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"The rankings of [Nomad List]'s cities are constantly in flux (all the data is refreshed in real-time based on user input)"
"Nomad List ranks destinations that are accommodating to digital nomads, based on factors like cost of living, internet speed and weather;"
"He started a site called Nomad List, a website that crowdsources information to share with fellow nomads."

Explore the world


๐ŸŒ Join a global community of international travelers working remotely around the world working from home for now

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"A guide to the best cities for digital nomads and perpetual travelers"
"An incredibly innovative tool for digital nomads (..) indicative of the larger nomadic trend"
"Nomad List, his most successful product to date, was profitable on the first day"




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Mission

Nomad List's mission is to promote the freedom of global movement enabled by remote work. Nomad List provides services for remote workers, digital nomads and travelers to solve challenges like finding destinations to go, places to work, neighborhoods to stay and making friends in a new place.

What is Nomad List?

Nomad List finds you the best places in the world to live, work and play as a remote worker. Every second, it collects 1,000,000+ data points on 2,500+ cities around the world, from cost of living, temperature to safety. With that data, Nomad List gives you an idea of where it's best for you to live, work and travel.

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 somewhat fast and usable) and safety (should have low crime). Other indicators are also important like low in racism, gay/LGBTQ+ friendliness, air quality, if it's fun to live and if there's good nightlife.

Throughout the day the site keeps updating its data (including temperatures, humidity, internet speeds, exchange rates etc.) which means that at any moment you'll see the best cities recommended to you. Scores are re-generated every 10 minutes.

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

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

How many digital nomads are out there?

There are currently 10 million to 100 million digital nomads in the world in 2020. This is based on the below assumptions:

It's hard to estimate how many digital nomads exist, but let's try with some live data from this site (this paragraph is live updated based on Nomad List data). To do this we have to make some assumptions though, so take this with a grain of salt.

In the last year, Nomad List got 11,054,484 visits. About 25% of those visits are unique users, or 2,763,621 users. Not everyone who visits is already a nomad, probably most are wanna be nomads: but let's assume 25% are nomads or 690,905 people. If we assume Nomad List captures 10% of the entire demographic of digital nomads in a year (it's uncommon for companies to capture double digit amounts of a market), that'd mean there's 6,909,053 digital nomads.

Nomad List mostly has an English-speaking Western audience though, which is only 20% of the world. Then again, most of the world is probably not in a position to go work remotely and travel (yet) due to differences in income. If we assume 40% of the world is though (or double the English speaking population), that means we can count 13,818,105 digital nomads.

That's only self-described digital nomads though. If we make the definition broader to people who work remotely at least part of the year in a country different than their home country the number might double to 27,636,210 or triple to 41,454,315 digital nomads in the entire world.

There's actual research that has surveyed this too. MBO Partners concluded "4.8 million independent workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads [in the United States]". The U.S. has a population of ~330 million people. That means 1.5% self-describes as a digital nomad. If we use that percentage for the entire world, we get ~100 million digital nomads. But most of the world isn't as developed as U.S. Even if we only add Europe: 741 million people * 1.5% = ~10 million digital noamds. Adding back U.S. to that gets us to close to ~15 million digital nomads. MBO's research is within the range of 10 million - 100 million above.

Let's try one more calculation: business travelers. The Business Travel Association reports that in the U.S. alone there are 405 million business trips taken per year with the average traveler taking 12-14 trips. That means there's about 30 million business travelers in the U.S. It is stated in Gallupโ€™s State of the American Workplace Report that 43% of U.S. employees work remotely at least some of the time. If we take 30 million business travelers * 43% working remotely at least some of the time = 12.9 million remote working business travelers. Which if we add the same % to Europe, that's ~42 million people traveling while working remotely in US and EU. The estimate based on business traveler and remote work statistics is again within the range of 10 million - 100 million above.

If we check Facebook and search for "digital nomads", the biggest group is Digital Nomads Around the World which has ~125,000 members at time of writing. Let's say that group captures 10% of digital nomads and there's 1,250,000 nomads there. We then only have the predominantly English-speaking Western audience though, which again is only 20% of the world. If we add the rest of the world, that'd be a multiple of this, e.g. 2.5 million digital nomads. Which is a bit below the range of 10 million to 100 million but still in the millions.

