent chairs to sit in all day .. I do have a mate in Bali who does game soundtracks - hunched over a tiny keyboard and mixing desk, squinting at a laptop screen, rather him than me.

 

That excludes all the professional online workers, programmers, accountants, and Sysop who maybe working for a company in the west remotely.

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3 hours ago, chrisbangkok said:

Tax ?? 

If you are tax-planning, you can legally pay zero percent income tax...👍

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5 hours ago, Caldera said:

Ah, the "Smart Visa". Much discussed, but how many have been issued altogether? Not many. How many have been issued specifically to digital nomads? Probably none whatsoever; they have been "coming soon" for years...

 

An amazing 625 smart visas have been issued in the last 3 years. Sounds very successful to me. NOT

 

https://thethaiger.com/hot-news/visa/thailand-and-bali-race-for-southeast-asias-1st-digital-nomad-visa

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4 hours ago, Peterw42 said:

Digital nomad ie: a backpacker with a laptop posting rubbish on social media all day.

That's not a job or a business. 

I haven't met one one yet that actually makes money

 

What you're saying is a bit of an exaggeration but, sadly, most digital nomads are just long-term tourists that are burning through their life savings while pretending to be making money as a digital nomad. 

 

The lifestyle is just as fake as anything on Instagram or YouTube.  I call them digital fauxmads. 

 

Yes, some do make money.  Some do quite well.  Of the several dozen successful ones that I know, most had a successful business back home and figured out how to take it online. 

 

Most digital fauxmads, quit their jobs (typically with less than 5 years total work experience) to become digital nomads and only do it for a few years before they run out of money and go back home. 

 

I don't think Thailand or any other country should encourage that kind of digital nomad.  They're basically long-term backpackers and the tourist visa is a more appropriate option.  

 

But for the people that actually have a business and are making money, sure, Thailand would benefit from attracting them and getting them to base their business from here. 

 

BTW, here's a quick test.  If you ask someone what they do and they tell you that they're a digital nomad, they're a fauxmad.  If they say that they're a software engineer that has clients back in the US or they own a small business that does X that they run online, that's probably a real digital nomad.  LOL. 

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Due to visa restrictions being a "digital nomad" is getting near impossible these days so how is Bangkok a hub of such things? The last time I got a METV they grilled me on why I was staying in Thailand for 6 months when I should be back home working. 🤦🏻‍♂️ I've been warned of getting too many tourist visas in the past (I go back home once  year for 2 months) and we hear frequent stories of people getting denied extensions for the "180 days" rules etc... etc... 

 

Unless you're prepared to buy the Elite Visa Thailand is not a place for digital nomads these days.

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3 hours ago, recom273 said:


Online teaching? Website design? (Mobile) app programming? Art design? Music production? Remote assistance? - If you are a digital creative with transferable skills, you can make some pretty decent coin on freelance websites.

 

I get a bit confused by this nomad thing, I don’t see how it’s possible for these mystery nomads to move about - for me, I have a drawing tablet, scanner,, multiple screens, monitor mounts, midi keyboards, speakers, decent chairs to sit in all day .. I do have a mate in Bali who does game soundtracks - hunched over a tiny keyboard and mixing desk, squinting at a laptop screen, rather him than me.

 

That excludes all the professional online workers, programmers, accountants, and Sysop who maybe working for a company in the west remotely.

 

The problem is that the vast majority of them are not web designers, app programmers, artists, musicians, etc.  The people who actually have those skills make 90% of the money and often don't even want to be called digital nomads. 

 

The typical digital nomad is a Millennial or Gen Z'er who has a boring entry-level job, and reads about what an exciting life they could be having as a digital nomad.  So they quit their job and move to Chiang Mai with the $20K they saved.  They move into a hostel to live with other digital nomads and enroll in a "make money fast" course that supposedly teaches them how to become a website designer, SEO specialist, or copywriter.  Then they go to co-working spaces with other digital nomads and try to find work from other digital nomads.  When that doesn't work, they start doing Fiverr and Upwork gigs, competing against some dude in Pakistan. 

