Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
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earthling
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Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:25 am

I've been a digital nomad (DN) and local roamer with a work from anywhere (WFA) corporate IT job last 8 years, mainly based out of KC but also typically LA/NYC/Florida. Even more of a roamer this year. Have been spending a lot of time roaming downtown via backpack as well as other cities, spending time in public spaces, coffee shops, libraries, etc as a digital nomad/roamer.

Will continue to update this post with tips.

Downtown KC has most of the pieces in place that are friendly to DNs. Is better than most might think because...

- Thanks to KC's SmartCity initiative free Wifi is everywhere, including on the buses and streetcar. I VPN into my own VPN host at home, or can use a 3rd party service. Also use my phone's hotspot if needed.

- What separates transit downtown from most others is the fact that the streetcar is free, and the lack of dealing with fares makes the streetcar feel very integrated into the street and rest of downtown. Is just so much better than local transit in other cities that don't offer free transit. While it may seem there are too many stops, it's like a horizontal elevator to different downtown districts. Too many stops is better than too few for this particular use case.

- Bus day passes are only $3, making it cheap to roam elsewhere in the metro (with WiFi on bus) - Plaza/Westport, Brookside/Waldo and even KCK. The scooters and bikes most everywhere have helped and convenient if not up for long walks but I don't really need to use them often.

- Fair amount of cheap eats and just enough variety of public places to hang out. Plenty of coffee joints in every district.

- Growing presence of co-working spaces feeds into the ecosystem. Most of these jobs are digital nomad/WFA friendly and those working in these spaces also roam downtown.

Downtown KC of course doesn't come close for urban roaming compared to much larger cities but in some ways has a better balance with lower daily cost and the free streetcar integrating several districts together. It feels more seamlessly integrated.

Some things downtown needs to improve on from digital nomad/roamer perspective...
- Public places with free filtered water fountains - the kind that fill bottles. KCI airport has them. Need these around downtown. Hot option would be good too. Only one I know of is Cosentino's downtown (if paying customer).
- DN friendly hostels and bed rentals within co-working spaces for true intercity DNs who typically spend a few months per city.
- Pocket parks, including streetside micro parks.
- Broader cheap counter eats, ideally integrated closer to sidewalks.
- Infill that is street vibe friendly.
- Improve sidewalks in Xroads.

Anyone else doing this? Other ideas?

Fun aspects of local roaming are the adventures, natural exercise and living the day out of your backpack. I have a 'personal area salsa bar' in my backpack to perk up bland eats. Have baggy of extra coffee beans if running across a crappy coffee. And other comforts as well as all the goodies to support a digital life.

More here about the lifestyle, also check out entire site...
https://becomenomad.com/digital-nomad-lifestyle/

Search engine tags: "Kansas City", "digital nomad", KCMO, "nómada digital", البدو الرقمية, nomade numérique, डिजिटल खानाबदोश, digitaler Nomade
Last edited by earthling on Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:50 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by DaveKCMO » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:51 am

earthling wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:25 am
- Public places with free filtered water fountains. KCI airport has them. Need these all over downtown. Hot option would be good too. Only one I know of is Consentino's downtown (if paying customer).
The new East Village Transit Center will have one of these!

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:00 pm

^Good to know. Union Station could use a few, ideally with hot water too.

Also needed are more public places that allow charging. I carry enough battery packs with me that it's not often necessary and newer laptops last all day, but it's important to digital nomads. Downtown library is the place to go.

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by DaveKCMO » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:12 pm

earthling wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:00 pm
^Good to know. Union Station could use a few, ideally with hot water too.

Also needed are more public places that allow charging. I carry enough battery packs with me that it's not often necessary and newer laptops last all day, but it's important to digital nomads. Downtown library is the place to go.
Our new MAX buses have USB outlets. I suspect we'll include this feature in all future bus orders.

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by mean » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:17 pm

High end devices have been moving away from USB-A for years, although I guess most people with fancy phones and laptops probably don't take the bus much. And there are always adapters.

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:20 pm

^Yes, adapters for any scenario are good to have in backpack. Also good to have a power splitter like this or this, if others using up outlets.

BTW, Cosentino's has a 30 minute limit in seating areas, which they somewhat enforce especially around lunch time. I feel like I'm viewed as a hobo sometimes in some places... they see me and probably think 'it's that hobo with a laptop again' haha. Will chat up some small talk with those monitoring, mentioning WFA type job, which takes away any suspicions.
Last edited by earthling on Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by flyingember » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:48 am

mean wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:17 pm
High end devices have been moving away from USB-A for years, although I guess most people with fancy phones and laptops probably don't take the bus much. And there are always adapters.
Laptops went straight from USB-A to USB-C. mobile devices all but completely switched to USB-B by 2010.

Remember that most cables are USB-A to USB-B. The big deal switch is to USB-C on both ends of the cable with USB-A to USB-C cables as a transitional state

My work bought brand new high end laptops with both USB-A and USB-C ports. I would expect that outside of Apple this is the norm.

I would bet 99% of users still have a USB-A device somewhere in their home. I still have a classic ipod for car use with the 30-pin cable.

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:24 am

I use these retractable cables that are TypeA on one end and can switch between microUSB, Ligthtning and TypeC on other. Retractable also less messy to deal with in backpack. Another variation for microUSB/TypeC only.

