Where to Live and Work as a Digital Nomad – Part I Middle East and Central Asia

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

Mighty Travels’ mission is to guide you with ways to go everywhere and live well anywhere. Digital nomads now have the opportunity to live and work from anywhere and live a nomadic lifestyle without leaving the world behind.

Our parents discovered that a car can take them anywhere in a city. This generation of millennials is discovering that they can live anywhere on the planet.

I wanted to share my personal experiences and recommendations on where to live and work as a digital nomad. I’ll be exploring:

  • Part I Middle East and Central Asia
  • Part II South America
  • Part III Asia
  • Part IV Africa
  • Part V Europe
  • Part VI North America

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

I have devised the following (very scientific) criteria for choosing the best places:

  • Cost of living (especially hotels, apartments, local transport and food)
  • Internet speed
  • Security situation
  • Language (how easy it is without knowledge of the local language)
  • Quality / diversity of food
  • Cheap flights (to and from your temporary home)
  • Friendliness of locals
  • Entertainment options – or how bored would I be after one month
  • General hassle factor (how much drama is involved in everyday transactions)

Since we do not cover employment on Mighty Travels, we are assuming you already have a digital job that you can do (for a limited time) almost anywhere.

Part I Middle East and Central Asia

Most countries in the Middle East (and even in Central Asia) place more importance on religion than other areas in the world. This can be a rough adjustment since these rules add to the many existing social rules and make it harder to assimilate a new country.

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is Israel’s version of San Diego, with a relaxed vibe along the beach. You would never guess that there are active war zones (which always seems to be the case) just a few hundred miles away.

Tel Aviv beach

Cost of living

Tel Aviv is expensive – easily as much as San Diego or Los Angeles. Apartments and hotels cost a fortune.

Internet speed

Very fast if you find the right spot.

Security situation

Better than the media makes it sound. Tel Aviv is a VERY safe city and the active war zones are only close in distance – never in spirit.

Language

It’s hard to find anyone who does NOT speak fluent English or has studied in the US.

Quality / diversity of food

Awesome local cuisine and a lot of ethnic options.

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

Cheap flights to and from your temporary home

Several European discount airlines and many full service airlines are battling it out at Tel Aviv Airport. The only issue is the intimidating security checks at Tel Aviv Airport that can easily spoil a trip.

Friendliness of locals

It’s very hit or miss, this one, though usually it’s a miss. Israelis fall on either side of the spectrum and they try to be VERY vocal about it.

Entertainment options 

There’s plenty to do here. Israel is a tiny country but has so much history and so many things to see, so it will keep you busy. Jerusalem is less than 60 miles way.

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

General hassle factor

Given how rich Israel is, there is a decent amount of hassle. There seems to always be someone angry at you at some point.

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

Dubai

Dubai has been on everyone’s map for the last 20 years. How a tiny piece of land with terrible weather and nothing but desert can become so famous is a unique feat.

Cost of living

Dubai is rather expensive – a bit less than in the US, but not by much.

Internet speed

Very fast and easy to find.

Security situation

Not an issue.

Language

English is easily the most spoken local language here.

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

Quality / diversity of food

Not great if you venture beyond Filipino and South Indian dishes, but it is getting better.

Cheap flights to and from your temporary home

Air Arabia, flydubai and Emirates all have a hub here and all the Middle East competitors try to start a fare war from Dubai.

Friendliness of locals

There is a lot of indifference from the locals. They’re also not the happiest bunch since everyone is just so focused on working 12 hours a day.

Entertainment options 

Many things we consider entertaining just don’t happen in Dubai. It’s not great unless you can afford your own yacht.

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

General hassle factor

Pretty low; the UAE is a rich country and productivity is high.

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Almaty

Almaty is a great base for a few months; it’s a modern city that feels smaller than it really is. Almaty still has lots of Russian leftovers, but firmly has its hand in the future now.

Cost of living 

Since Kazakhstan allowed the tenge to float freely, prices have been coming down a lot in dollar terms.

Internet speed

Internet is usually fast but not lightning fast.

Security situation

Almaty is safer than most US metropoleis.

Language

Lots of new English speakers in this town make it easy, but there is enough incentive to learn a bit of Russian.

Quality / diversity of food

Not Almaty’s strong suit, but there are the beginnings of an ethic food scene.

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Cheap flights to and from your temporary home

It’s not cheap to get to, but it is a hub for Air Astana, which goes almost everywhere in the region and prices can be decent.

Friendliness of locals

Kazakhstanis (like Mongolians) aren’t the most friendly nationals on earth, but they display a lot of common courtesy (as long as you don’t see them in a car).

Entertainment options 

Almaty isn’t the most happening town but it still has plenty for you to explore for a few months.

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General hassle factor

Low – locals are trying to be productive members of society.

Also-rans

We also considered these cities but decided against them for the following reasons…

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Istanbul 

An amazing city with tons of things to do and see and there is a lot of good, cheap, local food. However, the security situation is troubling and the locals are just too pushy. It’s also too incredibly crowded for my taste.

Beirut 

Beirut has wonderful areas, full of culture and incredible food, but it’s expensive, the internet is non-existent and the security situation is troubling here, too.

Bishkek 

It’s incredibly cheap here and life is easy. Nevertheless, good food is hard to find and there isn’t much to do after a few days besides hiking.

Live and Work as a Digital Nomad

Astana 

Astana is a great modern city, but it’s built for style and purpose-built as a capital. Unless you have a highly-paid government or oil job, avoid for a long-term stay.

Tbilisi 

Tbilisi is a wonderful town that will delight every visitor. Hotels are not cheap anymore, but apartments and food are. The internet is fast and the locals speak English more and more. However, Tbilisi is small and the modern part of the city (that I liked the most) is even smaller. You will get bored unless you travel the region and use Tbilisi as a hub to do that.