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Where should I set up a home base in Europe?

 

by @tylertringas | 5yr  | 22 comments

Hi folks,
Iโ€™ve been nomading for about 2 years straight and Iโ€™m looking to switch it up a little bit. This year Iโ€™d like to set up a home base somewhere while still being able to travel around 50% of the time. I thought I would just put my current thinking here to to see if anybody had advice or input on it.

First, why have a base at all? For me it boils down to three reasons:

  1. Gear. Rock climbing, skiing, diving, trekking (and if youโ€™re me, cooking) require specialized gear. I have some of that stuff in storage in the US and Iโ€™m tired of over-paying to rent sub-par equipment. Looking for a spot to store my gear and easily swap it out as needed based on seasons.
  2. A comfortable default spot for work. Sometimes you just want to sit in one spot for a month or more and just crank on a project. I want a great setup that I know I can default back to when I really just need to focus on work.
  3. Community. Nomading is great and this community is excellent. But Iโ€™d like to have my cake and eat it too, being part of a local and nomad community.

So Iโ€™m looking at Barcelona, Berlin and Budapest. No I donโ€™t have a weird thing about cities that start with โ€œBโ€ - it just worked out that way.

Iโ€™m likely looking for a 1 bedroom apartment in the city center (i.e. Gracia, Mitte, District VII). It needs to be either (1) cheap enough that I wouldnโ€™t feel awful about traveling while still paying rent, maybe max EUR 800-900/mo (2) Or, easily Airbnbโ€™able if Iโ€™m gone for a while. Also looking for โ€œforeigner-friendlyโ€ setup without an extensive bureaucratic leasing process.

So my questions:

  1. What are the sites/processes for finding long-term apartments in these cities?
  2. Anybody seen any interesting other solutions to this? Like dedicated nomad housing? Sweet group housing around this idea?
  3. Anybody already have a setup like this that theyโ€™d care to share?

Also if anybody loves this idea and wants to chat about finding a bigger place together Iโ€™m open to the idea.

Thanks!

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@liberalogica | 5yr

I have been living in Berlin and it is a great place for a nomad. The problem i see with Europe is bureaucracy. Now when i am travelling out of Berlin for months i still need to pay a lot of stuff here, because almost everything, even the gym or the mobile phone, can be paid just with a contract relying on your bank account. And then there is the health insurance, people ask documents when visiting homes, and here they donโ€™t joke with taxes. Just too many pointless papers. Maybe i did the wrong moves, i am not sure, but i think that the less bureaucratic place in Europe is probably the United Kingdom, so i would consider it if i were in you

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@poppyjikko | 5yr

What about Switzerland ? Czech ? Estonia ? Sweden ? Post-Renzi Italy ?

Thanks for your insights ! :smiley:

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@jacobjay | 5yr

Iโ€™ve bought myself a base in the south France. Thereโ€™s a lot to be said for mid-sized towns. You can buy a liveable 1-bed apartment in a centre under โ‚ฌ30k, hell thereโ€™s a 120m2 across the road at 10k but needing major work, so whilst whilst theyโ€™re cheap, there are fewer that are good if you plan to rent later.

You need to be either in a town with tourism (Iโ€™m currently in Carcassonne, with the 2nd most visited attraction in France), or you need to be within distance of a decent city (Iโ€™ll be moving to Beziers, next to Montpellier, which has more life).

There are quite a few touristic towns that are year-round mini-hubs for low cost airlines, otherwise youโ€™ve got to be able to get to the cities. Both my current and future towns also have stations with lines to Barcelona or Bordeaux (3h <โ‚ฌ50), and Paris (4h30 โ‚ฌ15!).

Carcassonne and most other touristic towns have lovely countryside accessible from the doorstep, and Iโ€™d say are ideal if you spend much of your time in busier locations but would like to get away sometimes. Couchsurfing is also quite active and thus Iโ€™m not disconnected completely from some interesting company. Towns nearer cities tend to sacrifice the doorstop countryside but nonetheless so long as thereโ€™s a station you can get out (Languedoc has โ‚ฌ1 trains). French busses are useless.

