How much time do digital nomads spend in each place they visit?
People ask me this question occasionally, and I see it pop up in various travel groups rather frequently as well.
For those of you who are just starting out with the work/travel lifestyle, it’s one of the most important questions you need to answer before you plan your first trip.
This is by no means the definitive answer for everyone, but I’ll answer how much time digital nomads spend in each place based on my own experience.
Long-Term Stay in Each Place
I would define the long-term stay, roughly, as staying in one city for six months or more.
When we set out on our first trip as so-called digital nomads, we decided to stay in Medellin, Colombia for six months.
My reasoning behind that length of time was that I wanted to establish a routine, experience the culture, and get to know some people.
So, was it a success?
Yes and no.
Staying in Medellin for such a long period of time allowed us to do a lot of the less popular trips from the city like Santa Fe and Jardin, while also allowing us time to visit other cities like Cartagena, Bogota, and San Andres island.
We were also able to do some hikes that you wouldn’t necessarily get to if you’re staying on a shorter term basis.
Although our experience was a bit clouded by a couple of poor landlords (one with anger management issues and the other running an intricate scam), we did feel that we got to know Medellin as a city and Colombia overall as a country.
We were able to practice quite a bit of Spanish, but we really didn’t form many relationships while there. That was due in part to our lack of effort and to the fact that many people there are just passing through.
This option is good if you really want to get into your work zone, make closer friends, or learn the local the language.
Short-Term Stay in Each Place
I can’t speak from personal experience on this one because I know myself well enough that it isn’t for me, but some people do enjoy moving from city to city every week or two.
For me, that hurts my productivity. I’m someone who really benefits from getting into a morning routine, a daily work routine, and an exercise routine.
However, I do have the benefit of having a permanent travel partner. This, I get much less lonely than people who may be traveling solo.
If you’re just doing some freelance projects from time to time or value travel over work, this could be an option for you.
The Medium-Length Stay in Each Place
When people ask how much time digital nomads spend in each place, this has been my favorite length so far.
Di and I typically stay in each city that we visit for five to eight weeks (usually five, unless it’s somewhere with a lot to see like Istanbul).
Doing this allows enough time to get into a good routine, get out and meet some people occasionally, get to know the city, try some lesser known restaurants, and do some less touristy activities.
By the time those five to eight weeks are up, we’ve never really felt like we were leaving the city too soon.
The biggest downfall to this length of time is that it’s still pretty transient, so it remains a bit difficult to form relationships if that’s something you want to do. You also won’t learn much of the local language in that amount of time if that’s something that you value.
Try Out Different Stay Lengths to See What Works for You
My personal recommendation is that digital nomads should spend five to eight weeks in each place, and then move to another city, even if its in the same country.
However, everyone is different.
How much time digital nomads spend in each city really comes down to personal preference. It’s all about enjoying your time in whatever way allows you to get the most out of your own experience, so try out different lengths of stays to see which one works best for you.
Ready to hit the road? Explore the Long Term Travel Series for more tips, insight, and lessons learned over 2.5 years in the digital nomad lifestyle, like which countries have the best long term visas, what Di has on her complete carry on packing list, our favorite international cell phone plan, and much more!