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My friends and I have individual condos in Vegas, an island in eastern Canada, and a flat in Budapest. It's not the same group for each property, but there's a lot of overlap. I realized that none of our places are ideal for winter, though Budapest does have its charm, so I started thinking about tropical places that would be good for quick escapes from winter (it even gets cold in Vegas).
When buying these shared places, cost is a major factor. The property has to be cheap enough that everyone can afford it without needing to go there constantly to make it worth it, and also so that no one ever needs to sell to free up cash. Every property we've ever bought has been under $100,000. Those factors eliminated a lot of popular winter spots.
My first choice was San Juan, Puerto Rico. I had been once and thought that it was a really cool city with a mix of good beaches, good healthy food, and a nice downtown area. I sent out an email to my usual group of friends, got a group together, and booked a cruise that ended in San Juan so that I could go check it out.
In the meantime the hurricane hit, but I was undeterred. I figured that I could see which buildings could survive a hurricane and if I still liked the city at its worst, it would only get better from there. Plus, maybe some people would want to move to a non-hurricane-prone city and prices would be good.
But when I got there I didn't like it as much as I had remembered. Or, rather, the area I really liked was smaller than I had remembered it being, and the surrounding areas weren't that great. It didn't feel like a home run, and prices were fairly high for even a one-bedroom. I lost motivation and decided to look elsewhere.
When I was sixteen I had my first girlfriend ever, Allison. One summer she came with me and my family to Boston, and I got to go with her and her family to the Big Island of Hawaii. I learned how to scuba dive, drank a lot of passion-orange-guava (POG) juice, and had an awesome time with her and her family. We spent most of our time in Hilo, on the east coast, and a bit of time in Kona, on the west coast.
I remembered the Big Island being really great, so I checked out properties and found some that seemed impossibly cheap at around $50,000 each. I called a real estate agent and found out that they truly were impossibly cheap. In Hawaii you often own the structure but pay a lease fee every month for the land. The properties I wanted had the lease coming to term in seven years, which meant that you could pay approximately $50,000 extra to own the land outright, or get your condo confiscated when the lease ran out. Still, $100,000 for a two-bedroom condo in Hawaii seemed reasonable.
I flew down to check out the property, but hotels were so expensive and my schedule was so packed that I decided to take a red-eye and stay for only one night. It rained the whole time, but I drove around the neighborhood and it seemed much better than I expected. The location was absolutely ideal, just a ten minute walk from the restaurants downtown and another 3-4 to the ocean. I had been concerned that maybe my memories of Hilo were a bit rose tinted because I went there with my first girlfriend, but I found it to be even better than I had remembered.
I sent an email to friends and had enough interest to make it happen. A perfect unit came up a couple weeks later, they miraculously accepted my first offer (and also gave me $500 back because they didn't want to fix a $20 valve), and we owned a place in Hawaii!
The more time I spend in Hilo, the more I love it. I've been to Oahu, Maui, and the big island, and I think Hilo is the best city amongst all of them (though Honolulu has some really cool stuff too). The people are extremely friendly, there's tons of healthy food, and it doesn't feel touristy at all. Instead of a few huge sweeping white sand beaches there are dozens of smaller beaches, each one unique. Some have black sand, others white. Lots of them have areas with short bermuda grass. Some have lagoons, some have lava rocks to climb around on. Sea turtles are everywhere.
The downtown is full of quaint 100-year-old bulidings and is right next to the ocean. Everything is walkable and it's also easy to park. Outside of Hilo there are tons of parks, the two mountains, and all sorts of other nature to enjoy. It's also nice to have Kona only 90 minutes away to have another option for good flight deals (and a much better craigslist inventory).
There's even a legitimate teahouse in Hilo and at least two tea farms on the island, which I haven't visited yet.
Amazon will ship to Hawaii, as will many other online stores. I had two queen-on-queen bunk beds waiting for us along with four mattresses. I had a guy selling a minivan pick me up from the airport, and I bought it and drove home, so even after being here for only two days it feels like home.
