Almost done

March 20, 2014


I am nearly there. I figure I’ll cross the line sometime in April or May of 2014. Recently I went on another ‘depreciation’ spree in my financial software — nothing left to ‘eliminate’ (like cars and gold — these are at zero), but I did cut my properties in this country down to what I think is less than actual value, based on real sales of identical units in the same complexes. I gave myself a few percentage points of error with currency exchange rates but even in the worst case, I am still under the actual value, by a few thousand in each case and probably more. I have made really good money since October and have not traveled or bought anything (though I am looking at apartment #3 here as a fully furnished rental for English teachers — I am managing such a place for a woman here and she wants to dump it — if it rents well I’ll buy it — it won’t affect my USA home-buying plan at all — too cheap).

Also, I found that my pension here has only one attractive option: cash it out. It actually dropped by a few hundred (???) since the last time I checked (and I took it down accordingly). It is apparently in the stock market here. I was considering removing it altogether from my net worth total because I thought I could use it to get more social security money when I apply; well, as it turns out, I cannot use those funds because I already have 40 credits in the USA. Once you hit that mark, adding more from a foreign source, even with an ‘agreement of reciprocity’, cannot be done. Plus, I cannot draw on it here, as I didn’t pay in long enough. So, that leave two options: 1) forget about it, or 2) apply for a lump sum payout when I leave (about $12000). Pretty easy choice!

Another thing is: I cannot really determine the precise date when I will turn this blog to ‘zero’ and end it. A few of the factors in my net worth have fluctuating values when it comes to US dollars. Therefore, while I may cross the line sometime in April, I may not really be convinced, and may want a cushion of a few thousand (ten thousand would be good) so that no matter how I slice it, I am worth more than 1 mil. It will likely be May before I can really convince myself.

Finally, I am going to the USA and renting a fully furnished house right in the same area where I wish to buy and of pretty much the same type I want to buy. In other words, I am taking a test drive of retirement. I leave March 28. I’ll be in that house for one calendar month and will be looking nearly every day at places. Should I see one I like (and I probably will), I plan to put in reasonable offers, 100% in cash. I can go as high as $450K or higher maybe, but I’d like some money left for a car and furniture.

Of course, prices are high now, in 2014. They seem to be leveling off, and there’s always the chance that after I buy, the country enters another recession and my home price drops. Plus, I will depreciate my car and furniture down to zero and actually may dip under the 1m mark again, temporarily.

I won’t be quitting my business (in fact, I just landed a potentially very good contract with the government here!!) but I will be slowing down considerably. I just want to earn more than I spend each month, with rental income counting as earnings. In all honesty, that amount can be earned flipping burgers full time. I just don’t have any expenses! I will not buy cable, or a cell phone. Why should I? I don’t watch TV, don’t need a cell for anything, and love to read. I have an e-reader and I am wearing the poor thing out. Regarding my rental income, I have good tenants in my original place (in a city north of here). They seem to pay like clockwork and have told me that they plan to stay for another 18 months. Just as soon as that place becomes a headache, I’ll come back here and sell it. I have management lined up for when I am not here.

My main place here (a nice apartment in the best part of this city) is also highly rent-able but the cost might scare some off. I am thinking of making it available to foreign researchers who come to this country and to this area (kind of a ‘science area’ of town — lots of research institutes). I have amenities that are not generally available or are very dear (leather furniture from the USA, multi-room a/c, and a clothes dryer which I had imported from the USA, among other things). It would be a very attractive place but the price would have to be high enough to attract only professionals who can afford it. It’s the same reason I am only looking at expensive houses in the USA: I don’t really need an expensive house but I only want neighbors who can afford such places because they tend to be better neighbors. At the prices I can pay, the criminal class, the anti-socials, and the undesirables can’t afford to live anywhere near me. I have, in my life, had more than enough of such people and have worked too hard to put up with them again.

So I have to think about what I am going to do with this place… one very good thing: both of my units in this country are PERFECTLY positioned to increase in value in the future: it’s a no-brainer. In the smaller one up north, the province JUST put in a subway line straight to the capital city, effectively annexing that region into everything the capital city has to offer. There is a subway stop right outside the complex! The value went up instantly and is continuing to do so. The larger place where I am now is very close to a brand new ‘second capital’ city built, out of nothing but empty farmland, from scratch! I am between there and the largest city near that city (my city, which already has 1.4 million people living in it). The land between the two, a 15 mile swath, is being sold in chunks here and there and being cleared. Soon, this place, built in 2005, will be within 15 minutes of both this city’s center AND that city’s center. Plus, I’ve got the research institutes right nearby, and the government is pouring money into that area. There is just no foreseeable downside in either case.

Maybe the next post will be the last one.