A little over a year ago I threw out almost everything I owned. Since then I’ve been living out of a single bag.
And then I took off.
I live in random places through airbnb or other house or room sharing services.
I don’t have a car, I don’t even have a driver’s license. I don’t have any physical books. All of the books are on my kindle.
I take it back. I stole one book. “Life of Pi”. I started reading it in one place I was staying and didn’t finish so I wanted to keep it until I finished. I stopped reading it and haven’t finished it yet.
I don’t have medical insurance. I haven’t been for a regular doctor’s visit in maybe 30 years. So why pay for medical insurance?
Someone told me that is against the law. Ok…Find me.
I have two sweaters. I buy t-shirts or underwear at the pharmacy every few days. I have two pairs of pants. I have two wrinkled button down shirts.
Sometimes my clothes get dirty. I’m a bit disgusting.
When I stay at a place, it’s always furnished. So I don’t need sheets, beds, furniture. I just borrow the accumulations of others.
I sometimes order food by delivery and sometimes get food from the store on a daily basis. I don’t buy any junk food so there’s not any extra food lying around. I’ve lost 10-15 pounds in the past six months.
That’s the only diet that works for me. Don’t eat junk food. Try to stick to two meals. When I say “diet” I don’t mean “lose weight” but just eat healthy. Don’t carry around extra food in the stomach and intestines.
I have a small laptop to write with. If I didn’t write I would have no laptop. I’d just use my phone.
I talk on the phone maybe once or twice a day. I sometimes respond to texts. My phone number is 203-512-2161.
Because I have no address, nobody knows where I am.
I’ve learned some good things and some bad things by doing this.
My relationships with objects has changed. I see how other people mold their lives around their objects.
Their art, their furniture, their decorations. The way they treat their photographs and their books.
People staple their personalities to their objects. Sometimes they staple a personality they want to be. And sometimes they staple who they are. Or in between.
I don’t do any of that. I have no objects. I just borrow the objects and personalities of others for a short time and then I move.
Moving every few weeks means I can’t buy anything new. I only get new skylines.
B) MINIMALISM IS NOT CHEAP
People think if they go totally minimalist they save money.
Maybe this is true in the long run because (as above) I don’t buy the things that many householders buy.
But sometimes it costs to move. And sometimes it costs to buy new shirts and food.
But food and clothing costs and costs of entrepreneurship have gone down over the past 40 years. And insurance and education and owning houses have gone up.
My main expenses are when I buy experiences.
Everything else I can’t buy because I can’t move extra things around when I move from place to place.
C) NO PEOPLE TO DEAL WITH
Because I use platforms like Airbnb, I don’t ever have to deal with humans. No landlords, no boards, no sellers, no real estate agents.
Usually there is a key hidden someplace. I find it, and move in, then leave it where I found it when it’s time to move again.
D) FRIENDS ARE REAL
Nothing in the place I’m staying in right now is real. I don’t own any of the objects (there is a photo of a nude Naomi Campbell facing me right now. It’s not mine but I look at it),
I don’t even use most of the objects since I didn’t pick them out and I don’t even know what a lot of them are for.
But when I invite friends over, I can have a real experience. We’re all in a new place. We can talk.
In the past few months I’ve tried many ways to have experiences with my friends. I rented out a room in a bookstore and spent time with some friends. I invited friends over for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
I visit people although for some reasons I’ve been afraid to fly for the past three months.
I’m going to try and change that.
I have more and more experiences but fewer objects. I give my friends experiences.
I like to get lost. I like to feel, this is the first day I am on this planet.
When I am in a new place, I explore their life. I see their books, the garbage they let lie around. The photos of the past thirty years. Or the telling lack of.
When I walk outside, it’s a new skyline. A new set of places. New people walking around. I take a deep breath. I can explore like when I was a little kid.
I walk around and everything is new.
F) MY NUMBER
Everyone figures out their number. How much they need to retire. Or to live. Or to say “F You” to a boss.
I don’t know what my number is. But it’s less than just about everyone I know. Because I want nothing. I don’t want anything new other than the lifestyle I have.
If I wanted to scale down my lifestyle, I could. If I wanted to ramp up, I could. But I don’t want to.
I will never own a house. I don’t want to send my kids to college for all the reasons I’ve discussed before. I don’t think entrepreneurship should cost any money in today’s world of quick entrepreneurship.
I can write and work and live and love from anywhere. Every day I try to reach out to people in order to have new experiences. But that’s it.
If I look back at the past few months, the only money spent has been on experiences and food. Experiences are always more valuable than objects.
People value experiences at almost zero and objects at too much. When, in fact, experiences are the only things that are valuable and objects will fade in your life and eventually become unwanted and boring.
An experience is a story. An object becomes a forgotten memory.
So I like to buy low and sell high.
I don’t have roots. I don’t have a place where I can say “this is home”.
I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
So I decided to change 100%. Why not?
I saw a place that I liked. A new experience for me is to live in a place for more than a few weeks.
The landlord is a well known musician. She is moving to Nashville to pursue her art and leaving behind her apartment completely furnished. Three pianos.
I had to staple myself back to the world.
I had to get two personal references. Two business references. A reference from a prior landlord. Two years of tax returns. Two bank statements. A letter from my accountant.
I had to give not only two months rent in advance but two months security deposit because my credit score is so low.
I had to write a letter explaining why I liked the place. I had to write another letter explaining why I have never owned a credit card. I had to meet the other people in the building (they were all nice so I was happy).
And now I’m scared. I’m scared to commit to a place for a year.
To have a place called home. To start buying things for it. Maybe even some books. Maybe more clothes. Maybe I will identify with the neighborhood too much and be afraid to ever move from there.
I don’t know. Every time I have ever put down “roots” my entire life has changed. To be honest, I am terrified. I’ve always experienced great anxiety when I moved into a place for longer than a week.
I move in on January 5.
And if I know you and you are in the area, please stop by. I miss you.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Jeremy Bishop.