C40's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:23 pm

—————————

OCTOBER 2018

—————————

Ok - big news for me. I'm a resident again.

On my way southwest for winter, I stopped in Albuquerque and Tucson to see if I’d like to live in either. Albuquerque is in a cool area, seems to have great weather, etc. But I was not a fan of the people there. Basically, there are tons of people suffering with homelessness, hard drug addiction, and severe mental illness. Then, there are also just a lot of crummy/loser type folks there. It definitely seems to have potential to improve, but without knowing the city well, I wouldn’t want to drop anchor there.

Now, Tucson, I liked better. It has some similarities to Albuquerque: nice outdoors stuff right by the city, dry and mostly warm climate, and cheap homes. And, importantly, the people in Tucson have their lives together much better. There isn’t nearly the same level of suffering and crumminess. Aside from a large proportion of very ‘normal’ seeming people here, there are: many students (The University of Arizona campus is here), and quite a lot of earthy/hippie/spiritual/yoga/herbal medicine/“desert rat” type people - which seem interesting to me. One thing missing - it there don’t seem to be very many young people with high incomes or lots of professional success. I think there just isn’t all that much here as far as industry/technology or other high-earning jobs. A higher than normal portion of men here are employed by the border patrol, military (there’s an air force base with 6,000 people), and the military industrial complex (Raytheon and Boeing(?) factories). There are TONS of outdoors stuff nearby, though I haven’t been out exploring yet. Mountains just on the north edge of town go up quickly to 9,000 feet, and there is plenty of desert stuff around.


—————————

So…

I decided that I like it enough to try it out for a while. I rented a tiny little house for 6 months. It’s a guest house, which are known around here as a “casita”. I’ll be getting a nice taste of living in one place again in a ‘normal’ way, checking out the city, getting to know people here, etc. I’m hoping that I like it here enough to want to buy a house to live here long-term. If I do buy something, I’ll likely try to do it in a way that keeps my housing costs low, like buying a house that has a casita and then renting out the house while I live in the casita. That could match up well with traveling regularly in the summers without the expenses of being a homeowner weighing on me.

The house is really small: just 250 square feet. That’s 4x the area inside my van though, and like 10x the volume. It is very simple and quite nice inside. It seems to be plenty of space for ‘living’ - at least by myself. There won’t be room for more space-intensive hobbies (van conversions, numerous bikes, motorcycle and motorcycle projects, gardening, beekeeping, building things, etc..), so those will mostly have to wait until some later day.

Here are some pictures of the house:

Image

Image

Image

Image

There’s a closet and bathroom in the back. And a washer and dryer outside (yeah, that’s a thing they do in the southwest).

I rented it for $575 a month. That includes ALL utilities and also Wifi. It was listed at $625, and I negotiated down to the $575 along with or by paying the rent for the entire 6 month least up front. So I’ll have this place until at least the end of April. I like the location fairly well. It’s a ten minute walk to go downtown, and a ten minute bike ride to campus. (I rented it in November, so you’ll see a big chunk of spending, though I will likely spread the rent cost out over each month).

I got some furniture already - inexpensive stuff from Ikea. I want to build the rest: a bed frame with room to store things underneath, and likely some type of shelves along that wall by the door. That will have to wait until I go get some things from my sister’s basement in Denver - including tools. I’ve been waffling about whether it’s worth driving all the way up there with my inefficient van. It’ll be $350 of gas per round trip. If I decide to move on from Tucson in 6 months, that would probably mean driving up to Denver again, and then that would be an expensive way to use my stuff for just 5-6 months. So I’ve been working on a list of what things I would bring down from there. So far, it’s like $1,700 worth of stuff. If I don’t go get it, I would buy very few of those things down here. Whether I go is mainly a question of how confident I am that I’ll want to stay here in Tucson long-term.



