Fervent Goes West

Not to burst your bubble but I’m not financially independent and I haven’t quit working for the man to start a new exciting business. What I did do though, is attain the fabled “remote work” arrangement from my employer (for a six month period)!

I don’t delve into my personal life too much on Fervent Finance, besides my personal financial life of course, but my significant other lives in the Midwest. We have been doing the whole long distance thing for going on two years now, and it’s just getting old. We have talked about her potentially moving to NYC or perhaps us both moving to another major US city where my job has offices as well. To be blunt, I’ve had my fun in Manhattan these last two plus years and I’m ready for a change from city life. I was born and raised in a very small town in New England and kind of miss the slow pace of life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a blast in Manhattan but I’d like to move away from a culture where people pride themselves on how much they work and how much cash they blow on brunches, bars, dinners, and rent. I’m ready to slow down a little and of course be closer to the ole GF.

Here are the quick details. In about a month I’ll be moving to a small city in the Midwest into a condo my girlfriend rents. I’ll still be based out of NYC for work and will travel as usual for work, but I won’t have to report to the office. Can anyone say Manhattan salary with a Midwest cost of living??? Geographic arbitrage for the win! After six months of this remote work arrangement my boss and I will sit down again. I’ll most likely try to squeeze some more time out of him, but he could ask me to report back to NYC at that time. I’m not worried about that yet, I’m going to enjoy my remote work arrangement and worry about that when the time comes. There are a ton of potential opportunities at that point which may include saying no and playing hardball, getting another job, just moving back to the NYC area, starting my own business, etc. Only time will tell.

Now let’s discuss what everyone has been waiting for – how the arrangement will affect my finances:

  1. Rent – Off the bat it appears my rent will go down by over two thirds and I’ll be living in a space that is more than twice as big as my current apartment. No surprise here, as Manhattan real estate is a tad on the highly priced side.
  2. Utilities – I’ll be moving to a bigger space and splitting utilities with one person instead of two, so this will naturally go up a little.
  3. Travel – Unfortunately I won’t have as many big airports nearby so personal travel will be more expensive. Luckily since my rent is decreasing, I will be able to recoup some of the extra potential cost of personal travel to fly back to the Northeast to see family and attend the multitude of weddings I have this year in that area. Why can’t eloping become the new hot thing to do? I kid, I kid.
  4. State income taxes – I’ll be moving to a state whose income tax rate will be less than half what I’ve been paying in NYC, and also has lower sales tax. One of the disadvantages of living in Manhattan is the NYC resident tax which is on top of NY state income tax if you live within the five boroughs. This is an additional ~3.5 percent tax on my income for the privilege of living in NYC.

I’ll definitely miss Manhattan. I’ll miss my reasonably priced gym within walking distance of my apartment, with four squat racks. I’ll miss the farmer’s market on my block with incredible produce and very reasonable prices. I’ll miss the convenience of walking everywhere and public transportation. I’ll miss three airports within an hour’s travel which made personal travel cheap. I’ll miss the overall convenience and buzz.

I won’t miss dogs doing their business anywhere they please, tourists walking four-wide on the sidewalk, staying at the office for long hours as a badge of honor, inclement weather when I need to walk somewhere, smokers blowing their pollution at my face, among other things.

I do look forward to time with the GF, more easily accessible outdoors, new adventures, slower pace to life, and of course being in a lower cost of living area.

For those wondering how I was able to convince my employer to let me do this, I’ll share that story in my next post. Hopefully it will benefit others looking to do something similar.

Who wants to help me move? Has anyone negotiated a remote work arrangement with their employer? Personally, could you go back to working at an office after working remotely for six months?

48 thoughts on “Fervent Goes West

    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks Brian! I’ll definitely share those details soon. I agree it will be tough going back to working in an office in a big city after this.

      Reply
  1. Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless

    I’m curious to know how you managed to arrange this and what your boss’s perspective is. Is it viewed as a trial period for possibly doing this indefinitely, or is there some specific reason why it might only work out for these specific six months? In any case, sounds like an exciting change!

    So you’re from a very small town in New England, eh? Me too. (This is when I start wondering if I know anonymous pf bloggers in real life…It’s probably highly unlikely though.) 🙂
    Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless recently posted…Updates Galore!My Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Don’t worry Sarah – I’ll share the deets! As it stand right now it’s more of a ~6 month arrangement, and then report back to NYC or another big city’s office. But still a lot of time to figure out my game plan after that. That would be funny if we knew each other, but I find it highly unlikely 🙂

      Reply
  2. Mrs.PIE

    Congrats on a great negotiation, it sounds like a perfect situation!
    It’s funny, I think that the things we think we’ll miss about a current lifestyle are in sharper focus before a big change. After the change they just fade into the background.

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks Mrs. PIE! Sometimes I think I should have been a used car salesman… just kidding.

      Reply
  3. MrFireStation

    This will be a huge change for you – a change for the better! I was never able to swing the ‘remote work’ option, but was always very jealous of those who do. I have a friend who lives in the midwest and works from home for a European company. He gets the benefit of only a few hours of ‘office overlap’ each day. As long as his team is hitting their numbers, he gets very little oversight which is a bonanza for work/home balance.

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Believe me, I was skeptical of my plan’s success until it actually go approved. Your friend sounds like he has a sweet gig! That would definitely be a very bearable path to FI, if that’s one of his goals.

      Reply
  4. Matt @ The Resume Gap

    Wow, awesome! There will be plenty to miss about Manhattan, of course, but this sounds like 1% downgrade, 99% lifestyle upgrade to me. I worked remotely for most of the last five years (continually refusing to move to my company’s expensive HQ location for personal and financial reasons), and I would never want to work in a real office again — there are so many perks to being remote!

