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How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life in the Bay Area? (As a Single)

fire life bay area free photos

Photo credit: Free Photos on Pixabay

How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life in the Bay Area?

Hello, and welcome to interview #15 in the How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life interview series! Part interview, part spending report, this series will introduce us to FIRE* seekers from all over the world.

They’ll reveal their essential spending and money-saving tips—all to help us learn new ways to save on our own expenses. As a bonus, we’ll also get to discover the unique advantages and challenges of living in different places around the globe.

*FIRE stands for financial independence, retire early. It’s also known as FI—financial independence. For more info, see my FI School series—it’ll teach you everything you need to know about FI (and FIRE).

About the interview series

I created an intro page for this interview series to help explain what it’s about, what’s included (or not) and why. I’ll also link to all the interviews from the intro page—so check back there to see the entire collection.

Jump to the series intro: How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life? (The Interview Series)

Disclosure: These interviews may include affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a commission if you make a purchase through my links—at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Interview #15: John from the Bay Area

In today’s interview, we’ll meet John from Financial Freedom Countdown. He lives in the high-cost San Francisco Bay Area. John amassed an incredible net worth of $2.3 million in only 12 years… and reached FIRE last year! 

This is extra-impressive given that he was an immigrant from a developing country. John arrived in the US with only $1,000 to his name and no contacts. I can’t imagine the bravery it required to take that leap of faith (and the tenacity to reach FIRE so soon after). Well, done, John.

About Financial Freedom Countdown

At Financial Freedom Countdown, John covers a wide variety of topics, including: financial freedom, investing, retirement, tax strategies, and more. What I like about John’s writing is how tactical and informative his posts are.

He shares info in a clear, concise way and gets the point of his posts across quickly. No extra fluff or chattiness! (This is *slightly* different from my style of blogging, ha ha.) John also includes plenty of numbers, charts, and factual info in his articles, which clearly indicates he does his research. 👍

Whether you’re new to personal finance or an old pro, you’re sure to find something helpful and interesting at Financial Freedom Countdown. But before you head over there, check out my interview with John… and let me know if his expenses turn out to be higher or lower than you expected!

Part 1: Getting to know you

fire life bay area john

John from Financial Freedom Countdown

Tell us about yourself

I’m a single person just turned 40 living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am an immigrant who came to this country by himself with only $1,000. In 12 years I achieved Financial Independence. You can read more on my About Financial Freedom page.

Where are you in your journey to FIRE?

I achieved Financial Independence and quit last year. Unfortunately, it was the best and the worst time. Due to all the travel restrictions, I had to cancel all the trips I had spent months planning. Even worse was the fact that due to lockdowns and shelter-in-place, activities I took for granted such as going to the gym or meeting friends for coffee were not possible.

As a single individual, the lockdowns were harder than I would have anticipated. 

On a positive note, I was fortunate to not have the stress of needing to work in unsafe environments. So I do want to acknowledge pursuing FIRE was a blessing.

What type of FIRE are you aiming for? (FIRE, Lean FIRE, or Fat FIRE*)

How Chrissy defines FIRE, Lean FIRE, and Fat FIRE

Some people define Lean FIRE as under $40k in annual spending; FIRE as $40–$100k in annual spending; and Fat FIRE as $100k+ in annual spending.

However, I prefer looser definitions that are not based on hard numbers. That’s because $100k could be Fat FIRE in a small Canadian town but Lean FIRE in San Francisco. That said, here are my definitions:

  • Lean FIRE: The essentials with little or no discretionary spending.
  • FIRE: The essentials plus a comfortable amount of discretionary spending.
  • Fat FIRE: The essentials plus a luxurious amount of discretionary spending.

I would consider myself Fat FIRE since my portfolio is 50x my estimated annual living expenses.

Tell us about your living situation

I own a single-family house and it is at the most a 40-minute drive from all major technology companies. The Bay Area has Silicon Valley at one end and San Francisco at the other end. Tech firms are all located along the corridor. 

