As the world grows increasingly centralized and each little part of life seems more and more micromanaged from above, the desire for intentional living is a deeply understandable response. It offers a way to opt out — to decentralize society by associating with the people you like and consciously choosing the things you do and the places you visit.
In this time of year full of new goals and ambitions, living intentionally can be a personal chance to reconnect in a world of increasing anonymity and alienation. Intentional living is a natural human evolution from the top-down mandates we increasingly live under. Choosing who you live with, where you live, and the sorts of activities you engage in allows you to escape many (if not most) of these burdensome incursions.
Intentional communities represent one of the major manifestations of the idea of intentional living. In intentional communities, people often from many backgrounds and cultures come together, united by common views, interests, or beliefs, and voluntarily opt into living amongst one another. Intentional communities can be focused on the types of foods you eat, or the meditation or workout methods you practice. It can be focused on some combination of political views, religious views, and more. It can also revolve around your interests and hobbies, such as examples of hiking-focused intentional communities, firearm-bearing communities, horseback-riding communities, and many others. While some of these focal points might seem trivial at first glance, sharing them with others can bring joy, happiness, and meaning to many people’s lives.
Intentional communities come in all shapes and sizes but each and every one of them is an expression of an effort to live a more determined life, an effort to live rather than just survive. Intentional living is a manifestation of the ambition of using your scarcest resource — your time on this Earth — in the most meaningful way possible. Making the most of this resource means living a life well lived.
Living in an intentional community allows you to easily live an intentional life. If you already live in a community of people that promote homeschooling and you regularly see moms with kids in tow going on a field trip into the woods, this assists your own ability to do something similar or maybe create a homeschool crew that occasionally intermingles. On the other hand, if homeschooling isn’t your thing, maybe you are an artist, and living in an art-centered intentional community allows you to realize your own potential. Regardless of your personal situation and what living intentionally means for you, intentional communities can help push you further along the path toward your greater goals.
Beyond simply being closer to people that share views and interests with you, intentional communities provide another benefit that can maximize your ability to live intentionally. When you live with people that share your values, you don’t have to spend nearly as much time worrying about potential disputes, disagreements, and other types of social friction. When human beings are in sync and view each other with respect, a higher quality of life can be attained than would otherwise be possible. Where there is respect and alignment of values, it is less necessary to keep looking over your shoulder and protecting your own interests from outside threats. While this is often necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of yourself and your family, such concerns ultimately subtract from the time, effort, and energy you can put towards other things. The more time you have to spend thinking about how a nearby neighbor might harm you or your property, the less time you can spend with your family or doing the things you love. What is more, avoiding such preoccupations will allow your time-well-spent to be more calm and wholesome. Being present and intentional with your family or doing other valued activities infinitely improves a preoccupied experience. Intentional communities can create such an environment — where these immediate concerns are alleviated, or in some cases even removed altogether. Intentional communities create respect and trust as well as shared culture and values. These ideas are the foundation for living a life that can be focused on achieving what you want to achieve.
By no means do intentional communities solve all problems. Nor do they make life simple or easy in every way. Rather, they have the potential to improve the foundations that allow you to live your life to the fullest, whatever that might mean for you specifically. Intentional living offers a different way of life. It makes possible more success and accomplishments and it also allows you to spend more time doing the things that matter most to you. Ultimately, intentional communities are about finding a place where you can feel the most comfortable and the most at home.
At the Free Cities Foundation, we are often focused on cities that achieve some level of legal autonomy or have systems and structures in place that are unusual in our world. While intentional communities do not generally obtain particularly far-reaching de jure autonomy, the idea of living amongst people that you align with, people you trust, people that will not turn to the long arm of the state at a moment’s notice, allows you to achieve de facto freedom. And the foremost reason we at the Free Cities Foundation promote jurisdictions with de jure autonomy is that such places can create an environment of liberty. If stable and lasting liberty is achieved through intentional communities, we are following the true north star of our organization. That is why intentional communities play an important role among the models our Foundation promotes.
I wish you a year full of newfound freedom. Let intentional living flourish in 2023.
This blog post is an amended version of an article originally published in Escape Artist Insiders Magazine in February 2023. Visit their website for more articles, information and advice on becoming an expat or digital nomad.