ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Where are you and where are you going?
classical_Liberal
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by classical_Liberal »

You're probably getting a very unique overall travel experience. Even if it is limited a bit because of COVID. I'm still envious!

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

@Seppia, not sure what that means, but thank you!

@c_L, American refugees in Lisbon! It's not so far *knock on wood*

Mini Update

Just some random stuff.

Lisbon is pretty shut down, except there is no formal "shelter in place" mandate in regards to individual ability to leave the home, so running/cycling/hiking is fair game as long as you don't congregate outdoors.

There are a fuckton of amazing looking restaurants and cafes near our apartment, but all closed down. Would love to come back under different circumstances.

Our costs look like they should level out to ~75 Euro/day longer term here. Not bad for two people renting through AirBnB and not being too frugal with grocery choices. There just isn't much else to spend money on.

I am considering trying to buy a used bicycle. Not too much space to store one, and I wouldn't be able to take it with me once we leave by bus/plane eventually, but I miss riding, and it seems like a great way to explore the further areas of the city, or even bike to Sintra, etc.

Our AirBnB host let us on to know that she didn't have any further bookings till early April, so we made a cash offer to extend by 1.5 weeks for below the nightly AirBnB rate, on top of avoiding extra service/cleaning/tax fees. If all goes well, our housing costs should be more reasonable next monthly update.

Walking around a LOT, averaging 10 miles a day. Monsanto Forest/Park is 2,500 acres planted in the middle of Lisbon, and offers some very eco-diverse hiking trails.

Other than that, things are going ok. We are up to 2,060 confirmed COVID cases with 23 deaths as of today.....compared to my home state of NY with 21,000 confirmed cases and 160 deaths......hope we made the right choice by bailing =D

Stay safe everyone! I've been following other parts of the forums closely, just not spending much time posting or on the computer (mostly reading on mobile).

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Musings

Almost 3 weeks have passed since we left NY, and starting to feel acclimated to life here in Portugal. We were able to extend our current AirBnB apartment till April 9th, and are currently looking for a monthly rental in either the Cascais or Sintra areas. It doesn't make sense to head down to the Algarve with everything down there (including parks/beaches) completely closed. Right now there seems to be a decent inventory of available apartments in the $700-1000/month range.

Keenly holding our finger on the pulse wrt the COVID-19 situation globally, it still feels like we made the right move leaving the USA (especially NY) when we did. Time will tell how things play out here, but NY seems completely fucked. For now we are able to get fresh air, high quality food at reasonable prices, and still have plenty to explore by foot, while maintaining our distance from other people.

I've used this as an opportunity to get back into running, clocking just over 15 miles last week. Still looking for a used bike, but it's a bit slow as shops are closed and people are not exactly looking for face to face sales right now on the secondary market.

Cost per day has dropped to ~70 Euro/day, or roughly $80. This is significantly less than we were spending on life back in NY over the past few years.....so I guess that's the silver lining. Once/If we make it to Poland in the summer, it should drop even further.

Still too early to tell, but wife and I have discussed the possibility of staying in Europe longer term. We would need to find some part time employment while our investments rebounded to a more sustainable long term WR%.

For now making the most of a bad situation.

Curious to see if we are able to get the $2,400 from the recent COVID relief bill soon. This would completely cover ~30 days of life here at current spending levels.

CS
Posts: 549
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:24 pm

Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by CS »

You picked the right country to shelter in. This is only until June 30th, and you aren't seeking asylum, but still, it speaks well of their decision making ability. Unlike US leadership. Sigh.
(CNN)Portugal has temporarily given all migrants and asylum seekers full citizenship rights, granting them full access to the country's healthcare as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus escalates in the country.

The move will "unequivocally guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens" with applications pending with Portuguese immigration, meaning they are "in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory," until June 30, the Portuguese Council of Ministers said on Friday.
The Portuguese Council of Ministers explained that the decision was taken to "reduce the risks for public health" of maintaining the current scheduling of appointments at the immigration office, for both the border agents and the migrants and asylum seekers.
https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/30/europe/p ... index.html

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

CS wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:26 am
You picked the right country to shelter in.
We've been comparatively impressed by how things have been handled here vs. what we are reading and hearing about the USA right now. Time will tell though, hope to have some more clarity on our next move before our next accommodation is up. More on this below.

March Financial Update

Combined Assets
$651,000 (-$51,500, ouch!)

