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Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:56 pm
by bigato
This Sunday, I went to see a tiny renting place here that was basically about the size of two single beds, and it had a sink and a bathroom. On the entrance, by the side of the door, you had a fancy metal pipe to hang clolhes, and a couple of shelving spaces above. This could be on the foot side of the bed. On the head side, there were windows opening to a ventilation shaft. And it was all brand new and shiny and I loved the thing so much! Also, I talked to the manager and he sounded very professional and efficient. This was located at the second underground level, which makes it cooler than the outside and more silent, but there was no phone signal. Which I could do without, but I think I'd like internet. There seemed to be wifi, but the signal in that room way way too weak. There was cable so I could pay for internet through the cable tv company. But that is not cheap and I'm burned out by their predatory business tactics, really didn't want to deal with them again. If I had cellphone reception, that would solve the internet, but there's no way it would work at the second level underground.

Also, having slept on an first level underground housing with a past girlfriend for a while, I was not so confident that the ventilation through the ventilation shaft would feel like enough. Although ex-girlfriend's place didn't have a shaft but had one window open above ground level, like a more traditional basement window. This is a dry area most of the year though, think something like Australia most of the year. We have big differences in temperature between the day and the night, because dry climate. The yearly average temperature is 24 degrees celsius. I really loved the place but was not confident regarding the ventilation aspect. It didn't smell humid or something, and the ar didn't seemed stale, but I don't know, everything was so freshly built/renewed in all of the units that I was not confident to judge whether it felt like that just because it was uninhabited. The price was just a little under another property which I'm almost closing the deal on (the realtor company on this other is awful, slow, inefficient. Twenty days and the contract is not signed yet. The people are very kind but very inefficient).

They had other units on this building, including ones with windows opening to the street, but then they were double the size (two rooms) and double the price. That would not be interesting at all. Also, they had another unit of similar tiny design on ground level, but then it was a bit more expensive, and thus ended up being the same price of the other one managed by the inefficient company. Which, on the other side, is about twice the size, has a sunny balcony where I could grow some greens, and is closer to work (like 5km instead of 9km on the tiny gourgeous place). Also, big enough for a tiny home that I could have a big table and invite close friends for dinner eventually. Not that I have ever done that in the past year where I am now, and I could, but I like the idea.

I'm really torn between not being confident about ventilation in one place, and the awful company at the other. Would really appreciate any advice on this, specially if you happen to have real life experience on ventilation through a ventilation shaft with passive ventilation through the draft effect (I think this is how this is called). To not expand too much on the details, assume that washing/drying clothes is non-issue. My gut feeling is also positive regarding management.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 7:55 am
by bigato
Started receiving calls from my bank asking me how I am doing, and if I need anything from them

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Thu May 02, 2019 3:32 pm
by BookLoverL
I unfortunately don't have any advice regarding ventilation, but I hope you manage to end up with a housing situation you like. I guess a big factor would be a) how much do you value sunlight, and b) if there is bad management at the one place, how much will it affect you as a tenant.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri May 03, 2019 1:24 am
by classical_Liberal
Humm... I've never lived in anything without at least basement window access. Although I'm a big noise snob because I often sleep during the day due to overnight shifts at work, so that idea has tons of appeal to me. I guess I've never worried about ventilation because I always just go outside when I want fresh air. On the other side of things, I've had horrible rental management companies before, a couple of times. It was a huge headache, one had me threatening legal action. Since that time I have refused to rent from anyone/company that either has a bad reputation (I was warned about the worst one, but since I'm such a good tenant didn't think it'd be an issue) or that I get a bad vibe from. Given my personal experience, I'd say go with the small, quiet one with a good rental company. Besides, you sound more enthusiastic about that place... but that is all based on personal experience, so YMMV.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri May 03, 2019 7:59 am
by 2Birds1Stone
I put a high value on fresh air, even in my little basement apartment. We need to run a dehumidifier most of the time we are not home during the humid summer months, and tend to keep all windows open when it's drier/cooler out. Mold scares the crap out of me.