I imagine that we'll use the Hilo condo for short trips with friends, scuba trips, family trips, and a home base to work from when weather elsewhere gets cold. We split this one only six ways and have four big beds, so it's unlikely that an owner would even come here and not have a bed waiting for them.
My friends and I who do these shared real estate deals always wonder out loud why more people don't do them. So far the benefit we've gotten out of each has been enormous, especially in terms of great shared experiences amongst us friends. Though I wrote it before buying this Hawaii place, you can read a lot more about how I do these deals in Forever Nomad.
Photo is a cool little beach across Hilo Bay
A while back, around the time I switched to Linux, I had the realization that any amount of effort I spent customizing my computer would probably pay off. I use the thing just about every day and gains are cumulative so I may as well think about how to make my computer better for me. This, incidentally, makes it nearly impossible for a normal person to use.
It's certain that not all of my customizations will be good for you, but maybe some will be, and if you use a computer a lot, the general idea of customizing it to your specifications is probably a good one.
To start, I use Linux. If you are reasonably technical, you should probably be using Linux of some sort. If you are a programmer, I can't imagine how you use something else. The two biggest factors are 1) Linux has many different flavors, so you can always use whichever one is best for you and 2) Linux is by far the most customizable operating system.
I think a lot of people are afraid of Linux because they think it is hard to set up and use, but that's really not true. I did a fresh install of both Ubuntu Linux and Windows 10 on my Lenovo (designed for Windows) laptop, and Ubuntu worked way better. Windows was a nightmare of drivers, but Linux just worked.
This is such a niche thing, but you'd be shocked at how many requests I get for information on how I did it. A couple years back I gave a talk about automation, ranging from home to habits to business, and almost all of the follow-up emails I got were about the curtains.
I first automated my curtains because I thought it would be a neat novelty. My apartment in Las Vegas is a very inexpensive one which you'd never expect would have anything fancy inside, so I thought it would be fun to have automated curtains. After using them for a few years, though, they've proven to have far more utility than novelty.
There are three primary advantages to having automated curtains.
The first advantage is that you can have sunlight when you wake up in the morning. I like sleeping in and don't naturally jump up out of bed in the morning. But when I can hit one button and sunlight starts streaming into my bedroom, I find it really easy to spring out of bed. I also use Tasker on Android to automate this so that if an alarm goes off, my curtains open. I almost never use an alarm, but when I do it tends to be for an early flight, so it helps to get out of bed quickly.
I get asked often how I choose what to work on. From the outside, I can see why people ask. The projects I work on are fairly wide-ranging, from coding CruiseSheet to writing blog posts to random adventures and building things.
Things make a little more sense when you understand that making money is only a secondary priority for me. I do like to make money, but I will never do something I don't want to do for money. Google could offer me $1M for a year of work, which is a life-changing amount of money to me, and I would not take it.
Now, that's a massive luxury. Through mostly sheer luck, I happen to be in a position where I can do whatever I want and survive. I have few expenses and some skills that ended up becoming valuable even though it wasn't at all clear they would be when I began learning them.
If I had a family and I needed to put food on the table and didn't have the skills I have, I would gladly mop toilets to provide. I don't believe that I'm above any sort of work. The point is that along the spectrum of trading freedom for money, I'm way over on the freedom side.
I've talked before about how important it is to live frugally. A lot of people probably brush it off because it sounds like too great of a sacrifice or not relevant to them, but I think that's a mistake. It is possible to live frugally and to love it at the same time.
In general, that's a key to how I live my life. I try to figure out what the empirically "correct" thing for me to do is, and then I convince myself to love it.
How much money you should be saving is hard to determine. It depends on your age, your earning ability, and your goals. I will say this, though... there is some way for you to save more than 50% of your income.
That number is probably shocking, as most millenials have a negative savings rate. I'm not saying that you will do it, or even that you should, only that you can. It's worth considering poor immigrants, many of whom work minimum wage jobs and still manage to send significant amounts of money back home. Some people are doing it.
