I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’re nomads, although we do live a bit of a nomadic lifestyle. We don’t exactly have a “permanent” address, and even when we do it’s definitely temporary. In the past three years the longest we’ll have lived in one dwelling is 5 1/2 months, and in that 5 1/2 months there were four separate weeks we weren’t even there!
This may sound kind of nifty, groovy, awesome, sick, or hella cool to some, but it does wear on you.
Many moons ago I worked front desk at a hotel in downtown Toronto. I remember talking to a guest who stayed there regularly on business. The conversation started off welcoming them back, merged into a brief chat about their insane accumulation of loyalty points, then took a 90 degree nose-dive about how they hated their “business travel life”. Every Sunday afternoon or evening they would check in, work long hours all week for their Investment Banking company, and come Thursday they would check out and fly back home (which if I recall was somewhere in the southern US).
A few of our family members on both sides either have had or currently have those much sought after “business travel jobs”, and after the initial novelty wears off, they all tend to say the same thing; “it sucks”.
The problem with business travel is just that – you’re there on business and rarely get time to go out and play. This does compare somewhat to our lifestyle. We work, so we’re not always out gallivanting around town (although it does seem like it sometimes as we do like to experience new stuff).
Bouncing around from dwelling to dwelling does wear on you though. It’s true, it’s kind of fun and sexy when you initially start this lifestyle. And it can be a little humorous when you say to friends or family; “I have no idea where I’ll be living next week/month”, but it can also be stressful at times too.
I once read Steve Martin’s biography; Born Standing Up, and he mentions how that type of road travel wore on him too, often waking up disoriented and not remembering what city, let alone what hotel he was in.
Things aren’t that drastic for us, but to get to my point, we do miss stuff from a more stationary life. Stuff like:
A bed to call my own
We’ve slept on some pretty comfortable king size beds, sometimes sharing them with small dogs and we still enjoyed an amazingly comfortable and comfortably amazing sleep. And we’ve also had to sleep on some pretty uncomfortable and much smaller beds, waking up sore and achy. Having your own comfy, cozy bed is nice to have, and it’s also something you should spend some money on too. Comfort is important, and it helps make for a great sleep.
Not having to care about OPS
I take tremendous care when moving into someone else’s home and minding OPS (Other People’s Stuff). If I have to move something I pick it up so as not to leave a scratch or mark on the floor by dragging it. I don’t view the place as mine, and the stuff surely isn’t mine, so I’m cautious to try not to break or damage OPS.
We’ve been pretty lucky with our house sitting record as well. Nothing of the homeowners has “had legs and up and walked away”, save some cheap “costume” jewelry from a house sit in Panama. I put “costume” in quotes because I don’t even know what “costume” jewelry is. Heck, our wedding bands are made from cocoa nuts — that’s how much I care about jewelry. But it still sucks when an owner asks if you know anything about their missing “costume” jewelry, regardless if it only cost $20 or so. That being said, having to be mindful and aware of OPS is stuff I’d rather not do. I’m not a stuff person.
Having my own drawers
No, I don’t wear other people’s undies, I’m talking about dresser drawers. If a house sit is a week or less, we probably aren’t unpacking much or taking over a drawer or closet hangers. Even the longer house sits see us leaving stuff in a suitcase and setting said suitcase aside. It’s just not worth cluttering up anything else if I’m not going to use something. T-shirts are a good example. I still have plenty of them, but I wasn’t wearing many in the winter months, so most of them stayed hidden away. Now if I only had drawers for my shirts!
Proper Kitchen Appliances/Utensils and Such
Okay, this is just me getting picky, and I won’t go into the coffee machines we’ve endured, as perhaps you already know my stance on those asinine Keurig machines. After years of travel involving a plethora of kitchens, we’ve discovered that like snowflakes, no two kitchens are the same. From potato mashers to toasters, spatulas to frying pans, so many kitchens we’ve occupied have lacked at least one thing or another that we would typically use. Our current abode didn’t have a potato masher, but a dollar at a thrift shop fixed that (and it’s one of those good stainless steel ones from the 70’s too). Sure, we could have used a fork, but that would have just a) bent the fork and b) ended up with lumpy mashed potatoes. Hey, I’m Irish, I want my spuds how I like my spuds, and I like my mashed potatoes as smooth as a Brazilian…maybe I’ll just stop right there.
There are some other things I might be missing from the above list (pun intended, oh wait, that was a double-entendre I think, whatever), but there’s also stuff I don’t miss at all about having my own place in my old stationary life. I fricken LOVE spring – at least I used to when I had a place to call home. Spring mean cleaning the yard, planting new plants or transplanting existing ones. Spring meant planting veggies. Spring meant new life.
But I also enjoyed cozying up to the fire with a movie on, or enjoying a cup of coffee on a cold Saturday morning in my robe (robes are too big and bulky for a nomadic lifestyle).
And I enjoyed puttering around the house looking for things to fix, update, or just think of the possibilities.
That being said, there was definitely stuff I didn’t enjoy at all about the stationary lifestyle, stuff like:
Mowing the lawn
Lawns are just so stupid. I think I enjoyed mowing my lawn about five times in the hundreds of times I mowed my lawn. My corner lot used to take me over an hour to mow the lawn when we first bought our house. Over the course of 12 years I planted so many different garden beds I was able to split mowings into a 10 minute job on the front, and a 15 in the back. Lawns should be gardens anyway. Grow food, not lawns. And for those who say “buy a condo”. No thanks, been there done that and don’t want to have to do it again if I can avoid it.
Cleaning the house
Oh man this chore sucks the hind one, doesn’t it?!? And now I’m doing it at someone else’s house, WTF! That was the beauty of Latin American house sits. Expats often had hired help to clean and garden so all we had to do was pay them (and try to make sure $20 jewelry didn’t go missing).
The Money Pit
I dumped a lot of money into my first home. Granted, I got plenty of enjoyment out of the projects I did, but just like the old adage about “More to Clean” with a big house or big lot, the same is true for when things break or need fixing/replacing. More light bulbs to replace. More lawn to mow. More roof to replace. More siding to clean. More heating costs. More water usage. And you know what that means…
Overall I can’t say the nomadic lifestyle is any better than a more traditional, stationary lifestyle. They’re two polar opposite lifestyles, of course. Having lived both though, I have a deeper appreciation for each of them. Living a nomadic lifestyle, I’ve learned not to be a mass consumer, to utilize what I have and to appreciate that, and to enjoy experiences. As someone who lived a stationary lifestyle prior to that, I now know I don’t need to buy a big house because the bank says I can, nor do I have to fill up my house with furniture and trinkets and wall units and prints and such, or have the decor be up to date according to “Expensive But Pretty House and Home Magazine”.
But living one lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t experience another. Lifestyles aren’t like buying new drawers (undies), you can try a new lifestyle on for a while and if you don’t enjoy it, you don’t have to keep it. Try doing that with new undies! But lifestyles are like undies, it’s nice – and even recommended – to change them, even if only once in a blue moon.
Now go sell all your stuff and try on a new lifestyle!