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Already happy, but living the dream?

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  • Already happy, but living the dream?


    Thought I would pose an interesting question to the forum members.

    42 yo, working full time 15 shifts, working hard but still enjoy the work, most of the time, as a physician.  No debt other than my primary house (10 years left on a 15 year loan) and a mountain/ski condo 1hr30min from my home and work (12 years left on a 15 year loan).  My kids are now both homeschooled and we are finding that we like to spend more and more time at the condo both winter and summer.  We have been a good savers for years, not quite full White Coat great, but pretty good.  I save 33% of my gross income each year, pretax retirement first, then backdoor roth x 2 (wife and me), then save in taxable accounts.  Looking at working 80% (12 shifts) in 4-5 years, then 1/2 time in 9-10 years.  Could work 1/2 time indefinitely, or if I get tired of doing it then just quit.

    Question:  How many of you would go all in on your lifestyle dream?  Would you go ahead and start your retirement dream now, knowing that you still won't retire for quite some time?  Sell the primary home, sell the condo, and buy a house in the same mountain area for about 10% more than I've been paying for the primary house and condo.

    Cons:  This a pretty big con - Commute (1.5hrs) or just work on the road (hotels, trailer for multiple shifts in a row).  Being away from home, kids, wife.  Primary housing market is pretty low now (bright side - mountain house is likely lower as well).)

    Pros: Living the dream.  Planned to buy a house on the mountain to settle for retirement or 1/2 time anyway.  Home is in the area in which we, as a family play, year round.  Even when the kids leave, we want to stay on the mountain and they can always come back and visit as they wish. No more HOA/condo fees, no more dealing with a crowd of people in the HOA.

    Interested in your thoughts,


  • #2
    Draw your ideal life. Compare your current life to it. Make as many changes as are reasonable to align the two as much as possible. Voila- increased happiness!

    You're obviously doing awesome. Good income. Good savings rate. Good handle on personal finance. Good debt management etc. So work on maximizing happiness.

    A couple of comments:

    # 1 I wouldn't go 1/2 time or "simulated retirement" until I retired both debts. So I'd figure out a plan to get those both paid off in 5 years or less. I bet that wouldn't be a big stretch for you.

    # 2 Commuting is perhaps the biggest drag on happiness that anyone has. A 1.5 hour commute is insane IMHO. There is no way I could add 3 hours of driving to my day and end up happier. So I'm very doubtful that moving full-time to the condo while you are working more than half time can make you happier.

    So I guess I'd just do weekends at the ski condo for now. Remember it might not be as much fun to be there full-time as you think. Right now, all your visits are for play/vacation. If you're there all the time, it's just home.
    Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011


    • #3
      If me I wouldn't over think things. Seems like your happy, your growing your net worth, you're tolerating your job and you're building great memories with your kids- all the while getting awfully close to getting everything paid off. If me I would keep doing that with working the same shifts.. or cut down to what is tolerable.

      I agree with what WCI said. The condo now is the get away. That might make it more enjoyable than living there full time in a more cluttered and smaller place . If you move the get-a-way may become flying to a beach, etc in which case you start dropping more money, ect


      • #4
        A few things trouble me:

        1. The possibility of a 1.5 hour commute. That's three hours per day in a car, not relaxing, not exercising, not enjoying the mountain lifestyle, not spending time with your family...all the while increasing the money spent and the risk of dying in an accident. (Maybe the last one is a little overstated, but statistically correct.)

        2. You might find that raising the children in a mountain might be good for you but not so good for their development, less potential of meeting other kids, perhaps not as many educational opportunities, sports teams, clubs, etc.

        3. You might not like it as much as you think. Part of the reason you like the mountain home is that you go there to relax. When you are living there full time, the aura of vacation will likely not be with you for long.

        You could do the experiment and try it for six months or a year. You already have the two residences. I expect that you will quickly tire of the commute or the family (especially kids) will not like living in the mountain town full time.


        • #5
          Allow me to pile on.

          I would never recommend a 90-minute round trip commute, let alone one-way.

          If you are determined to keep the job you have, keep doing what you're doing and go with plan A. If you're open to a different job, keep your eyes peeled for a job in that mountain town (probably doesn't exist), much closer to that mountain town, or in a different but potentially equivalent mountain town.

          Good luck!





          • #6
            Thanks for the replies.

            1.  I agree commuting is the worst.  3/4 of the group I work with live 1 hour away (in the ski town but not on the mountain).  9 years ago when I started this job, I choose not to live the hour away (tried it for a few months) and have a 15 minute commute.  I tried to think of keeping the job and treating it like a locum gig.  Travel in, do the job, travel out.

            2.  Biggest downside is not coming home while I work.  Even with the crazy ED hours, I still get to see my kids and wife most every day.

            3.  With both kids being homeschooled now, weekends are anytime I'm not working.  We used to conform to the school schedule but now we see ourselves partially working in with my schedule.  Kids are learning time management and working doubles to get an irregular day (Wednesday powder day) off.

            4.  Agree with working full time until having the houses paid off.  Will keep the hammer down (15 shifts) as long as I still like showing up.  My job is 100% productivity, so, I keep showing up and working as hard as I can.

            5.  More than blessed with my current happiness, no need to try to squeeze a bit more out at the cost of other areas of happiness.

            Thanks forum,




            • #7
              Firm no on the commuting alone. After doing med school in LA, I havent had a commute worse than 12 mins since. I could run the 6-8 miles or so home from work now on the bike path and still beat you by more than 30 minutes. You never get that time back and nothing is accomplished. Avoid, if at all possible.