So although it might seem like a lot of driving, the commute totally depends on where everyone is located and how often you switch jobs. Personally, I used to switch jobs every 3 years in my quest to improve human capital. I would attribute my FIRE success to leveraging those principles.

Why did you choose to live in the Bay Area?

As an immigrant to the U.S. I lived on the east coast and midwest. However, I always had a soft spot for California due to the weather and the culture. Given that I work in technology it made sense to eventually move to the San Francisco Bay Area. After all, San Francisco is still the best place for technology jobs.

This might be a controversial topic, but the best way to achieve FIRE is to increase your Saving Rate. Living in a high cost of living area provides you several opportunities to earn higher income. I’d recommend running the numbers depending on your profession and be open to relocation. 

Related: Check out Budgeting for High Cost of Living Areas from Olive the Money for how to set up an alternative budget for an HCOL area

Part 2: The expenses

In this section, John shares his essential expenses and best money-saving tips. But before we get started, let’s review some important notes:

Important notes about the numbers

  • Only essential expenses are included.
  • Discretionary expenses (e.g. travel, gifts, etc.) are not included.
  • Expenses are rounded to the nearest dollar. 
  • Expenses are displayed in the interviewee’s home currency.
  • In this interview, the home currency is US dollars.
  • For your convenience, I’ve included a currency converter for each expense.

For detailed explanations about which expenses are included (or not) see my How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life intro post.

1. How much does housing cost in the Bay Area?

townhouses curtis adams
Photo by Curtis Adams on Pexels

Mortgage ($1,600/month; $19,200/year) 🇺🇸

My mortgage is low compared to the value of my house because I bought it in 2013. Also, since it was my first home purchase, I was freaked out by the mortgage and did a large down payment.

In hindsight, I would have been better off investing the large down payment in the stock market. Given that San Francisco house prices have been on an upward trajectory, I realized that I had a lot of equity in my house. 

I decided to do a cash-out refinance and invest the money in safe and secure real estate syndication. Although returns might be lower than my other stock market investments, it is still invested in real estate so my asset allocation is intact.  

I do have other risky investments such as moonshot companiesbitcoinSPAC, etc. which are not conventional. But I do like to study different assets and take the plunge. To be fair, I have also lost money and talked about my 4 worst investments.

Property tax ($637/month; $7,644/year) 🇺🇸

The advantage of owning a house in California is that your property taxes are tied to your purchase price and can only increase by a maximum of 2% every year. Many other states have property taxes based on the current appraised value which can totally ruin any retirement planning.

Strata/HOA fees ($0) 🇺🇸

No HOA since it is a single-family house.

Home insurance ($93/month; $1,116/year) 🇺🇸

I have bundled all my policies with the same insurance company. I also recommend everyone look into umbrella insurance.

Home maintenance ($250/month; $3,000/year) 🇺🇸

This category includes: home maintenance, repairs, cleaning, and improvements; household goods and supplies; furniture; and appliances.

My regular expenses in this category are my cleaning person and the gardener. I do have occasional maintenance expenses like a new water heater. But when amortized over 10 years; those expenses are negligible.

Home equity opportunity cost ($50,000) 🇺🇸

About the home equity opportunity cost ‘expense’

This category was suggested by The Economist from FI Garage. The intention for sharing this is to calculate the opportunity cost of home ownership versus renting.

In other words: if you invested the amount that’s tied up in your home equity, how much would that be worth after one year of investing (based on a conservative 5% return)?

My stats in this regard will be an outlier because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area—where home price appreciation over the last few decades has been astronomical. Besides a few cities in Canada, I am not sure if it would be replicable. 

So, broadly to answer the question, if you live in an appreciating region then it makes sense to buy since your down payment is leveraged. First time home buyers can get an FHA loan with a 5% down payment. 

The down payment appreciates significantly and you get significant upside. But if one lives in an area where home prices track inflation, then it is not an easy answer.

$1,000,000 in home equity x 5% = $50,000 in opportunity cost after one year of investing.