Btw, I went back and reread your whole journal yesterday/this morning. What an incredible journey, bigato. Thank you for your contributions to this forum.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri May 03, 2019 10:43 am
by George the original one
2nd underground level? I would be concerned about the fire escape situation.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat May 04, 2019 2:03 pm
by thrifty++
To be honest, the underground apartment sounds really awful. I could never do it personally. It sounds like a prison cell. I think it is important for you to have some natural light and a bit of space. And poor internet and no cell phone coverage. I would feel depressed living somewhere like that. And I would be feeling worried about ventilation and air.

Are there some better options than this for you? Is it worth the savings?

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat May 04, 2019 6:02 pm
by Bankai
The underground cell sounds extreme. Very few humans in history chose to live underground, and probably for good reasons. No option to look through the window or just open it to let some fresh air in. You'll be spending there each night and at least a couple of hours of each day, how confident are you your feelings about the cell won't change once you spend some time there? Is the difference in cost so substantial that the savings are worth giving up the quality of life?

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat May 04, 2019 6:41 pm
by bigato
George: at least I'd be safer in case of a nuclear blast, right? :-p But yeah, a fire escape is something to think about, thanks.

But yeah, I've been going back and forth in my head on this. I could just try it out and see how it goes, worst case I'd move somewhere else. I'd be paying X at that underground place while here I pay 3X per month. If I move and hate it, the penalty for leaving before one year would be... 3X, that is exactly what I pay here while I don't decide anyway. It may be that the ventilation is good, it actually felt like it was.

What I did these days was that I spent something like two or three days with all doors and windows closed here in the current place to test it out and see how it feels. I actually have a similar ventilation duct on my bathroom that is similar to the kind of ventilation that I'd have there, except with much less area for the air to pass through. The result was that yes, it's not so comfortable. But as c_L put, if I want fresh air and sun I can just go out. I have plenty of green spaces nearby. And there are windows, it's just that they open to this vertical ventilation space inside the building, with no direct sun.

The company that is renting the other place didn't get back to me yet. They told me the place would be ready this week. So I'm thinking that I don't really want to make business with these people, how horrible it is that it has taken then 20 days since we started talking and I can't move in yet? If it is this bad now, it will surely be awful when I want to leave.

The underground place, on the other hand, I don't even know if I will be able to rent it anymore. How I came to know about it was that they published an ad for a rental room in a local version of craigslist last saturday, without any pictures, telling that anyone interested should show up at the place sunday from 8h00 to 12h00. So I did. After seeing the place and not being so sure if I should rent it, I asked the guy how I could contact them if I decided to make the deal. He told me that they would be there until 12h00 and that I should tell them. They would analyse my documents and send me the contracts upon aproval, and in two days the deal should be done. Looking like he is in his late 50's or early 60's, when I asked if he was the owner, he told me "administrator". But I don't know, everything about him tells me "business". He is acting exactly like I would if I were retired with rentals on my name and wanted to waste the minimum time possible. In every unit that was empty, there was a checklist on the door with all the details ticked. All units were flawless. Another woman arrived while we were talking and by the looks of it, maybe she was the owner or one of the owners. But thing is, I don't even have their contact and was hoping that today (saturday) they would post the same ad again in the same place and I'd be able to go there tomorrow. But it is already night and nothing so far. What other option I would have would be to ring some other tenant and ask them for the administrator contacts, but I think that would be rude and I am not doing it. I may show up there tomorrow morning just in case they are there again.

