Internationalist

Where are you and where are you going?
Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Wed Jun 28, 2017 2:31 pm

In three days I'll be in Ethiopia. I've gotten in touch with a few people to check out advertised houses/apartments to lease, so hopefully in my first week I'll be on my way to finding permanent accommodation.

The last few weeks here in Switzerland have been stressful, of course. Packing, organizing, and of course the usual workload doesn't let up. I like to think this feeling of juggling multiple balls, and also moving into new environments, is good for the brain. Forcing myself to adapt to a new location, learn new systems, and cope with new stressors must make me stronger, right?

The last ten days or so I've had the feeling that everything's prepared, and I'm impatient to jump in to a new role and new city, so that I can start making it 'home'. It's been hot here, so I would've really liked to go swimming in the lake one last time but I haven't been able to make time for it. C'est la vie!

cimorene12
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Re: Internationalist

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:05 pm

Solvent wrote:
Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:59 am
I don't have a location set in stone, but I guess Adelaide or some smaller town on the Fleurieu Peninsula is the default option. That's what I'll be basing my calculations on (as in, assumed expenses).
[snip]
Other locations that are actually under consideration, though:
  • Canberra - more expensive than Adelaide, but opportunity for more work in my profession should I need part-time/contracts. A less lively city, but good for families, access to wilderness.
  • New Zealand somewhere - likely to be cheaper than Australia. Fantastic wilderness. Culturally similar to Australia. No visa/work problems due to Trans-Tasman Agreement.
  • Da Lat - closer to DW's family. Cheaper than Australia. Good climate. Developing world infrastructure and bureaucracy, more concerns over visa/residency.
I'm in Australia right now and my parents grew up in Da Lat. Low cost of living, but more red tape in Vietnam. I don't think that NZ is that much cheaper than Australia, but it is incredibly beautiful. If you're basing your retirement calculations on the cost of living in Adelaide, surely you'd be able to afford going to Vietnam for 1-3 months per year (if that's something that would interest you and your wife) while renting out your home in Australia. If given the choice between Australia and Vietnam, I'd put down roots in Australia while visiting Vietnam. Are you and your wife (mostly your wife) going to teach TH Vietnamese? My parents didn't make me speak Vietnamese while I was growing up, so I can understand it (and now read it and sort of write it), but my accent is extremely dreadful. It's something that you're much better off learning as a child.

I hope that you enjoy your time in Ethiopia.

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Viktor K
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Viktor K » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:11 pm

Solvent wrote:
Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:36 pm
Savings rate: ???. Actually, for the months of May and June I said "f**k it" to tallying expenditure. Arranging the move and dealing with the bureaucracy of it all has me stressed out. Furthermore, prior to the move I've been making quite a few preparatory purchases, and I seriously can't be bothered writing it all down every night.
I did this same thing moving to China! So I totally understand you here. I was able to still update my savings rate in hindsight by adding up how much I earned, and the difference in my net worth in the month before and after the move. The other numbers I keep track of I had to make-up a little bit :lol:
Solvent wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 2:31 pm
Forcing myself to adapt to a new location, learn new systems, and cope with new stressors must make me stronger, right?
I hope so :D At the very least, I feel like packing all my things into a box, finding out all the hurdles I have to jump through, and surviving the final 24 hours or whatever it may take to get from point A to point B is less stressful for me now than it was the first time

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:04 am

Savings rate for June - ??? - see previous entry. I'll probably try to get something happening with expenditure tracking in August.

Books read – Micromastery (Twigger - good idea, but the book left something to be desired. It seemed not to transcend the feeling that it was a series of blog posts), The Heart of the Matter (Greene – terribly depressing. Not the book I needed at this time of my life. Really, it concerns a guy who works for the colonial service in Africa, and whose wife hates it there. They gradually fall out of love. Cheery! </sarc>)

This journal should really cover the previous month but I don't have much more to add than last time. Moving is difficult. But it's done now.