If we do the same for Reddit, the main subreddit for digital nomads is /r/digitalnomad with about 700,000 subscribers at time of writing. Again if that group captures 10% of digital nomads, then there's 7 million nomads out there. Since Reddit too is mostly an English-speaking Western audience, the real number is a multiple of 7 million. Within the range of 10 million to 100 million nomads.

The 10 million to 100 million range with current growth is about in line with the prediction that there will be one billion digital nomads by 2035:

How is the gender ratio for digital nomads?

It's hard to know this for the overall scene but I do have data for Nomad List specifically:

Nomad List's traffic is 30% female and 70% male (source: Google Analytics).

From Nomad List's paid members 21% identifies as female, 78% as male and 1% as other (this is pulled live from the database now).

The primary reason for this skewed ratio is that nomads are mostly in tech jobs, and the tech industry as a whole has a highly skewed gender ratio. In the past I've tried to set lower pricing for female and other genders but many countries and regions like the European Union now have laws against gender discriminatory pricing, in short: prices need to be the same regardless of gender.

I think in the future this will balance out as tech becomes more diverse, and as more non-tech jobs will be able to done remotely, which spurs more non-tech people to become nomads.

How old are digital nomads?

About half of Nomad List's visitors are 25 to 34 year olds. The second biggest group is 18 to 24 year olds. And third is 35 to 44 year olds. From there on it decreases in traffic the older people get:

18-24 years old20%| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
25-34 years old50%| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
35-44 years old17%| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
45-54 years old7%| | | | | | |
55-64 years old4%| | | |
65+ years old2%| |

I do not record age groups for paid members. But I know there are significant outliers though in the member base. A lot of them are indeed in the typical 25 to 34 year old age group. But I have a lot of "empty nesters" who when their kids left the house decided to sell everything and travel perpetually. And I can only see this group growing in the future. Also the 35 to 44 year olds group will be growing since the digital nomads that started out 10 years ago as 25 year olds, are now reaching this age group. Many of them settle down in multiple place, but also many of them keep traveling like nomads, perhaps slowing down.

Especially in this scene, age seems to be much less important than people's mindset and at what stage they are in their life. Are they traveling while studying (on hold)? Are they working on a remote career? Building a business? Retired? Not many really care about your age.

How fast do digital nomads travel?

The average time a Nomad List member stays in one location is currently 78 days or about 2.5 months (this is pulled live from the trips database). Also the longer people are a member/nomad, the longer their trips become and the more they slow down.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that nomads move around every two weeks to their next spot while roaming around the world romantically. Many try to do that when they just start out and are super excited to see the world understandable. However, moving around so fast gets physically and mentally challenging quickly.

Your identity is derived from your environment. If your environment is constantly in flux, you'll be constantly in flux. That's exciting for a while, but then gets tiring and many travelers burn out. Instead, most nomads stay in places for many months and will have a few favorite hubs they rotate around. That also means they can build up a somewhat stable group of friends in those spots.

This duration is a natural limitation of visas. Most nomads travel on tourist visas which are limited to 30, 60 or 90 days. If visa restrictions were minimized, many would probably start to stay in places for 6 months and move with the seasons.

Is this some big company making this site?

No, this site is one person coding everything. From the city database, to the community, to the chat. It's all hand-coded, designed, deployed and marketed by me. It's my life's work and it's hardcore but I really believe this site should exist and can change how people live and travel. I believe in the mission of making people more mobile and explore different cultures so that everyone mixes up and we really become one united world people. That's futuristic AF to me and that's why I do it! I think "settling" will be more archaic and we'll be more flexible in our physical location, thanks to technology.

For that to happen though, we need solid data to make decisions of where we go and live and travel. That's what I want to provide with Nomad List. And we also need people to be able to connect with when we're there, that's why I added community features like a social trips planner, chat and forum to it. Hopefully those tools together can make a significant change in people's behavior to travel more.

