Bolivia for Digital Nomads — Everything You Need to Know

What initially attracted me (and lots of other tourists and DNs) to Bolivia is its rich history, gorgeous scenery, beautiful views from the Andes — and an abundance of llamas! Suffice it to say, all of these things make Bolivia an interesting place to visit and live in.

But, how is Bolivia for digital nomads, and can you work from there with ease? Keep reading to get the full scoop!

Bolivia for Digital Nomads at a Glance

The Good:

  • Affordable living.
  • Amazing history and culture.
  • A plethora of fun outdoor activities.

The Bad:

  • Most cities are not suitable for DNs.

An Introduction to Bolivia

Bolivia is a landlocked country of west-central South America. It’s bordered by Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Along with Peru, it’s the proud co-owner of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in SA, very popular with tourists, hikers, and swimmers alike.

Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, while La Paz is the administrative capital, in addition to being the most popular spot for digital nomads. The DNs are mostly attracted to warm people, eclectic cuisine, and a laid-back lifestyle.

Connectivity in Bolivia

Bolivia gets a bad rep for having a horrible internet connection, no matter where you are and which provider you choose. However, in recent years, the country has made some great strides to accommodate the needs of both the population and digital nomads alike.

WiFi in Bolivia

In 2020, Bolivia saw average download speeds of 16.32 Mbps for fixed internet connections. Also, according to a report, in January of 2021, the country averaged download speeds of 25.75 Mbps.

While these numbers may not be as impressive if you live in a country with high internet speeds, they are above average for South America. Not to mention, they’re more than enough for average digital nomads who need to do their work or attend meetings.

If you stay within larger cities (such as La Paz, El Alto, or Santa Cruz), you should be able to find a good connection in your accommodations or surrounding cafes and co-working spaces.

4G and Mobile in Bolivia

Last year, Bolivia saw an average of 18.53 Mbps mobile internet speeds, and this number grew to 22.60 Mbps by January this year. So, again, we’re seeing exponential growth in the infrastructure, and great numbers when looking at the region and as a whole.

Tigo, Entel, and Viva are leading mobile internet providers in Bolivia. Entel tends to have the speediest connection across the board, while Tigo has the greatest amount of coverage, especially in La Paz. It’s also one of the least expensive options, but keep in mind that you will have to show your passport to receive and authorize your SIM card.

Visas and Documentation for Bolivia

As far as visas go, Bolivia separates its visitors into one of three categories:

  • Countries whose citizens don’t require a visa to enter, and can acquire one on arrival to stay in the country for 30-90 days.
  • Countries whose citizens must obtain a visa beforehand (either for free or on arrival for a fee).
  • Countries whose citizens must obtain a visa in advance, with special authorization.

Now, if you’re not from one of the countries that don’t need a visa to enter, or simply want to get your ducks in a row so you can work once you get to Bolivia, you have several options.

The Tourist Visa

A Bolivian tourist visa can, most of the time, be acquired easily for citizens of most countries — either beforehand or on arrival. It costs up to $30 and allows you to stay in the country for up to 30 days.

While it is the cheapest and easiest option by far, keep in mind that the tourist visa doesn’t explicitly allow you to work remotely from Bolivia.

Specific Purpose Visa — Objeto Determinado Visa

To be able to work remotely from Bolivia without a worry in the world, you’ll need to apply for a Specific Purpose Visa before or upon entering the country. The visa allows you to stay in the country for 30 days, and you can extend it to 90 days if deemed necessary.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Specific Purpose Visa can be extended into a resident one on expiry, while a tourist visa can’t.

Pro Tip: If you apply for a visa on arrival to Bolivia, you run the risk of not only being denied, but incurring higher costs (up to $95).

Where Digital Nomads Live & Work in Bolivia

Bolivia may seem like a DN paradise from the outside looking in. But the truth of the matter is that most of the country is still relatively undeveloped, and some areas are even unsafe for tourists. To stay safe, you should consider staying in one of the following cities.

La Paz

La Paz sits at a height of about 11,942 feet (3640 meters), it’s lively, full of beauty and history, and has, arguably, the best infrastructure for DNs. Not to mention, the city features gorgeous colonial architecture, busy markets, and amazing cuisine — all at your fingertips.

Living in La Paz

La Paz is also quite affordable and you can find accommodations on Airbnb, for as little as $250 a month. If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, or with better WiFi/amenities, you can expect to pay anywhere from $450-900.

Additionally, you can browse the online version of the Bolivian newspaper El Dairo, which offers a section of local apartment listings. Finally, you can look at online listings that allow you to either get in touch with the owner directly or rent through an agency (which charges a fee).

Working from La Paz

In order to accommodate digital nomads coming to Bolivia, La Paz has in recent years become home to quite a few co-working spaces. Among my favorites is Link Cowork, which offers a variety of private and semi-private offices, equipped with great internet, a cafeteria, as well as all of the office supplies you could ever need.

You can also check out Prowork, which offers amazing mountain views, free tea and coffee, peace and quiet, and a good internet connection.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is Bolivia’s commercial center and is often thought of as the country’s cosmopolitan hub. There’s plenty of history, art, restaurants, and museums to enjoy. However, what sets Santa Cruz apart from other Bolivian cities, is that it has a strong digital nomad community, maintained in part by several co-living spaces.

Living in Santa Cruz

Unfortunately, there aren’t any co-living spaces in Santa Cruz. However, you can always look into renting out an Airbnb, most of which tend to be quite affordable and well-equipped. Also, Santa Cruz has quite a few hotels that offer DN deals and perks.

The co-living Vila Gale, for example, offers all of the standard hotel amenities, such as breakfast, a pool, and a gym. Additionally, the hotel offers a “Nomad Pack” which includes a special menu, as well as discounts at the bar, spa, car rental, and several networking events.

Working from Santa Cruz

If you’re looking for a place where you can be surrounded by fellow DNs, while having access to high-speed fiber internet, and a gorgeous garden with a BBQ area, look no further than Homeoffice Madeira. The trendy spot even offers several indoor and outdoor working stations.

On the other hand, if you’d like to get a good sense of Bolivian culture and history, you can check out Quinta Medeiros. The rustic house has been fully renovated and features 5 bedrooms, a decent-sized yard, and close proximity to the beach and a supermarket.

How is Bolivia for Digital Nomads — My Final Thoughts

Bolivia is, overall, much cheaper than any of its neighboring countries. Also, while it’s not as DN-ready as some other countries I’ve talked about before, it’s definitely worth considering as your next destination.

Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw on Unsplash