On being “Currently Based Anywhere”

Currently based anywhere. That’s what I landed on when I changed the copy on my homepage indicating that I was based out of Atlanta. I really dislike the term “digital nomad” - it manages to sound corny– like something out of a cyberpunk novel while also conjuring up images of Instagram-perfect laptops on beaches and sketchy “make money online” schemes. But because the term has caught on and I can’t think of anything better, I do use it when discussing my lifestyle.

If you haven’t gathered yet, I no longer live in the United States. I am writing this from a studio apartment in Mérida, Mexico. In March of this year, I made the decision to sell my house and travel full time. This is an ambition I have had for a long time, but I never went through with it. It always seemed too extreme. However, with my new remote job at Amazon and the world opening back up from COVID, combined with my fears about inflation and the housing market in the United States I decided to finally do it.

My intention is to live in many different countries, perhap with Mexico as a “home base” of sorts. There are a lot of different ways to be a digital nomad, but I definitely favor the “slow-mad” variety, where you spend multiple months in a country.

My life has changed significantly - I don’t drive a car anymore but instead walk to most places and take taxis to places I can’t walk. This is a huge difference from suburban sprawl existence in the United States where everywhere has a nice parking lot. Sometimes even getting my shopping or laundry done can feel like an accomplishment when I’m physically carrying all of it. It’s also hot as fuck, averaging 95° and above most days. A simple walk can turn grueling if you can’t find enough shade.

I still don’t speak Spanish, but can peck my way through most interactions. It’s something I’m working on and find myself getting better at slowly. Once I feel good about my fluency, I want to visit Spain. I’ve met a lot of really interesting people. Expats, other nomads and natives of wherever I am.

A few days ago I was in Belize City, getting my immigration paperwork together so I could get a temporary residency visa in Mexico (It’s complicated, but going to Belize was the best way to do this.) I met another nomad on Reddit who was in town doing the same thing and we met in person at a bar. We commiserated on our struggles but the thing he said that stuck out to me the most was that a lot of people who are attracted to this lifestyle enough to actually do it are neurodivergent in some way, and how he has embraced that in himself. I really liked that.

Because make no mistake, this is an extreme and at times very difficult way to live. It can be lonely, expensive and dangerous. But at least it’s not boring. I was so bored in Atlanta. It would be so easy to paint a glossy picture too on social media - I could just post about how I went jet skiing in Belize, or the ruins I toured. I could omit how unsafe I felt when I was walking around Belize City or dealing with scamming taxi drivers and government corruption.

People ask me why I’m here. Vacation? work? What’s your plan? The true answer is I don’t know. I just want to be here right now. And maybe in a few months I will want to be somewhere else. It’s a great feeling not having a five year plan. I feel like for the first time in my life I’m actually experiencing it as it comes instead of waiting for the next thing to happen.

So for now, until some point in the future, I am currently based anywhere.

Hey — My name is Daniel Immke. I’m a designer & developer who travels the world.

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