Search

6 Safe Cities in South America Every Digital Nomad Should Consider

Despite the news, there are many safe cities in South America to consider for your next digital nomad destination. These are a few of our favorites…

Which safe cities in South America top the list for digital nomads? South America represents a perfect blend of culture, adventure, and work-friendly environments. This vast continent is becoming a hotspot for those looking to combine the thrill of travel with the necessity of remote work. But how do you determine which cities offer not just the allure but also the assurance of safety? Dive into this guide as we explore the top safe havens for digital nomads, uncovering the blend of factors that make them stand out in the vibrant tapestry of South American destinations.

What Makes a City “Safe”?

When we talk about safe cities in South America, or anywhere in the world, there are several metrics and factors that come into play. Understanding these elements is crucial for digital nomads and travelers, as they often make their relocation or travel decisions based on them.

Crime Rates

One of the most straightforward indicators of a city’s safety is its crime rate, especially when it comes to violent crimes. Many cities worldwide provide statistics on criminal activity, allowing you to compare and contrast. Generally, lower crime rates indicate a safer environment.

Political Stability

The overall political climate and stability play a significant role in a city’s safety profile. Cities in countries with stable governments and low levels of political unrest tend to be safer for residents and visitors alike.

Healthcare System

Access to a robust healthcare system is crucial. This includes well-equipped hospitals, trained medical professionals, and emergency services. Digital nomads should consider how easy and affordable it is to get medical treatment in their chosen city.

Friendly Locals

A warm and welcoming local population can significantly influence a city’s safety perception. When residents are friendly, helpful, and have a positive attitude towards foreigners, it creates a more inclusive and safe environment.

Infrastructure and Transportation

Safe public transportation, well-maintained roads, and reliable utilities (like electricity and water) also contribute to a city’s safety credentials. Efficient public services mean fewer disruptions and risks.

Emergency Services

Fast response times and efficient services from police, fire departments, and medical teams are vital. A city with a reputation for its efficient emergency services will naturally feel safer.

Local Regulations and Policies

Cities that prioritize safety often have strict regulations and policies in place. This could be in the form of well-lit streets, security patrols, or surveillance systems in public areas.

Safety Indexes

Lastly, there are several global safety indexes that rank cities based on various safety metrics. These rankings can provide an at-a-glance view of how a city fares in comparison to others.

Jump to City

1. Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, stands out as a beacon of safety in South America. While it’s recognized as one of the safe cities in South America for digital nomads and travelers, it’s essential to dive into the specifics of what makes it so, as well as address some concerns.

safe cities in south america - Montevideo-Uruguay
Montevideo, Uruguay

Image credit: Unsplash

Safety Credentials

  • Low Crime Rates: Montevideo boasts lower crime rates than many South American cities, especially regarding violent crimes, making it one of the continent’s safest capitals.
  • Efficient Policing: The local police force is noted for its proactive approach and community policing initiatives, enhancing trust among both locals and visitors.
  • Digital Nomad Community Insights: The growing digital nomad community in Montevideo plays a crucial role in fostering a safe environment, sharing safety tips and local knowledge to ensure collective security.

Infrastructure and Public Spaces

  • Public Transportation: The city offers efficient public transport options, regarded as safe and reliable. For additional security, especially at night, many opt for reputable taxi services or ride-sharing apps.
  • Well-lit Streets: Central areas and popular neighborhoods are well-lit, providing safer nighttime commutes and vibrant evening life.
  • Connectivity: With high-quality digital infrastructure, Montevideo caters well to the needs of remote workers and digital nomads.

Potential Concerns

  • Petty Theft: As with many tourist destinations, petty theft in crowded areas is a concern. Vigilance and minimizing the display of valuables can mitigate risks.
  • Certain Neighborhoods: While generally safe, some neighborhoods have higher crime rates. Research and local advice can guide newcomers on areas to avoid initially.

Cultural Awareness and Integration

Montevideo’s residents appreciate cultural respect and efforts to integrate. Understanding local customs and engaging with the community not only enhances personal safety but also enriches the living experience.

Neighborhoods and Accommodation

Safe, welcoming neighborhoods are abundant, with the digital nomad community often sharing insights on the best places to live and work. Montevideo’s well-lit streets, especially in central areas and popular neighborhoods, ensure safer nighttime commutes. Public spaces are often monitored, and there’s a general sense of safety even during the evening hours.

