The Nomadic vs. Stationary Lifestyle

The Nomadic vs. Stationary Lifestyle

Written by Mark

Topics: Uncategorized

What lifestyle is better to lead?

This question often launches a series of points and counterpoints in favor of one lifestyle over the other.  The fallacy in this line of thinking is that it targets general ideas instead of application in real life.  It doesn’t take into account each person’s individual situation and desires.

It is such an overgeneralization to state there are two camps; the nomads and the ones that have settled down.  These are labels.  Labels cannot possibly describe the sheer vastness of life circumstances that exist.  The labels make it easy to denigrate one side or the other.

“Those nomads are hoots.  They’re arrogant crazy hooligans upsetting normal societal confines.”

“Those settled people following the American Dream are enslaved to ideals they don’t understand and can’t break free from.”

Who is right?  Does it matter? Technically, they are both right, and they are both wrong.  The view on the nomadic or stationary lifestyle is in the eye of the beholder.  Is it Nomadic vs. Stationary?

Or is it…

Vagrant vs. Template

Lost vs. Established

Mobile vs. Grounded

Independent vs. Conformist

Wanderer vs. Conventional

Free vs. Enslaved

Homeless vs. Having a Home

People following the template lifestyle look down upon those that follow a non conventional path.  This is the herd mentality. This has been established.  It can be so hard to do things differently.  If you have the urge to do something different, you know those feelings of uneasiness that creep in and make your stomach uncomfortable as you imagine how people you know would react.  It’s hard to break free from these thoughts.  We are indoctrinated our entire lives to think a certain way.  People who challenge the status quo are ostracized or deemed crazy.

There is another side of the coin.  There are a group of us nomads, independent thinkers, and entrepreneurs; those lifestyle igniters trying to break free from the template lifestyle and living life on their own terms.  Sometimes, they ostracize the people who choose to settle down and live life in the conventional way.  This is just as wrong.   Who are the nomads to say what is right for the settlers and who are the settlers to say what’s right for the nomads? Additionally, who are the nomads to say that the “settlers” aren’t independent thinkers, lifestyle igniters, or not trying to break free and live life on their own terms?  Staying in one place is enjoyable to many.  The familiarity, continuity, and proximity to family and friends is highly valued.  This continuity only becomes a problem if it becomes, and burden and hinders growth and happiness.

Mark, tell me what lifestyle is better to lead!

Making a blanket statement about which lifestyle is the correct one would be ridiculous.  Everyone has their own unique situation, and their own unique hopes, wants, and desires.  A nomad putting down someone who lives in the same place is just as wrong as someone living in the same place to put down a nomad.  The lifestyle that is better to lead is the one that works for you.

Are You Happy?

Happiness is what it comes down to.  Are you happy being a nomad?  Are you happy staying in the same place?  You can have a lifestyle that encompasses principles from both.  There are innumerable combinations of lifestyles that incorporate values from each system.  Some are more nomadic.  Some are more settled.  Incorporate ideals from each lifestyle to find that perfect combination.  The combination that works the best for you will make you the happiest.

Right now I love being a nomad in Chicago. Some would say that I’m not a nomad.  “You live in the same city.”  “You’re a settler.”  “You just move around in the same place.”  I guess I’m a Nomettler or a Settlad.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m tailoring my life in the way that I’d like.  It doesn’t fit into the confines of a label.  Once I start my nomadic world journey, my life will.  I will be a nomad in the literal sense.  After that I may want to be a settler.  I may fall in love with a place and settle down there.  I may return to Chicago.  I may move to Austin, Texas.  The concept of movement and what I value is constantly changing and will continue to change.  It’s impossible to state which label is better to slap onto one’s personal existence.  The question is not, “Which lifestyle is better to lead,” but “What lifestyle is better for me.”