Since I made the site, I've met thousands of people that told me they either went traveling (and work remotely) because of Nomad List, or if they already were remote used Nomad List to research on where to go. Knowing that my site affects people's lives in a significant way is my motivation to work on it! (and yes, it pays my bills too)

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, I contracted 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 I've added over 500 of the biggest cities in the world and continue to add more every day.

The crowdsourced data is still there but I've also added 500+ new sources of data including public data sets by UN, WHO, IMF, World Bank for things like demographic and healthcare information, as well as public APIs for things like air quality and traffic density. All data is processed, averaged and normalized constantly. Practically that means there might be 42 different samples for air quality in Amsterdam, and 9 different internet speed measurements for Tokyo. My robots will remove outliers, discount older values and calculate median values that have the highest probability of being accurate when you arrive in a place. The more data (and thus samples) I put in to the site, the more accurate the overall data becomes.

How accurate is it?

How much it costs to live in a place varies by person. For cost data, our data is within the range of 90% of other cost of living sites. Ratings about cities can be especially subjective. As any website with lots of data about lots of cities and countries all around the world, there will always be data points that are not accurate. I highly suggest to always double check data you find here with other sites before you go travel, to be sure. The nature of data is that the more sources you check, the more broad and accurate idea you get of the reality. Even then, keep in mind that how a place feels to you when you're there can be completely different than what any site, person or app tells you.

There isn't a site with data about destinations to travel that's fully accurate ever.

What is AQI?

AQI is Air Quality Index. An AQI from 0-25 is great, 25-50 is good, above 75 becomes bad, and above 100 is very unhealthy.

Your internet speed is wrong, my city gets much faster speeds

Internet speeds on Nomad List are shown as averages of all internet devices like desktop PCs, laptops and smartphones. Yes, maybe you can get 250Mbps in your city. But that's not the average, that's the theoretical maximum as advertised. Remote workers don't care about theoretical maximums, we care about what the speed will realistically be in our hotel, Airbnb, cafe or coworking when we arrive in a city. Which is usually 10 to 50 times lower than telecom companies advertise with.

We use data from internet speed testing websites, internet service providers, public internet speed data sets, as well as measuring internet speed of users on Nomad List itself. That means for most cities we have over 1,000 samples to analyze.

I would like to add a coworking space to Nomad List

I do not and cannot add coworking spaces myself! I have partnerships with sites indexing coworking spaces such as Coworker.com and Workfrom. Add your space on those sites, and it'll show up here, but that might a few weeks, be patient! :)

I would like to add a city to Nomad List

I currently have 99% of cities in the world with a population over 250,000 people (over 1,500 cities). To avoid the site getting saturated with destinations and not maintainable, I am not planning on adding smaller places right now (with a few exceptions like Ubud or Koh Phi Phi which are specific nomad destinations). Usually the data for the biggest city near a small place is fairly close.

I would like to change my membership from monthly to yearly or to lifetime

You can change your membership from your account page here. When you change from monthly to yearly, you'll be pro-rated for the cost. When you change from monthly/yearly to lifetime, we'll refund your last payment if it's within 7 days of changing.

I would like a refund

If you were charged for renewal but didn't want to remain a member, you can self-refund your last payment and cancel your mebership from your account page here within 7 days of your auto-renewal payment. We can only refund the last rewewal payment. If you signed up within 7 days you can cancel your membership here and you will automatically receive a refund. It might take a few days to show up on your credit card statement.

I need an invoice/receipt

A receipt is sent by Stripe or PayPal on every payment to your email address. On the Settings page, you can download a receipt and invoice.

I want to close my account

You can cancel your membership here.

I would like to export all my data (also for GDPR)

You can export all your data here.

I would like to delete my account

You can delete your account here.

I can't login

If you don't have access to the email you signed up with anymore, we can't retrieve your account. If you don't have access to your Facebook or Twitter anymore, we can't retrieve your account either. Old accounts are deleted. You'll need to sign up again with your new email address or social account. We do not merge old accounts with new ones.

If you do still have access to your Slack account (and it's working), you can login with your username and you'll also get a DM on your Slack with a link to login. Make sure you then change your email to a new one that does work properly, so you can login next time with your email.

