Guest post: How Working Remotely and Nomading Can Save You Money
There's a few select blogs that I enjoy following, and Carl's 1500 Days to Freedom is always at the top. He's transparent, helpful, and funny! Life is too short to be serious and "hustling" all the time. He's also got a super cool part of his blog called "10 Questions" which gives the reader a candid picture into the lives and methods of other bloggers. Check the guest post I did for him below, make sure you subscribe to follow his travels and check out the Mile Hi FI Podcast!
This post originally appeared on 1500 Days to Freedom and has been republished with permission.
Looking back over the last decade, and especially the last 18 months, it’s incredible how the way we work has changed. I kind of feel bad for smaller cities and destination towns like Asheville, NC, which are having to deal with an influx of people putting strains on their resources and infrastructure. But hopefully, their economies are thriving!
Back in the good old days of pre - Great Recession, going into the office was seen as a status symbol. I had friends in high school whose parents would drop them off in snazzy business attire, and we would watch shows and clips of beaming glass skyscrapers and packed subways. Living in the suburbs, we all thought that’s what you're supposed to do and it’s a good life. Who doesn’t want the corner office?
Movies like Office Space might make us laugh, but the thought of working in a gray maze of cubicles and fluorescent lighting, (not to mention bosses who scold you for not following “memos”) was growing increasingly repulsive to many people.
I was fortunate in that I never really commuted, even to this day after being in the workforce for a decade. For those of you who commute, especially long-distance, I don’t know how you do it! Living close to work was an investment in my mental health and time.
Also, I’d like to take this moment to remind any young professionals, graduates, or career changers that an office, or even desk job, is not the end all be all. You can do SO many other things, such as become a plumber, policeman, utility worker, hospitalist, P.E teacher, or light rail operator. Don’t think an office job is all there is. Think about what you really want, do your research, network, and put yourself out there!
For those of us who are slaves to our laptops most of the day though, here is how living a nomadic lifestyle can actually save you money while you travel and explore.
Commuting: Ok, I already hinted at this earlier, so this is an easy one. However, I’ve noticed commuting became second nature to people, thinking it was completely normal and acceptable to commute an hour each way to their jobs, 5 days a week! Talk about a drain on mind and wallet.
Most of the friends I talked to didn’t even bother looking for a job closer to them or think of moving closer to their job. This also relates to having more space than they needed (which is potentially useful now, since people are spending more *working* hours at home).
Since transportation is usually the second-largest expense in one’s budget, eliminating commuting makes quite the dent. Now, you could argue by working from home during the pandemic, you don’t need to be nomadic to save this way.
You may be right, however, many offices are planning to bring workers back, at least part-time. Which means commuting, parking, gas, insurance, and all that other fun stuff for people who are too scared to take the bus or carpool.
Housing: Ok, you might rolling your eyes at how that’s possible, but hear me out. Let’s say you rent an apartment. You are typically locked into a lease, pay utilities, as well as parking. You might even pay renters insurance and a fee for your pet. If you are a nomad, you probably will use Airbnb, which usually facilitates discounts for 30+ nights, or you can do what I did, find rooms through Furnished Finder. I liked Furnished Finder because there was no booking/cleaning fee and the taxes were usually waived upfront for 30+ nights. I also found it to be cheaper than Airbnb in the cities I was staying in.
Plus, when I found hotels, many of them would negotiate substantial discounts for consistent occupancy. In both Austin and Dallas, I found that the hotels would cost be just over $1,200 for the entire month. That’s less than a studio apartment rent in many cities!
On top of that, I didn’t have any booking/application fees, didn’t sign a long-term lease, didn’t pay for utilities, wifi, laundry, and parking. Plus, the gym was free and onsite, plus a pool and the room was already furnished and cleaned once a week. All for $1,260! I did budget for tips as housekeepers are underappreciated these days.
Entertainment: When you are moving from one city to another, you usually can only scratch the surface of what it has to offer. Rather than spending money at the movies, bars, or ball games back home, you can let your sense of wonder loose and just wander around town, using Google Maps as your free tour guide.
I loved just walking around downtown, historic neighborhoods, and college campuses. Parks trails, libraries, many museums, and landmarks are also free. When I lived in Tennessee, I was so excited to find the state parks were free! Even though I didn’t stay for long, I felt compelled to donate to them for the great work they were doing, such a gem for the state.
Taxes: Depending on how long you stay (some states have residency requirements) and where you go, you can save money not only in lower cost of living cities, but also in one of the 9 states that don’t have a state income tax.
Vacations: This might seem odd at first as well, but think about it. When you live in the same place all year, don’t you plan vacations and getaways for a change of scenery? Don’t you budget all year long to spend a week or two at the beach, and then intersperse long weekend trips to spa resorts (who am I kidding, this is FI readers we’re talking about)?
Well, when you are nomading around, you’re living on vacation! No need to budget for plane trips, rental cars, and overpriced vacation packages, because you’ll already be in bliss mode moving from city to city.
Consumerism: If there’s one thing that nomading taught me, it’s that you can’t make your car bigger (unless you get a roof rack, but that’s beside the point). Especially since I had a Prius, not an Escalade to pack my belongings into, I refined my process for sorting what I valued and started embracing minimalism more.
It’s like a forced cleanse to figure out what really matters, and what you really need. Would you rather take that blender you’ll use every day or that huge candle sconce you didn’t even remember buying? You’ll start to realize you don’t need to buy that much stuff, and that lesson will stay with you long after your nomading chapter comes to an end (if it ever does!)