This summer I spent a week in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia (the country in the Caucasus). It’s an up-and-coming travel destination, but I quickly realized it has the potential to become a major digital nomad hotspot as well.
If you’re one of those folks who make a living online and you work from wherever you can take your laptop, then Tbilisi is one city you should definitely keep an eye on!
It may not be a buzzing hub like Chiang Mai, Medellin, or Lisbon (in fact, far from it), but all the elements are here to make this city ideally suited to remote workers. Right now, Tbilisi completely lacks a nomad community, but I think that could easily change.
Just consider these things…
1. You can stay visa-free for 1 year (!)
This does depend on your nationality, but it is on offer for anyone from pretty much any Western or middle-income country (see: Wikipedia). This strikes me as one of the most flexible visa regimes in the world.
You’ll have no need for visa runs. And there’s no need to avoid the Schengen 90-day limit either. (Georgia is not part of the EU nor in the Schengen zone.)
2. It’s super inexpensive
While staying in Tbilisi as a tourist, I found it to be a cheap as chips. My private room in a hostel in a central neighbourhood cost just € 15 a night. You can have good restaurant meals ranging from €5 to €10. Half a litre of local beer costs €1.
That’s incredible value, and I imagine you’d get even better value when being based in Tbilisi for a longer period, as this will let you get better deals on your accommodation and take more advantage of local prices.
4. There’s very fast WiFi
Georgia may be on the outer edge of Europe, but internet is generally very fast and widely available. According to Nomadlist, there’s an average speed of 9 mbps.
5. You’re just 3 hours away from… this
The Caucasus mountain range is absolutely stunning. With the popular Kazbegi area just 3 hours by bus from the capital, it’s possible to enjoy this amazing scenery even if you have to work on your weekdays (as weekend trips are easy to arrange).
You’ll also find numerous ancient churches and monasteries in the immediate region, many of them beautifully located on mountaintops or based within intricate cave systems.
6. Tbilisi is on the cusp of cool
Georgia is a developing post-Soviet country that struck me as still having traditional values and few English speakers. But it clearly also has an international and European outlook, which is most evident in Tbilisi.
While some nomads might want to dip into the local and traditional life, there’s often also a need for modern conveniences and suitable workspaces. And this is definitely not going to be a problem whatsoever in Tbilisi.
Tbilisi’s old centre is a gentle and pleasant place to spend some time — with loads of great food, good vibes, and many lovely cafes and patios.
Amid the decaying facades and cracked roads, you’ll find wonderful signs of urban renewal and an emerging entrepreneurial scene. At Fabrika, an old Soviet-era sewing factory has been transformed into a multifunctional space with urban cafes and bars, art studios, a coworking office, hostel, and an Impact Hub community. Fabrika reminded me of LX Factory in Lisbon and similar spaces in Berlin.
While I only went to a few civilized craft beer and cha-cha (Georgian brandy) bars, I met some younger travellers who told me it’s a fantastic city to party on a budget, with a lot of cheap clubs and student bars.
That said, when I told my nomad friends about Tbilisi, they immediately asked me if there is much of a nomad scene. To that the answer is no; if you’re expecting to hang out just with other nomads, you’ll be disappointed. In 2018, there were only a handful of Meetups in town and no established digital nomad community.
For some nomads that might be a dealbreaker; for others, an opportunity to mesh more with the local life. Either way, Tbilisi is, without doubt, a wonderful and convenient place to be based for a while. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t show up on the radar more often in years to come.
If you’re a digital nomad looking for a cool and offbeat place to go, you can be an early bird and see Tbilisi before it’s hot.
(March 2020 Update: the first co-working and co-living hub has now shown up in Tbilisi! Check out Lokal Tbilisi for more info.)