More developed regions such as the Cote-dโ€™Azur are much more expensive, however would provide a much better return for renting if you can secure a deal.

As I will be using mine only part-time, Iโ€™ll be renting and indeed I plan to incorporate it with my next nomad-housing project in Fez. Storage is also cheap to buy, I got a 6m3 cellar for โ‚ฌ1600, which in the long run is far better value than renting! Buying is still debatable for housingโ€ฆ

For those with steady monthly incomes but not enough for an outright purchase (nor stability for a mortgage), thereโ€™s a type of agreement (โ€˜viagerโ€™) becoming more common. You pay about a third the value of the property in cash (itโ€™s usually in aesthetically bad condition), and then provide a nominal monthly payment to the owner for their lifetime. The seller is usually a retiree who just wants to move somewhere better and boost their pension, but wonโ€™t necessarily be around to claim the payments for long. Could be interesting for DNs interested in acquiring a stable asset!

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@nomadicme | 5yr

Thank you for the idea. I kept thinking I couldnโ€™t buy because prices in the large cities are insane (Paris Iโ€™m looking at you!). But perhaps there are some really inexpensive ways to set up a small pad in a small town. Iโ€™ve got to look into it! Now to figure out which countryโ€ฆ

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@jacobjay | 5yr

(This was meant as a reply to @NomadicMe ) I may have already covered this in another not rental-oriented thread, however for the buying route do pay attention to the taxes and building charges. If you end up spending 3k+/yr on these as I found myself doing, you might find youโ€™d rather just spend that on six months rent anywhere else. France is not great in this respect with national property tax plus local habitation tax of about 120โ‚ฌ/m2/yr. Building charges might be anywhere 100โ‚ฌ โ€“ 1kโ‚ฌ and almost all properties in towns are in such shared building. In villages you can find standalone properties but of course theyโ€™re rural.

Whatever you may make in seasonal rentals should cover your taxes but may not go further because these towns are not in such demand as the citiesโ€ฆ less developed countries may not have such hefty charges, and some towns also offer waivers but these donโ€™t last so long. That said thereโ€™s a reason why thereโ€™s TGVs and 1โ‚ฌ local trainsโ€ฆtaxes. But for a nomad who only gets those advantages part-time thereโ€™s less point paying full-time.

If you can find the right balance between cost and value then I think itโ€™s great to have a base. Particularly if you do a lot of work in a specific region, to attend events, a reliable place to meet less adventurous friendsโ€ฆ

Iโ€™ve already mentioned travel connections, and if one would need to travel on short notice a smaller budget airport isnโ€™t necessarily beneficial as tickets are only cheap in advance, however a larger airport like BCN has cheap flights on shorter notice and thereโ€™s cheap towns still within distance with flights at different times.

France is appealing for getting to the key western European cities because thereโ€™s many cheap airports within range (here I can reach 6 or 7, but many flights leave at early AM so I canโ€™t catch those) but also trains and coaches (for example I can spend just the day in Barcelona and catch the night bus back). Spain is however a bit far to reach say London or Amsterdam by ground travel, especially now night trains are basically retired.

If unplanned travel isnโ€™t a big issue then eastern Europe or even the Baltic could be investigated :smiley: Not to mention Morocco, Iโ€™ve seen 3-storey houses in Fez which being a city is far more interesting than a smaller European town, and for 60k (need renovation thoughโ€ฆ), plus itโ€™s a possible alternative to EU visa/residency. And as a final note, as @yangwao suggested heโ€™d be doing in Solvakia there are coliving spaces all over. Some of these need new members to buy into the property with them, which might be a more interesting form of ownership, typically however it is not oriented towards nomadism, Iโ€™m actually planning something that would be (like roam.co but co-op ownership instead of a rental contract).

