Buy And Hold Investing In Community

crispydoc Uncategorized 4 Comments

The FI blogger world is full of folks whose wanderlust guides their lives. Seductive terms like location independence, geographic arbitrage and digital nomad pepper the posts of well-regarded bloggers whose lives as expatriates (Mad FIentist) traveling the world either childless (Millennial Revolution) or with young children (Go Curry Cracker) are tempting a generation to follow their lead. I understand the appeal.

Before settling down and starting a family, I’d been bitten by the bug. I’ve written previously about backpacking through Europe after college on a tight budget, a two month odyssey of living  exclusively on bananas, baguettes and drinkable yogurt (universally cheap and available foods).

I’d even considered incorporating a love of travel into my medical career, completing a fellowship in International Emergency Medicine after residency in an attempt to find academic emergency physicians whose examples I’d want to follow.

Perhaps it was my failure to find academic role models who balanced family life with international public health work; perhaps it was falling goofy in love with my wife, another recovering would-be academic; either way, we departed our academic Mecca and sought refuge in a small beach community in southern California, where each of us accepted positions in community practice.

We never lost our love of travel. Two months after our wedding, I served as a travel physician for a high end private jet tour of India, and was fortunate to be able to bring my new bride along on this unofficial honeymoon. Since we had to wait until the last minute to see if there would be sufficient space on the India trip for my wife to come (she occupied an unsold space, and we only paid cost with no markup), we booked a “backup” honeymoon in Argentina which we enjoyed a few months later.

Then came kids, and the long slog of the family cocoon period. We moved from our collegiate apartment to a house. Most of our travel was spent to and from grandparents, with occasional milestone family events.

As we find ourselves emerging from this homebody stage and aggressively traveling with our kids, we’ve noted an unintended consequence of having mostly stayed put for so long: we’ve put down roots in our community. Beyond the beauty of the natural environment and the enclave public schools, we’ve started to fall for the people.

I didn’t expect this to happen. I’d always found the Stephen Stills song lyric, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” to be depressing. Not me, I thought. I’d rather be alone than settle. So when friends with kids told me I’d eventually grow close with the parents of other kids of similar ages, I nodded affably and whispered bullshit under my breath.

My irregular schedule meant I went on school field trips and volunteered in the classroom, getting to bond with some of the class moms. I also found myself at mid-week performances and in carpools with some of the dads, even organizing a second grade father and daughter kayak trip for a rogue band of parents who had not filed their paperwork with the local YMCA affiliate in time to be considered official affiliates. Spending time with those parents, I came to genuinely like them. Family fun nights at elementary school became chances to ignore bands of roving delinquent children (ours) while enjoying the company of friends.

In our spiritual community, my wife and I got suckered into volunteered for different leadership positions and began to know and care deeply about the people there. We went on intergenerational retreats where 80-something salsa dancers taught us slick moves, while teens looked after our kids with a tenderness and affection I someday hope our own kids will develop. We joined a book club where we are the youngest participants by roughly a generation.

Our newfound love for our community throws a wrench in my empty nest fantasies. I had dreamed we might sell the house and roam the world using the proceeds of that sale so that we, too, could pepper the story of our lives with words like location independence, geographic arbitrage and digital nomad.

Instead, we are genuinely interested in staying involved in the institutions and community whose story has become intertwined with our own. I’m still exploring other options to improve cash flow instead of leaving significant equity in our home. Buy a triplex in a nearby beach town? We could live in one unit, rent the others, and airbnb ours using a property management company while abroad for 3-6 months at a time. Perhaps we’d airbnb a second unit to keep it empty whenever the kids came home.

There’s still a place for wanderlust in our future. For the time being, however, we’re invested in our community for the long run.

I could think of worse fates.

Comments 4

  1. See what happens when you leave academia, you loose your arrogance and regain your humanity. I was at a party for a friend’s 90 yo Dad. It was at the hall of our church, about 50 people were there. I looked around the room and 48 of the 50 had been patients of mine one time or another, or I had attended their birth. My neighbor is the Atlantic and my area is dark as far as light pollution. If you look down from space the area around my house looks like NOKO at night. The stars are fabulous! Where I live even the supermarket sushi ain’t bad. Surfing, fishing, sail boarding, boating, fly boarding, camping, festivals: we have them all over. One up in dairy country called Wanee (short for Suwanee) is totally fun. The music on stage is a gas but the peeps jammin in the parkin lot is even better. Bring yer guitfiddle and don’t forget your thumb pick. It’s on the net just google it.

    Skiing Whistler is a gas and the Bahn Bao in Ho Chi Min City is not to be missed, but I’d miss picking out the constellations from my bathroom window at 3 am. It’s one of my favorite things.

    Great post

    1. Post

      There’s something truly beautiful about your party experience. I got an unexpected arm around my shoulder with a congenial update from a muscular guy who recognized me while shopping at the local Costco. He thanked me for not giving him more narcotics during an ED visit some months ago, and sharing proudly that he’d kicked the habit and how hard his struggle had been. Those moments feeling a part of something bigger plant your roots that much deeper.

      Appreciate your stopping by, Gasem.


  2. A corporate gypsy, I’ve lived in sixteen different locales, including a glorious four year stint in Central Europe that involved travel from Bangkok to NYC. For years, had friends that were “good enough” for the two to three year timeframe, got a brief peek into one another’s lives.

    Our last move took us to the east coast, and it was a rough landing. For the first couple years we trusted, despite the loneliness and crazy of this modern day Babylon. I used to say that I would have a For Sale sign in the front yard the very second we felt cleared to move.

    Used to.

    It’s been several years now, and the roots run deeper than expected. We’ve walked with folks through sorrow and suffering and seen some come out the other side, stronger with faith in themselves and God. We know their narrative arc, not just a chapter, and they know ours.

    Life has a funny way of surprising you. After all those moves, I’ll take deep relationship over travel experience every time. Hopefully the future holds both.

    1. Post


      Your breadth of travel sounds like a young person’s wanderlust on steroids! You are exactly right that sharing tragedies and developing intimacy with your neighbors develops a sense of being part of an intertwined, shared story. The deep relationships end up tilting the scales every time, and they require a modicum of face time to develop.

      I look forward to hearing more of your narrative arc in the future…



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