—————————

Plans while here

—————————
  • Get a feel for living in a normal home, in a city, while not working. (I haven’t ever done this, as I sold my last house and took off in the van before I quit my job)
  • Make friends. Get a good lover (or a few).
  • Try out some ways to generate income. (For now: portrait photography. I’ve posted a simple ad on craigslist and seem to be getting about one client per week. Also, a friend who lives here seems to want to hire me to build out his van.)
  • Explore the city, get to know different parts of it well
  • Go explore areas around the city, mountains, desert, etc.
  • Get and start riding a motorcycle. Use for most of my non-bicycle transportation around the city, and for exploration and camping trips out to the mountains and deserts. I hate driving my 12-15mpg van now that it's not also my home. Right now I’m thinking about getting a cheap little dual sport, like a Yamaha TW200 or a Suzuki Vanvan 200. Gonna take the MSF course soon. I've been reading books and looking at way too many websites and youtube videos.

-----------

[Also, I hav a new annoyance. Flickr - the website where I store tons of pictures, has now announced that they are limiting their free accounts to only 1,000 pictures. I have, I believe, a few thousand uploaded on my main account there. All the pictures on this journal are hosted there. This means there is a good chance that some or maybe nearly ALL the pictures in this journal thread will disappear. I’m probably not going to feel like going through all the posts, re-uploading the pictures, and re-linking them.]

classical_Liberal
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:47 pm

@C40 That place looks perfect! Exactly the type of place I'd feel comfortable in. Considering the timeframe (cooler months), I think you got a great deal too!

My mom winters in Green Valley just south of you, there's a good chance my annual month-long road trip will have a stop over there. If you're in town and interested in a ERE meet up, let me know.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:31 am

Very nice. I have the same reading chair in my BF's Amish-built deep-woods shed, which is just a bit smaller. Great minds think alike, I guess :lol:

Jason
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Jason » Thu Nov 15, 2018 1:47 pm

Despite the structure being 250', it appears as though it might have actually been expanded. There is a change in masonry as well as a beam running across the ceiling. I could be wrong, but I don't see a reason why it would have been built that way if it was originally 250'.

Whether it was intentional or not, I like how you your possessions give it a designed look. And that one chair porch sends a serious message to your neighbors.

It also makes me confront the amount of crap I have in my home. And well, in my head.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by SavingWithBabies » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:36 pm

@C40 I'm annoyed with Flickr too. I kept forgetting to migrate/cancel so I was paying $25 (?)/year for pro. I was hoping with SmugMug they would finally offer pricing that was a bit more reasonable but 1,000 photos or $50/year is nuts. I participated in some forums for manual focus lenses and wanted to keep the links alive for that but I'm leaving at $50/year. I'm in the same boat though with the old threads -- not sure I want to take the time to update them.

I love the casita and the whole idea. It looks appealing too. Also a fan of the Poang chairs.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by RealPerson » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:33 pm

Very nice setup. I am surprised to see the large water container like they have in Latin America. There they have it because the tap water is contaminated and you have to boil it to drink it. Was this just there (maybe because Mexicans have rented it) or do you feel you need it for something? Nothing wrong with it. I am just curious.

suomalainen
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by suomalainen » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:37 pm

As always, thank you for not disappearing from here once you achieved FIRE and left on a non-standard/non-corporate journey through life. Following along has been highly entertaining, instructive and reassuring. Please keep it up. And congrats on this new stage! May it meet your expectations.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:19 pm

classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:47 pm
.. there's a good chance my annual month-long road trip will have a stop over there. If you're in town and interested in a ERE meet up, let me know.
Yeah, I'd like a meetup. Let me know around when you'll be passing through. If you'll know a specific date, I can plan a meetup through the forum here and would probably also get some MMM people.


