- if you love Austin you will forever thank your friend for bringing you there.
- if you hate Austin you will forever condemn your friend for bringing you there.
- I'm sure he'd love to have you with him again.
- I'm also sure he's done the math on what half of a 2/2 costs compared to what all of a 1/1 costs and if you're going to have to deal with a roommate, better the devil you know.
So look. My mother started a family tradition: when she was looking at colleges, she got out an atlas, got out a compass, and inscribed a thousand mile radius around her parents' house. She then blackballed all colleges within that radius. I, too did something similar: in 8th grade, I started auditioning "places I could build a future" because fuckin' hell I wasn't gonna be anywhere near the goddamn desert in general or New Mexico in particular.
I'd like to highlight a sentiment that you should view as an opportunity:
- Feels pointless to move anywhere in America
This does not sound like an assessment based on firsthand knowledge. It looks more like a prejudice borne of your personal circumstance and experience. You can fix that tho!
You work remotely, yes? And you want to open a gaming cafe. You're looking at business plans, you're messing around in GIS, you're researching things like crazy and you're seriously contemplating tearing up roots for FUCKING AUSTIN (fuck Austin, by the way - Fuck It In The Neck) but it doesn't sound like you've done any actual market research.
Go do some market research.
Figure out your minimum living situation. Talking absolute minimum. Can you live out of the back of a Prius? Can you live out of the back of a Chevy Astro? Can you live out of the back of a conversion van? Or do you need to crash at an AirBnB every night? Whatever your comfort level is times your available funding will dictate the length of your exploration.
Figure out everywhere that might be a cool place to build a future. Because trust me: if you do this right you'll never get to leave. You do not build a business with the intent of pullilng up roots five years down the line. I actually really like America, there are just groups of Americans that, when allowed to group together, do repulsive things. You can avoid most of them, particularly if you have a blank slate as far as where you hang your hat.
Let work know that you're "getting some air" or "vision questing" or "seeing America" or whatever is going to hit them the kindest. You're young and they're not and they will root you on, mutherfucker particularly if you still get your work done and make meetings. Enroll your parents, enroll your friends, enroll random strangers on obscure online message boards, ask elizabeth for tips because she did something similar not too long ago.
Now - build out a map/road trip of "places I think might be great to live/open a gaming cafe" combined with "gaming cafes that seem to kick ass whose brains I want to pick." See if you know anyone or know anyone who knows anyone in those places. Next, pick up the phone and call those gaming cafes. Let them know you're coming, let them know if they'd let you hang out for a day, let them know if they'd let you take them to lunch, let them know you definitely aren't opening up next to them but their operation looks cool and you're trying to figure out what your own gaming cafe would look like and where you would put it.
This is your support network. Value them, trust them, but don't trust them blindly. Create some sort of channel where they can keep in touch with you - I don't care if it's an email list or a Substack, just somewhere they can see an occasional road picture. They're investing their attention in you, pay it back. You don't need to be an influencer, you don't need to be a vlogger, you just need to be "spencerflem, that cool guy sleeping out off a prius for six months so he could open a bitchin' gaming cafe in Chillicothe for some reason."
You are at a unique turning point in your life, and you are singularly well-equipped to take advantage of it. If you can give over 30 days to figuring out where your future lies, that's 30 days more than most people spend. Imagine what you could do with 90 days! Imagine what you could do with six months! Buy your "minimum transport/living container", pay to get it looked over to ensure it'll make it 20k miles, get a phat roaming plan on your cell phone and venture forth. You'll learn stuff about yourself, you'll learn stuff about gaming cafes, you'll learn stuff about America (or fuck, Canada - swing for the fences) and whatever you do next? You won't be approaching it from a place of uncertainty.
Three other thoughts:
1) Don't scrimp on the car because you're going to sell it when you're done. So also try not to abuse the crap out of it.
2) I asked the local if they were getting any grief from the Games Workshop down the street, as Games Workshop is notorious for being dix. They told me that in fact, GW throws business at them on the reg because there is stuff that GW is not allowed to carry because GW are dix yet people want. I can confirm that family friends moved to North Dakota to buy a Games Workshop franchise and they are, in fact, happy as pigs in shit. So you could do worse than feed these into your GIS, feed this into your business plan and feed this into your calculations. "Cool places that have a Games Workshop but no other gaming cafes" is probably a query you can run.
3) Any business opened as an alternative to a money-making enterprise people hate will go under. Clubs are the same - most people think it's about hanging out with your friends and being cool but it's actually about serving alcohol to assholes at inflated prices. That said, coffee shops are among the most bulletproof small businesses out there.