Surviving or thriving?

  • London only ranked 38th out of 56 for best urban hubs for digital nomads –
  • Belfast holds the top spot, followed by Lisbon and Barcelona –

Recent analysis of 56 global cities* by online home rental company Spotahome has revealed the best metropolitan hubs for today’s digital nomads.

The results have revealed London is falling short in its offerings, ranking only 38th out of 56 global, metropolitan cities studied.

Spotahome standardised the latest city and country-level data available for key categories** including average internet speed, coworking spaces, the number of start-ups, migrant acceptance and apartment rental prices to rank each city out of ten for its suitability for digital nomads.

Digital nomads are remote workers who usually travel between different locations. They often work in coffee shops, co-working spaces, or public libraries, relying on devices with wireless internet capabilities like smart phones and mobile hotspots to do their work wherever they want.

Criteria London’s global ranking for each category (out of 56 countries)
Quantity of start-ups 2
Cafés with free Wi-Fi 22
Green space 23
Internet speed 29
Migrant acceptance 31
Co-working spaces 37
Cost of beer 49
Apartment rental prices 53

According to ONS figures, 17 per cent of London’s workforce is now self-employed, with the number of freelancers increasing by 43 percent.

These figures suggest London is a strong environment for today’s digital nomads to thrive and initially Spotahome’s findings seem to support this too. The city came in second position for the quantity of start-ups, falling behind only San Francisco. It also ranked above average for categories such as the number of cafes with free Wi-Fi (22nd) and green space (23rd).

However, while these might seem like ideal perks for those travelling the globe, looking to take on exciting, temporary projects, there are significantly higher risks of being self-employed in London too.

Over 49 percent of all high growth UK start-up failures happen in the capital. This is because while the quantity of start-ups is high, Britain’s record on nurturing scaleups is not nearly so impressive. Digital nomads, looking for longer-term projects, might not find the London market as stable in comparison to other cities.

Spotahome’s analysis also shows London only ranks 37th for its number of co-working spaces. As a result, remote workers looking for cool, quirky hubs to mingle with like-minded individuals may still find themselves subject to renting traditional office spaces instead.

With office rental costs set to rise by 11.4 percent remote workers in London are likely to have much higher outgoings for this criteria, than those working in other metropolitan hubs.

London received low scores for other lifestyle costs, ranking 53rd for apartment rental prices. There are only three more expensive cities: Hong Kong (54), New York (55) and San Francisco (56).

This means those hoping to travel the world while working would see a large chunk of their travel budget go on accommodation, with limited cost-effective workspaces also a potential issue.

 

London scored poorly for migrant acceptance too coming in 31st position, with Brexit thought to be one of the key influences on this result. In fact, a recent poll of UK tech executives found 70 percent wanted to stay in Europe and only 15 percent said they wanted to leave before the Brexit referendum took place.

It is talent – temporary or not –  that has created such a great and vibrant tech community in London. The idea of possible barriers on that talent entering and moving around freely is one of the reasons digital nomads may feel London is no longer as welcoming.

Overall, Belfast holds the top spot for the best global city for digital nomads, closely followed by Lisbon, Barcelona, Brisbane and Luxembourg. Hong Kong is rated the worst urban centre for digital nomads from the cities analysed, with Singapore, New York, Tokyo and Dubai also making up the bottom five.

Melissa Lyras, Brand and Communications Manager at Spotahome commented on the findings:

“London is regarded as an exciting metropolitan hub, perfect for today’s ‘digital nomads’, hoping to travel the world, explore new places and still complete ongoing projects.

 

“While London does offer some positive opportunities, its high living costs, lack of stable longer-term projects and the uncertainty around Brexit meant it did not score well overall for those seeking more flexible and cost-effective work opportunities.

 

“London businesses need to find ways to address these growing issues if they want to keep attracting and retaining top talent to the city.”

 

To see the full data for each city please visit Spotahome’s dedicated webpage here