What Nomadland Taught Me About FIRE

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“You’re going to give away the 60 best prime years of your life for the 20 poorest years of your health.”

-Bob Wells, Nomadland

I had just finished watching the movie “Nomadland” after hearing that it had won Best Picture at the Oscars this year and this is the quote that stuck out the most for me. Based on the book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century,” the movie tells the story of a community of nomads, many of whom lost money during the 2008 financial crisis, who travel continuously around the continental US, live in their vans, work seasonal jobs, and support each other while being seemingly forgotten by the rest of society.

The story follows a woman named Fern, who leaves her hometown of Empire, Nevada for the open road after losing her job, her house, and her husband after her town’s gypsum-mining company shuts down.

She becomes a nomad, not only as a financial solution, but also as a way to heal from loss and reclaim her identity. It’s a real struggle at first, having to deal with car trouble, the cold, and crapping in a bucket, but then she finds an entire community of nomads out there, just like her.  And their leader is a man named Bob Wells, who they refer to as the “Godfather of Van living” (sound familiar?) Through him, she not only finds comfort but dignity in nomadism, and eventually nomadism becomes a lifestyle she chooses rather than one that’s thrust on her.

I didn’t expect so many things in this movie to resonate with me. It wasn’t just the main character getting screwed by real-estate and her reliance on a job, or her free spirit and love of travel, but also how eerily close her journey paralleled our own.

The FIRE community is generally better off financially than the van living community, but what struck me was how many things we have in common. The methods and strategies we use may be very different, but both communities sprung from the realization that something in the modern Western capitalistic society we are all expected to participate in doesn’t seem fair, and both communities attempt to solve this by rebelling and doing the exact opposite of everything we’re “supposed” to do.

In the nomads of Nomadland, I think we found kindred spirits. Specifically, we both realized…

The American dream is broken:

“From a young age, people in the Western world are taught that living a “quality life” means getting a job, raising a family, buying successively bigger houses, and working most of your life to enjoy retirement in your final decades. That’s a quality life, that’s what we’re told. And that’s just one great, big, enormous lie.”

-Bob Wells

Source: CBC Interview

I got chills reading this. Seriously. I had no idea who Bob Wells was in 2015, but this was my exact thought back then. I was trying to escape the rat race after watching one of my co-workers collapse and almost die at his desk from stress. The scariest thing is that nobody really batted an eye when my co-worker returned back to his desk the next week. In fact, it had been almost expected of him. After all, he had a house and a mortgage to pay off. How could he stop working?

The American Dream teaches us to first pursue money so we can buy real estate. Then we pursue more money to pay the mortgage. And then somehow, this allows us to retire and be happy.

I had a suspicion that this was a load of BS, but the nomads in Nomadland discovered this the hard way. Many of them had bought into the American Dream and dutifully loaded up on real estate only to see it all blow up in their face in 2008.

You will never meet a group more allergic to real estate than these people. In the movie, Fern is offered a room in a house to stay in and she refuses. She see homes as a trap.

The nomads even have kind of a dark sense of humor about it, referring to their vans as their “wheel estate.”

So obviously, I was slow-clapping these people, gesturing at Wanderer and saying “See? These guys get it.”

Both the FIRE community and the nomads realized the same thing. The American Dream is broken. And that’s why we both wrote a new rule book.

Having a Mission Gives You Life Purpose

One of the themes of the movie is loss and finding purpose. The main character loses her identity after her employer goes bankrupt, taking her entire hometown with it.

But by finding comradery and helping other nomads, she learns that we weren’t put on this earth to buy bigger and bigger houses and compete in a dick waving contests until we keel over. Each of us serve a purpose and finding that purpose makes life worth living.

Many of us in the FIRE community worry that once we give up our jobs, we give up our identity. Then depression and anxiety set in and we regret that we ever pursued financial independence in the first place.

Nomadland proves that simply being part of something bigger than yourself—like a community—is enough to feel fulfilled.

We all have different ways to find meaning in our lives. For some, it’s raising a family. For others, it’s helping other people. And for some it’s creative endeavours that feed our soul.

They are all valid.

Purpose gives you a reason to live.

So those in the FIRE community worried about losing their identity in retirement can find solace in knowing that you aren’t your job. Get involved in something bigger than yourself like volunteering, raising a family, or pursuing creative outlets that help others.  

Everyone needs a Tribe

Even though the van living community is filled with introverts, they still find it incredibly rewarding to meet up with each other to discuss van maintenance, job prospects, and help each other out.

