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.