Our year of radical change
Okay, I went AWOL on Pocketmint again. Iâ€™m sorry, but Iâ€™m hoping when you hear why, youâ€™ll forgive me. Around the time of my last post, my whole life took an abrupt left turn … and then just kept going.
Here are (some of) the major developments from the last three months:
1. Jak got a job.
In April, after 15 solid months of unemployment, Jak landed an open-ended full-time contract gig. The change in annual income triggered a decision weâ€™d made last year …
2. Jak and I got legally married.
Weâ€™ve been committed life partners for twelve years, but had never brought the state into the equation. Our various personal reasons for not doing so have become less relevant over the years, and I had calculated that with only one income, being legally married would save us around $3000 per year in taxes.
Simultaneously, an even bigger change was under consideration, and by the time we had our tiny wedding ceremony at the end of May …
3. Jak and his ex-wife renegotiated their custody arrangement.
After this summer, Claire (now 14) will see her dad on vacations, for periods of a week to a month, instead of the most recent every-other-weekend arrangement. This meant we were no longer bound to Seattle, and therefore …
4. We decided to move to Mexico at the end of this summer.
Weâ€™re mostly following the same plan that we had in mind for 2017 … just moving it up by four years. The main difference is that we have less savings, and are not as far along in building our independent income streams.
But it still seems to make sense to take the plunge now.
- Last winter — the eight months from October to May — was the worst period, psychologically, that Iâ€™ve had in over fifteen years. I couldnâ€™t make any progress on writing a book or anything else of long-term use, because day-to-day survival and basic functionality took all the spoons I had. So even though the bank still doesnâ€™t seem to want this house any more than we do, staying here has a cost in economic productivity, as well as in happiness.
- Two years ago I was confident that, whenever the bank got around to foreclosing on our house, we would be able to find an affordable rental despite the hit to our credit rating. But Seattle overcorrected and is now in the middle of a dramatic housing shortage. There arenâ€™t many rentals to be had, for any price.
- Jakâ€™s current job is entirely telecommute — heâ€™s actually contracted to a company in Atlanta. With luck, heâ€™ll be able to keep that job for some time even after we move. That money — and our savings — will go a lot farther in a place with a cheaper cost-of-living.
- Moving away from Seattle before Claire is out of high school adds some expenses, notably increased child support payments and extra airfare for her to visit Jak and vice versa. But we ran the numbers, very conservatively, and determined that even the worst-case Mexico scenario would still be several thousand dollars cheaper per year than the best-case Seattle scenario. That either allows us to sock away more money (if Jak can keep his job) or slows down the rate of our savings burn.
So what have I been doing during my three-month silence? Writing wedding vows and organizing a guerrilla ceremony. Slowly sorting through a four-bedroom houseful of possessions: trying to determine what few things we ought to keep, and jettisoning the rest. Helping Jak with his small press venture — vetting contracts, designing book covers, programming a custom web site. Studying Spanish like crazy. Researching the recent changes to Mexican immigration policy, and trying to make a bajillion arrangements for the impending move.
Some of all this might be interesting for Pocketmint readers — Iâ€™d like to tell you about our beautiful and amazingly cheap wedding, for example — if I can just find time to document any of it. Iâ€™ll do my best to squeeze some writing in amongst everything else.
What would you most like to hear about?