Remote & Async Work 10 min

The best cities for remote working and inflation

Written by Rachel Mantock
May 20, 2024
Rachel Mantock


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Whether you're fully committed to the remote worker lifestyle or just dipping your toes in, you might be thinking about relocating to a new city. You could be a digital nomad relishing the freedom to work from anywhere at any time. Or you might be seeking a healthier balance between work and leisure, eager to escape the repetitive live-to-work grind. Either way, our Best Destinations for Remote Work tool is your handy companion here, alongside its twin report.

We've evaluated multiple factors using this tool, gathering important insights and identifying a lineup of the best cities for remote workers. On top of this, we've included personal anecdotes from individuals at Remote who live and breathe the remote, asynchronous, flexible work lifestyle — offering you genuine perspectives from those who truly understand it.

The top five cities for remote workers and inflation

Currently, worldwide inflation is projected to drop 4.1% this year, compared to last. The cities that come out on top when using our Best Destinations for Remote Work tool, when factoring for inflation, have rates that are considerably lower than the global average. From first place to filth; Tokyo, Bern, Panama City, Taiwan’s Taipei, and Ecuador’s Quito take the top spots.

1. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo stands out as a global city for its economic power, technological innovation, cultural influence and leading infrastructure. It hosts headquarters of multinational corporations, boasts world-class transportation (that’s often the envy of other international cities) and offers a movie-worthy cultural scene. The city’s winning credentials across tech and culture cement its status as a key player on the global stage. This also makes it a front-runner choice for remote workers.

Tech, culture and finance

The city encourages both creativity and business growth, offering incentives and remote work opportunities across different sectors. As a major financial and technological leader, Tokyo draws global talent, enhancing job competition with opportunities for salary growth, making it an ideal option for relocation, even with rising cost of living, globally. 

Tokyo’s inflation outlook 

From 2019 to 2024, the core Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Tokyo showed a year-on-year inflationary increase of 2.4% (by March 2024). This marked a slight decrease from February 2024, when the monthly core inflation rate was 2.5%.

Focus on food, not commuting

Senior backend engineer at Remote, Naohiro Takahashi is all about eating in and out in the city. The low cost across groceries and restaurants means the choice is yours (as a daily thing, rather than bi-monthly, music to the ears of those who love and hate cooking alike). 

“Tokyo is a great city to live in with a diverse culture and a low cost of living. Especially for food — it’s relatively cheaper, even if you just eat at a restaurant,” he says. “For me, one of the hard parts about working in Tokyo was commuting by train when I was working in an office. It was just so packed. But remote work has removed that stress from my life.”

2. Bern, Switzerland

Remote worker or not, Bern shines on the global stage with its (beautifully preserved) medieval old town that’s earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. As Switzerland's capital, the city is celebrated for its steadfast political neutrality and it’s home to important, niche international bodies, like the Universal Postal Union. Bern's charming arcades, the historic bear pit and the landmark clock tower are symbols of its rich historical and cultural tapestry, too.

Urban convenience meets nature

For remote workers, Bern offers a great balance of city perks and natural beauty, from its cutting-edge public transport, to reliable internet and a high general quality of life. The awestriking Aare River and towering mountains nearby mean serene, post-work relaxation can become a weekly thing (rather than a few times a year).

Bern’s inflation outlook 

Much like the rest of Switzerland, inflation in Bern has typically stayed on the lower side compared to the global scene. The Swiss National Bank keeps a tight rein on monetary policy to keep prices stable, so residents usually enjoy a steady economic environment that can withstand global economic influences (more robustly than others).

But Bern isn't immune to the occasional spike in costs for housing, services and goods, which can and have been swayed by local economic currents, even if less so.

Switzerland’s total inflation dropped to 1.2% in February 2024, primarily because of the price of imported goods falling. Similarly, core inflation slowed down to 1.1%, influenced by a decrease in the prices of non-energy goods. But inflation linked to the cost of services across Switzerland has remained relatively high, by comparison.

Rent hikes and inflation

Continued rent hikes across Switzerland tied to rising reference rates (interest rate benchmarks, used to set other interest rates — yes, it’s as complicated as it sounds), along with a spike in electricity prices from January 2024 are expected to push up inflation in the first half of this year. Despite these increases, Switzerland’s total inflation is predicted to stay within the target range for price stability, hovering around 1.5% for the year. The Swiss Federal Council has also begun proposing short-term measures to curb unsustainable rises in rent prices, too. 

3. Panama City, Panama

Panama City serves as a pivotal link between North and South America, making it an ideal base for those who love exploring both sides. The contemporary skyline, juxtaposed with historical landmarks, like the Panama Canal, illustrate a fusion of heritage and modernity.

Low or zero taxes

As a financial hub, Panama City competes with other major global cities, bolstered by a thriving economy and attractive tax benefits (only income earned from within Panama is taxed, while if your income comes from outside of Panama, there’s no income tax to pay).