This is how the “Rubber Tramp Rendezvous” annual meet up was born. I was immediately reminded of my Chautauqua family and how we’ve been so much closer than any of the co-workers, friends, or classmates I’ve had throughout the years.

It’s amazing to find your tribe and spend time with people who “get” you. Becoming FI isn’t easy. But the journey is a lot easier when you have like-minded friends to share it with. 

Those Who Wander Are Not Always Lost

To paraphrase J.R.R Tolkien, those who continuously travel aren’t always trying to “find themselves”. Some people just love adventure and novelty.

From watching Nomadland, I learned there are two types of people:

  1. Travellers
  2. Settlers

In the movie, despite being offered free places to settle down multiple times, Fern declines these offers and chooses to continue travelling. She isn’t trying to fix anything. She simply loves waking up to ever-changing, breath-taking scenery and bathing in crystal clear rivers and lakes.

Bob Wells has also been on the road since 2011. At one point he bought a house to live in with his wife because she wanted to settle down. But he soon hated working long hours to pay for never-ending repairs, shovelling snow, mowing lawns, and being confined to one location. It was all just too wasteful. He went back on the road and now, even though he makes an estimated $75,000/year on his Youtube channel and can easily afford to buy a house, he chooses to live out of his van.

Fern and Bob are travellers and they love to wander. They aren’t lost souls trying to find a destination. For them, the journey is what counts. Which, if you think about it, is kind of like how life is. Life isn’t about a final destination. It’s about the moments, the people, and the experiences along the way. Life is a journey and we should savour each moment.  

Another thing I love about Nomadland is that it redefines what people consider a “home”. For Fern and Bob, it’s their vans. They aren’t homeless. They’re simply “houseless”. You can be houseless and still be happy (I know, shocking right? That sound you just heard is every Home-Boners’ head exploding.)

Watching this movie taught me that the FIRE community isn’t the only one who sees the world differently. Travelling opens your eyes to many different ways of living. And not only that, you meet communities of other people you would’ve never met being confined to a cubical.

From our experience of travelling and meeting different groups around the world, we found out that the WorldSchoolers and Digital Nomads also have similar beliefs to the FIRE community and the Nomadland community.

Even though we each have our own solutions, we all identified the same problem: the American dream is broken, and we need to write a new rulebook.

What do you think? Have you seen Nomadland? Do you think the American dream is broken? And are you a Traveller or a Settler?

For those who haven’t seen Nomadland, here’s the movie trailer:


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50 thoughts on “What Nomadland Taught Me About FIRE”

  1. The American Dream isn’t broken. How about the Canadian one?

    I am curious how much the houses you were considering buying years ago before you retired are worth now?

    1. That’s a ptovacative statement!.. And…one I’ve been tossing about in my head lately. It seems like if you don’t buy a house no matter what you do you’ll end up poor. Houses and even rentals keep going up and they keep making your savings go down proportionally year after year. Good comment.

      1. Only losers put their money in savings. Stuff every penny you can into your brokerage account and buy buy buy ETFs. They will act as a buffer to inflation over time. I don’t own a house at this time. I feel wealthy. And I have a concierge taking care of the place I rent. His name is Landlord. 🤣

  2. I loved Nomandland for the same reasons as you did. In a recent conversation with my (Boomer) dad, he said that he found the movie “depressing.” “Depressing?!, I replied. “I found the movie incredibly hopeful and optimistic!, I added.

  3. I would say the keeping up with the Jones ideals portrayed and embodied by most metropolitan areas lifestyle as well as Hollywood characterizations has destroyed more dreams than anything.

    But to me, that was never the “American Dream”.

    My family always put an emphasis on saving and being prepared. Maybe it was because my grandparents lived through the Great Depression and taught the idea of always being prepared to their children who in turn taught it to me.

    God Bless Good Parents.

    As a youth I thought it would be cool to live in the big city. However, as I grew older I realized the big city is nothing more than people trying to force their values and lifestyle on you.

    I have a diverging of society than most. I can absolutely not agree with someone but hold no animosity against them until they try to make me “comply” with their personal rules.

    I have been blessed to meet both good and evil people throughout my life. It has given me balance to see and recognize both.

    Just like the article says, I found kindred spirits at Chautauqua. I can definitely tell you I didn’t agree with everyone about political or social views, but the driving force or desiring true independence that save provides I can say we are all in one Tribe.

