UrbanHermit's Journal

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

Post by UrbanHermit » Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:59 am

June 2015

Image

I haven't been active on the forums in a while, but I still drop by to read the journals now and then, so I figured I'd dust mine off with a belated update before it permanently joins the hundreds of abandoned journals in the archives.

There's been a definite up-trend to my spending recently. Part of that is due to a 20% drop in the value of the canadian dollar inflating my costs, but mostly it's laziness and over-spending. Still, my savings rate remains around the 60% mark so haven't been strongly motivated to push hard on expenses. A bit embarrassing to post on the ERE forums perhaps, but that's the reality of where I'm at right now.

My japanese project derailed around november. Currently it's just not a priority, and I've been averaging around 20 hours a month. That's only enough for maintenance really, not progress. My total for the year was 784 hours-- objectively quite a lot, but nowhere near my original goal.

Job-wise, housing-wise, health-wise, not much has changed: I lost 10lbs, scored a 10% raise, and talked myself out of buying a car for yet another year. Otherwise, same old, same old.

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by thrifty++ » Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:53 am

Hey Urbanhermit I am so glad to see your journal.

I think you are the first person I have seen here in a similar position to me - living in a city where housing costs are out of control. I am envious of so many ERE posters who pay next to nothing for housing costs. I am in Auckland. Last I read Vancouver, Hong Kong and Auckland were the most unaffordable cities in the world when comparing income to housing costs.

I too struggle to get the rates of savings that others achieve here. And it really is down to housing costs. Its a massive nugget of income. I pay $866 per month in rent. That is for a room in a small 2 bedroom apartment that I share with one other person. Well sort of 2 bedroom - the bedroom is part of the lounge until the slider doors and curtains come down. I used to rent the whole place to myself at $1733 per month. I lived on my own for some time. But decided to get flatmates if I was going to be able to save any money. I am also quite introverted so prefer being on my own. But it can be ok in my experience when I suss the person out to ensure we are compatible and have similar interests and that they understand I like my space sometimes ( I tell them that in the interview so no surprises).

I am trying to think of finding other ways to reduce my rent. Its still too high. But I am thinking of transferring to another city in NZ when possible. I don't really want to though. Would only do that for the cost savings. I actually like large vibrant cities.

I used to live in Vancouver as an early teenager and was there two years ago so now also how it is an expensive city. Have you thought about moving to Montreal? Its very cheap. Do they have many developer jobs there? I would not think you would need to speak French as a developer.

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UrbanHermit
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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by UrbanHermit » Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:39 pm

That is for a room in a small 2 bedroom apartment that I share with one other person ... I lived on my own for some time. But decided to get flatmates if I was going to be able to save any money. I am also quite introverted so prefer being on my own.


This is what I should be doing to control my costs as well... good on you for taking the plunge. An $800/mo reduction in fixed costs is huge!

I had housemates at my last place, when I was working in the UK, but that was a large detached-semi so there was a lot more privacy. A 2 bedroom is pretty tight quarters to share... I did it for a year in college, but with my brother. Living with a complete stranger in a small apartment would definitely be pushing my comfort zone.
Have you thought about moving to Montreal? Its very cheap. Do they have many developer jobs there? I would not think you would need to speak French as a developer.
It's funny you should ask, I've been giving a lot of thought to that recently. Toronto and Montreal are the two other major job markets in Canada for developers. As it happens I'm something of a language geek, and reasonably fluent in french, so that part doesn't worry me.

My current employer really doesn't want me to leave however, and they keep paying me more money to discourage this kind of thinking. It's doubly hard to get out of a rut when there are strong economic incentives to stay in it. When this gig wraps up though, one way or another, I'm outta Vancouver for good.

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by Cornerman » Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:50 pm

Looks like you are on track, Vancouver is expensive indeed. Been there on holiday and even the B&B's are expensive, very nice city though.

Lot's of cool places with lower costs in Canada I think, I have been there a couple of times on holiday and really liked it. Considered moving there but decided it was to expensive. And I didn't have the connections to get a job either. I will follow your journal, good luck !

