Preparations before embarking on a life nomadic
I sooooo don’t have this blog title business down do I? Maybe it will get better over time.
Warning: Those of you who know me, know that my speech is colourful. I’ve realised that I think and subsequently write in equal technicolour. I will try my best to improve this in my writing, but…there will be bad language here. I tried to edit it out, but I couldn’t help myself for the bits that remain, they deserve it.
Also, this ended up so much longer than planned, must work on brevity.
One of my first observations of becoming a nomad is that I’ve started making lists. Well, more so than usual anyway. I’ve kind of always been a list maker, but they tend to be to-do lists. More recently, I’ve found myself just jotting things down in list form to capture the thoughts quickly. I’m not great at journaling, so I’ve ended up with a few lists. I’m trying to write more and become a better writer, but I’ll work my way up to that. In the meantime, lists are a great get out clause to writing properly.
Things you worry and care about before you go hoboing.
Here is the list of things you care about before you pack up your life and start going hoboing. Firstly, there are all the things you need to do before you move, sorting out and tying the loose ends of your life as it is now and the preparation for the life of a hobo.
- Research – consuming anything and everything I could find about being a digital nomad. I followed blogs, joined forums, asked questions, and watched videos by people doing it. All just to learn as much as possible about what I might need to think about.
- Working out finances and figuring out impact of new lifestyle on work expenses
- Getting rid of things
- Selling, giving to charity, throwing away a lot of things and it was a most cathartic and freeing thing to do.
- Packing up things you’re not getting rid of
- Storage for said things
- Moving said things
- If you don’t ask ,you don’t get, and sometimes you don’t even need to ask at all
- you’ll be amazed at the generosity of your friends at times like this. This is a big ol’ shout out to Sarah & Sam and Jo & Martyn, absolute legend lifesavers who are kindly looking after my remaining things
- Cancelling things such as utilities, broadband, council tax, that kind of stuff. People get flummoxed when they ask you for your forwarding address and you tell them you’re location independent and your address is a PO Box.
- Changing address and setting up a PO Box and realising that general life is not really structured around location independence
- Banks and the government need an actual address
- Mostly everyone else can cope with a P.O.Box address
- UK Postbox is an amazing online mailbox service – they will take pictures/scan of your mail envelopes and email them to you. You can then decide what should happen, shred, recycle, forward, scan and save to pdf etc. You can also ask questions of the mail team who always get back to you very quickly Great service
- Setting up Royal Mail redirection service to PO Box address
- Realising you’re always getting fleeced by letting agents even when you’re leaving, the fuckers!
- sorting carpet cleaning, end of tenancy cleaning bollocks.
- Oh and I get the benefit of paying the letting agents 60 quid for the privilege of leaveing…yaaaay for me! Fuckers!
Then there’s the “Life on the road” stuff you’ve got to sort out or worry about. For me, those things fall into a few categories: Travelling, Packing & Gear, Housing, Working, Life stuff, Living life & getting to know a place.
- Deciding on locations – where you are going and staying and working next. For me, I have an outline plan, but I’m trying not to book anything more than 2 months ahead.
- Figuring out travel arrangements
- how will I get to my next stop and when will that be
- will I need to come back to Birmingham (or anywhere else) at any point for work? Figuring out when that is and getting other people to commit to meeting dates so I can book travel in advance
- sorting out a co-working space
- Making your life fit into a medium size suitcase (no more than 20kg) and backpack (no more than 7kg) is hard
- Suitcase of choice: Antler suitcase which I scouted out in the shops first. I then got an amazing price from Luggage Superstore who also sent me some luggage scales as a very welcome free gift.
- Backpack of choice: Tortuga Air. I spent so much time trying to find a decent backpack that would be right for my needs. A lot of information out there about backpacks is focused on digital nomads who live out of one bag and don’t check it in when they’re travelling. That’s all well and good but I ain’t about that life, have they seen my hair products alone? Anyway, I’ll do a different post focused on gear reviews, but I think I’ve already decided I chose the wrong one. It’s not because its a bad backpack, but it was just the wrong choice for my needs.
- Packing cubes – I already liked packing cubes pre-becoming a nomad, but I was looking for a better quality set. Thanks to Matt W, he recommended the set that I ended up choosing, I’m pretty happy with them.
- Vacumn bags – these have been incredible, rolled up 3 jumpers nicely and also it doesn’t actually need a hoover because of these nifty valves they have at the bottom.
- Watching packing tutorials – The armygringo guy’s ones were totally addictive. He’s really quite droll, but I just love them and I now know how to do a mean army roll (I honestly didn’t rhyme that on purpose, it appears I rhyme without even trying). Some of the Tortuga Backpacks ones are pretty good too, though mostly not applicable to me.
