What is Nomad List?

Nomad List finds you the best places in the world to live and work remotely. It collects over 50,000 data points about 500+ cities around the world, from cost of living, temperature to safety. With that data I try to make a good estimate of where you, as a digital nomad, should go next.

The ranking of cities is based on all the different data points with highest weight given to cost (should be affordable), current temperatures (should be comfortable), internet speed (should be usable) and safety (should have low crime).

Throughout the day the site keeps updating its data (including temperatures, humdity, internet speeds, exchange rates etc.) which means that at any second you'll see the best cities recommended to you.

The ranking shows considerable changes throughout the seasons. In the summer, places in US and Europe start moving up while in the winter Asia and South America do very well.

What else does Nomad List do?

I also try to provide some community for digital nomads. I have a questions & answers site to help the lack of information, a location-based live chat to connect nomads, and I organize regular meetups around the world.

What is the source of your data?

It started out as a crowdsourced spreadsheet. That spreadsheet held about 25 cities. That was a great start, but crowdsourced data has by nature challenges with consistency. For example, some people have more expensive taste than others and will tell you the rent in a city is higher than the actual average.

To mitigate this, we've hired city editors to research data by a strict set of guidelines. That means I now have more consistent data. I also have way more cities than before. Since the start we've added over 500 of the biggest cities in the world and continue to add more every day.

Your data on X is wrong!

Please click the city, and then click the edit button on the to right to and submit a change. I'll process it and it'll update in a few days.

I'm writing an article about Nomad List, can you help?

Sure! I can provide you extra data and information to make your article better. Use the feedback form to contact.

Can I advertise / sponsor Nomad List?

Yes! See more information here

Advertisers who sponsor Nomad List are Automattic, WordPress.com, Toptal, Minaal and The Roost.

Use the feedback form in the bottom or email us to set up a sponsorship. Note: We don't take on any budgets less than $5,000 per month. It's simply not worth it! We have to pay the bills too. Also we don't give discounts on ads or do free test runs either. If you can't afford it, you probably shouldn't advertise here yet. Sorry!

How did this site get started?

In 2014, I,  @levelsio, was traveling as a digital nomad in SE Asia and I had seen Chiang Mai, Bali and Bangkok but I was wondering what more places would be suitable for nomads like me.

I knew I needed fast internet, nice weather and low cost of living. So I made a spreadsheet, shared it on Twitter and people helped fill it in. That became the basis for this site.

What happened after?

It then went straight to the top of Hacker News and Product Hunt. Since then it's been an amazing ride. I used that early momentum to launch lots of things that I hoped would create something sustainable. I started organizing meetups, launched a jobs site for nomads, a Q&A forum and a 3,000+ member chat.

We did it! @NomadList hit @Reddit's frontpage, the nomad revolution is in effect πŸ˜πŸš€ thx every1 (and sorry 4 my spam😁) pic.twitter.com/oX03vAmiwV

— levels.io (@levelsio) June 16, 2015

We even hit Reddit's frontpage!

How is traffic now?

Nomad List and its affiliated sites get about 100,000-500,000 unique users per month with 300,000 too 2,000,000 pageviews depending on each month.

Can I scrape your data?

Use our API!

Do you have an API?

Yes! Here's the end points. Please remember by using this data you agree to the legal terms. We own the copyright to our data and we only license it to you through this API.

To avoid boring copy cats just making the same site with our data, we don't allow apps that simulate Nomad List's functionality. We'll figure out, shut down API access, and if you keep using our data become very angry. Be a cool guy/girl and make something NEW with our data! DON'T BE BORING!

To query one city quickly in JSON, add .json to the URL:

/amsterdam-netherlands.json

Get a list of cities, countries or regions and query specific ones:

/api/v2/list/cities

/api/v2/list/cities/amsterdam-netherlands

/api/v2/list/countries

/api/v2/list/countries/netherlands

/api/v2/list/regions

/api/v2/list/regions/europe

Get a list of cities, countries, regions or places near you:

/api/v2/cities/near

Get a list of cities, countries, regions or places near a specific location:

/api/v2/cities/near?latitude=52&longitude=4

Get a list of places to work and sleep:

/api/v2/list/cities/amsterdam-netherlands/places/work

/api/v2/list/cities/amsterdam-netherlands/places/sleep?latitude=52&longitude=4

Filter places by daily price and distance:

/api/v2/list/cities/amsterdam-netherlands/places/sleep?latitude=52&longitude=4&c=2&f1_target=distance_from_center_in_km&f1_type=lt&f1_max=10&f2_target=price_per_day_in_usd&f2_type=lt&f1_max=50

Sort cities by parameters, like temperatureC (temperature in celsius), short_term_cost_in_usd (that's Nomad Cost), safety_level, see Nomad List's AJAX queries to find out more:

/api/v2/filter/city?q=&s=short_term_cost_in_usd&o=desc

/api/v2/filter/city?q=&s=temperatureC&o=desc

Filter cities with parameters. 'c' should be the amount of filters you use. And then incrementally add them like f1, f2 etc. Filter types are greater than (gt), less than (lt), between range (br), exact string match, partial string match (pm). Again, see Nomad List's AJAX calls when you filter to figure it out:

/api/v2/filter/city?c=2&f1_target=temperatureC&f1_type=gt&f1_min=23&f2_target=short_term_cost_in_usd&f2_type=br&f2_min=1346&f2_max=2671

Apologies for this horrid API documentation, if I get more time I'll document it better.

How do you make money?

Nomad List mostly makes money from admissions fees to our community and companies advertising on the front page.

Why isn't Nomad List free?