Looking forward – Ethiopian food is great. They really know how to treat lentils here! People here (at the workplace, on the street, and in the apartment I'm temporarily residing) are all friendly. I've already seen one apartment and one house to rent, I'm going to be looking at several houses over the weekend. The house – wow – absolutely dreadful place. Three bedrooms. $3500 US per month. The real estate market here is all kinds of crazy.

Something I got right this time around: I brought a sharp kitchen knife in my check-in luggage. This is the third time I've moved into a furnished apartment. Each time, the knife provided was about as dull as the wooden ruler you used in primary school. I didn't make that mistake a third time!

@cimorene12 - yeah, we're trying to raise TH bilingual.

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:59 am

Just a few brief notes.

DW made me proud. Of course, while waiting for our shipment of household goods we are in an almost completely empty house. There's a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork in Ethiopia that holds up things like this. Of course, we've been buying bottled water. DW took some of the used bottles, a pair of scissors, and made cups for us to drink out of while awaiting our stuff.

Something I never would have thought of: the gas here is of poor quality. Let me elaborate. We have a gas cooktop in the house we've moved into, but it runs off bottled, not mains, gas. “Great!” I think. I prefer cooking on a gas cooktop to electric. I had to buy a new frying pan to tide us over until our stuff arrives (can't improvise that from old plastic bottles). But after cooking… there's thick black soot on the bottom of the pan from incompletely combusted gas, and who knows what other stuff is in the mix...

halfmoon
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Re: Internationalist

Post by halfmoon » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:31 am

Your soot problem may not be the gas quality. Try adjusting the air intake valve until you have only a blue flame, no yellow/orange. I did read of someone who couldn't solve the issue by adjusting the air intake, so she put a flat pan (pizza pan or such) on the burner and the cooking pan on top of that. Of course, you'd still have to clean the pizza pan sometime. Better if you can fix the air intake.

JeanPaul
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Re: Internationalist

Post by JeanPaul » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:09 pm

Funny, we almost moved to AA in September - my girlfriend got an offer to teach at the university there. But in the end, after considering the housing costs, food shortages, state of emergency, and some reports of acquaintances, we decided not to (even though it's an opportunity that had seemed initially attractive enough to apply for). I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying it, though - definitely the weather and food were attractions, as well as just the beauty of the country.

Noedig
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Noedig » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:03 pm

Really appreciate the book reviews esp the Kapuściński, and running commentary on your re-uprooting.

I hope you solve the many inconveniences that come with moving. Not least of which, finding a house to live in.

I can recommend A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock (SF, dystopic) and Barkskins by Annie Proulx (Historical saga about logging. Don't let that put you off. Start with the very different Shipping News if somehow you didn't come across her before).

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:50 pm

July Update

Disaster strikes. I moved into, then out of, a house. Exactly one week after moving in, there was a tremendous hailstorm that the roof couldn’t withstand. Water coming through the ceiling throughout the house. This is despite the fact that I explicitly quizzed the previous tenants on the ceiling integrity, and whether there had been any leaks. They reported all fine (and I trust them), so it seems it was just that the roof had gotten a few years older, plus the hail was more intense than it’d been for a few years previously. The house diagonally opposite had the same problem.
The house is being re-roofed and I should be able to move back in before long. Thankfully my shipment still hasn’t cleared all the bureaucratic hurdles so it wasn’t ruined by the water ingress.

On to the regular update!

Still light on numbers. My relocation payment disappeared into the ether, but this is for two quite good reasons.

Firstly, I secured a lease on a (leaky) house, and it is apparently standard for landlords here to demand many months’ rent in advance. Thus, I’m paid up for a good while. The landlord can use all that money to replace the roof and ceiling, I guess.

Secondly, I bought a car. Generally I’d be predisposed to think of a car as almost a consumption item, particularly in a country with substandard roads and dangerous traffic. Still, due to the somewhat unusual taxation arrangements here, it seems that actually cars can be resold multiple years down the line with barely any depreciation in value. The reason is that I can buy a car duty free – and duty on cars makes them almost prohibitively expensive for regular people. Over time, the liability for duty on the car goes down. This means the attractiveness of the car on the open market will hold steady or climb over time as the amount of duty still owing on it (which I don’t have to pay) is reduced. Of course, developing countries are developing – there are no guarantees that there won’t be a change in taxation arrangements. But I have to play the cards as I see them, and public transport, walking, and taxis are all fairly unattractive options in this city.

