Skien. A small city and municipality in Norway with 55.000 residents. Photo by Stuart Herbert under Creative Commons licence: CC BY NC SA 2.0
Hi everyone! Long time no see on the blog.
I am in the process of preparing my apartment in Oslo for sale. This means I'm currently not able to channel enough energy to for my startups, so my next project ship-nix is on hold for now.
Since I also have been lagging behind on the challenge, I have decided to abort the 12 startups in a year challenge, at least for now.
It sounds dramatic, but I feel I have made an exciting and more sound plan for future bootstrapping.
Being uncool as a risk management strategy
Hip and trendy financial decisions are often expensive. Just look at crypto and trendy growth stocks last year and how the prices have plummeted. The same goes for living in a hip and trendy city. Higher expenses also means bigger risk.
The brewing recession might also impact Norway eventually, and it could also mean the risk goes even further up.
I currently live in Oslo, the 11th most expensive city in the world. I own an apartment here just a 15-20 minute walk from the city centre. It's also backed with a mortgage that I need to pay on every month. Even though it's a 30 year loan, it depletes a considerable amount of money every month and year.
I managed to save up a fair bit of money before quitting my job. Enough for surviving and building for a year in Oslo, but then it stops. If I fail to generate income, I must return to the labour force very soon.
As time has gone during my bootstrapping challenge, this short time window and financial drainage has felt like a prison. I have been building and learning stuff in all my waking hours. It's not ideal as my actual dream is more freedom, more life.
Minimizing risk in a less popular city
Geo-arbitrage has been popularized by Tim Ferris among others. It normally means moving to Thailand or Bali and live on western wages.
But if you live in a very expensive city and want to transition to building startups full-time, doing a domestic geo-arbitraging move can make just as much sense. Especially for a solo indie maker, being location independent.
Two hours with train or car from Oslo, there is a small, and may I say sleepy, city named Skien. I grew up in the same municipality, and I still have close family living here.
Even though it's a small city, it has every necessity close by, just at a smaller scale. Good thing about smaller scales is also smaller distances.
Even if prices have been booming also there, apartments are still dirt cheap compared to Oslo. The average price per square meter in Oslo is more than double compared to Skien.
Thanks to a nice price appreciation in Oslo, I can cash out, buy a nice apartment in the middle of the city centre in Skien, pay down the mortgage in full and still have plenty of cash to live on.
Pros and cons of moving
There are a few cons of moving. Oslo is a very cool place with lots of cultural offerings, awesome parks in the summer, great selection of bars, cafes, restaurants, even nature is close by and most of my friends live here.
A major pro of Oslo in itself is probably cool, glamorous well-paid jobs. But since I have been there, done that, I don't want these jobs anymore, I'm having a considerable smaller incentive of staying.
Pros of moving to Skien are many:
- I can afford to move to a great apartment in the core of the city
- I can choose to pay down mortgage in full, and not be as affected by what might be an economic recession
- Everything is available inside a very short walking distance, groceries, restaurants, malls, etc.
- I can afford to rent my own private office so I don't need to work from home! BIG plus!
- Low supply of developers, there could be some opportunities
- Everything is generally cheaper and easier
Of course there are a couple of cons
- Less exciting
- I might be wrong, but it seems very normie dominated. I might not find many like-minded people, but who knows
The biggest factor for me in general is cutting down complexity of living. I'm actually also looking for a smaller apartment so it's less to clutter. All to try to keep life as simple as possible.
Adding nomading to the mix?
I am going to buy an apartment that I also can rent out. I plan on posting the apartment to AirBnB so I also can generate some income whenever someone needs to rent an apartment in Skien. This could cover the remainding expenses of the apartment, and even largely cost of food.
Also having more money, I could also choose to try out nomading for shorter periods like 3-6 months during the worst winter season of Norway.
As I have been disillusioned by a lot in my life as an experimentalist, I'm currently old enough to know that I might actually not like nomading so much that I want to do it full time.
Therefore, I have decided owning a property is probably the best intermediary solution until might or might not decide nomading is for me.