man standing on a desert

What You Have to Give Up for Freedom: The Downsides of Having a Modern Nomad Lifestyle

You do not have to live in the same place for the rest of your life. In fact, you do not have to live in a house if you do not want to.

Across the United States, dozens of households have torn down their walls and escape from regular life to become modern nomads — those who are not tethered to one spot. They have the world as their home. Increasingly, because of necessity (the average cost of real estate properties continue to rise) or the freedom of waking up to a different scenery every single morning, many people are heeding the call and adopting the lifestyle.

Being a nomad is, in many ways, more affordable than a house. They are opting to buy a secondhand van or used truck from dealers found all over the country. There are no bills hounding you aside from gas, food, and fees here and there. Because you move from one place to another, a typical desk job is out of the question; you can only do freelance or remote work.

However, in exchange for the freedom to go wherever you want has some trade-offs. Here are a few of the things that you would have to give up in order to live a nomad life.

A Lot of Your Stuff

In your van or truck, there is not a lot of space to keep everything that you own or ever will own. You only have room for a few essentials.

The life of a nomad requires you to be a minimalist. You can only carry a couple of clothes and shoes, a couple of hobby items, and a handful of furniture pieces and decor. Your collection of books will only take up space that you could use for something more important to living, such as a bed or a kitchen.

You will also have to give up online shopping. Although possible, ordering and receiving items when you do not have a permanent address is a challenge that, sometimes, it is easier to buy whatever is available in local stores in the town where you currently are staying, or not make the purchase at all.

Everyday Comforts

You really would not appreciate just how convenient having warm water coming out of the tap until you lose it.

One of the challenges that come with living the life of a nomad is losing comforts that pretty much everyone has gotten used to by now. Unless you have the budget for a recreational vehicle (RV), you will have to use public bathrooms to use the toilet or to showers.

When you are on the road in between destinations, you might need to resort to using body wipes or having sponge baths to clean off sweat or mud. It certainly is not always pleasant nor luxurious.

However, the trade-off is, sometimes, on a great day, you get to swim in rivers, lakes, and beaches.

woman in a van


The life of a nomad is full of surprises. Your every day will never look the same. One day, you might be waking up beside the ocean with clear skies and blue water right by your feet. The next day, you might be stopping in the middle of a desert with nothing but swaths of empty land around you. It is always exciting.

However, the nomadic lifestyle is also filled with uncertainties. Most people who move out of their homes and into a vehicle take up freelancing gigs to continue earning money but while having their own schedules. There is no guarantee, therefore, how much you will earn in one month or if you will have a job at all. This lifestyle might not be for those who do not have savings in case the source of income suddenly disappears.

You also will have to see your friends and family less often. You will meet new people on the road, but they usually stream in and out of your life. It can get lonely.

What Happens in a Crisis?

The COVID-19 pandemic created another challenge for modern nomads. Last year, when nations locked down, many people living in vans and trucks found themselves with nowhere to go.

The border restrictions, the stay-in-place orders, and the presence of the virus spreading across the nation made the lifestyle less freeing and more of an inconvenience. Because such a small portion of the population are wanderers, law enforcers and governments do not understand why or how people live in their vehicles.

People who want to live on the road should create a plan in case another nationwide crisis happens. They should identify places where they can go or what they can do until they can go back driving from state to state once again.

The life of a nomad is not always Pinterest or Instagram-worthy. Most of the time, it is unglamorous and uncomfortable. However, that is the sacrifice you will have to make in order to gain the freedom to be wherever you want any time you want.

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