7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:31 am
Very nice. I have the same reading chair in my BF's Amish-built deep-woods shed, which is just a bit smaller. Great minds think alike, I guess :lol:
Ha. Yeah, I like the chair. I went to my sister's house this weekend (she just moved), and saw that she has two of them in her living room now. You Paong fans might like watching this video from Ikea, called "A story about Paong": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeB0Fwy-4ro

Jason wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 1:47 pm
Despite the structure being 250', it appears as though it might have actually been expanded. There is a change in masonry as well as a beam running across the ceiling. I could be wrong, but I don't see a reason why it would have been built that way if it was originally 250'.

Whether it was intentional or not, I like how you your possessions give it a designed look. And that one chair porch sends a serious message to your neighbors.
Yeah, I think so. There are also different types of brick on each side of where it looks like an original wall was. I'd guess it was just a shed at some previous point.

I definitely tried to get furniture that would match well. I was shopping craigslist for a while, and one of the difficulties there is getting stuff that matches well enough. It's simpler in a way when furnishing an entire home and you can go "I guess that thing would work ok in the [such and such] room.."

Ha, I hadn't thought of what message one chair on the porch would send. I don't typically think much of what kinds of messages people might think I'm sending them. That chair and table were already there, provided by the landlord. I'd actually thought it might be nice to have two chairs there for when someone comes over, but I could just bring one or two chairs outside to have more.

RealPerson wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:33 pm
Very nice setup. I am surprised to see the large water container like they have in Latin America. There they have it because the tap water is contaminated and you have to boil it to drink it. Was this just there (maybe because Mexicans have rented it) or do you feel you need it for something? Nothing wrong with it. I am just curious.
The bottles are mine. The water here is safe (at least in general terms), but it tastes bad. I use the bottled water for all of my drinking. There are water dispensers at all grocery stores here and some other random places. It's quite common to do this in many parts of the U.S. Not because the water is so dangerous it must be boiled, but because it tastes better and is likely some amount safer/healthier.

A lot of the tap water here in Tucson travels like 400 miles over a man-made canal from the Colorado river. The water is clean at the river, but running it so far along the cabal seems to be bad for the water. Here's a picture of it: https://i1.wp.com/www.circleofblue.org/ ... -10001.jpg

This city is in a very dry desert area, and there are no running rivers or creeks. There used to be, but some climate change occurred thousands of years ago making the area dry, and then when modern settlers came, they sucked the river surface water dry quickly. There is some water under the surface still, and wells are used.

Anyways, the tap water here has what I consider a poor taste, and also a different, what do you call it, viscosity? - a different mouth feel. For making coffee, and especially tea, filtered/reverse osmosis water works way better. The tap water here (and in other places, like Denver, for example) is poor enough that I don't consider it worth the work of making tea with it. It's not necessary bad or dangerous, it just isn't great, and I'd rather have great water.

Smashter
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Smashter » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:40 pm

Bummer about Flickr. This thread is a freakin' treasure. Maybe everyone who has ever commented, "I just read C40's journal from the beginning and now I'm so inspired omfg!!" (me included) should kick in a few shekels to keep the pictures alive for a while longer.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:08 pm

Smashter wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:40 pm
Bummer about Flickr. This thread is a freakin' treasure. Maybe everyone who has ever commented, "I just read C40's journal from the beginning and now I'm so inspired omfg!!" (me included) should kick in a few shekels to keep the pictures alive for a while longer.
Even if people wanted to do that, it wouldn't really work.

I did something over the years that ended up working well for right now - I created and used various Flickr accounts. I have at least 5 accounts. If I had only been using one all these years, most of my pictures would be deleted. Some of my accounts won't have any of the pictures deleted (for now), and some will lose a lot.

I just looked back at the first 4 pages of the journal, and about half of the pictures are already gone from the posts. I don't know why. This isn't because of the current Flickr change. Those deletions won't happen until February. I think it may be related to when the forum was migrated or underwent some major change maybe a couple years ago. or maybe it happened for some other reason. IDK.. These kind of things just happen on the internet over time. Going forward, I'll try to remember to be in the habit of typing out some of the info that is in the charts. Lately I've just been posting the financial charts with zero or very few words.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by patrickza » Thu Nov 22, 2018 6:12 am

I used to have a TW200. I frequently embarrassed the guys on "real" bikes when the trail got rough. Had mine for 14 000 miles still on the original tyres. The front would have been due in a few thousand more, but the monster rear was hardly worn at all.