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by thrifty++ » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:07 am

aha. Great your employer is trying to keep you around. They should be paying you enough to be able to meet 70% savings to be worth it though. Seriously Montreal is very cheap. I have spent a lot of time there as well as in Vancouver. Montreal cost of living is easily half of Auckland's and possibly less, especially housing costs (which is the hardest thing for us frugal types to cut) and I am pretty sure Auckland is almost exactly on par with Vancouver. I have not been to Toronto but I have heard it is expensive (not as bad as Van though).

I wish I could easily transfer to Montreal and achieve a similar income. Alas it will not be so easy in my vocation however. It would actually be financial suicide at this point of time.

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UrbanHermit
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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by UrbanHermit » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:16 am

December 2015

Image

Well, here it is new years again, and as I'm going through my year-end review and retrospective, I thought I'd take a moment to update my stale journal thread.

Not much has changed since my last check-in. Monthly spending has been high, but relatively flat. The canadian dollar has been steadily trending downwards, which makes my portfolio (heavily internationally diversified) look good relative to my spending, although measured in USD terms I've actually lost net worth over the past year. No signs of this trend reversing in the near future.

Right now I'm considering an opportunity to work an expat position for a few years, which would result in a significant pay hike, but also significantly increase my monthly expenses. Since those are only a small fraction of my income however, it comes clearly in my favor financially. On the other hand it involves a move to a much hotter and more humid climate and I'm not sure I'll adapt well. On paper it looks good, and I have friends and family telling my I'd be crazy not to go for it... but I just can't seem to work up any excitement, maybe I'm just burnt out. At this point I largely regret having started the process at all, which has been long and drawn out, ramping up my stress levels considerably over the last month when normally I'd be winding down at year end.

I've done the expat thing twice before, and honestly I don't see what's so great about living abroad. Work is work and people are people, wherever you go. Mostly it just creates inconvenience, isolation, and tax headaches. I may let this one pass despite the financial win it would represent. On the other hand Canada appears to be headed for a protracted recession, so maybe I'll just bugger off overseas and do the expat thing a while afterall. I keep going back and forth on this one.

My current line of thinking is that I'm going about things all wrong. Despite the fact that I've been in my current location for seven years now, I still see it as a temporary situation that I'm just tolerating as I grind out money so I can someday make the big leap and ERE. What that leap looks like, or what is on the other side is fairly ambiguous, I just know my current life is not one I would choose to retire to.

The reality is that after 2 weeks of holiday downtime, I'm already bored out of my skull and looking for things to do. Why is "retirement" such a motivating goal, when two weeks of stay-cation is as much as I can handle? Only because the eight-to-seven office grind is such a meager alternative. Instead of seeing this as an all-or-nothing crossover between my life of misery as an indentured wage slave, and a shiny future as an emancipated early retiree, I should be working harder on figuring out what my target lifestyle looks like, and figuring out how I can live that now. Lets face it, a modest part-time income would bridge the difference between my portfolio yield and my expenses today.

I think I would be well served by spending the year developing more productive hobbies. If I won the lottery and FIRE'd tomorrow, I'd go nuts without more substantial projects to work on. Instead of focussing on achieving 100% financial independance then using my free time to develop new interests, I should be building a pipeline of projects now to transition into. Waking up one morning and thinking "I just don't have time to keep working this job with everything else I have going on", seems like a far better place to be than handing in my resignation one day and wondering "ok... so now what?". Not a new or original idea at all, just one I'm finally getting through my thick skull. This post is getting pretty long already so assuming I actually follow through, I'll discuss how I see this working in a future update.

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by thrifty++ » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:23 am

Welcome back UrbanHermit. It has been a long time.

Yes the CAD has definitely gone downhill recently. Its almost dollar for dollar with NZD which is bizarre. So I bought some. In anticipation I am likely to be spending time there reasonably soon and will need some CAD to pay bills while there. I'm not sure why you care if your Net Worth has gone down in USD unless you are planning to live there. I don't give a shit about USD. I only care about currency where I am likely to live - NZ, Aussie and Canada, and they have all sunk together recently (AUD and CAD more than NZD though).