Remember all those cool startups you used that were free but then they were acquired, shut down and now don't exist anymore? It's because free apps don't make money, and therefore can't survive:

Someone builds a cool, free product, it gets popular, and that popularity attracts a buyer. The new owner shuts the product down and the founders issue a glowing press release about how excited they are about synergies going forward. They are never heard from again.

Whether or not this is done in good faith, in practice this kind of 'exit event' is a pump-and-dump scheme. The very popularity that attracts a buyer also makes the project financially unsustainable. The owners cash out, the acquirer gets some good engineers, and the users get screwed.

To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don't take your money! You might call this the anti-free-software movement.

If every additional user is putting money in the developers' pockets, then you're less likely to see the site disappear overnight. If every new user is costing the developers money, and the site is really taking off, then get ready to read about those synergies.

To illustrate, I have prepared this handy chart:

Free Paid
Stagnantlosing moneymaking money
Growinglosing more moneymaking more money
Explodinglosing lots of moneymaking lots of money

What if a little site you love doesn't have a business model? Yell at the developers! Explain that you are tired of good projects folding and are willing to pay cash American dollar to prevent that from happening. It doesn't take prohibitive per-user revenue to put a project in the black. It just requires a number greater than zero.

I love free software and could not have built my site without it. But free web services are not like free software. If your free software project suddenly gets popular, you gain resources: testers, developers and people willing to pitch in. If your free website takes off, you lose resources. Your time is spent firefighting and your money all goes to the nice people at Linode.

So stop getting caught off guard when your favorite project sells out! β€œThey were getting so popular, why did they have to shut it down?” Because it's hard to resist a big payday when you are rapidly heading into debt. And because it's culturally acceptable to leave your user base high and dry if you get a good offer, citing self-inflicted financial hardship.

Like a service? Make them charge you or show you ads. If they won't do it, clone them and do it yourself. Soon you'll be the only game in town!

Maciej from Pinboard.

So if you want Nomad List to survive, please support it and become a paid member.

So...

Nomad List's main site is actually free, and you can find 50,000+ data points on 1,000+ cities we researched for free. Posting on the forum, joining the chat and using the trip planner is not. Why?

Because this is not a venture-capital funded startup. It's bootstrapped! We don't have any external funding on purpose. The problem with so many venture-capital funded startups is that their investors force them to grow fast in user base without making any money in the first few years, to then sell out to BigCo (e.g. Google, Facebook) for a few million dollars, then write a blog post about their incredible journey, then either shut the site down, or fuck over their users by filling the service with ads.

That sucks, right? I don't get that. I don't like that. The reason people do that because they're trying to make a quick buck. I get it. I'd love to too. But the odds of actual success are very low in that realm.

So I'd rather go for higher odds of success, try to make money on day one, and not make a billion dollars but just make good money to live off. Maybe I can hire a few people then later on. Maybe I even get funding later, but then it should be money that's really necessary. Maybe I'd actually get acquired later too. But it'd have to be good for the users in the first place. And there shouldn't be the extreme high growth trajectory which will then fuck over my users.

The challenge of going this way is that you can't offer everything for free, like Facebook or Google or any other funded startup does. You have to get money somehow. I could make money in sneaky ways like selling your user data, but that'd suck and honestly it wouldn't make that much money at this scale. So the fastest way is simply asking you, as a user of this site, for money.

Remember, right now this site is mostly me on a laptop coding my way through life. I love it and it's super fun but it also means that if I can't make any money with it I have literally no money and I'll have to get some desk job and this site won't exist.

So if you like what I do, please support this site and become a paid member.

But honestly, it can't cost much to run a site like this?

You're mistaken.

A good full stack developer is paid $150,000+. A normal startup probably has 4 engineers. That's $600,000/y. Add some social media marketing people and you're close to $800,000/y in labor costs. Sending newsletter and transactional emails (like notices you have a new message on the forum) costs $5,000/y. Hosting and bandwidth is relatively cheap but still gets to $5,000/year including backup storage and backup servers. You need regular security people to check your server and avoid it getting hacked, which probably is another $10,000/y. Using Google's APIs for geocoding, showing maps is not free and costs about $1,000/year for our usage.

That means we'd be close to $1,000,000/y to make this profitable. I can assure you, we don't even make close that!

Nomad List is registered in the Netherlands which means we pay 20% corporate tax, 15% on dividends. Personal income is taxed 52% from EUR 66,000+. In addition, we pay 21% VAT sales tax on every payment we get. On average that means that only about 40% of any payment you send us is actually spendable by us as people that work for Nomad List. It's a good business, but yes, it costs money to run and in the end you're left with less money than you'd think.

But you could put ads everywhere?

Not really. Most ads are really ugly. And with 600,000 pageviews, and a CPM of $1.50, that's about $1,000/m. Not enough to cover the costs. Did I mention most ads are ugly?

Why don't your offer refunds?

We've recently opened up all our sites in read-only mode for everyone to access without becoming a paid member:

Nomad List
Nomad List's Forum
Nomad List Chat
Nomad List Radar

Before signing up you can visit all these sites, and see what you get when you pay. So essentially nothing changes between before you sign up and after, except being able to participate in the conversation (e.g. getting write-access).

You can cancel your membership at any time though, and in that case we'll stop re-newing your membership after the period ends.

What is the tech stack?

It's HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP. It's hosted on a Linode VPS on Ubuntu running NGINX.

Most of the site is written in plain simple code by me without any frameworks. Nomad Forum uses an off-the-shelf forum app which I heavily customized called Discourse. The chat runs on Slack.

Any frameworks?

No, it's all raw code and except for jQuery, I don't use any frameworks. I think in the long run that actually makes it more original, better, and faster to develop as I won't be dependent on other developers (and their bugs).

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