80mpg is pretty nice, but with the tank being just 1.7ish gallons in size it meant filling up more often than I'd like. Did two 800km trips on it where I built brackets to hold a 5 liter jerry can on each side, increasing the range to 500km+.

Just make sure to replace the stock chain with an o-ring chain once it wears out. The stock chain is rubbish.

I sold mine when I built my electric bike. It's hard to beat infinity mpg.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:13 pm

—————————

NOVEMBER 2018

—————————

Gonna try to be quick with typing this one so it may not be all that clear or well-written.


November was a huge spending month for me:

TOTAL: $4,000

Big hits:
  • $1073 - Renting house - security deposit and first month rent
  • $600 - House setup - furniture/stuff
  • $300 - Trip to Denver to retrieve some of my things from storage in a family member’s basement
  • $560 - Motorcycle class, helmet, gloves
  • $810 - Playstation 4 and game, upgraded computer monitor
  • $100 - Big lock for my bicycle
Much of my house setup spending is done. I’ll be buying wood and paint to build a couple things, plus small miscellaneous storage items.




—————————

Motorcycle

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The motorcycle class (MSF Basic Rider Course) went well. The classroom part was near worthless. It’s basically reading the book together. The riding skills part was definitely useful but was simplified to really only focusing on learning and practicing what you need to pass the motorcycle license skills test. Naturally/obviously, I got a perfect score on the written test and a perfect score on the riding skills test. :-D

There’s a lot involved to get started. With the class and learning (I’m on my third book), getting a license endorsement, finding and buying a bike, having a way to get it home, getting insurance, getting riding/safety gear, etc..

I’m looking forward to it. I hate driving my van now that it’s no longer my home. It gets such miserable fuel milage, and it’s big and clunky. I’m very much looking forward to riding around outside of town in the desert and mountains nearby.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Craigslist and there are a decent amount of options available here in Tucson and especially in Phoenix. I’m thinking of buying a light/low displacement dual sport (200-250cc) that’s 5-15 years old. There are many available with only 1k-5k miles for $1,500-$3000.




—————————

PS4

—————————

The PS4, yeah. That was sort of a compulsive or rabbit hole buy. The most interesting thing about the whole process was relating to my Judging MBTI thinking type

Once I decided to go buy it, I was second guessing myself a lot. Rightfully so. I was thinking (not in these words) “ahhhh, this isn’t a good ‘web of goals’ choice… you have plenty of other things you want to spend your time on…. this isn’t worth the money…. if you would just wait a month you’d forget about it and not want it…. there’s a good chance I’ll regret this…. why am I still doing this when I know it’s not a good decision?… etc.”. I could feel my anxiety/stress.

Then, in the store, I walked over to where the item was. I walked up, saw it, and then immediately walked away to give myself time/room to decide if I’m really going to do this. I noticed another guy that appeared to be doing the exact same thing. After a while of walking around, I went back and picked up the PS4 box. As soon as I picked up the box, the anxiety/stress/nervousness went away. I could feel the change literally within a few seconds. Picking it up was the final buying decision. Since I felt better suddenly, I thought “oh, so this is an ok choice. Whew”.

About an hour later, I realized that the reason I felt better suddenly was just my Judging brain suddenly being done with making the decision and thus the stress of deciding dissipating. That has no relation to whether it was actually a good decision or not.

Over the last few years, from reading books like on MBTI, and reading or in some cases just being aware of other books such as, I believe, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, I’ve come to realize that while I am very structured, logical, and reasonable in my decision making, there is still a LOT of thinking going on in my brain that I am not (fully) consciously aware of or in control of.

