Living homeless

Just before I flew to Funconf in Dublin, I handed in the keys to my flat in Edinburgh and became virtually homeless; for the first time since moving out of my parents’ house 4 years ago I don’t own a place of my own. Nor will I be looking for one. This was probably one of the more crazy things I’ve done this year, but it has freed me up to do the things I want to be doing - mainly travel. I tend to travel quite a lot anyway - last year I spent more than 4 months away from Edinburgh and flew over 100’000 air miles. However this took some time to prepare.

Mid August I realized that I will be spending the remainder of this year in USA for work and traveling across Europe for conferences and other activities. What this means is that the flat I had in Edinburgh will be empty for months, and keeping an empty flat is a stupid decision from a financial point of view. Especially combined with the fact that I also had a car, which was costing me every month to stand parked. So, without much though I made a decision - whatever happens, I’m moving out from Edinburgh before September.

And I did. In two weeks.

Moving out is not a simple thing. For example it’s hard to avoid stocking up on things, like I had quite a lot of HiFi audio and computer gear. Luckily there are services like Ebay nowadays, so it only took a little bit more than a week to get rid of all of them. Selling a car in two weeks was a bit insane, especially because low-mpg and big-V8 ones have no market in UK, but I managed to do it. Just. I have no moral attachment to things or places, so whatever, I don’t really need any of them.

The biggest push came form a service called Airbnb - I can now find a nice place anywhere in the world and have it all ready for me before I even land. Same thing as a hotel, but hotels are really, really terrible places to live at, I’d rather just crash at someone’s pad and experience a different way of living. Furthermore, I now can, and planning to, just rent a huge house somewhere in a middle of Italy and invite everyone to come over during their winter break. I find myself thinking like a hippie.

I consider myself lucky that all the work I have to do, can be done from anywhere in the world (as long as it gets done). With technologies like Skype and Google Talk, I can be working from a hotel in London or from a shared flat somewhere in Florence. I only need a good WiFi connection and a quiet place, the rest I can manage. Time zones are always an issue, but having worked with people all over the world I can make it work. Since work (all kinds of it) covers most of my day, having that sorted out means everything else should be ok too.

Now you might be thinking that I’m some sort of a anti-social workaholic - especially if you haven’t met me in person yet - as so far I have only mentioned myself and work. Well, I have (had?) a lot of friends in Edinburgh, but also in London and all over Europe. Quite a lot of them I wish I had closer. So this whole homeless stunt actually allows me to see most of them more often, as I can just show up at any of the places my friends live and spend time there, as I did quite a few times this summer. My calendar is already filled up all the way to Christmas.

The biggest reason I’m doing this, and not renting out a smaller place in Edinburgh or somewhere else, is because I’m pretty sure it can be my only chance in life to pull this off. As people get older, more and more stuff starts holding you back in an any given place. If I don’t do this now, I’m probably not going to do it ever and since I believe that you only regret things you haven’t done, I’m optimistic that all of this will work out just fine. If not, someone will help me out.

I’m not even sure when this will end, not until I get my USA visa and can go there and stay. So far there is no estimate for that, nor do I need one. I’m already doing the work I will be doing there, so it’s only a matter of living there or not. Of course I would like to get there as soon as possible, as while this whole thing is a lot of fun, I’m pretty sure it can get pretty tiring after a few months. But yeah… I’ll just wait and see what happens, until then it’s going to be my macbook, a bag of clothes and a boarding pass to some city. Exciting times!

*all illustrations done by Frits from