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@yangwao | 5yr

just update, I made some PoC website, http://hackerdome.xyz, in 2017 it could be ready for you :wink:

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@jacobjay | 5yr

Hackerdome sounds great, and also nice location โ€” Iโ€™ll see if I can come by with my mountain bike next year โ€” bike trails and hyperloop oh yeah :smiley:

About micro/short-term, yes itโ€™s a lot of work, I had a slightly larger space than you (9 bed) but you are targeting hackers and not in a major metro so your residents should be more self-selecting and easier to manage. Itโ€™s great (and better supports an educational/hackerspace ethos) to have the option for some people to drop by short-term though (not everyone has a month+ to spend on their project/learn/help) so I had one or two rooms available at a higher rate/contribution, but maybe say a minimum of 7 days. On micro-term I like to welcome CSers for variety and sometimes others but only on request and when possible. For my next attempt Iโ€™m thinking mostly medium-term nomads and escapees, being too diverse both in model and community becomes a problem :wink: I look forward to seeing more details as you develop it!

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@yangwao | 5yr

Iโ€™m living in Bratislava, Slovakia, Central Europe and here are some pros/cons why is good as base

Pros

  • Cheap rent, you can get decent private room for 200-300โ‚ฌ for month here
  • Community meetups are pretty developed + strong startup scene
  • Vienna Airport is like 40mins of busride and 4โ‚ฌ for busdrive.
  • You have in 1 hour reach Vienna, 2 hours to Budapest, 3 hours to Prague
  • [Average temperatures are 13C]
    (http://www.yr.no/place/Slovakia/Bratislava/Bratislava/statistics.html)
  • Small-city factor advantages, cute downtown, everything in walk-distance
  • Uber & Liftago

Cons

  • not great developed cycle-transportatios, but working open-source bike-sharing system

These are objective thing, beside this, I plan open co-living here as I own house 10km from city center, some kind of Hacker House :sweat_smile:

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@jruz | 5yr

I have my base in Barcelona.
I have friends there so I just stay with them every time I go. I call it my base since I have a storage where I keep my stuff: rock climbing gear, vinyls, books, off season clothes etc.
Iโ€™m paying almost 40โ‚ฌ for 1x1x2.5 storage.

Some of the things I like about it:

  • Is a small city, with good transport.
  • I have an Avancar(Zipcar) membership so I go to the storage by car.
  • Its cheap, (food, coworking, hostels, storage)
  • Good hub, cheap flights to and from anywhere
  • Good weather all year long
  • Good night life
  • Amazing beaches (Costa Brava)
  • Great climbing spots (Montserrat, Siurana, La Foixarda, Calella)
  • I speak spanish, so makes things a lot easier

Something to consider is that AirBnb is illegal there, and heavily chased, thanks to hotel mafia and low quality tourism. You are safe if you only rent a room, they are chasing mainly whole flats. Also most long term rentals will ask you for a work contract or to pay many months in advance.

Good luck

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@bavals | 5yr

I heard about it and it really disappointed me, even though I completely understand the frustration with mass tourism, which seems to have flooded the city to the point of it no longer being itself. That said, and with all the sympathy for Barceloniansโ€™ cause, attacking AirBnB renters indiscriminately seems like a completely dumb thing to do. If they wanted to crack down, why not ban short-term rentals, as most cities with housing shortages did? That would be reasonable. My understanding is that they did almost the opposite, not only requiring licenses from AirBnB hosts, but also putting all kinds of other restrictions, including an upper limit on the days apartments can be rented for (even the licensed apartments!) and long moratoriums on issuing new licenses. It sounds like an open war on tourism to me.

So, while I do understand it, I donโ€™t want be caught in the cross-fire. Which is sad for me: I love the city and I have a genuine interest in Catalan culture. I spent a month in BCN last year studying Catalan (tell me Ms Colau, how much more exemplary can one get as a tourist?), spending not only on rent, food and entertainment, as everyone else does, but also on Catalan classes and books. Iโ€™ve met several other people like myself, so I am not a complete outlier (actually, half of our Catalan group consisted of foreigners on vacation). I was hoping to come back this year for another month or two, but having read about what the mayor is doing, I think I am going to reconsider.

