Seppia's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Seppia
Posts: 614
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:56 am

We just got back from a long weekend in Trieste, where my new job will be located.
Trieste is a beautiful city I had recommended in another thread, home to one of the most beautiful piazzas in the country (Piazza Unità D'Italia).

Mostly, we were apartment hunting, and we found two solutions that work.
One (my favorite) is a nice 1bd/1ba of around 700sqf with a big terrace (around 200sqf) in a super new building in a nice area of the city.

The other one is a slightly larger 2bd, 2ba (around 950sqf) and looks more like a "normal" apartment.

The pics don't do the first one justice at all FYI.

My parents and my wife's are obviously pushing for the bigger solution, as they believe it is impossible to live in a 1bd/1ba, somehow forgetting that we just did it for 5 years consecutively in NYC.
I love my parents so no issue here, it just makes me laugh a bit.

The thing is that this is unfortunately insilling doubt in my wife "will we have enough space" (we currently live in a 2bd/1ba of approx 850sqf).

I think it is a non-issue because

1- we are finalizing the purchase of a very small (570sqf) 2bd/1ba in our hometown Como, so part of the stuff in our current apartment will be moved there
2- if for some reason we still had too much stuff it would be a great occasion to get rid of all that useless shit we own*

On friday, while DW was screenening through about ten apartments to find the "finalists" that we looked at together on saturday, I met with my future employer to start planning a few things + some admin stuff.

First impressions are excellent, I really cannot wait to start.
Among the funny things, they told me my company car is going to be a ridiculously gigantic thing, a four wheel drive with a 3 liter turbodiesel engine (BMW 330d xdrive Touring to be precise).
Not that I'm complaining but in my soon to be ex employer I had downgraded to a smaller A3 TD quattro and still felt it was more than enough.

Since I refuse to drive back and forth to work every single day with such an inefficient vehicle, I have purchased a small scooter.
I managed to get a great deal on a very lightly used one (2400€ instead of 3290€ new for a 1 year old one with 1800km/1100 miles), so my real cost of usage is probably going to be fairly low (gas + insurance + a very minor depreciation: I should get same money or better if I sold it in a year)

It's this thing:
Image
It has a 155cc engine with enough strenght to carry me around at reasonable speeds, and it gets a real 85-90mpg (37/38 km/l) in stead of the 30mpg I would get with the car.

*I am consistently amazed at how much clutter we accumulate, especially since we pay attention NOT to add stuff.
The number one truest statement in the ERE book may very well be:
"stuff will accumulate to fill all available space" (or similar, can't remember of this is the exact quote)

jennypenny
Posts: 5912
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by jennypenny » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:49 am

The balcony looks lovely on the smaller one. Is the kitchen well-appointed? It doesn't have to be big, but functional is really important when you cook. (or are most kitchens designed for cooks in Italy as compared to the US?)

Seppia
Posts: 614
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:53 am

All the furniture inside is Ikea, so quality is average, but it is all new.
The kitchen design is well done (as you may imagine, I pay attention to that :) ).
I would love it to be gas based (cooking with modulable fire > every other option), but it's forbidden in new developments.
This is induction, which is the second best option.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 10342
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by jacob » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:06 am

https://www.amazon.com/Decluttering-Spe ... 0718080602 is mainly about breaking the "fill every single space with clutter"-habit or as I call it "stuff-tetris".

TL;DR - For a given space, say a book shelf, there is a finite number of books it can hold. If you own more books than that you are not allowed to put them elsewhere. You have to get rid of the least desirables. In the book, she has basically resorted to donating everything rather than playing the "sell it on ebay"/"find someone who will really appreciate it"/... (to recover the cost or build stuff-connections) -game, even for expensive stuff. It's kinda goes against ERE fundamentals in that sense, but it's certainly moves clutter out a lot faster than setting up and administrating an "eBay"-room (alternatively closet or stack of boxes).

Seppia
Posts: 614
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:46 am

interesting thanks Jacob, I'll look for that book

Mister Imperceptible
Posts: 532
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:18 pm

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:27 am

+1 regarding the balcony on the first apartment.

My great-grandfather supposedly disembarked from Trieste.

