I’m Financially Independent! If I Move…


So it’s no secret that my goal is to be financially independent from medicine. I absolutely love what I do as a doctor, but I crave the freedom to work as much or as little as I want.  

I was just looking over my income and expenses, doing some tallying, and I realized something – taking out the cost of my mortgage (the principal payment), I now actually bring in enough from other outside sources of income on a monthly basis to cover the rest of our expenses

We don’t live extravagantly but we don’t really live frugally either. At this point my wife and I cherish our date nights and eating out once in awhile, or taking a couple vacations a year with the kids. It’s nice to know we’re at this point even with our current lifestyle.

So, it looks like at this point the only thing seemingly standing between me and financial independence is the house payment. Yes, that's always a huge hurdle, but here's where I'm at.

The House Payment Hurdle

We bought our house at the beginning of 2012 and have seen its value rise significantly over that time. It helps that we bought in an area that was still developing and has now really matured into a place where young professionals and families want to be. In fact, we could sell it for more than double the value we bought it at.

So naturally I thought… is there a way to get rid of this house payment? Well, the answer is simple… move. If I could sell my home, walk away with the equity and use that cash to purchase another home outright without needing a loan, then I’m there… total financial independence from medicine

Geographic Arbitrage and the New Life

I've seen this also referred to as geographic arbitrage by Physician on Fire. Drop your cost of living and perhaps increase your physician pay, all by moving. Double bonus!

That means I’d never have to take another call or shift again if I wanted. It means I could take a six-month trip around the world with my family. It means I could make sure I never miss another Christmas school recital.

Of course like I mentioned before, I don’t think I’d ever stop working completely, but it's nice to know I could. My other streams of income, mostly passive, would be able to support us.


So, Where Should I Go?

That thought motivated me quite a bit, so I started to look around online. Where could I buy a home to fit our family that might unlock this freedom?

My wife and I are city folk for the most part, so I limited the search to at least medium-size cities and the surrounding areas. Here are some cities I found that might work:

Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Charleston, SC
Las Vegas, NV
Phoenix, AZ
Portland, OR
Salt Lake City, UT

Not a bad selection of cities.

Looking up, not a bad view.

So What’s Keeping Me From Doing It?

Well, there are nice things about where I live – the ability to golf year-round, sunshine most of the time, walks on the beach whenever we want, or we can even drive to go skiing. However, the thing most keeping us from packing up right now is that most of our friends and family are here.

The whole point of financial freedom is to spend more time with friends and family. There’s really no point if we lose our community.

Yes, I guess we could always form a new community wherever we go. Many people are forced to move for their jobs and they make it work. However, there’s really no substitute for being close to family.

So for now, I’ll just keep waiting for these passive income streams to grow and continue to nurture them to the point where I'm financially independent where I live now. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I can say I'm enjoying the journey.

Think I’m being smart or not about this? Would you move or have you moved for financial independence?


  1. Exactly why I cringe at the advice to “just move” in order to save money. Yes, if your only priority is money, then move right away and save a million dollars! But if you care about all those around you where you presently are, then you’re halfway to happiness already 🙂

  2. It makes a lot of sense to stay put in your case. If you had neither family nor friends nearby, I’d jump on the next train to Geographic Arbitrage, but that ride does not appear to be in your best interest.

    But… I would go ahead and consider yourself financially independent now. I base it on anticipated retirement expenses, not current expenses, and you know that mortgage won’t be hanging around forever.


    • Thanks! That means a lot coming from the FI master. Based on one of your recent posts, I’m considering being a little more aggressive in paying off my mortgage and then I’ll truly be there.

  3. We live in beautiful California, we LOVE it and would never consider moving if cost of living and housing expenses rent/mortgage wasn’t THAT expensive. We decided to move to Colorado, we even visited several places over there and chose a small neighborhood. We even set up a moving date, but my employer made me an offer and I couldn’t say “No” to it. But we are moving anyway, it 1.5-2 years.

    In your case I’d agree with PoF and would consider yourself financially independent. And you always can move to a different place if you want.


