Zarathustra's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
zarathustra
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:15 pm
Location: OR

Post by zarathustra »

-I'm a 30yo single female

-eNTJ

-I am living in a van (for 6 mos so far)

-Working in the bay area in tech

-I like my job but I change a lot

-I studied Philosophy in college (Continental Phil for those that know)

-I eat "Dirty Carnivore" (very low carb)

-I like to read, write music, do outdoor stuff like hike

-I use permanent portfolio method for my investments

-I am basically 1/3 of my way to FI right now
I started out in ERE last spring (2012) with no debt from previously being big on personal finance.
-Last January, my monthly budget was 3728

-This January, my monthly budget is 975
Last year I made the following changes:
-Stopped smoking

-Got rid of most of my possessions through selling, giving away

-Traded my car in for a cargo van and began to live in it

-Got a cell from work, so no cell bill

-Shower and store food at work

-Pay to store a few things at a friends' and batch cook there once a week

-Began removing or minimizing other expenses
My current savings rate is: 86.96%
My goal this year is to average less than 1k a month while working because I have many perks I get from work I wouldn't have once I leave.
My current vision of life after FI includes ideas like:
-Travel US in van doing hiking/camping at national parks while popping in to visit friends and family all over country

-Writing books and music

-Travel all other continents slowly

-Buying land, building a small home myself, and building as self-sustaining of a life as possible

-Sailing/living in a sailboat

-Getting a job in tech elsewhere in the world and living in another country for a year


m741
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Location: Seattle, WA

Post by m741 »

Nice, living in a van! I'd like to hear more about that. Any problems? Where do you park it?
It's funny, your FI aspirations are pretty much the same as mine!


dot_com_vet
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Post by dot_com_vet »

Very smart! The bay area has probably the highest tech salaries, and you have an extremely low cost lifestyle.
Where do you park the van when you're not at work?
I do know of a few bay area companies that have geo-dispersed staff. Something to think about if you'd want to keep working and stay mobile.


zarathustra
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Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:15 pm
Location: OR

Post by zarathustra »

Yes it's a great place to maximize savings %. With the temperate weather, living in a van (or having a "bedroom on wheels" as I call it) is very doable.
I have many parking spots I've discovered. Sometimes it's a question of just being able to spot others doing it and then knowing it's a good spot. I find the edges of apt complexes to be good.
I have NEVER had a problem getting harassed by cops or others. There are lots of guidelines to follow and things to look out for that I learned when researching beforehand. I'm sure there's luck involved too. I also park it at my grandparent's or friend's house if I happen to be hanging out there late.


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C40
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Post by C40 »

That's an impressive first journal post!
Lately I've been thinking about living in a van for a while after I retire. If you'd like to share pictures of how you organize the inside, that'd be great. Do you have any good resources you recommend for learning more? (Books, websites, blogs, etc)


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Dream of Freedom
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Post by Dream of Freedom »

What is dirty carnivore? Just curious.


zarathustra
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Post by zarathustra »

Dirty Carnivore:
I explain it as "I eat mostly animal products with a tad bit of fruits and veggies".
It could also be called "very low carb".
I think "dirty carnivore" is sexier.
I found this term at a great forum a few years back: http://dirtycarnivore.com/


zarathustra
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Location: OR

Post by zarathustra »

C40 - thanks!
I have been thinking about documenting it a little, so maybe I'll do that in a month or so. The thing to know about how I have it set up now is that it's only serving as a bedroom really.
I don't technically "live" in my van as much as "sleep" in my van.
So it's in "Phase One".
I will probably be adding a battery/power situation this year, but Phase Two will probably begin 6 mos before I quit my job.
I will put some links together for you.
I think the biggest hurdles I needed to get over when thinking through whether or not to do this were:
-Where to park (it's not hard. i just started looking for spots before i bought the van and found 10 within a week)
-What kind of van (i went cargo for stealth - a VW is hip and cute and cool but everyone wonders if someone's living in it. i don't want to get caught or get any extra attention)
-Getting over feeling exposed and sensitive to every sound

(that took maybe a week)
-What I really needed vs extraneous unnecessary shit

(hence phase one. i could get rid of half the stuff i have now)
-What the cost would really be/if it would be worth it

