It’s been a long, long while since my last post. I promise I haven’t run out of steam. Just the opposite, I am swamped. Who would have known that going to school full-time and working on a new project at my full-time engineering job, a dog, a relationship and a house would be time consuming? It’s been a little rough, but I’m fine with that. I also forgot how cathartic it is to write! I wanted to talk about what I’ve been dreaming about for my retirement while bike commuting, showering and catching up on some FI blogs.

School definitely soaks up a lot of my time after work. Sometimes I don’t get home until later than usual (hence the new project) and by the time I finish walking the dog and heating up some meal-prepped dinners, it’s 8pm and I still have hours of homework to do. Then it’s sleep, wake up and do it all over again. While it’s a supreme bitch, it’s going to be great for me. For one, I’m getting paid to go to school…so it’s basically a part-time job. At the end of the job, I’ll have at least a bachelor’s (haven’t decided on the master’s yet) in my software engineering career that will enable me to work anywhere on the planet as long as there is a decent internet connection.

First thing’s first — working from home is not guaranteed for any engineer. Just because you have a degree and some knowledge, doesn’t mean that you can find a job working remotely. There are thousands if not millions of engineers who would love to work from home! But, they don’t. Why?

Most companies these days want you to work in the office. There are still project managers to converse with. The executives, the office administrators — they’re all there. Why would they hire a guy to work in his pajamas at home, half a world away? That person would have to be good as fuck.

I’m not exactly good as fuck.

I’m decent… I’m smart — but the definition of good as fuck seems to be “very, very knowledgeable in something that most people are not.” That’s not me. God bless those programmers who dove into that last 5% of knowledge for years and years, neglecting everything else. Me? I’m good at simple, modest projects. Luckily, I’m hoping for a simple, modest income. I don’t need much. So, contracting work is definitely right up my alley.

My dreams for retirement have changed time and time again. First, I just saw myself holed up in the suburbs in my duplex, just living plainly and basically. This idea resonated with me at first because I thought that that was what early retirement was all about — continuing to live as you are, but spending your days how you choose. Plus, I’d still be around friends and family as long as I was in town. There’s nothing wrong with this idea, in fact, it hits a lot of my key areas that I want to hit. It’s also very, very safe. I could accomplish this with my arms tied behind my back!

It lacks a bit of adventure, though. It also lacks any sort of dream. Just because I can, do I really want to sit in this apartment, not doing much for the rest of my life? Sure, I could visit family and friends more, but I want to do something…I don’t know… more.

I may have stumbled upon a great idea for myself while browsing A trailer does make a lot of sense for me. It’s mobile and gives you a bit of freedom in where you’re going to spend your time. While I’ll have oodles of free time after retirement, I could spend a month or so at various federal parks. I could park and visit friends and family anywhere in the country. I wouldn’t be tied down to any specific house, and I feel like I wouldn’t get into a state of lethargy if I were constantly seeing new things all year.

Living in the same house all the time, while stable, tends to make me fall into a set of routines and habits. While I love my routines, it’s possible that they’re not doing me much good for my sanity. I think a “life on the road” would suit me very well…although maybe that’s just because it’s a change from what I’m doing now. But, if that were the case, it would speak well on behalf of the idea that I should be doing new things more often.

I think that on top of a trailer and a truck to tow it, I would want a few things more.

For one, I’d still want a great big plot of forested land in upstate NY as my “home base”. Since I wouldn’t be living there full time, I would probably hold off on building anything on top of it…as my trailer would be my home. I would just appreciate a fenced area for a dog or two and perhaps some electricity…although I’d likely have some solar panels (and I hope the tech is much better around this time!). Having a home base would give me that sense of security and “home.” I’d likely roll up there during the summer months and visit family and do the annual camping trips with loved ones. As soon as the weather takes a turn, I’ll be off again.

The ultimate? I’d have a fully operational, small cabin with plumbing and electricity that I could live in and do live in, but when it’s not in use, rent her out to campers or hunters for a little extra traveling money. I’m not entirely sure how I’d navigate the issue of being a mobile landlord, but this is why they call it dreaming! Even so, mobile landlording is my “ultimate” dream and wouldn’t be what I’d start out with.

I’m thinking trailer is the way to go. I thought about an RV, but it sounds very cumbersome. With a truck and trailer combo, you can ditch the trailer in a good spot and use the truck for other things. While you could tow a small car (and bikes!) on an RV, I don’t like the idea of having my primary house have an engine. A trailer probably won’t cost as much to repair as an RV.

What happens when the RV shits the bed and has to be in the shop? That’s your home! You’d be forced into a hotel for awhile? I think a trailer is unlikely to offer the same situation. I don’t think it’ll be easy sailing forever, but I really don’t like the idea of putting all of my worldly belongings in something that could be very repair-prone.

So, for now, this is the dream (until the next dream).

  1. Acquire some beautiful land in upstate NY. Here, because I could wait around for awhile to strike on some prime land while I’m working. Then, purchase it and enjoy it while I’m still working. Possibly even improve upon it. Also I really like the areas from Ithaca to the Adirondacks. Lots of prime hiking trails and swimming holes!
  2. Sometime nearing retirement, acquire a trailer and a truck. This is going to be hard to manage, since I’ll have nowhere to put them at my duplex. The driveway is tiny. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I’d also consider weening off of work slowly and doing contractual work remotely from the trailer…while getting started on my travels.
  3. Have the trailer meet the land. Get used to everything. Fix all the small little annoyances of trailer life. Plan the travels a bit more (but not too much).
  4. Hit the road.
  5. Maybe place a cabin on the land.

Of course, I could maybe find land the comes with a cabin! Maybe I’ll hate the idea of a trailer in a year. Maybe the south will break away and a civil war begins. Maybe this. Maybe that. It’s still a very, very long ways away.

But, it’s good to have dreams. Dreams become goals, goals becomes steps, and steps become routine…and that’s where you’ll make your dreams. So, I embrace my hectic routine of work, school and relationship balancing. It’s what going to get me into that dream, whatever it may mold into when the time comes.

To everybody out there…keep on riding that bike, churning those credit cards, maxing those deposits and stashing that cash.

How do you fantasize about your retirement going? How many times has your vision changed?

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