  4. The American Dream has been dead for many years now.
    Hollywood helped the west to sell that story but is now finally showing the real dream !!!!!!

  5. In my view Fern’s situation if being 60+ years old and pennyless has got to be one of life’s biggest failures…but…the fact that she found a tribe of good people willing to look after and help each other is nice.

    I think it’s funny that so many think the RV full time world is new – hippies, beat nicks, the Gringo Trail – all of that has been going on since the 60’s, and pioneering and/or homesteading long before that – we just didn’t have social media to show it to everyone that stayed home.

    The fundamental American Dream is simply moving to a new place where you can make a better living for yourself and your family. That isn’t dead – it’s just been perverted to sell a lot of useless junk by thousands of basically evil companies and roughly a trillion dollars a year of relentless advertising. Tune out all media, tune in to newly immigrated families and you will find the real American Dream is alive and well.

  6. I think there are different movements of people who just realized you can opt out. You are not obliged to live like everyone else and blindly comply with societal norms. I chose to buy a piece of land and create some roots. As an idea seems the opposite way of a nomadic lifestyle. As an ideal is just another way to opt out. There is a movement of people leaving urban areas and finding peace, health and an out of debt lifestyle in rural areas.
    I love that Nomadland shows people at an old age taking control of their lives!

  7. I loved Nomadland, I was afraid it’d be depressing (being a 60 year old living in a van due to necessity rather than choice sounds awful) but I ended up finding it really uplifting.

    Am I a settler or a traveller? I really don’t know, I don’t see how anyone can know until they try both ways of living. I do love my condo, though I hate the endless repairs it needs! I love to travel, but I’ve never spent more than a month on the road – I wouldn’t retire, sell my condo (which my current retirement plan requires) and take up nomadic living without first taking a sabbatical to see if I actually want that life (and can manage it on a budget similar to this blog’s).

    I was planning to go on sabbatical next year (hopefully attending Chautauqua as well as experiencing at least 3 months of nomadic living) ahead of retiring some time between 2023 and 2025 (depending on how much nomadic living turns out to cost), but it looks like Australia (where I live, which has largely kept covid out and goes to great lengths to keep it that way) won’t allow international travel until 2023 at the earliest! Also, half the people at my office say they want to go on sabbatical after covid is over, even if only half of them actually try to do so, I don’t know how my employer (which is generally supportive of time off) will react!

  8. To me the American dream is the opportunity to have a better life for yourself and your family and the freedom to do so. Despite all of societal pressures, we still can, for the most part, choose our own paths. I don’t think those that choose to live on their own property are any worse off than those who choose to rent it, or to an extreme, live on BLM land, city streets, etc. if that’s what gives them fulfillment. Someone has to pay taxes so we can all have these opportunities I suppose. We all can’t live the same way and expect it to work.

  9. “…those who continuously travel aren’t always trying to “find themselves”. Some people just love adventure and novelty.”

    This really resonated with me. Thank you for writing this. Currently in Bali, but I’m finally coming back home to the US next month to get the vaccine. Then off again for some more adventure! =)

  10. It sounds very appealing but both my husband and I enjoy our hobbies/artisan business: woodworking, silkscreening, art, spinning wool, knitting, gardening, house plants, etc. We could never live in a van or travel extensively because we are passionate about these things. They also take up a lot of space. We are a few years away from retirement and will probably downsize from our large home that has a suite in it. We still want space for all these things plus a suite to cover things like land taxes and insurance. Plus these hobbies are our side gig as well and we wouldn’t want to give them up.

  11. Still LMFAO at “ dick waving contests until we keel over”. That was fucking hilarious.

    I have been following Bob Wells and the FT RV crowd for a few years. I think what they pull off is really cool and ballsy. Plus he’s a good man. He said in one interview that he gives away a ton of his YouTube salary to help others. And I thought the number was $175k but I’m not sure. If you liked this movie check out “Without Bound” on YouTube.

    Our plan is to have our current house, owned outright and valued many times below our means, and use an RV to travel seasonally out of FL when it’s hot. There’s a reason birds migrate.

    Our savings rate is about 89% right now. FIRE, and the freedom it offers, give me something to live for. Like the nomads.

    “One who has a why to live can bear with almost any how”.