Regarding not having phone signal, I think that's actually an advantage :). Same for the internet, although I may be able to fix the wifi thing through wired or some kind of signal booster. But even if I weren't, I find it kind of cool. People will still be able to arrange to meet me if they want to, it's just that they will need to tell me in advance the same I hope they do today. Or they could show up and ring me. I would still have access to knowledge, except that in the format of books. I can message people and write them emails, and it will go through as soon as I am online. It was not more than 15 years ago that things used to work exactly like this, and I think I miss it. Does it look like a prison? ahahah I like small spaces, and I like the challenge. That's actually what I liked the most about the place: it is the smallest and fanciest place that cheap can buy in the central area, as long as I can tell. It's a bit like these places in Tokio that are trending: ... ng-spaces/

Is it worth the savings? Well it is not about the savings in absolute numbers to be honest, since my wage make up for it. But I must confess that I am getting annoyed at the fact that housing represents such a big fraction of my spending now. Last month it was over 60%. Maybe I am just too close to the point where efforts are better applied optimizing something else other than spending. There are other places I could rent, but a bit above those two that are pretty much the market rock bottom for rentals in the central area. Other than that, airbnb could get me even lower for a room, but then I'd be sharing the rest of the house with other people and I'd need to get very serious at minimizing possessions down to not much more than a couple of big backpacks and the bicycle. Not sure I want the additional hassle.

Thanks 2B1S, but I get much more from the forum than I contribute! And thanks for taking the time to read. It helps to have people reading and commenting on your journey since all of this is so far removed from mainstream that sometimes we start wondering if we are doing it right, if we are not being too crazy, etc, and then having other people with whom to share this stuff is very useful. That and the examples you guys set every day, always help me push the boundaries of what is possible in my head. I have open-minded close friends who understand this, but it's not the same as talking to other people who are living the same journey.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 2:04 pm
by bigato
As it is often the case when one is faced
with the dillema between two options and can't decide, the answer was something else entirely. I saw another place the day before
yesterday, and by now I already have the contract signed and keys available. My housing costs will be cut in half now! The place is small
but has lots of natural light and just went through a remodel this week (the guy must've finished today or so). It is just by the side of the
second best urban park in the city and inthe same building where the polyglot club meetings happens, in a pizzaria at the floor level. Which
happens to be the social event that I enjoy the most in the city, and happens weekly. But also, the rental company was absurdly efficient
and the process was very enjoyable. It's hard to imagine a better deal for housing in every sense in the present city in this class (private
space that I don't need to share and where I can cook, central location, price at market floor, just refurbished, new tiles, etc!)

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 3:04 pm
by 2Birds1Stone
Congratulations! Sounds like a dream come true :)

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 4:38 am
by BookLoverL
Excellent! I'm glad it worked out for you. It's definitely true that sometimes waiting leads to better things than rushing into a suboptimal decision. It sounds like this new place has a lot going for it.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:15 pm
by classical_Liberal
It appears opportunity+preparation= serendipity. Congrats on the new place! You've spent a ton of time and mental energy on this, so I bet it feels great to finally get it resolved.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 5:04 pm
by bigato
Thanks friends! And yeah c_L, before your message I went with a friend walking on the park by the side of my new home (still haven't move) for the first time and indeed one of the topics of our conversation was serendipity!And when I said upthread that this was the second best park in the city, well, i take that back. It's smaller than the other, but it is way better! It's 21 hectares green forest with trails in it. We are in a dry climate, but this place has lots of water so this looks like a tropical forest inside the city!

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Thu May 23, 2019 3:29 pm
by bigato
Having the housing situation improved a lot (will move this weekend), my focus is now on the food category. Well it already was since more than a month. In April, I didn't eat out nor buy any food read-to-eat. I'm cooking daily and baking once or twice a week. Now May, up to some days ago, I hadn't ate out any time other than once going out with a friend. Then there was this day earlier this week, when I was going after a electric stovetop for the next home (the one I am now has one that doesn't belong to me), and then decided that I could eat out that day at least, while I was doing the errands. So I did, there was this vegan restaurant nearby which I like. Being now used to eat at home every day, I was scared at how much it cost compared to how much I had spent in the previous 20 days of the month: 44,00 in my local currency, vs 123,00 for eating at home the previous 20 days (just ignore how much that means in absolute terms in your currency, just wanted to show the proportion). It kind of hurts to see that, ahahah. Very useful as a reminder of how much more expensive it can get to pay for services.

