This is a follow-up post to the original post from Mrs. PIE on our plans on being busy after FIRE.
Beyond the nasty cold I am suffering from right now, please bear with me as I get a few other things off my weary chest. This is absolutely NOT a mini-rant about politics, more a short commentary on an individual.
- I dearly wish we could have any other President-elect. And I mean ANYBODY. (Republican, Democrat, Independent…)
- I understand many in America are disenfranchised. I am now one of them.
- A smart President-elect will surround himself with an intelligent, forward thinking and balanced executive team. As of writing this post, there is absolutely no sign of any of this. Shit!
- Vile comments made by the President-elect on the topics of race, LGBT, immigration, the military and veterans to name but a few are neither thinking global nor human. Think about that statement. Just think about it. A President-elect, through carefully chosen words, should inspire pride and greatness in all of us. Today, I do not feel proud or great.
- I don’t know how to effectively explain to our children that our country voted for an individual who has such disregard for fellow human beings.
- Ultimately, the awesomeness of our country will continue to reveal itself through the behavior of the whole nation and long-standing principles set forth in our constitution.
- I remain optimistic about how our family will adapt to the inevitable changes coming and our plans for FIRE in summer of 2018. As of today, there are no changes to that plan. I have however learned over the last week not to be surprised at anything so I am keeping my mind open.
So with all that as backdrop, what am I going to do to escape the never ending madness of work schedules, commuting and political nonsense?
Here are few things that jumped into my mind recently.
- Head to the great Northern Siberian forest and set up a cozy, minimalist home. A pic here of a fixer upper, pulled directly from Siberian Zillow
Without internet, I would however miss the sporadic comments on my Twitter feed where some “followers” (who the heck are you, actually?) retweet the wisdom of visionaries like Newt Gingrich or Rudy Giulani. Still, with the YUUGE ties to Russia, I will likely have no issues with securing residency visas for the PIE family. I will however have to get used to the tactical discussions from political leaders of Russia looking to secure their tickets to the next Miss Universe pageant, sponsored by none other than the soon to be leader of the free world. Since the PIE family are particularly fond of long winters of heavy snow, I think we could get used to this living arrangement.
2. Relocate family PIE to a small island somewhere off the coast of my country of birth, Scotland. And here is the very place!! Growing up in Southwest Scotland, I could literally see this marvelous blob (as Mrs. PIE affectionately calls it), otherwise known as the Ailsa Craig, from my bedroom window.
For those readers who are card carrying geologists (I suspect not too many), the granite rock on the island is famed as a favorite material for curling stones. Yeah, yeah the Scots do more than distill and drink fine whisky…. we hurl weird shaped stones along the ice and sweep their path down the ice with brooms. It’called curling. Of course nothing is set in stone as we now know – repeal of Obamacare…..a big-ass wall or maybe a nice fence…..or jailing the NY Senator who actually is claimed to be a “good person” now. I don’t know what to believe any more, maybe I’ll just read what’s on Facebook news feeds.
The small island is also famous for a massive (not YUUGE) bird colony of gannets (sea gulls). We’d have to get used to plenty of loud squawking and large doses of poop raining down on us. It should be said that the resemblance of those living conditions to the political shit-show of the last 18 months is not lost on me at all. I’d feel right at home. Now, where did you put those British passports Mrs. PIE?
All members of the PIE family still carry dual citizenship so in theory could relocate to the UK very easily (Editorial note from Mrs. PIE – not a bloody chance!) . Think of all that fine whisky and yummy pub grub. Mmm!! We would need damn good healthcare coverage given the toll that diet of whisky, fish n’ chips would take on our livers and arteries. Given the amount of money we are going to be spending on OBAMACARE / TRUMP-A-CARE / NOBODYBLOODYCARES, we might as well head to the PIE whisky cabinet to drown our sorrows.
3. Move to Svalbard. Now although I am a big fan of our Canadian neighbors, I did not contribute to the carnage that derailed the Canadian Immigration web-site last week. No, I was busy searching for more exotic places to suit the budget of the early retiree. And hey presto, Svalbard! Where the heck is Svalbard, Mr. PIE?
Good question, readers. Governed by Norway and conveniently located midway between Norway and the North Pole, it provides a culture that should make the early retiree smile from ear to ear. The largest town is Longyearbyen with a population of 2,640. Jeez, 2016 has already been a very long year….! It houses a library, swimming pool (presumably indoor), a bank (seamless transfer of those capital gains from Vanguard index funds in a jiffy), a cinema (Horror movie themes are a specialty – you can watch endless re-runs of the Inauguration) and a handful of museums (I guess viewing the set of whale bones skeletons will get tiresome after a while) to suit the historical souls. There is even a NASA research facility on one of the islands that makes up the archipelago. So for the early retiree with a scientific background, jumping back into the fray of work is right here and waiting. Some other aspects of living here that you may find interesting are as follows:
- No residency permit is needed for foreigners. OK, if you MUST make life easy for us….
- You have to be able to support yourself financially. Check!
- Endless high mountain snow fields for the skiing enthusiasts. Check!