    1. While I loved Nomadland and the concepts of nomadic travel, I took two cautionary tales away from it: (1) having some financial resources; and (2) avoiding loneliness. Fern’s character walks the tightrope on both. Neither requires over-abundance. Fern’s life on the road could have been exponentially better with just a little extra savings to fix her van. I think if Fern would have allowed Bob a little more into her life, she could navigate some of her loneliness. She didn’t need to be rich, nor did she need to move in with Bob at his kid’s house. Of course, the fact that she chose the more spartan path is what makes the movie so good. But, in real life, finding that balance of just a little bit more (without sacrificing you values) is the goal.

  12. Remember that in America one has the freedom, means, and resources to be a successful nomad. Its time to enhance the American dream to accommodate the travelers’ lifestyle too.

  13. Life is beautiful in all its different manifestations. Each day can be a dream day for each living being. It is up to us to make each day worth living. Traveling, settling, its all beautiful and transient as life itself. People in all the corners of the world are trying to make a better life for themselves. This is the real poetry of life.

  14. Again–may I please have your permission to use your phrase at an age-appropriate time and venue, like maybe a faculty meeting?
    –This one:
    and compete in a dick waving contests until we keel over.

    Thanks in advance and greetings from Taiwan!

    Dan V

  15. The American Dream isn’t dead, our interpretation of it is. The dream was never to work a dead-end job to buy a fancy car and house, only to upgrade a few years later in a never-ending rat race of “Keeping up with the Jones’s.” The American Dream was all about having the freedom of choice and the freedom of pursuing the life that you wanted to live. I’d say these nomads are encapsulating the dream perfectly; anyone who chooses how they want to live their life and is happy and content with their choice is living the American Dream.

  16. I found the movie depressing. Mainly because it seemed that most of the people were forced into the lifestyle through lack of savings etc.
    I did enjoy the cinematography and thought Francis McD.’s acting was superb.

    1. I had the same feelings. Fern seemed to be sporadically employed, had very low expenses, yet she was unable to be self sufficient (she had to borrow money from her sister). She obviously did not want to lay down roots any more after she declined the offer to do so with Dave. She wound up alone again and seemed rudderless in my opinion. Permanent employment should not have been an issue for Fern even through the Great Recession. One of the promo pictures for the film shows states that had an extremely low unemployment rate even during that challenging time. If anything Fern was far more mobile than most since she was not tied down to a geographic location.

  17. Settlers or travellers. Much like “Roots vs. Wings,” as JL Collins would allude to.

    “The American Dream” we were brought up in is broken because it’s a paradigm or life model that “failed us – we didn’t fail it.” And in some ways, it’s outdated. But, I digress.

  18. “But by finding comradery and helping other nomads, she learns that we weren’t put on this earth to buy bigger and bigger houses and compete in a dick waving contests until we keel over. Each of us serve a purpose and finding that purpose makes life worth living.”

    So, uhmmm, like, well, like…can we still compete in dick waving contests until we keel over? 🤣

    Because…it could be fun too? Yes? No? Maybe so?

    Why are dicks so maligned? 😂

  19. I’ll definitely watch this movie. I finished watching Playing with Fire after waiting for months to have my turn to borrow it from the library that was opened and closed (most of the time) due to restrictions.

    I wasn’t surprised when I saw Kristy in Playing with Fire. As for van living, I like watching vlogs about it but I’ll more likely own a tiny house and a huge backyard then travel on a budget with two passports to avoid paying visa fees whenever I can.

  20. “EVERYONE NEEDS A TRIBE”, FIRE, NOMADLAND…

    Just meant…
    You are searching on the outside to for a match with your inside…
    Statistically, you will have a higher probability to find a match before your 40’s if you start the search from the inside.

  21. I just pulled the plug this December on FIRE, and I can confirm that having a community is very important (at least for me) for making this stick long term. Leaving my job in the midst of social distancing has left me feeling slightly isolated. I had definitely not expected to feel this, however I am so grateful for your blog to not only show that I am not alone in these feelings, but also offering solutions, as well as a community to join! Thanks so much for all you do!

  22. both Nomadland and the American dream are too extreme . i prefer a balanced life .. a frugal lifestyle .. no debts no worries . a bit of work . a bit of travel .. i like to be in control of my life so i became self employed …

    humans seem to want a bit of everything not just one . from my experience .. i don’t like to be on the road for too long .. or at home

    i couldn’t live in Airbnbs ..

    the main thing is to save and not get sucked up into buying stuff

    thats how you guys did it too

    not a fan of the movie .especially for an oscar winner .. glad a woman won director .. she hardly acted . dead pan the whole time .. seen much better movies this year .

