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How I became a modern day nomad, and how you can too
"Wow. I wish I could do that."
But here's the thing: almost anyone can do what I'm doing. Despite being a much more interesting lifestyle, it's not particularly difficult or expensive.
This is the story of how I became a modern day nomad, and how you may become one too if the idea appeals to you.
I quit my job a year ago. It was a great job by any metric, but something about sitting inside on a computer on sunny spring days seemed wrong. What was I doing with my life?
A couple months later I was free. I wrote a book about my knowledge and experiences gained from living with the most famous pickup artists in the world, and I began selling it.
I still had to work, but my work was totally mobile. My book was sold online only. I could write from anywhere, take care of customers from anywhere, and make phone calls from anywhere.
This led to questions like, "Why am I living in Austin?", which led to questions like, "Why am I living in the U.S.?", which led to questions like, "Why pick just one place to live in?"
And so the idea was hatched. I'd pick six different countries to live in, and would move every two months.
And I didn't want to backpack either. Staying in a dorm room in some dirty hostel didn't hold much appeal. I wanted to live like a local and really experience the country and the culture.
My good friend Todd listened as I explained the plan.
"Count me in."
We wrote a dream list of all the countries we'd like to visit in the first year. Narrowing the list down was difficult, but we cut it down to six main destinations as well as a few small side trips.
Panama, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Qatar, France, Australia, New Zealand.
Deciding to do the trip was the hardest part. Once you pick a date to leave and decide that you'll do it no matter what, the rest falls in place.
We sold everything. I had an RV, a condo, a car, as well as tons of computers, clothes, and other junk like that. Even if we didn't have existing online businesses, our fire sales would have bought us enough time to start our businesses on the road.
With just a few hours to go, we were both down to just one small 28L Backpack each. Over the prior few months we had researched the very best gear to buy, and our bags were full of our findings. In those tiny backpacks we stuffed everything we'd need to live and work comfortably for the rest of the year.
Leaving people behind is difficult too, of course. I left a girlfriend, and Todd and I both said goodbye to a lot of friends and family. Internet makes that a lot better, though. Making calls with our VOIP Enabled phones is the same as using them as cell phones, and AIM and e-mail keep us in touch too. Some of our friends even come out and visit us on the road.
We anticipated that life would be totally different once we left, and that it would be a lot harder. This hasn't been true at all. Once you adjust to a new country after a day or two, it's business as usual.
There are a lot of differences, but the basics are the same. People are friendly and helpful everywhere. Good food can be found everywhere. Supermarkets are all basically the same.
It isn't very expensive either. We bought our plane tickets through Airtreks, which averaged less than $500 per month. In Panama we had a two bedroom apartment with a large balcony overlooking the harbor. In Tokyo we have a large room with two beds in a big house in Shibuya, one of the best areas downtown. Both accommodations cost us only $550 per month each.
Because anything purchased has to be lugged to the next destination, we don't buy anything other than food, which might be another $500 a month each. For just over $1000 a month we have the luxury of living all over the world, learning and experiencing more every month than we used to in a year.
There are no significant hidden costs or hassles. Living as a nomad is just as manageable as living in a single location, but a lot more fun and exciting.
Even if you don't want to start your own internet business, there is a lot of work that can be done by contract. To start, check out eLance, or rentacoder.com. Between those two sites you can get paid to write, edit, create web pages, research, or program. If you can't do any of those things now, you could surely teach yourself within a few months using free resources online and a little practice.
Thanks to technology, becoming a nomad is in reach of most people. If you're interested enough to read this far, it's probably something you could do too.
What's stopping you?