(getting a private/curtained-off room in college student areas(cuz i still look 19-21) was anywhere from 325 & up). I budget 200/mo for gas because i like to explore, insurance is 126/mo (am going to lower that i think) and i feel i have far more privacy and freedom to go anywhere/explore. The freedom and adventure aspect pushed me towards the van.
i also must admit that a big part of doing this has been to see how few conveniences i could live without or have to work around. i feel a lot stronger, adaptive, and creative.
it was freezing temperatures last night and i have a cold and i was totally warm and fine. my body has adapted to the cold and heats up like a furnace at night. no one i know would be willing to sleep in a van outside last night just to see if they could. or be without a bathroom a few feet away. or hot running water.
of course there are times it annoys me that i have to run to a mcdonald's before bed so i can pee and brush my teeth or that i can't soak in a tub before bed and then sleep naked BUT i can honestly say that it is NOT hard at all because the benefits of doing this and the reasons i'm doing it are so clear to me i don't know if i could go back any time soon.
last summer i would go to a local lake and park on the side of the road, opening my side doors to the most gorgeous view of trees and birds and the blue water. i'd lay on my bed and read and nap and look out the door and smile.
almost every friday at work i spend thinking about where i want to explore this weekend. it makes waiting for FI so much easier. i am already living, just not as widely.
what a life!


zarathustra
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:15 pm
Location: OR

Post by zarathustra »

good news:
-i crossed the 33% to FI threshold (i'm actually almost 37% now)
-i was selected at work for a habitat for humanity trip to india! leaving in 12 days.
-i got a very nice bonus at work for 2012 which helped bump up my % a bit there
-though i'm not averaging 1k or less expense per month, i am very very close
-i decided to take an EMR class (emergency first responder) which is almost done. i really am enjoying EMS! i'm tempted to go and take EMT now but i'm gonna wait until later this year while i get some other goals tackled. i am thinking about volunteering for search and rescue. maybe it would be a way to meet people.
bad news:
i have been battling quite a bit of loneliness lately. i've lived here now for 1.5 years and i still haven't found friends that i can relate to and be 100% real with. the values in this valley are pretty different from mine AND it seems everyone is married or has a SO. i love lots of alone time but it's getting ridiculous. i can only hang out with my grandparents so much.
work has been a little frustrating and disappointing and downright demoralizing lately. there was one day in particular i was livid and felt completely undervalued. i was fuming around until i realized . . . "hey wait a minute . . . this is exactly why i am doing what i am doing and living the way that i am living: freedom."
i can walk away right now and be fine for quite a while. i can quit this minute, go do whatever on my bucket list for a year, and then come back and get another silicon valley job for another 2 or 3 years and it's no problem.
so i decided:

-don't let these idiots get you down. you are not reliant on them. they rely on you. you can walk away at any time.
-look around for something way more interesting. start up?
-check in with myself in 5 mos if i haven't found something else i want to do. has work improved? stay and play or load and go? the 5 month mark is when i have a vacation planned to see some family and will be a good time to reflect.
i instantly felt better. INSTANTLY.
wow. feeling the power of that freedom in action in my life was a revelation! it's no longer theoretical, or perhaps the truth's just burroughed in quite a bit deeper for me now.


m741
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Location: Seattle, WA

Post by m741 »

Sounds like you're making great progress! I've been going through some difficulties lately, and I'm so thankful to have cash reserves where I can just say to myself, "Self, if things don't work out... I could just quit."
Supposing you did leave, you might not want to return. Sounds like Silicon Valley doesn't agree with you, and there are plenty of other places to work.
How are you doing the trip to India? Is it something sponsored by your employer?


thebbqguy
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Post by thebbqguy »

Keep up the good work. Congratulations.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

"i have been battling quite a bit of loneliness lately. i've lived here now for 1.5 years and i still haven't found friends that i can relate to and be 100% real with"
If it's any consolation, I've lived in NYC for longer and haven't found any friends that I can relate to. People suck.


thebbqguy
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Post by thebbqguy »

@zarathustra I go to a lot events sponsored by the local library. It's free and you meet a lot of nice people that you might not otherwise come into contact with. I attended a lecture by a local author and now I've joined a writing club also sponsored by the library.
It's just a thought.


