What Am I Doing Wrong?
June 9, 2016 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I have inadvertently become a nomad without a cause, and I'm kinda tired of not having a home, but I don't really have a place to go back to now either. If I just stay where I currently am (where I don't actually know anyone) simply because I don't have the energy to go to the next place (wherever that may be), then is that OK?

A year ago I lost my job and decided to travel for a while, so all my stuff went into storage and I hopped on a plane with just a backpack. This seemed like a reasonable idea, except that the bravado of taking time off and going to foreign lands didn't actually underwrite any sort of plan, so I just started making one up as I went along. This was fine in the beginning, but it gradually started biting me in the a$$ - "where am I gonna stay next?" became an almost daily chore, and I actually started staying longer in some places, in part just to get some respite from this infuriatingly repetitive question.

This went on for months, and then I returned from my trip - now with a storage unit but nowhere to stay - and guess what? I've been pretty much doing exactly the same thing again, living in different AirBnb's in several different states (albeit staying for longer periods, and this time on home soil). And now my current rental is about to expire, and here I sit once more wondering, "where am I gonna stay next?" It feels like this is never going to end. Obviously availability of jobs is a factor in where I stay, but I've been having such poor results in every state I've stayed, I'm starting to think maybe it's not such a big factor after all - maybe the market just blows in general (at least for those in my field). And money's a factor too - without work, I can't afford to live where I used to (which is also where my storage unit is).

I guess the other factor here is that I don't really have any family or particularly strong friendships that would pull me in one direction or another, and so I feel like I've inadvertently become a nomad without cause, and that maybe this is kind of like my life now. I'm pretty tired of it all, but I don't really have a place to go back to, so maybe this is just it?
posted by my log does not judge to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Do you like the place you're in? Well, ok then! You have my permission and encouragement to stay there.

People have stayed for far worse reasons.
posted by Dashy at 6:16 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Is there anywhere you can get employment of any kind easily? Is there anywhere that will support a hobby of yours well? Gardening or hiking? Otherwise just pick somewhere with lower rent and rent out a room and look for work. Moving around would make me too tired to form a plan. Rooms are sometimes month to month where you can leave when you find something else, you get tired of each other, etc.
posted by Kalmya at 6:22 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

It feels like having a solid job is the first step to putting down roots, so knowing what you want to do professionally might inform recommendations.
posted by Candleman at 6:23 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Do you have a job? Do you like your job? Is it reasonably stable? If yes, stay put. Unpack. Make some friends. Go to school or take lessons in literally anything that sounds good-- it's a reason to stay in one place. If no, step one is finding a job you can keep for a year.

If you wind up hating it, move. But if what you're doing is constantly moving, and that isn't making you happy, why not try something different-- not moving?
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:24 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Many people have moved to places because they were nomads and felt like, hey, this place is alright. I knew someone who moved to a town because that was where their car broke down -- started a business and became a part of the community there.

It seems like you need someone to tell you it's OK to stay where you are though -- I'm not sure why you are looking for our approval on this. Of course if there is some sort of application or permit process to live in a town you'll need to go through that. If you don't have permission to live in your housing that is not OK. If you need a visa, passport, or other paperwork to stay, someone might decide that it's not OK, which could lead to a situation you won't like.

I can't afford to live where I used to (which is also where my storage unit is)

Storage units are often cheaper in places where the rent is lower.
posted by yohko at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

If possible, go back and clean out your storage unit. Sell off stuff. If you have important documents there, or other small items that you really want or need to keep, put them in a safe deposit box. It will cost less money. Selling stuff can help raise some money and eliminating the storage unit will result in savings.

Then set a goal of coming up with a goal and a plan. Give yourself x amount of time to do research, like "90 days following the end of the project to clear out the storage unit," for doing research. Specify an exact date that you will make your decision. Do your research, then make your decision, then start working your plan.
posted by Michele in California at 7:18 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

What do you do? What are you interested in doing? Those are two important questions that will dictate where you end up.