Oh, and perhaps thirdly, I stayed in a serviced apartment for a month while looking for long term accommodation. In the scheme of things though this doesn’t make that much of a difference, because the cost differential between hotels and regular houses or apartments is actually pretty marginal. This seemed to be the case in Switzerland, too.

Books read – The Road (McCarthy), Fooled By Randomness (Taleb). I bought the Incerto set for my kindle. I didn’t enjoy Fooled by Randomness that much, perhaps because those ideas (which were probably fairly novel to a mainstream audience at the time) were all a bit old-hat to me. I have already read Black Swan, but I am going to re-read, and then progress on to Antifragile. Since I have been mostly staying in an apartment a mere two minutes walk from work, I’ve had no commute on which to read. Actually, I won’t have any time on the bus to read here, so I will have to come up with a different reading routine.

The house I’ve just moved into is walking distance from work, 30 minutes or so. That said, walking is pretty unpleasant because of the pollution (thick black smoke belching from every third car, thin grey smoke from the other two), dust from construction, and lack of footpaths (or footpaths repurposed for storage of construction material). The main appeal of the house is not its build quality (see above!) or attractiveness (it is a bit run down), but the location – close to a number of colleagues, plenty of restaurants, close to modern supermarkets, quite straightforward and fairly short route to work, and close to one of the city’s few public parks.

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:55 pm

@halfmoon
Of course! Yes, it's probably the air intake rather than the gas. I was probably just preoccupied with the rest of the pollution in this city.

@JeanPaul
I'm not sure about the beauty of the country just yet. It'll be great to get out of the city some, but yeah the state of emergency makes it less appealing. From reports of local colleagues it also seems not the easiest place to travel with a baby/toddler.

@Noedig
Thanks for the recommendations and support.

Jason
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Jason » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:43 pm

I try to knock off the "greatest" works of literature list. I understand its subjective but there is usually a general consensus on most works.

I tried to get through McCarthy's Blood Meridian and I just couldn't do it. It was just too dense a forest. He's the type of person who's genius must be a great burden.

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onewayfamily
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Re: Internationalist

Post by onewayfamily » Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:36 pm

I think you'll enjoy Antifragile the most.

With the walking-commute can you find a slightly/moderately longer route that passes mostly through parks and side-streets to avoid the car pollution - I always hated it as well and was able to find a route that went through mostly parks and a golf course when I was riding to work still.

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:27 am

August/September 2017

Well, my life in Addis has turned into an unrelenting disaster. It's not ruined beyond comprehension yet, there is still room for things to turn around, but I've had a dreadful run of bad luck. This is not completely the city's fault, but it certainly plays its part.

Let's see, my house pretty much flooded, which was detailed earlier. As well as numerous bouts of food poisoning I also contracted typhoid. I've had three people/groups of people try to pickpocket me, fortunately none yet succeeded. One group was physical and this came close to being a violent situation. In September, we went a weekend without water supply to the house, that was fun. Around the same time we started getting pretty much daily blackouts. It does vary, but three or four days a week we seem to only get about four hours of power. Prior to living here I had never been involved in a car accident. Nevertheless, only a week after finally getting the paperwork sorted so that I could drive my car, I got into a minor scrape after a jerk minivan driver overtook me, swerved in front of me, and promptly parked (oh, it's common practice to park in the middle of the road here by the way) to let off passengers. It wasn't serious, but it was a bit intimidating the way a large crowd gathers around to enjoy the show and lean against your vehicle. Lastly and most seriously, my family experienced a medical emergency that I won't detail here. Due to the poor state of hospitals in Addis it was recommended that we temporarily evacuate to a nearby, more prosperous country, one with a better-equipped hospital, in case of complications. No complications have occurred yet and we're back in Ethiopia, but it was the most horrible week of my life.

It's a shitty situation all around.