BTW, good places to hangout if you have to call for meetings...
Dunlop Room on 3rd floor of Messenger Coffee, 4th floor study rooms at Downtown Library, back room at Opera House.

I might build up the first post as a guide for digital roaming hobos. (I'm roaming at this moment, hit Messenger first, just leaving Library, heading to RM soon for a $2 pita pocket at Tikka House.(edit: or not, closed on Mondays))

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by DaveKCMO » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:51 am

The Monogram Lounge at the J. Rieger Distillery has USB outlets under the bar. Downtown adjacent.

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Re: Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:14 am

^NIce.

I've updated first post with some backpack ProTips. Anyone downtown roamers have other tips?

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Re: Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by flyingember » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:31 am

I would add something about looking into free carrier/ISP wifi when choosing where to work.

For example, Spectrum has free wifi hotspots for their customers.
https://www.spectrum.com/wifi-hotspots.html

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Re: Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:39 am

^Downtown is covered pretty well with free public WiFi but yeah, Charter/Spectrum has WiFi broader around the metro that customers can use.

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Re: Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by WinchesterMysteryHouse » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:34 am

Kansas City’s always been friendly to the nomadic

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Re: Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by taxi » Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:57 pm

There are a lot of hobos downtown lately, but without jobs. More than I've ever seen in KC. They all have digital needs, some very similar to yours.

I had no idea that digital nomads were a thang. Is there any estimate as to how many digital nomads there are in downtown KC on any given day?

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Re: Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:10 pm

It depends on how you define. Having been doing this for 8 years I break it down to 3 types...

Type A) The True Nomad - Roams around different cities with no real home base outside of maybe a virtual address with a family member. They tend to only stay in a city for a few months, maybe less if not enjoying it. When the Startup Village was in full swing in KC, they attracted a fair number of these. But it has since dispersed mostly downtown and there are still probably some rotating in/out of KC. Downtown could use some 'beds for rent' places like Startup Village. Is a new trend now with co-working buildings, one floor dedicated to living space.

Type B) Home-Based Semi-Nomadic - I've been in this mode off/on over 8 years being based out of KC. Will visit cities anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months or so but mostly based out of KC. Some of the cities I have family/friends and if they may want me to stay a month or so, I sometimes go for it once a year or two (and have developed closer relationships than when we were younger). I'll actually buy clothes/basics to keep at each place and when I fly I just take my Digital Hobo backpack as described in first post, no need to deal with luggage. I've hit cities independently too at times for shorter periods while working, though mostly vacation.

Type C) Local Roaming Digital Hobos - They also have a Work From Anywhere / remote type job and roam around the city with a backpack, hanging out in coffee shops and public places/spaces. The rise of co-working spaces in KC has driven up the number of people roaming downtown (I've gotten to know a few and I once worked in Plexpod Xroads). There are many but couldn't estimate. I can tell who the adventurous are (see them in various downtown districts same day) and those who have a favorite coffee joint and stick with it or another in same district. There are many I see regularly in both cases.

The Type A/B lifestyles are clearly not family oriented but you can have long term relationships with Type B/C. I've been in a relationship for well over 10 years but we never have lived together and see each other almost every evening and weekends when in same city. Sometimes it could be weeks/months apart but when we hookup again it's refreshing. On a tangent, I know of a few others who have long term relationships but don't live together daily, two couples are in KC area. They literally live next door to each other, one couple empty-nesters. They tend to be somewhat introvert leaning, who mutually agree they need their own space but also can't live w/out each other.

But Type A DNs do say building personal relationships is the main drawback (of Type A) and may only do it for a couple years, then might turn into a (what I'm calling) Type B/C. Once getting in this mode, many say they could not take another job tied to an office desk unless a short contract. But the trend has been more and more WFA roles for those whose job is on a laptop. There's also a discipline to it in order for it to work but many modern students/interns are already in that mode.
Last edited by earthling on Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:45 am

WinchesterMysteryHouse wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:34 am
Kansas City’s always been friendly to the nomadic
In terms of people friendly yes but in terms of infrastructure for digital nomads it first kicked into gear with Startup Village (first neighborhood to get Google Fiber). But DN's tend to urban roam and downtown is generally more friendly than SV and some other cities partly because of the free streetcar, DN friendly library and free WiFi generally covered more broadly than many other downtowns.

BTW, the free 4th floor study rooms at the downtown library are great when needing to make phone calls/web conferencing. I was just there and all 5 rooms were booked, more would be nice. You do have to reserve a room (3rd floor or online) and you get a keyfob to unlock door. Would be nice they would send you a QR code from phone to unlock door.

More here...
https://spaces.kclibrary.org/study-rooms

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Re: Downtown has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:19 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:12 pm
Our new MAX buses have USB outlets. I suspect we'll include this feature in all future bus orders.
The USB charging ports are rather subtle on the newer buses, along a black strip under window with no label. Didn't noticed them until pointed out they are there. Have seen them on buses in other cities that are much more obvious or have a label. What I don't care for about the newish buses (and others have pointed it out), can't open the windows.

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Re: Downtown KC has become Digital Nomad friendly

Post by earthling » Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:53 am

These solar powered USB charging benches have been showing up in parks and streets around the country for years. Called Soofa.

Bring it on KC...
Image

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