Based on experience, I will say that staying in one place is the key to personal and professional success. It takes three years. It's a time investment as well, so you should be wary of moving again after that. But it takes three years.
posted by My Dad at 7:39 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've lived the semi-nomadic life before. It gets old. We are creatures of habit. Sometimes you get stuck in a rut and you need to spin the dial and see where you end up, but you can't do it every day.

Realistically, do you have enough savings that this isn't totally killing your future? If not, it's time to find work, even if that's not a professional paying dream job. You just need to stop the bleeding, and living life on the road has lost its appeal anyway.

Sell your stuff in storage. Right now you're paying rent twice, once for yourself, and once for that stuff. You've been living without it for a long time and you're fine. YMMV but my rule is that if I don't use something at least once a week, I get rid of it. (Exceptions for seasonal clothing, important documents, and one or two priceless heirlooms.)
posted by deathpanels at 8:09 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Of course you can stay where you are! Or you can choose somewhere new to set down roots. Pick somewhere that seems attractive near things you like to do. Bonus if it's located near a casual friend so you start with one person anyway. Find any job, get a small apartment. Have your storage unit belongings shipped to you, or go pick them up, or go clear out the unit and get rid of everything. Then...stay. Keep staying. It's not actually that hard to stay somewhere. You just...don't leave. Do things that will help you make friends, like take classes, work as a barista, volunteer somewhere. And then keep staying there.

I'm sorry if this sounds flip. But the only way to stop doing something you don't like doing is to stop doing it. Not moving is so much easier than moving. Give up the AirBNB places. And hey, if after a couple of years you are bored/restless again, you can leave again.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:16 PM on June 9, 2016

If you're tired of moving and you can afford to then just stay put for a while. Break your pattern. Shelf the "where" discussion that's taking up so much of your brain space for a year or more. Figure out what you like about where you are and what you would want to change. Figure out what you like to do with your time, your hobbies and interests, and put some effort into making connections with people.

I grew up military and it always felt like moving was inevitable. I always felt like I'd be moving soon so I didn't bother with decorating where I lived, or fixing friendships that took effort, or cultivating interests outside my home. I kept thinking I'd eventually stumble across somewhere that made my heart sing or that called to me in some way. That's not realistic. There is no perfect location. For me, hunting for the perfect location was a distraction from a whole slew of baggage that I was unknowingly hauling around everywhere with me.

If nowhere in particular is calling to you, then where you are is good enough for now. Try breaking your pattern and see what you learn about yourself in the process. You sound like you want to have a stronger grip on where you are, on right now, but all your focus is on where you will be, on a multitude of possibilities, and that's overwhelming. Give yourself a break from considering the possibilities and just... stay where you are. See how it is. You already know that you can always start over if you need to so try not to worry about that and let yourself enjoy your current choice of home.

Also, clearing the storage unit might be too much commitment for you right now and that's totally OK. The storage unit is the closest thing you have to a geographical anchor. I would want to feel slightly more stable before going through that process myself. Consider revisiting the possibility of clearing it out/shipping yourself your stuff in a few months.
posted by buteo at 8:30 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd say this is how most people end up where they end up.
posted by bongo_x at 9:44 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Choose a place where most of the people have similar values to yours.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:25 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Are you aware of WWOOFing? It might give you a little purpose, a little community, and a little break from spending quite so much while you figure yourself out.
posted by aniola at 11:12 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Try to visualize yourself living happily in 5 years, then in 10 years. Add as much detail as possible. What does a happy life look like to you? Are you outdoorsy, need mountains to hike in, a beach to sit on, or waves to surf? Do you need a big city with great places to eat out and lots of color and art and fashion? Maybe you're someone who pictures yourself with a family farm, a couple kids and some cows and chickens... Whatever your dream is should help guide you to a place to try putting down roots. It is really important to actually visualize yourself living this life so you can make it real.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:57 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

If nowhere in particular is calling to you, then where you are is good enough for now.


Thank you all for your considerate responses - it's been really useful reading your input and suggestions.

posted by my log does not judge at 11:41 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

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