Seppia's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

Thanks all for the kind comments :D
slowtraveler wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:31 pm
Can I ask, what company and how much for the dives? I'm also hoping to work my way down the coastal Southern Thailand strip this year or next.
I used Super Divers and was very happy. including food, gear rental, hotel pickup/dropoff it was THB 4000 for three dives (full day trip). There's an additional THB 600 Phi Phi ISland park fee
Solvent wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:16 am
I've been in an apartment there for a few weeks for the delivery of my 2nd-born. Very much enjoyed it. But you know, with a heavily pregnant wife I've not been getting out and about much.
May I ask how you figured out to stay?
I saw my visa at entry lasted only 15 days, which was surprisingly low.
niemand wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:48 pm
I feel you. Thing is for me, after a few trips to the same place, I’ll only do fly-in fly-outs, no more touristing. To me it’s mostly a drag, rather be home with DD and DW. I admire how you seem to be able to muster the energy to keep doing fun things while travelling on business. Wish I still had your attitude.
Unfortunately it's not like I have a real choice: I'm headquartered in Italy for now, so I'm almost obliged to do two week trips - there's always a weekend.
I have to say I really enjoy this part of my job, but one of the reasons why I really want to move to HK or anywhere in the region is to be allowed to be home almost all weekends.
I really love my wife, and being far away so often (even if we're used to it) is pretty tough.

Solvent
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Solvent »

There is a visa exemption , for certain circumstances. Allows for either 90 or 180 day stays.

cimorene12
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by cimorene12 »

Thanks for sharing those wonderful pictures, Seppia. I can't remember hearing about Ly Thai To before, so seeing his statue was pretty neat. I hope your wife will be able to live in that area so you can spend more time together.

@Solvent I had no idea about the 5-year exemption. Thanks for telling us about it, although it's mostly useful for overseas Vietnamese who have the right paperwork.

Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

@Solvent: thanks a lot

Life

I have been extremely impacted by this post from bigato's journal.
What I saw in that post is a person at peace with himself, perfectly comfortable in his own skin.
It got me thinking that this is, in short, the goal that I have been reaching for in my life, and I was wondering how close I may be to that.
It is obviously a condition that is constantly evolving (we have good and bad moments), but in a general sense I feel I'm getting close.
The reasons are in part contextual (I like my new job, my friends and family members are mostly happy and in good health), in part structural (my wife and I have a fantastic relationship) and in part a result of my personal evolution as a human being.

It is also now almost official: it looks like we will be moving to Hong Kong in the not so distant future. Exact timing TBC, I would guess somewhere at the beginning of next year. Both DW and I are extremely pumped about this opportunity to have another interesting life experience after our years in France and New York.

Overall, it's a fantastic place to be in. I am thankful every day for how lucky I am.

Finances

June was a fairly bad month financially, due to a combination of higher expenses and unforeseen taxes.
Higher expenses came from opportunities to buy something at an unusually low price.

A shop in LA was doing some clearance and had a 60% discount on all Arc'teryx "leaf" gear (the stuff they do for police/military).
I snagged a Leaf Gen 2 Jacket for 60% off

Then on the forums I had an opportunity to purchase a couple Seiko watches for cheap by USA standards, which translates to "well below market value" here in Europe.
I expect to enjoy them for a year or so, then probably resell them for a small profit to pass along the great deal I had.

WRT to taxes, here in Italy the employer normally takes care of 100% of your payroll/income taxes in advance, so that the only taxes one has to pay during tax season are usually related to foreign profits and any real estate properties.
What happened though is that there was a (luckily minor) screwup when I changed employers, so had to pay an extra 2.5% of my net 2018 earnings.
I did not count these taxes as "expenses", but I took them off my monthly net salary instead.

All in all this brought my savings rate all the way down to 42%. YTD number is still at 81%, so all is good.

Work Trip

I just got back from a work trip that brought me to Japan (Osaka, Tokyo and Sendai), Taiwan and Hong Kong.
I only had the time to do a little visiting in the Kansai area (Osaka), and it was super cool.

Osaka can be charming and crazy, like most cities in Japan

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One of the highlights of the city is the Kaiyukan, the world's largest aquarium.
Seeing two 10 meters long whale sharks is pretty impressive

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This is Japan's giant crab. Giant as in "one meter tall", so pretty giant.

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Nara (40 minutes by train away from Osaka) is the old capital of feudal Japan, and is full of beautiful parks and historical buildings

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In terms of weird food tasted, this is roasted tuna head:

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Fabulously juicy

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In Taipei, I got to try this soup made with tripes and tongue, that combined with ginger, lemongrass and other spices led to one of the most incredible broths I have ever tasted in my lifetime.

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Cheepnis
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Cheepnis »

That food looks amazing. Would.

