As I sat in the freezing dark for hours earlier this month, lit only by candlelight, a crisp and salient thought began to form: fuck this.
My windows were covered in condensation that made puddles on the window sill. I put towels down and tried to wipe it up as best I could. My power came back in flashes and I ran around charging everything and trying to heat the place. Over the course of a week, I paid $700 for what little electricity I got. In the middle of the week, my lease expired.
I didn’t want to renew it, nor did I want to move elsewhere in Dallas. So, I called to give what I thought was my 30-day notice. But noooo, it’s a 60-day notice. They’ll “try” to get it rented sooner. Oh and keep the power on until the last day, they reminded me.
So this is how it ends – talk about a whimper.
I picked the date, called my brother, and reserved a U-Haul. I’m gonna throw my stuff in a storage shed and live on the road for a while.
First stop next month: Memphis.
Digital nomad life
I was shocked how simple it was to undo everything. I mean, all it took was a couple of phone calls to the apartment office, my brother, and a storage facility.
I’ll have to pay all of March rent and most of April, so I chose to leave at the end of March.
Even though it came together quickly, the thought had been forming for a long time. I’ve known I wanted to get out of Dallas since the pandemic started. I was actually on my way out when the first lockdown happened. So what is that – a year?
A year of hanging on and sticking around and staying put. But when this storm and my lease expired the same week, that was all the impetus I needed to rip the cord.
All the “lasts”
The last Costco trip. The last time at the grocery store. At the neighborhood bar. Walking in the dog park.
They hit rather profoundly, these lasts, reminding me of life’s inherent impermanence.
I bought a condo here in December 2015, then officially moved in June 2016. I sold that condo in June 2020. So… about five years here?
I wanna say it’s flown by, but it hasn’t. The experience feels like every one of its five years.
And I wanna say it’s been awesome, but that isn’t exactly true. A lot of hard stuff happened while I was here.
A few relationships and subsequent breakups. A traumatizing experience with my HOA. The worst work-related burnout I’ve ever had. Made some friends, lost some friends. Life stuff.
I also got a huge start on my journey to financial independence. Made a little from the condo sale. Got closer to my friend group. And, before the pandemic, got to travel to some incredible places. DFW is an amazing airport for getting around.
It was also a nice calm-down from my time in Brooklyn. The city was wearing me down, and Dallas felt positively provincial by comparison.
By now I’m used to Texas heat, driving in my car, and this new version of city life. So you know what that means. Time to shake it all up again.
How I untangled
First, I found a job that allows me to work 100% remotely. I tried the office thing again, and I can definitively say the office isn’t for me. Not full-time anyway. I would consider a hybrid model where I go in once or twice a week, or a rotation schedule, or some other arrangement. But not every weekday in the office. I’m pretty sure that’s dead now, anyway. GOOD.
I’d already sold my place in anticipation of leaving. So I rented a little apartment around the corner and gave my notice. You know how these management companies are. There’s always some “gotcha” in the lease agreement. So I’ll have to pay basically double rent in March and April because of the 60-day notice. That sucks, but it’s the price I pay to get out of here.
I got a storage shed with month-to-month terms near my mom’s house in the Memphis area. So my stuff will live there for a while.
Then I booked a U-Haul, called my brother, and booked him a flight to DFW. I’ll drive the U-Haul back and he’ll drive my car.
Finally, I booked an Airbnb for a month in Memphis. So that will be my first stop.
I’ve had a long relationship with Airbnb. Mostly as a host, but now as a traveler. I compared Airbnb listings against other sites like VRBO, Craigslist, and a couple more. None had the amount of listings and the price point I’m going for. That said, I’m open to learning about other ways to book slow travel.
I do like how Airbnb codes as travel on my credit cards, so I can use them to earn extra points on my “rent.”
Plus, I can click through Acorns when I booked to get 1.8% cashback invested. It’s one of the methods I wrote about in 5 Easy Ways to Earn Points for Airbnb Stays (Updated 2020).
I thought about using Airbnb gift cards via MileagePlus X – but you can’t use them for longer stays. (So glad I read the T&Cs before I bought one.)
I figure Memphis will be a great place to use my training wheels. I’ll be close to my storage shed if I need anything and I’ll get to hang out with my family for a bit. After Memphis in April, I was thinking:
- Nashville (May)
- Knoxville (June)
- Asheville (July)
- Providence (August)
- Maine (September)
- Vermont (October)
I was also thinking at some point:
- New York
- New Mexico
These are all in the US because Covid. Internationally, I’d love to visit:
I also wouldn’t mind staying near National Parks and exploring them after work or during the weekends.
I’m gonna try to stick to Eastern or Central Time as much as I can as my job is on the East Coast, so I don’t want to be too far off from that. Not at first, anyway.
I don’t know what’ll actually happen once I’m out on my own. Or how much stuff I’ll need (like knives for cooking, my blender, dog supplies). Or what to do with my plants or how to shop for groceries. All I know so far is I’m using my mom’s address to forward my mail to, and my gramma’s address for work/tax purposes (Tennessee has no state income tax, like Texas).
I don’t know how long I’ll need to get between places or if I’ll need to take a day off work for driving sometimes. Also, what happens if I need a car repair? Or if I want to go away for a weekend trip?
So many unknowns. Also, I don’t want to end up spending more on the road than I do right now. I’m sure I’ll want to eat out more, visit local breweries, and stuff like that. So I’ll have to watch my budget and balance fun stuff while also keep everything from cutting into my work time. Speaking of which, I’ll definitely want to bring my extra work monitor. My little car is gonna be so full.
These are things I’ll have to figure out as I go – part of the adventure! Oh yeah, and I’m taking my dog with me. #roaddog
Soooo yeah! That’s my plan – to be a digital nomad and slow travel for at least the rest of 2021. I have no idea what will happen or how it’ll play out.
I might last a month and just end up getting another apartment in Memphis. Or I might try to go a few months. Or who knows, maybe I’ll be doing this a few years from now.
All I know is that my soul is stirring and I’m restless. Because of Covid, not traveling for so long, and feeling generally in a rut/over my current situation for a while.
My goal is to keep my spending right around what I’m spending now. That means $1,500ish for a monthly place (give or take), plus food and gas. I’ll try to make meals at “home” as much as I can. But really- I don’t how any of this is going to look. I’ll have to form new habits and routines.
Throughout everything, I still have 25% of my check going into my 401k and I’ll steadfastly save/invest as much as I can each month.
So, I’m going to give it a try and see what happens. Maybe these are famous last words or maybe they’re the beginning of a long journey?
Will keep y’all posted. I haven’t been posting much on Instagram lately, but I expect I’ll use it a lot while I slow travel, so if you’d like to keep up, follow me there as I’ll use it as my mini-blog throughout everything. ✨
Is this totally bonkers? Have you slow traveled or experienced digital nomad life? Any tips on where to book long-term stays or anything to make things easier?* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
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