Combined Spending
March - $2,412
Trailing Twelve Months - $29,438

Combined Income
$3,831 (NY Tax Return, Last two paychecks for SO, last UEI Check, Interest, Dividends)

Savings Rate
37%

Current Withdrawal Rate
4.5% (Portfolio = 22.1X annual expenses)

Musings
Individually @ $16,220 - TTM Spending, 32X annual expenses, and a 3.1% WR

Today marks 3 weeks since we left the USA, and it's been quite the ride, both literally and mentally. Had our portfolio stayed near the high-water mark of mid February our current TTM spending would have us right at 25x annual spending.....but alas, we are down 3 years of combined expenses.....so far. Today is already looking grim for the markets.

We are in our current apartment till April 9th, at which time we have found another (nicer, larger apartment) in a different part of Lisbon through May 7th......so it looks like we will be staying in place until then. At that time we need to reassess what our next move is. I would like to get closer to family in Poland if it's safe to do so, and logistically possible with travel restrictions etc.

Our spending was almost right on target with our projections for this trip, coming in at $2,400 for the month, the bulk of that being accommodation costs.

Individually my portfolio drop was offset by the lowest TTM spending I've had since 2015, a huge win! Right now my stock exposure is roughly 33% of net worth, and my SO's is closer to 75% (with her portfolio being significantly smaller, it skews us to ~40% combined).

Looking forward to finding a bottom sooner than later, as I would mentally like to get it over with.

We've been walking a lot, especially in the ghostly empty streets and forests in the Lisbon area. I also purchased a used bicycle for $200 and once it stops raining, hope to start building my bike mileage back up!

slowtraveler
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by slowtraveler »

Glad to hear you're doing well in the confusing environment.

3.1% wr is quite safe so I wouldn't stress in your shoes. I'm way heavier in equities now, as the crash happened, I kept shifting into equities until I saw overwhelming pessimism beyond what was merited from my experience with the situation and I went near all in quite near the recent bottom but the ambiguity must be stressful.

The housing seems relatively expensive there. I've stressed about getting nicer homes since I moved out, mostly about whether the increased kitchen and home quality mean I'll spend less going out or whether I'll be happier with more money to go out more and just going home to sleep. I've had a great kitchen lately and I gotta say I've been really happy cooking.

Can I ask what % of your expenses housing is?

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Hello st. I had a much greater appetite for equities risk and volatility with a steady paycheck coming in! Now my loss aversion is much higher and the sting of seeing these steady drops is still fresh. I do plan on rebalancing to a more permanent 50/50 AA once I feel extremely squeamish with where my stock valuations have gone.....I don't think we are there yet. Placed a limit order on VTI for $100 in my brokerage account with the remaining dry powder there ($2,500), and I have about $49k sitting in cash in my Roth IRA which represents 10% of my NW, which I plan to DCA in over the next 12-18 months, but no solid plan on how large of chunks to do. My rollover IRA ($120k) is 100% equities, as is my brokerage account ($70k), aside from those $2.5k I added over the past 6 months sitting in cash. The rest of my "cash" is sitting in a 5 year CD ladder, some I Series bonds, and checking/savings of ~$18k I have set aside to use for the remainder of this trip.

Housing in Portugal IS expensive using local purchasing power. For the Portuguese people, it's their largest expense by far. Compared to the USA it's even expensive, as many parts of the country have much cheaper housing (see c_L's arrangement for example). We have found the sweet spot for 1 bedroom flats with full kitchens (w/ washing machine, balcony, etc) to be in the $900-1000/month range through AirBnB, our preferred platform. I am certain a longer term rental directly from an owner can provide much cheaper long term options, but we need the flexibility of length of stay, using a CC to pay, not having to deal with setting up utilities, and need places to be furnished and have the creature comforts of home (linens, towels, etc) since we are living out of two backpacks and a small duffel bag.

I agree that a kitchen and other amenities are worth a higher price. We've cooked all but one meal since we've been in Portugal. Even if everything weren't closed, we would be cooking the vast majority of our food. Living in the flat we are in now, we realized a private outdoor space (patio, balcony, etc) was important to us, since we may be in a stricter lockdown scenario in the coming weeks. We also want a private entrance to avoid dealing with other humans at this point. All things we are willing to pay slightly more for. For comparison, or flat back home was $1,100 a month including utilities, so we are paying slightly less than that. Coupled with nowhere to really spend money while stuck here, it's not all that bad. I can see our spending in April drop a bit.

I've been speaking with parents, brother, and friends back in NY. Mainly in the NYC and Long Island area....and things are truly scary there. I would have a lot of anxiety being there right now. Our old place did have a huge yard, which would be getting a ton of use once the weather warmed up, and I suppose my local biking trails would provide some entertainment, but it looks like things are going to get much worse there before they get better, and being stuck inside a of a basement apartment would have sucked overall. My SO's job was in a grocery chain, so she would have likely had to continue working.