And you have uncovered a fairly old desire of mine, which is to go to Japan. Not really sure where it comes from because I'm not much into the stereotypical Japanese things Americans are into (i.e. manga & anime & such), but Japan has always fascinated me. I also love walking through parks so Nara has been added to the mental list for whenever I go. Those pictures are beautiful.

bigato
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by bigato »

I'd say that feeling good in your own skin is highly related to what place you are and what kind of people surrounds you, and how much you care about how they see you. I went to a friend's birthday at a restaurant yesterday and that got me thinking about this.

The friend herself and her husband are great people that I like to have as friends, we have a lot in common so it's easy to relate. As a consequence of that and the fact that she's selective with her friends, any event to which she invited people tends to be full of nice people that are cool to hand around and talk. So the night out was not bad in that sense.

But it was in a restaurant that was way too nice and formal for my tastes. I arrived a few minutes before them and as I was waiting outside, I saw people in very expensive cars arriving. Not the ones that were coming to my friend's birthday. Also, lots of security people and every employee properly dressed and trained to act as a servant. I'm perfectly fine with my life choices, but as I waited in my hoodie and jeans, I couldn't help but feel inappropriate and out of place.

The menu full of very expensive options didn't have any vegan options in it but the waiter talked to the chef and they offered me three options, out of which I chose a funghi risotto. The dish came small and didn't taste great. I bet I could cook any pure rice with only salt, oil and garlic and have it taste way better. Yet it costed me money that could probably feed a poor african family for a week. I couldn't even say that it was worth it albeit expensive.

So you see Seppia, I don't always feel well in my own skin. Not that it is my fault though. Maybe I should have skipped the event, I don't know? I like them. I didn't like the event. But that's all to say that feeling good about yourself is not always about yourself, but often about your relationships. I would feel more at home sitting in the ground in a dirty hut eating with my hands. But that's me, my history and my choices.

slowtraveler
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by slowtraveler »

@Seppia
Congratulations on your coming move! I know you've been intending it for a while so it's wonderful you've finally made that puzzle work out. Will this affect the tax benefit you previously mentioned?

Those pictures all look great. Makes me want to visit Japan soon but Taiwan should be within the next year. Maybe I'll even try tripe and tongue.

@Bitago
That story sounds like me too. Your story spoke to me so much I read it to my girlfriend this morning. I was happy to be able to tell her that she's the only woman I've ever felt matched me in that regard (eating on the ground in a hut >> eating in a fancy restaurant.)

Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

@Cheepnis and slowtraveler: let me know if you ever need any suggestion, I am slowly gathering a pretty good knowledge of Japan due to my frequent visits.

@bigato: of course being "comfortable" is also due to the contextual situation, but I would argue there is a certain "baseline" state.
One can be "comfortable in his/her own skin" and feel weird and out of place because of the situation.

Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

Life

July was supposed to be the month where I got official confirmation of my transfer in Asia, but nothing happened. I'm guessing it was due to the fact that too many things were happening inside the company, and everybody was seeing the finish line (people tend to take vacations early august in italy).
Luckily this was a plus for me because we have a few things/changes developing at the family level and some more time to plan was welcome.

Last week of July I went to visit one of my best friends who lives in Sweden, and we went camping for a few days with his kid in a semi-remote island of Stockholm's archipelago.
It was a nice "men" trip, while his wife was away in her home country to take care of some admin stuff.
We looked like a fabulously outdoorsy, satanic t-shirt wearing gay couple.
A bit odd but a lot of fun nonetheless :lol:

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It is great to remember the things that I really value in life: mostly human relationships (true friendship and true love are the fuel for happiness), health and natural beauty.
Some deep discussions (that may or may not have been fueled by excessive enthousiasm towards a bottle of Aberlour 12yo) ensued, and I have been thinking ever since that Sweden may be a great place to relocate to in a few years, possibly as a place to finally settle down after a gipsy life.

Sweden checks a lot of boxes for me:

- Beautiful country with lots of nature
- Great welfare. I personally prefer paying lots of taxes and getting great services, infrastructure, healthcare, and a safety net.
- Equitable society. The gap between the haves and the have nots is infinitely smaller than in America and Asia
- Safe
- Polite population
- Not overcrowded
- Should be ok with global warming
- Country's finances under control

I spoke about this with DW and she's onboard.

So the approximate plan is:
1- Move to HK, make lots of money, become fully FI with good margin of safety: 3-5 years
2- Find a simple, possibly part time job in sales in Sweden, just to cover life expenses, and move to Stockholm.

Obviously many things can happen in the meanwhile, but I usually like to have an approximate idea of what we are going to do next - then life will get in the way and that's ok.

Finances

Sightly higher expenses VS normal, due to a few one-offs (dental cleaning, restoration of one of the pieces of furniture we bought second hand, import duties on the Arc'teryx jacket), but more than compensated by the fact that july is my second largest month of the year in dividend income.

