Unverifiably Homeless – A 5 Step Guide to Becoming a Nomad

Where do you live? Oh, everywhere. But also, nowhere.

About this time last year, My fiance (now wife) and were discussing a plan for the following year. She, being a 4th year medical student would be forced to be semi-nomadic while she did 4 or 6 week rotations to conclude medical school. I, having no real restrictions about where I work from, was free to be wherever and thus we made the decision to be homeless.

The idea of a winnebago/camper type scenario was floated, but very briefly. Often, Laura would be working nights,  weekends, etc.. Which made living in a van sound a bit too “adventurous” given she needed to impress each person she worked with.

In the end, we “lived”all over, but we stayed at least a few weeks in the following:

  • Hector, NY – A lake, a trailer, and a boat. What more is there to life?
  • Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn, yes! Prospect Lefferts, meh…
  • South Orange, NJ – Hey suburbs, you’re not so bad.
  • Allentown, PA – Pennsylvania’s third most populous city, who knew?
  • Watkins Glen, NY – Hometown but downtown.
  • Portland, ME – Still the champ.
  • Roatan, Honduras – We should get married here.
  • Vietnam North, Central, South – So you are saying $50 USD makes us literal millionaires?
  • Tucson, AZ – It really is a dry heat.

Doing so wasn’t really all that difficult once you decide to go for it:

Bonus 1: Congrats, you’re Rich.

In addition to the fun of actually being nomadic, not having a home means you don’t pay rent or bills twice while you are traveling. If you pick your destinations right, you’re instantly become a rich person when you travel if you have no expenses at home.

We spent a month overseas during our wedding and honeymoon and it ended up being much much cheaper by the day. I spent a week at a spanish immersion program in Nicaragua it was $260 and included a place to stay and all my meals. You can afford a ton of $1 (or .20) beers when they are your only additional expense.

Step 1: Get Rid of Your Place, Lease, Bills.

1a: Sell/ Store/ Donate everything but a couple suitcases.

We were able to get rid of a slew of our belongings either by selling or donating them, and those items we did want to keep we were able to store in her parent’s basement. (Side Note: We should all move once every 5 years just to shed crap)

Step 2: Become Homeless.

Its easy, you just don’t have a home. Seriously, you walk out the door of the place you were living, but don’t walk into a new one.

Step 3: Pick a City. (town, village, pueblo)

Any city will do. Heck, it doesn’t have to be a city. For the most part, this was decided by which hospitals Laura was able to secure rotations with. But by not having a home to speak of, she was free to look for rotations anywhere in the U.S.

Bonus 2: Roommates!

Ok so sometimes this is a disadvantage.. But over the course of the last year we may have moved 10 times, but we also spent more quality time with our friends and family that any time in the past by crashing with them between rentals.

Step 4: Find a place to stay.

We stayed at a mix of AirBnB/VRBO rentals for the most part. (Side Note: The internet is awesome). The advantages are huge. You can try out all kinds of neighborhoods, apartment styles and sizes.

Everything is negotiable. Especially when you plan to stay for a full month. We were able to grab places between 20 and 40% off of the listed price on average.

5. Establish a “Routine”

Moving to a new place feels an awful lot like vacation if you don’t set yourself up some guide rails and routines early on. For me this means establishing a fitness plan, and tracking down a consistent coffee shop or co-working space near by. Having a defined workspace was incredibly helpful to maintaining productivity throughout the year. The added benefit is that it is a great way to meet locals quickly and get a feel for the neighborhood.
Staying in shape can be crazy difficult when you are moving constantly. The best bet is to decide upon your routine within a day of settling in to a new place. For me this ended up meaning a mix of local Crossfit gyms (when available), barn workouts, running, and biking (often as a means of transportation.)

All in all, the year was one we won’t forget. Travel and all the instability can come with some stress and angst but I wouldn’t change a thing. Each stop was great in its own way. In general our expectations were exceeded at every step along the way. Its a hell of a way to see new places if you can swing it.

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