Saturday 11 March 2023

Stabilising – musings on 2022

I was not going to write this 4 years of FIRE post but I’ve had a number of requests for it which made me do a little thinking.  In the end I thought it might add a little value as it’s no secret that my FIRE journey has been a roller coaster of ups and downs around the personable side of FIRE with the financial side in hindsight actually being the easy bit.  This is in stark contrast to many of the FIRE blogs out there which mostly just show the ups.  So here goes…


We are still in Australia and loving it.  Thank-you FIRE.  In fact we’re loving it so much that I can’t see us ever returning to the UK.  Some day we might return to Europe, well the Mediterranean, but it’s nothing more than a reflection that in hindsight Cyprus was a wonderful experience where we (well I mainly) just didn’t give it enough of a chance.  The lifestyle available to us here in Australia is just too good and continues to improve almost daily as we build friendships and integrate more.  We just love the weather which allows a more outdoors life that suits us and we love the lack of crowds where we live.  It’s also many little things like where we are we can get a GP appointment either that day or if not the next morning.  Something that was never possible where we lived in the UK.  Oh, and can you believe in many of the parks here they have free electric barbecues…


As I closed out 2021 I was working 4 days per week.  Closing out 2022 and that is now down to 2 days a week.  Purpose outside of my ‘career’ was something I really struggled with and so a gradual reduction in the hours of a day job, while I build a great life outside of it, is something that has been really working well for me.  Slow and steady is winning this race.

Also what helps immensely is the role I now do is 100% work from home, 99% no stress and also because I’m FIRE I don’t have to take any bullsh*t.  The problem is this helps make me very successful in my role which means for my 2 days of work I now make more than the Australian average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adults.  I am truly blessed.  The only negative is this results in periodic requests to increase my hours which is about the only pressure I get in the role.

2021 also saw me close out my professional registration.  Surprisingly, there was not a single piece of sellers remorse associated with this action which I think means this part of my life is now closing in a positive way. 

Going into 2023 I’m not quite sure what the next step is.  I could easily keep doing what I’m doing for another ‘5 years’ but that might mean I miss out on another more positive experience as even 2 days a week does limit some activities like extended travel.  An Australian Big Lap for example…  I haven’t decided yet but it’s likely I’ll take a 12 month sabbatical, which is allowed without resigning, at some point and go from there.


I shared previously that spending far more time with my partner and when we were together having to talk more about who we are and how we’re feeling rather than what happened today in our Corporate lives definitely put some strain on our relationship.

In 2022 there were definitely some low points and I can fully understand why some people give up on it and go their own separate ways.  However, Mrs RIT and I both exhibit a tenacity streak, some might call it stubbornness, so we stayed at it.  We did a lot of reading, a lot of trying different things and importantly we never stopped talking and talking about it.  The good news is that I would say our relationship today is probably the best it has been.  Sure, we have lapses but we recognise them and can therefore quickly recover from them.  I’m really looking forward to 2023 on this front.


We are still living in our rental and we now really love it.  As I’ve written previously being right near the ocean and forests full of wildlife is very conducive to good wellbeing.  While we would never buy here due to flooding and fire risks we’re also not in any hurry to leave either.  A significant rent increase gave us a little kick but it was off a low base meaning we would be under no financial duress even if we were just living off our investments.

This is all a good thing given the pace of our home build.  Lack of materials, construction materials price inflation of 14.2% through 2022, lack of tradespeople, tradespeople pricing and some weather events have made things more difficult than they should be.  Given our financial and housing situation it’s positively, and surprisingly, causing me no stress.  We’re well out of the ground and while it’s taking a long time the way I’ve structured things our cost increases have been limited to 2.2% and should now be fixed.  Our only real risk is if our main contractor goes bankrupt and while that would cause delay it shouldn’t hurt us too much financially as we have a compulsory insurance in place to cover this event.

Our first world problem is that while what we are doing is close to perfection there are some things I would do differently if there was a next time plus life has been happening while we’ve been building which has included tuning in to the life we want to live.  This is leading to conversations about ‘settling down’ a few hours from where we are building.  2023 could therefore see us move into a home we’ve built but there is also a small chance we might do it all again to just possibly get us a little closer to perfection.  Fun times… 


Something I do not spend too much time on these days which has really surprised me.  About the only thing I do now is update my spreadsheet on a weekly basis over a delicious brew.  Something I have done since I first started on this FIRE journey.

I can say that for 2022 my annualised return was -5.0%.

