Best Cities For TikTokers
Boston, MA USA 🇺🇸
Fast internet, full 5G coverage, and frequent concerts
Phoenix AZ, USA 🇺🇸
Fast internet, plenty of WiFi hotspots, and a low cost of living
Philadelphia PA, USA 🇺🇸
Fast internet, full 5G coverage, and frequent concerts
Karachi, Pakistan 🇵🇰
TikTok often banned or restricted
Mumbai, India 🇮🇳
Full TikTok ban ❌
Delhi, India 🇮🇳
Full TikTok ban ❌
|City||Country||Average download speed (Mbps)||Average upload speed (Mbps)||WiFi hotspot coverage||4G coverage||5G coverage||iPhone 12 Pro Max 256GB cost (USD)||New iPhone release delay (days)||TikTok users in the country||Major concerts each year||Average unit rent (USD)||Overall|
|New York City||USA||88||24||Great||Full||Full||1199||0||32.57%||510||2645||29|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong||165||93||Great||Full||Full||1313||0||34.51%||6||2252||27|
We found that the USA is the best country in the world for TikTokers. American cities took out nine of the top ten spots, as TikTok has extremely high market share in the US, and smartphones cost less in America compared to many other countries.
Boston, MA, topped the list, as it has fast internet and full 5G coverage, allowing TikTokers to upload their creations quickly, and scroll through the app without buffering. The Massachusetts capital also has a decent number of concerts each year, helping TikTokers discover new music to use in their videos.
Phoenix, Philadelphia, and New York City tied for second place, followed by Osaka. Although TikTok isn’t extremely popular in Japan, Osaka has fast internet, and it’s also possible to buy smartphones for a reasonable price in the city.
Other cities underperformed because their governments restrict TikTok usage as of 2021. India has banned the app completely, while Pakistan recently removed TikTok from the App Store after it had been available for the beginning of the year.
– Tom Paton, founder, Smartphone Insight
Performance By Continent
North America performed extremely well in the rankings, with most cities in the United States making the top 30.
Boston led the way, as it offers a good overall package – fast internet, great 5G coverage, and a good number of concerts. However, other American cities, such as Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Houston had a much lower cost of rent. Charlotte, NC underperformed compared to other US cities, as it has slower upload speeds and only partial 5G coverage.
Interestingly, TikTok is less popular in Canada compared to the United States – since the app likes to promote local content, this meant that Canadian cities generally performed worse than those in the US. Vancouver led the way thanks to its 5G coverage and decent internet speeds.
Despite its high cost of living, London led the way in Europe. It has good internet speeds, and 5G coverage is excellent. Plus, if you visit London, you don’t have to worry about uploading TikToks on your data, as the city has invested heavily in public WiFi infrastructure. London is also a cultural hub, averaging more than 500 concerts each year performed in the city.
Bucharest came a surprise second in the European rankings. Although TikTok is not massively popular in Romania, average broadband speeds are extremely fast, and 5G signal is easy to come by. Plus, it’s cheaper to buy the latest iPhone in Bucharest than in Milan or Madrid, in absolute terms at least.
Other than London, much of the rest of the UK underperformed, thanks to slow internet and inconsistent 5G coverage. Many Scandinavian cities also did worse than average, because of the high cost of living – rent costs and high-spec smartphone prices are relatively high in northern Europe.
China is the birthplace of TikTok, and the local version of the app, Douyin, is estimated to have around 500m monthly active users. Douyin users are also helped by the fact that most major cities have excellent 5G coverage, so it’s easy to upload videos on the go. However, internet speeds can be quite low in China, although fast public WiFi is easy to come by in Shanghai.
Other than China, many Asian countries performed well because high-spec smartphones are relatively inexpensive by global standards. Osaka, Japan performed extremely well thanks to its low cost of living and fast internet, although 5G coverage is not available everywhere in the city.
India and Pakistan came at the bottom of the rankings because TikTok is currently banned in both countries.
SOUTH & CCENTRAL AMERICA
Many South and Central American cities struggle with slow internet speeds and a lack of 5G coverage. This makes it harder to stream TikToks without buffering, and results in longer wait times when uploading your newest dance challenge.
South and Central American TikTokers also face high smartphone prices. While the latest iPhone 12 Pro Max costs about $1200 in the US, the same device is nearly twice the price in Sao Paulo. If you’re dedicated to having the best phone camera for shooting your TikToks, living in Brasil makes this very expensive.
Mexico City was the standout South/Central American city, coming in 59th place. The Mexican capital has a decent number of concerts each year, and rent is reasonably cheap. Internet speeds are also good, although 5G coverage could be better.
MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA
Surprisingly, TikTok is extremely popular in the Middle East. Nearly half of people living in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates use the app. Along with its fast internet speeds, this helped Abu Dhabi to 32nd in the rankings.
However, Middle Eastern and African cities were let down by a lack of 5G coverage. Only Riyadh has 5G data available throughout the city. Meanwhile, Durban and Johannesburg have partial 5G coverage.
Also, the region sometimes struggles with the high cost of smartphones. It generally costs about 50-80% more to buy an iPhone in Africa or the Middle East compared to the United States. South Africans also had to wait nearly two months for the release of the iPhone 12, making it one of the worst places to be if you want to always have the latest smartphone for shooting TikToks.
Despite TikTok having decent market share in Australia and New Zealand, no cities in Oceania made it into the top half of the rankings.
While Melbourne and Sydney are cultural hubs with plenty of concerts each year, the cost of living is extremely high in both Australia and New Zealand. Rent is expensive, as is the cost of buying a new iPhone.
Also, internet infrastructure is worse in Oceania than in most parts of the US and Europe. Australia has very low average internet speeds, and even the major cities do not have full 5G coverage as of July 2021.
Here’s how we found and ranked the best cities for TikTokers in the world right now.
Factors we assessed
Average download speed. To browse TikTok for inspiration and watch videos without buffering, you need a good download speed. We used the average download speed to measure the availability of fast internet in the city.
Average upload speed. Even though TikToks must be less than three minutes long, you don’t want to be waiting around forever while your creation is uploading.
WiFi hotspot coverage. When travelling to a given city, you might want to save on roaming charges by uploading TikToks over public WiFi. As well as assessing the availability of WiFi for restaurant and cafe customers, we also looked at to what extent local governments had invested in free public WiFi available for anyone to use.
4G coverage. If you want to upload a TikTok but don’t have WiFi, you need 4G coverage, otherwise your video will take hours to put online.
5G coverage. Similar to the above, having 5G is a massive bonus for uploading TikToks when not at home – and it can also make browsing the app a lot smoother.
iPhone 12 Pro Max 256GB cost. While you don’t necessarily need the newest top-of-the-line iPhone to make amazing TikToks, it certainly helps to make your videos pop. We used the iPhone 12 Pro Max 256GB price to measure the cost of new smartphones in each city.
New iPhone release delay (days). New smartphones are released at different times in different countries. We looked at how long each city had to wait for the iPhone 12 Pro Max to be released, beyond the date it first became available in the United States. While you may not need to immediately upgrade to the newest phone to make good TikToks, major influencers need to have the latest tech as soon as it becomes available.
TikTok market penetration. The TikTok algorithm likes to show videos from local creators. Therefore, to become a TikTok influencer, it pays to be in a country whether the app is popular.
Average number of major concerts each year. Not all TikTok creators are die-hard concert-goers, but concerts are a good barometer of music culture in a given city, and many TikTokers use them to find new music. Plus, the #concert hashtag has 5.5b views on the app.
Average unit rent. Some cities have cheap smartphone prices but a high cost of housing. We looked at the average unit rent to get a better idea of the cost of living in each city.
Each factor was given a weighting to calculate each city’s final score. For example, depending on the city’s average internet speed, it got a “score” for this metric:
< 20 Mbps: +0 score
>= 20, < 40 Mbps: +1 score
>= 40, < 60 Mbps: +2 score
>= 60, < 80 Mbps: +3 score
>= 80, < 100 Mbps: +4 score
>= 100 Mbps: +5 score
We used a similar method with different weightings for each metric we analysed. See the complete spreadsheet to see the exact scoring methodology.
Each cost was initially recorded in the city’s local currency. These costs were then converted to US dollars simultaneously on July 9 2021 to ensure a fair comparison.
Why are certain cities missing?
For this study, we focused on major developed or semi-developed cities with a population of at least 500,000 people, to ensure a fair comparison. We recognise that there may be other smaller cities that have a low cost of living and cheap, fast internet, which would be perfect for some TikTokers who mostly shoot videos at home.
If we’ve missed a city that you think we should include, let us know and we can include it in next year’s rankings.
Download our complete press release as a PDF document
Download an Excel spreadsheet containing the entire dataset and score calculations
Tom Paton, founder, Smartphone Insight
*Data collected during July 2021. Where a country has no TikTok users, this means that the app is currently banned. Smartphone Insight makes no warranties or guarantees as to the accuracy of the data provided.
Annual concert data thanks to Concert Archive.
About the author
Tom is the founder of Smartphone Savvy. He’s a diehard Android user, currently rocking a Pixel 4a in black.
In his spare time, you’ll find Tom playing videos games or watching Manchester United.