This past Friday marked two months into my early retirement. I can’t believe its only been two months, the amount of time that has appeared into live now that a 40-50hr a week job isn’t consuming most of my waking hours is incredible. Thus far we’ve done one full leisure trip and are on our second housing hunting trip trying to finalize our next destination. So what are my thoughts two months out in early retirement?
Geographic Arbitrage is a Full Time Job. We put our house up for sale just under one week after leaving the job and it can become an all-consuming. There’s always something else you can do to prep a house for sale. The market we were selling into was interesting. The low end of the market was on fire and the high end of the market was robust for new houses and slow for existing sales. Our home was somewhere in between, the size/age of the house would put it at the lower end of the market, but due to the location and underlying lot value, it was the most expensive house we’ve ever owned. This meant we had two types of buyers were looking at it: Empty-nesters wanting to downsize and gut/renovate the property and high income but inexperienced younger home buyers. The house had a solid floor on its price due to lot value, but a pretty big range of value above the lot value depending on renovation level.
We ultimately received five offers from four different buyers over the course of a month of listing. One month in we decided we were willing to come off our asking price by 3-4% and were able to make a deal. That wasn’t the end of it though, the first buyer had to be terminated because of repeat inspections and dragging out the process. It was obvious a 63yr old house with its charm/quirks/issues were not going to be right for them. We then went under contract with the 2nd buyer and have been grinding through the sale process, including the replacement of a roof due to storm damage (fortunately mostly covered by insurance).
Now we are dealing with finding a new place and remembering some of the irritations of becoming a renter. First we visited a bunch of places that were on our list, narrowed it down to two, then are working through wrapping up a rental house in a one of the two locations. There are a few houses that meet our criteria, but have to grind through the process of selling ourselves considering:
1) We don’t have a job.
2) Yes, we have a dog.
3) Garage is important (delaying replacing a jeep soft-top)
If we can rent directly from a property owner, we should be a dream tenant. If we are trying to rent through a property management company, the lack of a job and trying to explain financial independence would likely result in some blank stares. Its like a quirky version of professional courtship. We found out the downside of being financially independent and living in three different cities means we don’t come across as a five-year tenant!
My past corporate relocation were a one way ticket. Going through this process is pushing me to advise others to take the Coast FI approach to get to their final destination while still working. We had the nice full-service professional movers for the last three relocations, but now we are doing it mostly ourselves including packing and driving a big rental truck across the country (100% we will hire movers on both sides to load/unload the truck though!). Hopefully things will be more settled on the next update.
Coast FI – Is the grass always greener?
I’ve had the pleasure of giving a lot of advice out over the last three months since announcing my early retirement at work . I find myself more and more ending up into the conversation of Retirement Inevitability or Coast FI. The people I talk to who are familiar with FIRE seem to think the normal FIRE path looks a lot like what I did – grind through a corporate job for fifteen years, save a seven figure number that’ll support you forever, then have this giant crescendo moment at work where you shock the world. That crescendo moment was pretty awesome, but is that really the path? The numbers show the majority of our net worth is a result of the first $500,000 and I may not have needed to grind this out for the last five years to end up with the same result.
Coast FI: Pick where you live. People make friends through work, neighborhood events, and not for profit/volunteer service. I’ve found there are great people wherever we live, but its a process to start over. The place we’re moving from was great for income, but not great for quality of life for people who like the outdoors (that’s us!) Should we have moved to an area more suited to our liking prior to quitting work? The early thoughts are yes. I commented on this recent post from Carl @ Mr. 1500 – he talked about the regret of working those final years, but didn’t give himself credit for one great decision he and and his wife made: Move to your likely retirement destination before quitting work!
I may dedicate a page on this site solely to Coast FI and keep it updated as more and more people write about it. There are good opinions out there and its a path to FIRE that ma be underrepresented.
I’ve thought a LOT less about my former job in the second month than I did the first month. Its given me some time to really think through what I enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy in the role. What I enjoyed:
– Looking at Deals. How does a business make money? What are they considering doing? Does it make sense? Is it something I can finance? What other advice would I have for them
– Coaching people. I had a role where I could advise clients, coach my direct reports, and advice a long list of indirect reports or peers. It was satisfying to provide direction that could make someone’s life better.
What I didn’t enjoy:
– Authoritarian Leadership (heck, I recently dreamed they had a socialist style secret police harassing former employees)
– Condescending individuals (both internal coworkers and external clients)
– Individuals in influential positions who lacked the competency to be in the role
– Boredom of doing the same thing over and over.
The most frustrating part of the career list is the better I got at the top two items, the less time I needed to spend on it. This allowed the garbage issues on the second half of the list to fill more and more of my day, leading to professional unhappiness. Some people can compartmentalize the bad, enjoy the good, and view the rest as “just a gig”, the same way a band or comedian goes and plays a stuffy corporate event for the money. I tried, but that just wasn’t possible for me. There was still too much control.
The career in banking also contained a bit of an income trap – The skills are fairly specialized but could be translated from bank to bank. A new employer would have changed some of these items, but its still inside the career and wouldn’t have accomplished some of the other things we wanted in life (no five day work-weeks, location independence). By the time I realized I should change employers I was deep into my deferred compensation. My two options were to stay and earn an additional payout or move employers and commit to a 2-3 year repayment agreement of a signing bonus to make me whole on the compensation. I elected to remain at the company and go through the retirement.
Will there be income post-retirement?
* Alert! Internet Retirement Police Warning *
I’ve found a couple of outlets so far to do the first two items on my list without dealing with the bottom half that have become intolerable. I’m advising one former client work through a large debt refinance and helping another person with negotiating a commercial building for her practice. I also finished doing a similar debt negotiation for a not for profit where I serve as the treasurer of. These are nice test cases to decide if I want to market for client side advisory work in the future. I’ve also enjoyed the free coaching I’ve provided people similar to the Lifestyle Retirement Consulting gig that Root of Good has, maybe that’s something I do along with some career coaching in the future.
I’m only two months into early retirement and not really marketing/trying to earn extra money. Realizing how quickly I * could * make additional income only reinforces my belief that Coast FI is an achievable pathway for others who’ve built a skill set and are motivated.
Over the next three-plus weeks we will be closing on the sale of our house and navigating a 1,000 mile plus move. This will end up requiring two trips with a detour totaling around 3,000 miles of driving (including part of that in a 22ft Penske Truck) me to drive it twice, once with our vehicle and the four legged furry friend and a second time driving the moving truck. We hope to be settled down by late July and start figuring out what our post-retirement routine and travels begin to look like. The Shirts family will not have fallen off the face of the earth, but might be buried in a pile of moving boxes until further notice.