Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Gary, Indiana solution

Back in January of 2000 when I still had a small mountain of financial assets, I actually considered whether I should go to cash and permanently retire. One option, the one I chose, unfortunately, was that "I only need one more year of decent stock market returns (15-20%) and then I will be set for life", but we know how that movie ended. That was all I needed, one more year, and then I could live "forever" on income from Treasuries. In fact, three-quarters of my net worth was in Treasuries at that point anyway due to my call option strategy that was working so well in the bull market. But, that is water over the dam now. The other option that I briefly considered, but rejected as unattractive, was what I called "my Gary, Indiana solution". Briefly, although I did not have enough money to retire in New York City, I could have retired forever if I could have stomached relocating to some godforsaken place that was really, really cheap, such as I imagined Gary, Indiana to be.

I actually had no idea what Gary, Indiana was really like, but being part of the so-called "Rust Belt", I imagined that everything was much cheaper there. I could easily and quickly get to Chicago, Illinois if I ever had a desperate urge to be somewhere other than "nowhere" and fly from Chicago to "anywhere." Meanwhile, I would not have to burn through piles of cash for living expenses, or so I imagined. In truth, even if Gary was only moderately cheaper I actually would have been able to life, even if not thrive, on Treasury income.

The big obstacle to implementing "my Gary, Indiana solution" was simply the fact that for me personally it had the feeling that I would be imprisoned or at least exiled away from anything that might interest me. Joliet would not have sounded much worse to me. The Internet and Web were still relatively primitive even in 2000 compared to all the online social networking we have today. Maybe with Web 2.0 I could have envisioned living in a bubble, like living on the moon or Mars.

Alas, today I do not even have the financial resources for that "ambitious" Gary, Indiana "solution" that I had back in 2000. I would need to have some kind of job, but I might be able to pull it off with a more menial type of job, if something were in fact available.

In any case, my immediate goal here is simply to record for my own reference and for posterity this idea that I had back in 2000. Whether I can reuse it in some way remains to be seen.

When thinking anew about the concept, two immediate questions come to mind. First, where in the U.S. can you live very, very cheaply? Second, and which of those places have significant acceptable and palatable employment opportunities. The goal here is not to find a place to spend the rest of my life, but finding an "economic refuge" until technology employment opportunities once again become plentiful.

-- Jack Krupansky

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