    I’d love to hear more about what the process was like with your boss and to which part of the midwest you’re headed.
    Matt @ The Resume Gap recently posted…Glimpses of Extreme WealthMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I definitely weighed the pros and cons, and pros won pretty convincingly. I’ll definitely share more in my next post!

      Reply
  5. Our Next Life

    Congrats! This is great news. More than you saving money, I’m glad you’ll have a break from the long-distance relationship. We started that way, and in person is a lot better. Haha. 🙂 As a couple who’ve worked remotely for years now, the biggest piece of advice I’d offer is to overcommunicate about what you’re working on, and making sure as many people as possible at your company hear from you on a regular basis. It’s easy to be “out of sight, out of mind,” and you don’t want that!
    Our Next Life recently posted…The Frugal Habits We Don’t Miss for One SecondMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks ONL! I agree, I think our relationship will mature because of this. Thanks for the remote work arrangement advice – noted!

      Reply
  6. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

    Congrats FF! This is really exciting news! I’m a big believer that if you learn how to be frugal in high cost areas, you’ll be good to go in lower ones (though you’ll have to avoid what I call “scarcity spending” or “Reverse sticker shock” and buying ALL THE THINGS!). I do it backwards… I work in the midwest and live in Alaska… whoops! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear about how this changes EVERYTHING!

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks Maggie! I don’t have a spendypants background, but I do plan to make sure that since my fixed living expenses will go down, that I let the variable ones creep up.

      Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I wouldn’t say “high” haha, but yes definitely higher than I would expect to earn working in the Midwest. Thanks!

      Reply
  7. Norm

    Nice! I’m from New England too, and would never be able to handle NYC. Fun place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I don’t understand the appeal: All the hassles, plus a higher cost of living and higher taxes. Albany is big enough for me, and I can visit the city whenever I want.

    I would love to work remotely, but there is absolutely zero chance of that ever happening. State government is about forty years behind in terms of office structuring and technology.
    Norm recently posted…Our Rental Property Income Statement, The First Seven MonthsMy Profile

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    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      New England rocks! I work for a very large company and I’m pretty shocked by their fluidity and ability to accommodate change pretty rapidly. Sounds like the opposite of a state bureaucracy 😉

      Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      We are very excited for sure. I definitely can’t complain about strengthening my relationship and my financial life at the same time.

      Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Interesting Claudia. I do pretty well alone. Will just have to make sure I talk to people at the gym and employees/friends throughout the day/evening.

      Reply
  8. Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire

    Awesome, Fervent! I’m definitely not a NYC kind of person because I like to live much, much slower, so I can definitely understand your willingness (and desire) to move out to the Midwest (for some reason I have Omaha on the brain as your destination city, but of course I have absolutely no idea).

    Hope you enjoy your new digs and much closer proximity to the GF. Definitely sounds like an awesome move for you!
    Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire recently posted…Why I may never own a home againMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks Steve! I wish I was going to be neighbors with Warren, but your guess is too far west 🙂

      Reply
  9. Mr. SSC

    Congrats man! Long distance relationships suck… We met in NO and then went back to our respective states and schools for another year (CO and IL) and beyond the increase spending in plane travel, it just sucks being with someone and not being able to be with someone. Good for you on negotiating that work situation!
    That should be great for savings too even if travel is increased. Maybe it will work into a more permanent lifestyle change and something you’re more happy with. Good luck either way!
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Our first baby step towards FFLCMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      They do suck, but we made it work… with flexible work, lots of air miles and cash 🙂 I’m interested into seeing what this 6 month arrangement will evolve into!

      Reply
  10. Team CF

    Great plan, you guys will certainly have a blast together. And as noted above a couple of times already, you should be able to get ahead a bit faster on your path to FI with the reduced expenses. Curious to see how you will be doing in the future.
    Team CF recently posted…Why Do We Have Advertisements?My Profile

    Reply
  11. Taylor

    Woohoo! Congratulations on this AWESOME new change 🙂 So many different exciting things happening all at once, but I gotta say, no more LDR will be amazing!! My partner and I did it for 1.5 years between London and Los Angeles and I never want to do it again. Being with your person every single day is the best feeling in the world 🙂 So happy for you both!

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks Andrew! I’ll definitely miss a lot about NYC but excited about the new adventure.

      Reply
  12. Chops

    Funny, I just relocated to Cedar Rapids from CT about a year ago with my wife. We also came here for (her) higher income and were pleasantly surprised not only at the far lower cost of living but the lack of conspicuous consumerism that we’ve found here. Suffice to say, we like it a lot better. Hope you have a similar journey.

    – chops

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Congrats on the move Chops. Glad it is working well and I hope I have a similar experience.

      Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks Amanda! I met her about 2 years ago, just when I was learning about FIRE. So she’s been around for all of my FIRE journey thus far. She definitely is on board with the FI part and has made a bunch of great changes in her financial life to get herself on track for FI. I just need to work on the RE part with her 😉

      Reply
  13. Harmony @ CreatingMyKaleidoscope

    This is so exciting! I’m so proud of you for taking the initiative to suggest something new to your boss. I tweaked my situation a bit by working from home one day per week and a local office on another day. While these were minor changes, they made a sizable impact on my sense of balance. I’m sure this change will be an awesome one for you!
    Harmony @ CreatingMyKaleidoscope recently posted…My Fill-The-Bucket List: Dreams Completed And Those Yet To Be AchievedMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks Harmony. That’s great that you were able to work in some flexibility in your job as well!

      Reply

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