    • California isn’t perfect and believe me, sometimes I wonder whether I want my children growing up where we currently live. It’s a tough place to ever feel content in. Financially, it’s definitely a rough place to live in. I’m sure you’re making the best choice for your family & situation, and I wish you the best! Keep me updated…

      • Oh, I know for sure I don’t want my children growing up in the place where we live right now. And staying for another 2 years in the Bay Area was a tough decision for me and Mrs FR, but you’re right saying we’re making the best choice for our family in a given situation. But as my great grandpa used to say, ‘It could be worse, and you should be grateful for what you have right now and aim for the best’

  4. I understand staying near your family and friends but I didn’t understand why you limit yourself to a few metro areas. There are thousands of rural areas in the US needing doctors where you can build or buy a mansion for $300,000 or less. No commute, no bad air, no crowds and far less fussy, pretentious, virtually helpless city folk.

    • After over 30 years of practicing a decent-sized city, my father recently got a job in a small, rural town. He became the only surgeon in his specialty in three counties. I thought it’d be a rough transition for him and my mother, but I was wrong, they’ve learned to love it. So I get what you’re saying. Maybe it’s just a fear of the unknown or change that keeps me from considering it.

  5. I realized the other day that my wife and I would be financially independent if we could live at the federal poverty level ($16,000 for a family of 2). That’s not particularly reassuring, but I guess it’s a start. Congrats on your (very near) financial independence!

  6. We just sold our large, view home & are using the equity to pad the liquid assets of my new clinic & buy a boat…to live on. The boat is large, roomy, has all the comforts of a home (including a washer/dryer & diswasher). It will be completely paid off & moorage is under $500-600/month with utilities included (seasonal). No property taxes….and no lawn to mow. Strangely, all of our friends suddenly want to come and visit too. 😉

    It’s our Gen X answer to a “Tiny House”.

    • Wow, what a story! I remember meeting a resident during my internship that was living in a boat and thought he lived the life. Kudos to you for trying something different. I’m sure it’ll pay off for you. I think I want to come visit, ha!

      • We live in the PNW….some of the best cruising in the world, and the gateway to The Inside Passage and Alaska. We had already downsized and rented out our house to travel for locums. When I decided to open my little cash-based practice, the prospect of re-furnishing an almost 4000sqft home caused me pause. I realized we had grown to like the simplicity that locums had provided. We moved back into the house just long enough to prepare it for sale. It sold in less than 24 hrs for close to double what we paid for it in 2012. During the transition we’ve been staying in our travel trailer at a seaside RV park. It’s like being on vacation every day. Our housing costs have practically evaporated, and it will be similar on the boat. In addition, the boating community is awesome! We haven’t even taken possession yet (surveys, closing, etc) but have already made dozens of new friends of all sorts of backgrounds (since we docs tend to cloister together otherwise).

        It’s likely not for everyone, but we are REALLY excited.

  7. I agree with Passive Income. The whole point of a fulfilling life is to spend it with friends and family. I also live in CA because this is where my family is. It’s much easier to move if you are young, single and have no kids. But if you have a family and the spouse has an established career and the kids are settled in school close friends, it becomes much harder to uproot everyone’s lives. The parental units are aging so I help them out more and check in on them a couple times a week. My kids see their grandparents and cousins frequently. That kind of relationship is invaluable and is hard to replicate if you live out of state from the rest of your family. How much monetary value can be assigned to that? Live where you want to live and make money follow you. With passive income (or mailbox money), money follows you.

    • Mailbox money! Never heard it said that way but I like it. Sounds like you have your priorities straight and you know what they say – having close-knit relationships result in a long, happy life.

  8. That is really cool to read you only have to get rid of one expense and you’re FI.
    Of course, that expense is a doozy 🙂
    I’m with you on community being huge. My wife and I have had the same discussions and it keeps coming down to the fact that we really like the people and family we have around us. It is the most important part of where we live.
    Reaching milestones like this make the journey worth the effort in my opinion. When we crossed seven figures it was a nice little celebration but we still have work to do.
    Enjoying your job is another big factor to me. Who know if the grass is as green or greener somewhere else.

