The Millennial Nomad

shutterstock © Yuliya Yafimik

The Millennial Nomad

Gen Y: A Generation of Roamers?

By Benazir Radmanesh

Originally published in Global Living Magazine – Issue 22 | January/February 2016

There is a socio-cultural shift occurring at an accelerating rate, disproportionately impacting the Gen Y population: Millennial Nomadism.

More than our Baby Boomer parents or the Gen X-ers before us, Millennials are the first generation to really benefit (and at times suffer) from both the hyper-mobility and the hyper-connectedness of the planet we live on today.

Gone are the days of rootedness to one place, one thing, one idea. The seeds from the tree of life have blown clear off the branches, planting themselves in the relatively new concept of global citizenship.

More than any other generation before us, Millennials have more opportunities to live, work and study outside of our home countries. This ability to feel at home anywhere with a sturdy WiFi connection, a valid passport and a desire to see more and do more, means that today Gen Y-ers are residents in foreign countries all over the world and continually moving and roving across borders.

What defines the experience of the Millennial nomad?

Connectivity creates comfort

For many Gen Y-ers, their phones and computers aren’t mere devices – they are lifelines.  A strong connection to social media, email, Skype or FaceTime means that no matter where we are or where we go, we are not alone. This ability to never be alone while being alone makes Millennials much more willing to relocate and much less emotionally and socially tied to one place.

We are career jumpers

Unlike our Baby Boomer parents who had 25-30-year marriages to the same career, we Millennials are career jumpers. Now that we easily and accessibly know what’s going on over there we are always looking towards the next thing, the next adventure, the next experience. A staggering 91 percent of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. By not overcommitting ourselves to one job, we are able to more readily move on to the next thing, unlike our parents who had mortgages to pay and a lengthy promotion ladder to work their way up.

READ MORE from this issue of Global Living Magazine

We tally the countries visited, not the number of things we own

The two-bed-two-bath-two-car dream has flown the coop. For many Millennials, the house in the suburbs with the double-garage and BBQ is not front and center on our goal list. For the Millennial nomad, we count the number of stamps on our passports, not the number of cars in the driveway. We have country lists not shopping lists. We plan the coming years in terms of which countries we wish to visit next.

But many of us are more confused than ever…

The downside to the life of the Millennial nomad is an increasing sense of confusion. Where will we settle? Do we want to settle? If we do, will we know anyone? What will we do? Where are our families and friends based? Do we want to live there too?

The questions also pertain to career-identity. What do we want to be? To do? How do we earn money without pinning ourselves down to the 9-5 grind? We are the most financially insecure generation in the past half-century. This is pause for thought. In such an affluent world, Millennials are struggling to scrape together down payments if property buying is on their agenda. Perhaps this phenomenon itself lends itself to the nomadic lifestyle.

Concluding thoughts

Global citizenship and Millennial Nomadism are interrelated, interacting and relatively new phenomena. Terms such as “Third Culture Kid” are relevant to most Millennial nomads. The Millennial nomad is a product of numerous cultures, numerous ethnicities, numerous countries and numerous experiences. We rarely feel lonely but, when we do, it stems from a sense of the absence of deep-rootedness to a single place. On the other hand, this absence of anchored roots creates a world of possibility. The Millennial nomad is an explorer, a seeker, a questioner, a visionary, and a thinker. We feel both a part of and apart from the world. We continually seek to understand both our internal and external worlds. We are loyal friends but are likely to move on. We are Generation Y, a product of our past, agents of the present and creators of the future.

[Image © Yuliya Yafimik 2016 under license from Shutterstock]

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