After an unplanned hiatus (#COVIDLife), 10 Questions is back! If you’d like to be featured, just follow the rules here. Please note that I have a bit of a backlog to work through, so it will be a couple of months before new submissions get published.
Today’s feature is Escaping Silicon Valley (ESV). ESV is one of the few 10 Questions participants that I’ve had the good fortune to meet in real life. In this case, we met at the UK Chautauqua. Like just about every Chautauqua attendee, I found ESV to be a smart and thoughtful human being. Put another check in the Friend Column!
And ESV’s story is a relevant one. He’s a tech worker who left California for island life in Hawaii. And, he did it before COVID showed up. Good move ESV! While I don’t have any personal issues with California, Hawaii would be a fine place to wait out the pandemic.
Why did you start your blog?
What has surprised you about blogging?
It’s a bigger challenge than I initially thought. For starters, it’s very challenging to get into a regular cadence of writing and publishing blog posts. I’ve gone through several iterations of my site. I’ve also had multiple domain names which were similarly themed but never really got them off the ground. I’m still learning new things as I go along and I enjoy the process.
Where do you live? Do you love it, hate it, or just meh.
I currently live in Honolulu, HI and I love it. When I took any significant time off of work (more than a couple of days) I would fly here. The scenery and weather are beautiful. Even when it rains, I think it’s beautiful. I never stopped, and thought the rain back in California was beautiful. I used to hate it. I also love all the outdoor activities that I can partake in. Oh! and the food. Brah, don’t get me started on the food.
How do you stay fit? (If you’re one of those crazy Crossfit people, please don’t tell me that I suck because I don’t do it. This has happened.)
I’m not one of those crazy Crossfit people. However, I did try it and decided it wasn’t for me. At least for this year, I do some kind of resistance training 3 or 4 times a week. I’ll mix in circuit training and also try to fit in a run or hike when I can. Before I tore my left hamstring, I used to run a lot. Occasionally, I’ll go surfing or paddling. Well because Hawaii, brah. I’ll add that in the past couple of years, I’ve learned how instrumental rest and recovery are to keeping fit and happy. I don’t want to injure myself again.
What do you do for a living?
I currently work in IT for a company in Silicon Valley. The pandemic has changed so much. With everyone working from home I’m a f***ton busier than I was before. I’m constantly on video calls, exchanging slack messages, and responding to emails. It was usually faster to collaborate with multiple people in person. Anyway, I got used to it and I now like working from home. Sometimes I joke with my friends and say I’m WFH and throw in a wink, implying the H is Hawaii.
Do you tell others of your FIRE plans or are you in the closet?
Since I’m still currently employed full-time, I’m in the closet. I also try to keep my blog anonymous. While the goal is to become financially independent, I’m in a unique situation in my professional career. I’ve worked with the folks on my team for 5+ years so we have that team chemistry down. The typical job duration in tech these days seems to be three years. I also have flexible hours and day-to-day, the stress is tame compared to other jobs I’ve had in the past. After this gig, I’ll probably BaristaFIRE.
Do you rent or own? What are your thoughts on homeownership?
Oof. That could be a touchy one, but thanks Carl, for giving me a topic for my blog. I know the FIRE community can be split on this topic. Personally, I own. Leaving the financial piece out of it, having a home base brings me peace of mind. Even with travel mostly shutdown, having “my bed” and a place to keep my things is important to me. Emphasis on having “my bed”. I’ve watched too many CSI episodes.
On the other side of the coin, I get there are a lot of factors to consider like location, risk tolerance, personal goals, and future plans. Do you have a team of folks in real estate readily available to help? Then some of the financial factors that come to mind are down payment, how much (of a loan) you qualify for vs what you can afford, and of course the hidden fees of homeownership, etc. Are you buying a house as an investment or a home? If the reason is primarily an investment, can you leave your emotions out of it when it’s time to do a walk-through of the property? A few years ago, I couldn’t, and I walked away from a good investment property.
Evil genies aside, what is your investing strategy? Stocks? Index funds?? Real estate??? Crypto????
The rough estimate is 70% index funds, 20% real estate, and 10% individual stocks. With the individual stocks I own, I’ve made more than my money back and reallocated it into one of the other two categories.
What is the best thing you ever bought? The worst?
The best thing I ever bought was a ticket to Chautauqua. The best things have always been experiences. I either learned something new, shared time with people that are important to me, or met new and interesting people who I continue to keep in touch with today.
Your best friend tells you that he just got a raise at work and is going to buy a new car to celebrate. His current car is in perfect working order. How do you react?
Reaction-wise, I would be ecstatic for him because he is obviously high on life and is ready to dump a ton of money and/or get further in debt. Then I’d ease into the conversation by asking him, “When do you plan to buy this new car?” “Can I have your current one?” Hopefully, after those two questions, we’ll both check the crazy temperature in the air and see if I can get him to come back to earth.
What travel destination is highest on your bucket list?
It’s a toss-up between Greece or Thailand. I’ve heard many stories from friends and have seen many beautiful pictures of these places. I’m hoping there will be a Chautauqua at one of these places and that will be the determining factor on which one I go to first. I also want to spend at least 2-3 weeks at the next travel destination.
Q: What was the worst or best phase of your life?
At the forefront of my mind, the worst phase of my life was 3-4 years ago. I owned a house in California, had a great job, and was dating “the one who got away”. I could imagine my future and I felt like I had everything. I won’t get into any of the drama, but she ended up calling it off. A few months later, I tore my hamstring. It was the perfect storm. Bad break up and an injury. I couldn’t work out or go to the gym, which was also a social thing for me. So, I stayed home and drank beer. Then gained weight. I was like a brown version of dad bod Thor. Except without superpowers. So sad.
I attended physical therapy for a couple of months. Once they said, I could work out again but “go slow” things changed for the better. I walked out of there and told myself I was never coming back again.
Favorite beer? Favorite pizza place? (this is a throwback to the original series)
My new favorite, like in the last couple of years, is Moonraker’s Amelia. It’s a coconut double IPA and also pretty tasty. Dogfish red & white comes in a close second. My favorite pizza place is Savoy and it’s in freakin’ Tokyo Japan! Who would’ve thought the best pizza I would ever eat would be in Japan. I occasionally dream about it. I was watching an episode of Ugly Delicious on Netflix and already had travel plans to Japan so it was definitely on the hit list.
ESV, want to go surfing sometime soon?
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