One year ago, my wife and I set out on an amazing adventure across the country. After a handful of years working full time and saving money towards our goal of financial independence (FI), we decided to leverage some of that financial freedom ahead of our ultimate goal.
Therefore, we quit our jobs to take a gap year and spent the past year road tripping all over the country!
It’s hard to believe a year has already passed, but we did our best to pack decades of experiences into that short time.
Now is time to start the next chapter of our lives and that’s what I’ll be covering below. A few decisions have been made, but there are many unknowns in the coming months.
Denver – Our Home For Now
One of the biggest decisions to make after living as nomads is where to lay our heads for a while.
Seattle was our home before the gap year, but the gloomy winters started to wear on us after 5 years and we want to try something new.
One thing we paid attention to as we visited hundreds of places was whether or not we could see ourselves living there. Colorado is the place that stuck with us ever since we left the state back in May.
While passing through the first time, we visited a handful of different cities, visited with friends and family, and stayed active on the many outdoor (mostly mountain-y) activities. And other than the Manitou Incline kicking my ass the first time, we adapted to the altitude rather quickly.
The other big consideration for where we end up is job availability. As we haven’t yet reached financial independence, there is still some more work in our immediate future.
Luckily, Denver is a fast-growing hub for technology and that means there are plenty of software development jobs to go around (or so I’ve been told). Becky is in the versatile field of nursing, specifically labor and delivery, so we’re confident she can find a job just about anywhere.
Add all of those factors together and you can understand why we chose to book a rental in Denver at the end of this road trip.
A furnished place on Airbnb near downtown is where we’ll be spending the next 60 days. Around $66/day seemed like a fair price for a furnished one bedroom that includes parking, internet, and utilities.
Having an “all-inclusive” place to stay during this transition period saves us a lot of hassle and lets us focus on the next steps, like finding a job.
Time to Study Up
Speaking of work, it’s something neither of us has done formally for over a year now. Becky kept her nursing license active with continuing education, but there is no such certification in my field.
I’ve kept my coding skills somewhat active by reading articles, playing around in python, and tweaking things here on the blog, but that only gets me so far.
If you aren’t familiar, many interviews for software development jobs (especially at the big companies) care more about what kind of knowledge and ability you can showcase in a short interview than your education and prior experience.
This will vary depending on the company and position of course, but I want to be as prepared as possible. My resume and prior experience can get me in the door, but I fully expect to have to prove that I deserve to be there in order to land a (hopefully lucrative) offer.
For that reason, I’m dedicating the next several weeks to the following activities, before I start applying to jobs:
- Clean up resume
- Update LinkedIn
- Research potential companies/jobs to apply for
- Reach out to my network for referrals/contact info
- Work through Cracking the Coding Interview
- Practice coding problems online (probably
Once that list is sufficiently complete, I plan to apply to several companies at once and hopefully get invited to interviews.
One thing to note is that while we do want to stay in Colorado for the foreseeable future, I will most likely apply to jobs in Seattle and the Bay Area as well.
It never hurts to make sure I’m being paid what I’m worth. Plus, a large enough salary difference could persuade us to relocate.
How Are You Funding This Time Off?
Going into this gap year, we had no idea how much full time travel around the US would cost. For that reason, we saved up about a years worth of Seattle expenses outside of our investments (we don’t want to touch those) and figured we would adjust as we go.
Lucky for us (and thanks to travel hacking), the full year cost much less than we budgeted for!
Therefore, we have several months of runway to work with before the urgency to have money coming in picks up.
In those several months, we hope to solve the “Where are we going to work?” question, find a more permanent housing arrangement, and start saving money again instead of just spending it.
Aside from our big two open questions, location and work, there are several other items I’ll briefly touch on.
Our Seattle property – We never planned to move back into this place even if we returned to Seattle, so we will continue renting it out. Rent is covering our mortgage after property management fees, and we have ~2 more years to decide if we want to sell it and avoid capital gains on the appreciation.
Our Dog, Bogey – Becky’s amazing sister has agreed to continue watching our goofy corgi while we figure our lives out, but we’ll be excited to go pick him up once we find more permanent housing.
Our Stuff – We placed some keepsakes and other essential items (like board games) in a storage unit in Seattle and we’ll leave it there for the time being. Once we know where and how we’ll be living, a plan will be made to transport it to our new location.
While I wouldn’t say we’re
For now, we’ll settle into our short term accommodations in Denver, study up for interviews, and get started on the next chapter of our lives.
Stay tuned for more info, but feel free to ask any questions below! I’m sure there’s some pressing detail I forgot to address above.