I don't think I'm qualified to suggest how to kick major vices like heroin and alcohol, but I have plenty of experience with minor vices like procrastination and time-wasting activities, both with myself and people I coach.
The fundamental first step that many people skip is determining why they want to eliminate a vice. That it's not a "good" thing to do is never enough. If you don't have a strong reason for quitting, you'll never actually quit.
Sometimes good reasons may exist for quitting something, but they might not be obvious to you. So dig up and find both good reasons to quit and good reasons to continue. If you don't examine both sides, you won't trust your analysis.
If you can't find sufficient compelling reasons to quit the vice, don't bother trying. It's better to table the idea than it is to try when failure is inevitable.
Maybe this is true of most things, but the variance between great tea and terrible tea is absolutely enormous. If tea was what nearly everyone thinks tea is, I would never drink it. A great cup of tea, though, is one of life's great pleasures. And despite being a luxury and an indulgence, it's very healthy for you.
I'd like to share a few of my favorite types of teas and how to brew them to make them delicious.
#1 — Gyokuro
Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea that's shaded for the last three months of its life, which causes it to struggle and produce more theanine and caffeiene, which gives it an incredibly intense sweet and umami-rich flavor. Amongst my friends who like it, most of us consider it to be the best flavor on earth!
Last year I had a truly spectacular todo list. It ranged from building a cabin on the island (with no idea how to do so), getting the floors replaced on a rental property in Las Vegas, a huge number of Cruisesheet bugs and fixes, work on a book, a few dozen emails, and then tens of random tasks that can't fit in any one category.
This happens to a lot of us, especially as we expand too much and take on a lot of big important tasks. And it's actually a pretty crummy place to be, as the psychic load of a big todo list is a major distraction.
The fundamental problem is that the items that cluster on a todo list tend to be the ones which are never urgent enough to warrant action. So we just keep dealing with more urgent things, and simultaneously accumulate more non-urgent tasks.
To get through this, you must treat "clearing your todo list" as a big urgent item, not because any one thing on it is urgent, but because having a big pending todo list is holding you back and affecting your more urgent tasks.
I had never been so happy to have a sore throat, especially such a bad one. My throat hurt so much that it actually woke me up. Surely this was a reasonable excuse to get out of the talk I was supposed to give in a couple days. I sent a text to the organizers saying that I wasn't feeling well and would probably skip the trip to Kazakhstan if I didn't feel better the next day, when I was supposed to leave.
Four months earlier I had felt differently about the trip. My friend Ben Yu got a random email inviting him to speak at a conference called GoViral in Kazakhstan. The people organizing it offered to show him around the country if he could make it out there. When he asked if I wanted to see if they would have me come too, the idea sounded wild enough that I said "of course".
As the date approached, though, I was regretting the decision. There were a lot of other trips I would have preferred to do, and now I was stuck going to Kazakhstan for no real reason. I also didn't know exactly where Kazakhstan was before I agreed, but when I went to buy tickets I realized it wasn't near anything and was going to be a long flight in and out.
My throat got better and absent a very legitimate excuse, I felt that it would be rude not to show up. So I hustled to the Tokyo airport for my long journey to Kazakhstan.
You know that feeling when you're sitting across from someone and they're prattling on about something in which you have no interest? They aren't actually trying to bore you, they just don't know any better. Which begs the question—are you ever that person?
In reality I'm sure we all bore someone sometimes, but we can work on reducing or eliminating that to make sure that it happens as infrequently as possible.
First, think about what benefit the information you're about to share has to the listener. Will they be entertained? Will they learn something useful? Are they a good friend who will want to share your joy or help you with your problem? If there's no benefit, don't share the information. Save it for someone else.
A prime example for me is politics. During the election everyone wanted to talk about politics, which was never an enjoyable experience for me. I was forced into tons of conversations, very few of which were positive experiences.