I'm not selfish enough to think that living in a very poor country means that these calamities are a necessary occurrence for everyone. Plenty of other people seem to get on in this city just fine. But I'm not sure if I'm going to be one of them. The crap that's been happening to me makes it difficult to stay positive.

I did track expenditure for September. Savings rate was about 40%.

Books read: only one finished this month, I think. I've been distracted by life events. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Foer). Nowhere near as good as his debut, Everything is Illuminated. Still kind of interesting – it really made me want to go back to New York (I only spent a week there for work a few years back). Terribly sad, as was Everything is Illuminated, but I didn't feel like it taught me anything. Related – I watched the film version of Everything is Illuminated, and I felt like it was a pretty good effort at translating the book. Right up until the ending, which was nowhere near as powerful. I think the ending of the book should have been possible to translate to film, and I'm not sure why they altered it the way they did. Still worth a watch in my opinion.
onewayfamily wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:36 pm
With the walking-commute can you find a slightly/moderately longer route that passes mostly through parks and side-streets to avoid the car pollution - I always hated it as well and was able to find a route that went through mostly parks and a golf course when I was riding to work still.
I don't think this is possible in Addis. Parks aren't prevalent here. In addition, walking through sidestreets would be both highly circuitous and probably increase my risk of further attempted muggings.

slowtraveler
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Re: Internationalist

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:08 am

I have to ask, why are you staying somewhere so dangerous when there are many safe, low cost of living cities in the world?

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:43 am

@slowtraveler
Well it's only been a few months, I think it might be premature to write the place off just yet, although I'm certainly thinking about an exit strategy. There are many other reasons but I don't know if any are good. Perhaps I'm a bit of a masochist. I'm rebelling against the safe comfortable life the rest of my family has, and want to see if the big bad world really is so big and bad. I like exploring the novel and the exotic. This job pays well and has amazing benefits, although yeah the need to be internationally mobile, and mobile in the direction of very poor countries is something of a necessity.

I'm not necessarily sure the combination of my job skills and passport allows me to target a lot of LCOL areas, although I suppose there's always the option of heading back to my hometown. The economy there is not great and will probably get worse before it gets better. I may actually start a topic on this kind of subject in a little while.

The Old Man
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Re: Internationalist

Post by The Old Man » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:48 am

Solvent wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:43 am
Perhaps I'm a bit of a masochist. I'm rebelling against the safe comfortable life the rest of my family has, and want to see if the big bad world really is so big and bad. I like exploring the novel and the exotic.
I have a great suggestion for you. Come to America! Settle in Compton, California. Then compare!

mxlr650
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Re: Internationalist

Post by mxlr650 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:01 pm

GS wrote:I have a great suggestion for you. Come to America! Settle in Compton, California. Then compare!

I would suggest taking it a bit slow so you can acquire required music/vocabulary/skills. As a first step, move to East palo alto whose crime legacy should easily get you in touch with veterans who, like hollywood monks helping journeymen by revealing secrets of the trade, can prepare you for your journey to Tenderloin, and couple months there should get you all ready to settle down in Compton, and welcome your neighbors with "open arms". After being a resident there for a while, you can then convince a major book pubisher (at gun point of course) for a major book deal, and release some pompous sounding book like "Glockwork orange: A yuuuge retrospective field study of california's bigly crimescape"

you might be able to sell 15M copies just on this forum considering how much folks here love reading books.

/s

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:16 am

Oops, late update! I had this written up, but it’s often inconvenient for me to try to get online with my personal laptop (as opposed to work laptop).

So I finally got around to putting together a comprehensive net wealth spreadsheet that contains our family’s finances. Prior to this, I kept good tabs on my ‘personal’ finances, but only limited information on DW’s. Now I have a single spreadsheet where I can actually calculate our net wealth, asset allocations, passive income and other details. This is great.

Something this allows me to do, which I’ve never bothered to do before, is calculate savings rate both inclusive of passive income and exclusive of passive income. In prior months, all my figures have just been exclusive of passive income but that is not actually the most sensible way to do it.

