Table of Contents
- The Wants
- The Financial Plan
- (back of the envelope) Analysis
- Alternatives considered
- Are you still interested in FI? And in RE?
- You didn’t mention investments at all. How is your investment strategy going to change?
- What about going back to Hooli?
- What about unemployment insurance? Will you go to RAV?
- Should you rent an office/coworking space if you want to work on your projects?
- Last but not Least… for how long are you allowed to stay in Switzerland without a job?
- Let’s face the elephant in the room: How do you plan to generate money?
This is the second post on my quitting series. Last time I told you that on Feb 6th 2020 I quit Hooli. Well, I gave my notice period, I’m still a Hooli employee until March 31st. I also shared with you my internal dialogue associated with this tough decision. I have a lot more to write about it, about all the reasons why I quit, why I got progressively more detached over time, why I think I’m done with my career, what I didn’t like about my employer and my industry, but also why I think Hooli is still a great company… but not today!
Today I’m going to talk about the financial plans for the near future. It will be an interesting journey, I hope you’l enjoy it 🙂
And of course, please, help me validate my plans, give me feedback and kick my ass if necessary!
So, I quit my job and I’m not looking for another one. I’m not FI in Switzerland and I’m staying here. How to call this?
LeanFIRE? Nope. At an optimistic 3.5% SWR our wealth could cover half of our current baseline expenses.
SemiFI? Well, maybe. But according to r/SemiFI “about” section: “semiFI is a strategy in which one downscales in employment after acquiring a large portion of one’s savings goal. Downscaling could mean intermittent work or a lower paying job. It’s about achieving partial freedom now, rather than total freedom later“. Kind of fits my current situation. Except that I’m not downscaling. At least I don’t have the intention of taking part-time, intermittent, or a lower paying job in my field right now. I’m running away! I don’t want an office job, and I don’t want to freelance (for now) as well. So… Nope.
Just taking a Mini Retirement? Yeah, maybe, kind of. How mini is this retirement? I don’t know. How retirement is this mini? I know not.
“So RIP, you’re telling us that you quit your current job, you’re not looking for a new job, and you’re staying in Switzerland spending at least 7k CHF per month? And you recently moved into a more expensive flat while also sending your daughter to an expensive Kinderkrippe? Well, that’s… interesting…”
So much interesting that in absence of a better term I want to call it StupidiFI. I.e. being technically FI according to my old metrics, but intentionally not FI because I want to live in a VHCOL country with my family. I’m promoting stupidity!
“HaHaHa RIP! 30 years of Net Worth tracking, 18 years of “dream jobs”, 7.5 years of accelerated accumulation at Hooli, and almost 4 years blogging about FI… and you’re screwing everything up now? Haha where is the unsubscribe button? 😀 ”
Yeah, it’s fun. But – as always – wait before judging 🙂
I have a plan!
But before that, let’s see which kind of problem are we trying to solve.
Is this a FI problem? I mean, should we optimize our family decisions to achieve FI by some definition? Or is it something else?
The way I now see Financial Independence it is a bit different from few years ago.
I started my FI journey thinking “let’s work work work accumulate a lot and then call it done, quit, and relax”.
I’m no more that person. Going that way already costed me some health and happiness. I’m closer, but I’m not there yet. Something needs to change.
I want to optimize for health (physical and mental), then for happiness (family, individual, circle of people that I care about, and rest-of-the-world in this order), then – eventually – for freedom, wealth and financial security. Which are inferior goals compared to the first two, but still nice ones to achieve.
This means I’m ok with slowing our wealth accumulation down and taking some risks, if this means having a better chance at the life satisfaction game.
So, what are the criteria to improve my health and my family overall happiness? I and my wife sat down together several times in the last couple of months, and defined what’s important for us. Sorry BabyRIP, your vote doesn’t count yet. Well… you got good attorneys, do not worry.