Has anyone considered Valencia as an alternative to Barcelona?

Follow-up / P.S. Out of curiosity, Iโ€™ve just checked how much itโ€™d be to rent โ€œlegallyโ€ in BCN. The answer: apartment prices start at approximately $3,000/mo - basically, the โ€œlegalโ€ rents are double the โ€œillegalโ€ ones. Some people might be able to pay this, but I donโ€™t know too many of them. And I imagine, vanishingly few of those able to pay this would have even the slightest interest in learning Catalan. Doncs, bona sort, Ada!

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@harris | 5yr

Where are you looking for apartments and how large are you looking?
Iโ€™ve found good stuff on shbarcelona and even kyero.

They are going after short term rentals and not just AirBnB
Spain is also anti-uber and thatโ€™s being fought as well (uber taking spain to court).

There are legal ways to rent affordably.
Just talk to the homeowners.
Plus, you can order through airbnb still โ€ฆ and other sitesโ€ฆ again, just talk to the hosts about your concerns. Theyโ€™ll tell you the reality of their space vs what you hear in the news, etc.

Valencia has nothing on Barcelona. If you love BCN, I donโ€™t think youโ€™ll feel much love for Valencia - it just doesnโ€™t stack up.

We were just in both places this past summerโ€ฆ So, this is based on relatively recent experience.

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@bavals | 5yr

@harrisfellman Thank you! SHBarcelona is indeed useful (I am assuming what theyโ€™re listing is cleared with the mayor). Iโ€™ll definitely keep it for future reference, especially if I decide to stay in Barcelona for a while.

However, from a cursory look at their monthly rental process, they are still not exactly ideal for me for a few reasons:

  1. They require (cash) payments through a European bank. This is quite a hassle for non-EU citizens.

  2. They are an agency and will charge a significant one-time broker fee, which is not shown as part of the price. On a 1000E/mo apartment, my understanding is theyโ€™ll normally charge about 800-900E. Although they give discounts for rentals of 1-3 months, this is still a huge additional expense.

  3. Their approval process for self-employed foreigners requires submission of tax returns, etc (look under โ€œConditionsโ€).

  4. They also require a 2-month security deposit - I am assuming, in cash.

In summary, to rent a 1000E/mo apartment for a couple of months, one will have to jump through lots of hoops with paperwork and bank accounts, possibly have to send them the rent in advance plus 2000E in security deposit and at least 600E in broker fees. Upfront cost: 4600E and lots of headachesโ€ฆ Or โ€œEasy Booking,โ€ as they call this option. The name notwithstanding, I hope youโ€™ll agree this is still very difficult and pricey, at least compared to AirBnBโ€™s process.

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@mule5 | 5yr

Agreed - I prefer to deal directly with the owner, thatโ€™s why I suggested http://english.habitaclia.com - It seems more like the craigslist of listings, where are you not dealing with middlemen/extra fees. I have used this and AirB&B with success in Spain. We are a family of 5, and our budget wasnโ€™t over 1000 euros/month. Barcelona proper is a much more expensive locale than just outside the city.

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@stretford_dogs | 5yr

If you decide on Barcelona give me a shout, could be interested in a Gracia share if we put our money into it and then AirBNB when weโ€™re not there :slight_smile:

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@mule5 | 5yr

Firstly, I love the idea of setting up a home base in Europe. My needs are different, but Iโ€™d love to home share with a few other couples in order to wander around Europe while freelancing.

I havenโ€™t been to Berlin yet, but have have been to Budapest and Barcelona.

I absolutely love Germany, spent more than a year there, mostly in and around Freiburg as a base, but traveled North to South.

I didnโ€™t think I would, but I loved the two months I spent in Spain in 2014. I had preconceived notions of Spain that were put to rest, itโ€™s truly a great modern country.

Budapest was also an exciting locale. I didnโ€™t get to spend much time there, but thought it was like an up and coming Vienna. The city felt alive, but also experienced the language barrier.