We're both hopeful this plays out with minimal disruption to our new lifestyle in the coming months, and we can get to Poland. Once in Poland our housing costs will be minimal (just utilities), and we can reassess how/where we want to continue traveling, as well as if/when we want to return to the US. The ideal scenario would be to get US based remote jobs and live in Poland for a while to build savings up a bit.....before re-attempting our globetrotting.

Anyway, sorry for the word dump....time to make breakfast before heading over to Sintra for the day.

Seppia
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by Seppia »

Great stuff
Doradinhas is Portuguese for Sea Bream, a fantastic fish that’s a staple in the local diet.

I would imagine AirBnb hosts are pretty desperate right now, you could easily make a power move and book a couple extra months for a hour half what you’re paying now.

Stay safe and keep us posted!

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I agree on a long stay like that. Not sure how much longer we will stay. Using next month to reassess.

classical_Liberal
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by classical_Liberal »

Reads like you're rolling with the COVID punches pretty well. The happenstance of the new york outbreak after you left must really make you feel like you made the right move. I'll again reiterate that I wish i had some more defined plans that i had followed through on after my semi-ER, like you have. Are you feeling relaxed and energized? Adjusted to the new normal?

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Hey c_L!

Rolling with the punches is all we can do now :)

It was good to have something to look forward to for the period I wasn't working but wasn't yet traveling. Despite the plans not panning out nearly the way we thought, the planning provided a lot of mental stimulation and happiness in the process. I do wonder what it would have been like to do this trip without the whole COVID curve-ball, say a year earlier...not only would traveling around been possible, but we wouldn't had the economical situation on the back of our minds. That being said, I'm sure glad I did pull the trigger, and hindsight is always 20/20.

Currently feeling relaxed and grateful. This has been a big confirmation of how little I/we need to be happy and content with life. Safe shelter, access to clean drinking water and food, fresh air, and the health to move about and scratch my curiosity about the world. Minimizing possessions over the past year to live life out of a backpack has also proven to be a great exercise, and I don't miss any of my stuff, it's an incredibly freeing feeling, as I know you're aware (being someone who has moved a ton and can fit everything in a passenger vehicle!).

Being only 3 weeks into what was supposed to be a 12 month vagabonding experience, there is still hope that we will get to see and do some of the things we hoped to. As you may remember we had a plan B, C, and D.....and while none of them are exactly feasible with the world almost entirely locked down, sooner or later there will be other options vs. just staying put in Lisbon.

Financially all I can do is laugh now. I thought I had things pretty figured out, and then something as unpredictable as this happened. Good lesson for the future, and I'm sure it will continue teaching over the coming months and years. I feel fairly well positioned to ride the storm out, and with a little luck and a few short years of work will get the portfolio back to all time highs when the time is right. For now, going to keep rolling with the punches, and try to keep squeezing out the lemonade.

Edited to add - I wish there was an easier way to post pics here. The pixel rule + no way to bulk upload images makes it super painful. I've been able to share quite a bit over on my MMM journal because I can upload stuff with one click in Tapatalk.

anesde
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Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:32 am

Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by anesde »

There are worst places to be than Portugal :)

I was actually visiting my parents in Braga during the last weekend of February after spending a week in Madrid for work. I almost cancelled my flight and stayed there but didn’t in the end. We went on lockdown in the UK about 2 weeks after that. We’re doing fine in London as of now - plenty of food, coffee, and wine and getting out for some daily exercise. My parents likewise stay in their small village which is good considering they’re high risk.

How did you find Sintra? I assume the Palacio de Pena and Castelo dos Mouros were closed? Have you managed to explore Cascais or Estoril at all? I think I may end up there in the near future on a semi-ERE myself. Not so much what you’re doing but rather take a (much) lower paying, lower stress job in Lisbon and improve my quality of life. Be able to head up north to my family’s farm on the weekends and maybe raise a couple of kids in Portugal.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Hey @anesde! I can't think of a better place to be stuck right now, aside from maybe a 10+ acre homestead that could provide a ton of education and entertainment with little/no disruption from "normal". The weather has been mostly amazing, and there is so much to see, as you know. I am glad to hear you are safe! After spending a few weeks here, and most likely a few more months moving forward, I am loving it more and more.