Lifestyle and Leisure

Montevideo offers a plethora of recreational activities, from its beautiful beaches to cultural events, aligning with a digital nomad’s desire for a balanced work-life integration.

2. Santiago, Chile

Santiago, the bustling capital of Chile, stands out as a modern urban hub in South America. Among the safest cities in South America, Santiago has made a name for itself by balancing urban development with safety measures, making it an attractive spot for digital nomads.

Safe cities in south america - santiago chile
Santiago, Chile

Image credit: Unsplash

Safety Credentials

  • Crime Indices: Santiago prides itself on having lower crime rates compared to other major Latin American cities, especially in terms of severe crimes, thanks to effective public safety initiatives.
  • Effective Policing: The national police force, Carabineros de Chile, maintains a strong presence throughout the city, with a focus on touristic and business areas to ensure a secure environment.
  • Surveillance Systems: Many public areas, squares, and major streets in Santiago are equipped with CCTV, adding an extra layer of security.
  • Community Engagement: Regular community meetings with the police help in keeping the lines of communication open, leading to proactive safety measures.

Infrastructure and Public Spaces

  • Public Transportation Safety: The Metro de Santiago is renowned for its extensive network, safety, and efficiency. Stations are well-lit, regularly patrolled, and equipped with security cameras, making it a preferred mode of transportation for locals and visitors alike.
  • Urban Planning: Santiago’s commitment to urban development includes well-maintained public spaces, parks, and a general infrastructure that supports a safe and enjoyable lifestyle.

Potential Concerns

  • Petty Theft: While Santiago is generally safe, areas with high tourist traffic can be prone to pickpocketing and petty theft. Awareness and cautiousness with personal belongings are advised.
  • Protests: Santiago has a history of political protests. Although typically peaceful, staying informed about local events and avoiding large gatherings is recommended for safety.

Cultural Awareness and Integration

Santiago’s rich culture is welcoming to those who show interest and respect for local traditions and norms. Engaging with the community through cultural events and social gatherings can enhance the expatriate experience.

Neighborhoods and Accommodation

Providencia and Las Condes: These neighborhoods are celebrated for their safety, modern amenities, and vibrant community life, making them attractive options for digital nomads and expatriates.

Lifestyle and Leisure

Santiago is a city that thrives on its cultural, recreational, and culinary offerings. From its bustling markets to the serene beauty of nearby nature reserves, there is no shortage of activities to enrich the digital nomad lifestyle.

3. Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, a jewel nestled in the highlands of southern Ecuador, is a city where colonial charm meets modern convenience within a backdrop of stunning natural beauty. Renowned for its safety, rich cultural heritage, and welcoming atmosphere, Cuenca has become a haven for expatriates and digital nomads alike, seeking a peaceful yet vibrant lifestyle.

Safe cities in south america - Cuenca, Ecuador
Cuenca, Ecuador

Image credit: Unsplash

Safety Credentials

  • Community Cohesiveness: The strong sense of community in Cuenca is a cornerstone of its safety, with locals and expatriates alike looking out for one another.
  • Effective Local Law Enforcement: Cuenca’s police force is known for its responsiveness and regular patrols, particularly in areas popular with tourists and digital nomads, ensuring a secure environment day and night.

Infrastructure and Public Spaces

  • Tourist-friendly Zones: The historic downtown area, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is not only a cultural treasure but also a focal point for safety, closely monitored to protect and delight residents and visitors.
  • Urban Planning: Cuenca’s urban infrastructure supports safe and comfortable living, with well-maintained streets and public areas that are safe for both daytime exploration and nighttime socializing.

Potential Concerns

  • Petty Thefts: While violent crime is rare, instances of pickpocketing can occur, especially in crowded markets or during large public events. Vigilance and taking basic precautions can help mitigate these risks.
  • Stay Informed: Given that Cuenca is a top destination for expatriates, there are several forums and online groups where residents share safety tips and updates. Joining these can be invaluable.

Cultural Awareness and Integration

Embracing local customs, learning basic Spanish, and participating in community events can significantly enhance the safety and overall experience of living in Cuenca. The warmth and openness of Cuencanos to cultural exchange contribute to a harmonious expatriate life.

Neighborhoods and Accommodation

The historic downtown area, along with other expatriate-friendly neighborhoods, offers a range of safe and attractive living options for digital nomads, with amenities and co-working spaces catering to their needs.

