“Oh! Where are you moving to?”
This is a question I’ve been asked a lot over the last few weeks, whenever people find out that I’m leaving town. Often they’re just making small talk, but in this case it’s not an easy question to answer quickly. I’ve tried a variety of responses:
“Lots of places, hopefully…”
“The answer to that is more complicated than you might think…”
Or my favourite so far: “Everywhere!”
About one week ago, I gave notice on my flat here in Manchester. For every one of my 30 years on the planet so far, I’ve lived in England, and all but one of them right here in the North West. During that time I’ve called as many as 17 different places home – an average of about 21 months per address! – so I’m no stranger to moving house…
Only this time it’s different. Because this time, I’m not moving into another flat or house. I won’t be signing another rental contract, phoning up utility companies with initial meter readings, registering for council tax, or any of the other countless chores I’ve done so many times before.
Instead, I’m undertaking what I can only describe as a lifestyle experiment. The plan, such as it is, goes something like this:
- Get rid of all my unnecessary crap.
- Carefully select the items that I really need, and pack them into two items of luggage – a suitcase and a backpack.
- Put whatever remains into storage.
Now, when I say “travel”, I’m not necessarily talking about a perpetual life on the road, or spending all my time abroad. I’m certainly hoping that international travel will be a part of it, at least in the short term (my choice of “a suitcase and a backpack” is not coincidental), but the main idea is to try and live with a minimal amount of stuff and without any ties to a particular location. I may not always travel, but wherever possible I want the option to do so, at short notice, without any hassle or upheaval.
The whole thing is made possible by the fact that I’m about to start a new job in which I’ll be working remotely over the internet – so, yes, I’m planning to see how I get on as a digital nomad. (Or, as some people call it, a “technomad” – a term which I think sounds a bit silly, but amuses me because of the “mad” part. Certainly the reactions of those I’ve told about this seem to be pretty sharply divided between enthusiastic support and the verbal equivalent of backing away cautiously.)
In any case, this will hopefully be an effort to document my experiences. I don’t intend it be a travel blog, because as I’ve said this experiment isn’t primarily about seeing the world – though travelling will inevitably be a part of it at times. I’m making no promises about how long it’ll last (either the experiment or the blog!), but it’s gonna be fun finding out. And at least I have something to write about for once!
So if you’re one of those who think it sounds awesome, maybe this’ll be useful, or at least interesting – and if you reckon I should be locked up, maybe what I write here will go some way towards explaining my reasons.
Answers to the big questions – “why?” and “how?” – to follow shortly…