Bay Area – Living out of a Suitcase

It ain’t easy (or cheap) trying to make ends meet in the Bay Area… That might be the understatement of the last few decades! But alas, it is what it is…

If I had a crystal ball and knew a few years ago that certain regions such as: Bay Area, Seattle, Orange County, Vancouver, Hong Kong, etc. would blow up (go up like bonkers, exponentially), well, I probably would have been even more aggressive in my pursuit of buying up more real estate!

Anyway, as I often like to emphasize on this blog, a lot of what life is (or perceived to be) is merely a matter of circumstances and individual point of view… For instance, if you didn’t grow up in or live in a super expensive Cost of Living (COL) environment, well, you probably wouldn’t gripe and complain so much about it… like I do.

But instead of getting mad, I think it’s far more useful (and constructive) to try and devise a plan so that one can figure out a way to get even.

Don’t get mad, get even!

In my own case, yes, it’s true that I’m back “home” in the Bay Area again, but after only being reacquainted for 2 weeks, that’s already more than enough of a sample size to let me know without a shadow of a doubt that it really just doesn’t make sense for me to keep staying here.

I’m back in the YAY Area primarily because I’ve got lots of errands to take care of:

  • File and pay taxes.
  • Health check up and lab tests.
  • Hanging out with family and friends.
  • Meeting up with bloggers and readers.
  • Hanging out with the homies some more.
  • Getting my fix of: Chipotle, Jamba Juice, Pieology, Erik’s Deli, etc…
  • Tenant turnover and new tenant lease.
  • Replenishing travel miles via new credit cards (travel hacking).
  • Possibly selling another rental property (partnership deal).
  • Visiting the vault to make sure everything is all there and in working order.
  • Chilling with people some more, even the good ol’ co-workers (revisiting my former engineering life).
  • Etc.

So, those are the reasons why I’m back here at this time… and will probably stick around the Bay Area for another 2, 3, 4 months…

But who knows how much longer I’ll choose to keep living here out of a suitcase?

I mean, I’m no longer working as a corporate engineer, so ummm… what’s really the point? Further, I have no kids, and for all intents and purposes, I’m only responsible for myself…

Why keep staying in a place trying to scrape by as a pauper when I can just as easily hop back onboard a plane and continue my journeys overseas as a non-pauper?

As far as I’m concerned:

  • Good food is good food.
  • Wonderful company is wonderful company.
  • Gorgeous weather is gorgeous weather.
  • You can seek out adventure and excitement anywhere.
  • Etc.

You get the idea…

And if I’m real to you readers (and myself), I know full well by now that I’m simply the type of person who likes to wander, travel, and explore around… When I was a little kid, I was big into role-playing games (RPGs), and in any one of those videogames, I always loved it when your character finally got to step foot outside the village/town and you could explore the world map. Instead of following a set linear path (main mission), I always dared to venture off course, walking into: new towns, caves, dungeons, forests, etc.

Even videogames seemed a hell of a lot more fun when you took this approach (at least I thought so), so why not attempt the same thing in REAL life? I mean, what’s the point of confining yourself to ONE particular region forever and ever and ever after some more, if you don’t have to?

Please realize, when it comes to life, everyone’s own experiences will be entirely unique. A person who is in early FI experiences a drastically different day-to-day existence than someone who is striving for early FI. To take it one step even further, someone who is merely subsisting everyday, barely surviving off of their regular paycheck, is someone who probably can’t even grasp the concept of early FI; it’s too far removed from their actual reality and an altogether foreign concept.

Let me explain — When I was in Vietnam and the Philippines, you always heard the following chatter (the local perspective) —

“Man, it’s tough to survive here! The wages are meager, the opportunities are few and far between, and the odds are just totally stacked against you to succeed in life (financially). Why would I want to stay here? If I had the chance to go someplace else, I would leave in a heartbeat!”

But on the flipside (and I’m not suggesting this is fair or just), if you’re a traveller with lots of cash, your experience might be totally different/distorted/warped (the early FI perspective) —

“Man, it’s AWESOME living out here! My local currency sure buys me a ton of purchasing power! I feel like I’m BIG TIME, like a king/queen, and I couldn’t be any happier! I feel like royalty!”

So, two entirely different sets of people living in the exact same location… yet their day-to-day experiences couldn’t be more world’s apart!

Again, I’m not suggesting one group of people are right/wrong, or vice versa…

It’s just life…

And connecting back to the Bay Area for a second, sure, there are plenty of guys out here: Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. who are affluent and do thrive in this type of environment.

Well, good for them… but sad to say, that ain’t me and that never will be me.

No biggie.