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C40
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Post by C40 »

Thanks for posting the details about living in the van. :-)


Ralphy
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Post by Ralphy »

Enjoying the journal, I look forward to reading more.


zarathustra
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Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:15 pm
Location: OR

Post by zarathustra »

@m741: yeah, work is sponsoring the trip, and i am taking advantage of the free expensive plane ticket and doing a week of vacation afterwards in kerala. i have a few coworkers from there, so i've been getting lots of good advice.
@c40: you are welcome! more to come. i know you want pics eventually.
@bbq: good idea. i do go to the library once every 2 weeks or so. i'm thinking that continuing to do things having to do with reading/philosophy/learning and outdoor stuff like hiking/EMS/search&rescue stuff will likely be good places to meet like-minded folk.
@ralphy: thanks! i'll try to keep it up!


zarathustra
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:15 pm
Location: OR

Post by zarathustra »

okay i'm back from india.
wow.
it was the best trip of my life and i long to return.
the first week was the habitat trip. i don't know how to explain any of it, but i feel incredibly lucky to have been there and worked alongside those people. i was given far far more than i could've ever given to those people. beautiful!
the second week i traveled in Kerala; a beautiful southern west coast state. it was green and lush and simply magical.
it's crazy and it smells and all those things people say, but i absolutely loved india. it was hard and it was easy. you just have to go with it. the one phrase i kept saying when i was there and when i returned is that it just feels real. "This is real life . . . THIS is real!" especially when compared to silicon valley. silicon valley is disneyland. it's fantasy. it's ridiculous. india felt real.
so many moments during the trip i felt this overwhelming feeling of happiness and discovery and freedom and peace. i would look around me, breathe deeply (even when it smelled like curry-shit, lol) and think that this feeling, this type of exploration, this version of me is what i'm working towards . . . and i don't want to wait . . . i don't want to go back. *sigh*
it's been 4 weeks now and i'm still having trouble acclimating back. for the first two weeks i stared at my work emails thinking "are you fucking kidding me? you think THIS is important?"
all of that fueled some discussions and actions that were impulsive for sure, but led to me getting more interesting work at my job and being able to report to a director that is very interested in my development. these things are good, and i like to be busy and be as good as i can at my job, but i still find myself feeling empty because i don't care about e-commerce or shopping or building fancier apps that trick people into spending more money. i just can't get it up for that, more-so now than ever. i don't care about my "career". i just want to be good at what i do while i work. i know now more than ever that i'm a short timer.
anyways . . . i'm really struggling still, just now with even more complex reasons for it. oh well. once again, this is why i began saving so much in the first place - freedom.
positives: i'm at 38% to FI, will be over 40% in 2 weeks. i have several goals lined up for the rest of the year. it's sunny. i've been house-sitting at the grandparents' condo for two weeks (hot tub and free laundry AND a kitchen!). it's been a real treat. i don't cook in my van, so i miss cooking a lot. i feel sexy. i'm reading the black swan. i haven't lost all of who i was in india but enough, i suppose, to survive in silicon valley for a bit longer.
cheers & ttyl


Maus
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Post by Maus »

Isn't Black Swan mind-blowing? You've got to read Antifragility next; Taleb is a street philosopher for the 21st century.
Hang in there. Enjoy the sensual delights of the hot tub. But keep focused on reaching FI. I'm going to Stockholm in July (my India experience), but I know that when I return I will still be a prophet crying out in the wilderness for a few more years. Keep your eye on the prize.


Maus
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:43 pm

Post by Maus »

Isn't Black Swan mind-blowing? You've got to read Antifragility next; Taleb is a street philosopher for the 21st century.
Hang in there. Enjoy the sensual delights of the hot tub. But keep focused on reaching FI. I'm going to Stockholm in July (my India experience), but I know that when I return I will still be a prophet crying out in the wilderness for a few more years. Keep your eye on the prize.


zarathustra
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:15 pm
Location: OR

Post by zarathustra »

"I will still be a prophet crying out in the wilderness for a few more years"
excellent, maus, excellent.
:)


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