To be honest this side of my and our life is starting to feel a bit like stamp collecting at this point.  With me doing some extra ‘One More Years’ before FIRE and with my part time work we currently (of course sh*t can happen in the future, there is never no risk) have no financial concerns and just spend on what brings us value and joy which surprisingly still ends up being not a lot.  Once we’re not paying rent our withdrawal rate would now be a low 1.x% and then every day our work further lowers this plus then we have insurance on insurance.  We’re both still building a UK State Pension, mine via voluntary Class 2 NI contributions which is finally all automated (another thing I don’t miss about the UK – nothing seems to quite work), plus if things did get really bad eventually we’ll also be eligible for an Australian Aged Pension.

I think the war here is won unless for some reason we decided we wanted to significantly change our lifestyle which required a big spending shift or unless a very large black swan appears.  Possible but it’s not keeping me awake at night.


4 years into FIRE (well strictly speaking FI given I still dabble in work although I did always define early retirement as work becoming optional) and I would say I’m living my best life.  It took me a while to get into the groove but after I came to the realisation that my Purpose wasn’t a one hit wonder like my Career but rather a series of smaller things everything started to fall into place.  

The transition from Career drone has also been a very difficult one for me as it forced me to look at myself in the mirror and 4 years later the result is it has really improved my life.  I live in a fabulous part of the world, with a loving partner who I now know far better, with no financial concerns and do things on my terms.

Scoring FIRE out of 10 I’m now giving it a 9.  Let’s see what happens in 2023.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to do this update. Great to know how things are going. And glad to hear they are going well!

  2. Great to read an update, and delighted that things sound like they are going well - you (and Mrs RIT!) deserve it. Would love to hear more about your adventures with Purpose - once a year doesn't feel enough for some of us long time readers! All the best for 2023

  3. Thanks for this update! Glad to read that all is going well. I learned a lot from your blog and can only wish you the best to you and your partner!

  4. Thank you for keeping the site up and the update, glad that all is going well down under. Long may it continue!

  5. Thanks for the update!

    I just spent a couple of weeks in Oz and was struck by how upbeat / thriving it seemed. After a fair bit of scratching below the surface the only thing I uncovered was that the health system is under some strain as per elsewhere (in summer, too!) but nothing like winter in the NHS.

    I generally haven't felt I could move out there long term - I'm too into UK/European culture and business, and not very into Oz culture / way of life - but it is feeling less and less of an impossibility every trip and every blog post like yours.

    1. Everybody's mileage will of course vary but our experience of the healthcare system so far is excellent. Really couldn't ask for more at this point. Likely it's regionally dependent and it also seems that funding comes from the Australian government but the health systems are actually State run which might also make a difference depending on which State you were comparing to.

      I'm sure the grass isn't greener here but it's just a shade that suits us better. It definitely works for us though. For example yesterday we went for a long bike ride and along the way we came across a mob of kangaroos including some young ones. They looked at us then went about their grass eating business which included one of the young ones hopping over to it's mum for a big cuddle.

      A few weeks ago we were on the water and a huge turtle just surfaced for air right near us. It was magical. Then a 'free' barbeque with friends beside the beach with its pristine white sand topped off a great day.

      Those sort of outdoor experiences are really working for us right now. They of course wouldn't work for many others.

  6. Glad you found the time to update RIT. Your blog helped me through the long years to FIRE so I always look forward to catching up on your adventures. You sound happy which is wonderful to hear and make Australia sound very tempting. (It's currently pouring down here on another slate grey day). Like you I've found that 2 days a week of no-stress work offers me the perfect balance - it keeps the brain in check and completely suppresses money worries given it's all a bonus anyway. (It's TA here, btw. Having trouble with the comments ID gateway).

    1. Great to hear from you fellow FIREee. Apologies for the comments ID gateway. I run this blog on the blogger platform and I don't seem to have the flexibility to change this part of the blog.

      Really interesting that you've found a 2 day a week work sweet spot as well. Maybe those Coast FIRE pundits are onto something after all although for me I think it's just a transition phase I will go through on my way to full FIRE.

      It's been a real struggle, as I've shared on here over the years, but yes right now I would say I am really happy. Australia is treating us really well and it feels like I'm really into my FIRE groove. Even though its been a tough road to get to this point I feel I am all the better for it.

    2. Agree that the current balance feels transitional. And no strict timelines is the golden rule :-) It's quite something to think that you're four years in (where did that go?) but are still adapting. I think that makes your check-ins hugely valuable to the FIRE community. FIRE isn't a silver bullet though maybe it's a bronze one

    3. "And no strict timelines is the golden rule". What an incredibly fortunate and wonderful position we find ourselves in.

