Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Modern Nomad Asks the Question, “Are We Meant to Live in One Place?”

For most of the 2.5 million or so years humans have been around, we have been nomads. Humans were tethered to the meanderings and vicissitudes of herds, flocks, the availability of foraged edibles and climatic shifts. People traveled, ate and lived light. Then around 10K years ago, there was an agricultural revolution. People started making land produce food that exceeded subsistence levels. People stopped moving so much. They built houses close to their crops. They created surpluses of food and some people started making stuff other than food. Those non-food producers needed a place to live, so they made villages. Those villages became cities. The cities became so crowded humans made suburbs. Surpluses became so great we made Costco…and so on.

Given that we humans spent 2,490,000 of our evolution wandering about and a mere 10K staying put, it’s not a huge mental leap to think some of our biological default settings are set to nomad. This ostensible (though far from verified) biological disposition would explain quite a bit about people like Foster Huntington.

In 2011, Huntington was working as a designer for Ralph Lauren in New York City. He decided to leave his job. He bought a camper van and has been traveling ever since. He has supported himself by writing a couple books, “Home is Where You Park It,” and “The Burning House: What Would You Take?“–both espousing the benefits of lightweight, nomadic living (the latter sharing a theme I wrote about on this site). According to Business Insider, he and some of his cadres have even created a business converting vans and buses into living spaces.

Huntington is a prolific Instagrammer, and his feed shows a life of intense and idyllic leisure, replete with beaches, gorgeous vistas, impromptu camping, snowboarding and surf trips. There are many pics of his and his cronies’ van, car and bus-based “homes.” He appears to be currently stationed with in some paradisiacal treehouse with a bunch of his buddies.

Just to save you some energy, we will preempt your critique that Huntington is young and single, and this type of living is not feasible for families. As we’ve seen on this site, families can and do live nomadically, though admittedly it’s probably more challenging. And yes, most careers wouldn’t accommodate this way of life. And sure, the 100K miles Huntington has driven leaves a carbon footprint, but we suspect it’s much smaller than heating, cooling and operating most homes, not to mention most people drive almost that much in their day-to-day lives.

If you put aside the critiques, I think Huntington shows that the good life need not be a heavily loaded one. He shows that by paring things down to the barest of essentials (a requirement for living in such a dinky space), you don’t need a lot to get by. And all that time spent maintaining our lives’ structures (the homes, the stuff, the careers) might be spent enjoying things far less serious and far more fun. And he shows that we can choose how we want to live, even when it seems like that choice might have already been made for us.

See more of Huntington on Restless Transplant and Van Life

[Thanks for the tip Robert]

Via Business Insider


  • clarkbennett

    If one can make a living at it then more power to them. If I had the skills and the aptitude to do it then I probably would too.

    • gblock

      you and me both bro.

  • George Sears

    I did this 20 years ago. Back then, gas was cheap, money from the sale of a house would produce 8% interest in mid grade bonds, and a lot of state and federal land was pretty open. Today? Not so much.

    I think a travel trailer or camper is a great way to dabble in minimalism. The layout will be efficient. It’s clear how much you can bring along for the ride. Today, with smartphones and Kindles, it can be really efficient. Solar goes a long way in an RV.

    People keep telling me there is not enough land for suburban living, and I assume the nomads would want to follow the seasons, filling the beaches, deserts, or forests. Most of the RV’s in the desert spots, the Winter crowd, are pretty upscale. I like the older folks who scrape along, patching up a camper or ancient trailer, still getting something out of life on a Social Security check.

  • Ani

    I’m seeing this as a real possibility more and more. Living in the far north I really have to say that I hate winter. So I can sure see how being able to be mobile would be really nice: summer up north, winter down south, but only owning the one small traveling home. The idea of having to have two homes, to furnish, heat, maintain, pay taxes on, etc. would be a real turn-off, so a single mobile housing unit would work. There is the earning a living bit though. If I could come up with a way to earn enough while living in different places I might consider doing this.

  • experiencedgrandmother

    Having done a lot of moving as a child and an adult, I’d say a nomadic life style may suit some but it doesn’t suit me. I love my piece of land, and if we could, we would have more of it. For me, there is nothing more satisfying than caring for the land: tending a garden and growing my own food. Nothing gives me more pleasure than watching the bees, butterflies and other insects buzzing happily around; or listening to the birds in the early morning. I endure winters, growing greens indoors and starting seedlings, impatient for spring when I can once again fall into the rhythm of the sun, the wind, and delight in the sheer power and awe of Midwestern thunderstorms. This piece of land gives me roots; I need them.

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  • Joe

    Seems to me that people do what they have to do. It’s no coincidence that people worldwide preferred to settle down than live the nomadic life. We might be wired to seek security and consistency unlike the animal kingdom that doesn’t know what it wants. And all the “things” that nomadic wanderers need to live their lifestyles seem to have been manufactured in non-nomadic settings (cars, vans, tools, food, etc). I wonder about that.