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

Where are you and where are you going?
bigato
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Location: Brazil

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

Post by bigato »

Yeah, definitely agree. I"ve been using the word "serendipity" a lot lately :)

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

Post by classical_Liberal »

@bigato
Thanks for the answer!

Yes, I think we salaryman folks who are newer to ERE freedom have a hard time switching modes. We are so used to being giving productive tasks and schedules to follow (even from ourselves), then building our life around them, that we forget we should first build our life, then let our productive tasks evolve from it.

I don't know if there is a magic formula here, but I have a strong suspicion that significant time away from salaryman employment is a strong first step. It feels unnatural at first. Just doing what we feel, when we feel, so we assume something is missing. However, I think the missing component is really the misery we've associated with productivity in the past, maybe not the purpose/productivity itself. I think purpose will occur naturally given enough time. I believe that was a mistake I made in my last period off. Once I settled into a good flow of daily life, I assumed it was time to go back to work. Maybe I was past the point of being "leisured-out" and just reaching the point of a good life balance. Instead of building my purpose around that new life, I re-rearranged it to go back to being productive as I had known it before.

So, my point to @2B1S is that maybe now you are reaching the point of burn-out being gone and you are beginning to "leisure-out". The time to build life begins now, don't make the mistake that life should be built around productivity, rather build the productivity/purpose around your new life.

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

Post by anesde »

@c_L is like a sage. That resonated with me quite deeply, as well as recent passages from AE’s journal.

@2B1S - the last couple of weeks left me with no energy at all to keep it going but I have time this weekend and aim to catch up to present day. Thanks for the nudge.

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

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

@everyone who commented since my last post, I have a lot of thoughts and updates to share, but first let me get the boring financial stuff out of the way.

May Financial Update

Combined Assets
$701,500 (+$14,800)

Combined Spending
May - $976
Trailing Twelve Months - $25,836

Combined Income
$0 earned income
~$400 in interest/dividends

Current Withdrawal Rate
3.7% (Portfolio = 27.1X annual expenses)

Musings
Individual May spending = $460, broken down for anyone curious;

$0 Housing (pre-paid last month)
$170 Grocery
$4 Transportation (took one bus)
$106 Entertainment
$90 Travel (fuel, tolls, lodging for trip to Algarve)
$37 Travel/Health Insurance
$16 Health/Hygiene (hair clippers, sunscreen)
$17 Misc
$20 Gifting/Charity

Individually @ $14,153 - TTM Spending, 39.5X annual expenses, and a 2.52% WR!!

Our spending was SUPER low thanks to our AirBnB being prepaid last month, and waiting to purchase our flights/buses to Poland due to uncertainty about Poland allowing international flights next month. Right now we can find flights to Poland via Germany or Netherlands for ~$400/piece but it hasn't been officially announced that they will be able to fly the dates we are targeting.

The markets were up significantly in May, combined with another YoY drop in spending we are now at <4% WR as a household for the first time ever. June will be costly due to the travel costs across Europe, and setup costs once we get to Poland. I have a bigger update on this to share later today or tomorrow. Let's just say it's been an interesting week.


Activity/Health

In May I walked 295 miles (with two days to go!), ran 0 miles, and biked 140 miles. While I'm not thrilled about my lack of running, I did add in some resistance training in the form of pullups and pushups.

I have done a total of 10 workouts in May (5 pulling, 5 pushing) and have worked up to 102 pushups in 6 sets, and 38 pullups in 6 sets. The pushups are done on my fists to increase range of motion, and pullups are from a dead hang palms out. I can already tell a difference in strength and endurance after just 3.5 weeks of doing these every few days.

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

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

@c_L, I like that way of looking at it! Right now I'm in no rush to do anything productive. I don't need the money in the short term, and I am still quite enjoying the novelty of not having to work, after so many years in FT labor.

@bigato, that's a great arrangement, one I think you can evolve and improve on after you're done with FT work yourself. Between your property, family/friends in the new area, and some creative PT work on your own schedule, it sounds like you will be able to have your cake and eat it too.

Serendipity all around my friends!

@anesde, I'm really enjoying your story so far. It's a shame we could not meet in Portugal this spring, but I'm sure our paths will cross in the future.

Travel Update

The legalities of getting to and staying in Poland have been figured out. It took a LOT of work (calls, emails, more calls) to various government agencies and embassies, but we have solid answers in writing.

We did have to get an original marriage license issued by mail from our town hall back in NY, then have it translated to Polish by a sworn translator and notarized. This is to prove my wife is actually my wife, since Poland's borders are still closed to foreign nationals.