Sintra was beautiful, the palaces and castles are closed, but many of the parks, trails, and forest areas remained open. We are planning to go back on Tuesday when the weather breaks (getting some rain in the coming days, finally). We have explored Cascais, walking from the train station all the way up to the southern border of the Cascais-Sintra National Park, along the bluffs. The silver lining to this whole pandemic here for us, is that the trains are all free right now (so are trams, buses, and metro). So we can visit Cascais, Sintra as much as we want without incurring any costs, even though 2 round trip tickets are only 9 Euro total, it still adds up. Not to mention there is nowhere to spend money in the area once you get there. We've been packing snacks and bottled water, and just exploring on foot. Yesterday we spent most of our time in Sintra doing the Red/Yellow loop that start in the historic center and takes you up fairly high around one of the castles, as well as Monserrate park.

I love your idea of downshifting and moving here. It seems like a wonderful place to raise a family. I did meet a local cyclist Youtuber (who helped me find a used bike!) and he is worried that this whole pandemic will really hurt the "safe" reputation Lisbon has. Apparently over the past few years there's been a huge influx of immigrants/migrants from Brazil, Pakistan, and other relatively developing countries, who all rely on tourism/services industry to make ends meet. Once those jobs have dried up (happening already), it is only a matter of time before crime picks up so people can feed themselves. Hope that isn't the case, but food for thought.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Musings

Financial Stuff

Image
The tiny sliver in the top center is my REIT holding which is currently 1.1% of portfolio.

Image
Red = Spending, Green = Income @ 3% WR

I finally updated my asset allocation tab with up to date data from this morning, individual portfolio is just a hair over $500k as of this writing. I also learned how to get the information into a pie chart! This is a much more impactful way to see my AA percentages than cells in a spreadsheet. The tiny sliver in the top center is my REIT holding which is currently 1.1% of portfolio.

Revisiting some of my planning posts from the past year, I think it's important to stick to the strategy and tactics I laid out before any of this crazy pandemic stuff clouted my judgement.

An important rule I set for myself was to use 3% of current portfolio as a dynamic spending-from-assets ceiling. This number is currently hovering between $1250-1275/month depending on the markets mood that day. The good news, is that this should totally be feasible given short term plans, and the past 5 months have been below this level, despite most of them having significant income from non-work sources. Since I have no side hustle income coming in for the foreseeable future, this will be what I spend moving forward.

I need to get that "Pre-Tax" cash position invested into the market asap. I'm planning on DCAing the funds in my Roth IRA over the next 12 months as is, but I was considering making a purchase in my Roth for the full $49k immediately while simultaneously selling the equivalent in my taxable brokerage to capture potential upside in the Roth vs. taxable (any thoughts on that?). For what it's worth, I have about $40k of shares in taxable that would be essentially a wash on tax gain/loss.

Non Financial

Spoke with my parents back in NYC. Family is holding up ok all things considered. They are trying to help us get some things sorted with our potential quarantine locations in Poland.

I've written about this in the past, but for anyone new, we have two old residences in Poland. One is a small apartment in a large soviet era building with 160 apartments, not exactly the type of place you want to be stuck in quarantine (7th story apartment with a small lift), nor good for social distancing. But it's location is superb, 10 minute walk from the town square, and under normal circumstances it's amazing. Can bike anywhere in the city within 15-20 minutes.

The other place is outside of the city (technically not anymore as the city has expanded and it's now considered within city limits). It's a house my grandfather built himself. Very primitive, with a root cellar, attached glass greenhouse, one large room on the top floor with no bathroom for sleeping, and a downstairs which has an unfinished basement feel where there is a very basic kitchen with propane stove, propane tankless water heater, a rudimentary shower, and toilet, along with a small siting area with a 1970's couch. There is a well but the water is not safe for drinking. The house is on a property of approximately 1.5 acres, and has a small pond. There are 20+ blueberry bushes, apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, raspberry plants, plum trees, red currant, black currant, gooseberry, a peach tree, a fence covered in grapes, wild mint everywhere, wild strawberries, walnuts, and hazelnuts, and I'm sure that I'm forgetting others. Back in soviet times, my grandparents would supplement their meager incomes with what they could harvest, selling some and bartering others. Canning and preserving fruit was something that I grew up watching them do. This would make for an excellent homestead. The property is located approximately 30-45 minutes away from the city center by bicycle, and about 25-30 minutes from the apartment I described earlier. Both sit empty aside from when my parents/uncles visit, or when my 95 year old grandfather has someone take him there to do some maintenance and gardening (till last year he was still doing that!).

My wife and I would love to bring the place back to its former glory. The greenhouse is used to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and grapes every year. The well water is perfect for watering things in the summer. It's a lot of work to maintain the place. Back when I was a kid he had rows and rows of vegetables that were planted from seed/bulb/sapling, but as we grew up and spent less time there, and he got much older, it was just turned to grass. When I was a kid, he grew potatoes, carrots, radishes, turnips, cabbage, onions, dill, parsley, beets, scallion, corn, sweet peas, string-beans, zucchini and a few others. We would regularly pick stuff out of the ground and have it for dinner. There is also a large fire pit with a heavy iron grill top that he had welded years ago.