So far this year dividends have covered 90.5% of all living expenses.
This is unsustainable and not representative of reality, for two main reasons
1- The last four months of 2019 are going to be lighter in dividends and higher in expenses
2- 2019 is so far being an unusually low expenses year because of timing of large one offs
Still, pretty damn great!

SR for the month ended up at 76%, YTD at 79%, I hope to finish the year above 70% (long shot target at 75%)
Last edited by Seppia on Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

rube
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by rube »

Well done Sepia.
Regarding Sweden, in winter time the days are (very) short. Have you considered this also? For me personally that would be a big minus vs all the positives you listed. Or maybe being snowbirds in winter season?

Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

In Stockholm it's not too bad. In mid December, the worst possible time of the year, you still get slightly more than 6 hours of daylight per day.

Plus, this seems to be an issue that worries almost everybody who doesn't live there, and no one that I know who actually is in Stockholm.
My best friend says you adjust fairly quickly, plus I know another guy (from Sicily, so he should be suffering a lot from this in theory) who's been a resident there for 12 years and says it's no big deal.

It wouldn't worry me a lot, especially because all the positives are very powerful.

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Bankai
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Bankai »

Whenever we go on holiday to a new place, unless it totally sucks, I'm like 'It's so cool here, we should totally move here once we ERE!'. Few months pass and the idea is gone. Until next holiday, that is.

Have you considered the following:

- language
- proximity to family/friends
- culture shock - you lived in many places so it's probably not a big deal for you, but Italians and Scandinavians are nothing alike, i.e. you're not supposed to touch friends you talk to in Scandinavia
- Sweden has a high risk of the real estate bubble bursting, also rents in Stockholm are very expensive (e1,100 for 1 bed in the city centre)
- it's not only short days in winter but also much cooler temperatures throughout the year and winters can be brutal
- according to Jacob, Scandinavians are more equality oriented and less individualistic (I believe he gave this as (one of) the reason(s) he moved?), and you strike me as a very ambitious & individualistic person

There are obviously many positives, as with every location, but one should not be only paying attention to positives. Especially that being somewhere on holiday and living full time is a totally different experience. I still think Sweden is a great country btw.

Also, did you mean unusually high dividends and low expenses?

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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by jacob »


Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

@Bankai: I know the probability of DW and I ending up in Sweden is relatively low, but we never experience what you described.
It may be related to the fact that I travel a ton for work (and made it a goal since the mid 20s to cover different areas as I progressed in my career), so I'm maybe a bit blasé in regards to "new places".

Language isn't an issue, everybody speaks great english, and should we stay long term learning the language will come naturally.
Compared to other places we lived in, Sweden would be "close" by our standards :lol:
The cultural shock (including the less individualistic attitude) has always been part of the fun: both DW and I firmly believe that living in different countries and experiencing the inevitable culture shocks has made us the persons we are today (if I had to resume it I would say "more adaptable" - which I think is good).

We do not have issues with colder temperatures, plus averages may have changed quite a bit in 10-15 years :)

Again I give it a chance of happening at around 10% tops, but I would be in for the ride for sure.

I edited my post above to clarify, thanks :) I wanted to say "the last four months of 2019 are budgeted to be..."

Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

Just got back home after almost three weeks.
Electricity went off.
I had 2kg of steak in the freezer.
I now know how hell smells like.

henrik
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by henrik »

I've lived at roughly the latitude* and climate of Stockholm for most of my life. It's obviously a matter of adaptation and preference, but I find the variation in seasons and duration of daylight a positive. It provides a slow and steady rhythm to things that I've missed living further to the south. The temperature range is certainly preferable to anywhere around Italy, not to mention SE Asia:)

* = at about the same as Juneau, AK but without the oceanic influence

Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

henrik wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:12 pm
The temperature range is certainly preferable to anywhere around Italy
I love Sweden but you're taking it a tad too far :lol:

anesde
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by anesde »

Seppia wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:03 pm
Just got back home after almost three weeks.
Electricity went off.
I had 2kg of steak in the freezer.
I now know how hell smells like.
Oh no! This happened to me about 12 years ago while I was at university and my parents were away. I came home for the weekend to the worst smell I’ve ever encountered. The fridge/freezer was literally full of maggots. No tips to share unfortunately - just sympathy.

Seppia
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia »

In the end it was no big deal.

I brought the fridge on the terrace, threw away immediately all the food, then cleaned the fridge/freezer throughly with water and vinager.
Left it open to "breathe" all night.
This morning almost all the smell was gone.
I'll give it a second round of cleaning when back from the office and it'll be ready to go.

henrik
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Re: Seppia's journal

Post by henrik »

Seppia wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:58 am
I love Sweden but you're taking it a tad too far :lol:
Let's just say if you want to be out and about through the year, it's a lot easier to find a warm jacket or a sleeping bag than devise your personal portable AC somehow:)

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