Nomad Forum and #nomads Slack accounts made in 2014 and 2015 that were inactive and weren't converted into full Nomad List accounts back then have been deleted permanently. If you'd like Nomad List with a new account, sign up to Nomad List again. We can not retrieve these old accounts as they're deleted.

My Slack account was deactivated

The robot automatically deactivates inactive Slack accounts that didn't complete the process of connecting their account to the site. This is to avoid spam accounts. To re-activate it, just login to the site with your username or email. If it still doesn't work go to Settings page and see what's going on.

What is a digital nomad?

Digital nomads, or remote working travelers, are people who live at least part of the year away from their home country while working remotely as an employee for their employer, as a contractor for companies or if they have their own business for themselves.

The classic stereotype of digital nomads is that they move fast from place to place every week or few weeks, while working on their laptop on a beach. Not much of that is true anymore in 2020: most people on Nomad List move only every 4 to 6 months, to the same handful of places, work from coworking spaces or cafes and have close ties to the places they visit and regularly come back to to meet thier friends from all over the world. And hardly anybody works from the beach: too much sand, and too much sun glare on your screen.

Just like the traditional nomadic tribes which "follow a fixed annual or seasonal pattern of movements and settlements", remote working travelers do the same. Many like to stay in climates around 23°C/74°F, and will move based on the seasons.

The term "digital nomad" has been used and abused over the last decades, including in shady online courses and get rich quick schemes, and for that reason many remote workers who travel are wary of using that term to describe themselves. Unfortunately the alternative terms haven't taken off yet. The faster that remote work becomes mainstream, the faster the term digital nomad will go out of fashion and we'll see it as normal that people work from different countries based on their personal preferences in living.

Where do digital nomads live?

Generally they live in places which are affordable, with warmer climates, and lots of other remote workers. Right now in April of 2020 the most popular places for digital nomads are Buenos Aires, Budapest and Ko Pha Ngan.

Depending on how long they stay, their budget and affordability of housing in a place, they can live in hostels, hotels, Airbnbs, short-term apartments and if they stay for longer traditional long-term rentals. Some nomads own housing in different countries to stay there, and rent it out when they're not there.

The areas they stay are usually not the typical tourist neighborhoods. Instead, because nomads stay longer in a place, they want to live in areas that are somewhat local but international which means usually the areas a little bit out of the center, away from tourist but near to a healthy mix of locals, expats and nomads. Important for the area is that it has lots of facilities like cafes, restaurants, hotels/Airbnbs, and for many also gyms.

To see the full listing of current cities browse the most popular places to live and work remotely for digital nomads on the frontpage of Nomad List.

How do I become a digital nomad?

Good question! Primarily, you need a remote job, be a freelancer with remote clients or have your own business you can do online. If you have that, simply book a flight, pack up and go!

What you don't want to do is spend money on courses, seminars, conferences that teach you how to become a digital nomad. Things like re-selling products and having them shipped by other companies or warehouses to customers with you being in the middle, those are mostly scams. There's no magic secret to becoming a digital nomad: you need money coming in to pay your food and bills, put your stuff in a backpack, and fly somewhere. You also don't need to be a member of Nomad List to become a digital nomad. Just do it!

How do I get a remote job?

I made a site called Remote OK that shows all remote jobs available today. Applying to jobs can be challenging, there might be thousands of people applying for a job with 1 position. Remote working is a perk in a job, many people want it, few still get it unfortunately! The best advice is, get highly skilled at what you do until you're hired.

How do I become a freelancer with remote clients?

If you're already a freelancer, talk to your current clients and see how they feel about you working remotely for them. Consider timezone differences and not being able to physically meet up. Many clients are actually fine with this, and you might even be able to offer a discount to them for giving you this freedom! The most common freelance industries for digital nomads are web development, app development, design and virtual assistants.

How do I start my own business to work remotely?

It's not that different from starting any internet-based business, although you'll want to make sure you don't need to do things physically tied to a geographical location. Or if you do, make sure you can hire people in that place to work for you. Many digital nomads have businesses like web development agencies (where they hire out freelancers), e-commerce businesses or making apps/websites that lots of people pay for.

Do digital nomads need work visas?

