Taking Their Lives on the Road

By Liz Carey

For one segment of the population, buying a house and settling down just isn’t in the cards.

So, they’re buying a house and taking it, and their jobs, on the road.

Think about it… you secure a telecommuting job, grab an RV, hit the road and don’t look back. They’re called digital nomads or technomads, and it’s one of the growing trends among Millennials and Gen Xers.

While there are no hard numbers on how many technomads are out there, websites like Digital Nomads Abroad boast more than 1,140 members. There’s even a magazine Digital Nomad Magazine – an app you can download to view the latest content.

Andy Johnson, a salesman for Bullyan RV in Duluth, agrees he’s seeing it more and more. Young adults between 20 and 30 buying a small camper, downsizing their life and taking off for a life of adventure while working from …well… anywhere.

“I think they’ve seen what their parents have gone through and they really want to scale down and live a simpler life,” Johnson says. “They’ve seen their parents sacrifice for a big house and they’ve figured out a way to live their adventure while working.”

Justin Tanner and his wife, Abigail, lived a mobile lifestyle with their two small children for more than a year. Now expecting a third child, they’ve given up their wanderlust lifestyle for now.

After an issue with a house they were renting in San Diego, the family was living in a hotel. During a party, the couple saw an RV for sale in a nearby driveway and joked that they should just buy an RV and work from it.

A few months later, they did just that.

“We were already living the mobile lifestyle,” Tanner says. “I worked from home, we had already downsized and sold or given away a lot of our stuff to live in the hotel room, so it wasn’t that big of a change.”

The couple bought an old RV, gutted it, redid the interior and took off.

“We stayed in and around San Diego for a few months, and then we traveled all up and down the Pacific Coast,” he said. “I had to find creative ways to work in quiet with the kids around… it was worth it though. I could spend a day sitting at my desk looking at the Oregon coast.”

An engineering consultant, Tanner worked with clients mostly on the East Coast, meaning his work day was on East Coast time. For him, getting up at 5 a.m. allowed him to work part of his day in quiet, while his family slept.

“As long as we had an Internet connection, we were fine,” he says.

His wife, a stay-at-home mom, worked to ensure the kids had plenty of small-space things to do. And working from the place they lived in left him time to enjoy wherever he was with his family.

“We don’t have any regrets about it, just sometimes, I wished I didn’t have to work full-time,” he says. “Still I probably tell my wife once a week that I miss it.”

That, says Andy Johnson, is what Millennials and other digital nomads want. A life of freedom and adventure.

Getting tired of the neighbors? Get up, pack up and move to a new town. Find out there’s a balloon festival in Albuquerque you want to go see? Gas up the house and go see it. And still keep your job along the way.

“They’re buying a simpler life,” Johnson notes. “They’re not just about buying a small house. They’re about buying experiences.”