Month #11 of Nomad Life is a Wrap: What I’ve Learned So Far

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Anaïs Nin

Today, Aug. 4, 2021, marks 11 months since I left Phoenix — sold my house, 99% of my things, and embraced a nomadic lifestyle.

I figured there was no better time to summarize some of the learnings and lessons from these past 11 months than today. Using the categories on my website as a guide, read on:

TRAVEL: What started as a potential 1-year experiment is now indefinitely ONGOING. The ability to pick up and move, to escape at the drop of a hat, to see the world in all its beautiful prismatic glory… is truly addicting. I feet that my life is so rich and joyful and indulgent in a way I almost don’t even believe.

However, there’s a dichotomy. These past 11 months, there are so many places I enjoyed and would have loved to spend more time in, places and people that I miss, where I only scratched the surface… but I heard the siren song from the next place, beckoning me to move on and keep moving. I couldn’t, in good conscience, settle anywhere for more than a month, or permanently.

After the nomad life: If anything, I could see myself with seasonal residences (IE: seasonal rentals). Home ownership — I really don’t know anymore. I’ve been a homeowner; been there, done that for the house hunting, the financing and interest, the furniture shopping, the renovations, the maintenance, the utility bills, the real estate taxes, the insurance. Sure, we can argue investments and inflation-proofing and all that jazz, but in the end, it’s not a dollars and cents decision. It’s a peace of mind decision. And where I’m at right now, I’m loving the peace of mind that “rent is the most you’re going to pay, while a mortgage is the least.” Never say never, but that’s where I’m at presently.

FINANCE: In the past, I’ve talked frankly — perhaps anecdotally — about budgeting for the nomad life. Today, I’m going to give you some hard numbers around my average spending in traditional life vs. nomad life. I compared six months in 2020 with six months in 2021, and was SHOCKED with what I learned. DRUM ROLL PLEASE… nomad life and traditional life basically costs the same. 

  • Six months of traditional life.. Cost me $25,700.
  • Six months of nomad life.. Cost me $25,300. (Ok, actually traditional life was $400 more. Nominal.) 

It’s not a LOT, but it’s not a LITTLE either… and at this rate i’m looking at about total spending of $50K per year. 

These are DOLLARS OUT, people, not my travel budget. It’s everything. Indeed, my spending categories are wildly different between those two time periods — my previous utilities-household bills-mortgage budget is now a travel-transportation budget, my groceries budget is also generally smaller now, in favor of dining out. I made swaps and changes, and some months are heavier than others, but all-in-all, generally, I’m staying within a budget!

Fine print: The months I chose to compare and contrast were Feb 1-July 31, 2020, and Feb 1-July 31,2021. Why six months if I’ve been at this 11 months? I had an expensive eye surgery in January of 2020, and in August 2020, I had a couple thousand in repairs to do before my house sale closed. I didn’t want those big purchases to inflate my spending — my goal is to share averages with you guys. 

Also important to note, my income is lower in 2021 because I no longer have rental income from my house. So while overall spending is about equal, my total income is down. Call it the cost of living your dream!

CAREER & REMOTE WORK: Navigating time zones, feeling like you’re always-on, and actually being always-on because your employees don’t notice you’re in a different time zone: all challenges of a work-from-anywhere setup. But I have to say, my performance has not suffered — and that’s my bosses talking. Remote jobs are the way of the future, and it’s within your grasp.

LOVE & DATING: In 11 months of periodic dating, I’ve met my fair share of love interests, and I have to admit, all the false starts were really frustrating. At first. I know my nomad status makes me a wild card. Some men, I think, find my lifestyle attractive, but more in a curious sort of way, like they didn’t want to actually pursue me, they just want to learn from me. Maybe they want to be like me, but not date me. Other men are looking for a more stable woman. Again, you do you! No one should fault anyone who knows themself and is honest about what he or she wants. 

I’m interested in a natural connection, chemistry, communication, sustained by consistent actions over time and shared values. But I’m not really looking. I feel very fulfilled in my life as a single woman. I’m not rushing or forcing, I don’t do virtual dating, pen pals, or long distance… because if I was interested in that, I never would’ve left Phoenix! And I will not settle.

If I’ve discovered anything about love on this journey, is that there are good guys out there. They’re not all bad. I’ve met them, I’ve spent time with them, and it makes me very hopeful and optimistic that a relationship could develop. And while I believe that what’s meant to be will be, that you can’t force anything to come to be… I also know dating, courting, pursuit, connection, whatever you want to call it, must be done intentionally. Passive or lazy gets us nowhere, and there is no future in long distance. The world is small. If I meet someone, if we feel strongly about each other and we want to see each other again, he and I would make that happen. Intention. 

BONUS CATEGORY: Speaking of getting to know myself and being true to myself… more than ever before I’m thinking for myself, putting myself first, acting only on MY wants and needs, and finding my voice. This is probably THE most important, most exciting, most rewarding, most challenging, scariest, most valuable thing about nomad life. 

I’m saying yes to a lot of great things that weren’t possible in my earlier life, and I’m also saying no to a lot of things that I wasn’t brave enough before to reject.

  • Saying no to men, without feeling bad, or feeling like I need to provide an explanation. 
  • Saying no to anything outside the boundaries I’ve set — emotionally, time-wise, personal safety-wise, budget-wise.
  • Saying no to being a people-pleaser, to giving up too much, to taking on too much — to anything that comes at my own expense, even if it’s not understood or accepted by the other person.  

Bottom line, I don’t owe anything to anyone, and nobody is entitled to my energy, my time, or my body — or an explanation thereof — period. I do nothing without my own explicit say-so. 

And that’s been a journey in itself. I’m a product of the society I live in and my conditioning, and it takes a lot to break all that down. It’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about sharing my stories with you, fighting the status quo, and why I want this journey is going to continue… I feel like I’m only scratching the surface. I cannot appreciate your love and support enough!

A FINAL ASK: I love sharing my thoughts, challenges, and adventures with all of you! If you’ve enjoyed any of my content, please like, comment, share and spread the word. I want to reach more people and be a motivator of positive change. Plus, stay in touch about the memoir I’m presently writing about this journey, and subscribe to my email list. You won’t get more than a few emails a month!

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