Photo from flickr

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12 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Brandon says:

    For sure man, when I first started to travel, the kinda travel where there was no return, the initial dream was to set something up where I could do this for the rest of my life. My mind has swayed in a million directions since then and I think I’m starting to realize what spurred to initial decision to go off and live life on a whim. For me, it’s less about the actual lifestyle of being able to be wherever you want, whenever you want, but its the value that comes from breaking out of that herd mentality that you get to experience while being nomadic, completely relient on your own opinions and instincts. So, if the goal of being nomadic is to open ourselves up and become better people, there has to be somewhere to return to where we can utilize our better selves and help to change society, the template society that seems to be sticking in the same spots generation after generation. It’s great because there is a large number of people taking the necessary risks to discover what it is that they were meant for, and when a society is formed out of a group of individuals all persuing their highest potential, there’s no stopping the positive force that can have on the world.

    • Mark says:

      Brandon, the experience of breaking out of the herd mentality is incredible. You have time to think for yourself and as opposed to having society think for you. Not everything society does is necessarily incorrect. However, taking the time to analyze your personal value system and what is right for you is what’s important.

      Taking the necessary risks in order to find that perfect balance is key. It’s exciting to think of the potential of society growing and changing with a positive force fueled by individuals pursuing their highest potential.

  2. A good post which provokes a lot of thought. When I was younger I was always pressured. Time to get your feet on the property ladder, time to have babies was all I heard.

    The problem was I did not want to put a noose round my neck for the next 25 years either in the terms of a mortgage or someone being emotionally dependent on me. The thought filled me with fear. It was not until I was about 30 that I could finally say no, I don’t want a mortgage and I am never going to be a mother.

    I see my friends lives and I get the feeling that they are missing out on so much. However they probably think the same about me. It is all about what we want in life and whether we are being true to ourselves when we head down a certain path.

  3. Mark says:

    Natalie,
    You think your friends are missing out on so much and they think the same about you. There are different things that we miss out on by taking different paths. There are also things you experience by taking a different path. It depends on what you value if you’re missing out on something or not. If someone isn’t happy and they value one thing but take the path of the other, then they are truly missing out. It’s possible for two completely different paths to make two completely different people happy.

    The problem is when people feel pressured into a certain path and embark on it, even though they are unhappy. You rose above the pressure and followed your journey to Turkey. It’s hard to embark on a different path, but when that path is the one that feels right and not the one you’re told is right, it’s incredibly rewarding.

  4. NomadicNeill says:

    I’m still torn between the two! At the moment I’m settled in London though have a short trip to China planned.

    Like you said you have to choose what is best for yourself.

    Traveling around the world is pointless if you are just doing it because you think that’s the trendy non-conformist thing to do.

    • Mark says:

      Neill, It’s a constant struggle for me to! I’m torn too! As I go back and forth enjoying aspects of both it’s working for me right now, and I’m happy. As soon as it isn’t, I’m off to one extreme or the other. Glad to hear you’re alive and well and settled in London. Looking forward to hearing more about this trip to China!

  5. Hackman says:

    Mark, I agree. Although I have never lived as a “vagabond”, I understand that it is not exactly looked upon by the majority as the way to live. But I do find in every situation you have agreers and disagreers. I have gone through many situations where people have thought I was crazy. But I have found that my closest circle of friends are who have supported me, and that tends to be a younger generation. They trust my decision making. Like, when I decided to marry my Brazilian wife (now 5 years and running) in Vegas after we only knew each other for 2 months. Even some of my closest friends tried to convince me otherwise. If had no supporters I would have gone through with it, because I trust myself. For me it was a win win situation. If it didn’t work out, at least I went with my gut and tried. Or when my wife and I bought a house in Brazil a few years later, although I had less resistance, I think because my past decision making proved fruitful, I still had skeptics. And while my friends who bought houses here in the U.S. with 30 year mortgages, crying about their value plummeting. I was quietly watching my property value double, and it will be paid off in a year and half. Again skeptics here were mostly older generation, and I actually had some admirers during this decision. Or if they weren’t admirers then they certainly are now. I think as people get older and used to their situation it is harder to imagine alternatives. Maybe I only know a conservative older generation mostly from family, which is hard to imagine how I turned out the way I did, but I find that our generation is more willing to go against the norm. I even have an extremely conservative friend who is willing to drop everything, sell his house (at a loss of course, poor guy) and move to Vietman. I have been considering making a drive from LA to Rio down the Pacific coast, and I tell you I have very little enthusiasts about this plan. The only ones who are excited are surfers, go figure. They will do anything for a good uncrowded wave.

