My friend Leo suggested once that I write a post about how I make decisions. Since then I've been waiting for the right moment, one where I made a large decision in a very short amount of time. That happened today, when I decided to move to Las Vegas.
From time to time I check real estate prices in Detroit or Las Vegas. They're the two major US cities I'm aware of that were disproportionately crippled by the housing crash. Detroit more so, but it's cold up there and I've never been, so buying a house there isn't just fantasy.
On the other hand, I go to Vegas all the time, so I'm familiar with it. I like to play poker there, I have a handful of friends there, and I've been frequently enough that I have a bunch of favorite haunts. The Ethiopian restaurants are amazing.
Last night, after work, I spent half an hour looking at condos and townhouses for sale. In case you don't have this particular hobby, there are lots of condos in Las Vegas that are under $75k. The mortgage on one of these things would be less than $300.
They all seem to have HOA fees of $100-200, which is a little bit annoying, but I didn't realize until last night how cheap the taxes are. All of the ones I was looking at were $350 annually.
This is unbelievably tempting to me. I could buy a place in a city I really like for less monthly cost than I pay for a parking spot for my RV.
I'm no real estate expert or anything, but it's hard for me to fathom real estate values not going up in the long term. These places are 2-3 miles from the strip, less than 20 minutes from the airport by public transportation, and there's a Chipotle ten minutes away.
The problem I always come to, though, is that I just don't want to live in Las Vegas all the time. It's crazy hot in the summer and my best friends are in San Francisco and New York. Moving to Las Vegas would be crazy.
I went to sleep telling myself to give up the idea.
Then this morning, as soon as I woke up, it occurred to me that I didn't need to live there all the time. After all, I don't live anywhere all the time. For a few hundred bucks monthly, why not make Las Vegas one of my home bases?
If I did that, I could spend more time there, which I want to do anyway. It's the cheapest airport in the US for major cities, so I could easily visit friends on both coasts. It would be easy to store my RV there, and then drive it up to SF or LA for a couple months each year.
And I could finally have a place to invite people to visit. I always want my family and friends to come visit me, but that's not possible in the RV. Now they could come see me in Vegas.
Most of all, there's something appealing to having a permanent spot to call my own, especially with low ongoing costs. I love building things, so it would be fun to take a ~1000 square foot condo and remodel it over a few years.
And what's the real risk? When you buy real estate you lose about 6% instantly, because that's what it costs to resell. That's not peanuts, but it's low enough that I don't have to agonize over the decision. Plus, I can just AirBNB it to recoup money. It seems like a cool thing to do that could be a big positive factor in my life. May as well go for it.
So I booked a trip to go scout out places. If I see something I like, I'll make an offer and try to close quickly. Or maybe this neighborhood is actually in the middle of a gang zone and I'll change my mind. Seems unlikely, though.
And, of course, my friends are awesome and two have already decided to do the same, with another couple leaning towards it. Maybe we'll end up taking over the neighborhood.
I think that this is a good example of how easy it is to make quick decisions when you're not too attached to things. A lot of the time what makes "big" decisions "big" is the emotional attachments we have to our comfortable situations. It often takes only a minimum of rational thought to realize that real risks are small and what's holding us back is just fear of moving out of our comfort zones a bit.
Photo is the Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge, one of my favorite places on the strip. Decent tea, amazing atmosphere.
I've been reading your blog now for around 2 years, absolutely love it. I'm around your age, 31 years old, and have never read any blogs online at any point in my life until 2 years ago when I stumbled upon yours accidentally.
In mid-November, I went to Vegas for a quick 4 day getaway. I played mostly 2/5 NL Hold 'Em at Bellagio during my trip. On Friday November 14th, I was seated playing 2/5 directly in front of Bobby's Room and I believe it was that Wednesday or Thursday you had actually mentioned in your blog you were going to be in Vegas that weekend. While seated at my table I looked over and saw a guy who looked to be a close match to some of your pictures you've posted on here.
The crazy thing is, I originally found your blog while searching Google for a poker book and your blog came up near the top of my search. Intrigued by what I saw on Google, I clicked on it and started reading and as I mentioned I've subscribed and been reading your blog ever since.
Having read along the way that you were a big fan of Bellagio poker room and enjoyed playing there, I finally decided I had to introduce myself and talk with "you". So I went over, shook hands and introduced myself. Turns out the guys name was Doug.
It would have been nice to meet you, especially in such an apropos manner. Keep up the awesome blogs! I enjoy every one and maybe some other day in the future at the Bellagio poker room, if luck strikes, I'll get to shake your hand in person.
I would love to know you're Vegas Ethiopian restaurant recommendations if you don't mind sharing. Thanks!
Great post. My favorites from you are usually tangible outcomes with your mindset at each step. So thanks.
I have a request for a topic as well: your process for researching and buying something. How you start, your Google fu, how you narrow it down, avoiding analysis paralysis, ignore the hype, etc. You talked a little bit about this when you bought your computer and on Rolex but that was more after the fact, less on how you arrived there.
