Moving abroad or traveling as a digital nomad can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. If you’re looking to hop around to LGBTQ+-friendly cities or want to buy a one-way ticket and move abroad and live your best gay life—first of all, relatable. Second of all, hi. You’re in the right place.
This list is a mix of cities and countries that I personally recommend and have been to as a lesbian digital nomad as well as LGBTQ+-friendly cities that are ranked as best locations for digital nomads to live.
Huge thank you to the sponsor of this article: SafetyWing. SafetyWing is travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads. It can be purchased while already abroad, covers home trip visits and operates like a monthly subscription. It’s the travel insurance that I use and love for its affordability and accessibility. I encourage you to research, look into your options and get insured for your next trip (or move abroad)!
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Things to Consider When Picking a Destination:
- Good wifi connection: is it easy to find cafes with good wifi? How are the internet providers? There is nothing more annoying *IMO* than a beach town with terrible wifi. (Puerto Escondido, Mexico – I’m looking at you.)
- Low cost of living: are there affordable housing options? How much will cost of living be per month?
- Community support: is there an expat community? Is it easy to meet like-minded people? Is there a visible LGBTQ+ community?
- Walkability and transportation: is the city walkable or does it have a reliable transportation system?
- Safe for LGBTQ+ travelers: are there laws in place to protect local LGBTQ+ people and travelers? How are local LGBTQ+ people treated? What are queer traveler’s experiences like in that country?
- Access to nature, outdoor experiences: is it possible to have a nice work/life balance? Easy access to mountains, beaches, or whatever you’re looking for? (yes, you can have it all)
- Cafe and co-working culture: are there co-working spaces you can join? Are there cafes that expats frequent? Is it possible to work from cafes there?
- International airport: is there an international airport close by? Can I evacuate quickly if there’s an emergency or need to fly home? Is it easy to travel to other countries?
- Gut feelings: have the urge to move somewhere that’s not on a “top 10” list? GO! I moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on a whim shortly after coming out. I went to a lesbian event for the first time (LIFE CHANGING) and met queer friends that are now my close friends. Needless to stay, it was one of the highlights of my life.
Resources + Tips for LGBTQ+ Digital Nomads
- Explore LGBTQ+ rights across the world using EQUALDEX
- Join LGBTQ+ Facebook groups for the city you’re going to (e.g. search “LGBTQ+ Puerto Vallarta”)
- Use apps like Lex, Tinder, Taimi, Bumble to find other LGBTQ+ digital nomads (put in your profile if you’re just looking for friends)
- Get insured! Use SafetyWing for an affordable way to be covered while you’re abroad
- Follow LGBTQ+ creators on Instagram or TikTok for latest news and meet-ups
- Vegan gays, download “Happy Cow” app for best vegan-friendly restaurants
For some extra support, check out this list of Mental Health Resources for LGBTQ+ Digital Nomads.
With an array of things to do, amazing transportation system and access to bikes, vintage shops, and a delicious food scene, Berlin is an easy city to call home. Berlin, the capital city of Germany, is an up and coming city for digital nomads. With its thriving LGBTQ+ community and nightlife scene, it’s a safe (and very fun) place for queer digital nomads.
When I was traveling in Porto, I met this Portuguese woman on Tinder who had lived in Berlin for years. She told me countless *shocking* stories about queer nightlife and clubs in Berlin, ones that I cannot (and will never) repeat. While the fling did not last, I’ll never forget her lesbian nightlife stories and passionate love for this interesting city.
The digital nomad visa in Germany is called Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbständige Tätigkeit. It is basically a residency permit for foreign freelancers and self-employed people to live in Germany for up to 3 years. It can take up to 4 months to get approval and must be done once you’re already in the country and set up with an address.
Looking for other cities in Germany? According to Small Business Prices, Luxembourg, is the best city in the world for LGBTQ+ digital nomads for its overall acceptance of LGBTQ+ community and marriage.
- Average cost of living: $2,161/month
- Internet speed: 33 Mbps (good)
- Visa length and cost: can stay for 3 months with tourist visa, 6 months-3 years digital nomad visa for 100 euro (can take up to 4 months to get approved)
- Visa details: proof of self-sustainability, plus you need an address in Germany
- Resource for visa: The application is done at the Foreigner’s Registration Office ‘Ausländerbehörde’ (here is some more information)
- Pros: things to do, most people speak English, easy to get around
- Cons: gets cold in the winter, more expensive than other cities on the list
For more of a deep dive, check out this full guide to gay travel in Berlin and this digital nomad guide to Berlin.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
With progressive laws, award-winning food and cocktails, a thriving LGBTQ+ community and culture, good transportation, affordable living, and an easy escape to natural beauty, Buenos Aires is a great option for queer digital nomads who simply want it all. Buenos Aires is a super welcoming city with a large expat community.