The list of criteria is pretty long, and most of them are in open conflict one another, but we ended up finding agreement on the following:
- I’m not able to be an employee anymore for the foreseeable future. This might change in few months/years, but I need to take a significant break now.
- We love or current neighborhood, city, and country. We want to try to stay in Switzerland because we objectively like almost everything of our daily life here. A lot of friends, an amazing almost car-free neighborhood, a lot of green areas, essentially the best place for a child to be born, a multicultural environment, a mentally challenging community, physical safety and much more. The only problem is that it’s very expensive.
- Moving back to Italy is still an option, but it doesn’t excite us. We are willing to sacrifice a bit of financial security to try to stay here in Switzerland. It means we’re ok with reducing by 5% the chances of FIRE success in future in Italy if that means raising by 50% the chances of staying in Switzerland for 5 years or more. Probabilities are subjective, but I hope you get the idea.
- If we had to go back to Italy we have a huge list of criteria (good quality of life, not a major city, close to the sea, close to public transportation, fast internet, bicycle friendly, not far from both our families, vibrant community and so on) that made us think at the Romagna area, eastern side of Emilia-Romagna region.
- Current candidate Italian town for now is Ravenna (or Ferrara, Faenza, or any one on the “colli romagnoli” like Modigliana). Do not ask me more about this, we chose that place almost randomly. If the Ravenna project will kick off, we’ll explore the area in depth and pick a final destination – which could be completely different from the current candidate.
- It may even be that in case we more back to Italy I’d make a “call to action” to kick off a early retiree eco-tecno-village somewhere in the south of Italy. Instead of trying to find he best existing place to go, let’s try to create a place where we want to go! Who’s in?
- We owe our daughter something, but not everything. I’ve written down (not validated with my wife though) what I owe my daughter, and what I owe her not. It’s my duty to keep her safe, well fed, educated. It’s my duty to expose her to opportunities and enable (to a certain extent) her to achieve her full potential. It’s my duty to make her feel loved. I also perceive as my duty to grow her in a lovely environment, which translates in trying to be happy myself and cultivate love and harmony within my family. It’s not my duty to grow her in the safest place in the world. It’s not my duty to send her to the most expensive university. It’s not my duty to optimize for her opportunities at the price of my health and happiness. She’ll be fine anyway. I grew in worst conditions, without me as a parent, without internet as an opportunity machine. I had the gift of the struggle. She’ll be fine everywhere. Of course growing in Switzerland is a plus, but it’s a “best effort”, not a “must have” feature.
- I want to be productive on my projects, which may or may not earn some money. I don’t want to retire to live the good life. I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure. (John D. Rockefeller)
- My wife also wants to be productive and have some space to cultivate her passion projects, but we both agree that to maximize the likelihood of staying in Switzerland for as long as we want I’m the best bet for the family. Therefore she’s willing to take ownership of a larger amount of shared household responsibilities (taking care of BabyRIP and house chores). Sending Baby to Krippe 2 days per week is a good tradeoff for now. When she turns 3 (April 2021) more and cheaper options will become available, like Spielgruppe (playing groups) in our neighborhood. Then at age 4 she’ll go to Kindergarten every day, which is essentially free.
- We both value “alone time”, “family time”, and “social time”. Which means whatever productive activity we take, it must be flexible enough to not suffocate the above mentioned priorities. We want to give ourselves the gift of time.
- We’re both aware that we have been lucky so far with our parents’ health. It won’t last for long. our parents are in the 67-76 years old range, and their health won’t be so good forever. We want to be able to give them the support they need, when they’ll need it. Which kills any long term crazy plan like move-to-Thailand-because-is-cool.
The Financial Plan
The above list is pretty big, and it tries to answer too many questions: where do we go? What do we want to do? How to make it financially sustainable? There are many moving parts and unknowns. Since this is still a FI blog, let’s fix the financials first.
We have a good amount of money, which we all know it is not enough to be FI in Switzerland at our current spending level. Well, actually it’s not enough to be FI here at any spending level for a family of 3. But it’s enough to bootstrap next phase of our life, and a plan B.
