Why I Believe a Nomadic Life is the Best Life

I’ve always been curious — what is the best life?

A recent discovery for myself —

I believe a nomadic life is the best life.

Now — I cannot say it is the best for everyone, nor should a nomadic life be the best for everyone. If anything, I think living a nomadic life is like being part of the “nouveau rich”— a privilege.


Hanoi, 2019

This is why I think the nomadic life is the best:

  1. Discomfort: Ironically enough even though modern society tells us that happiness is comfort, I believe the opposite. Comfort makes us weak and bored. Discomfort is what raises us. Just consider the joy of going camping in “uncomfortable” situations. You are actually happier when you realize this truth: You don’t really need much to be happy.
  2. Uberlight living: When you live nomadically, you cannot accumulate a lot of physical stuff. Thus, you stop valuing physical stuff. This also helps you simplify your life — you only own the few tools you need to do your creative work. And the lighter we live, the more creatively productive we are.
  3. Economic: When you live nomadically, you actually save a lot of money. You don’t accumulate debt, buy houses, or cars. All you gotta do is feed yourself and pay for rent/airbnb/hotel somewhere. And because you cannot accumulate stuff, you end up buying a lot less stuff.
  4. More richer experiences: I think in life, buying experiences is one of the best “bang for the buck” investments we can make in life. Experiences change us, form us and educate us. And these experiences stick with us. When I live nomadically, I’m more exposed to novel and interesting experiences. Thus my mind is expanded, and I grow much faster.

The upside of having a global perspective

Hanoi, 2019

I was in Hanoi for the last 2 weeks, and wow; what an eye-opening experience.

Asia is the place to be right now; rapid economic development, access to better tools (I’m loving my new Xiaomi 9 SE phone which I bought in Vietnam, only $350 with a better phone camera than an iPhone Xs).

Hanoi, 2019 #xiaomi9se

With foreign cultures you are exposed to new ideas and new modes of living.

For example what I love being in Vietnam; they’re not held to the same Puritanical-Christian-Judeo moralism in America. Vietnamese people work hard, are economical yet still indulge in luxury (all without puritanical guilt).

Of course there isn’t a perfect culture in the world, but this is what has helped me:

Learn about new cultures and adopt/integrate new cultural ideas you like into your own life.

For example when I lived in Japan, all the dudes walked around naked in the saunas with no ounce of shame of being naked (compared to the states, where we are all either afraid of being naked, or homophobic to a ridiculous degree). Now when I’m at the gym in America, I walk around naked with no shame.

More creation

I believe as visual artists, we are happiest when we are creating. The more we create, the happier we are! When we live abroad or nomadically, you will create more artwork, photos, images, videos etc.

Of course you don’t need to travel or live nomadically to find inspiration to create. But it certainly is FAR EASIER to find inspiration/motivation in a novel environment to create new things!

But when do you plan on “settling down”?

I have no idea what the next 1-2 years of my life looks in advance. And I have no idea what the future holds for me.

But this is my one certainty:

I will never be “settled” in one spot for the rest of my life.

For example in the past, Cindy and I have lived “semi-permenently” in certain places like Berkeley (2-3 years). And I forsee in the future we will spend some time living “settled” for certain periods of time. But for the rest of our lives, I think our location/environment/life will always be in a state of change and flux.

How to live a nomadic life

Now the million dollar question:

How do I live a nomadic life?

Some practical suggestions:

  1. Get a job which allows you to live abroad, travel without much commitment. For example, airline worker, English teacher, tour guide, academic, or tech job which allows you to live and work remotely. There are a lot of traditional jobs that allow this. You might make less money and have less “security”, but I think you’ll be far happier and more excited in life!
  2. Become self-employed: Become an entrepreneur and make money by yourself, for yourself. For example I teach workshops, sell products, etc.
  3. Sell or get rid of all your shit: The more stuff you possess, the more stuff which possesses you. Either donate, sell, give away, or throw away most of your shit. The only essential stuff I’ve found to be really useful in life include 2x pairs of Merino wool clothing, laptop, camera, phone, and iPad. All this can fit inside a single backpack.
  4. Change your mode of thinking: Beyond “lifestyle”; we must consider our “thinkstyle“. Think differently from the masses and what society tells you. Dictate happiness, success, and your own mode of living for yourself. Don’t superimpose it on others, but don’t let others superimpose their thinkstyle upon you.

Never stop experimenting with your life

Never stop experimenting with your lifestyle. Keep modifying things, and never strive to improve your life.

But as a reminder, improving your life isn’t the following:

  1. Having more money won’t necessarily improve your life.
  2. Owning more things will probably worsen your life (more stuff, more stress, more burdens)

I don’t got the answers for you, nor do I have any ultimate answers for myself. But I encourage you to strive to gain deeper truths about yourself and your own personal preferences of living in life, and no matter what — never settle.


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