Sunday, March 29, 2009

Some Ideas for Living on the Down Low

I met a number of interesting people this past week. Among them are a few who are living virtually untraceable lives. Here's how they do it:
  • One person was from a foreign country and is now living with a new husband in the US. Although I am sure this person is completely documented in the USCIS system, she does not have anything in her name (bills, mortgage, car, etc).
  • Another guy is now living with his elderly father. He has always kind of lived on the down low, first having lived with a girlfriend for a number of years and now with his father. He has no debts, no bills in his name, drives his father's car under whose name it is registered and insured, and while he has a driver's license, I think that is about the only official document with his name on it.
  • A few people are here illegally. They simply walked across the border from Central America looking for work. I am guessing they are totally undocumented in all aspects of the word.
  • One interesting lady seems to have fallen into a pretty good situation. She lives as a house sitter and often gets long term jobs (ie: summers in hot places and winters in cold places) at a variety of locations around the country. She stays in a client's home, watches their house, waters the plants, takes care of the mail, the yard, and other small tasks, and seems to live quite well.
  • All of these people get by by living in someone else's residence either as a spouse, renter, border, caretaker, or other such situation which allows them to pay low or no rent with none of the usual house bills in their name.
  • All of these people seem to have "under the table" job skills. You won't find a neurosurgeon working under the table (most places are sticklers for licenses, insurance, etc), but many other jobs transfer quite nicely to the "pay for work" job market (ie: handyman, care taking, agriculture jobs, construction, masseuse, etc).
  • These people all seem quite charming. Personality counts when it comes to working one-on-one for others. Most jobs such as these are spread by word of mouth so making a good impression, being trustworthy, being perceived as a hard worker, and getting along with others are almost as important as their actual job skills.
  • These people all carry cash. Not once did I witness anyone using a check or credit card. All, when they needed to purchase anything, used cash.
  • They didn't have a lot of possessions. Lots of possessions tend to tie you down. How easy would it be to pick up and move if you have to haul a 60" TV, a desktop computer, a grand piano, a jet ski, and all of the other assorted items that the "average American" has?
  • They all seemed very flexible. If you say "do you want to ____" 99.9% of the time they will say yes. They aren't stuck in a rigid schedule, don't do things the same way every day, and they are all open to opportunity (how else, I guess, would they be able to put together such unique lifestyles).
  • They aren't radical anything (radically political, radically anti-government, radical anti-anything else) they just seem to have come by these lives because they are happiest living this way. I'm not so sure they live the way they do to make any kind political statement, I believe chance, interesting opportunities, minimalist living, and other more social/personal reasons prevail for their choices.
  • They get the things they need in unique ways: one has a cell phone under a girlfriend's name, a couple use pre-paid cell phones more to have a lack of a monthly bill rather than to be untraceable, one is just the most charming, personable person you could ever meet and therefore is invited to a lot of things such as parties, functions, and events which means she rarely would even need to buy her own food because it is all provided to her via others.

The point of this post isn't to suggest this lifestyle for everyone. It would be difficult for many to live in such mobile, uncertain situations, even more so if you had a passel of kids, or other responsibilities to take care of. However, being open minded to opportunities and not doing things "like everyone else does" will go a long way towards making your life more interesting (and possibly more untraceable).

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting post. I've met quite a few people with similar lifestyles, and you're right - its not a political statement, its just a way of living that they've fallen into cos it suits them. A lot to be learned from them too...