How? Not too fast. It’s… Storytime! 😀
I wanted to quit Hooli in June 2019.
I remember counting down the days.
I actually wanted to quit in fall 2017! I was struggling to find meaning while working in Hooli Shopping Search Quality (ranking algorithm). I was doing good and getting good performance scores, but I couldn’t sustain it anymore.
“Why RIP? What didn’t you…”
No no no. Not today. Shut up and listen!
After 6 months of pain, and feelings of meaninglessness I reached “bonus day” (Jan 25th 2018) and thought… “Ok, maybe I should just quit and then think what to do. No, that’s crazy. It’s Hooli, the best company in the world! Let’s try to change team again (I already changed team 1.5 years prior) because I’m sure it’s just a quality problem. I don’t like working in ranking, search quality. Hooli is full of almost infinite opportunities!”
Changed team (Hooli Video) in February 2018. By the end of March (two months later) I was already half dead. In retrospect I would have been much better off staying in my previous team and maybe grinding another year to get a promotion… but that’s just a stupid “what if” game that doesn’t make sense anymore. Financially, I knew I was going to enjoy 3 months of generous Paternity Leave in summer 2018, so I started planning for a potential quitting date of January 2019.
I started my first “freedom calendar”, a countdown sheet to count the days until January 31st 2019.
Year 2018 has been a slog and my productivity declined, but the long summer break (paternity leave) helped in making it a bit more sustainable.
Then December 2018 came. Out of nowhere, a couple of weeks of interesting and challenging algorithmic work showed up. Such a rarity! You know, the things we ask at coding interviews are never ever ever representative of daily life of a software engineer, but those two weeks have been awesome! I worked extra hours, I didn’t want to stop working on both Fridays! I was in the flow thanks to a self contained problem I had to solve and engineer. Awesome! Maybe this is going to last! I was re-evaluating my quitting decision… Add to that the October-December 2018 market downturn, and you got it right: I’m not quitting in January 2019 anymore!
Of course it didn’t last.
Corporate bullshit machine forced me to switch to another project while the amazing one was not even close to be finished, but “good enough”. Maintenance mode. Soon to be deprecated, rewritten, offered to someone who would have hated it. My frustration and feelings at the time were close to this amazing write-up by Eevee in his Vox 2015 interview:
Ok, I told you today I was not going to tell “why” I quit- and I’ll stop here, for now 🙂
So I entered my dark Q1 2019, where I started another countdown sheet with the goal of quitting by June 2019 (a vesting event):
The pain was unbearable though. I asked for a part time work reduction, and/or for a sabbatical but… denied both. So I got a paid 6 months “sabbatical” thanks to a comprehensive doctor who diagnosed me with burnout on the last week of March.
The actual plan
June 2019 arrived, still on sick leave, still a Hooli employee.
I was fine quitting in January 2019. At FIWE 2018 (June 2018) I had a talk about my midlife crisis. Everybody told me to “go fuck myself” and just quit the job that was making me unhappy. We also wrote a funny resignation letter together!
Why am I telling you this?
Because my financial plan for the short and mid term future is connected with June 2019.
As you should know if you’re following me since at least last summer, I didn’t give myself permission to quit. I wanted to try yet another thing at Hooli Cloud, and I did try it. It didn’t turn out to be enough to bring my motivation back, but it came with some perks: a lot of extra money.
I want to give a specific meaning to the extra money earned in this very last attempt.
Quitting in March 2020 brought to the table 9 more salaries, a yearly bonus, 35k USD of stocks, 6 months of Reliability Engineer extra 20% compensation, and other perks like pension contributions, health insurance contributions and so on.
“RIP, what a pity… June 2020 was close… and Hooli stocks are skyorocketing! How much would you vest?”
Oh please, give me a break! What? Ehm… something like 40k USD of stocks in June 2020…
“…And then December 2020 / January 2021 would be near!”