One of the most controversial questions is hard to answer and that's why it's so controversial. Firstly, this isn't legal advice.

Remote work is such a recent and new technological development and governments are still lagging behind and figuring out how to deal with it. It's still quite a small niche compared to the overall population: Berlin might have thousands of nomads, but it also has close to 4 million people, so it's ~0.1% of the population.

Generally nobody is allowed to work in any country on a tourist visa, that's why there's work visas/permits. But this law is based on old times where work happened in offices and factories. What if an American working for a U.S. startup checks and answers their work email in a Berlin hotel while visiting on a tourist visa? That'd constitute as work in official legal terms, but should that be illegal? Probably not.

Work permits are there to protect the local population from having anyone come to the country and compete with them on getting jobs. This makes perfect sense as you don't the whole world to just come fly to your country and start working and pushing wages down for locals. However, 99% or more of remote workers visiting a country don't compete with locals on jobs. They're not going to restaurant kitchens to cook, instead they'll be in Berlin coding for startups in San Francisco which has customers from all over the world. If anything, governments would want to promote that as it means more consumer spending than tourists, and socializing with locals might mean technological, knowledge and cultural exchange, not at all increased competition to local workers.

However, that doesn't mean it's legal. Most countries have not spoken out about the legality of remote workers visiting their country and working without a work permit, and the ones who have have mostly made comments that it's okay if it's not work competing with locals, but those aren't official declarations. If you're strict, you can say it's illegal. If you're less strict, you can say it's a legal gray area due to laws lagging behind the reality of remote work. Personally, I believe the last. There haven't been any known cases of remote working travelers getting arrested in foreign countries for working remotely, yet. In this case, Europeans have it easy, they can legally work anywhere in the European Union without any trouble.

It's therefore completely up to you and your risk assesment to choose what to do. Getting a work permit is possible in many countries, although takes a lot of effort, tax constructions and lawyer fees, and it implies you're going to stay there for many years, which many remote workers aren't sure of. That makes it complicated.

Where do you pay tax as digital nomad?

Firstly, a required disclaimer: Nomad List does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

The reality of tax as a digital nomad is complicated. It's a gray area because the laws haven't been updated yet to fit this new reality. There's some general guidelines that are relevant in most (developed) countries.

Firstly, if you're American, you're pretty much f'd because the U.S. government will tax you regardless of where you live (!). Then again their Navy Seals will save you if you get taken hostage anywhere, I can't say the same as a Dutch person.

If you're from developed countries, you're usually a tax resident in a country if you live there for 183 days. Although some countries like Taiwan make it shorter at 90 days already.

Important: it's up to your national taxation authority (e.g. IRS) to make the judgement if you're a taxable resident or not. They will judge it based on where you're registered as a resident, how many days you are physically in the country, where do you rent/own a house, where do you work, where do you spend your money, where do you have bank accounts and assets, sometimes even where your friends and family are located. This complicates things.

There's more odd laws that make it more complicated. The idea that you can just de-register in your country as a resident, fly to the other side of the world and stop paying tax is mostly incorrect. Many developed countries have a so-called tax residency fallback law, which means if you're not a resident elsewhere, you immediately for tax purposes are a taxable resident in the country of your citizenship, or sometimes the last country you were a resident. This means a German citizen who becomes a non-resident, travels around the world to work remotely, is never a resident anywhere, then comes back after 7 years, can potentially be retro-actively taxed for the years he was away for his worldwide income. I know cases where this happened.

If you don't want to pay tax in your home country, you literally need to move quite permanently to another country, become a resident there, rent or buy a house there, and actually live there 183 days per year. And preferrably, get rid of all assets in your home country, not take on clients in your home country, pretty much cut ties with your home country. Intense, right? You can visit your home country, but you will not even a second want to consider opening your laptop there and working, because that might make you a tax resident there again. You can visit and have a coffee. That's it. Maybe a sandwhich. Maybe another coffee but don't make it crazy.

Please note international tax law is one of the most confusing topics. The internet has thousands of websites that act like they have any idea what's going on, but since you're talking about 187 nationalities moving through 187 countries, there's so many intricacies that it's impossible to get it completely right for even the most advanced tax lawyers. International tax law is simply a gray area too.

