What a Time to be Alive
Despite all that’s going wrong in the world today — war in Ukraine, autocratic lockdowns in China, inflation spiralling out of control crushing the middle class, invasive technological surveillance, widespread mind virus (propaganda) — we are still extremely fortunate to be alive in the present day.
Comparing our lives to those of our ancestors centuries ago, the amount of individual freedom and choice we have now would never have been imaginable back then.
In the Medieval Era, civilized societies were largely feudal in structure, where status (and hence the amount of freedom in life) was determined by birthright. The majority of the population were without royal lineage, and thus remained lowly peasants for life. They owned no property nor assets, and spent their days slaving away on lands owned by local feudal lords for a life of meagre existence.
In the Industrial Era, the common man had the possibility of upward social mobility via asset accumulation (through hard work or shrewd business ventures). But despite a much greater deal of individual freedom for the common citizen, most people worked the same job for the entirety of their lives — a shipbuilder built ships for life, and an iron ore worker smelted for life.
Until air travel became affordable for the masses from the 80’s onward, most people (that were not immigrants) spent their entire lives in one village, town, or city, hardly ever migrating nor traveling elsewhere. Spending your entire life in the same place meant exposure to a limited amount of people — it was difficult to be obtain exposure to new things and ideas, and a typical individual only made friends and married within a small local population pool.
As the Information Era came along, we saw an exponential acceleration of the freedom of movement — both informational and physical. The internet and commercial flights gave us an amount of individual freedom never before seen in human history — instead of adopting the same ideas and hobbies as your neighbours, we were now able to pursue any interest or knowledge we want, and easily connect with likeminded individuals no matter where they lived in the world.
A New Era of Migration
As failing modern welfare states increasingly become more anti-capitalism by raising taxes and passing more nonsensical bills suffocating entrepreneurship, more and more enterprising individuals are leaving their home countries in search of better places to live and do business. The idea of nations and borders have become less important, despite modern politicians’ intentions to restrengthen geographical and geopolitical barriers.
COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of remote and hybrid work among internet and technology companies. This has brought about a new level of individual freedom in terms of mobility — as a technology/internet worker you no longer have to be restricted to the city where your company is based, and you no longer need to waste precious time suffering long commutes and cubicle smalltalk.
All these developments have setup the perfect environment for smart, enterprising, and freedom-desiring individuals to migrate and create new physical local communities with likeminded peers. I have long expected this trend to take off and we can now really see it happening in several “freedom hotspots” across the globe, especially as political tyranny came to the fore from 2020 onwards following the pandemic response measures.
Across the world, smart and enterprising leadership have implemented favourable policies to make their cities/states attractive destinations to self-sufficient remote working individuals. Dubai, Singapore, Panama, Portugal, Greece, Thailand, Mexico — these places have become the new meccas of freedom-loving Millennials.
All of these places have gone about attracting people in different ways. Dubai is renowned for its zero taxes and freedom for business, and that has attracted many high net worth individuals to setup base there. Places like Portugal, Greece, Thailand, and Mexico have presented themselves as great destinations for young remote workers (and digital nomads) who prefer a great mix of weather, life style, and ease of access.
Depending on what’s more important for your circumstances, you now have an array of options to choose from, for the sake of your happiness or financial prosperity.
These cities and states have realized that in the present day where the commodity trade and means of production have consolidated under the control of the world’s major superpowers, as small nations they must be clever to compete economically on the world stage. These countries are operating like businesses in a sense, offering the best deals to compete for Information Era customers — which are young skilled digital workers who can invest into and consume within the local economy.
With all this said, I am embracing this new reality myself. I was born into a lower middle class family in Asia, but thanks to my parents’ hard work I had the opportunity to grow up in the West. As a young professional, when I realized that I did not fit into the place I lived in and the life I had, I simply got up and moved elsewhere. We are so lucky to live at a time when our fate is not predetermined by birth or lineage, and we don’t have to spend all our lives in one place if it’s making us happy.
As I write this, I am in the process of setting up home base in one of the favourable nations mentioned above. But what’s even more exciting is that I am convincing some of my closest friends (with the means) to make the move as well. We will establish our own new community of friends and likeminded people — after all, especially at this time when people are growing further and further apart in real life, how nice would it be to live (in adulthood) in the vicinity of your close friends and perhaps even have your children grow up together?
The world has changed, and the cities and communities of tomorrow will be organized by interests and ideologies rather than by race or heritage.