We are currently in a holding pattern. Our current apartment is paid for until June 7th, but Poland has not resumed international flights just yet. Under the current rules and travel options we would have to fly Lisbon -> Frankfurt, wait 9 hours for a daily bus into Poland, spend 19.5+ hours traveling by bus to home city, then subject ourselves to a mandatory 14 day quarantine (indoors, with daily police surveillance), after which we are free. Once free my wife can apply for a temporary residence permit which is good for 5 years. Once she has this permit, time in Poland no longer counts against future visits to other Schengen countries, meaning after 90 days in Poland, we would once again be free to travel around the rest of Europe, back to the states, or to SE Asia as we originally planned.

If we wait an extra week in Portugal, Poland may re-open borders and international flights, maybe even lifting the mandatory 14 day quarantine requirement. This would be ideal. We haven't booked anything yet in hopes of some more concrete information on this topic to come to light.

Today is day 82 of our trip, and our cost per day has dropped to ~$61/day all in. If this were sustainable, that's a mere $22.3k/yr!

Been enjoying our time here very much lately. We will miss it, and definitely return in the future.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Musings

A year goes by quickly, yet so much can change. It's hard to believe that I've been essentially ERE'd, for just over 12 months at this point. The focus of this journal for quite some time was the preparation to jump off into the deep end of the ERE pool, the associated money earning/saving, and logistics of it all. I'm really thankful for this community and the ability to journal it all here, as it's very beneficial to go back and see the change in thought process, mentality, and attitude over the past few years.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself, just to make sure I'm not dreaming. The tone of my posts from 3-4 years ago, seems dreamy and wishful. It still blows my mind that I doubted my own abilities and courage. When work/life got hard, it seemed as though the light at the end of the tunnel was so far away, or that once I got closer, the light would turn out to be a train. In hindsight, that light was the entrance to the cave.

Life is different now. There's a weightlessness that comes with having agency. It's still a struggle sometimes, to remind oneself that the shackles of wage slavery are gone. Striving to savor the moment, and appreciate the time and place for what it is. Life has thrown me/us many curve-balls in recent months, yet we're blessed to take them in stride thanks to past choices.

I'm not sure what the future will bring, only that the world is quickly changing, and sadly it doesn't look like it's for the better. I don't want to get all sentimental/philosophical, but I truly want to strive to be the change I wish to see in the world. As we end our chapter here in Portugal and head to the homeland, my goals will be focused around gratitude, kindness, and designing a balanced life that will be a solid foundation for whatever I decide to build in the coming months and years.

We've finalized our travel plans, and while there are still things that are completely out of our control, we should get to our destination in Poland by next week. We're going to try to get permission to quarantine at the orchard, which is proving a bit difficult because the property doesn't have a legal address. If we're able to figure it out, it will be a 14 day detox from technology, artificial stimulus, and a real opportunity to introspect and get in tune with the land.

An interesting post I came across when trying to figure out where my head was at a year ago...
2Birds1Stone wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:26 pm
Bigger Picture Stuff

I long for my homeland......which is very strange. It comes and goes, but for the last decade and a half, I've had this strong urge to permanently relocate to the EU, more specifically Poland, where my whole family is from. Even though I was born in the USA, I've always identified more as a Pole than an American......spending the past few days reading the detailed history of Poland has brought these thoughts front and center. It's quite an amazing history, and a miracle that we even exist on the map today!

The dilemma with that move would be quite large, though not insurmountable. My future spouse does not speak polish (yet). She would have a very hard time finding work, friends, and culturally may feel like an outsider. Heck, I would face many of those issues as well, though I speak the language extremely fluently, and can read with middle school proficiency, with my writing being pretty bad (spelling is hard, but I'm sure I could learn). The country right now, is going through some political turmoil, with a very conservative government, which has given the church way too much power. Taxation is high, wages are low, and overall quality of life is lower than the rest of Europe. Despite all of this, a ton of natural beauty, very low cost, and tons of family and friends make it appealing........I guess time will tell. Being able to split our time between countries and continents freely is something I can't take for granted.
Cheers, y'all.

bigato
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by bigato »

You can get all sentimental as much as you want, this is the dream coming true!

ertyu
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by ertyu »

As someone who is also third culture (was born in Eastern Europe but left early enough), looking forward to how Poland works out for you guys. Keeping fingers crossed, and will be following your journey. Have you guys decided on where you will locate yet?

wolf
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by wolf »

That really sounds great 2b1s! I'm a long-term follower of your journal, and will be so in the future. Looking forward to read about your different kind of lifestyle in Poland, in contrast to working in US and traveling in Portugal. How does all of that change/influence your web-of-goals?