2. How much does transportation cost in the Bay Area?

transportation paris 16 flickr
Paris Shared Bike, Bus and Taxi Lane” by EURIST e.V. is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Vehicle loan ($0) 🇺🇸

I don’t have a vehicle loan. My car is almost 10 years old with only 70k miles on it. Due to early retirement, I don’t drive much. All my vacations are trips overseas (not road trips).

Vehicle insurance ($95/month; $1,140/year) 🇺🇸

I use the highest deductible since it helps lower my insurance premiums. I added an umbrella policy on top of my vehicle insurance for major liability reasons.

Gas ($100/month; $1,200/year) 🇺🇸

I expect gas expenses to be low after FIRE. Don’t have a good number since last year would not be accurate. But given the natural beauty of the Bay Area, I anticipate trips during the week.

Vehicle maintenance ($52/month; $624/year) 🇺🇸

I take my car to the dealership every 6 months.

Bike maintenance ($0) 🇺🇸

I don’t own a bike.

Parking and tolls ($6/month; $72/year) 🇺🇸

Every time you cross the Golden Gate Bridge or other bridges locally, it costs $6. Since I am not working, I’d anticipate this to occur only during weekend trips.

Transit ($0/month; $0/year) 🇺🇸

I prefer driving and don’t use transit. Also, transit in the San Francisco Bay Area is provided by four different transit operators (BART, VTA, Cal Trans, Muni). 

None of them coordinates schedules with each other and each transit operator can only operate within a short distance. Bottom line, public transit here is not planned out or inconvenient.

3. How much does food cost in the Bay Area?

grocery store gemma unsplash
Photo by gemma on Unsplash

Groceries ($480/month; $5,760/year) 🇺🇸

Since I prefer leading a healthy lifestyle I often eat home-cooked food.

Related reading: How to Save Money on Groceries (36 Valuable Tips) and Detailed Flashfood Review (Groceries for 50-70% Off)

Eating out ($120/month; $1,440/year) 🇺🇸

I rarely eat out and only for special occasions like a birthday celebration or hanging out with friends.

4. How much do utilities and bills cost in the Bay Area?

utilities jason richard unsplash
Photo by Jason Richard on Unsplash

Natural gas ($54/month; $648/year) 🇺🇸

Natural gas is used for home heating, cooking and water heating. The Bay Area has an equitable climate throughout the year so I do not use a lot of energy to heat or cool the house. 

Electricity ($52/month; $624/year) 🇺🇸

Electricity is only used for electrical appliances. I do not have AC since summers are mild and I am close to the San Francisco Bay. Usage is minimal.

Water ($53/month; $636/year) 🇺🇸

Water usage is metered and expensive due to the water rates being constantly increased. During droughts, I try to conserve by reducing the watering of the garden and lawn. The other usage for cooking, cleaning and showering is constant.

Garbage and recycling ($32/month; $384/year) 🇺🇸

Garbage and recycling is a separate bill.

Internet ($60/month; $720/year) 🇺🇸

I have a Comcast high-speed 500 Mbps business plan. I do not have cable TV and hence wanted a faster plan for streaming.

Home phone ($0) 🇺🇸

Since I live by myself, I do not have a home phone. My cell phone with unlimited minutes works as a home phone when I am home.

Cell phone ($60/month; $720/year) 🇺🇸

I am with AT&T and pay for 7GB of data per month. I don’t use much data since most places in the Bay Area, including my gym, have good WiFi.

Streaming entertainment ($12/month; $144/year) 🇺🇸

Don’t watch much TV except for my streaming Netflix service. I recently added Disney+ since I am a huge Marvel fan.

5. How much do other essentials cost in the Bay Area?

clothing polina tankilevitch
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels

Life and disability insurance ($0) 🇺🇸

As a single person, I don’t have any life or disability insurance. When I was working, these costs were covered by my employer.

Medical insurance ($105/month; $1,260/year) 🇺🇸

I signed up for an HMO plan since I only visit the doctor for annual checkups.

Out-of-pocket medical expenses ($0) 🇺🇸

Given that this is my first year I would not be covered by employer insurance; I have to figure this out. My plan has low premiums coupled with high deductibles. I will fine-tune it next year based on this year’s data.