Lifestyle and Leisure

From its picturesque parks and riverside walks to its vibrant cultural scene, Cuenca offers a lifestyle that balances work with leisure and community engagement, making it an ideal locale for those seeking a serene yet fulfilling expatriate experience.

4. Medellín, Colombia

Medellín, once notorious for its turbulent history, has risen phoenix-like to become a beacon of innovation, culture, and safety in South America. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its delightful climate, Medellín now attracts digital nomads with its blend of modern amenities, vibrant cultural scene, and strong community spirit, all underpinned by significant safety improvements.

Safe cities in south america - Medellin Colombia
Medellin, Colombia

Image credit: Unsplash

Safety Credentials

  • Remarkable Transformation: Medellín’s journey from a city grappling with violence to a model of urban renewal showcases its commitment to safety and innovation, making it a secure choice for residents and visitors alike.
  • Public Safety Initiatives: Increased police presence and community policing strategies have significantly reduced crime rates, fostering a safer environment for everyone.

Infrastructure and Public Spaces

  • Innovative Urban Projects: Projects such as the unique cable car system and public libraries in former conflict zones have not only improved the city’s infrastructure but also its social cohesion and public safety.
  • Green Spaces and Recreation: Medellín’s commitment to creating and maintaining public parks and recreational areas offers safe and enjoyable leisure options for its inhabitants.

Potential Concerns

  • Stay Informed: While safety has greatly improved, it’s still important to be aware of your surroundings, especially when traveling at night or in less familiar areas.
  • Community Engagement: Joining local expatriate and digital nomad communities can provide valuable insights and up-to-date safety tips.

Cultural Awareness and Integration

Embracing the local Paisa culture, participating in community events, and showing respect for Medellín’s history and people can enhance personal safety and enrich the living experience in the city.

Neighborhoods and Accommodation

El Poblado: This neighborhood is particularly popular among expatriates and digital nomads for its safety, upscale amenities, and vibrant social scene, making it an ideal place for those looking to integrate smoothly into Medellín’s lifestyle.

Lifestyle and Leisure

Medellín offers a dynamic mix of cultural events, outdoor activities, and culinary experiences, supported by its pleasant climate, which encourages an active and engaging lifestyle suitable for digital nomads and remote workers.

5. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, often heralded as the “Paris of South America,” is a city where European elegance meets Latin passion. This vibrant capital of Argentina is rich in history, culture, and architecture, offering a unique blend of cosmopolitan living with a warm, inviting atmosphere. For digital nomads, Buenos Aires presents an ideal mix of safety, dynamic urban life, and cultural depth, making it an attractive destination in South America.

Safe cities in south america - Buenos Aires Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Image credit: Unsplash

Safety Credentials

  • Public Safety Programs: Buenos Aires has implemented numerous initiatives aimed at enhancing safety, including upgrading public spaces, increasing street lighting, and boosting police presence in key districts.
  • Police and Security Forces: The city’s Metropolitan Police, along with an expanded network of CCTV surveillance, play a crucial role in maintaining safety across neighborhoods.

Infrastructure and Public Spaces

  • Digital Nomad Hotspots: Neighborhoods like Palermo are known for their safety, as well as for being home to numerous cafes, co-working spaces, and cultural venues that cater to the digital nomad lifestyle.
  • Public Transportation: Buenos Aires boasts an extensive and efficient public transportation system, which is generally considered safe for daily commuting.

Potential Concerns

  • Petty Crimes: While the city is vibrant and largely safe, areas popular with tourists can sometimes see incidents of pickpocketing and petty theft. Awareness and caution in these areas are advised.
  • Travel in Groups: For added safety, especially at night, traveling in groups or using trusted transportation services is recommended.

Cultural Awareness and Integration

Engaging with the city’s rich cultural offerings, such as attending a tango show or exploring its historic districts, can enhance the experience of living in Buenos Aires. Respect for local customs and a willingness to participate in community life further enrich this experience.

Neighborhoods and Accommodation

Palermo: This neighborhood stands out not only for its safety and lifestyle amenities but also for its popularity among expatriates and digital nomads, offering a supportive community and vibrant living environment.

Lifestyle and Leisure

Buenos Aires is renowned for its culinary scene, artistic energy, and lush green spaces, such as the Bosques de Palermo, providing ample opportunities for leisure, relaxation, and cultural immersion.