Can you see the danger? I found the courage to break this golden chain, so please GFY!
Back on track: I wanted to quit in June, and maybe moving back to Italy. I was more than ok with that. How are we doing, financially, compared to June 2019? We’re in a much better shape, almost 200k EUR wealthier!
I want to use this amount as a buffer, as “recreational money”. I want to visualize the power of extra 9 months of work in terms of extra years of living in Switzerland! The growth of our wealth since June 2019 is now funding the “Stay in Switzerland” project.
Let me introduce you to this graph:In this graph (live link in my spreadsheet doc here) the yellow line is our Net Worth since January 2018, measured in EUR.
The blue line is the so called “Ravenna Threat“, i.e. a threshold value for our NW that if reached from the above “something should happen” (more on this below). The Ravenna threat value is our Net Worth level by end of June 2019 (1,018,750 EUR), growing by 1% per year to emulate inflation adjustment.
The red scary line is the “Pioltello Monster“, which is our Net Worth in January 2019 (759,370 EUR) growing by 1% inflation. If our NW would reach the Pioltello Monster “something should happen NOW”. Why Pioltello? Because it’s a crappy town close to Milan, Italy, where “someone” owned a shitty flat. Do we want to awake the Pioltello Monster? No! Never!
The difference between current Net Worth and Ravenna threat is the Swiss Buffer, which is nicely crossing 200k EUR these days:the actual actual plan
So, finally, the financial plan is the following:
1) We stay in Switzerland, working on our passion projects, while our Net Worth is above the Ravenna Threat, i.e. while the Swiss Buffer is positive.
2) If our NW declined and fell below the Ravenna Threat for 3 consecutive months, either we should find a way to become cash flow positive (get a real job?) or we leave Switzerland.
3) If our NW declined and fell below the Pioltello Monster, we must react immediately: leave Switzerland or get a job.
4) To give us some breathing time, we allow ourselves a grace period of 1 year (until March 31st 2021) where we don’t care what happens to our Net Worth. That means if tomorrow market crashes 90% and we found ourselves below Pioltello Monster, we don’t give a crap anyway until March 31st 2021.
That’s our current financial plan, which is – for now – only setting conditions and consequences. It tells us nothing about how we plan to make or spend money.
It’s a plan that allows us to focus on short/mid term goals without the worry of money. I strongly need to care about my health, enjoy time with my family, cultivate my creativity and passions, check if my software career is definitely dead or not.
I know it doesn’t make sense to plan for the far future in this moment.
(back of the envelope) Analysis
Let’s play a bit with numbers.
Swiss Buffer is currently 200k EUR (212k CHF). February 2020 is telling me that we can keep expenses at around 6k CHF per month. Of course, given our NIWK (No Income With Kids) status, we’ll try to be frugal and think twice about going out for dinner and other superficial expenses. I’m optimistic that we can keep yearly expenses in the 70-75k CHF range.
[2020-02-27 Update: yeah, I wrote this post less then 10 days ago and Swiss Buffer is now 150k. Almost 50k lost in slightly more than a week. I should have called Coronavirus Monster, not Pioltello!]
At this spending regime, our buffer would last almost 3 years. This is of course “all other things being equal”. If our portfolio generates positive returns, this can last for much more. If in the meantime we earn some money, the buffer can last even more. Maybe forever?
On the opposite side, if market crashes in the near future it can send us back to Italy earlier than planned, unless we’re wiling to become cash flow positive again.
I’m a prudent person, leaning toward pessimism (which I simply call realism, or “worst case scenario planning”, or fear setting – which is part of stoicism), but I feel optimistic about the future 🙂
This is a huge shift in how we perceive our wealth. We’re kind of taking a part of it, and perceiving it as a “happiness fund“. a fund we’re ok with squandering to try to build the life we want (we saved for it).