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

@bigato, thanks. I'll try to share more personal thoughts and feelings in the future. The numbers are boring at this point....

@ertyu, thanks for reading along. Do you mean which city? Or specific location for the quarantine? If the former, yes my entire family (sans parents and brother) live in one mid-sized Polish city in the Southeast. If the later, we are going to attempt to stay at my grandfathers orchard, in an unfinished house/structure that's better suited for "glamping" than normal living. There were issues with water and the gas connection, but that's being taken care of this week. The biggest issue we have is that we have to provide an address where we will be doing our mandatory 14 day quarantine, while we are doing our border crossing. The border guards provide this info to the local authorities who do the surveillance to ensure you are complying with all of the necessary laws. This plot of land and structure do not have a typical legal address, so we may be forced to stay the first 14 days in my parents empty flat in the center of the city. Not ideal being stuck inside a small apartment on the 7th floor, but we will make due.

@wolf, nice to hear from you my friend! I'll be crossing through Germany (spending about 9 hours in Frankfurt on Sunday). Poland will be very different from Portugal. Here we were only planning on staying for ~2 weeks, but Covid had other plans for us. Poland feels like home, it will be more family oriented life, with an emphasis on helping/spending time with my aging grandparents, as well as strengthening relationships with cousins, friends, and the community.

Web of goals will surely shift a bit, but not much. The biggest change will be attempting to bring my grandfathers orchard to its former glory. Learning how to garden/grow our own food, and applying permaculture principles in the process. We will continue a minimalist/low impact lifestyle, and focus on activities that provide us with abundant exercise, improve health, improve the environment, and help with other human needs (to socialize, actualization, etc). I want to get involved in the local cycling/MTB community there, as I did back in the USA. I would also like to help others who are trying to break the mold of modern consumer life but haven't been exposed to the ideas of minimalism/FI/etc in that part of the world. Here in Portugal I actually introduced someone to ERE, and they are consuming the blog and already implementing changes! Quite profound.

I really want to put down some roots there, and ideally continue nurturing the ones I have in the USA. Not sure as to how this will look like logistically, but for the time being, we have plenty to keep our hands full!

Musings

Today we spend half the day at the Lisbon aquarium. While a bit pricey, it was very enjoyable and we learned a lot about their conservation and education efforts. Practically had the place to ourselves. I found a print shop that was able to print our marriage license out in color, so hopefully with a notarized translation it's enough for the Polish border guards to let us pass without too much grief.

We also purchased Vodafone simcards for both phones, as we will need an EU number for Polish authorities to contact us on during quarantine. Tested everything out and it works. We will be swapping to cheaper Polish plans after these run out. I shopped around for cell providers in Poland and an unlimited talk/text + 15gb of high speed internet is only $8/month!

Side fact: We've gone with 0 cell phone service here in Portugal for nearly two months. Only using our phones when on Wifi. This was primarily to reduce screen time and "be in the moment" more, but the cost savings were an added bonus.

The cost of getting from Lisbon to hometown Poland, ended up being quite expensive due to limited options and continued ban on international flights to Poland. $500 for the two of us, so spending will be significantly up in June.

Yesterday I sold the bike I had been using here. TCO was $90 for 2.5 months. Well worth it IMHO. I biked ~500km and we walked 1300km since March 12th =D

I'm trying to decide on a bike solution for when quarantine is over, and open to suggestions, as I know we have many avid cyclists here.

I'm torn between a MTB and a gravel/cross bike. I would REALLY like to be able to do some MTB in Poland, as it's something I enjoy immensely back in the USA, but in reality a big chunk of my riding will be urban. The city we will be living in doesn't have the smoothest pavement, and quite a bit of cobblestone and unfinished roads. Part of me wants to invest a good chunk of $$ into a higher end bike, but I am also thinking about going really cheap as to have something I can lock up in public when going shopping or visiting family/friends in the urban parts of the city. Maybe I get one higher end bike for exercise/touring/MTB and a second "beater" that can serve for grocery runs and visiting family/friends (city is like 12km max from one end to the other.) That doesn't sound like a renaissance man solution though -_-

anesde
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by anesde »

Congrats and as always you’re a big inspiration. We decided to head to Portugal and stay there until working from home is lifted (likely September). I think we just missed each other as I left March 1st! In retrospect we should have just stayed there.