I guess where you end up, will depend on your weather preferences and cost exposure. Berlin seems like the most expensive and Budapest the least. IF you are only going to be there for 50% of the year, you might want to consider a low cost base, instead?

As for your desired activities, I think there are more opportunities in the Austria (Salzburg) / Germany (Munich) / Switzerland (Innsbruck) / Italy (Bolzano) area for skiing/climing/treking year round on short trips. Although just north of Barcelona in France, there are supposed to be great climbs in the Pyrenees.

Because of the weather, cost and location to other borders, inexpensive international flights, Iโ€™d probably choose Barcelona out of your 3 options. Outside of Barcelona while still connected via train/metro/bus, you can find some inexpensive pied-ร -terre to house your gear and serve as a hub. To that end, you might find good options with http://english.habitaclia.com/

Best of luck, let us know where you end up.

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

Just a note, Innsbruck isnโ€™t in Switzerland. Did you mean Interlaken?

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@mule5 | 5yr

Thanks for catching my mistake. I meant Innsbruck, just not Switzerland. I was initially thinking of the triangle between Bolzano, Salzburg and Munich, but threw in there Innsbruck. That whole triangle region is really great for skiing, trekking, climbing.

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

gotcha. :slight_smile: though climbing in the swiss alps isnโ€™t something to sneeze at, and interlaken is a great center for mountain-based activities. :wink:

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@mule5 | 5yr

This region of the ร–tztal Alps between Italy and Austria can be treacherous, just ask ร–tzi. :wink:

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@alemacgo | 5yr

My vote also goes for Berlin. Iโ€™m living here for some time and itโ€™s really wonderful: very international and huge startup community.

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@wanderingdev | 5yr

Of those 3 Iโ€™d go for Berlin. I assume youโ€™ve looked into the visa issues? That might impact your decision on where to live.

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@levelsio | 5yr

Iโ€™d vouch for Berlin or Barcelona. Personally I like Berlin better because itโ€™s a bit more hipster. But then again, itโ€™s also colder. Budapest is great but it feels a bit isolated to me, especially because of the language. It doesnโ€™t feel that international (yet). But itโ€™s super cheap compared.

Berlin is definitely most international and thatโ€™s why Iโ€™d go there too. Even as a foreigner, youโ€™ll feel at home. Because everyone is either from outside Berlin (even the Germans there), or German immigrants, or foreigners/expats. Great mix.

Iโ€™d say go look for houses in the traditional places and sign a long-term lease for 6 or 12 months. Renting in Europe is not as bureaucratic as you might think, it mostly consists of them checking if youโ€™ll be able to pay your rent (so theyโ€™ll ask for proof of salary and employment etc.). However you can circumvent that by saying youโ€™re a foreigner and offering to pre-pay 3, 6 or even 12 months rent in one go. I even did that as Dutch guy in Netherlands because I was self-employed. That worked. They just want you to be able to pay your rent and not cause trouble. You donโ€™t need to necessarily register with the city or government in the places you rent either.

Airbnbโ€™ing for 12 months will bankrupt you, so definitely go local instead. Probably best to meet some local people first who can help guide you so you donโ€™t overpay. Most cities in Europe have a market for foreigners/expats and rent prices are usually 1.5x to 3x as much as for locals, simply because the sellers speak English. But thatโ€™s bullshit obviously.

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Is anyone travelling right now?


by @viktor | 3mo 2 months ago | 3 comments

Winter is coming and Iโ€™m feeling the ache of travelling after being stuck in the same place since the Pandemic started. Wondering if anyone is travelling right now? If so, where are you currently located and how is the situation where you are?

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Anyone up to explore some city which is kinda virus safe?


in Bangkok, Thailand by @germanrobert | 3mo 2 months ago | 2 comments

Hello World!

I'm an experienced Digital Nomad and after being in Lockdown in Bangkok and Germany for one year I would like to team up with someone to visit a new place. Or just doing some exchange about what destinations would be interesting currently.