Nice scooter, too, looks efficient. Makes me wonder.

2Birds1Stone
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:20 am

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:03 pm

Scooters are more fun than driving. I really like both places, looks like you can't go wrong =)

Seppia
Posts: 614
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:00 pm

@MI: Trieste's beauty comes in part from it being so multicultural. Used to be the main port of the Austro Hungarian empire, then used to be part of Yugoslavia, then Italy etc.

Small engined scooters are the main mean of transportation in Asia, where there's lots of people and not too much money to waste in gas.

I actually wanted to get this thing, which is the number 1 most sold motorbike in the history of mankind:
Image

But it's not sold in Italy and has to be imported, which defeats part of its purpose (being stupid cheap), so I got the Nmax which was born to be a "premium" scooter for the Asian market (so cheaper, small engine, focus on fuel efficiency etc)

User avatar
Frugalchicos
Posts: 214
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:23 pm
Contact:

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:04 pm

“For Italians, on the other hand, it's the exact opposite.
My recipes pale in comparison to the average grandma's, but even the little I understand about saving and investing is pure gold in my home country.”

I feel just the same buddy. I try to be quiet about what we are doing when I go back home. Nobody really understands investing or ERE or anything that is not an average life...

User avatar
Astra
Posts: 77
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:22 am

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Astra » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:02 am

Seppia wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:00 pm
Small engined scooters are the main mean of transportation in Asia, where there's lots of people and not too much money to waste in gas.
I was surprised to see so many electro-scooters in China. In many cities, motorcycles and moto-scooters were actually banned to relieve the smog problem, and you need a special license for cars, so the e-scooters have popped up like crazy. Not to be confused with the child-toys, the e-scooters I mean look something like this (and will seat a family of 4 if you really want to):
Image
And cheap too: new ones will cost you 400-600 US-$, used as low as 250$! Shame I could never find these in Europe...

User avatar
Frugalchicos
Posts: 214
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:23 pm
Contact:

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:41 am

I had one electric scooter like that when I lived in China. It reached 35km/h, not very prowerful. I guess the engines/speed have improved in the last decade?

User avatar
Kriegsspiel
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:05 pm

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Kriegsspiel » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:39 pm

Electric scooters seem great. I was all psyched up to buy this one when I realized they aren't sold in the US. Taking the battery out of the bike and bringing it inside to charge, like a cell phone, is a great feature.

User avatar
Astra
Posts: 77
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:22 am

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Astra » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:39 am

@Frugalchicos: True, they are not very strong, but I rarely found any chance or need to go over 35 km/h anyway in the city. You definitely notice a drop in power if you have groceries or a second person on the back. If I needed to go very far, I took the bus (they have electric buses in Shenzhen too!) I also think they got stronger recently, but people still ride the weak ones, because it's just enough to get to work or errands. Walking through Chinese cities, it seems Katie Melua has to adjust her song :D

Seppia
Posts: 614
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:48 pm

Being a homeowner

Last Friday we finally completed the purchase of our apartment.

Since both DW and I have been pretty much always on the move, and we are about to leave again (first to eastern Italy in Trieste, then probably in a year or so to Asia), the idea was to purchase a small, low maintenance place in or around our hometown Como.

We ended up buying a newly built apartment, constructed in what used to be a farmhouse or something similar: they kept the outside shell, and re did everything inside.
It is located on the hills around the city, no more than 15 minutes by bus to the city center.

Image
Our apartment windows are the one with the small balcony and the one to its right.

We will not be living there, and while this may seem like an idiotic purchase, there are a few reasons for it.

First, both our families are there, my wife’s sister is there, and both my sisters aren’t far either: one lives in Milan, the other in Switzerland not far from the Italian border.
Wherever we end up in the future, this will be the one area where we will always have an attachment.

It was also a “wealth management” decision.
First of all, the italian real estate market is very low outside of the cities, so it’s not a bad time to buy.
Secondly, I am now in a phase where I also start to think in terms of downside minimization instead of upside maximization only.

Having a small, paid for in full, new apartment means that in case of an unfortunate event (job loss, terrible recession, etc), we would be able to survive* by moving there, without a job of any sorts, with approximately half of the current dividend income from my stock holdings.
I really wanted it to be new because it should mean a good decade or two without need for major maintenance.

