Geographic Arbitrage – You Knew This Was Coming…

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Well, I wasn’t going to address this topic until later, but since it’s the question that most people have asked me since my announcement to quit engineering, I figured that I might as well. Although I haven’t picked out an exact date just yet, it should shock almost no one that the next chapter in the journey involves geographic arbitrage.

What is that, exactly?

Geographic arbitrage might have been uncommon pre-internet days, but with the advent of blogging, just about everyone is doing it these days… All it means is that you live somewhere cheaper, where the exchange rate to your local currency is favorable. So, it’s quite obvious why an early retiree would choose to pack up their bags and move elsewhere — Maximize your previously hard earned dollars.

With the USD still holding up extremely strong (and possibly stronger if the FED hikes rates again), I guess now is as good a time as any to travel and explore. In my own situation, there’s no doubt that I wouldn’t enjoy early retirement quite so much if I decided to continue living in the Bay Area.

$2,000/month in Silicon Valley is barely scraping by… But $2,000/month in Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines? That sure does sound a whole heck of a lot more appealing!

In 2014, I stopped by in Bangkok briefly, and enjoyed the following:

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Baht to USD:

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If you think that’s affordable, the street food is even cheaper (just make sure you only go to the legit ones where the locals dine).

 

Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, happiness is happiness.

 

You can have a good time pretty much anywhere (that’s hospitable)… As much as I like Silicon Valley, no, there’s nothing magical about the water here, although we have been experiencing a ton of it lately (in the way of heavy rainfalls courtesy of El Nino).

A roof over your head is a roof over your head… It’s supposed to keep you dry, safe, and warm… No need to kill yourself trying to afford such a basic, universal necessity. And drinks/food with good friends laughing it up, man that’s the stuff that makes life worth living! When you’re out having a blast, at the end of the day, are you even going to remember what drink you had? Why spend fortunes on the “accessories” when it’s really the company that matters most? I’ll tell you, some of my fondest “bonding” memories with my best friend involve ditching work for 2 hours and hanging outside on a bright, sunny day sipping McDonald’s (or some other cheap variety) iced coffee…

 

So, if you’re like me, and have realized that FREEDOM is really what it’s all about in life, you’ll probably also have no problem packing up your bags and embracing life elsewhere… If the rules are stacked against you (Silicon Valley ain’t cheap), then play a different game.

Sure, in my own circumstances, getting up and going is a pretty easy thing to do — I’m a single guy with no kids or dependents.

But regardless, I really feel that the millennial generation is growing up differently than their parents… We all know that the American Dream isn’t affordable (or very much realistic) in many parts of the country (NYC, SF, LA, Boston, Seattle, etc.), so why bother wasting your entire life fighting an uphill battle?

Forge a superior plan, and figure out a way to leave behind the rat race while you’re still young and nimble.

 

I’ve always believed the keys to financial freedom are:

  • Reduce expenses as much as possible (without sacrificing real happiness!)
  • Try and earn as much as possible
  • Save a sh!t ton of money each month
  • Invest wisely in the most undervalued, high quality assets

 

When the pile grows large enough, it’s “peace out” time!

 

If you’re fortunate enough to work a well paying job, that’s some arbitrage opportunity right there! Don’t squander such an amazing opportunity to “get rich quick”! My last employer paid me an exorbitant $200,000/year… But my living expenses never crept up to anywhere near that high…

 

Nah, man, I was still living like I did in 2012 when I first started this blog!

 

Perhaps, I was even more frugal since I was getting free/subsidized food at work!

 

I’ve always tried to stay focused on what the ultimate prize was — early financial freedom.

 

So, things like a big salary, shuttle service, fancy title, etc. all meant ZERO to me. If you aspire to achieve early FI, stay grounded and don’t ever let all the noise get to your head… Otherwise, you’ll be like my old co-workers and ordering bottle service every weekend and preordering the latest Tesla vehicle.

 

Anyway, now that I’ve quit my job, I know what I have to do next…

 

As always, it’s looking for arbitrage opportunities to stretch out every last dollar I have as much as possible.

 

But you know what?

 

I’ve got such a severe case of wanderlust right now, so the two kinda go hand in hand — 1) I should leave to maximize my cash flow, and 2) I want to leave because I’m tired of living in a bubble.

 

The world was meant to be explored!

 

And the best part is now I’ve got the time and freedom to do so!

 

You know, it’s kind of funny… Many kids just fresh out of college decide to delay their entry into the workforce so that they can “backpack through Europe” for a year… When they embark on these adventures, their peers almost unanimously support them and approve of their decision. When you’re an adult, and want to quit your job after saving a ton of money, your peers will find every reason in the book to tell you why you’re making a terrible decision!

 

See what happens when people become institutionalized?!?

 

I wanna stay as young and vibrant for as long as I possibly can.

 

The things that I’m doing and want to do are taboo for people my age… But you know what? Unless you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, your brain will indeed become mush.

 

And who wants to be a corporate “yes sir/ma’am” drone for the rest of their lives!?!

 

I know SE Asia has its fair share of problems, so I’m going to try very hard to find a good place to call “home” temporarily… What does “temporarily” mean? Ask the boss… Oh wait, that’s me… Hmm, I actually have no clue… Ahhh, let’s just play it by ear! 🙂

 

I’m sure I’ll find something…

 

In any case, I’d rather take on that challenge than to have to spend anymore time in cubicles taking orders from “superiors” who treat me like a 5 year old kid.

 

SE Asia it is! 🙂

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Income SurferFI FighterJpTravis HellmersTawcan Recent comment authors
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Tawcan
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I knew you’d some to this conclusion before you wrote your post. SE Asia is a great place for low cost of living. 😀

“Many kids just fresh out of college decide to delay their entry into the workforce so that they can “backpack through Europe” for a year… When they embark on these adventures, their peers almost unanimously support them and approve of their decision. When you’re an adult, and want to quit your job after saving a ton of money, your peers will find every reason in the book to tell you why you’re making a terrible decision!”

Boy that is so true!

Travis Hellmers
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Travis Hellmers

Opportunity to rent out your personal residence and temporarily increase cash flow?

I can’t wait to hear more about your travels and what your new expenses are. So jealous! Maybe I will see you in FI in a few years. Does this mean your FFF podcasts are over or just beginning?

Jp
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Jp

I like that you said reduce expenses without sacrificing REAL happiness because that is so key. People get confused with material happiness… I love this video.. https://www.facebook.com/brightside/videos/861895883939156/

Income Surfer
Guest

So we finally wore you down with all the questions Fighter?! You’re a perfect expat in Asia candidate. Best of luck buddy. I can’t wait to hear all about it.
-Bryan

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