Free Cities are the new frontier. There can hardly be anything more adventurous than exploring the exciting possibilities, the mystery of the unknown, and the immense promise and potential that Free Cities bring with them. From founding and developing them to moving there and becoming a pioneer and entrepreneur in so many ways, the landscape of Free Cities appears to be the next big adventure in the development of the market for living together.
Let me tell you a bit more about the work I do at TIPOLIS to develop and build Free Cities. From their very beginning, Free Cities are an adventure. While not absolutely necessary, they are often established in far-off lands, countries unknown, and regions under-traveled. These are the communities in most urgent need of Free Cities as they stand to benefit the most. Traveling to these regions is itself an adventure. Of course, the meetings with interesting people, including business, political, and other local leaders bring an added layer of adventure. In these meetings, you can often learn the specific successes and challenges of these regions and begin the adventure of determining how a Free City may try to provide a way out of these challenges.
After the initial adventure of simply seeing a new place with one’s own eyes comes a much larger, more difficult but ultimately more rewarding adventure. This is the adventure of developing a plan for the city and finding the right partners and developers to build the city. This is no small feat. Free Cities are typically started on greenfield sites, meaning essentially 100% of the infrastructure must be developed by an adventuresome business. What could be more of an adventure than visiting these untouched lands, using your imagination to picture what could be, and then developing a plan to bring these ideas into reality?
After the plan has been developed, yet another adventure begins. In the beginning, any new Free City project will need to start finding business partners, joint venture partners, real estate developers, real estate operators/managers, and more. Many entrepreneurs and potential early movers will also be required. Over time, stable relationships that have been mutually beneficial in the past will make this adventure easier, but especially with the first generation of Free Cities, this network-building is immense.
I call the finding and formation of these relationships an adventure because life and operations will by their very nature be adventurous in these new cities. A Free City is a massive project, meaning a large number of parties must work collaboratively to craft the result together. No one firm has the expertise and resources to develop a city of thousands from scratch. Finding out who you might work with, how you might work with them, what structure forms the relationship and more will become a vital question to answer. Quite frankly, the answers are not always obvious and often surprising — hence a bit of an adventure in and of itself.
After building some of the relationships you will need to develop a Free City, another adventure appears in fitting together all the pieces of the puzzle. This process has many nuanced and interrelated parts. It requires maintaining good relationships with the Host Nation, ensuring open and clear lines of communication are established and importantly used. It also requires ensuring that commitments that are made are fulfilled. This is an obligation that the Free City developer has to the Host Nation, residents, and shareholders but also to all the service providers that are working for the Free City developer. We can never expect everything to go smoothly in building such massive new projects and ways of life as a Free City but enough must go well to add value to the lives of the potential movers. If this doesn’t happen, all else is for naught as nobody will move and funds will have been sunk into a capital-wasting project.
As the Free City is developed in its own adventure story, it opens the world for infinite adventures for pioneers willing and able to move to the Free City or work with it in some capacity. While movers to the new city are arguably the biggest pioneers, e-residents and others working in the Free Cities orbit are equally as helpful in developing a community around these new ideas. These people themselves are adventuring into the world of what is possible and how we might do things differently.
Physical movers, be they part-time or full-time, must be interested in and willing to accept a kind of adventure. While Free Cities must focus on the quality of life, the quality of the governance service, and of course the quality of the accommodations and other comforts in the city, the fact of the matter is that problems will arise. We are used to things being fast and easy. Of course, Free Cities will aim to achieve this objective as well in the long term, but, like any new venture, mistakes will be made and imperfections will necessarily be found. While that is the short-term inevitable reality, it is also noteworthy that Free Cities will be effective in responding to these flaws, imperfections, and constructive criticism. Thanks to their unique governance, they will do so faster and more reliably than existing institutions. Given that Free Cities start on greenfield sites and are, for lack of a better description, the underdog in this scenario, they must be relentlessly focused on the consumer experience. As such, while you can expect adventure if you are an early mover or adopter of Free Cities, you can also expect that over time reward will follow as we open new doors to the way we can live together.
As briefly mentioned above, one might take up the adventure of becoming an active community member in the Free Cities space and engage with the builders, developers, and thinkers in this community. While finding people to move and become the initial adventure pioneers is extremely rewarding, so too is the intellectual exercise of thinking about what might be possible in the world of governance. In this capacity, there are many conferences, meetups, resources, and social media groups to become involved in, share your ideas, and interact with other genuinely progress-seeking individuals. These groups have grown fast over the past few years and are seeking to network with others to explore the possibilities of Free Cities.
While at TIPOLIS we work directly to develop and build Free Cities, there are other and easier ways for people from all walks of life to get involved in the Free Cities movement. The Free Cities Foundation is at the center of this movement, connecting experts and the public across the world. Recently, we have seen experienced professionals from certain fields connect with city developers, new businesses formed, and lots of thinking and constructive critical thinking regarding the nature of human beings and what are the best modes of living together — an honorable goal that touches the lives of all of us. In this regard, I invite you to go on an adventure with me and the Free Cities Foundation team and join us in the Free Cities movement. One of the easiest ways is to join our Telegram group here and subscribe to our newsletter here. We look forward to seeing you there!
This blog post is an amended version of an article originally published in Escape Artist Insiders Magazine in April 2023. Visit their website for more articles, information and advice on becoming an expat or digital nomad.