Moving to the Mojave Desert as a Remote First, Digital Employee and Small Business Owner From Los Angeles

(and Why I Plan on Sticking Around)

Introduction: The pandemic brought about unexpected changes for many Americans, myself included.

In October 2019, approximately 4 months before the US lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was prompted to move to the Mojave Desert. 

After years of life living in LA, I was burnt out and overstimulated: Twentynine Palms presented itself as the perfect home for a remote employee seeking a new base. 

Silicon Beach Founder Working From El Segundo & Landing in The Mojave Desert

Born and raised in LA, my most recent stint was in El Segundo, CA. Home to cool companies including Boeing, NEXT Trucking, and The Aerospace Corporation, I was lucky enough to build my companies from home while also working remote and hybrid for companies like Single Grain.

Like a lot of Americans, I was getting ready to move. There had been stories long before the pandemic that Californians were moving out of the state into places like Texas and Florida. While moving patterns are changing at scale, my belief is that many Americans from major metropolitan areas are moving to more rural communities. With them, they bring their education, professional skills, and desire for a higher quality of life, with.

For me this included moving out of El Segundo. But before landing in the Morongo Basin, I had a 6-month stint in San Diego.

My move to Twentynine Palms was helped facilitated by my role as a member of the Gig + #SideHustle economy, I was lucky enough to continue working with clients online while generating a bit of situational awareness of my newfound desert surroundings. 

I had the additional luck in that I had family in the area who were able to offer support and a home base for this work from home, Digital Nomad to hunker down during what was arguably a transformational time for America: the Covid-19 pandemic.

Working from home, remote work, hybrid work, and endless Zoom calls all became a part of the new reality for many Americans, myself included. Finding myself in a new location, with no real knowledge of its offerings, yet a desire to find a slice of peace meant it was going to take some time to plant seeds and develop roots. 

Finding a Home in Twentynine Palms

In the almost four years that I’ve lived in the Joshua Tree Gateway communities area, I’ve developed a deep sense of respect, appreciation and love for natural beauty.

The fall, winters and springs all offer a glimpse of a special kind of nature steeped in the eternal visual terrain that the desert has to offer. Drinking in what's arguably some of the most incredible geographical marvels this earth has to offer is a luck only those who live here get to see from the added perspective and angles of depth calling this area home offers. 

The falls, winters, and springs are perfect here, and arguably offer breadcrumbs explaining the trail of tourist who love to visit the Joshua Tree National Park and the cities which make up with Joshua Tree Gateway Communities of the Morongo Basin.  The High Desert, beginning with Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, The City of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms are centralized historic Highway 62, an east-west navigating highway facilitating the transportation requirements of the local Marine Base.

Regional communities including Wonder Valley, Landers, Pioneertown and Flamingo Heights dot the map as various routes travel north towards Apple Valley, Victorville, Adelanto and more. 

The summers this region has to offer presents a special kind of challenging hell demanding humility and submission to elements more powerful than you. The sun serves  well as a stark reminder of the importance of choosing your battles.

The sun also reminds you to drink your water, as staying hydrated is foundational to moving through the desert safely. Drinking water consistently instructs desert dwellers of their best and worst qualities as it relates to responding to pressure and difficulty. 

My first summer, working from home with two fans during a time which included 100 degree evenings and 115 degree days, I would often have to remind myself that saving my resources, thereby growing my business was worth the challenge or not purchasing an Air Conditioning unit until I could afford it.

Broader lessons around affordability, through the lens of a Los Angeles native used to spending on rent what most of America spent on a mortgage, offered new perspective and a deeper sense of appreciation for my adopted home. So much so that its been a pleasure volunteering and organizing local community events. 

The most exciting part of living here has been participating in the change as this area of the world continues to grow. While the growth is slow, its steady, and offers a diverse mix of experience and stories intertwined around a collective effort to carve out slices of  American pie.

For me, that included developing friendships and relationships with other working, remote employees and professionals in the area. Typically over a cup of coffee, a shared meal, or perhaps a drink at a local watering hole, finding friends and collaborators has included lots of shared stories and experiences regarding the new lives we've decided to start here. 

And for me, the lightbulb hit: why not offer a provide a desert home base for other, remote employees? 

The Morongo Basin: A Perfect Location for Coworking

The more I thought about it, the more launching Black Cactus made sense: one of the primary challenges I experienced as a remote worker was having to deal with cabin fever. 

Working remote, for all its benefits, does offer some challenges that working in an office has the ability to solve for. 

Considering the nearest coworking location to the Joshua Tree Gateway communities was located more than 40-minutes away, offered the realization that a hybrid work model, supported by advanced communication and technology solutions, could be beneficial to the community.

Inspired to make a difference, a first-of-its-kind coworking space was born in the High Desert and Morongo Basin. 

Black Cactus' goal: community development and economic stimulation through business growth and education, with Twentynine Palms at its heart.

Twentynine Palms offers an unparalleled blend of attractions - home to the largest Marine Base in the world and the majestic Joshua Tree National Park, both of which injects millions of dollars into the regional economy. Rural communities must update their infrastructure to stay competitive, and an innovative, community-oriented co-working space offers the ability to close the gaps. 

Bridging together local business owners, government officials, organizations, and educations, my focus for Black Cactus is to consolidate our regional footprint and offer additional levels of convenience and service for desert locals, tourists, and the local military population. Twentynine Palms really has the opportunity to stand out amongst its peers including Coachella, Palms Srpings and Joshua Tree, while also serving as an important regional hub for the desert to center around.

A Tech-Enabled Regional Hub

As an Information Communications and Technology professional, the opportunity to establish a technology-enabled regional hub in Twentynine Palms is enticing. The steady growth the city is experiencing provides the perfect environment for innovation. Black Cactus aims to enhance quality of life for locals, contribute to workforce development, and address the 14% of the population living below the poverty line.

Stimulating the Local Economy

By fostering business development and offering services, Black Cactus coworking space endeavors to stimulate the local economy. By offering a well-connected coworking environment, its my belief that we will encourage collaboration, spark creativity, and cultivate productivity. As the hub grows, workforce development and educational opportunities will follow, adding value to the community.

Hybrid Work Model: A Productivity-Boosting Solution

The newfound appreciation for remote work has led to the understanding that a hybrid work model can be a productivity-boosting solution. With cutting-edge communication and technology services, Black Cactus coworking  will create an environment that promotes efficiency, effectiveness, and overall work satisfaction.

Building a Thriving Desert Community

Twentynine Palms presents a unique chance to build a thriving desert community, where business and technology go hand in hand. As an entrepreneur in the area, the vision is to create a space that embraces the potential of the region while providing support to businesses and individuals.

Wrap Up

Moving to the Mojave Desert during the pandemic has been an eye-opening experience, revealing the immense potential of Twentynine Palms. With a focus on community development and economic stimulation, Black Cactus coworking  aims to enhance the region's future. By combining advanced communication and technology solutions with a passion for innovation, this oasis in the desert has the potential to become a shining beacon for the entire community, offering hope, opportunity, and growth for all.

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