So what should you do? Realistically, if you're planning to "go nomad" for awhile, stay a resident in your home country (maybe register at your parents house), if you have a company keep it in your home country and pay tax in your home country, as you did before. Your home country keeps receiving its tax and you remain a resident and it probably doesn't mind. What about the countries you're visiting? Again a gray area. Generally if you're not competing with local companies or local people, not hiring local people, not working for local companies in the country you're visiting, you're okay. I'm not saying you're completely legal. But the laws surrounding work permits in countries are generally made to protect local workers and companies. If you're French and your French company has French customers and French employees and you work from another country, it's hard for that country to argue you're competing with companies or the labor market in the country you're visiting.

I would suggest consulting an international tax lawyer. But I have to be real here. Right now, they're simply unaffordable. The international tax lawyers that actually know what they're talking about are companies like EY, KPMG, Deloitte etc. They won't advice people making $25,000/year. They advice you when you make $1,000,000/year and they'll charge a lot. But you'll be in the clear. But that's completely unattainable for most people. The international tax lawyers under this amount are simply not good enough. So to be radically honest, international tax for nomads is now a legal minefield. Tread carefully.

I'm writing an article about Nomad List, can we use your data?

Sure! You can use any data on the site and make screenshots of Nomad List as long as you reference us as "Nomad List" (with space in between) and link back! Thanks :)

I would like to do a partnership with Nomad List

Sure! The only partnership we do is paid promotions. See next question.

I would like to promote my product, service or myself on Nomad List

You can place promotions yourself on the Promote page. You don't need to contact anybody and can use Nomad List's self-service promote page for that.

I would like to organize a Nomad List meetup

Go here and click Organize Meetup! If enough people RSVP, we'll make it happen.

I would like to write for Nomad List

At this moment, we're not looking for writers, sorry!

I would like to interview Nomad List or its founder

I'm not taking interviews to have more time for product development! I've tried to answer most questions on this page.

How did this site get started?

In 2014, I 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 chat group.

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 1,000,000 to 5,000,000 pageviews depending on each month. You can see live stats on the /open page.

Do you have an API?

Yes, we had it but I closed it in 2016 after 6 clones of Nomad List showed up using our data on Product Hunt, Hacker News and in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. It caused more trouble than it did good, so it's permanently closed.

How do you make money?

Nomad List mostly makes money from membership fees to our website and companies promoting on the front page and city pages..

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! โ€œThey were getting so popular, why did they have to shut it down?โ€ 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 250,000+ data points on 1,000+ cities I 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 selling their users data.

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 F 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.

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).

Terms of service + privacy policy

These terms apply to Nomad List and any other of Nomad List's sites, apps, communities on any platform, any of its meetups and/or any of its online or offline events or properties.

Non-legally binding TL;DR:

* Nomad List's sites are crowdsourced and have user-generated content, so don't rely on the data and always double check.

* We're not liable if you get hurt because of our site, app, data, meetups or anything we offer you.

* Before working in another country, see if it's legal first (e.g. visas, permits). We're not responsible for that.

* You allow us to publish the stuff you contribute to this site indefinitely.

* We need you to set a recent profile photo of your face. We don't allow group photos, drawings, avatars, objects, shirtless, sexual photos or pics that aren't you: only human profile pics. Accounts not following this are suspended/deleted.

* When providing feedback (through the feedback form or any other way), you agree to let us use it to improve the site/app.

* We collect analytics data including your IP, location and actions on this site to make it better

* We also use your IP, location and actionson this site to personalize it (e.g. show you the nearest places to you)

* You can only re-publish our data if it's for non-commercial objectives (e.g. not a company/startup)

* When meeting up with people on Nomad List in real life, always meet and stay in public preferrably in a group.

* We use public profile names, info and images on the site and our social media, for example when tweeting a new feature

* If you spam your startup/app/business/yourself on any of our websites and/or communities, we have the right to ban you, delete your account and charge you a monetary fine for spamming our members and for having to spend money and time to moderate you.