Clothing and footwear ($20/month; $240/year) 🇺🇸

I hate shopping. Clothes I bought a decade ago are still unused in my closet. I consider all these liabilities and prefer to turn them into income-producing assets.

Personal care ($40/month; $480/year) 🇺🇸

This category includes: haircuts, toiletries and grooming services and supplies.

As a single guy, I hardly use any brand name products so my expenses are almost negligible in this category.

Technology ($83/month; $1,000/year) 🇺🇸

This category includes essential technology: software and hardware purchases, upgrades, maintenance, and repairs. Non-essentials (video games and consoles, e-readers, security cameras, etc.) aren’t included. 

I buy a new phone, fitness tracker and laptop every two to three years. Laptops have become cheaper while phones and wearables have become more expensive. I budget around $1,000 per year in this category.

Part 3: Adding it all up

Now that we’ve detailed all of John’s essential expenses, it’s time to add everything up in some nice, organized tables!

Important notes about the numbers

  • Only essential expenses are included.
  • Discretionary expenses (e.g. travel, gifts, etc.) are not included.
  • Expenses are rounded to the nearest dollar. 
  • Expenses are displayed in the interviewee’s home currency.
  • In this interview, the home currency is US dollars.
  • For your convenience, I’ve included a currency converter in each section. I hope you find it useful!

For detailed explanations about which expenses are included (or not) see my How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life intro post.

How much does it cost to live the FIRE life in the Bay Area?

1. Housing

ExpenseMonthly (USD)Annual (USD)
Property tax$637$7,644
Strata/HOA fees
Home insurance$93$1,116
TOTAL$2,580 (with mortgage)
$980 (no mortgage)
$30,960 (with mortgage)
$11,760 (no mortgage)

Home equity opportunity cost: $50,000/year

Note: jump to the Home equity opportunity cost section for details on this optional ‘expense’.

2. Transportation

ExpenseMonthly (USD)Annual (USD)
Vehicle insurance$95$1,140
Vehicle maintenance$52$624
Bike maintenance$0$0
Parking and tolls$6$72

3. Food

ExpenseMonthly (USD)Annual (USD)
Eating out$120$1,440

4. Utilities and bills

ExpenseMonthly (USD)Annual (USD)
Natural gas$54$648
Garbage and recycling$32$384
Home phone$0$0
Cell phones$60$720
Streaming entertainment$12$144

5. Other essentials

ExpenseMonthly (USD)Annual (USD)
Life and disability insurance$0$0
Medical insurance$105$1,260
Out-of-pocket medical expenses$0$0
Clothing and footwear$20$240
Personal care$40$480

Grand totals

ExpenseMonthly (USD)Annual (USD)
Housing$2,580 (with mortgage)
$980 (no mortgage)
$30,960 (with mortgage)
$11,760 (no mortgage)
Utilities and bills$323$3,876
Other essentials$248$1,980
TOTAL$4,004 (with mortgage)
$2,404 (no mortgage)
$47,052 (with mortgage)
$27,852 (no mortgage)

Part 4: Other expenses

This is a special section that’s just for fun! It’s the place for my interviewees to mention any expenses that they’ve done a really good job of optimizing and/or just want to share. 

These expenses won’t be included in the totals (just to keep things as standardized as possible). I hope you find this section interesting and informative. Here’s an additional expenses that John wanted to share:


My biggest splurge is travel. Travel hacking using a combination of several credit cards lets me experience luxurious first-class flights.

If you have a good handle on your credit and pay your bills in full every month, it is a great option to sign up for credit card bonuses. I put my large annual expenses such as property taxes on my credit card to meet the bonus requirements. Of course, paying with a credit card instead of a check involves fees but it is worth it for me. 

Chrissy’s closing thoughts

Thanks again to John for sharing his expenses. Everyone knows how expensive it is to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I was really looking forward to this interview. Here are my thoughts and takeaways:

Bay Area craziness

According to this article, the Bay Area is the most expensive place to live in the US. (This is based on several factors—not just housing.) Given this, it’s no surprise that John’s expenses are higher than those of other single people I’ve interviewed

However, based on what I’ve learned about the spending patterns of Silicon Valley residents, John’s spending is very lean. (I know this because I did an AMA for a tech industry forum in August 2020. I was stunned by the high incomes—and correspondingly high spending). 

