Many millennials have opted to embrace a life of impermanence

Monday 5th of March 2018

Facing a future without many of the usual trappings of adulthood – notably a full-time job and a mortgage – many millennials have opted to embrace a life of impermanence instead.

Traditional careers began to fade in the wake of the 2007 global financial crisis, prompting the rise of freelancers – with over a third of the US workforce currently making money in the so-called ‘gig economy’.

The simultaneous rise of cheaper flights, smartphones and roaming data plans made freelancers geographically independent of their offices – creating the perfect conditions for the rise of a tribe of ‘digital nomads’.

Given that many digital nomads are young entrepreneurs, there is a strong incentive to move away from expensive cities where accommodation consumes a large portion of their income.

As a result, nomad hubs quickly cropped up anywhere a low cost of living intersected with a high quality of life, most often in Southesast Asia but also in cheap European cities.

Over time, the once-fringe model of digital nomadism has become mainstream enough to attract an older, more affluent demographic – the so-called ‘premium nomad’. And the real estate market is taking notice.

Now a number of ‘co-living’ start-ups are beginning to emerge in prime global cities – areas where elevated house prices and rentals would normally preclude a nomadic lifestyle.

One such example is the start-up Roam. After opening its first location in Ubud, Bali, the company has constructed an international housing network with complexes of furnished, single-occupancy residences in London, Tokyo and Miami. Three more residences are planned in New York, Berlin and San Francisco.

Roam’s approach is to open locations in alpha cities or global hubs so that their residents never have to leave the system because the company is located everywhere they want to be.

Roam’s network offers a lease which allows its residents to continually move thereby providing an alternative way to think about home for ‘location independent’ residents.

While the minimum stay is a week, Roam encourages its residents to stay – via discounts for longer bookings – because it believes its major selling point is its community.

By combining co-living with nomadism, Roam aims to alleviate the loneliness that typically accompanies an itinerant life. While residents each have their own private rooms, they also have access to a co-working space and shared communal areas. The intention is for residents to meet as many people as possible.

To date, Roam has hosted more than 2 200 residents – a wandering group of entrepreneurs, freelancers, retirees and tourists who call themselves “Roamies”. The company estimates that there are 1.2 million people who have the income – and the ability to work remotely – who can live this way, suggesting that this is a real estate sector which can only grow.

For more information on work-home hybrids in Southern Africa, contact a Pam Golding Properties area specialist for properties that meet this criteria.


Posted by Sandra Gordon