Starting the Next Chapter

After quitting our jobs to take a Gap Year at the beginning of 2018, Becky and I spent a full year traveling around the country. It was an absolutely amazing experience where we visited over 100 cities, met up with numerous friends and family, and added over 24,000 miles to our little hatchback’s odometer. We visited more new places in those 12 months than either of us had seen up until this point in our lives!

However, we knew it had to end eventually. While we’ve made plenty of progress on our journey to financial independence, the finish line is still in the distance. That means we’re heading back to work.

As I’ll explain below, that work also means we’re also going to be living in a brand new city in a different part of the country for the foreseeable future! This next chapter of our lives is looking like an exciting one and we’re both ready to get started.

The Awkward Transition Phase

I’ve been unusually quiet online over the past couple months as we’ve been wading through a bunch of logistics transitioning from full time travel back into a more typical routine.

Geographically, we decided to settle into Denver for the short-term after wrapping up our travels. We found a nice Airbnb near downtown and booked a couple of months while we figured out what’s next.

The primary goal of this transition phase was to find a new job, which is also directly correlated with where we would settle down for a while.

Luckily, both of our professions are fairly in demand at the moment (software and nursing), so we had some flexibility in our search.

We decided to pivot the job search around my own job because I have a bit more earning potential, and that would allow me to apply across several cities and lock in the place we would live before Becky could start her own search local to that area.

Noah’s Job Hunt

After spending a few weeks cleaning up my resume, reviewing my previous work, and studying up on various coding exercises, I unleashed a wave of recruiters.

By that, I mean I checked the box on LinkedIn that says I’m open to opportunities:

This caused a ton of messages from various recruiters, but unfortunately, most of them were noise that either didn’t match up with my experience or simply wasn’t what I was looking for. However, a couple of interesting opportunities did appear that I followed up on to various degrees.

In addition to the wide net approach of LinkedIn, I also applied directly to specific companies that interested me. These were mostly giant tech companies that everyone has heard of, but also a few smaller ones that seemed to be working on interesting problems.

All told, here’s the bullet points:

  • I applied to 9 companies
    • 5 directly via their career websites
    • 2 directly via referrals that I knew personally
    • 2 through recruiters that contacted me via LinkedIn
  • All 9 led to at least an informational phone call
  • 8 led to interviews of various types
    • 2 went directly to on-site interviews
    • 3 went to on-site after a phone interview or take-home test
    • 3 ended after phone interviews or take-home tests
  • 2 of the on-site interviews led to competitive offers
  • 1 offer was accepted

After weighing the two options, we ultimately decided that the one in the Bay Area made the most sense at this point in our lives.

Therefore, we’re moving to California!

Our primary deciding factors were:

  • The location is beautiful, with great weather year-round
  • We would probably never live here otherwise (the cost is a bit outside our current retirement projections)
  • We will be much closer to Becky’s sister who is also in the Bay Area
  • The company seems to be a great place to work
  • The compensation was great, even after adjusting for the increased cost of living

The Mini-Transition Phase

After accepting the offer towards the end of March, we started driving towards the coast from Denver.

Luckily, I was offered a great relocation package to help us quickly get comfortable before I start work in the middle of April. We split the drive into 3 days of a comfortable ~7 hours of driving each and were put up in temporary corporate housing when we arrived.

Soon after, we went apartment hunting (we’re certainly not ready to commit to the ~$2 million median home price in the area!) and found a place with an easy commute to my new office.

After applying to the place and being accepted, we booked a trip up to Seattle to unpack the storage unit we set up at the beginning of our adventure and handed everything off to a moving company to bring down the coast.

Right now, we’re in the process of gathering the essentials to start living in our new place (a bed, shower curtains, kitchen stuff, Nintendo Switch, etc.).

What’s Next

During the above events, Becky has been in the process of transferring her nursing license to California. Lots of paperwork and hoops to jump through, but she’ll start her own job search soon.

