Source – nationalpost.com
– “…The new nomads are largely Millennials and young Gen Xers who eschew material ownership of items like homes, cars and closets full of luxury goods in favour of experiences – especially shareable ones – and quality of life. They’re part of the “asset-light generation,” either by choice or circumstance, that frees them from the tangible restraints that kept their parents and grandparents in one place”:
How nomad culture and rejecting the concept of ‘home’ has returned to the 21st century – By Sabrina Maddeaux
There’s no place like home – or is there?
Residing at a permanent fixed address, sentimentally dubbed “home,” has been a pillar of modern Western society. We obsess over being able to own property and dismiss those who rotate through a series of public shelters and underpasses as transients. We define ourselves, in part, by what neighbourhood we live in, how we decorate our enclaves and maintain our lawns. Subscribers to Marie Kondo’s minimalist doctrine are more dedicated to the cause than most Catholics these days. A house or plot of grass is much more than just property – it’s an extension of ourselves.
However, a growing number of people are choosing to reject this centuries-old idea altogether. They see fixed addresses as limiting, even archaic, and instead choose to hop from place to place. These constant travellers self-identify as “nomads,” conjuring up images of prehistoric humans roaming the Earth to find new fields of animals to hunt and plants to gather. While many of these people are digitally-savvy entrepreneurs, part of the “digital nomad” subculture, nomads also encompass ridiculously wealthy trust-fund kids, jobless wanderers and even senior citizens.
Also referred to as the location-independent movement, today’s nomads live and sometimes work in countries for periods of weeks or months before moving on to their next destination. Why limit yourself to a cubicle or space-challenged condo when you can spend a week in Bali before jetting off to Thailand?
The new nomads are largely Millennials and young Gen Xers who eschew material ownership of items like homes, cars and closets full of luxury goods in favour of experiences – especially shareable ones – and quality of life. They’re part of the “asset-light generation,” either by choice or circumstance, that frees them from the tangible restraints that kept their parents and grandparents in one place.
Socially, this generation is able to stay in touch with friends, family and potential co-workers via social media and other digital channels. They’re not likely to be bogged down by spouses or children at this point in their lives. With few physical or sentimental responsibilities to tie them down, they’re free to wander.
Why stick around in one place when you’ll likely never be able to afford a home anyways?
On one hand, the new nomadic lifestyle can be seen as the ultimate luxury. Lotteries have advertised the idea of trading in a stuffy office for a tropical beach for decades. Startups like JetSmarter (which raised $20 million from Jay-Z and the Saudi Royal Family) and BlackJet are basically Uber for private jets, allowing those with money to destination hop with ease and comfort. Nomadlist.com ranks top destinations for nomads based on factors like cost, internet, weather, fun, nightlife, female-friendliness, clean air and safety in real time.
Top of the list at the time of writing are Budapest, Bangkok, Berlin, Dallas and Miami. Other frequent list toppers include lesser-known cities Plovdiv (Bulgaria), Taghazout (Morocco), Busan (South Korea) and Canggu (Bali). A new app called StayAwhile offers a subscription-style service with a flat monthly fee for travellers who want to stay in multiple boutique hotels for short spurts. Even upscale private-members club Soho House got in on the trend with their Soho Works international network of round-the-clock workspaces for creatives.
High-profile events like Art Basel (now in Miami, Hong Kong and Basel), big-name film festivals, international charity galas and other cultural events encourage the young and loaded to chase the next “It” experience abroad like their parents chase luxury cars and handbags. The ill-fated Fyre Festival, depending on how you view it, was either a beneficiary or victim of this insatiable thirst and excess of disposable income.
On the other hand, a large part of the nomadic trend is also driven by lack of opportunity and stability for young people in Western nations. Why stick around in one place when you’ll likely never be able to afford a home anyways? While digital nomads are free from desks and 9-5 jobs, they’re also a reflection of the increasing reliance on contract and freelance work that comes without job security, benefits or steady paycheques. The dollars they do make often go much further in the Caribbean and south-east Asia, providing a chance to live a lifestyle that’s increasingly unattainable back home. Ex-pats and other nomads often provide quick bonds and a sense of community that disenfranchised, isolated Millennials can struggle to find in their home country.
Rather than invest in the future, the nomad culture largely uses the pay-as-you-live model capitalized on by apps like Airbnb and Zipcar. While life may be fun and beaches at the moment, where does that leave constant travellers a decade from now when they’re suddenly middle-aged and tired of circling the world with few savings and assets? For those who eventually want families, even the most fervent nomads will admit the lifestyle isn’t child-friendly.
Nomads aren’t all young people, though. The other end of the spectrum sees senior citizens choosing to live permanently on cruise ships rather than retirement homes. For some, this is a luxurious choice, but for others, it’s because cruise ships can actually offer cheaper accommodations and higher-quality services and food. When you consider that some assisted living facilities charge between $3,000 to $9,000 a month or more, cruise ships begin to look like a fire sale.
As in traditional living arrangements, the nomadic movement increasingly has no middle ground. You’re either a rich kid or a privileged creative jet-setting from exotic locale to exotic locale with few responsibilities, or a disillusioned citizen of the western world who no longer sees the value in calling a place home. Either way, the trend can be seen as a reflection of increasing income disparity.
While, on the surface, working and living from beach to beach may seem like a dream, it’s progressively an indictment of the economic and social state of affairs here. It’s an upside-down world when winning the lottery doesn’t mean a trip of a lifetime, but rather the chance to call a place home.