6. Lima, Peru (Miraflores District)

Miraflores, set within the vibrant capital of Peru, Lima, is a district that stands as a paragon of modernity and tradition, safety and lifestyle, seamlessly blended together. This coastal gem is renowned for its exceptional safety measures, making it a beacon for digital nomads and travelers seeking the perfect mix of work, culture, and leisure in South America.

Safe cities in south america - Lima Peru
Lima, Peru

Image credit: Unsplash

Safety Credentials

  • 24/7 Security Patrol: Miraflores distinguishes itself with round-the-clock security patrolling, ensuring the safety of its residents and visitors alike.
  • Urban Planning and Safety: Thoughtful urban planning, including well-lit streets and strategic emergency stations, contributes significantly to the district’s safe environment.

Infrastructure and Public Spaces

  • Well-lit Streets: The district’s commitment to safety is evident in its brightly lit streets and public spaces, which enhance the sense of security during nighttime.
  • Emergency Stations: Scattered strategically throughout Miraflores, emergency stations ensure quick responses to any incidents, further solidifying its reputation as a safe haven.

Potential Concerns

  • Avoid Deserted Areas: Despite its overall safety, it’s wise to stay in populated areas during off-peak hours and avoid deserted streets for added security.
  • Taxi Services: Opting for reputable taxi services or ride-sharing apps, especially late at night, is recommended to ensure safe travel within the district.

Cultural Awareness and Integration

Miraflores is not just about safety; it’s a cultural hotspot. Engaging with the district’s rich offerings, from its culinary delights at the Larcomar shopping center to its various cultural events, enriches the expat experience.

Neighborhoods and Accommodation

Miraflores is known for its safe neighborhoods, offering a range of accommodation options that cater to the needs of digital nomads and expatriates, from modern apartments to cozy guesthouses.

Lifestyle and Leisure

The district boasts beautifully maintained parks like Parque Kennedy, which serve as hubs of activity, culture, and safety, offering a tranquil retreat in the heart of the city. With its coastal views, shopping centers, and vibrant culinary scene, Miraflores offers a lifestyle that perfectly balances work and leisure for digital nomads.

Safety Tips for Digital Nomads in South America

While many cities and regions are welcoming and safe, it’s essential to stay informed and prepared. Here are some essential safety tips for digital nomads exploring cities in South America. For further information, see our guide on how to stay safe on the move.

Understand the Local Landscape

Before settling in a new city or region, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the local safety landscape. This involves researching crime rates through recent statistics and local news outlets to get an accurate feel for the area’s safety profile. Additionally, engaging with fellow digital nomads or expats on platforms like Facebook or Reddit can offer firsthand insights and enhance your understanding of local conditions.

Secure Your Accommodation

Ensuring that your temporary home offers sanctuary means selecting accommodations through trusted platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com, or reputable local real estate agents. Look for properties that prioritize safety with measures like 24/7 guards, CCTV cameras, or gated communities, which can provide an added layer of security during your stay.

Protect Your Digital Assets

For digital nomads, safeguarding laptops and data is paramount. Regular backups, using either cloud services or external hard drives, are essential to prevent data loss. Moreover, always employing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when accessing public Wi-Fi can help encrypt your data, protecting it from potential cyber threats. Check out our top VPNs reccomendations and reviews.

Be Cautious with Public Transportation

Navigating the public transportation system of a new city poses its own set of challenges. Opting for known and recommended taxi or ride-sharing services can avoid complications, especially to deter unmarked cabs. Being particularly alert during nighttime travels is advisable, keeping an eye on your surroundings and choosing safer routes when possible.

Blend in with the Locals

Blending in can significantly deter unwanted attention. Dressing modestly and researching local attire and dress standards can help avoid standing out as a tourist. Additionally, limiting the display of expensive gadgets, jewelry, or large amounts of cash in public spaces can reduce the risk of becoming a target for petty crimes.

Health and Medical Precautions

Prioritizing your health includes securing comprehensive travel insurance that covers health emergencies and potential evacuations. Staying updated with required and recommended vaccines for specific South American regions ensures you’re protected against local health risks.

Trust Your Instincts

Above all, listening to your gut feelings is paramount. If something feels off, it’s important to trust your instincts and remove yourself from potentially unsafe situations. Additionally, always having a list of emergency numbers, including local police and your country’s embassy or consulate, can provide a crucial safety net during your travels.