I should read a few books on the subject because as I’ve become more aware of it, I’ve noticed it happening a lot, and it is fascinating. Going with that hidden brain can sometimes be riskier than I would logically decide, but aside from that, I’m not so sure that it’s a bad thing. It’s not like every decision needs to be thought through in a structured way..




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Social / Dating / Friends

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I got a bit lucky that I already had some friends living here. Not close friends at all, but they like me a lot and seem to want to hang out regularly. They seem quite social and have a strong group of friends here. They invited me to a “Friendsgiving” at one of their friends. There were some very interesting and successful people there, so hopefully I’ll get on with some of them.

My main challenge in getting a group of friends going is the first good friend that I then meet other people through. So hopefully that will work out with this path.

I’ve dated some here - mostly when I first got here - but have taken my foot off the gas since I got the apartment to let myself settle in.




—————————

Decisions..

—————————

I’m considering that I may want to buy a house here in 2019. I would probably buy it with cash, which would be simple, but other things make the process more complicated. I’d sell of stocks to free up the cash. I have enough money in my post-tax account to do this. Selling off will trigger some capital gains income. That will effect the amount of health insurance subsidy I can get. I accidentally/unknowingly had a stock selloff late in 2017 that gave me an extra $11k of income and resulted in me having to pay back some (I think $750) of the subsidy. The capital gains of selling to buy the house could range from like $10k-30k.

I don’t think it’d be a good year to just go without health insurance since I’m expecting to be a new motorcycle rider. So I’ll need to decide by 12/15 whether to buy insurance with the subsidy, and what to put for my income estimation.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by BRUTE » Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:23 pm

C40 wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:13 pm
Naturally/obviously, I got a perfect score on the written test and a perfect score on the riding skills test. :-D
brute thinks the test is basically supposed to sort out humans who are literally not capable of operating a 200+lbs machine safely. when brute took the class, several (!) female attendees would drop their bikes and get trapped underneath them, unable to free themselves. (all of this on a parking lot). the instructors failed these humans after this happening 3-5 times. just not safe. it might just be a size/strength thing.
C40 wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:13 pm
learning (I’m on my third book)
brute recommends:
The Upper Half of the Motorcycle (all about the psychology and "game" of riding)
Twist of the Wrist by Keith Code (supposedly he's a scientologist, but the books are decent)
Total Control by Lee Parks
C40 wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:13 pm
finding and buying a bike, having a way to get it home
..but C40 has a van..
C40 wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:13 pm
I’m thinking of buying a light/low displacement dual sport (200-250cc) that’s 5-15 years old. There are many available with only 1k-5k miles for $1,500-$3000.
both a great choice and a good price. riding a slow bike fast is much more fun than riding a fast bike slow. especially for learning.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:38 pm

Thanks for the book recommendations. I'll try to get those.

On getting the bike home - yeah, I expect the van to be handy. I'd have to take my bed out to make room inside, but that will be pretty easy. I'd still need to get ramps (and ways to secure it inside) or a hitch carrier or trailer.

BRUTE
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by BRUTE » Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:51 pm

maybe a local motorcycle enthusiast can lend C40 a ramp and straps to fasten it - that's what brute did with a rental van. moto repair shops should have them, too.

brute recommends searching for a local "enthusiast repair club", if available. there are lots of small things one can do, like changing oil, tires, brake pads. it's fun and makes moto ownership much more affordable.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by TopHatFox » Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:47 am

@PS4, try Dark Souls 3, Fallout 4, & Resident Evil 7

I’ve honestly been thinking of getting a 4K HD Xbox One, gotta alleviate the suburban boredom somehow! You’ve worked to save up all that money, might as well use some of that freedom for some passive entertainment every now and again?

suomalainen
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by suomalainen » Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:14 pm

C40 wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:13 pm
there is still a LOT of thinking going on in my brain that I am not (fully) consciously aware of or in control of.

