Today’s Exponential Investor gets a little personal. Because the last five years of my life could provide an insight into what’s about to happen to generations of Britons.
It’s all thanks to Covid-19 and a breakthrough technology about to be switched on around the world.
Together, they could radically alter how people choose to live their lives, negating simple basic assumptions you might be making about what people want. In effect, I think a huge chunk of the world’s young are about to go homeless. By choice, and not in a bad way.
What makes me think so? The fact that I recently did it for three years. And I suspect the numbers of people like me will rapidly grow in the post-Covid-19 world – precisely the opposite to what others are predicting post pandemic.
So, let’s dig into what I’ve been up to…
In 2015, I quit my job at our sister company in Australia, cancelled my lease and dumped my belongings at my dad’s house.
The subsequent three years were a little bonkers.
First, I attempted to complete my Australian PhD remotely from my mum’s house in Austria. But the mortgage fraud that I was researching suddenly hit the mainstream news. A Royal Commission began investigating what my PhD supervisors had assumed was a minor problem – mortgage fraud by mortgage brokers and bankers.
A series of supervisors resigned or were fired and my new ones advised I change my topic. One refused to talk to me on the phone.
At some point I headed to London to help my old mentor Dan Denning with a research project. I spent the next few months in the archives of the British Library next to St Pancras International, pouring over old editions of Britain’s longest running newsletter.
Dan Denning was planning to relaunch The Fleet Street Letter and it was my job to collate the “best of” compendium. Given the newsletter goes back to the 30s, and the British Library lorries in the editions from its warehouse, this took some time. During my hours requesting the documents from Dan’s office, I got to know our current publisher Nick O’Connor.
At the time, Southbank Investment Research, the publisher of this newsletter, sponsored something called the Free Market Road Show. It’s effectively the largest libertarian event in the world because it reaches so many people in so many places. I was assigned to tour with them for three months, covering the events in publications and giving speeches. We visited about 35 cities in 30 countries over the course of three hectic months.
When I returned to London, I discovered that my latest PhD supervisor had gone on a six-month sabbatical without telling me. So I decided to do the same. I joined the resort company Club Med as a circus performer – my chance to take my hobby seriously for a short time before getting too old.
But Club Med mucked up my visa and left me homeless in London and Singapore for weeks, at my expense. Because I could prove the mistake was theirs, they eventually hired me to work in Phuket instead of Indonesia.
Seven months later, I headed to Perth, Australia, to try and polish off the PhD while helping an old friend to set up a circus school there. But my PhD supervisor hadn’t really come back from sabbatical. And never did, I think.
The new one suggested I join a university in Perth to finish the thesis – I only had the introduction left to do. But nobody would touch the thesis now that it was national news with the Royal Commission underway. Universities get a lot of contributions from banks, so pointing out they’re systemically lying is not great research policy…
I gave up on the PhD and my now wife moved from the resort in Thailand to join me. We drove across Australia to my hometown, where I’d began the trip years earlier. In the Nullarbor Plain, which features one of the longest straight roads in the world, the mobile phone network cut out. Which meant credit cards wouldn’t work. And so we almost got stranded without fuel.
After arriving, we spent a few months in Queensland and then moved to London at Nick O’Connor’s request to join Southbank Investment Research. By way of six months living in Japan in order to get the UK visa for my Japanese wife…
The rest, you know given you’re reading this today.
So, it has been quite a tumultuous few years. I wouldn’t change any of it.
But let me ask you this: what stops more people from living this sort of roving life?
Few people have the opportunity to do what I did, let alone doing it. But I’m sure many want to. Only they can’t.
Their jobs require showing up to offices. Visas are hard to come by. The administrative complications of organising things like a home office everywhere you go are an awful burden. And, most of all, moving your home often is hard. The legalities just aren’t moving friendly.
What I’d like to point out today is that my experience might become rather normal in coming years. Technology has made it all much more convenient. And thanks to a homeless generation is about to launch themselves into the world, without giving up on their careers as accountants, lawyers and doctors.
And thanks to a new tech about to be switched on around the world, the homeless generation is about to launch themselves into the world, without giving up on their careers as accountants, lawyers and doctors.
I recently recorded a webinar with participants from the US, Australia and me in London. It went off without a hitch or recording lag.
Moving around the world was surprisingly easy three years ago thanks to features like the internet. The costs of short-term rentals are crashing as furnished rentals become normal and the internet figures out how to identify trustworthy people. Cooperation to help others living an international life is also exploding. Fintechs are catering to people like me with bank accounts and cheap currency exchange.
When my grandfather in Australia sees his baby great-granddaughter on the phone in London, he’s as happy about the technology that makes it all happen as he is to see her. He remembers calling his London family from Perth in the 70s and how hard it was.
But our tech isn’t quite perfect yet, is it? There are still hiccups, problems and inconveniences. Incompetent real estate agents, ridiculous visa rules, taxation complications…
Well, what if we got rid of those? What if our internet infrastructure was so incredibly good that the world went global? What if location ceased to matter entirely?
Your surgeon could be working from New Zealand, your optometrist from Canada, your tax accountant from Spain and your lawyer from Blackpool – all seamlessly.
Just think of the lifestyle choices we could make…
How the world would look and how much it would change…
How much easier the last five years of my life would’ve been…
One of our editors here at Southbank Investment Research believes all of this is about to happen. A new upgrade to our internet infrastructure will unlock the pent-up potential and I think this will create a homeless generation.
We’d like to show you to profit from this rift here.
Strangely enough Covid-19 is both hero and villain in all this.
Working from home during the lockdown has unlocked working from home for many of us. The NHS is largely running remotely, online or over the phone, for example. Southbank Investment Research was entirely working from home for a while.
But here’s the irony. The new technology which will make working from home incredibly seamless is being blamed for the Covid-19 illness by people who are suspicious of its power.
They’re literally burning down the infrastructure to prevent coronavirus infrastructure…
So, when I say that this topic is about to explode, I mean it both literally and figuratively.
Find out who has it right, and what it means for you, here.
Editor, Southbank Investment Research