Ho Chi Minh City vs Chiang Mai vs Medellin?

I’ve realized that if I really want to be a DN entrepreneur, I need to get my ass to a DN hub.

My income (around $1000 USD/month) and some research I’ve done point to Saigon, Chiang Mai, and Medellin as 3 great choices to start out with.

I know some people who could “plug me in” to the DN scene in Medellin and Saigon, but not Chiang Mai.

The primary goal of me moving is to build relationships with DN entrepreneurs, and get great work done. Quality of life for $1000 USD a month is very important too, as I know how much a lack of money can degrade one’s quality of life.

Any advice from people who have lived in 2 or more of these cities? Any particular ways I should be thinking about this?

Right now my initial, probably wrong impressions are:

Medellin -
Pros: Culture and language are more interesting to me than Vietnamese or Thai culture.

Cons: More dangerous than SE Asia, not sure how much more. Higher cost of living than SE Asia. Thriving community, but not as much as SE Asia.

Chiang Mai -
Pros: Lowest cost of living. Very friendly, safe. Probably the easiest to integrate into, and least stressful.

Cons: Harder to connect with locals than in other locations (I know a decent amount of Italian, so Spanish seems easier, and apparently a decent amount of Vietnamese living in Saigon speak English.)


Pros: Seems to have the best community for what I am looking for. Very exciting entrepreneurial atmosphere. Cheaper than Medellin.

Cons: Pollution, could get old living in super urbanized area (stressful perhaps)

Right now I am leaning towards Saigon haha, but I am hoping for others’ experience based perspectives as I am just spouting theory right now :slightly_smiling:

Also, it seems like maybe I should be just thinking about Medellin vs either of the other two cities, since I could literally just fly between Saigon and Chiang Mai for cheap and see how I like either of them.

Medellin has the same cons as hcmc and your Italian won’t be super helpful pkus cost of living there is $$. $1k/month would be kind of scraping by if you don’t want to live in a dump with 20 people and have any kind of social life. Time of year matters too.

Don’t know about Medellin but both Chiang Mai and Saigon are good/perfect places to start your nomad lifestyle with. You may meet a lot of other DNs in Chiang Mai but Saigon has more serious entrepreneurs and expats, and you may find more opportunities to build a successful business there. Chiang Mai has a cheaper cost of living but the city of Saigon is more active and it’s a food paradise. The weather in Saigon is much better than Chiang Mai in summer.

Admin note: post edited to keep on topic.

Just left 3 months in Medellin. 1k is a bit low for my type of life there and for DN might be tight. You can definitely do $3-$5 lunches in typical restaurants but you will be priced out of night life. Breakdown I have seen:

Apartments: $1 -2k (airbnb)
Lunch: $5-10
Dinner: $15
Posh Dinner: $20-25
Taxi: $3-$5
Beer: $1
Wine: $10
Maid: $20 per day
Haircut (Men) : $5
Haircut (Women): $30
Food Shopping: $40 per week
Internet Cafe: $1 per hour

As for dangerous. Really only in “hamsterdam”. Which is near city financial center. This is the area drugs and homelessness allowed. You will never go there cuz nothing to do there. Just some park land near the highway.

I’m in Saigon at the moment, great DN scene here. Very easy to plug in, main areas of living at in District 1, near Japantown and 18a NTMK.

You can get a room for $200-$300 in 18a, but can be a bit hit and miss, sometimes it seems like there’s a bunch available and other times there hasn’t been anything, but doesn’t take long for something to open up.

Maybe it’s just me but Saigon was too stressful to enjoy. It’s great fun for 3 days but not relaxing if you are a chilled/outdoors kind of person. CM is very nice but too far from the coast for me long term, no problems with English there though, as you suggested. :slightly_smiling:

I’ve stayed in all three and enjoyed them all very much. I agree that Medellín is going to be more expensive. You can’t go wrong with either Saigon or Chiang Mai but they’re very different places to live. Do you like the big city over a smaller community? Go with Saigon. Do you like to do lots of outdoors stuff? Go with Chiang Mai. Etc.

If what you really want to do is focus on your business and network with other digital nomads, I’d also recommend you consider Koh Lanta during KoHub’s busy season. If you go during the busy season, you’ll have an immediate network of a few dozen digital nomads doing all kinds of interesting work with lots of energy and great ideas. I don’t know what it’s like during the green season but it may be a bit lonely.

Like you mentioned, in SEA, you can try out a few different places without spending much money. It also has a significant community of digital nomads who stay in the region so it’s easy to run into or organize trips with people you know. Latin America is more sparse and spread out.

Thanks everyone!

@Don_Lee @wanderingdev
Honestly I feel like I would rather try to date female nomads, as the idea of getting to know a local pretty well and then just bouncing seems like it would hurt a lot.

I think I would rather find someone I can travel with…

@AntonioEvans Thanks for the breakdown, looks like Medellin might be a little too much $$ for the immediate future.

@Victoria How are you liking the city life? Are you glad you’re in Saigon?

@NomadAccountant @lognaturel
It seems like I should probably live in both places for a few weeks and then decide. I’m more of an outdoors type of person, but I am also really into a “more serious” entrepreneur scene…

Thanks for letting me know about KoHub, I’ll definitely consider that as it seems like the perfect way for me to network and get shit done without worrying about logistics.

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