Gay rights in Argentina are some of the most progressive in Latin America. Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage and is known the “Gay Capital of Latin America.” While there is not an official gayborhood in Buenos Aires, the neighborhoods of Barrio Norte and San Telmo are particularly queer friendly and are home to two gay hotels, the Axel and El Lugar Gay. With all that being said, Argentina is a predominately Catholic country (and Latin America in general) and many queer people still face discrimination and violence.
In 2021, it was announced that a digital nomad visa is in the works, it has not yet launched.
- Average cost of living: $714/month
- Internet speed: 4 Mbps (not great…)
- Visa length and cost: 90 day tourist visa (with an option to extend to 180 days for $35), a new digital nomad visa has been announced but not yet available
- Pros: a lot of things to do, affordable, hub for international travel
- Cons: slow internet, big city, gets cold in the summer
Here is a lesbian guide to Buenos Aires and all things digital nomad-ing in Buenos Aires
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is a famous hub for digital nomads and backpackers of all identities. This laid-back city in the mountains gained popularity for its beautiful ancient temples, striking mountainous landscape, amazing food, and affordability. Chiang Mai is a perfect home base to travel to other cities and countries. You’ll be influenced to explore and live a balanced life in paradise.
Chiang Mai is LGBTQ+-friendly, much like most of Thailand and is home to gay bars, a gay parade, and queer culture. Thailand was the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex unions in 2020. Thailand has some of the most progress laws in Thailand. Make sure to visit Bangkok while you’re there, Asia’s gay mecca.
Thailand launched a digital nomad visa, but it is more aimed towards wealthy expats with requirements of $1M in assets, $80K/year salary, and more. If you’re not quite there (me neither), 2 month tourist visas are available with options to extend.
- Average cost of living: $609/month
- Internet speed: 17 Mbps (okay)
- Visa length and cost: tourist visa is 2 months + 1 month extension for ~$60 (with the possibility to extend via “visa runs”), 10-year Thailand Digital Nomad Visa/Long Term Resident Visa
- Visa details: Thailand Digital Nomad Visa/Long Term Resident Visa aimed for wealthy expats making $80K+/year or $1M in assets, see link below for all qualifications and application process
- Resource for visa: more information on LTR visa
- Pros: close to nature, safe, easy to meet people, excellent healthcare, low stress place to live, a lot of infrastructure for digital nomads
- Cons: roads are dangerous, smog and pollution
For more information, check out this full guide to digital nomad-ing in Chiang Mai.
A list of best’s wouldn’t be possible without Chicago. *I admit I’m a little bias.* Chicago, my hometown, is one of the gayest cities in the world and one of the best cities to live for LGBTQ+ digital nomads (especially in the US). Every time I leave, I feel more blessed for the queer visibility, resources, and gay events we have in Chicago. Multiple lesbian bars, one of the biggest Pride Parades, Market Days celebrations, *multiple* gayborhoods are just a few reasons to consider Chicago.
Aside from being a gay mecca, Chicago has renowned restaurants, historical architecture and museums, a thriving art and theater scene, green spaces, plethora of cafes and co-working spaces, and friendly Midwestern charm. Chicago is a city where there is always something to do.
For queer digital nomads moving to Chicago, I recommend moving to Northalsted (Chicago’s official gayborhood), Lakeview, or Andersonville (aka Lesbianville). For more affordable options, consider Uptown, Edgewater or Humboldt Park. For hipster lesbian vibes, go for Wicker Park or Logan Square.
- Average cost of living: $2,530/month
- Internet speed: 46 Mbps (very good)
- Visa length and cost: the US does not offer a digital nomad visa and visa processes are notoriously tedious. There are a variety of visa options, including tourist visas.
- Resource for visa: click here for full visa information for the US
- Pros: things to do, friendly people, LGBTQ+ community, fast internet, co-working spaces, great hub for business/networking
- Cons: the winter, higher cost of living, not a huge traveler/digital nomad scene (working city)
Check out this complete digital nomad guide to Chicago and budget travel guide to Chicago.
Lisbon, Portugal is a digital nomad hotspot, and for good reason. Oceanside views, warm climate, colorful architecture, friendly people—being in Lisbon feels like you’re inside of a dreamy, romantic European movie. Did I mention the cuisine? Best part: there’s so many queer people, local and foreign, who call Lisbon home.