And if things won’t go in the direction we hope, we’ll be fine with it. We would have invested 200k EUR in 2-3-4-N years of living the life we wanted. We’d wake up one morning and… “holy shit, we wasted a fortune! We only have a Million Euro (plus some) left 🙁 Let’s go back to Italy and be almost FI there”.
It doesn’t look like a disaster scenario to me.
Few days ago, a reader with whom I exchange regular mails (thanks JV!) sent me this amazing post on the More To That blog, which of course I devoured in the last 3 days. Go read it! The post resonated a lot with me. It told me that I still approach wealth with a scarcity mindset. This plan for the near future is a huge step up in the Money Spectrum. The Swiss Buffer + Ravenna Threat funds match the freedom-as-leisure and freedom-in-work stages modeled in the post. While reading it I perceived myself climbing up a ladder made of objective wealth and smiled at it. But the final twist (ok, no spoiler) hit me even harder. It resonated with Money and confidence are interchangeable, one of my preferred posts on Mr Money Mustache blog. It’s a cold shower, and a call to action.
And I’m ready for it!
Moving back to Italy soon
Live FIRE metrics say we’re at 102.16% of our original goal, which means we’d be FI in Italy.
[2020-02-27 Update: aaand we’re back at 98.39% in less than 10 days…]
Wait… let’s celebrate! Hold my beer!
Well, the target was not well designed. It was not based on real Italian expenses, Italian tax conditions, drags on Investment returns (i.e. lower SWR to consider)… it was a coarse grained target, to give a direction for the wind to blow. Anyway, even if not “really FI” in Italy, we’d be very close.
Would that be such a bad idea to move back to Italy on April First? Apart for having spoiled a nice April Fool joke, we don’t see it happening now. We feel much happier with this new plan.
But moving back to Italy in few years from now might not be a horrible thing. As I said, our parents are growing old and may need some help, our finances would be much stronger in Italy than in Switzerland, and maybe if we can skip the new fascist wave which is coming with the zombies, the walkers, the undeads, and the night king we will find a welcoming place 🙂
Having said that, a game where we reduce the “Italian FI fund” by little, while increasing the odds of living “forever” a life we think it’s better… that’s a game we are willing to play.
Setting two distinct funds
Another alternative would have been to set a specific Swiss Fund and a FI Fund, and let them grow independently. Maybe the first one just cash, and the second one with investments and cash. Dividends from FI Fund would go reinvested within it, while any other earning would go into the Swiss Fund.
- if market crashed tomorrow the Swiss Fund won’t be affected and we can stay in Switzerland for a more predictable time.
- We can be more aggressive with investments in the FI Fund.
- The first advantage is a lie. If FI Fund crashes 50% I won’t feel at ease draining the Swiss Fund.
- Swiss Fund will hardly sustain us after 2-3 years without a positive cash flow.
This alternative makes our permanence in Switzerland more predictable and the exit conditions random. I actually want to opposite: clear exit conditions and some randomness in the Swiss permanence.
Having a single fund means that the “Stay in Switzerland” project is connected with portfolio fluctuations, currency fluctuations and all other risk factors in our Net Worth. I’d rather keep the “Almost FI” condition (Ravenna threshold) constant (inflation adjusted), while accepting market fluctuations and cash flow events into the Swiss Buffer, with a one year grace period.
Are you still interested in FI? And in RE?
Of course I am!
I’m so into FI that after I reached it (102.17% on Feb 19th 2020) I’m going to lose it on purpose to be able to reach it again! 😀
[2020-02-27 Update: it didn’t take much, we’re at 98.39% a week after…]
Jokes apart, FI is always a goal, even if not “the” goal anymore. I think I’d design my life differently if we were “comfy FI”.
Since we’re not, I will still schedule my time around productivity. “How to make money” will be a central thought (not in the first 3-6 months, I hope), and my endeavors will revolve around chances to make some money. If money weren’t an issue anymore, I might focus on more idealistic activities for the long term.