In the meantime, we’ll continue making our new apartment our own and figuring out what our lives will look like in this new location. There’s a ton of options and we’ve barely even scratched the surface on determining what our lives will look like on a regular basis.

Financially, we plan to continue saving a healthy percentage of our income and working our way towards financial independence at a young age. We’ll most likely be earning more and spending more than we used to, so we’ll see where the dust settles after this period of buying a ton of essentials is over.

I have a theory that we’ll accelerate our path to FI (even with a lower savings rate as a % and assuming we don’t choose to live in the Bay Area long term), but that’s something I’d like to expand on in the future.

There have been plenty of recent changes to our lives as we transition out of our Gap Year and I expect many more to come in the near future. Overall, our gap year experiment was a wild success and we haven’t regretted it for a minute.

For now, I’ll leave you with some random observations over the past month or so:

  • The LinkedIn messages don’t stop after you uncheck that box…
  • The drive from Denver to LA is absolutely gorgeous with just about every type of landscape you can imagine along the route (LA to SF is just okay)
  • Really nice TVs are far cheaper than I expected
  • Apparently, printer ink is available as a monthly subscription these days (with a small free tier)
  • Smart devices are awesome, but always fall one step short of my ideal set-up
  • I missed playing Rocket League while we were on the road
  • Our dog is still awesome and he’s back in our care

14 thoughts on “Starting the Next Chapter

  1. Funny how I’ve followed your blog and also found the FI community (started with JL Collins book and the rabbit hole into ChooseFI). It all started with credit cards, gift card bulk selling to meet spend etc. Somehow found myself on a youtube video about JL Collins maybe 1-2 years ago. Rest is history as you know, FI/RE community is exponentially growing (while gift card selling is virtually nonexistent). Quite the parallel to your experiences, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

    I wanted to chime in here and say that if you’re looking at the Bay Area you may be surprised at how much a RN will earn. We’re in Solano County and a RN here easily makes $80+ an hour. In fact they make more than my wife does as a NP! Perhaps you’ll reach your FI number well before 40!

    By the way, what city are you looking in?

    1. It is crazy how things have changed over time. Travel hacking had basically become a tool to help accelerate our FI plans, while gift card reselling has been dead (at least for me) for years.

      Thanks for the tip on RN salaries, that’s a bit higher than I expected. Most of the data I’ve seen with a brief search was more in the $50-60/hr range.

      We’ll be settling in the San Jose area at least for now.

  2. Wow sounds exciting! Best of luck in a new city and the new job!

    Definitely would recommend the drive between LA and SF, but go down the PCH instead (know it takes longer, but places to stop off at and the views are incredible!) Went with friends when I lived out there and it was a great trip!

  3. Welcome to the Bay! The housing is getting a little insane out here, but there is still lots to love (nature and food scene are bomb). Best wishes as you transition back to working life and beyond.

  4. What are your short and long term plans with your place in Seattle? Continue to rent it out for the foreseeable future?

    Welcome to the Bay Area. Plenty to explore from Sonoma, Napa, Santa Cruz, Carmel, etc.

    1. We currently have tenants in our place in Seattle and will probably do at least one more 12-month lease after the current one is up. That will put us right around the “living in it 2 out of the last 5 years” rule that would let us bank the appreciation without paying any taxes on it.

      At that point, we’ll make a judgment call as to whether we want to keep it long term or cash out and redirect the funds to other investments. Not sure what we’ll do yet, but stay tuned!

  5. Congrats on the new job! Thank you for sharing your gap year adventures with us. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your posts , and wish y’all the best of luck in your new adventure!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! It’s been a lot of fun sharing our gap year with everyone and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the journey. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Kim! I have read a lot of Sam’s stuff at Financial Samurai, but he’s in a whole different part of the journey than ourselves. Bay area real estate may be in our future at some point, but we’ll cross that bridge somewhere down the road.

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