*by survive I mean: putting food on the table every day, move around only with feet or a bicycle (close to zero travel), have all basic necessities covered but not much else.

Cool detail: since we purchased it while it was being built, we were able to customize it to our likes.

The apartment itself is simple but has everything that we need and more.

You get in and you find yourself in the main room.
Entrance door:
Image

From the entrance, turn to the right and there’s the place for the kitchen
Image

Turn to the left and you have a small corridor, and the stairs to the mezzanine
Image

Image

The small corridor leads first to the bathroom
Image

And second to a small extra room
Image

If you go upstairs instead it leads you to where we will sleep
Image

Image

Plus there is a sort of walk in closet
Image

Total square footage is around 550 (all rooms are very small), but it’s basically a two bedroom, so more than enough for us and eventual guests.

The apartment will have a big impact on my savings rate this year, but thanks to the fact that I’m plying the game in relatively easy mode I expect to still be able to save around 40% of my take home pay (if I don’t count the “equity” part of the house as a cost obviously, otherwise I would be negative).

ffj
Posts: 1836
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by ffj » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:10 pm

Are the light fixtures going to be installed before you move in? All of those hanging wires are bothering me. Haha

What about kitchen cabinets? Sink?

The loft is nice. You can lay in bed and stargaze.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 423
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:49 am

What a fabulous place! Curious, do apartments like this have monthly maintenance or association fee?

Seppia
Posts: 614
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:23 am

@ffj: this is how apartments are usually sold in Italy. Kitchen and lights are on you.
DW is along care of it while I’m out having fun in Japan for work :)

@cl: thanks! The only things that have to be paid are property taxes (very low in Italy on the 1st apartment you own, I should be paying around $800 per year tops) and the “condo fees”.
These fees are usually minimal: I should be paying maybe $50 per month, which will pay for cleaning of the common areas and basic maintenance.
There is nothing like the $1500 per month that one often sees in NYC or Miami, unless you own a gigantic and ultra luxurious apartment.

Jason
Posts: 1412
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Jason » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:35 am

That's very nice. I like how they kept the outside shell. Keeps the charm. Is that bell tower on your roof?

So you are not renting it out? Is that because in Italy they end up never leaving?

User avatar
TheWanderingScholar
Posts: 513
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:04 am

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:01 pm

Not going to lie.

Tempting to head back to America, work a few years, save up a couple hundred thousand, then move down to Southern Europe.

Seppia
Posts: 614
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Seppia's journal

Post by Seppia » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:32 pm

@wanderingscholar
It’s more or less what DW and I did. We built our careers in France then NYC, made most of our money in the USA, and got back here in Italy.
In Italy, outside of the cities of Rome and Milan, one can live a comfortable life with $1500 per month.
Buy yourself a place and with $1500 per month you are living large

@jason
No lol the bell tower is from the church that sits a couple buildings behind ours.
It starts ringing at 7am so it’s ok for us (we are morning persons even on the weekends).

We will maybe rent it out via Airbnb or something, I have a friend that manages other people’s properties as a side gig* and he would do that for free for me, in exchange for me having helped him out setting up another side gig of his**
Absolutely no regular rent as it can be a complete nightmare in Europe.
Laws here protect the renter in absurd fashion, ie it took a friend of mine 1.5 years to evict a guy who wasn’t paying rent, plus he almost destroyed his apartment and could not do anything about it.
Shockingly, it’s very hard to rent an apartment in Italy unless you have great references.
That’s actually good for those who are honest/polite/clean, because landlords will do everything to keep a good renter happy. That’s why we always rent.


*quite a good side gig actually, he’s bringing in $7000 net per year without doing much

**he makes small batch craft beers, good ones actually (a rarity, I think 99% of microbrews suck), and once his business got a bit bigger than just friends and a few bars he needed structure.
I helped him run it more like a real business, with P&L for each product, found him a local distributor so he can focus on sales, etc

In unrelated news, I was in Kyoto recently for work and had a half day free so I visited a couple things.
Loved it.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Post Reply