- It took 3 attempts to get the packing right, but even then I knew it would be wrong. That’s why I left an emergency bag at my friends’ place (Thanks Charlotte & Rich). The idea is that when I visit home briefly to go to the office, I could dump/swap out the things I don’t need and maybe pick up some things I realise I do need. For example, I thought I might need a jumper or two in September. However, British weather being as unpredictable as it is, its been positively summery the entire time I’ve been in Brighton. The other day was the hottest September day on record or for a silly number of years for crying out loud! Will I need them when I move onto Mallorca in October? Maybe, but I would have appreciated a couple more t-shirts/casual tops and that pair of sandals I left behind. And I definitely didn’t need as many socks as I brought…why did I pack so many socks?!
- Where are you going to live?
- Figuring out good areas to live in and typical costs. I was lucky enough to know a couple of people here already and bless them, they allowed me to harass them for a few weeks with links to places I was considering and get their feedback.(Thanks Andrea & Janna). I also had a few recommendations and pretty much settled on living in Hove.
- Not worrying about where to live – I did start my search fairly early, but I found out that looking too soon was fruitless as flatshares just don’t come up that far in advance. I also quickly came to the realisation that even with the monthly discount and negotiating with the hosts, AirBnB just wasn’t going to be feasible in the UK and particularly in a city like Brighton which is coastal, seasonal and has greater demand than supply for AirBnBs, it just wasn’t in the hosts’ interest. I settled on Spareroom.com as my tool of choice and to look closer to the time.
- Worrying about where to live – when you’ve still not sorted anything one and a bit weeks before move date, the panic starts to set in. The weirdest thoughts start to go through your mind at this point as well, particularly because I had a bunch of stuff to do and was starting to stress out. Is everyone in Brighton, using spareroom.com rude or is it that they don’t like unusual names and brown faces. Odd I know (of course not I imagine you thinking), and I know such a thought would never occur to some of my friends. In fact it might make you uncomfortable to hear it out loud, but there are those whom I’m certain, recognise such a thought pattern because that’s our reality. But that’s a different blog post all together. Anyway, the point is, I just was not getting any responses from people on this site, even though I could tell they’d read my messages. The conclusions I came to about why I didn’t get many responses are:
- it is a high demand market
- most people are probably looking for more long term flatmates i.e. more than 1 month, probably 6 months (but if that’s the case, why set your minimum term as 1 month then? Why?!)
- people are a little rude, even though you get a lot of responses to an ad, and I may not be what you’re looking for…it really only takes a moment to reply
- Where and how am I going to work?
- Finding a reasonable co-working space. Key criteria here was that it had to be close to where I was living i.e walkable so that I could avoid a commute. I also had some budgetary requirements around what the monthly cost should be, ideally no more than £100-£120 a month and if they did day bundles (I’m yet to find one that does this), even better. I managed to get one for £70 for 2 days a week, mainly because my lovely friends from ProdPad let me crash in their office most of the time (thanks guys!).
- What will I need to work comfortably in a life where I’m moving from office to office? -I thought about what my mobile work set up will be, I’m quite conscious of not being hunched over a laptop and the impact that might have on my neck and shoulders which tend to collect my stress and ache with bad posture, so I invested in some gear
- Roost stand – its pretty pricey for a laptop stand, but its the only one of its kind I could find. It adjusts to allow you to use your laptop at eye level height and the portability is what sealed the deal really. Its lightweight and folds up allowing you to carry it in your bag no problem.
- Duet – I have a monitor at work and at home, so I thought I might miss a second screen. I got a nifty little app that lets me use my iPad as a second screeen which is quite handy. It did make me consider buying the new massive iPad Pro, but I quelled the impulse.
- I also took my mac keyboard and a mouse pad, but forgot my mouse, so ordered a Logitech mini mouse as soon as I realised.
- I also took along an extension lead for home and bought a european extension lead and converter for when I end up in Europe.
And finally, there’s the stuff that goes on in your brain that’s not to do with any of that:
- The fear – Being terrified/not terrified/excited all at once
- The doubt – is this the right thing to do, will it affect your career, am I too old for all this, should I be trying to get settled, everyone else is putting roots down while you’re going off….etc etc etc.
- Thankful that your friends and people around you have been most encouraging and not treated you like you’re a crazy person who makes bad choices
So there you have it, the seemingly insane amount of stuff it felt like I had to do before going. I’m fairly sure I’ve missed stuff out (I’ll add anything else that I remember later).
As I reached the end of that last week, a certain kind of calmness and turmoil settled at the same time. As the things I needed to sort out wound down, I felt more relieved, but that released more time to think. I was a bit excited but the fear kicked in. I think everyone else was more excited for me than I was at this point, but that’s partly the reason for this lifestyle choice, embrace the fear, enter the unknown and step outside of my comfort zone.