    1. Love love love your point about balance. I’d never be happy always on the road, nor always at home. The freedom to choose the level of interaction, have complete isolation, peace and quiet – or engage the community – it’s perfect. I don’t fit in big cities any more (did LA, did Orlando, etc) – and have found balance here in the mountains of western NC. Thank you for being a bit of a provocateur…

      1. thanks for the nice note … balance does seem to be the best option . if we can get it . not easy always .. glad to hear you have found some ..

  23. I think the conventional wisdom of getting a job, raise a family, and buy bigger houses *can* be quality life for some. However, we need to be taught that it’s not the only way of quality life.

    Life is so much more than having to work for somebody else. You need to have a lot more than 2 days a week so enjoy and work on things that you want to work on, not what someone else wants you to work on.

  24. I loved Nomadland, though for me the message was more about how in America, you can work your entire life and still have almost nothing to show for it when you can no longer work. I find that really disturbing. If Fern hadn’t had a sister to lend her money when her van broke down, what would she have done? If she hadn’t had her health to continue working odd (and very physically demanding) jobs, what would she have done? I love America and it’s been very good to me personally, but as someone who grew up in Europe, I think the wealthiest country in the world should do more to guarantee a dignified retirement to everyone. We can’t all be millionaires, someone has to clean the fast food restaurants and sweep the streets, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect and age with dignity. I thought the movie was beautiful and certainly deserves praise for emphasizing we don’t all have to live the same one and only path, but to me it sort of cheerfully avoided asking how ok is it really for a country this wealthy to have this little of a safety net even for bright, resourceful and hardworking people like Fern?

    1. Fille Frugale, have you ever read “The Psychology of Money”? There are numerous stories of people in the USA, e.g. a janitor in the book, with modest incomes that make the choice to save and invest and achieve FI and a good retirement.

      The problem is the consumer culture that inspires a hedonic treadmill that keeps people broke. But those are individual choices. Personally I’m happy I found Kristy’s “Quit Like a Millionaire” book, because it has led to better personal choices and more freedom.

      When I here people talk about how the “rich country” needs to ensure X or Y for its citizens, it smells of government involvement and they go about things very wastefully. FIRE has proven that people of many races, creeds, sexual orientations, incomes, families, etc. can achieve financial independence, at varying levels, through personal responsibility.

  25. I liked certain aspects of the movie – for example the beautiful western scenery and the travelling to new places. However, if you are 60 years old and don’t have any money saved up – is that the government’s fault or your fault because you did not plan ahead? At least the FIRE community teaches people the importance of saving money and investing so you can become financially independent and live the life you want.

  26. Very thoughtful post. I saw the movie, enjoyed it tremendously and was totally blown away by the lifestyle of these nomads. Different strokes for different folks!

    However, the choices we make are really not the issue, but the fact that we live in a country that ALLOWS us to take the route we want is the really important point that many miss.

  27. This post hits home as I am a firm follower of FIRE and a van dweller. I live full time in my Ford Transit with my dog. I’m blessed as I’ve been a remote worker in the finance space for the past eight years. I own my Breckenridge, CO condo free & clear yet prefer living as a nomad. I am truly comfortable being uncomfortable. Similar to Dave & Fran, I’m not sure I’ll ever live in a brick & mortar establishment again. Living life on the road, one day at a time, one sunrise/sunset at a time, is my heaven on earth. I’m so grateful for already living this life at 34… while already basically financially independent. Life passes by so quickly.. you’ve got to reach out and grab it.

    So you on down the road..

  28. The van living is real, sad and deserves empathy and respect. Whatever life threw at them, they are fiercely independent.
    I read the book and likely won’t watch the movie because I was annoyed enough by the book. The author seems to have a hidden agenda. The main character has $500 in Soc.Security benefits after she supposedly was employed her full life? Google search avg SS- either the author lies, or she is hiding other facts. The average SS is $1500/month, and was $1300 in 2017 when the book was written. The minimum benefit is $800. Plus there are food stamps etc. And the story of the software executive with $500k in his 401k who retired in 2000 and “lost the money in the stock market in 2008”? Maybe the author means he sold in the storm -that is human and many of us perhaps did it- but it is different than “losing the money”- that makes you believe that investing in the stock market equals gambling. And that executive, if his salary was so high, must have at least $2000/mo SS benefits. His pain is real, the story is missing the part: how did he get there?

