There's some fundamental human attraction to permanence. We want relationships to be permanent, achievements to hold their importance permanently, and for our possessions to be ours permanently. When we break up, when our accomplishments are forgotten, or when something is lost, stolen, or sold, we feel a loss.
Good reasons to value permanence exist. It gives us consistency upon which we can base other things. It limits our options, which is something I think we all like more than we admit.
When I was a nomad, my permanence was my computer. I could be at a family member's home or at a grungy third-world bus station, and much of my world was consistent. I communicated with my friends online, worked online, learned online, and researched online. That familiar space allowed me to vary other parts of my life wildly. I never felt homesick or lost because of it.
Before being a nomad, I took permanence for granted. Even if I could have guessed I wouldn't live in Austin forever, I knew that I'd be there a while and that it would always be waiting for me. But becoming a nomad threw into contrast just how valuable permanence is.
I bought my RV, which was cheap enough that I could keep it forever. That felt really good. It was a constant in my life: no matter what happened, I'd have a (small) roof over my head. Same with Vegas. I could have spent the money I spent on it renting a much nicer place for a few years, but that wouldn't be permanent.
The point of having something permanent is that it enables you to seek the ephemeral. You have somewhere to go back to when you're done.
I wonder if this is part of why being poor is so difficult. I've watched a few documentaries, and it always seems like there's nothing permanent in poor people's lives. Not a roof, not a car, not even support from others.
If you feel scattered, lost, or aimless, invest in something permanent. Find something big that can be a cornerstone of your life. It doesn't have to be a place. It could be a good relationship with your family or close friends, or even a solid set of skills that you can use as an income.
Photo is my tea room in Vegas. Building out a place that needs to be totally redone really highlights your priorities. I have a tea room, but no kitchen sink.
My friend Leo suggested once that I write a post about how I make decisions. Since then I've been waiting for the right moment, one where I made a large decision in a very short amount of time. That happened today, when I decided to move to Las Vegas.
From time to time I check real estate prices in Detroit or Las Vegas. They're the two major US cities I'm aware of that were disproportionately crippled by the housing crash. Detroit more so, but it's cold up there and I've never been, so buying a house there isn't just fantasy.
On the other hand, I go to Vegas all the time, so I'm familiar with it. I like to play poker there, I have a handful of friends there, and I've been frequently enough that I have a bunch of favorite haunts. The Ethiopian restaurants are amazing.
Last night, after work, I spent half an hour looking at condos and townhouses for sale. In case you don't have this particular hobby, there are lots of condos in Las Vegas that are under $75k. The mortgage on one of these things would be less than $300.
Maneesh Sethi was kind enough to write up a guest post for us on striking off internationally and doing the digital nomad thing.
Here's Maneesh -
Every day, someone says to me: “I wish I could travel like you do.”
And every time I respond: “You can too.”
You see, I’ve been traveling for the last three years as a digital nomad, through Asia, South America, Europe. I move to a new city, learn a new language, and do a cool project. I built an online business that is completely outsourced, so now I can work as many---or as few----hours/week as I want.