Where were you offered the expat job? Are you going to do a net worth post ? In CAD!? :)

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singvestor
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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by singvestor » Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:05 am

Where is your expat assignment? Hot and humid sounds like my home country , Singapore...

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UrbanHermit
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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by UrbanHermit » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:05 pm

I'm not sure why you care if your Net Worth has gone down in USD unless you are planning to live there.
I don't care about USD per se, unfortunately that also implies that my networth has dropped as measured in rice, beans, iphones, oranges, coffee, automobiles, steam-games, and other essentials of life that are tied to the greenback.
Where were you offered the expat job?
Where is your expat assignment? Hot and humid sounds like my home country , Singapore...
Carribean financial offshoring. It's a small marketplace so for privacy reasons I don't want to be more specific.
Are you going to do a net worth post ? In CAD!? :)
Sure, you can guesstimate fairly closely from the chart above anyway:

December:

Incomings: 6049
Outgoings: 2063
Savings Rate: 65%

Net Worth:

Registered Investments: 249k
Taxable Investments: 159k
Chequing: 19k

Total: 427k CAD / 308k USD

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by thrifty++ » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:40 pm

Nice work! Thanks for sharing. I would love to be at the point you are now.
Hmm I can see the vacillation around the caribbean. Don't think I would want to live on a tropical caribbean island myself. Vancouver would be way nicer.

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UrbanHermit
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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by UrbanHermit » Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:36 pm

December 2016

Been a year since my last update... I wasn't sure if I would post this or not since I mostly fell off the ERE bandwagon this year, but I figure this is the kind of forum to prefer a negative data-point to survivorship bias ;)

Image

Financials

Around February I ran into some trouble with my rental situation and found myself needing to move in a hurry. After a week of trying to find a new place at a similar price point and finding no options excepts room-shares or doubling my commute to an hour-plus each way, I'd had enough.

I had the economic power to set myself up in an awesome living situation, I was only reluctant to use it because of some vague notion of early retirement that had zero benefit to me in the present. I wasn't going to be FI in the next year no matter what I did, so I could either spend it commuting long hours from a hovel shared with multiple roommates, or experiment with a slightly higher cost of living for the year.

So... I moved downtown, upgraded my ancient IKEA furniture to new IKEA furniture, replaced my worn clothes, bought a laptop for "work", started buying groceries at whole foods, became a regular at the local coffee shops, and basically ignored every tenant of ERE for the year.

As a result of spending money carelessly on whatever I wanted, my savings rate dropped from 70-80% to 50-60%, and my portfolio finished up the year at slightly over 500k. So... things are still looking ok from a retirement perspective, the stash is growing and I can always bring spending back in line.

As an experiment the results have been mixed-- being within walking distance of work has been a *huge* win, as has the walkability of the downtown with everything in easy reach. My new place is awesome: great view, well maintained, modern fixtures, quiet, great location, laminate floors (wall-to-wall carpet is evil). Clothing/electronics replacements were a plus, I've definitely been under-budgeting those letting things wear out. Spending in other areas hasn't really had any net benefits other than not needing to pay attention.

Work

On the job front things have been bad recently. Around the Mar/Apr timeframe I was moved onto a project originally planned for 4 months of development. Early on it started going sideways... technical problems, crippling hardware limitations, absurdly low estimates, unrealistic demands, inadequate resources, multiple teams with contradictory objectives, etc. As it went on and the pressure mounted heavily I started working longer and longer hours, going home and putting extra time in at night and on the weekends, working straight through lunch, postponing vacation time, etc.

Now we're 9 months in and no end in sight. Team morale as been terrible (not helped by a round of layoffs in the middle when another division was sold), tensions have blown up into messy interpersonal conflicts, I put on 20lbs (before turning things around recently and losing 10 of those), my stress levels have never been higher, I've been fighting through a flare-up of an old RSI, and struggling with burnout and depression.