I just gotta keep my eyes and ears open and find the most advantageous situation for myself. When it comes down to it, as we all know, time is the only thing that really matters; it’s finite and more of it can never be bought or acquired. Even more depressing, it’s impossible to rewind the clock and get a do-over… You only get one shot at this Game of Life.

So, you’d better make the most of it.

For myself, I really don’t want to overthink things… But from all angles and perspectives, I know that I’m not happy, and I wouldn’t be happy remaining in the Bay Area in the short/near term. I really don’t see the point of sticking around for too long… Like I mentioned in previous posts, right now, I’m able to take my Bay Area rentals (“inflation hedges”) and use them to help me increase my purchasing power greatly, elsewhere… What a wonderful arbitrage opportunity that is currently available to me; I’d be a total fool not to exploit it for my maximum benefit!

As a nice bonus, since I own my rental properties, I still have a vested interest in the Bay Area, and if the region continues to do exceptionally well, so will my investments… In other words, I will never be priced out of the Silicon Valley, so a return here down the road when the numbers make a whole lot more sense is entirely feasible.

But I’m not gonna hold my breath…

And I don’t feel the need to do so…


I love to see and explore BRAND NEW places.

I love adventure.

I love travel.


And you can’t put a price tag on that… You shouldn’t care what other people think is valuable… You should only care what you deem to be valuable!


It’s your life! Be happy! Do you.


I’m the kind of guy who has more fun meeting up with new folks over $3-4 USD coffee at a nearby Holly Brown than I do grabbing drinks at the M-Bar, located on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong Island (I’ve done both so I can make this comparison)…

I mean, the best meal I feel I enjoyed in all of Asia was the following rice plate in Ho Chi Minh City, for crying out loud…

Obviously, I don’t care that this meal costs me less than $1 USD!

Well, I guess I did care a little bit… I was so overjoyed, I ended up ordering this dish multiple times! 🙂

So, there you go…

I will address this in a future post, but to sum up my nine months of travel — I honestly feel like I experienced more in these past nine months than I did the previous nine years of my life.

If you offered me two choices:

  • Option A – The past nine months of travel across Asia.
  • Option B – The past nine months of confinement in the Bay Area, instead (no memories or recollection of: Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines), but $500,000 USD as compensation for such extreme “sacrifice” on my part.


I would choose Option A every single time!!!


You can ALWAYS make more money! However, there comes a time and place when more money does not equate to much more happiness and utility.

The law of diminishing return.

I’ve reached that point… and you will too!


Now, worthwhile experiences matter much, much, much more than more money to me.


Would I love more $$$ and wealth? Absolutely, who wouldn’t?


But I’ve got an even greater itch to get out there and travel a whole lot more!


The world is a BIG ASS PLACE with a ton to offer.


“Get busy living, or get busy dying!”


Fight On!

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3 years ago

Have you visited central and south America? Fellow early retiree here in the bay area, retired at 38 after following a path somewhat similar to yours, although now back in the area for family reasons. We spent three months there a few years ago. I loved the food, the culture, and of course dollar’s purchasing power.

3 years ago
Reply to  FI Fighter

No worries, you would be surprised on how far google translate and a bit of body language would get you. On top of that, we found a surprising number of folks in major cities in Central/South America speak a bit of English as well.

3 years ago
Reply to  Wheat

Btw, if you still got time, I would be interested in meeting a fellow early retiree and pick your brains on the early retirement lifestyle.

3 years ago

Good points. Don’t forget to balance that lifestyle. As they say, “a rolling stone gathers no moss.”

3 years ago

WOW that is super cheap

Brian - Rental Mindset

We should meet up while you are in the Bay Area! My schedule is also very flexible – although I am not retired, I take full advantage of working by myself.

I’m curious to learn more about your partnership deal for you rental. How are you structuring it?

3 years ago

Can’t complain too much because you’re staying 100% free with family right?

3 years ago

How do readers arrange to meet with you?

Chris Gregory
Chris Gregory
3 years ago

Jay, love these posts! We are a similar age (I’m 32) and was a working expat in Peru for the last 6 years. I just moved back to Arizona for work & family reasons, but sure do miss living abroad. I know well of the adventures and advantages you write of that come from exploring the WORLD outside of the U.S. You will meet some fascinating people on your journeys (I’m sure you already have) and your “big-picture” perspective on life, humanity and meaning will continue to grow.

Keep exploring, my friend. Not all who wander are lost 🙂

3 years ago

Regular reader and would love to meet up too:-) Traveling in Europe now but should be back by end of the month. Shoot me an email and a new pieology place has just opened up in my hood haha