I take the virus seriously and still I think we can still be able to take our life in our own hands. So I'm aiming for cities/countries which are not in full lockdown, are not too complicated about immigration (I'm looking at you Thailand, your state quarantine costs like 1k USD and is basically a prison) and is also rather safe regarding the virus. I tend to stick for rather big cities and like culture. I'm not a beach or nature person. I'm pretty flexible about the money topic.

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Holร  ! What's the internet / wifi situation in Sayulita ?


in Puerto Escondido, Mexico by @ambroisedebret | 3mo 2 months ago | 0 comments

After being told it's unworkable in Puerto Escondido, looking for alternatives :)

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How to find accomodation in Las Palmas, Canary Islands


in Las Palmas, Spain by @philippg | 3mo 3 months ago | 2 comments

Hi, we are trying to find a house to rent for 2-3 persons near Las Palmas for 4-5 months at the moment and it seems to be almost impossible except through Airbnb which is super expensive. Any advises or local contacts?

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If you're American but live in Guatemala, do you still count as American for travel purposes?


in Guatemala by @chasindreams | 3mo 3 months ago | 0 comments

What I mean is, for example, since most of the EU has banned Americans, if I live in Guatemala and will be traveling FROM Guatemala to the EU, could I get in? Or does the ban count for all Americans regardless of where they live?

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Ukraine Residency


in Ukraine by @reticle | 4mo 3 months ago | 1 comment

I have a slightly above average US income which I can work remotely from paired with a $1000 a month income stream and more than enough to purchase a middle end Flat in Ukraine. Does anyone with knowledge of this process have any advice to acquire a reliable way to stay in the country?

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Are co-working spaces a good way to meet people in a new city?


by @donaldbough | 4mo 3 months ago | 1 comment

My fiancรฉe and I are most likely moving to NYC (maybe DC) in August, and as a technical startup co-founder I'd love to meet new people that are also into startups. Would joining a co-working space be worth the money to do this?

I work for a big tech company that has an office in NYC, but it's mainly sales so I wouldn't be able to meet others that are related to any of my 9-5 work or likely into tech.

If co-working spaces, post covid of course, aren't a good way to meet business starting people in a new city, what is?

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Are there any digital nomads in the Islands e.g Bermuda, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis?


in Antigua, Guatemala by @momo11 | 4mo 3 months ago | 3 comments

Does anyone ever travel to any Islands like Bermuda, Barbados, Barbuda and St. Kitts & Nevis?

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Is La Gomera a nice place to stay?


in Norway by @kvarsten | 4mo 4 months ago | 1 comment

Hi, my name is Eric and I am a remote worker from Norway. Me and a friend is flying into Gran Canaria on Friday and spending two weeks in San Agustin on the south side of the Island.

After that we are pondering about staying in La Gomera. Does anyone of you have an experience staying there or are there anyone of you staying there now? :)

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Is there a map of countries open for travel now?


in Russia by @vernon99 | 5mo 5 months ago | 8 comments

I have two passports from different countries and am trying to understand where can I travel now. Is there a publicly available map of countries open for visitors by passport country that I can use to see what are my options? I was pretty sure such a thing should exist, but cannot easily find any.

Maybe at least there're maps for specific passports? Mine are Russian and American.

If there's no such thing, I'd be down to build one, let me know if interested to collaborate :)

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Any good coliving or other monthly rentals in Seville?


in Seville, Spain by @antoine_th | 5mo 5 months ago | 0 comments

Hello Everyone

I'm planning to stay in Seville for 6 weeks for mid January - end of February. Do you any recommandations for a coliving or a place to live in?

Thanks ๐Ÿ™

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Are restaurants, cafes and malls working in Mexico City taking into account COVID situation?


in Mexico by @thateverdmitriy | 5mo 5 months ago | 1 comment

I am planning to travel to Mexico City next weekend and stay for 7-10 days there. I wonder if cafes, stores and other places like these work? And if cafes work, do they work as usual or only for take away&delivery? Will be very thankful if someone can help here.

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