How Living as Digital Nomads Is Helping Us Find the City of Our Dreams
Hi! My name is Parker. After living in Chicago for seven years, my husband Kyle and I decided it was time for our next adventure. Although we love Chicago, the cold weather and city life weren’t sustainable long-term. We knew we didn’t want to return to our hometowns in Texas and Indiana but also weren’t quite sure where would end up next.
We’ve always talked about different cities we wanted to try out with the ultimate goal of settling down somewhere new. When we found Landing, which offered us short-term furnished apartments in all the cities we wanted to check out, it gave us the ability to make it happen.
So, we made a plan to live in multiple cities across the country for a short period of time, then rank them individually based on things we found important to us. And at the end, we’d compare our individual rankings to determine where we would ultimately land.
Here’s where we’ve been so far and what we’ve learned along the way!
Where our digital nomad journey has taken us
Every city we’ve lived in is one we’ve talked about trying out. We started out in Austin, Texas, which we had visited quite a bit throughout our years of dating. We enjoyed hiking, food trucks, beer gardens, and being close to my family for the first time in over seven years. It was a great first stop in our yearlong adventure, but we were excited to try out what was next on our list.
Atlanta was our first true city to test out as neither of us had really visited beforehand. We wound up really enjoying it! We absolutely loved the food scene, the culture and diversity, and all the nature surrounding the city. It was also great for quick weekend getaways! Helen, a little Bavarian town in Georgia’s northern mountains, provided the perfect mix of hiking, relaxation, and even a few wineries to enjoy.
From there, we moved to Raleigh. Although it was a much smaller city than we’re used to it, was easy to visit nearby cities like Durham and Chapel Hill. Raleigh is very committed to the community, so we spent a lot of time enjoying what the city had to offer.
For example, the city’s parks often hosted events such as movie nights, jazz concerts, and food truck nights featuring local vendors. It was so nice to grab a pizza from a local place down the street, set up a blanket, and watch a movie in the park. Another highlight is that Raleigh is only 2.5 hours from the beach, which we took advantage of and even let Millie, our 2-year-old English Bulldog, see her first ocean.
We just arrived in Charlotte a couple of days ago, and are planning on heading west after this to check out Dallas, Denver, and Portland to round out our cross-country adventures. By spring of next year, we should know where we will end up!
The importance of keeping things realistic
As easy as it would be to pretend we’re on vacation, we try to live our lives with a similar consistency that we did in Chicago. We both work remotely, so from Monday through Friday, we’re working at our apartment or at a local coffee shop.
We are big foodies and enjoy a good farmer’s market, so we always make a point to go look for a new restaurant or market in each city. It’s fall right now, and we would have gone apple picking if we were in Chicago, so I found a local apple orchard near Charlotte that I’m excited to go visit.
We also try to live in areas that are out of the city a bit, but still close to downtown. Realistically, we’re not planning on buying a house downtown, but still enjoy the fun that comes with it. We’ll either live in the suburbs or the surrounding areas, so it’s not a priority for us to find apartments that are in the heart of the city.
Weather is an important factor in choosing where we decide to live, so we intentionally tried to live in places during their worst weather. We lived in Austin and Atlanta during the summer and lived in Charlotte and Raleigh during hurricane season. Then we’ll be in Portland and Denver during the winter—although we’re pretty excited about the skiing in Colorado!
We thought that if we loved these cities at their best, great, but it’s even better to know that we love them at their worst.
Our advice for other digital nomads
We’ve learned a lot since we started this journey. One of the biggest challenges of this digital nomad life is that whatever fits in our car is what we can take.
We bought the biggest plastic bins we could find that both fit in our car and made a rule that whatever fits in your bin, you can take. If you can’t shut your bin, you can’t bring it. It’s a good way to keep us honest with the things we can have. There’s no “just in case” room in the car, so if you don’t think you’re going to use something every day, don’t bring it.
Another major piece of advice is to fully take advantage of the city you’re exploring while you’re there. If you’re spending all your time at home, it can skew your experience of a new area. Go out and explore, try the local food, and don’t just get caught in the apartment. It’s not going to tarnish the experience, but it might hamper it a little bit. Try to maximize where you’re at!
Our biggest takeaways (so far!)
I think it scares a lot of people to move somewhere they’ve never lived before, not to mention the cost associated with doing so. But when you can put everything in a storage unit and just bring the essentials, you’re not investing in paying movers. You don’t have to sign a lease for a year and fully commit to that.
Obviously, at the end of this, we’re only going to end up in one city, but it’s cool to say, “Oh, we lived in Atlanta for two months and we loved it! Or, “We lived in Austin and think it’s great, but it just didn’t fit our situation at the time.” It’s great that we’re spending a year making all of these memories and trying new things we wouldn’t have otherwise.
While this journey has had challenges, it will always be something we can say we did. I think we’ll end up living somewhere we weren’t going to pick on our own without being able to do this. Hopefully, by this time next year, we’ll be in the city that we choose as our home!