* Subscriptions rebill unless canceled at least 24 hours before the end of the current period. You can cancel anytime when logged in on the Settings page. If you've been renewed but didn't wish to renew, you can self-refund your payment within 7 days of your auto-renewal payment by canceling your membership, after cancellation you will automatically be refunded with no questions asked. If you want a refund after signing up, you can do so within 7 days of signing up by canceling your membership, after cancellation you will automatically be refunded with no questions asked. We send receipts by email via Stripe.

And here's the official legal terms:

Nomad List and the circular logo N-style map logo are registered trademarks.

Data on Nomad List is crowdsourced from lots of people's inputs. By the nature of the data, it's impossible to get it completely accurate. Therefore, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience resulting from using Nomad List's websites and apps. You should verify critical information (like visas, health and safety) before you travel. Most countries do require a working/business visa if you'd like to work there. Working on a tourist visa is probably illegal. Please make sure you verify all of a country's requirements for travel with its embassy and your embassy before you travel. Many third-world cities may be extremely dangerous for tourists and travelers, make sure you stay safe and verify which areas to avoid.

Nomad List accepts no liability or responsibility to any person or organisation as a consequence of any reliance upon the information contained in its sites like Nomad List, Nomad Forum and any other of its sites and properties.

We collect data about your browser, IP, location for analytics purposes. We also use your location to show you distance and flight duration to different cities. If you contribute content data to the site, including but not limited to the crowdsourced city list, the forum and the chat, you provide us with a perpetual license to broadcast, display, distribute, sell and produce derivatives from your contributions.

Every effort is made to provide information that is accurate. However, materials contained in Nomad List's websites, apps, communities and its properties are subject to change at any time by appropriate action of Nomad List. We give no assurance or warranty that information on this site is current, and take no responsibility for matters arising from changed circumstances or other information or material which may affect the accuracy or currency of information on this site.

Copyright in Nomad List's websites, apps, communities and its properties rests with Nomad List unless otherwise stated.

We reserve the right to permanently ban any user from our websites for behavior that goes against our guidelines. We will be the sole judge of guidelines violations and we do not offer appeals or refunds in those cases.

By using Nomad List, you agree to not promote your website, application, app, software, product, business or yourself by posting links to them, or posting messages to direct users to them, on any of our platform sites or apps. Nomad List reserves the right to terminate your account and keep your membership fee as a fine.

Users are liable for Fees for Membership together with all applicable taxes. Users may cancel their Membership at any time by logging into their account via the descriptor website indicated on their credit card statement or by going to the Settings page while logged in. Users must cancel their Membership 24 hours prior to the rebill date if they do not wish their Membership to renew with associated Fees. Up until the date a Membership is canceled the User authorizes Nomad List to continue charging the User's Payment Method to pay: (i) Fees for Membership; (ii) all purchases of other products, services and entertainment provided by Nomad List; and (iii) other liabilities of yours to Nomad List or any third party.

Delayed Transactions. In the event a User's Payment Method was declined Nomad List may attempt to process the transaction again under the same conditions as the transaction was initiated by the User, within a few days of the User's first attempt to purchase their Membership. Where the Payment Method is approved in such a circumstance, the User will receive an email confirming the successful completion of their transaction.

Memberships may be canceled on the Settings page. If a Membership is canceled before the renewal date the User will cease to have access for the remainder of the period already paid.

Members are required to set a real and recent profile photo (not group photos, drawings, avatars, objects, shirtless, sexual photos or pics that are not them).

Many of our websites, apps and communities contain user generated data that is subjective, may not be accurate or may be offensive to you. We are not liable for any damages that result from using this data.

The information posted on our websites, apps and communities should not be considered legal, financial or other advice and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified professional or specific written confirmation from Nomad List. We do not answer specific legal or financial questions.

Nomad List's websites, apps, communities and its properties is provided on an โ€œas isโ€, โ€œas availableโ€ basis without warranties of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, those of TITLE, MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE or NON-INFRINGEMENT or any warranty arising from a course of dealing, usage, or trade practice. No advice or written information provided shall create a warranty; nor shall members or visitors to the site rely on any such information or advice. This publication is not intended to be a contract, explicit or implied, and Nomad List reserves the right to make changes to the information contained.