    I have approached every situation with a feeling my gut that my decision is the right one, and if it doesn’t work out at least I tried. That I would at least learn from my failures or experiences. I have never regreted anything and can sit here now at work (I know you remember work) with a smile on my face with amazing memories. As well anticipation for the future. I think it is living against that norm that makes life so exciting.

    Thanks for the blog, I haven’t said “Yeah” in my head so many times in a while. Keep on keepin on.

  6. Mark says:

    Hackman, it’s comments like these that make blogging worthwhile. Thanks for the detailed and profound comment, and words of support.

    Reading about your personal journey is exciting and uplifting. I love how you just go with your gut and do what feels right. Marrying your Brazilian wife in Las Vegas after knowing her for 2 months and purchasing a house in Brazil is definitely unconventional. The conventional line of thinking deemed that behavior incredibly risky and ridiculous. However, you did what you wanted and went ahead with your gut. The unconventional actions worked out better than you could have ever possibly imagined. Not only did it work out, but it turned out fricken cool! Sometimes risky isn’t so risky and safe isn’t so safe.

    You are lucky to have a close circle of friends that provide support. Most people do not have such a support system. Unconventional thinking makes people nervous. Supporting it for them can be hard. There can be genuine worry for you or plain sickness at the thought of them having to analyze their own lives.

    Your friend should move to Vietnam if that’s what he wants to do. Making the decision to sell a house at a loss can be one of the hardest things ever because it can feel like admitting failure. Waiting for the market to come back is the conventional line of thinking. But how long must one wait and be chained to a place they do not like for “investment purposes”? It’s a risk to stay. It may never come back. Time is forever lost. You can’t ever get time back. Good for your friend. Wish him my best.

    Your trip from LA to Rio sounds incredible. Start planning that! Let the excitement for it ooze through your veins. Though, stay out of the Darien Gap in Colombia… Have yourself ferried from Panama to Colombia and avoid that overland crossing. Just a small speed bump along the way.

    “I think it is living against that norm that makes life so exciting.” Well said man, well said.

  7. Matt says:

    I really like your point here that these are just labels and are in one sense meaningless. What is most important is whether the way you are living your life is making you happy. If it’s not then you really need to re-evaluate your life and find out what is missing. Whether you travel the world eating exotic food and living it up or work a corporate job and raise a family it really doesn’t matter as long as you are happy. It’s your life so you have to live it as you see fit. If you are not then what are you doing?

    The cool thing is that over the course of time our priorities and perspectives change so the nomadic of today could very well be the stationary of tomorrow. A lot depends on what stage of life one is in. I’m married with kids so a nomadic lifestyle while certainly possible would be a bit more challenging. But I did choose to take a 1 year sabbatical and see what living overseas might offer me. For my family and I it just felt like time for a change. There is absolutely no reason to be stuck in a situation that isn’t fulfilling on all levels. Good things to think about Mark!

    • Mark says:

      Matt, I agree with you 100%! it’s so simple! Are you happy? If yes, then it doesn’t matter the label that society has given your lifestyle. If you’re not happy, then it doesn’t matter the label either, just that you change the current situation.

      “The nomadic of today could very well be the stationary of tomorrow.” Well said Matt. I think your sabbatical to Indonesia is incredible. I wish you and your wife and kids the best, and know it will be a life changing and amazing experience. Plus you’ll have quite a few good photos :) Have you plans to go to Irian Jaya (Western Papua Provence)? Looking forward to following along on your journey!

  8. I’ve had a goal since I was 9 to visit 60+ countries before I die. I’m at 30-35 right now. Basically, I live the stationary lifestyle with 6 weeks off a year to let me travel to a couple new countries a year.

    I think if I traveled all the time, I would get bored. And if I worked all the time, I’d get burnt out.

    Balance yeah?

    • Mark says:

      That’s incredible! Have fun in all your travels! Balance is key and different for everyone. I know people who travel 100% and the year and ones who travel 0% of the year. It depends on what makes you happy.

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