I should read a few books on the subject because as I’ve become more aware of it, I’ve noticed it happening a lot, and it is fascinating. Going with that hidden brain can sometimes be riskier than I would logically decide, but aside from that, I’m not so sure that it’s a bad thing. It’s not like every decision needs to be thought through in a structured way..
I'm currently reading Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright. It appears to be a well-researched book that tries (by a non-expert in each field) to tie together Buddhist thought/meditation practice with the latest and greatest psychology/neurology. There seems to be an extensive bibliography which could point one towards more Buddhist sources or more scientific sources depending on one's interests. For example, one concept discussed is a "modular brain", from page 86:
If the conscious self isn't a CEO, directing all the behavior it thinks it's directing, how does behavior get directed? How do decisions get made?

An increasingly common answer within the field of psychology, especially evolutionary psychology, is that the mind is "modular." In this view, your mind is composed of lots of specialized modules - modules for sizing up situations and reacting to them - and it's the interplay among these modules that shapes your behavior. And much of this interplay happens without conscious awareness on your part.

The modular model of the mind, though still young and not fully fleshed out, holds a lot of promise...Perhaps most important for our purposes, thinking of the mind as modular helps make sense of things you hear from Buddhist meditation teachers, such as that "thoughts think themselves" and that appreciating this fact can be liberating.
Potentially interesting books from the bibliography: Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain by Michael Gazzaniga and Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind by Robert Kurzban. But if anyone is more familiar with this type of research/thinking and has some interesting recommendations, I'd also be curious to read more.

Edit: to second @daylen, the book's bibliography also cites Robert Sapolsky's lecture titled "Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality".
Last edited by suomalainen on Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

daylen
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by daylen » Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:48 pm

Consciousness/attention and "executive" control do not get you far when trying to understanding why humans behave the way they do(*). The entire body is relevant. I recommend looking into Robert Sapolsky who has a lecture series on YouTube and a book on human behavior.

(*) ..and in turn how we make decisions.

bryan
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by bryan » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:07 pm

C40 wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:13 pm
I’m looking forward to it. I hate driving my van now that it’s no longer my home. It gets such miserable fuel milage, and it’s big and clunky. I’m very much looking forward to riding around outside of town in the desert and mountains nearby.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Craigslist and there are a decent amount of options available here in Tucson and especially in Phoenix. I’m thinking of buying a light/low displacement dual sport (200-250cc) that’s 5-15 years old. There are many available with only 1k-5k miles for $1,500-$3000.
Interesting! I love driving my Sprinter (even when it hasn't been my home)! Decent enough gas mileage (26mpg, unloaded), a high sitting vantage to see more of what's ahead (less stressful), very few people get mad for your simply driving in the right lane at 55mph, folks yield to/for you _a lot_ more than if you are in a car (let alone a motorcycle), and generally it's just a steady and true driving experience. I think the only thing I prefer about a car driving experience would be short drives in good weather (I'm imagining having the t-tops off, radio blasting, and shifting through the gears).

Haven't done the motorcycle thing, but I think a light dual-sport moto would be a great compliment to the van.

Pronoid
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Pronoid » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:11 pm

Hey C40! If I remember correctly, when you first quit the job and started your van travels, you set up residency in SD. Now that you’re living in AZ, did you change your residency and get a new ID and all that? Reason for that ask is that I’m targeting to FIRE here in a handful of months and looking at also doing one of those virtual mailboxes as my permant residence so I can travel and reduce taxes. But I was curious if I ever landed somewhere more permanent, like you did in AZ, if it’s worth changing my residency or just keep it as the virtual address for simplicity and tax reasons.

I’d also be super curious to hear how your experiences have been with health insurance with the residency being in a different state. Did you return to SD for heath checkups at all during the van travels? And if you kept residency in SD while now living in AZ, how are you dealing with healthcare/checkups now?

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