I’m amazed and impressed that John has been able to remain as frugal as he has. It’s not easy  when you’re surrounded by high earners who spend loads of money!

California property taxes

 John mentions that California ties your property tax to the initial purchase price of your house. In addition, they only increase your taxes by a maximum of 2% per year. That’s essentially the same amount of inflation. I think that’s quite fair and reasonable.

I sure wish Vancouver would do it this way too. Like most municipalities, our property taxes are based on the current assessed value. As John says, that could “… totally ruin any retirement planning.” It’s true—especially in areas like Vancouver, where real estate appreciation is crazy.

Succeeding as an immigrant

I’d like to mention again how impressed I am that John went from $1,000 to $2,300,000 in only 12 years. Not only that—he was an immigrant from a developing country and knew no one when he landed in the US. 

Success of that magnitude, in such a short time frame, doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of dedication, hard work and perseverance to achieve as much as John has. You’ve done well, John!


FIRE people are so good at living well on less—no matter where in the world they live. John lives in the most expensive area in the US. And Richard, from the previous interview, lives in the most expensive city and country in the world.

And yet, both John and Richard have been able to keep their spending remarkably low. This is true not just for their high-cost cities, but also when compared to average, non-FIRE people. This shows me (again) that HCOL areas do not automatically require high spending. What a crazy revelation!

Thanks again to John for joining me and sharing his expenses so candidly. I hope you all enjoyed this eye-opening peek into life in one of the most expensive areas in the world!

Connect with John

If you’d like to learn more about John or read more of his content, visit him at his blog, Financial Freedom Countdown. You can also connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Share your thoughts

Were you surprised by John’s essential expenses? Are any of them significantly different from where you live? Share your thoughts in the comments, along with your own money-saving tips!

Chris lives with his family in Kelowna, BC. It’s as beautiful as Vancouver, with nearly all the amenities you’d want or need… but is it any cheaper? Find out in the interview!

Richard lives with his wife and two kids in Singapore—the most expensive city and country in the world! Wondering what that translates to in essential spending? Find out in this interview!

Visit the intro page to learn more about the what and why behind the series and access the complete list of interviews.

Support this blog

If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!) 

You can also support this blog by visiting my recommendations page and purchasing through the links. Note that not every link is an affiliate link—some are just favourite products and services that I want to share. 🙂

As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

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  • Reply
    Liquid Independence
    August 18, 2021 at 7:26 am

    It’s nice to see the budget of someone living in the expensive Bay Area. It seems like food is particularly costly there. Yes, it would be nice if Vancouver adopted a property tax system like California. 🙂

    Some people look at expensive cities and they think “Oh no, too unaffordable. I don’t want to go there.”
    While others think, “Oh wow, HCOL area. That must mean household income and rental rates are high. I’m going to become a landlord there, and focus on my career while keeping a lean budget.”

    Both sentiments are valid. Beliefs beget action. Whichever narrative people create for themselves will determine their future outcome. Great interview as always. John has done an incredible amount of work to get to where he is today.

    • Reply
      August 19, 2021 at 4:59 pm

      Hi Liquid—I would LOVE to see Vancouver and its surrounding suburbs adopt a fairer property tax system. I don’t think it’ll ever happen, but we can hope!

      I really like the way you think about HCOL areas. That kind of mindset can apply to other challenging situations: “How can I take this difficult set of circumstances (that most people won’t even consider) and make it work to my advantage?” I love it! It shows how creativity and thinking differently can get you ahead in life.

      You always have such clever and innovative ideas to share. Thanks for taking the time to impart some of your wisdom here!

      • John
        August 19, 2021 at 7:47 pm

        Thank you Liquid Independence. Yes, having property rates tied to purchase price and then increasing by 2% makes it easier to budget. But we do have high income tax. Contrast that with Texas which has no income tax but property taxes I believe are based on market rates making it harder to budget.