The city's multicultural set up, warm climate and eclectic mix of recreational activities on offer contribute to a higher standard of living (compared to other major global cities). Although smaller than some large cities, Panama City's easy accessibility, pro-business vibe and scenic surroundings make it a top location for those looking for an energetic city lifestyle (and more money in their pockets).

Panama City’s inflation outlook

The average inflation rate in Panama is expected to rise gradually by a total of 0.3% between 2024 and 2029, reaching a projected 2% by the end of 2029. According to the International Monetary Fund, this inflation rate is calculated based on the annual change in the average Consumer Price Index (CPI). This reflects the typical cost of a basket of goods and services across the country. 

Disruption along trade routes

Last year, bucking Panama’s usual trend with inflation, economists worried the region would start to face some challenges. A drought along its major trade route (the Panama Canal) saw restrictions placed on the number of vessels that were allowed to pass through. Though there have been no further vessel restrictions put in place since December 2023, some knock-on impacts are still being felt. There’s also additional, trickle-down impacts from disruption along the Red Sea’s trade routes too.

Global increases in commodity prices and disruptions in supply chains could affect Panama’s economy. More specifically, a potential rise in costs for food and energy, influenced by external elements like geopolitical conflicts and climatic occurrences would be the main driving forces. 

The weakening of the US dollar, coupled with Panama's dependence on imports, might intensify inflationary pressures further. This puts Panama in a tricky situation because of its “dollarized” economy, which restricts its policy options.

4. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei has an enticing mix of modern city living and rich heritage on offer, making it an attractive global city for remote workers. It’s famous for its reliable public transport, cost-effective healthcare and incredible street food. The city's lively cultural landscape, safe neighborhoods and friendly, welcoming population only add to its unique charm.

A booming expat scene

Taipei is served by its world-class MRT and high-speed rail, meaning no car, no problem. The city also has a thriving expat community, from clubs to social gatherings and events. Their standard convenience stores are marvels in and of themselves, stocked with a surprising variety of local and international goods. 

An absence of open liquor laws allows for drinking almost anywhere, which is a major plus (or not) depending on who you’re talking to. For those who love the outdoors, beaches, hot springs , and amusement parks are all easily accessible. 

You can get stuck in with river tracking, high mountain climbing or scuba diving as your new after work, unwind activity. The area is also known for its extremely fast internet speeds and widespread availability of free wi-fi hotspots, ticking major boxes for remote workers.

Taipei’s inflation outlook

In April 2024, inflation in Taiwan stood at 1.95%, which is 2.2% below the forecasted level. According to the government's statistics bureau, consumer prices increased by 1.95% over the 12 months leading up to April of this year. 

This marks a decrease from the 2.14% rise seen in March and falls below the 2.2% predicted by economists in a Bloomberg survey. This decline has mostly been attributed to notable reductions in the prices of eggs, vegetables, and transport prices. Core inflation (which doesn’t factor in some fluctuating food and energy costs) dropped to 1.81% (from 2.13%) in March of this year. 

5. Quito, Ecuador

Quito is an exciting, busy metropolis (that’s becoming somewhat of a design hot spot) set against the backdrop of the grand Andes Mountains. If you’re a remote worker that’s big into romanticizing your life, you’d be off to a great start here just based on the instant visuals. 

A mountainous, historical landscape

As the highest capital city in the world, Quito has a quirky mix of cultural depth and hilly surrounding nature. The city's low cost of essentials, baseline good weather, and thriving international community make it an ideal base for remote workers.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is also nestled among historical and architectural marvels. It’s a time-warp adventure on your doorstep.

Quito’s inflation outlook

Over the decade leading up to 2022, consumer price inflation in Ecuador averaged 1.6%, which was lower than the Latin America regional average of 8.4%.

In April 2024, Ecuador's annual inflation rate climbed to 2.75%, up from 1.66% the previous month, marking the third successive increase following a period of five months of dropping inflation rates. 

This rise, the highest since March 2023, was primarily fueled by significant price increases in these sectors; transportation costs rose to 1.91% from 0.3% in March; food and non-alcoholic beverages jumped to 5.85% from 4.53%; prices in restaurants and hotels increased to 3.23% from 1.56%; communications went up to 2.53% from 0.57%; and education costs increased to 1.87% from 1.36%. 

Methodology and the best cities for remote work

The dataset used for Remote’s global destination rankings pulled from a 25 series of information, across countries globally and from individual U.S states, using eight categories. When measuring for “quality of life”, data was analyzed for key objectives like the happiness of residents, relying on self-reporting. These results were then combined with data from a closely linked topic (like pollution) to give more all-rounded final results on quality of life and remote worker cities.

Discover more best destinations for remote work

Use our Best Destinations for Remote Work tool to find the cities that meet your top priorities. You can choose from openness, attractiveness, quality of life, internet, safety, cost of living, inflation and incentives. It’s easy to use with a toggle feature to set the level of importance for each element. Once you’ve done this part, the tool will auto-generate a list of 100 cities that are great for remote working, ranked in order of the priorities you’ve selected.

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