By following these guidelines, digital nomads can enjoy the rich experiences and opportunities South America has to offer while ensuring their safety and security.

safest cities in south america
Map of South America

Image credit: Unsplash

Digital Nomad Communities in South America

South America, celebrated for its affordable cost of living, diverse cultures, and breathtaking landscapes, has become a favored destination for digital nomads. Central to this experience is the community aspect, where joining or interacting with digital nomad communities across the continent can greatly enrich a nomad’s journey, offering unparalleled networking opportunities, companionship, and insights into local life.

Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces across South America serve as more than just places with Wi-Fi and a desk; they are vibrant community hubs. Selina, with its numerous locations throughout the continent, provides not only workspaces but also accommodation in scenic settings, facilitating a blend of work and leisure. Similarly, WeWork, present in major cities such as Santiago and Buenos Aires, creates an engaging environment where locals and international nomads can connect and collaborate.

Online Platforms and Groups

The digital realm offers enriching virtual communities that are crucial for remote workers seeking connection. Facebook Groups, for instance, host a plethora of South America-specific digital nomad groups, including “Digital Nomads Medellín” and “Buenos Aires Expats & Digital Nomads,” providing a platform for sharing experiences and advice. Nomad List further complements these resources by offering city-specific insights, from Wi-Fi speeds to cost of living and community meetups, aiding nomads in making informed decisions about their next destination.

Regular Meetups and Events

The value of face-to-face interactions cannot be overstated, with regular meetups and events acting as key networking opportunities. The Nomad Coffee Club, often found in cities with a significant nomad presence, offers informal gatherings that are perfect for making new connections. Additionally, tech and startup events in cities renowned for their startup culture, like Santiago, attract a wide range of digital professionals and entrepreneurs, fostering a rich environment for collaboration and innovation.

Community Retreats and Getaways

For those seeking deeper connections and personal growth, community retreats and getaways present an ideal opportunity. Nomad Cruise, for example, while not exclusively focused on South America, offers a unique blend of work and leisure, facilitating connections among digital nomads on the high seas. Unsettled provides another avenue for immersion through its 30-day co-living retreats in destinations like Buenos Aires, focusing on both personal and professional development.

Local Communities and Integration

Integrating with local communities offers rewarding experiences that go beyond the digital nomad bubble. Language exchanges in cities such as Cusco or Cartagena not only aid in linguistic skills but also in cultural immersion, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the local way of life. Volunteering, through platforms like Workaway or Worldpackers, allows nomads to contribute their skills in exchange for accommodation, creating lasting bonds and community ties.

Engaging with the diverse and vibrant digital nomad communities in South America can significantly enhance the nomadic experience, offering not just practical support but also a richer, more fulfilling journey.

Exploring Safe Cities in South America: Final Thoughts

From the cosmopolitan vibes of Santiago and Buenos Aires to the serene settings of Cuenca and Montevideo – they all beckon digital nomads with unique experiences. While the allure is evident, safety remains paramount. This guide highlighted not just destinations but the myriad factors making them safe. Whether it’s leveraging technology in Lima’s Miraflores district, or immersing in the digital communities of Medellín, the blend of local insights and tech tools ensures peace of mind. As you set out to explore, armed with knowledge and caution, South America promises both adventure and security for the discerning digital nomad.

Ready to plan your trip? Check out our comprehensive travel planning guide and recommended gear to get started today.

Further Reading/Resources

Safety Apps

Wearable Tech Devices

VPNs and Online Security

Digital Nomad Communities and South America Guides

Additional Resources

Jonny Birch
Jonny Birch
Often behind the scenes, you’ll find Jonny strategizing business plans for fellow digital nomads as well as for the DNG team. Armed with a laptop and an iced Americano, Jonny is our go-to strategy source for all things DNG. As a former UK-based digital marketing agency owner and current global marketing exec, Jonny's industry knowledge and SEO expertise make him a vital tool for building online brands and successful businesses.

Share this post:

Some of the links above may be affiliate links (disclosure). This simply means that if you click the link, we may make a small commission if you choose to purchase something from the website. We only recommend products and companies that we have personally used and / or trust.
You might also like

Ready to live and work wherever you want?

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest remote work advice, tips and insights from real digital nomads!