I broke my lease and moved to South America
On January 9th, I learned that I’d soon be out of a job.
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On January 9th, I learned that I’d soon be out of a job when my employer announced its discontinuation.
On that day, 70% of our team was let go. The remaining 5 employees were selected for a skeleton team with one task: wind down the brand as gracefully as possible. Corporate assisted suicide.
To see your best friends suddenly become unemployed to no fault of their own is agonizing. The only consolation is in knowing how talented each of them is and how lucky their next employers will be to land them.
As for me, I was one of the five. This meant that I was at least employed for a little while longer.
Employment means income, and in America, it also means health care, dental care, and therapy.
The expectation was that the discontinuation would be completed by spring. For personal planning purposes, this meant we should expect to be unemployed and without income and benefits by May 1st, at the latest.
Rather than ask what subject line was best for the day’s scheduled campaign, I was now asking myself what life would look like after May 1st.
Maybe it’s because of the Stoic title my book club is reading, but I realized the answer to this was entirely in my control.
The question became what could my life look like after May 1st?
If you’ve ever been let go or part of a discontinuation, it sucks. You want clarity on what comes next and comfort that you’ll be ok. Both of which, only you can create.
I find comfort in routine and consistency. Perhaps that’s just the Taurus in me. During turbulent times, I coil to seek stability. Part of what allows me to spring out is a renewed understanding of my personal finances. It informs how I can regain comfort. How I can loosen the grip of financial anxiety.
In order to answer what my life could look like after May 1st, I first needed to know how long I could last until I needed a new job and a new paycheck. What was my personal runway in months (Rm)?
Within minutes I learned that my monthly cost of living (mCOL), rent included, in Boston for the year 2022 was: $5,873.
Savings ÷ mCOL = Rm
Ok, I could make it a few months in the country’s now second-most expensive city before I needed a paycheck.
Actually, maybe more.
I still had a few more paychecks coming. Assuming my savings rate stayed the same, I could make it to the fall before broke.
What could I pursue until then?
My instincts were drawn to the safe option of finding a new job. This would allow me to keep what I had in an apartment, a routine, a comfortable, familiar life. At most, there would only be a slight interruption to my career and earning, both of which I could absorb.
But, I wanted to evolve, not repeat.
Rather than curl into comfort, I needed to crawl out toward the edge of unknown.
I asked again, what could I pursue until then?
As a 31-year-old, many have told me “resume gaps” are a risk. But, risk can be repackaged as opportunity. My employer’s discontinuation offered me the opportunity to find out if the answer to “Do I believe in myself?” was fuck yes.
The only risk was in never finding out this answer.
I had a chance to bet on myself. A bet that, if we’re being honest, I wouldn’t have had the courage to choose. I needed this nudge. My employer’s rejection became my redirection.
I could now make myself available to receive the abundance of opportunities I planned to attract.
To do so, I knew I had to leave Boston. It would be too comfortable. It would dull the risks I’d take, and reduce the time I had to take them. I needed to slash my safety net and my cost of living.
I called my landlord and broke my lease. I called my parents to tell them I’d broken my lease and asked if I could stay with them for a few nights. I sold my furniture on Facebook marketplace and donated what didn’t.
By the end of the week, all I had was a suitcase of mixed-season clothes, a box of momentos, and a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires where I rented an apartment for the next 2 months.
As Maura Ball reminded me, “You have to be willing to fail if you’re going to do anything worthwhile.”
I won’t sell a grandiose narrative about why I chose Buenos Aires as my first stop. The main attraction was the reduced cost of living. I knew I could live here for 2–3x less than in Boston.
This new mCOL meant more time to pursue my curiosities without worrying about the income each generated.
Buenos Aires provided me the opportunity to experiment, just for the fuck of it. It created space to create.
Equally as attractive is the warmth of Buenos Aires. Not just the temperature, but the people. Kindness seems to be its own currency here, and one that is generously circulated. Beyond that is an admiration of the confidence, and acknowledgment of the sensual aura that encloses each person.
Both natural, as if instinct.
So far, in the month and a half that I’ve been here, I’ve played in familiar waters.
I rebuilt my website to better honor my writings, my art, and my projects. I expanded my portfolio to a new medium ($29.95, Piece of Glass), and I finally published my 5-year soberversary piece Stress Testing Sobriety.
I intentionally picked these low-hanging fruits to build and bring a momentum into my first experiment: Celi
Though I can’t tell you exactly what it is (yet), you’re invited to join the already 286 people participating in it here:
The next time you see my name in your inbox, I’ll share the details of this experiment, why I asked each question, and what I’m planning to build.
All I ask is for your participation.
Until then, I’ll be arriving early to too-late dinner reservations, sweating through a ribbed tank, and letting a guy named Punxx inject ink into my dermis.
*When visiting countries with a reduced cost of living, it's important to acknowledge your contribution to local gentrification. As a tourist, nomad, or expat it’s your responsibility to circulate the advantages of your favorable exchange rate in an attempt to offset your contribution to this. Additionally, explore ways you can further contribute directly to the local community and economy, make attempts to learn the language, and refrain from comparisons. If appropriate, ask your local relationships how you can further be a respectful guest.