I’m not really someone who’s known for her carefree spirit. I like routine and I like stability. When it comes down to it, my daily satisfaction is almost directly correlated with the amount of coffee consumed at one of my three trusted coffee shops, double cleansing and moisturizing twice, wearing one of roughly five pre-selected outfits, and checking as many things off of a lengthy to-do list as possible.
So it would surprise those of you who know me — now all of you as per the above description — that I’ve given up a permanent residence in a city I love to live and work in different cities for an indeterminate amount of time. I have the geographical freedom I’ve always wanted and boy, is it scary.
I understand that I’m a walking set of contradictions here. How could someone with such a need for consistency be interested in the uncertainties of life that come when you don’t have a permanent home? The answer there is that I’ve never equated location with stability. Travel, both for work and pleasure, has built out its own foundational corner in my routine.
In fact, from the moment I moved to Houston about five years ago, I treated it as a temporary home. I swapped apartments every year, never furnishing, always assuming that I would be on the road at some point. After all, I spent about 40 percent of my work year traveling as it was. I even dated like I was about to leave. I’m even surprising myself by saying it paid off.
With patience and persistence, I found a remote job. This was the final push I needed to make the jump to “digital nomad” life. As someone who relies on certain comforts pretty heavily, having a steady flow of income was essential in making this remote life a happy one for me.
Also, I have a rockstar support system. My parents think I’m a little crazy, but they support me. My sisters, too. I have three of them and when I doubt myself or this new life I’m building, they pull me back down to earth. They remind me that I’m well-equipped to handle the Airbnb without hot water or tough conversations about long distance with my S.O.
Another thing that’s helped me along the way is building out mini routines. Whenever I get to a new place, I immediately suss out the cozy cafes with reliable wifi and strong coffee. I pick a few nice books to tote around, too. I’ve found that books about other people and their own routines are soothing to me when I don’t have a daily flow yet. Read M Train by Patti Smith or Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami and you’ll see what I mean.
I also look for apartments with a lot of light in a busy part of town that have a washer/dryer. When you’re living out of a backpack, clean clothes are the goal, a goal much easier to attain when your laundry is down the hall instead of down the street. Did I mention I severely pared down my beauty routine as well? Pick your essentials and commit to them.
Essentially, in finding this new freedom, I’ve found a new way to live. I’ve learned to appreciate even more the small details that make a day great. I’ve learned to appreciate minimal possessions, too. Then there’s always phone conversations for when I’m feeling lonely and carbs and wine for when I’m feeling homesick. It took some trial and error, but I’m really happy where I am right now. This freedom is not forever, maybe, but it’s for me, for now. I am loving it.