The user assumes all responsibility and risk for the use of Nomad List's websites, apps, communities and its properties and the Internet generally. We accept no liability or responsibility to any person or organisation as a consequence of any reliance upon the information contained in this site. Under no circumstances, including negligence, shall anyone involved in creating or maintaining Nomad List's websites, apps, communities and its properties be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special or consequential damages, or loss profits that result from the use or inability to use the Website and/or any other websites which are linked to this site. Nor shall they be liable for any such damages including, but not limited to, reliance by a member or visitor on any information obtained via the Website; or that result from mistakes, omissions, interruptions, deletion of files, viruses, errors, defects, or failure of performance, communications failure, theft, destruction or unauthorized access. States or Countries which do not allow some or all of the above limitations of liability, liability shall be limited to the greatest extent allowed by law.

NOMAD LIST'S SOFTWARE, APPS, WEBSITE, COMMUNITIES AND ANY OF ITS OTHER PROPERTIES ARE PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS, OWNERS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH NOMAD LIST'S SOFTWARE, APPS, WEBSITE, COMMUNITIES AND ANY OF ITS OTHER PROPERTIES OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN NOMAD LIST'S SOFTWARE, APPS, WEBSITE, COMMUNITIES AND ANY OF ITS OTHER PROPERTIES.

Visitors agree to use the Website only for lawful purposes and are prohibited from posting on the Website any unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, or obscene material of any kind, including, but not limited to, any material which encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offence, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any applicable local, state, national or international law. Although in the absence of a specific complaint the postings are monitored for compliance with this provision, in an effort to discourage such conduct, please note that all postings in any forum area will list the authorโ€™s name and institution - no anonymous postings will be permitted.

We are distributors (not publishers) of the content supplied by visitors and other third parties. Accordingly, we have no more editorial control over this content than does a public library. Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers or other information or content made available by members, visitors and other third parties are those of the respective author(s) and we are not responsible for any material posted by third parties. We cannot and do not endorse it in any way, we expressly disclaim any liability associated with material posted by third parties.

Unless otherwise stated, reference to any products, services, hypertext link to the third parties or other information by trade name, trademark, supplier or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation by us. Nor is endorsement of us implied by such links. They are for convenience only, as an index in a public library.

Any information on Nomad List's websites, apps, communities and its properties may include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Furthermore, the information may change from time to time without any notice.

You agree to observe and maintain the confidentiality of all security features relating to use of the Website (including login by email links, access arrangements etc) as notified. Nomad List will not be liable for any unauthorised breach or disclosure of the security features.

You agree to link back with a web hyperlink or in-app hyperlink to our site on the page or app screen where you use the data from our APIs or site.

You user data may be used on any of our websites and apps including marketing pages to show current user activity.

When providing feedback (e.g. by identifying any errors or problems in the operations of Nomad List and its services) throug any medium (e.g. the feedback form, email or any other medium), you acknowledge and agree that all feedback will be the sole and exclusive property of Nomad List. You hereby assign to Nomad List and agree to assign to Nomad List all of your right and interesting in and to all feedback, including all intellectual property rights therein.

You agree to indemnify Nomad List (its employees and agents) for any loss suffered or liability incurred by Nomad List (its employees and agents) arising from any unlawful, unauthorised or improper access or use of the Website or any breach of these terms by you or your employees, contractors or representatives.

Nomad List does not guarantee constant availability of Website access and accept no liability for down time or access failure due to circumstances beyond its reasonable control (including any failure by ISP or system provider).

The Site may contain links to other sites on the internet (โ€œLinked Sitesโ€). Nomad List is not responsible for the accuracy, legality, decency of material or copyright compliance of any Linked Site or services or information provided via any Linked Site.

No data transmission over the Internet can be guaranteed as totally secure. Whilst we strive to protect such information we do not warrant and cannot ensure the security of information which you transmit to us. Accordingly, any information which you transmit to us is transmitted at your own risk.

These terms and conditions will be constructed according to and are governed by the laws of Singapore, regardless of where Nomad List operates or you use Nomad List from.

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