06 Oct

The Honest Truth: You May Want More Than $1M Before Retiring

We were pretty confident that $1M would be more than enough to retire on. All our research indicated that it should be pretty straight forward with just a bit of self discipline and smart money management. After all, for the most part, all one needs to do is live in a city with a reasonable cost of living, right? Well, for Amanda and I, it turns out that this advice is easier said than done.


Blue Ridge Mountains in October

Cautionary Tale

It’s now been one and a half years since we first quit our high income jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area and started driving down to Costa Rica with Bruno, our beloved 4Runner. We had calculated that it should be easy to eventually find a new home after traveling and proceed to live a lavish lifestyle on $30,000-$40,000 per year.

We did some analytics on cities across the US and ended up buying a home in Asheville, NC. There’s only one problem: we ended up spending more on a home than we had originally budgeted. That is to say, we had calculated a max budget of $250,000 for a new home and we ended up going $25,000 over that.

Total catastrophe? Not quite. We spent a lot of time talking about this and decided we were comfortable with “overspending” by considering it a temporary $25,000 “debt” that we would eventually need to pay off. Financial Accounting Mumbo Jumbo Trickery? Maybe. But we knew that the house we wanted would be perfect for having Airbnb guests – which would be a great way to pay off the debt. The basement, which we’ve now fully renovated, has it’s own separate entrance with two bedrooms and it’s own bathroom. This fancy basement suite, when rented out on Airbnb provides us an income of $190 per night, and so far we’re expecting an income of $2250 for the month of October – which is almost 10% of our “house debt” paid off – not bad!

Will the Airbnb guests drive us crazy? Yeah, maybe. But for now it seems like a pretty easy way to get some temporary needed income!

But the entire story should be shared as a cautionary tale for any of those following a similar journey – do not underestimate how easy it is to buy a house that is outside of your budget! Yes, there are tons of cities in the US that are super-affordable. But once you start doing your analysis, you’ll inevitably start getting more and more picky. By the time you end up looking at actual houses and neighborhoods, you’ll tend to slip to the max of your budget immediately. Be ready and plan for this! Either save up more money before quitting your jobs, or you’ll need to accept that your new home will not be in a city as hip as Brooklyn, and you’ll not be having weather as nice as San Diego – be ready to compromise!


Wild Horses of North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Summer In The South

Anybody curious what summers are like in Asheville, NC? Well, this one was super f*cking hot and humid – and it turns out mosquitoes have total ownership of our backyard. It’s a harsh reality that Amanda and I have really been spoiled rotten for the last six years by the essentially perfect climate of Oakland, CA.

That being said, this summer was ultra hot across the entire country. Records for “hottest summer” were broken for 45 cities in the US – many of which were in the South East!

Even in the madness of such heat and humidity, since Asheville is in the mountains, it turns out to be slightly less hot compared to most other parts of the South – those people actually come TO Asheville for some reprieve from the heat! All in all, as climate change accelerates, I’m really not looking forward to these heat extremes becoming more frequent.

But now that we’ve experienced it, it does reinforce our future plans to travel away during the hot summer months and rent out our house. Since we don’t have jobs holding us down, it seems like a no-brainer!


Appalachian hike in October