Should You Live Local or Global?

It’s a choice with tradeoffs.

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Living in Russia, I always had FOMO (Fear-of-Missing-Out). It was a feeling that life was happening elsewhere. I wanted to work globally, be in the ‘Big World,’ but all I had was my small business and local Moscow friends.

Once I moved, that feeling evaporated. I now feel a different type of FOMO: the feeling that I am working too globally, and have few local friends.

I live in one of the most global cities in the world (London), yet I rarely go out. I spend most of my time sitting at home or in cafes, working, or writing.

But I recently realized — that’s the tradeoff.

Living Local vs. Global

You’ve got two options:

Live local

Like I did back in Russia: have local friends, be a part of the community, work on local business, and hang out a lot.

But be prepared to miss out on the big stuff: working with a diverse group of people, seeing new things, and being a citizen of the world (not just your country).

Live global

Like I do now: have no local friends, and spend most of your time on the internet, working “in the world.” I don’t go to parties, and I don’t hang out that much.

When you live globally, you don’t care where you are. You can become a “digital nomad” and live in a new country every month. Some of my global friends live that way.

But you will inevitably miss out on good things local living gives you, including being a part of your community.

It’s Impossible to Have Both

I tried.

You live globally, and try to hang out with your local friends. But at the back of your head, you’ll be thinking, “Man, I could have been working on something cool right now, but instead I am sitting here drinking beer…”

You live locally and try to work globally. But you’ve got all these local commitments, which will make working globally impossible. Plus, if you live locally long enough, the drive of being “global” wears off after a while.

It’s Just a Choice

There is no right or wrong way to live. Living global is a choice that wasn’t available some 15–20 years ago, but it’s here now. Some people might find it enjoyable.

You can make a choice based on what you value most.

I know people (some of my friends back in Moscow) who love their local community too much to give up on it. When you make that choice, though, you’ve got to accept you won’t make any meaningful global contribution.

For me, being in the Big World matters a lot. I am ready to miss out on certain local “benefits,” if I’ll be more connected with the rest of humanity, and work on something important.

So — whenever I feel FOMO about not engaging in my local community that much, I remind myself that it’s a tradeoff. You can’t have both.

But you can have what matters to you most.

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