      • Chrissy
        August 19, 2021 at 10:00 pm

        Hi John—I find it so interesting how some states charge no income tax. There’s no such thing in Canada. Each province/territory has different income tax rates, but none of them charge nothing!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    August 19, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Fascinating interview. I’m definitely intrigued and want to know more about John’s story. I will definitely be checking out his blog. Thanks for sharing John and Chrissy.

    • Reply
      August 19, 2021 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Maria—I have really enjoyed being able to share such a range of stories in this series. As an immigrant from a developing country, John has had to overcome challenges most of us have never had to face. It’s inspiring to read about people like him who’ve worked hard to reach success. Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting!

    • Reply
      August 19, 2021 at 7:47 pm

      Thank you Maria for the kind words

  • Reply
    Impersonal Finances
    August 19, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    Looks like John lives a pretty thrifty life! I am also in the Bay Area and have managed to keep expenses around $40k thanks to some cheap rent with roommates. Housing–specifically renting–is the big killer out here. John did well to buy a house in 2013. The biggest budget breaker for me is eating/drinking out, especially considering that’s an area where you really feel the HCOL. While I am not in tech, I make more than I would make in other parts of the country while living on essentially the same amount as I would anywhere, which does allow for an increased savings rate. Very interesting stuff!

    • Reply
      August 19, 2021 at 7:53 pm

      Yes 2013 was great timing especially as prices had already increased from the bottom but not yet peaked. I had the down payment to buy during the crash but since I was on immigrant visa and not on green card I did not want to deal with the uncertainty.

      Unlike Canada, in USA the visa is not tied to the individual but rather to the company. So if you are laid off; you need to find another company to sponsor your visa in 15 days or leave the country. Obviously needing to sell in 15 days is impossible which is why I waited even as prices rose. I did do a large down payment which lowered my monthly mortgage amount.

      • Chrissy
        August 19, 2021 at 10:13 pm

        Hi John—it must have been painful to watch prices rise. That just makes your financial accomplishments even more impressive!

    • Reply
      August 19, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      Hi Impersonal Finances—John really does well with his spending (and, apparently, so do you)! That’s very smart of you to share your rent with roommates. Other interviewees in this series have also done that. It’s such a powerful way to save on housing costs.

      Eating and drinking out is exorbitantly expensive in the US and Canada, particularly once you add taxes and tip. I would love to eat out more, but it would quickly melt away our savings!

      The way you optimize your income versus expenses reflects a previous comment from reader Liquid. That is a great way to make use of an HCOL area to get ahead. But it does take effort, planning and the willingness to live and think differently. Not everyone is as brave and committed as you and John! Most people simply follow the crowd and spend as much as (or more than) they make. 🙁

  • Reply
    Lazy Man and Money
    September 2, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    I lived in the Bay Area from 2006 to 2012 and the rent was $2600/mo. for about 1100/sq. ft. It was nothing fancy, dishwasher from 1970s, but the best value around. Buying the same place would have been $900,000, a mortgage much, much more than the rent. I know the costs have skyrocketed since 2012, so I am wondering if the place is small (cool for a single person) and if he put 500-600k down to lower the mortgage.

    In 2012, with a kid on the way, we went to Rhode Island where we bought a house for 400k that would have been 2M out there.

    The housing was always the biggest reason we couldn’t live there (well child care would’ve been an issue), but a $1600 mortgage would have solved a lot.

    • Reply
      September 2, 2021 at 8:21 pm

      Hi Lazy Man—you’re right that real estate prices, though already high in the Bay Area when you lived there, have skyrocketed since then. It’s very much like Vancouver, where it seems the sky’s the limit when it comes to real estate. Such a shame for young people who aren’t already “swimming in the stream”.

      I never would’ve imagined Rhode Island being so much cheaper than the Bay Area! I’d always thought of it as a pricey area. I guess it’s still pretty expensive, but compared to San Francisco, it’s downright cheap! Sounds like you made an excellent choice to move out there.

