Location independent lifestyle isn’t anything new. While for many working not from their office, but from their kitchen, their living rooms, bedrooms or even beds came as unrequired novelty, this lifestyle was desired and practiced long ago before the pandemic. And I don’t mean years. I mean centuries. In the 18th century, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe worked remotely from Italy for two years. A renaissance man, Erasmus, never committed to a particular employer or country. Edward Munch left conservative Kristiania (Oslo) for avant-garde Berlin. This is where he painted “The Scream.”
It is not sure to what extent the flexibility of working will remain after the pandemic. However, if it remains, many may leave the cities. The question is: “Where will they go?”
A predictable direction is to the sun. Some used the opportunity and travelled or moved already during the pandemic. “My pandemic was all around the islands,” a Product Designer told me. “Work your surf,” says a personalized ad promoting Portugal. This could be it, but not all contemporary and historic nomads chose sunny and picturesque places.
Munch certainly didn’t move to Berlin for the sun. There is no sun in Berlin. There may be more sun in Berlin than in Oslo, but this is not the sun. There is nothing special about this city, the mentioned above Goethe hated it for its ugliness. Still, at that time Berlin had something that attracted Munch. It was a place to be, this was where one would go to become an avant garde artist. To become an avant-garde artist was to be recognized as one by other avant-garde artists. And they were in Berlin. This was Berlin’s legend. Today we call it a brand.
There are places in Europe where you can get a house for 1€ under some conditions and they still need to advertise to attract people. It is easy to advertise as a brand, more difficult to build a brand and impossible to build a legend. Legends aren’t something advertised or created, they are organic and come from within the system. If you wanted to be somewhere interesting in Europe in the last years, it would have been not London or Paris, but Belgrade or Sarajevo, or maybe Reykjavik. How do you know? Well, if you’re current, you know.
People move, places move. Florence had its time, Paris had its time, Vienna had its time. All of these places experienced a moment in time when they gathered creative and like-minded individuals. Nowadays tech people fall into this category as well. After “all this” is over, new places will rise. Maybe not entirely new, rather undiscovered.
By the way. Goethe liked the sun. He loved Naples.