Now today was a nice day in this regard. There are a lot of green areas around this city, and often they have fruit trees like mangos. Now we are in avocado season, and today I scored big coming home walking a different path. There was this huge avocado lying there. Actually there were two, but since I already had one at home that I picked elsewhere another day, I just picked one. This particular variety has its skin black even when it is still not completely mature. It is just how this variety is, but for someone passing by, I guess it looks like it is rotten. But no, this kind the better actually! The other three that is close to my home has fruit on the ground almost every day these days, but you need to go early otherwise the neighboors will have picked them all. I suppose that by now I am too spoiled to ever buy avocados around here again, not because I don't want to pay, but because those that drop to the ground taste so much better than the ones I can buy! And the dark skin variety, I don't even know where I could buy then, I don't remember ever seeing them being sold. I don't know if the better taste is due to them getting to stay longer on the tree until they are mature, or if it's just that the comercial ones come from more abused land. This is another instance where you can get higher quality for free than you would by paying. And so those two huge avocados with some brown sugar were my lunch.

Now I'm at home waiting for an uber eats deliver of some food, since uber has been anoying me for days with this offer of a free order up to 30,00. So I decided to get some free vegan food, and will uninstall the app afterwards. :-P

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:47 pm
by bigato
Some minors updates. I'm living at the new place and it already feels like home. Still feels like it was a good move and housing costs are now cut in half for the next year compared to the previous situation. Also, I'm now only about two miles away from the job and have been walking there and back.

I went through all the stress of moving and used the opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff. Basically, except for my one bicycle, all my other possessions now can fit into a normal small car, althought not at the same time. :) Also I can carry everything on my own, without the need of someone else to carry anything because there are no heavy or big awkward stuff anymore. Given some time, I'd be even able to move most stuff in a big backpack gradually, and then have one car to move at once the remaining stuff that is not practical to move on a bicycle. Yeah I know it can done even for big stuff, but I'm just using the example to give you an idea of how much and how big my possessions now are. I got rid of a washing machine, a 32" TV, a big heavy furniture in which the tv was sitting, a (small) couch, a wooden foladable table and four foldable chairs. The old house also had a queen-sized bed and a wardrobe which were not mine, and also some kitchen furniture above and below the sink. Also, there was a small fridge. All of this stuff is gone from my life. Given the time constraints and the fact that staying longer would cost more, I got rid of the things the fastest way possible. Sold the almost-new washing machine for about 15% of its brand-new price, gave the folding table/chairs to a friend and gave the tv to a guy in exchange for him getting rid of the tv furniture and small couch.

Also paid a guy to paint and fix some stuff at the old apartment. It was too much stress for me, I don't deal so well with so much stuff at once. Also, the week after I moved, I got the flu (h1n1) and spent some nice money at the hospital. Actually I only went there because guys at work were insisting that I would. I should just have stayed the thursday and friday at home and it would have costed me less. Also, I could have gone to a public hospital and get about the same quality of service, but I was so trashed from the flu and just wanted to go to the nearest place that someone recommended. I'd say this was mostly a work expense, because if I weren't working and didn't need a physician to sign me a sick leave, I'd just take care of the flu at home. But yet it was a bit frustrating as it was like one month worth of bare minimum expenses. Next time I wake up feeling bad, I'd better respect my body and miss the day at work. It is quite ok to miss a day anyway, I even have five days a year of allowed absence. I just let them pile up and I have more than a month already, since I can convert them to money instead.