About RE… I’m not even sure what it means now. What is Early Retirement? Am I retired now? Isn’t it more of a state of mind? Isn’t it a “spectrum” instead of a black or white thing? I think we need to rethink the concept of Early Retirement, which is what attracts most of the haters and critiques to the FIRE movement btw.
You didn’t mention investments at all. How is your investment strategy going to change?
I don’t think our investment strategy is going to change a lot. I think the investing sheet on my NW spreadsheet will keep functioning and telling ourselves where to put our money.
I already switched to be more prudent, and raised a huge cash cushion. Even too much! I’m in the process of putting money back into stocks after having chickened out in November 2019.
We will start the journey with a sizeable cash cushion (100-120k CHF in our PostFinance account), and on the investments side we have another 250k EUR sitting in InteractiveBrokers waiting to be reinvested in 2020. The plan is to Dollar Cost Average 20k EUR per month into VT, VYM and VYMI. Plus some bonds, more on bonds will come soon.
Over time, assuming we don’t earn a dime, our cash cushion will shrink. I will adjust the target down, probably down to 50k over time.
Anyway, if the question was “did you change your Investor Policy Statement?” the answer is “not yet”, but I should. It’s so outdated now.
Move back to a smaller flat? Nope.
Cut cleaning lady costs: done. But maybe we’ll hire her back occasionally, like once a month.
Baby to Krippe? I think there’s value for all of us if she goes, even though it’s not cheap (924 CHF/Mo for 2 days per week).
What else… I’m still monitoring expenses and see what’s the baseline after the move settles. We know we have 3-5k CHF more to spend for the move into the new flat (a new sofa, a new bed&mattress for us, the entire Baby room, a bookshelf, and a couple of lamps), but February has been a nice benchmark month so far, with zero move related expenses and just a couple of one-offs (a new phone for me for 198 CHF, and a family yearly pass at the amazing local Zoo for 210 CHF). So far so good. We’re on track to finish the month below 6k CHF expenses, which is very good compared to last 5-6 months.
We plan to review more closely our current expenses, and to see if we can cut something, later in the year.
Anyway, I do want to take a minute of silence to be grateful for the fact that we’re allowing ourselves to stay in the most expensive country in the world, both unemployed, in a big flat, sending our daughter to expensive childcare and evaluating whether we should have a cleaning lady or not? I don’t like to brag, but I’m a bit proud of this 🙂
What about going back to Hooli?
On my side, never say never even though I don’t want to consider it for the next 11 months.
Why 11? It seems there’s an unwritten rule that if you quit in good standings you can come back within one year no question asked. But it’s not been confirmed by HR. Plus, since my performances deteriorated in last 2 years, I don’t think I’ll be welcomed back at Hooli.
Last but not least, it’s performance evaluation time right now. And I’ve done nothing to prevent a “Below Expectations” rating. Good thing is that I won’t see it coming, because the disclosure of rating scores will happen in end of April, after I quit. But I’ll get rated anyway, and that rating is going to be not good. I’m doing nothing to prevent it.
They say don’t burn bridges… I hope that in the remote case I would want to come back my story will be strong enough to overcome a not-that-amazing leave.
P.S. If you’re a Hooli employee and you want to leave an internal “unsolicited feedback” to tell me if and how I made an impact on your life… that would mean a lot to me 🙂 If you don’t know how to find me, I registered an obvious “5 letters alias” internal email address 🙂
What about unemployment insurance? Will you go to RAV?
Initially I didn’t want to go. Unemployment here is a real job. You’re a RAV employee. RAV stays for Regionalen Arbeitsvermittlungszentrum (Regional Employment Center).
Being a RAV employee means that you have monthly meetings with your tutor, must attend whatever course they send you to, must learn German at level B1 or above (they’ll send you to an intensive German course at the beginning if you don’t speak good enough), must apply for at least 10 job positions per month, and if you want to go on vacation, you accrue 5 days of vacation every 60 working days (roughly a week every 3 months).
