[Editor’s note: While Simon is traveling today, other members of the Sovereign Man team penned today’s missive.]
Every year before and after the annual Liberty and Entrepreneurship Camp held in Lithuania, the Sovereign Man team takes some time to travel in Europe.
Vilnius – The capital of Lithuania – by itself is a fantastic place to spend time in. It boasts one of the largest medieval ‘old town’ city centers in Europe.
Plus Vilnius is inexpensive. First world. Low taxes. Blazing fast Internet.
These are all the ingredients that should make it one of the world’s top destinations for Digital Nomads, i.e. folks who roam from place to place earning their living online.
You may know that Simon is no fan of the Digital Nomad lifestyle– you can read about his views here.
But he recognizes that there are still millions of people who are going to live that lifestyle anyhow.
And we’re here to provide high quality information to fit any lifestyle, including Digital Nomads.
So, yes, Vilnius is one of those great, relatively undiscovered places… and a big reason why Simon holds his annual entrepreneurship camp in Lithuania each year.
Digital Nomads– definitely put it on your list.
But there’s an even more unexplored place that’s right next to Vilnius.
A short bus ride across Lithuania’s southern border takes you to Minsk – the capital of one of the former Soviet republics, Belarus.
Minsk is definitely not on the radar of a typical European tourist. You will not see it in the Lonely Planet’s must-see destinations list.
Yet it could be one of the most interesting places in Europe right now.
First- the bad. Or at least the bizarre: since 1994 (that’s 24 years) Belarus has been headed by a strongman named Alexander Lukashenko.
Technically he’s the democratically elected President of Belarus.
But to modify an old Soviet expression– in Belarus, the government pretends to hold elections. And the people pretend to vote.
Or the old Stalinist expression– it’s not he who votes that counts, but he who counts the votes.
Anyhow, the guy has basically been dictator for the past few decades. And that’s democracy in action, people.
While nearly every other former Soviet republic has opened up and privatized to a degree, nearly everything in Belarus is still state-owned…
… which means that Lukashenko controls everything.
He plays such a prominent role in people’s daily lives that his nickname in Belarus is “daddy”.
So it’s pretty obvious why the world’s largest corporations are not in a huge rush to move their global HQs to Minsk.
Not to mention the economy is pretty stagnant. Wages are low – an average monthly salary in Minsk is around $400.
And there’s just not a whole lot going on. Minsk is definitely not bustling with economic activity (though there is a fairly well developed black market).
On the other hand, though, Belarus is remarkably stable.
Unlike London, Hong Kong, or San Francisco, You will not see a single homeless person in Minsk. Parks and streets are sparkling clean. And the entire country is astonishingly safe.
Modern supermarkets, trendy cafes, and restaurants are everywhere in Minsk. Everything functions quite well.
Also, Minsk is a great place if you are into culture like ballet, opera, art festivals, theater, symphony, etc.
And Belarus is incredibly cheap.
Members of Team Sovereign Man stayed in Minsk this summer in a spacious Airbnb overlooking the city’s main square for just $20 per night.
A dinner in a fashionable restaurant in the best part of the city cost $12 per person.
A subway ride costs an incredible 30 cents, and a 30-min long Uber ride across the entire city will cost you less than $4.
Mobile Wifi (including a router you can connect to your laptop with unlimited Internet) will set you back $5 to $10 per month.
Renting in Minsk is also inexpensive. An apartment in the best part of the city will not cost you more than $600-$700 a month. And that’s on the higher end of the price spectrum.
The people themselves are also fantastic– surprisingly friendly and extremely well-educated.
(And if you’re single, you won’t be disappointed in that department either.)
Here is the best thing – Unlike Russia, westerners don’t have to go through the troubles of obtaining a visa to visit Belarus.
Starting from July 2018, citizens of 80 countries including the US, Canada, Australia and most European nations can enter through Minsk International Airport and stay visa-free for up to 30 days (you can’t cross by road or by train to take advantage of this regime.)
That’s the perfect amount of time for a Digital Nomad to get his/her feet wet in an inexpensive, safe, clean, highly cultured city that’s hardly on anyone’s radar.