- Must be able to defend yourself from polar bears. Err….erm…will two dueling Darth Vaders be able to fight them off?
So this is all very serious stuff.
What am I really going to do to lighten the load of early retirement?
Here in no particular order is a brain-dump from my troubled mind. Be prepared – (a) it is not organized, (b) it is loaded with fun activities and (c) it has family stuff at the very core. The A, B, C’s of early retirement.
- Travel with family slowly in countries/places I have already visited through work or vacations that were way too short to fully experience the local culture (International – India, France, Greek Isles, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Caribbean Island such as St Lucia, St John, Dominican Republic) ; America and Canada– Grand Teton National Park, Quebec, Canadian Rockies, Montana, Florida Keys). The summer vacations while boys are still school age are going to busy with lots of traveling. Our immediate family and friends in the UK will serve as a base to explore more of Europe and keep travel costs down overall.
- Travel slowly in countries on my dream list – Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Chile. Skiing in the southern hemisphere is very high on the to-do list. Skiing anywhere outside of North America is high on the to-do list to be honest.
- Visit family and friends in the UK on a more regular basis. See point #1.
- Further develop my skiing skills to be skilled enough to venture into the powder filled back-country with an experienced guide. Or to go on an awesome heli-ski day trip.
- Hike all forty-eight 4,000 ft’ers in NH. Our family has made a great start to this and knocked another one off the list over the weekend on a spectacular early winter season hike. Hike during the summer months in the Teton range – see point #1.
- Further my education. Yes, a B.Sc. and a Ph.D. allowed me to get by in the discipline of chemistry and build a worthwhile career. But there is so much more that interests me. Getting comfortable with Personal Finances has shown that although I am capable, there is much I would like to understand about finances, investing and markets in the broader sense. There is a fantastic set of business and finance MOOC’s – Massive Open Online Courses (many free or a modest fee ~$50) that is kept up to date over here. And through organizations like edX, a dizzying array of topics (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Introduction to Economics:Macroeconomics, The History of Rockets, Computer Graphics to name but a few), are offered in low priced or free courses. Most courses are 4-6 weeks in length and have on-line forums to interact with fellow students and teachers. What is not to love about learning through free or low cost courses?
- Learn to cook better. I have a staple set of meals that I am very good at preparing. Most organic chemists are very good at following recipes and “cooking things up”. But there is much more to challenge me in the kitchen. I think with Mrs. PIE as a patient teacher and some time, I will do just fine. Perhaps a bit better than fine.
- Learn a foreign language. I was very fond of French at school and had a natural connection to the language which was further developed through leading a collaboration with a French company for a few years. Something as simple as Rosetta Stone where different levels can be accommodated would be a good start. Or living in a French speaking locale / country for a short period would help. Like Quebec. Or France. See point #1.
- DIY Home Maintenance. Never been a strong point. Must do better. More free time will help with this one.
- Be appointed Chief Travel Planner. Since Mrs. PIE has snagged the more lucrative Chief Travel Hacking Officer, I will be there to fill the organizational void that is travel planning. Our slow travel will be initially during the school vacation weeks of summer. This I will have to make sure we plan well ahead of time to grab supersaver flights where our travel miles can be used and affordable AirBnB or VRBO rentals. Of course when traveling to Europe, we will enlist the help of family and friends near London, central England and Scotland as a base to jump over to the EU. The planning here will entail a phone call (no doubt after too many beers) to declare that we are coming to visit and a request for spare beds or sleeping bags with airbeds. Heavy stuff requiring exquisite negotiation skills. Somebody has to take on the tough jobs. This will also require some periodic checking in with Mrs. PIE, aka talking to each other. There will be no place for any boardroom squabbles on conflicting travel strategies.
- Fill the Social Circle bucket – this is a large bucket with a few holes right now. It may involve volunteering with kids school activities, hiking club activities or perhaps speaking at local community gatherings on aspects of Personal Finance. It is often the case that small mountain town folks could benefit from some pointers on good investing habits but I have to be realistic on whether that demand may exist or not. I may be surprised. I certainly have a ton of material on what not to do.
- Work. Whaaat..? I can see some offers for sporadic consulting work materializing through my connections in the biopharmaceutical industry. This one will definitely be on a wants rather than a needs basis. Our FIRE plans do not have us working for money as a necessary factor in our budget management. If the offer comes, it doesn’t entail an extensive period of work and I find it interesting enough, sure, it will be worth considering.
- Read more. With so much time spent reading and pouring over data/documents at work, this after-work activity has been a lower priority for me. Although I enjoy reading blogs immensely, it is not quite the same as a good fiction or non-fiction book. A relaxing and peaceful afternoon down at the local river or on our sunny deck with a good book and a cold beer is my kind of heaven.
So there you go, a baker’s dozen for Mr. PIE to turn his undivided attention towards. I can’t help thinking there needs to be some flexibility in all of this as well as an understanding that any one of these can take up significant chunks of time. Oh, I’ll have plenty of that to play with, won’t I…?
What’s going to occupy your time? Will you expand current hobbies or find new ones? Will Mr. PIE have sufficient activities to keep him out of trouble?