      • Lazy Man and Money
        September 3, 2021 at 3:18 am

        I’ve had it on my to do list to write you about doing one of these for Rhode Island. I’ve just been really busy. I also don’t have this level of detail on our expenses because my philosophy isn’t to track all our spending so tightly and just generally be frugal.

      • Chrissy
        September 5, 2021 at 9:01 pm

        Hello again Lazy Man—I would LOVE to interview you! If you’re not into this level of detail, check out one of my upcoming interviews (in January).

        One of readers had some unusual spending patterns the last few years due to some life changes. But her story and the way her spending played out was so interesting that I asked her to participate anyway. It won’t be the same format, but I really like that it’s different.

        Perhaps that format might work better for you? Let me know after you read it!

    • Reply
      Financial Freedom Countdown
      September 2, 2021 at 8:38 pm

      Yes, I did a large down payment which I regret in hindsight from a net worth perspective. But it keeps my retired life costs low. The prevailing guidance was to not have a mortgage in retirement so it is hard to plan these factors in advance
      It is a single family house (3 bed 2 bath)

      • Lazy Man and Money
        September 3, 2021 at 3:40 am

        It’s hard to choose a thing that’s not great for net worth to make something easier going forward. I run into that problem all the time. We ended up going with a 15-year mortgage as a compromise.

        I’d find it hard to retire in the Bay Area, because one of the advantages, and things that make it expensive, is the job market. It’s almost like reverse-geo-arbitrage.

        I think that makes the accomplishment even more expensive.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2022 at 7:39 am

    Wow! The mortgage only being $1600 is great. I used to live in the bay area and that sounds like a great deal.

    Their eating out to cooking at home ratio is also very impressive, and I feel like for most people that’s like the lowest hanging fruit on where to save (myself included).

    • Reply
      April 1, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Angie—you’re right, John has done well with his mortgage, especially considering he’s in the Bay Area (we all know how horrendous housing costs are in that part of the world).

      Cooking at home can save massive amounts of money. Eating out is only getting more expensive, so it can be a major wealth killer. We like to save those meals for special occasions or vacations. That helps to keep it to a reasonable amount. 👍

    • Reply
      Financial Freedom Countdown
      April 1, 2022 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Angie, I put almost 40% down payment.
      Long story short since I was an immigrant working on a visa I did not want to buy a house until I got my green card. Unfortunately for legal immigrants to get a green card it takes 7-10 years Country quotas are the same for every country and not adjusted on a % basis so it takes longer if your country of birth is India or China. So I kept accumulating money which was not invested waiting to buy a house.

      • Chrissy
        April 3, 2022 at 5:37 pm

        Hi John—I still can’t believe that you put 40% down on your house IN THE BAY AREA! You are a super saver!

        That’s interesting about the country quotas for green cards. Too bad they don’t calculate them proportionally to the size of the country. 🙁

  • Reply
    Salil Surendran
    September 3, 2022 at 8:32 am

    I am curious to know as to how the medical insurance cost is so low at close to $100/month. I am paying over $400 for kaiser permanente

    • Reply
      September 3, 2022 at 8:34 pm

      Hi Salil—I’ll try to ping John and ask him to reply.

    • Reply
      Financial Freedom Countdown
      September 3, 2022 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Salil, i use the Covered California exchange. Rates for single person and $40K income are still around $100. If your income is higher the rates go up since subsidies are reduced. I assume your income must be higher or you have more than one person on the plan? Also I have a huge HSA so I plan to switch to HDHP which has lower rates. Planning to do a few comparision posts on this topic on my blog.

      • Salil Surendran
        September 4, 2022 at 1:35 pm

        yes I just retired last year. So my salary was high but this year since I am not working my income will be lower. Will that make me eligible for the plan? Can you please share which specific plan did you buy?

  • Reply
    Financial Freedom Countdown
    September 4, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    Congratulations on the early retirement. Are you in California? Here is the website for California where you can enter your expected income for next year, zip and number of members.

    If you are not in California, use to find your local state plans

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