China’s ‘Dalifornia’ Draws Digital Nomads Amid Pandemic Pressures: Can it Last?


In southwestern China, Dali, lovingly dubbed “Dalifornia,” is emerging as a haven for digital nomads and those seeking respite from the grueling pandemic controls and urban stress. With its laid-back atmosphere, Dali has drawn comparisons to the famous Chinese imagination of California.

Dali, a city steeped in history and natural beauty, has seen a surge in popularity over the past three years. Backed by a thriving tech community, the city’s rich cultural heritage, picturesque landscapes, and pleasant climate have contributed to its appeal.

The rise of Dali coincides with an increasing cultural rejection of the pressures associated with living and working in major cities, particularly as economic growth has plateaued and advancement opportunities have dwindled.

With the influx of digital nomads and tech workers, local resources are being stretched, increasing rent and grocery prices. The city’s popularity has also drawn the attention of authorities, who have displayed skepticism toward emerging technologies, such as blockchain, leading to crackdowns. Yet, there are concerns about the sustainability of this trend.

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Despite these challenges, the influx of remote workers and freelancers could spur the development of local tech hubs and businesses, creating a more sustainable and diversified local economy. However, whether Dali can maintain its innovative spirit amidst tightening political ideology remains.

In the face of these challenges and uncertainties, many digital nomads like John Wang, a Chinese tech entrepreneur, have chosen to leave Dali, casting doubts over the future of ‘Dalifornia.’
This update serves purely as an informational alert. If you have questions about journalistic standards and practices, LA Times readers’ representative can be reached at or (877) 544-4000.


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