One of my favorite queer travel bloggers, Chantel (go follow for on Instagram), and her wife live in a cute two-bedroom apartment with their cat in Lisbon. Visiting them and seeing their cute little apartment made me want to pack all my things and move to Lisbon immediately. It’s really the perfect place for gays who just want to take it easy and live their best gay life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Along with epic views, Portugal offers a D7 visa for digital nomads as well as an entrepreneur visa. These visas allow folks to stay in Portugal for 2 years (with the option to renew up to 3 times) and gives you visa-free access to the rest of the Schengen area. The yearly income requirement is only 7.200 euro which makes it more accessible than other digital nomad visas. From what I’ve heard from friends, the process (much like many visa processes) is long and challenging, but from what I see, it is worth it in the end.
- Average cost of living: $2,508/month
- Internet speed: 30 Mbps (good)
- Visa length and cost: 2 years, between €30 and €500
- Resource for visa
- Pros: fast internet, quality of life, hiking and nature, city life and conveniences, large digital nomad community, things to do
- Cons: gets cold in the winter
For more information, check out LGBTQ+ Guide to Lisbon
Welcome to yet another dream European city that feels much like a movie set. Last year, I went on a gaycation to Madrid and within a day, I said to myself: “I could live here.” It may have been when an attractive masc lesbian employee at La Coneria in the heart of Madrid’s gay district handed me a vulva-shaped waffle and winked at me. Anyways, Madrid is a beautiful, open city with people from all over the world. It’s a historical slice of heaven surrounded by mountains and parks. The food, the wine, the people— it’s joyful and sucks you in, in the best way possible. Need I keep going..?
Cheuca, Madrid’s famous gayborhood, is lined with rainbows, queer sex shops, gay clubs, and more. The gay district, much like most, is more designed for gay men, but I saw plenty of queer women and couples which made me fall more in love with the city. While I was in Madrid, I went on a Tinder date who a Spanish woman who chain smoked cigarettes and didn’t speak English. Although it was a bit of a Tinder fail, she took me to an open cafe for sangrias at sunset. I knew I’d never see her again, but that I would be back to Madrid.
Spain announced in January 2022 plans to introduce a visa for digital nomads to stay up to 5 years. The likely income requirement would be €2.000/month and you will need a Spanish address. With great internet speeds, warm climate, and relatively low cost of living, Madrid (and Spain in general) could be the new digital nomad hub. Right now, all of the Americans I know who live in Spain are doing so with student visas. Madrid’s student visa program allows you to enroll in a year of part-time Spanish classes and work full-time (or part-time) as an English teacher. This visa is renewable.
- Average cost of living: $2,555/month
- Internet speed: 37 Mbps (good)
- Visa length and cost: TBD
- Resource for visa
- Pros: easy to make friends, great travel hub, gay AF
- Cons: cold in the winter
For more information, check out LGBTQ+ Guide to Madrid
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Y’all, I saved the best for last. Puerto Vallarta is a tropical gay paradise and one of the most popular gay vacation destinations in the world. There’s a thriving gayborhood, gay beach, gay people, gay bars— gay, gay, gay. Like I mentioned above, in 2020, I moved to Puerto Vallarta shortly after coming out as lesbian. I lived 5 minutes from the beach with a queer roommate. It was a safe space for me to navigate this new identity and build confidence as a queer person. It was a short 4 month stay, but one I will never forget. In the future, PV is a place I could see myself living for years and creating a home base.
Mexico in general is a beautiful (highly underrated) country with diverse terrain, rich culture, and world renowned cuisine. With multiple co-working spaces, cafes, and affordable housing, it’s also a hot spot for digital nomads (and retired Americans). Many nomads also choose Mexico City, San Cristobal Las Casas, and Puerto Escondido as home bases.
Mexico has a 6 month tourist visa as well as a temporary resident visa (6 months to 4 years) with relatively simply requirements. To apply for the temporary resident visa, visit a Mexican embassy or consulate outside of Mexico (most convenient would be in your home country). An interview with the consulate costs $40 and the permit costs between $150-350. The fee must be paid yearly to keep your status.
- Average cost of living: $2,138/month
- Internet speed: 7 Mbps
- Visa length and cost: 6 months-4 years
- Resource for visa
- Pros: warm climate, beautiful beaches, small city with conveniences, digital nomad community
- Cons: slow internet
For more information, check out LGBTQ+ Guide to Puerto Vallarta
Happy digital nomading, queers! Are you moving abroad? I’d love to hear your story (comment below your tips, where you’re going, or just to say hi!)
Want more travel resources? Here are a couple more helpful resources:
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MelodyJanuary 25, 2023 at 3:07 am
Thanks for this guide, Courtney! Just wanted to mention that Taiwan was actually the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.