Living in the midst of the future
When I started Futures Friday, the intent was to give little glimpses into the science of foresight and futures research. I did this with some posts on X and Y, and then I did a multi-part series on homelessness. All well and good. Then I thought I would research the futures of living remotely, the nomadic lifestyle, WHILE living remotely. At first this was not too hard, there were some obvious trends and facts, and of course, some personal experiences.
Since we sold our home, we have stayed at a friend’s apartment over the garage, hit the road for some RV travels in AZ, UT, and Idaho, and bounced from RV park to RV park in northern WA along the Puget Sound and islands. We have met many interesting people and heard many stories — from people struggling and living out of their van, to retirees looking for more from life. And occasionally we may run across a family living remotely, but not often.
It is a complete mix of stories, feelings, and attitudes. In some areas, the nomad life seems widely accepted. In others there are bans on overnight parking and RVs. Navigating the nomadic lifestyle is not as carefree as it would seem.
That is why I have paused on writing the third part in the Futures of Living Remotely. I have never tried to actually research a future while living deep within it. Usually I immerse deep in a topic and live vicariously in it, not actually in it.
So for this post, let me provide a few reflections and see if anything coalesces…
Remote is here to stay — but there is more
If there was ever any doubt that remote work was a trend or limited to a select few, that seems to be settled. Almost everyone I have met, from flooring installers to tech consultants, seem to have some aspect of remote work. They may or may not like it, but no one I have met seems detached from their work while on the road. Even those that are retired are doing something on the road that relates to income generation. Clearly there are still large demographics that have not been able to take advantage of remote working, but some of them are taking a different approach and working differently. There seem to be more people that are taking a breath, a pause, and not feeling so constrained by the old way of doing things.
But here is where it gets hard, there are so many varied experiences that it is hard to see what is next.
Living in an RV is hard — on the RV
Most RVs were not really designed to be lived in full time. The wear and tear adds up fast. I have a new respect for the beat up RVs and their owners that you see on the side of the road. It is exhausting trying to keep your rig functional and looking good. Part of this is due to RV design. They are not composed of hardened parts, largely to help keep weight and costs down. Second, RV parts are a lot more expensive and hard to find than normal houseware parts. To do something simple like update the faded stripes on the RV or replace a window can be very expensive, and the return on that investment when your lifestyle is generally based on a smaller income is not always there.
When we first started this adventure, we were vaccinated and ready to hit the open road and opening of America. What we found was a real mix. There is no one common policy. One hotel will have a pool open, the one next door not. Two food places next to each other, one will have take out only, the other is full indoor dining with no masks. It is very hard to know what to expect, and to find places to work and get good Internet has been challenging.
There is also the real threat of Covid to us as travelers, even with vaccines. We try to ride the fine line that most of America (and the world) is getting weary of — safety and living.
The futures of living remotely are…
…complex. We are getting the hang of it, but it has not been easy. And in the midst of it I can say there are two very different remote living outcomes, and most of it has to do with how much money you have (as much of life does). What does transformation look like? How about collapse? Why is the nomadic life logistically so hard in the digital age (when it should be easy). How will that change as more and more people choose this lifestyle?
When will part 3 be published?
OK, I am actually pretty close to finishing that article, but it need to simmer a bit and I need to get some distance from it — so this Part 2.5 will have to do for now. So for the next few Futures Fridays I will write more about other futures — stay tuned!