    I had a co-worker -regular guy, very smart otherwise- who had 500k in 401k and “lost” it, lost his house, and received only 75% of his SS. His story? He treated investing like gambling, it was an addiction. He lost the 401k and the house by betting on small mining stocks in exotic places; he borrowed using credit cards with 25% interest even after he lost his 401k and house, to continue “investing” (gambling); and he supposedly didn’t pay his taxes several years and the IRS grabbed 25% of his SS benefit. That’s a story that makes you understand how a person can get from working their whole life to being bankrupt. It’s human, it is possible, it’s not a shame. What I find annoying in the book, it makes you think: whatever you do, whatever salary you have, you have a fat chance to end up living in a van, and working 10 hrs night shifts in an amazon warehouse when you are 75, and you have no power over your circumstances. So in the end why bother?

  29. I haven’t seen it, but I will when it comes out on DVD or Netflix.

    Speaking of real estate, what are your thoughts about Canadian real estate seemingly going berserk? It looks like prices have really rocketed since the start of the pandemic and are at all time highs.

    I think the housing market is going to keep on going for years. People are so wealthy and have such great credit.

    Sam

  30. A favorite of mine….

    Days are Numbers (The Traveller) Alan Parsons Project

    The traveller is always leaving town
    He never has the time to turn around
    And if the road he’s taken isn’t leading anywhere
    He seems to be completely unaware
    The traveller is always leaving home
    The only kind of life he’s ever known
    When every moment seems to be
    A race against the time
    There’s always one more mountain left to climb

    Days are numbers
    Watch the stars
    We can only see so far
    Someday, you’ll know where you are
    Remember
    Days are numbers
    Count the stars
    We can only go so far
    One day, you’ll know where you are
    The traveller awaits the morning tide
    He doesn’t know what’s on the other side
    But something deep inside of him
    Keeps telling him to go
    He hasn’t found a reason to say no
    The traveller is only passing through
    He cannot understand your point of view
    Abandoning reality, unsure of what he’ll find
    The traveller in me is close behind
    Days are numbers
    Watch the stars
    We can only see so far
    Someday, you’ll know where you are
    Remember
    Days are numbers
    Count the stars
    We can only go so far
    One day, you’ll know where you are
    Remember
    Days are numbers
    Watch the stars
    We can only see so far
    Some day, you’ll know where you are

  31. We’re in our early 50’s and made more money than we could ever spend in what seems a very short period of time building 3 very profitable brands on Amazon and exiting..

    We could go on any expensive holiday we’d like, but all we think about is slowly cruising around in an RV in any country just seeing how people live & taking in the sights.

    Like most people in the movie, we’re just introverts who like to live life on our own terms, after exiting the rat race, and what an exhausting race it was…. now we are just slooowing it down to a speed WE like.

      1. hi Janet, just google “how to make money selling private label on amazon”…you will also find lots of videos on YouTube

  32. I know you guys are anti-housing, but I feel so blessed to have bough a single family home in Vancouver in 2015.

    It’s been nice to enjoy the home while seeing it appreciate. Should be paid off in 7 years or so too.

    I don’t want to be a nomad at all.

  33. Actually, what Nomadland taught me about FIRE is that you need to own a house outright by the time you’re 60 so you don’t have to live in a van. The fastest growing group of homeless people are those over 60 who have rented all their lives.

    Fern doesn’t live in a van cos she loves travelling and cleaning toilets – in the last scene, she longs for the house she had with her husband, which unfortunately she either was renting or did not own outright, and lost it. If she still owned that house and the town was still going, would she really be sleeping and shitting in her van? Comparing the Nomadland group and people who FIRE and use geographical arbitrage really screams of privilege in the latter group and a tone-deafness to the struggles of those who are forced to live in a van. Fern doesn’t leave her sister’s house (or that bloke) because she hates houses, she does so because she can’t stand the idea of relying on other people. How do I know this? I work with this growing group of homeless car-living people.

    The problem with FIRE is that once you retire the bank does not lend you a mortgage anymore, unless you return to employment, or you happen to run a very successful FIRE blog. So your choices are to sell your shares and say goodbye to your dividend returns, or to keep renting even if you don’t want to be at the mercy of landlords’ rules and rent rises anymore.

  34. After watching Nomadland, I was depressed. The only thing that bought me back was opening my financial spreadsheet. I’m ok now. The book is more depressing IMHO. My wife and I are retired and we rent, OMG. Retirement is all about cash flow, doesn’t matter what you own. Currently we rent a former corporate apartment, totally furnished which includes utilities. Most people think we are crazy but then a few of you smile and get it.

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