Living as a nomad in the UK

Living as a nomad in the UK

I live in a London flat, and like many, where I live is based on where I work. As much as I’d like to keep hold of my flat after escaping the daily grind, it would be a lost income opportunity. Instead, the sensible option would be to find a tenant so I’m not losing money on an empty flat when travelling. This would mean no fixed abode when returning to the UK and living as a nomad. Until I started to research I didn’t know what accommodation options were available in the UK or the prices, so listed below is what I found.

Short term rooms

Using AirBnB to live like a nomad in the UK
I’m sure the price on the top listing is wrong. £101 per month seems too cheap!

There are good deals on Airbnb if you’re flexible on your location. Just search “United Kingdom” with your budget and see what comes up. Also, by searching for an entire month you get the monthly rate which is often cheaper. I found good options with a budget of up to £350 per month which is within my nomad budget. Outside of Airbnb, there’s Gumtree which offers short term lets but you can’t reserve online. If I had to stay in a specific location then I’d compare prices on Gumtree otherwise it might be too much hassle.

Campsites

Living as a nomad on a campsite
Camping in Devon

Staying in a barren field in the middle of nowhere in freezing February for months on end doesn’t have much appeal. However, camping 4-6 weeks a year with favourable weather conditions would be quite pleasant. Popular locations like Devon in peak season can be ~£15 per night per person. This is still substantially cheaper compared to what you’d pay for an Airbnb or hotel in a similar location. Campsite regulations seem to vary but from what I can see, most stipulate around 14 nights as the maximum number of consecutive nights. After this period you are not allowed to return for a set number of days. There’s also a maximum number of nights permissible per year (is this ever enforced??), however, it’s easy to bypass so long as you change campsites. The go-to website for campsites is pitchup.com.

Holiday parks

living as a nomad in a UK holiday park
14 nights for £508 and sleeps 6

This option is for those living as a nomad with a family or where there’s a bunch of you sharing. I was surprised how reasonably priced caravans can be. The screen capture above is for a 2 bedroom caravan in Camber Sands for 14 nights so about £1100 for a month. As with camping, I’d struggle to stay for a prolonged period but a month or so in a favourable location could be doable.

Hotels

living as a nomad in a hotel

I didn’t expect to list hotels when living as a nomad in the UK, however, easyHotel has some very reasonable room rates all with private bathrooms. When staying for 7 nights in London (albeit Croydon) the total amount was £157 or £22 per night. I find it incredible that some people are complaining about the size of the room when reading the reviews, what do you expect for £20-ish quid a night!

Dormitories

Living as a nomad in a dormitory
Palmers Lodge in Swiss Cottage

Admittedly, if I was to be living as a nomad then dormitories are bottom of my list. Even when I was much younger, the idea never appealed to me which is just a personal preference. With that being said, some looked quite nice with drawn curtains for privacy. Needless to say, staying in a dormitory can be cheap. Browsing through hostelworld.com, prices started at £10 per night in September when staying in London.

Friends and family

No living as a nomad list would be complete without mentioning friends and family. Prices range from gratis to “mates rates” or the market rate if your friend is an accountant or doesn’t like you that much. There’s couchsurfing too, but as with dormitories, I’d probably struggle with this.

Final thoughts

There are obvious pros and cons of moving around and not having a settled home. Ultimately it will come down to the individual and maybe it’s only sustainable for a certain amount of time. If I was surrounded by close friends and family then living as a minimalist on the road might not come easy but I live in London where there’s no community (for me) so upping sticks is no big deal. It seems like an exciting idea to try even if it’s just for a while. Up until the Agricultural Revolution, our hunter-gather ancestors lived as nomads as they foraged for seasonal food … so who knows, maybe living as a nomad will come more naturally than you think.

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