I've been a nomad for more than 4 years now, and I'm not planning to change this lifestyle anytime soon.
But is the nomad life sustainable long-term? Recently I was talking about this to a friend who's also been a nomad for a long time, and we came to the following conclusions:
- Living out of a suitcase and moving every 1-2 months is not realistic;
- Staying in one place is also not realistic.
So, what's the solution?
First, let's explore the above a bit more.
🎒 Living out of a suitcase and moving every 1-2 months is not realistic
Many people start out as "fast" nomads, moving every few months.
This can work in the short term, but after a while it becomes unsustainable.
Moving is stressful and usually slows down your work. You have to pack your bags, fly, find accommodation, find places to work from, to eat, etc. etc. Not to mention jetlag and getting used to time zone changes.
Also, living out of a suitcase is very limiting. You can only have a small amount of clothes and other possessions. Your things get damaged by packing and moving all the time.
And the feeling of always being in a new (often empty) hotel room, with nothing but a suitcase, can become quite depressing, at least for me.
I've noticed that after a year or two, many people either drop out of the nomad scene or transition to a slower pace.
It's just an unrealistic way of life long-term - especially if you want to have a family at some point.
🏠 Staying one place is also not realistic
So, is the nomad life a temporary thing? Do we live nomadically for a few years then "settle down" and go back to being "normal"?
Some people do and that's a totally valid choice, but for others (like me) it's not gonna happen.
There's a reason I became a nomad. I have always had, and will always have the drive to move and travel. I just won't be happy "settling down" in one place for the rest of my life!
But I also want a home and stability, especially as I get older...
✨ My solution
My solution is having two "bases": Barcelona and Bali.
I spend summers in Barcelona and winters in Bali. I stay 4-6 months in each place, while doing occasional trips to other countries in the area.
That allows me to be a nomad and to explore new places, while having a home that I can always go back to.
💛 Why Barcelona, and how?
I consider Barcelona my home. I've lived here since 2012, before I was a nomad. I love this city. After all my travels, I still haven't found a better place.
I always keep a room here that I can come back to. I own quite a lot of "stuff" (for a nomad) and it all stays here: desk, chair, other furniture, plants, clothes, books, paintings, etc. etc.
When I'm away for a long time, I try to sublet the room (usually to friends). Sometimes I end up paying for it when I'm not there, but I'm ok with that, it's the cost of my lifestyle. I rent in shared flats so the price is lower.
My goal for 2021 is to put a downpayment on a flat in Barcelona, which will make things a lot easier (and financially sensible).
Barcelona is the perfect place for me because it offers all the things I like (beach, mountains, art scene, music, events, etc. etc.) I can also easily fly around Europe and visit Lisbon, London, Amsterdam, etc...
But, there are a few caveats:
- Winter is cold. One of the warmest in Europe, but it's still winter. Anything under 20C is too cold for me.
- No nomad community :( Or a very small one at least. I still don't understand how Barcelona has gone under the nomad radar, as it's such a perfect city. Maybe it appears too touristy, or too expensive? Anyways, it's a shame but there are very few nomads here.
- I can't live in one place. I need to move. That's why I became a nomad in the first place right?
So, in the winters I go to Bali.
💚 Why Bali, and how?
This is a huge cliché, but Bali is basically the nomad capitol right now. There are different nomad groups and subcultures all around the island. I've found a big community of like-minded people in Canggu. I have many friends there that keep coming back every year, just like me. It feels like home now.
There's plenty of great coworking spaces and laptop-friendly cafes to work from. You are always surrounded by other people on their computers, and never feel isolated.
And of course, the life is great. Warm weather, surfing, healthy food everywhere, beautiful nature, etc. etc.
While I'm here, I can also explore other countries in Asia. I've travelled to Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore... These trips can be a short vacation (like Krabi), or can last more than a month if the new place is interesting (like Japan).
Bali is easy. I don't keep a room here. I just fly in and rent a place. I've been here enough times that I already have my visa agent, my driver to pick me up from the airport, my scooter guy, etc. As soon as I arrive, I can walk into my coworking space and meet all my friends there (well, after I've slept through the jetlag ofcourse).
There are various types of visas that you can get for Bali. Most people get 30 days for free. You can get a visa on arrival that will give you 2 months. And if you want to stay longer, there are options such as social visa, which gives you 6 months.
And that pretty much sums up the logistics of my nomad life.
- Having a base eliminates the stress of getting used to a new place every time I move.
- Having two bases allows me to be a nomad and move whenever I want - for example, to escape the European winter.
- And having my bases in good locations, well connected and with many interesting places nearby, allows me to explore and travel.
This set up has been working pretty well for me the last few years and I expect it to work for many years to come. And it shouldn't be difficult to adjust it to accommodate a family one day.