In exchange for that, RAV (actually the Arbeitslosenkasse, the insurance) will pay you a salary which is capped to 70% or 80% (having kids it’s 80% in my case) of 126k CHF annually, i.e. 8.4k CHF gross per month. Not bad.
Do I want to do that? Add to this that if you quit your job you won’t get paid for the first 3 months, and if you get an offer you kind of must accept it or lose unemployment money. Plus they can send you to work somewhere for the RAV money, and you have no say. It means they can tell you “hey, tomorrow you go to work for this company for a month, we pay you 8.4k CHF”.
Do I want to do this? Definitely not.
But maybe the devil is not as black as he is painted.
First, the “burnout doctor” convinced me that I should do it. That I’m quitting my job for health reasons, and that he can certify my medical condition to RAV. Which means no waiting period, i.e. I get paid from day 1.
Second, one can announce themself to RAV as seeking standard employment or self employment. I don’t know exactly how the latter works, I’m going to dig into this during March. What I heard is that RAV will support you financially (3 or 6 months) if you want to become self employed, given that you’ve done some homework (like Porter’s 5 Forces analysis.. yes, I know, terabytes of bullshit), and you have a concrete plan to profitability. No need to send job applications or other bullshit.
This is still to be defined, but I think I’ll take advantage of unemployment for a while, at least to make the pay cut more gradual. In the end, I’ve paid unemployment insurance for 7.5 years, and I have certified medical conditions. On the ethic side I feel ok with that.
Plus, becoming self employed is something I want to do anyway (even if just to take my whole Pillar 2 out).
Should you rent an office/coworking space if you want to work on your projects?
I hope not.
I’m paying 930 CHF/Mo more than a couple of months ago for this new flat which has a dedicated room for my office and my sauna (LOL).
I’m also spending another 924 CHF/Mo to sent Baby to Krippe 2 days a week.
That should be enough to allow creative work to happen.
In case working from home will not be sustainable during the days Baby is at home, then I’ll look for a solution. Either a coworking space (there are two within 500 meters from home), or a Hobbyraum, i.e. a spare room for cheap rent that almost all buildings have here in our neighborhood. Our building has two amazing rooms, one of which seems not occupied. I’ll contact the landlord to see if it’s available and what’s the price 😉
Last but not Least… for how long are you allowed to stay in Switzerland without a job?
That’s a great question. I’ve been awaken by a friend/colleague: “Hey RIP, you’re an immigrant, you have a work permit. They’ll kick you out if you don’t have a job anymore!”
At first I had cold sweats.
Then he sent me a link: “here you go. You can stay in Switzerland for 6 months, then you’re out“.
Then he walked away. And I panicked.
Then I did my research, and found that’s more complicated than that, but in a positive way.
According to the Staatssekretariat für Migration (SEM):
Type C EU/EFTA settlement permit: […] While holders of a settlement permit are entitled to stay for an unlimited period of time, their permanent residence status needs to be confirmed every five years. […]
My C Permit has a control date of October 2022, so for the next 2.5 years we should be fine. My wife and daughter C permits are even fresher. I don’t know how weird would it be if I will be kicked out from Switzerland while they could stay. Btw, if by October 2022 we are still both unemployed with no income I guess it’s time to leave anyway.
There’s also the option to stay in Switzerland without gainful activity.
Again, from SEM website:
Economically inactive persons must have sufficient financial means to ensure that they do not become dependent upon Swiss social security benefits (welfare) and therefore a burden on the host country;
Economically inactive persons must be fully covered by health insurance (all risks, incl. accident insurance).
Financial means are deemed adequate if they exceed the welfare entitlement threshold established under Swiss law
I think we can demonstrate enough “financial means” even at my C permit
expiration control time, just in case.
Last but not least, on Englishforum (which is not the law, I agree) people seem to take it easy with a C permit and no job…
Btw, my C permit control time corresponds to my 10 years in Switzerland, which means I could start the naturalization process and obtain Swiss Citizenship. Now that I think about it, October 2022 would be quite a benchmark for our plans…
Let’s face the elephant in the room: How do you plan to generate money?