Anyway, savings rate for October (inclusive of passive income now): 32.3%

It’s low this month! That’s unsurprising. We’ve had visitors, so we’ve been eating out at nice places and doing some travelling. I seriously doubt we will get a lot of visitors from home while we live in Ethiopia, so this definitely qualifies as unusual expenditure. We are still paying a few ‘set-up’ costs for this city, like buying a few items of furniture. We have extensions of medical expenditures from last month’s disaster – these shouldn’t recur after this month, hopefully. Also, I will be reimbursed for many of these expenditures, but to avoid getting bogged down in the accounting, I will simply include it as income next month. So next month’s savings rate should be very high to offset this month’s low.

Books read: Burmese Days (Orwell). Orwell has that quote about cutting unnecessary words, but in this novel I feel his prose was unusually florid.

Weather here is great at the moment, so I must try to take heart in the few nice things about living here. I’ve always lived in largeish cities, but as I get older, the more I feel like I need to move to the country for some clean air and a more laid-back lifestyle. This feeling is intensified while I’m amongst the smog, exhaust, and thugs of Addis Ababa (I’ve now survived four attempted pickpocketings – fortunately the jerks targeting me don’t seem to be all that competent). As a member of a profession that is pretty much only employed in large cities, I feel like this causes me some problems unless I really save hard and FI. I plan to start a topic on this subject.

I mentioned a few months back in my journal that I was trying to learn some digital music production techniques. It’s been slow going, since with my situation and family I feel I don’t have a lot of energy to devote to side hustles, but this month I have been putting in a bit more time and it’s good fun. I don’t have a completed song yet, more a lot of very brief ideas, but I’m working on getting at least one or two ‘complete’ songs by year’s end. Then I will try to learn something about mixing them, and put them somewhere online for comments.

@General Snoopy;
Hmmm, Compton. Well I'm not hugely into hip hop, but I do like Ice Cube. The man has incredible delivery. Anyway, would that help me get along in the 'hood?

Solvent
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Solvent » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:12 am

Savings rate for November: 48.0%
I had my parents visiting for much of this month, which was great. We travelled for a weekend to a city in the north of the country, and into one of the national parks. Having visitors also caused me to go out and see a few museums and tourist attractions which was a bit of a change of routine. No large dividends for this month, so passive income was negligible.

Books read: Black Swan (Taleb, a re-read). I’m going to take a break from Taleb for a moment, even though I thought I’d read his Incerto series all in a row. It’s not grabbing me the way Black Swan did when I read it the first time.

I’ve been producing some music that I’m quite happy with, relatively simple stuff. I know nothing about applying EQ or mixing though so getting a good clear sound is something I’m struggling with, even though I’m happy with the actual songs. I'd be happy if anyone wanted to listen and provide feedback, you can check them out here: https://soundcloud.com/user-345740270.

I’m still uninspired at work for the moment. I am seeing some of the bad aspects of my work in Geneva arising here as well. Like in Geneva, at times I feel the culture is one where information is just not shared – I don’t feel like I’m equipped with the tools necessary to do a good job here, and asking questions doesn't get me far.

Why am I still here? Well, of course, the pay is great and I’m sure it’s more than I’d get elsewhere. Further to that, there are some indications that DW will get a contract soon as well, marking her reintroduction to the workforce after the birth of TH. This is something we’re really excited about – if DW can get some international work experience on her resume that will likely be a real benefit to us in the long run. Since salaries for household staff here are so low, the costs for childcare will be almost insignificant if she goes back to work, something which is certainly not the case in a place like Switzerland or Australia.

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Viktor K
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Re: Internationalist

Post by Viktor K » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:35 am

Solvent wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:12 am
I’ve been producing some music that I’m quite happy with, relatively simple stuff. I know nothing about applying EQ or mixing though so getting a good clear sound is something I’m struggling with, even though I’m happy with the actual songs. I'd be happy if anyone wanted to listen and provide feedback, you can check them out here: https://soundcloud.com/user-345740270.
Hey dude, I like those two songs, the first one is really cool. I've run into a bit of some game developer's block since the community is real critical of non-original assets wrt to music, artwork, etc so i can definitely respect the effort that must have gone into those two songs. Would be happy to hear however briefly about your experience/background making music.

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