The New (New) Nomads

The author has tried short-term lodgings, pet-sitting … it has taken her everywhere from Dorset to Tbilisi, and she has (mostly) enjoyed it.

Photo: Lydia has lived in locations from the Scottish Highlands to cities such as Yerevan and Tbilisi (pictured). Photograph: Leonid Andronov/Alamy

12 February 2024 | Clipper Media News

The comments accompanying the author’s piece on The Guardian were largely negative, but I am sure many people understand the wonderful feeling of anonymity some people can find watching life from ‘a distance’ in so many different locations. I have often thought I would like to try this lifestyle aboard a cruise-ship for a year or two.

James Porteous | Clipper Media


I gave up renting in London to live nomadically – it’s dramatically enriched my life

12 February 2024 | Lydia Swinscoe | The Guardian

I’m typing this while sitting at a very nifty, handmade foldaway desk in a compact, one-bedroom flat in Kentish Town. The cosy apartment’s dark wooden floorboards are overlaid with thick, Bhutanese woven rugs depicting tigers and mandalas. When I make toast on weekends, miniature, primary-coloured Tibetan prayer flags, strung above the toaster, dance in the rising heat. Bedroom bookshelves are stacked with intriguing travel guides, musings on Buddhism, and titles extolling the benefits of cold-water swimming; a good thing since Hampstead Heath’s Kenwood ladies’ pond is just a 35-minute walk away. Parliament Hill Lido is even closer.

This feelgood flat has been the ideal winter bolthole, and a place I felt immediately at home when I moved in three months ago. But come spring I’ll be living somewhere entirely different, in a completely new flat or house, most likely in a new borough, perhaps a new city, maybe even a new country. These are the exciting unknowns in my transient life.

Three years ago, I quit having a fixed place to live in, leaving my home for various locales across the UK and beyond. The notes in my phone reveal that, to date, I’ve slept in 117 beds, in locations ranging from the Scottish Highlands and coastal Dorset to Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, and the avant-garde Georgian capital of Tbilisi, all while holding down a full-time job.

But for most of that time, I’ve stayed in London, the city I’ve called home since moving here 19 years ago as a timid yet eager student. Flashforward to today and my nomadic lifestyle has allowed me to live in seven inner-London boroughs over the last 36 months, granting my curious nature permission to run wild. I’ve seen more of London in the past three years than in the previous 10 combined, simply because I’ve been able to get acquainted with local hotspots, stroll down streets I’ve never seen before, and discover some of the best restaurants that non-residents might usually miss (Lewisham’s Everest Curry King FYI). Knowing I’ll only be in a certain spot for a limited time forces me to really make the most of a place.

There have been downsides, of course: an incontinent-cat-sitting episode in Stamford Hill, riding out the 2022 heatwave in a two-windowed Clapton flat, and a break-in attempt at the Hackney house I was looking after alone. But the positives have far outweighed the negatives, and by quitting having a permanent base to live, I’ve been able to travel more frequently since I only pay for the place I’m living in at the time, be that in the UK or elsewhere.

I find my short-term lodgings by word of mouth, through friends of friends mostly. Occasionally, I’ve found a place on Airbnb, a few times I’ve crashed with lovers or friends, sometimes I’ve checked in to a hotel, and as I mentioned above, I’ve also experimented with pet-sitting. And yet, miraculously, I’ve not once found myself without a place to live.

My last permanent base was a wonderfully light-filled rental flat, with great neighbours, mere footsteps from east London’s leafy Victoria Park. It made taking the initial step into nomadism the hardest.

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