It’s a tough question… and as I said I don’t think I have the clarity to answer right now.
I can give you a list of possible options:
- Find another job in my field? A startup? A non profit? This is not a solution that I take into account right now, but I don’t exclude I’ll go this way in a year from now. Even though I consider myself unemployable right now, I know that going back to Plato’s cave is the easiest solution. I’ll try to resist. It seems a joke, but after I sent my resignation letter recruiters are contacting me 10x more frequently. Just today I received an interview offer for Congo Rainforest, Web Services division :I It will be hard to ignore the inflow…
- Freelance/Consultancy/Training, maybe part time/seasonal? That’s also another option. I’ve talked with a few people living a very good life working as contractors / freelancers. Being able to control where to work from and being in control of their working time. I already did that for 2 years, and it’s been the best time of my career! Why not try it again? Well, not in the near future, but I guess it will look like a very interesting option in a year from now.
- Become a Financial Advisor/Planner? Get an official certificate for it? That’s something that excites me right now. I may decide to take a serious certification like CFA or CFP and take the financial coaching one step further. In a recent Compound episode, Josh and Michael pointed out that “financial advisors don’t retire“, and that’s probably because it’s a nice job, well paid, with all the positive aspects of a freelancing job (work from everywhere, you decide how many customers to handle, you decide how much you want to work).
- Try a real job (maybe part time) that excites me. People manager, community manager, teacher assistant and so on? Yeah. That could also be an option. A regret I have at Hooli is that I never got that extra promotion that would have allowed me to manage people. I think I’d be a good people manager, and I have hard time convincing recruiters that I’d be good at it outside Hooli. Just on the same day I sent my resignation letter, a recruiter contacted me to check if I’m interested in a Site Reliability Engineer Manager position at a company paying Hooli-like salaries. I thought it was a joke. It took me 2 hours to craft the resignation letter and to click “send”… and two hours later I accepted to interview for a manager position? LOL. Anyway, I’m letting this application die. Not now, not today. Call me back in six months.
- Do not care about money and do whatever I like, at least for a while? Things like blogging, coaching, writing a FIRE book, writing a fiction book, do standup comedy, act in theater, teach theater acting, launch a podcast, start a YT channel, create online courses, help people with career development, take another degree, focus on my health, focus on my family, teach Youniversity, all the other things I mentioned here… Yes, that’s where my guts are telling me to go now.
- Do a mix of the above (work part time or freelance while blogging)? … and that’s where I’ll probably end up in few months from now!
So I’d probably just work on my passions for “a while”. For sure until this summer, I owe it to myself and my family.
My hope is that I could implement the Passive + Passion income model by Miss Montana. But as I said, I know not (yet).
And it doesn’t mean I don’t have options, or I have no idea. It just means I don’t know yet which way I want to monetize my skills. I might start the CFA or CFP certification, and kicking off a new career. I could keep doing coaching (maybe improving the quality of my job), offering career growth support (how to pass a coding interview), or manage actual people money… or any one project out of the ~150 entries in my 15 pages doc titled “Crazy ideas on how to make money in the future” (not shared here, sorry).
I mean, I have a lot of options. I’m aware of that, and I’m extremely grateful for it. I just don’t know which one I want to pursue yet. Right now, all I want to do is to not focus on making money, and just express my creativity.
The good news for you (I hope) is that the most obvious channel where to convey my creativity is this blog.
I will focus on this blog, on writing (more technical posts, promised!), on networking, on meeting people, on having fun.
I’ll try to adhere to a strict schedule: working in the mornings, ideally 6 hours a day (7am-1pm, maybe more in the Krippe days), and spending afternoons/evenings doing sport, enjoying leisure time with my family and friends. Maybe coaching in the evenings, but not after 10.30pm I promise (to myself!)
Yeah, that’s all.
Wish me good luck!