I might've imagined this but you said you'd write this post up a couple of year's ago. Maybe on the forum? Since you said you read all the comments...
PS I'm writing this on my phone and I can't see what I'm typing. Android error? The on screen keyboard is coveting up half the screen and the content v comment box isn't scrolling for me to see this.
Very timely post! I've been considering moving my home as well understanding your thought process is very helpful
Hi! That would be cool if you moved here. ^_^ You're right about Vegas getting disproportionately hit; there was a time you'd drive through a neighborhood and for every three or four houses one would be empty (Unfortunately experienced this first hand when my condo's value dropped to $30,000, yes, you read that right). Things are definitely picking up now though, people are buying again and prices are going up. Anyhow, if you have a meet up while you're here let me know!
Great post Tynan. It's so true that we fear stepping out of our comfort zone, even when the risk is small. Life is about our choices and some may work out well while others might turn out not so great but I think we grow by taking the leap. Thanks for sharing!
Just looked up prices in vegas...holy crap. I've been contemplating a move back to SoCal within a few months because of the insane cost of living in San Francisco, but Vegas just became a contender too. My question is, are your other friends who are moving there also gamblers? I'm not, and my worry is that Vegas would get boring fast.
Tynan, great blog. Just wanted to add my experience and say that if you're considering buying real estate, run the numbers on buying a small multi-family residence. Anything that is 4 units or less and you can still qualify for an owner-occupied (i.e. non-commercial) mortgage. Might not fit into your lifestyle to be managing tenants, but you should be able to make money this way if you buy smart... and you can always hire a property management firm if you get sick of self-managing. I'm not familiar with the Vegas market so it might be more difficult there, but I've had great success with this strategy in Philadelphia.
Hey Tynan! Long time reader here (2005 or so? - I still miss the sequen hat.) ;)
I live in Vegas, so I'm pumped you'll be here - you have a good knack for finding the best things, so I'm eager to hear what off strip places unique places you end up finding.
For example, I'm curious what Ethiopian restaurants you're referring to, and what other haunts you have. A post sometime on the best places in Vegas would be awesome.
Also some SETT features seem to not be working. It says at the top bar I have 1 PM, but when I click to go to messages it is a blank box. Also when I go to see all my previous posts, it's blank. (I have tried Chrome, Firefox, and IE). The previous posts did work at some point in the past, within the last year or two, I just so rarely log in (just read) that I don't know when that changed.
This is a smart idea. A person can easily spend $5000 on rent annually in the Midwest and $10000 in D.C., San Francisco, etc. Your Vegas condo can recoup its cost with a couple well-timed rental listings per month, and then you can sell it in 5-10 years for a profit. Since you travel frequently, renting it out can also cover the cost of your travel during that time.
Good luck. Drew (getting Superhuman by Habit on Amazon today)
Whatever it is, I've had an itch to go check it out. I've been there a few times before but didn't explore much and certainly didn't see it through the eyes of a resident. So this time I'm heading that way in the RV.
This Thursday I'll head West from Austin, and hopefully drive 20 hours straight to Las Vegas. I love Las Vegas and have a few friends there, so it's hard to pass up an opportunity to visit. After Las Vegas I'll go to LA. I might stay for a few days, for a month, or something in between. I haven't decided yet.
Then from Los Angeles I'll go to San Francisco. I have a ton of friends there, some from middle school back in Boston, some from Austin, and a few from the old pick up days. I'm also hoping to make friends with some of the people involved in the tech community there. I've heard that parking won't be easy, but my friends have a couple ideas on places that might work.
You can't control definitively whether you'll succeed or fail, but you do get to set the parameters. The way I live my life, I will either be an big success or a huge failure. There are a variety of potential paths ahead of me, and zero of them lead to comfortable success or minor failure. None of them lead to numb mediocrity.
How do you adjust these parameters? You set goals and accept risks. If you set goals low and don't accept many risks, you have no chance of huge success or huge failure. You'll end up somewhere in the middle. Maybe you'll end up a bit better off than you expected, or a bit down on your luck, but you'll be somewhere in the range of "fine". On the other hand, you can set extremely high goals, leave yourself no reasonable plan B, and take massive risks to get those goals. It's the only way you'll even reach them, but you may fall short and crash.
In my case, I've put all of my eggs in the SETT basket. I hope it becomes a huge success that makes me a lot of money, gives me some power to improve conversation on the internet, and all that. At this point I've invested two years of my life into it, with no plans of changing that allocation going forward. I've passed up many smaller opportunities that could have made me money. I do have some money saved up, but it's hard to count it as a backup plan when I know with certainty that if SETT failed I'd use it to start another company and go all in.
I work as smart as I can, I live frugally, and I plan for contingencies-- I'm not reckless, but when a calculated risk presents itself, I'm all over it.