      I think I may be on the tail of a FIRE distribution regarding adapting. In those 4 years I went from a '60 hour a week career' and included 4 country moves which is possibly a little extreme. That said in those 4 years I'd say I've learnt more about myself than I did in the previous '20 years' and I say that in a good way.

  7. Could I ask what these two day a week jobs involve? Would also be fascinated as to what the mirror gazing insights were, but appreciate that could be too personal to publish.

    1. For me it's a more junior role, that is clearly able to be done remotely, which doesn't have strict timelines associated with it and which doesn't directly use what my profession was but uses those skills around the profession that were needed to make me successful in the role. That last point is important for me because it means I was able to get a role which wasn't trivial and which forces me to use my brain.

      I think it's really important to then do the job really well even though its optional. For FIRE types this probably comes naturally and I'm doing nothing different here than I've always done. Remember you're now dictating what you will do to your employer and most aren't used to that.

      Regarding the mirror gazing. That's probably best left for another day.

  8. Dear RIT,

    Thanks for posting.
    You remind me of good friends of mine who went off, got married, had kids and you only hear about them when "Freya is in P2 and Freddie is starting in August".

    All that happiness and personal development and introspection!
    Lucky you to have the chance to grow like this.

    Also really glad to hear your Grand Designs (or should say "Bonza Designs") is not causing you too much grief!
    I don't think that I would want to deal with it myself but if you get your dream home - it's worth it.

    Finally, thanks for posting and don't forget about us leftbehinds.

    1. Good to hear from you GFF. Far from a Grand Design I'm afraid. An Intentional Design might be a more apt description.

      It's certainly a lot or work but carving out something that suits us 'perfectly', albeit maybe not in the 'perfect' location, is proving to be a significantly rewarding and enjoyable process.

  9. Grateful for the update, When I first came across your blog (researching the PE of the UK equity markets not retirement) I didn’t really believe it was possible to reach FI so quickly but you’ve proven it can be done. Glad you’ve reached your rhythm and enjoying life - I’m closing in on FI and thinking going part-time might be the way to go rather than full RE. Prospector.

    1. Hi Prospector, it's been a long time. I guess I'm now another statistic that proves it's possible (unless a black swan appears of course).

      Everyone's mileage will of course vary but I can confirm a transition was right for me.

  10. Hi RIT

    Thanks very much for taking the time to update and share - I've been wondering how you were getting on and it's great to read that you are loving life in your country of choice. Your blog over the years has always been an inspiration to me. All the best with the house building.

  11. Happy you are making Australia work (as an Australian).. Plenty of negative things that one could say about one's own country, but the world is what you make of it. There are a few things that I think the politicians got right (due, I think to being a younger country with fewer people with assets/ability to say at the time of passing legislation).. These include, superannuation system (now partially copied by UK), partial co-pay health care (govt pays most, you pay a bit), compulsory voting (avoid unintentioned outcomes as both parties are the same one is 49.5% left of centre and the other 50.5 right of centre); a proportionally voted upper house/ senate (to have randoms who are not tied to the large parties to knock the barnacles off legislation)...

    I'm past the OMY status (although each year I'm guessing it was the same for others - one updates the SWR and keeps reducing it from the original 4%, down for markets, taxes, longer horizons etc - no thanks to Wade Pfau, ERN etc - actually lots of thanks).. but I have kept working fulltime, just remotely... I end up working fewer hours but more intensely which is fine as I am still working out what 40 something blokes do if they are not working. There's only so much yoga, reading, exercise, cooking .. I think I will have to find something allied with a Purpose and helping close friends businesses... Vote 2 for more information on your Purpose (or more accurately, the self-discovery and wrong turns that help led to your conclusions) if you were able to find the time and inclination.

    (I am currently running my business from Paris, for FIRE v London.. agreeing with you that Europe does have a lot packed in its borders, and yes UK is still in 'Europe' in my book.. although the UK passport is a bit messy these days)

  12. Like so many others have said it really is great to hear your update and that you and Mrs RIT are happy and well. Can't believe it's four years. I keep checking back to your page for updates on how you are doing and was worried you had forgotten us. Enjoy life and please keep updating us now and then.

  13. Cyprus / Paphos is nice when you come to considering EU again. It has its population of different crowds including a few younger expats

  14. So pleased to read your update, I kept checking every few months. I stumbled across your blog via House Price Crash Forum (what a great read that used to be) in the 2010s and digested every word to find a way to escape the corporate grind. You truly changed my life Sir. Now Fire too living in Europe and Asia.