If you’re launching your own small business in 2017 and have the ability to leave where you live, don’t just move to another neighborhood or a smaller apartment for the cheaper rent. Don’t give up your daily coffee habit to scrimp your way to an extended runway, eking out your meager savings for as long as you can before your business becomes profitable.
Cut the cord. Go big and don’t stay home. Go to Bali. Or Chiang Mai. Or Santiago. Go somewhere where the living is cheap, the internet is fast and you’ll be surrounded by the sort of people who are doing the same work as you: making dreams come true.
Let’s cover the top 5 most popular places to live the bootstrapping entrepreneur lifestyle and why you should consider them.
Bali isn’t a city; it’s an island, so there are technically a few towns you could base yourself in, and most bootstrapping entrepreneurs pick either Ubud or Canggu. Ubud is great if you’re focusing on a lifestyle start-up and want to be surrounded by yogis and eat lots of clean, raw, vegan food. Canggu might be more your style if you prefer surfing breaks and partying (not that you should do so much of either that you forget your start-up dreams.) Both towns have pretty weak internet so be prepared to splurge on a co-working membership to ensure high speed internet access.
Cost of living: $800-1400 per month
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai not only has great weather, delicious food and cheap rent, but coffee shops with high speed internet, and inexpensive massage spots are abundant. All good reasons to explain why Chiang Mai is the entrepreneur hub of Southeast Asia. It might be a little distracting to be surrounded by so many fun things, but don’t worry: the 12pm strictly enforced Thai curfew will make sure you’re not out partying all night instead of hustling all day. You should also plan to skip town for most of February and March, as local farmers will be burning their fields and the resulting haze is not fun — even if you do spend most of your time indoors working.
Cost of Living: $600-1200 per month
If big cities with lots of culture, museums, and public transportation are more your thing — you should consider Santiago. There are loads of great coffee shops and other entrepreneurs there, thanks in part to Start-up Chile. If you’re proactive, you could even get a chunk of funding for your pet project, make that runway pretty darn long, all while making that trip to explore Patagonia a “reasonable” work retreat. Chile is one of the safest countries in South America, and perfect for those who still want Western amenities.
Cost of Living: $1200-1600 per month
If you want to base yourself out of Europe, head to Berlin. It’s chock full of other entrepreneurs and fantastic coffee shops, while still having reasonable rent and cheap flights to other cities in Europe (for meeting with potential customers, of course.) Berlin is considered the entrepreneurial hub of Europe and was home to the inaugural DNX Conference. Like many major cities of the world, Berlin has a range of international cuisine to choose from, a thriving nightlife, a cultural scene and of course, a variety of co-working spaces — all at prices you can’t find in other global cities like New York City or London.
Cost of Living: $1700-2200 per month
The most popular city for bootstrapping entrepreneurs and digital nomads in South America, Medellin is like the Chiang Mai of South America. It’s where you’ll find modern infrastructure, like-minded friends and a very affordable apartment — especially if you’re willing to make do in shared apartment plus private bath. Medellin is called the “city of eternal spring” so you know the weather is great all year round to the extent that the typical rental doesn’t have or need air conditioning. You’ll be able to meet lots of new friends. Both fellow entrepreneurs and friendly locals and get along just fine, even if you don’t speak any Spanish.
Cost of Living: $1000-1500 per month
If you have a bigger runway, are coming from somewhere expensive like Singapore or Los Angeles, or are targeting the European market, Berlin could be the perfect city to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. If your budget is smaller and you prefer to never be cold, Medellin or Chiang Mai might be more your style. If you’re able to land a start-up Chile grant, head to Santiago. And, of course, there is always Bali.
There are many cities in the world where you can pursue your entrepreneurial dreams, but these five will give you access to a thriving community of entrepreneurs to surround yourself with, instead of trying to work in bed or alone at a coffee shop. Worst case scenario: if your business fails, you’ll still have the amazing experience, as well as the connections to help you launch the next one — not to mention some incredible photos to show off to your family and friends.