After moving, I bought 2x2m of tatami eva mat for sleeping and maybe having people over for food/talks/board games, japanese style. My body already adapted to sleeping on this kind of harder surface again. They are 20mm eva boards. Also got a single burner electric stove that is being enough for my style of cooking. For clothes washing, I have a pair of buckets which fit inside one another, and the washing happens in the bathroom once or twice a week as necessary. I more than once made a bike trip of some weeks on the road and was able to survive using only the clothes I was wearing, washing them everyday on the hotel's bathrooms. So doing what I am doing now is perfectly fine and easy.

Since I don't have a fridge now, I never buy too much stuff at once and things don't spoil. I usually buy what I am going to cook for the day on one of the supermarkets on my way from the job to home. Then I cook for the day and reserve some food for eating the following day in the morning at the job.

My present home is basically a room 4.10m x 2.80m, which has a sink, and then there is a basic bathroom. Even after getting rid of so much stuff, this is like half the space I was living in before and presently it is just a pile of stuff in boxes and sacks of clothes. I still didn't have the energy to organize it and get rid of even more stuff, but I will. The stuff I have now is not so easy to minimize as it is mostly useful stuff that I most likely eventually use. Mostly the problem is that there is just too much of each thing. Like bike inner tubes to last me who knows how long. More computers that I really need. Clothes that I don't use anymore. Stuff like that. I have this tendency of stocking too much on stuff. Now that it is all in this small space, it really stands out and I feel that I can and should get rid of a lot. But it will take work. "Sparks joy" is not criteria enough. But I'll get to it eventually. I'll probably keep the rest organized on these standard cardboard boxes that have a lid which I bought. After getting rid of as much as possible, I'll see if I need to acquire something else to organize stuff or something.

Through all the stress of moving and getting rid of stuff, plus the bureacracy of finishing the previous rent contract (gave them the keys yesterday finally, now I'm close to getting my deposit money back), I've been thinking that it would be nice to be able to live on a hostel and outsource all of the business of running a house. It would be even cheaper also. I don't know yet if I'll get to that point, but it is worth keeping it in mind as a direction.

This month I still have the last expenses from the previous houses and from finishing the contract, etc. July should be the first month at the new level of expenses, that is about as optmized as I think I can get while still living in the central area in not-shared place. Couting about a year from next month will be a nice measuring exercise, like an ere dry-run. It will end about the same time that this renting contract will also end.

On the investments front, these last 12 months here in Brazil have been really good to my investment strategy. I'm up more than 20%, with inflation a little bellow 4%. That is, 16% of real gains and I'm likely to earn even more than that in the coming months if the international situation won't get too complicated.

I'm reaching a nice milestone around these days in that my liquid net worth starts to be able to pay for my new level of expenses considering 6% of real gains per year (about the swr for golden butterfly portfolio). That is not counting my rural land/house and neither my unemployment account, but those are not liquid. Doing a conservative market price evaluation, I should be at around 3% now if also considering iliquid funds. The unemployment fund can be accessed three years after I quit and while selling the rural property is not so easy, it is also true that if I move there, I wouldn't pay rent anymore and them expenses would fall 50% at least, and that's not even considering growing food. While those numbers may look very good on the surface, they are still considering minimal expenses. But it is a level of minimal that I am actually doing, not only theorizing. Now let's see how if it feels any different to keep this for one year. Also it is not bad that I'll be saving close to 90% of take home pay these next twelve months, thus padding the savings more comfortably. It's likely that by July of 2020 I'll just rationalize that it makes sense to keep at it until February of 2021, when I complete the 20 years of formal work required to guarantee social security money starting at 65. After February of 2021, there's really no excuse anymore.

This week I passed in the front of a red-cross office and that gave me some ideas of doing some voluntourism after I quit, as a way to know more of the world without spending my funds, get to know interesting people, and contribute something back to the world while my stash grows passively.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:47 pm
by C40
I’m glad you didn’t rent that underground jail cell !

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:29 pm
by niemand
I like how you optimise your current accumulation situation. What is your end game though? Will you move back to your rural property eventually?