Lots of thoughts on my part about shifting towards a more ERE lifestyle and following you (and c_L amongst others) has helped shape my views. Like you my fiancé doesn’t speak the native language so that’s in the back of my mind but I’m hoping to make the most of the quarantine to try out a “lite” version of what might be.

bigato
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by bigato »

Buy the cheap, utilitarian bike first, and decide on the mountain bike later. If the roads are not great, chances are that a cheap mountain bike would be a good choice for the city anyways. You'll get a better feel for it once you are there.

Here, I already know that my fixie is great for the asphalt, and that it would be nice to also have a cargo bike to buy groceries and stuff, and sell produce in the farmers' market once I have enough produce.

jacob
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by jacob »

Chicago roads are full of pot holes and basically not fit for flimsy wheels. I think that's at least part of the reason why MTBs are so popular here even for street riding. I'd get a MTB and put slicks or semi-slicks on it. Put a butterfly (they should be easier to find in Europe) handlebar on it if you want more positions for going straight or into the wind. Butterfly bars are usually sized for MTB components.

AxelHeyst
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by AxelHeyst »

Yes, unless for you "MTB" = "downhill/freeride", I feel like it shouldn't be too difficult to split the difference and be reasonably happy with performance across domains, with the right mods (seat, bars, tires, and proper setup to make it hard to steal).

I currently own a ~$4k DH/FR mtb, and a really light rigid mtb I picked up for $300. On anything other than rock gardens and lift-access, the $300 bike is a superior joy to ride. I'm going to sell the DH bike.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Thank you for the tips, folks.

I will probably get the beater first, and then figure it out. Bike inventory has dried up here, both used and new in the entry/mid price range. Lots of people trying to avoid public transit and exercise with gyms closed. Prices much higher on what is available, but I'm not in any particular rush.

Jacob, that does sound like a good comprimise. Definitely want something that will not feel like my fatbike on the roads. Knobby tires + 4.8" wide tires + 5 psi makes for a good workout going nowhere fast.

The bike I had in lisbon was ok for the city. Riding upwind at anything more than 10 mph took a lot of work though, and it wasn't particularly capable offroad.

@axel, definitely won't be doing DH/AM stuff, but I am used to riding black/double black xc singletrack which has some gnarly features and 2-4' drops pretty regularly. I do that on a fully rigid Specialized Fatboy with no issues. A solid rigid or lighter front susp MTB might be great with the bar upgrade and some paniers/rack for utility and touring work.

Travel Update/Musings

I won't go into an excruciating amount of detail becuase I'm typing this on my cell phone (which I hate), but at least it's being typed on day 3 of my 14-day quarantine, from the orchard.

After an enjoyable last couple of days, we departed Lisbon at 3 AM on Sunday morning. Flight to Franfurt was without a hitch, and we meandered around the city with our bags in tow waiting for the evening bus. It was a cool city, that I would like to revisit under more relaxed circumstances. We boarded our bus at 8 PM and off we went. Barely any sleep before getting to the German/Polish border a little after 3 AM, we were boarded by the Border Police, who verified our documents and took our information to give to the local police and SanEpid health authorities, to monitor us doing the two week quarantine. The marriage license scan and notarized translation was sufficient for the guards. After this crossed I dozed off a few times for 5-10 minutes but never got any real sleep. We spent another 12 hours on the bus and finally got to our destination in the late afternoon. From there it was a scramble to get keys to the apartment and orchard from a family friend, provision at a supermarket, call SanEpid and register our quarantine, and call a taxi to take us from the apartment to the orchard. As luck would have it, it was sunny when we walked to the supermarket but by the time we were paying, a storm from hell rolled in, with 120 km/h+ winds, sheets of rain, and hail. The walk to the apartment was only about 1 km, but we got home completely soaked, backpacks, food, and all. Getting dry and ready was stressful, as was loading everything into the cab. Once we got to the orchard the rain stopped but the grass is tall and everything was muddy and wet. We unpacked our food, and did our best to clean a bit. It hasn't been used since mid fall. So the unfinished basement type ground floor was musky, wet, and smelled of mold. Upstairs was drier but still smelled of stale air. We passed the fuck out anyway, after some grocery store pierogies and beer. It was supposed to rain/storm daily for two weeks, but we still chose this over the apartment. Lucked out that it only rained for two hours last night, and it's been sunny since this morning. The second night we made a fire, and cooked chicken and potatos on a cast iron grill over the fire, last nights rain was at dinner time, so we cooked up a bolognese sauce from scratch. Today it's sunny and we will once again cook over fire. Could be worse places to be stuck for two weeks. We picked strawberries and Rainier cherries today. There are tomatoes growing in the hot house. Plenty of firewood and food to eat. The farmer neighbor stopped by to say hello across the fence yesterday. I know him since I was 4 years old, the neighbor who owns an orchard on the other side of ours also was there on first day. His father and mu grandfather bought the land originally, and had it divided into 4 plots. The only guy surviving is my grandfather, and the other two are abandoned.

