‘Digital nomads’ connect the most with urban Europe

The unparalleled buzz of Europe for footloose digital freelancers – or even UK freelancers whose work is somewhat digital – has been echoed in a new index of 56 global cities.

Compiled by Spotahome, the index rankings were compiled after an analysis of factors ranging from WiFi speeds and co-working spaces to tenancy fees and migrant acceptance.

Europe dominates the top five spots, with Belfast, Lisbon, Barcelona and Luxembourg ranked first, second, third and fifth respectively, the house rental firm found.


The strong ranking of EU cities represents somewhat of a coup for Europe after it suffered a recent wobble in a league table on co-working -- just one of the factors Spotahome looked at.

According to the firm, Northern Ireland’s capital is poor for annual sunshine (just 0.38 hours), but it more than compensates ‘digital nomads’ on a range of less traditional factors.

In fact, Belfast achieved the very best score on internet speed (a full 10.0 points), is highly competitive on co-working (8.12) and even more appealing on apartment rental costs (8.28).


“[It] might seem surprising, but the city was recently named the best place to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet and previous studies have found Belfast to be one of the UK’s fastest growing economies,” says Spotahome manager Melissa Lyras.

“The city is also especially appealing to digital nomads, because of its focus on technology growth. Belfast has seen a 73 per cent surge in new digital jobs”.

Surprises occurred at the other end of the index too. New York is ranked in the unceremonious bottom 10 places, thanks to slow internet speed, high rents and comparatively few start-ups.

Another culturally-rich destination, Hong Kong, fared even worse – the very worst or 56th best city for digital nomads according to the index, not far behind Milan (47th), Paris (48th) and Oslo (49th).

'New generation'

This European trio will look enviably at nearby Milan, ranked seventh, and representing the other EU city to feature in the top 10, alongside Belfast, Lisbon, Barcelona and Luxembourg, but behind two Australian giants, Brisbane (4th) and Adelaide (6th).

“It’s both exciting and promising to see so many European cities paving the way for this new generation of workers,” Lyras said, referring to ‘digital nomads,’ defined by the index as remote or mobile workers armed with Wi-Fi-enabled devices who supply their clients from the likes of coffee shops, co-working hubs and libraries.

She added: “The latest rankings are perhaps indicative of the shift in remote workers moving away from more tropical destinations, shunning traditional hotspots for more under-the-radar locations.”


3rd January 2019

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