With Feb 2021 you’re a couple of months ahead of my own timeline.

I like your idea on hitching a ride with a not-for-profit like the Red Cross. The experiences available in this sector can be quite unique indeed.
Just know that as soon as you leave operations, the work may resemble a normal white collar desk job, with the same office shenanigans and politics.
Another potential downside is that people’s egos may be more inflated and/or toxic than you’d find in the public or for-profit sector. At least that’s been my experience, n=1.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:36 pm
by slowtraveler
I admire your focus on the low expenses. I've trended towards higher expenses as my nw has increased but still saving a high %of income. You still got me beat.

Can I ask where you invested to get 16%? Im guessing it's pretax.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:16 am
by bigato
C40: ahahaha that was really funny to read and my current place is a step up the other indeed. But honestly, I think the main difference there would be ventilation, and how much of a difference that would actually make, if any, is something I'll probably never know. But I suspect that after a week it would feel about the same as here if ventilation were adequate. What I do know though, is that although the price and size is half of the previous one, this one feels about as comfortable. Housing well being is something funny and not always obvious. Also, not perfectly correlated with market price, and therein lies the trick to optimizing cost/benefit.

niemand: actually I'm not really sure, and so the way you read me is actually correct. I could move there, it was my dream home for a while and I once thought that I would never move out from there in my life. But as it often happens with young people, what we are sure to be lifelong preferences often last a decade or less. I still like it there, but what I do like now is the idea of the place and not the situation itself, since I left like 6 years ago and didn't even see the place much ever since. Well I haven't even visited the city since 4 years ago. So the question becomes, will I enjoy living there if I move now? And being very pragmatic, the only answer that would be smart is "I have no idea". It seems like a great idea but I feel I changed a lot as a person over the last few years. Also, I got to know myself deeper and reached another level of self understanding that makes it easier to doubt my own predictions about my future and preferences.

If I didn't have the property on my name there, would I even move back by now? I don't think I would. That's concrete and something to think about. I feel happy and content with my life now and I would probably just stay here for a while and take my time to decide what I want to do after I'm not tied to a weekly regular schedule. But on the other side, the property is there, and it is a huge burden mentally. I'm not so sure I should have bought it. If it were today, I wouldn't. At the very least, I probably should spend some time there and fix stuff, make it look a little better, because that's useful both for staying and for selling. And then maybe try to sell it? If I put time and effort on it, I may even have some better profit.

Thank you for the insight on not-for-profits. It is really useful to get prepared for that since cognitive dissonance can be such a source of pain. Do you think that working at it as a volunteer and not needing it at all, being able to walk away at any time, would make for a smoother ride?

slowtraveler: actually there's nothing pre-tax on my investments, as that is not even much of an option here in my country. We don't have retirement accounts like USA, here it is just only the pure pyramid scheme of working people paying retired people's pension. And that's a big problem with the country's budget that is under intense discussions lately. Also, because the demographics are changing and the population is getting older, changes in the rules are much needed. And they are about to happen to some level with the new government. What I did right with my investments was that I was able to read correctly the political and economical situatio and then profit from that. Before the elections I was following the permanent portfolio. One week before the elections I moved everything to a indexed fund tied to our stock exchange as a whole. And then in march I moved that to a golden butterfly portfolio. Even though I chose the worst timing possible to move from all indexed to the golden butterfly and lost some money there, yet over the following months I recovered those losses. I plan on keeping my portfolio on golden butterfly from now on. Actually, there's a small tweak that I made in that the 20% that should be allocated to the total stock market is on an ETF that buys the 50 biggest companies. It has been more or less mirroring the full stock market from there and sometimes even outperforming, and the adminstration fee is only 0.059% per year. I kind of like the idea of being more polarized, having 20% on that and then 20% on the small caps. All in all, i think the high earnings are mostly an artifact of living in a rising economy that is undergoing some needed adjustments, and reading the situation well enough to profit from that.