 

Then they spend the next 1 - 3 years getting just enough work to slow down how quickly they burn through their life savings, while posting photos of their laptop at a beach or next too a pool so they can flex on the people back home. 

 

When the money is gone, they move back home, tell everyone they got tired of life on the road, lie about having built a successful online business, and go back to working at a boring entry-level job, clicking "Like" on Instagram posts of other digital fauxmads lying about their success. 

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Still some people on this forum who are upset they just can't seem to figure out how to make $ online... so they just say it's a fallacy lol! 😆.  Well it's not I'm afraid....

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People have been working while traveling long before the term "digital nomad" was coined, long before the Internet existed, long before computers, for millenia in fact.

Some members here clearly confuse the relatively tiny number blogging or YouTubing about digital nomadism as representing all digital nomads. They don't.

The vast majority of people who work online tend to do so in their home cities for family reasons. A certain portion decide to travel, sometimes for price arbitrage reasons, but usually because they want to have a more interesting life.

Most people working online earn significantly more than the average wage in the West. That is a simple reality of how our economic system rewards people who own their own businesses, or who have established themselves as reliable providers of information work (coding, writing, marketing, video-editing, analysis, trading etc).

Yes, some people straight out of school of university will take a year or so to find their feet, and might use the low-cost of living in Asia as a way to bootstrap their business, but very few established online workers would be making less that $50 an hour, and those with their own businesses are often making serious money, especially over the past year or so. The ones who have been saving their earnings in crypto have been doing particularly well.

My observation is that any native English-speaker of reasonable intelligence and the ability to write clearly (ability to communicate professionally) can easily make over $100 an hour remotely if they are willing to sit down for three months are learn a specific skill for which there is demand. I have seen dozens of friends here in Thailand achieve this.

Currently, as the economy heats up, even "WordPress experts", an almost zero-skill occupation, are in high demand, but I would recommend picking up a deeper skillset that will remain in demand even during economic slumps, such as coding, video-editing, or some other technical skill. 

I presume that much of the bitterness towards online workers is jealousy from retirees on set incomes or from those unhappily trapped in the TEFL ghetto. I have tried to help some of these guys get their life together but, sadly, a deep sense of self-loathing often undermines their attempts to develop new skills.

 

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1 hour ago, digibum said:

 

The problem is that the vast majority of them are not web designers, app programmers, artists, musicians, etc.  The people who actually have those skills make 90% of the money and often don't even want to be called digital nomads. 

 

The typical digital nomad is a Millennial or Gen Z'er who has a boring entry-level job, and reads about what an exciting life they could be having as a digital nomad.  So they quit their job and move to Chiang Mai with the $20K they saved.  They move into a hostel to live with other digital nomads and enroll in a "make money fast" course that supposedly teaches them how to become a website designer, SEO specialist, or copywriter.  Then they go to co-working spaces with other digital nomads and try to find work from other digital nomads.  When that doesn't work, they start doing Fiverr and Upwork gigs, competing against some dude in Pakistan. 

 

Then they spend the next 1 - 3 years getting just enough work to slow down how quickly they burn through their life savings, while posting photos of their laptop at a beach or next too a pool so they can flex on the people back home. 

 

When the money is gone, they move back home, tell everyone they got tired of life on the road, lie about having built a successful online business, and go back to working at a boring entry-level job, clicking "Like" on Instagram posts of other digital fauxmads lying about their success. 


Lol - great description. I have no idea if this is the truth. 
 

I don’t think any good comes from these articles - maybe stokes the fire down at immigration HQ that they could extract some money from the hundreds of talented /qualified nomads living and working  in BkK. 
 

I would like to think that they could legitimize it in exchange for a bit of tax - at least that would end the stupid questions every year at visa renewal, but in reality, who cares, it would only be take, take, take.

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