More to come when I have a computer.

ertyu
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by ertyu »

Congratulations on beginning this new stage! Enjoy strawberries and cherries!

bigato
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by bigato »

That's great! It sounds like the beginning of a new awesome era in your lives!

2Birds1Stone
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

@ertyu, thank you. We are harvesting more than enough for two people to get their fill every day. My wife figured out how to pick the ones from higher in the tree using a rake. We have a ladder but it's not very tall and very unsteady (wooden and 60+ years old).

@bigato, we are excited to see what the future brings. Right now we arw are getting acclimated to the colder climate and rural living.

Musings

I'm annoyed at the forum limitations for pictures. I spent a good while uploading 20+ photos on IMGUR only to have the forum software block them because width exceeded 800 pixels. I don't have an easy way to resize them on my phone.

Anyway, we are on day 7 of quarantine. Aside from the occasional car we hear in the distance, it's been pure audio bliss of birds, frogs, crackling fire, whistling kettle, and the occasional mammel scurrying somewhere beyond the fence. The orchard is technically within the city limits now, but feels like a different planet. I picked the driest day (Saturday) and mowed most of the grass using a non-assist push mower. It was a workout since the grass was very tall and still wet near the ground. My wife helped me rake the cut grass and we added it to the compost pile. We are tending to the vegetables in the hot house, fixed the rain catch system, continue cleaning and decluttering stuff from the house, and are propagating some plants. Our neighbor picked up some fresh bread and beer for us on Saturday, and we continue to eat through the food we purchased last monday. On Saturday the police showed up for our first quarantine control. They tried calling but the Portuguese Vodafone simcards were not working despite being connected and having internet. They managed to find the orchard after some time and we explained the phone situation, provided the new numbers and swapped in Polish simcards immediately. Yesterday they called successfully but again had difficulty finding the address (it doesn't exist!), so they had me walk to the main road to meet them. Very friendly fellas who asked how we were doing and to call if we needed help. I'm glad I purchased two Simcard/Starters for us before leaving the city center last week. Cell phone service is far better here than in the USA. The starters were $1.50 and include 6 gb of high speed data for 10 days, and a $1.50 credit for calls ($.10/minute) and texts ($.05/msg). After that we have to "top up" the accounts with $8/month to receive unlimited talk/text/data (speed throttled after 15gb), which includes tethering our laptop/tablet!

Food here has gotten more expensive since even a year ago, but is still very affordable when compared to back in NY. Our $80 grocery run will last us ~10 days and we did not particularly have time to shop the best deals when scrambling to provision last week. Our housing costs will be whatever our portion of utilities is going to cost for the apartment and orchard, likely under $100/month. Once we have bikes purchased transportation will be very cheap, until then we will have to rely a bit on Uber and bus, due to inclement weather. The only other fixed costs we will have will be our travel/health insurance, and two gym memberships (dying to get back into the gym, pun intended).

Overall I project our cost of living here <$1,200 USD/month for two people, with some fat in the budget for occasional meals out with family and friends, and some entertainment/lifestyle spending. The only thing not included in that budget will be some side trips we plan on taking to explore other parts of Poland. We are planning 3 nights in a house rental with my cousins and their kids in early July, and 8 days 7 nights in Zakopane (google it!) for hiking and mountaineering at the end of July. This travel will likely add an extra $500/month to our budget, so our total cost of living should end up ~$1,700/month or $850 per person! This is slightly below a 3% WR based on current portfolio levels. We will be more budget conscious if our portfolio takes a large haircut in the coming weeks/months.

Frugalchicos
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by Frugalchicos »

Pretty awesome you guys are settled and enjoying the house. It sounds like a beautiful place.

I agree with the price of the groceries. We eat like kings for a week for 60E. I can buy two full Ikea style bags at the veggie and fruit shop and only spend about 20E. I never understood why US groceries are so expensive when they have so much land to grow anything.

plantingtheseed
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Re: ERE Year 2 - Geoarbitrage, Permaculture, and Nomadic Lifestyle Design

Post by plantingtheseed »

I agree about how the forum handles the pictures. It is not easy and the latest forum policy seems to be that photos in posts are generally being discouraged. I use an outside link now, as it's just easier not to deal with the restrictions.

I think flickr provides photo sharing of up to 1000 photos free. It would be great to see what the post ERE adventure is like in Poland :D, maybe you can give flickr a try.

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