Given the craziness going on in the world we are strongly considering spending a huge chunk of our time there once we leave Portugal, at least through mid-fall. Expenses would be really low, likely under $1k/month for two people.
Last edited by 2Birds1Stone on Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

bigato
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by bigato »

That sounds like the ideal ere home (to me). Your grandfather would surely be pleased to see you bringing the place back to life!

CS
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by CS »

That does sound like a perfect place to hide out for a year or two.

Seppia
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by Seppia »

Agreed, that second option sounds great!

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Thanks guys, a lot of hurdles to go before that can become a reality! But it's a very real option. Apparently sometime in the fall a seal broke around the gas/water heater fixture and my grandpa attempted a DIY repair, taking things apart. There is currently no gas/hot water on, and it's impossible to find someone to fix it with him in isolation and Poland under a very strict quarantine. Going to keep our finger on the pulse and try to get it resolved before we would attempt to make it over there.

Back to Portugal for a moment, it's important to look for a silver lining!

https://www.theportugalnews.com/news/po ... n-60/53592

tl;dr - Pollution in Lisbon is down 60% YoY

Before the COVID-19 outbreak Lisbon was already doing a lot to improve it's carbon footprint and was awarded the "2020 European Green Capital Award"

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/europe ... rd-winner/

In contrast, Poland still burns a ton of coal, acid rain is a big problem, and Poles are not environmentally conscious as a rule of thumb.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Musings

Still chugging along here in Lisbon as we entered our second month here in Portugal today! The state of emergency is being renewed until at least the 1st of May. Moved into our new flat on Thursday, and it's quite an upgrade from our last place. Very modern/rustic design, with a large balcony, lots of natural light, and the best part of all, tons of live plants. The owner is a Brazilian businesswoman (flowers) who only uses it for a few months out of the year, and the rest of the time it's managed by a property management company. She's actually supposed to be arriving from Brazil on the 13th of May, however due to Covid may postpone, which would mean the flat may be available after our original planned checkout date of May 7th.

Continue to do a lot of walking, photography (I'm pretty terrible, but it's been fun to learn), some running and cycling. Meeting with a new friend I met through the cycling community to take a ride this morning. So far enjoying having a bicycle. Travel over the Easter holiday 9th-13th is heavily restricted between municipalities, but should ease back up by Tuesday. Planning a hike from Sintra to Cascais through the national park if the weather permits next week.

I realized our spending here has been mostly front-loaded, and while our average cost is still over $100/day due to prepaying for accommodation, it should level off drastically (~$75/day total for two people) once we have an exit date to move to Poland. The latest we plan on leaving here would be June 7th, after extending for an additional month. Time will tell, can't make plans too far into the future at this point in time. Modeling finances for the remainder of 2020 looks promising, as spending should drop to below historic lows, by a significant margin. If markets stay flat through April, my personal WR will be <3% using TTM spending.

Hope everyone has a healthy, happy, and safe Easter/Passover holiday weekend.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Experiment - Vagabonding a COVID-19 Minefield!

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

An update on the housing situation...owner of the apartment cancelled her trip, and we were able to extend through June 7th. Our housing is now paid for until we are ready to travel to Poland.

This doesn't give us a big window to get out of the Schengen zone and into Poland, by June 9th! Easy if we can find a flight, much harder traveling by land. Because my wife is not an EU citizen we have 90 days in Schengen outside of Poland. Once we get to Poland she *should* be fine for an additional 90 days before we have to apply for a spousal visa. The rules are muddy due to Covid-19, and we are not sure if it will complicate entry into the country. We will be scouring the flight/train/bus options in the coming weeks once the date gets closer, but have at least a date to target. May give up a day or two of accommodation here in order to give ourselves a better shot at making it in our 90 day window.

Woke up this morning to a nice $2,400 deposited in our checking account from Uncle Sam. Definitely helps offset most of our costs over the past 5 weeks =)

Parents have agreed to work on getting the gas/water situation fixed on the orchard, as soon as the quarantine restrictions are loosened in Poland. It sounds like we will be stuck in a government facility for 14 days before being released to our home city......this may change in the coming months though.

Aside from that life is good. Walking a ton, taking bike trips for fun, and still running a bit. Really need to incorporate some calisthenics into my weekly routine. Haven't done any resistance training in 5+ weeks!

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