I should be looking for another job, but I'm having trouble convincing myself I even *want* one, let alone the additional load of a job search, interviews, relocation, and extra-effort ramping up as the new guy. It's the smart move though, so I may need to act on this in the new year.

If I had kept my spending low would the situation be any better? Not really... eliminating the commute was a *huge* win for me and has made the situation more bearable. Walking to/from work has been the only exercise I've gotten some days. Even at my current burn rate I have over a year of runway in cash and 15+ years in total, so financially I'm in a pretty good position regardless.

Future Plans

At this point I don't know. Unless things change rapidly at work (no indication they will) I can't see myself there much longer. Maybe I'll buckle down and do a job search, maybe I'll just reach my breaking point and resign, maybe they'll terminate the project and lay off our team (potentially the best outcome for me at this point, because of severance and EI).

I had a big health scare recently which is currently looking like a false-alarm, but has me re-evaluating some of my lifestyle choices. Maybe I'll post some more about this in the Health Questions section another day.

On the ERE front I've been toying with a variety of fairly radical solutions for an Early-Sabbatical-Extreme as my burnout levels increase. Most of these are probably just work-escapism-fantasy, but it keeps me lurking on forums like this anyway. At the very least I've decided to bring my spending immediately back in line, by locking my monthly spend to SWR plus CoL Adjustment (in other words the point where I would be FI with no behavioral changes if I simply moved out of Vancouver thereby halving my rent. Since I track on a rolling average basis, that would show up as crossover with the lower line in my chart by next January.

TLDR had a bad year, spent a bunch of money, still hanging around the forums.

Happy new year everyone

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by thrifty++ » Tue Jan 03, 2017 3:27 am

Sorry to hear you have had a shit year. But you are still owning it financially.
Great that you are living in downtown Van. I love downtown Van its so awesome. Especially the West End.
Maybe you should consider getting a two bedroom place and find a flatmate to reduce costs.

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by Cornerman » Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:49 pm

Good luck on improving your work environment, hopefully this will be soon.

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by trailblazer » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:34 am

I can relate to your example of "upgrading" your living situation. I'm tempted to do the same . . . I have enough saved for basic FI, but not sure yet about pulling the plug at work. A nicer apartment etc. might make work more bearable though further savings would slow. I guess that's the trap the corporate world wants us to step in.

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by Pedal2Petal » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:44 pm

Hey it's cool to see this journal from another guy in Vancouver. A few of you in here too. My wife and I just moved from North Van to Burnaby and are paying 960$ for a 2-BR, or 480$ each. I've lived in several places that were as low as 250$/mo in this city. Many single people live in vans in this city for free, I can point you to some youtube channels that is 100% what I would do if I was single. Just my $0.02 ;)

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by TheRedHare » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:50 pm

Pedal2Petal wrote:Hey it's cool to see this journal from another guy in Vancouver. A few of you in here too. My wife and I just moved from North Van to Burnaby and are paying 960$ for a 2-BR, or 480$ each. I've lived in several places that were as low as 250$/mo in this city. Many single people live in vans in this city for free, I can point you to some youtube channels that is 100% what I would do if I was single. Just my $0.02 ;)
I live in Charleston, SC and my rent so no where near that bad. But I've been thinking about living in a van. What recommendations do you have. Love your websites by the way...great stuff!

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by Pedal2Petal » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:38 am

TheRedHare wrote:I live in Charleston, SC and my rent so no where near that bad. But I've been thinking about living in a van. What recommendations do you have.
Personally I like Sprinter vans the best because they are roomy, tall and have excellent gas mileage while being "stealth" enough for city use. You can search "sprinter conversion van" and see lots of habitation examples, or run the same search on craigslist to find sprinter homes for sale. You could also live much more comfortably in an RV and park it in an RV park or on someone's land like we did we 9 months in 2014.

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Re: UrbanHermit's Journal

Post by MDFIRE2024 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:07 am

Hey UrbanHermit, how are you? How have everything worked out?

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