    Tom @ HIP

    • Yes, it’s a big one. So the question becomes, continue to invest in opportunities, or just throw everything at my mortgage and get it paid off? I don’t know the answer to that one yet.

      I think it’s great to celebrate as you go. Someone once told me that you’ll be happier if you learn to celebrate your steps vs. just when you reach the goal. Sounds like that’s what you do.

  9. Apart from growing my own blog and actually getting sponsors/revenue, what’s your recommendation on the first/best way to start growing passive income?

    Rentals are a consideration except I have no handyman skills and wouldn’t be able to fix anything on my own and would have to learn the entire skillset of being a landlord, though for many people that’s the most lucrative option. What are your thoughts?

    • Looks like you’re already well on the way with your blog, I’m a fan!

      I’m one of those “throw it all against the wall and see what sticks” type guy. It’s tough to know you’ll enjoy investing in real estate unless you get started. A good baby step is by investing in crowdfunding, where the minimums are small, and someone else manages everything. Extremely passive, but you can start learning to work with the numbers.

      As for rentals, I try to keep it as “passive” as possible by hiring out property management. You shouldn’t be getting calls about plumbing or electrical issues in the middle of the night. I try to focus to understand the numbers and how to work them in my favor. You’re not looking for a second job, you need to find something where you can put your smarts to use early, then let the benefits roll in.

      • Any recs on reputable crowdfunded real estate sites? I believe WCI has mentioned this at some point, but if you’ve already engaged in it your thoughts would be appreciated.

        Thanks for the blog compliment — I have plenty to write about but not enough time to write as much as I want. I have some ideas on revenue generation that I plan to explore over the summer. Some standard and maybe a couple non standard options.

        • Ones I’ve used personally: Patch of Land, RealtyShares, Fundrise, RealCrowd. Had good experiences with all of them. Other ones I hear are good: EquityMultiple, Peerstreet. I’m actually working on a post about this. When it’s out I’ll let you know!

          I feel the same way about the writing, wish I had more time. Would love to hear about those non-standard options sometime.

          • I don’t think my ideas are original. Just not what I see most of the FIRE/doctor blogs doing at the moment. At the moment I am just trying to maintain a bare bones writing pace, so haven’t had time to focus on the money thing…

  10. I completely understand staying close to friends and family. I moved 4 hours away by car, for a job. But, you also mention 6 months of travel that would potentially take you away from where you are now too. Being FI you could visit as often as you like. My goal for FI is to see mine more without moving back to the high COL area.
    Could you downsize your house in your area, would be what I’d look into. In a comment you also question in your current situation is ideal for raising your children. It sounds like a move, within a radius of your current house might keep your proximity to your community but let you access your home value that doubled, and find somewhere more suitable for raising your kids.
    Last summer my friend moved basically across town. It got her 2 more bathrooms, and the kids set up for the other (award winning) high school in town. She wanted to move while it would still be pretty easy for them to make new friends etc. There was a lot of discussion about moving closer to her parents vs closer to the big city her husband commutes to vs the schools and benefits of their current area. I don’t know that they saved any money house related, but the parents are happier and the kids are easily adapting.

    • Oh I plan on taking all my friends and family with me on this 6 month trip, jk. Downsizing the house is a legitimate option and we’ve thought of moving close by. Great suggestions. I guess we’re holding on to see if we can reach FI in the current housing situation. Things have been moving positively in that direction so I guess you could say I’m not that motivated to change things up yet. But who knows, it could happen and I’ll let you know. Unfortunately there’s rarely a perfect answer. I guess you go with your gut (after much consideration) and then make the best of it. Sounds like that’s what your friends are doing and that’s great.

  11. This is my biggest dilemma. Housing costs are high where I live (NYC) and moving to a lower cost area would definitely get me to FI earlier. However, since both my wife and my family mostly live here and our friends are also here, it is a tough choice.

    • Exactly… In my field, people typically get paid worse in high cost of living areas so it’s somewhat of a double whammy. I realize this is my choice though and I’m content with it.

  12. Re: Extended family and friends — the way I look at it is: my first responsibility is to my wife and my children. Ultimately, that will mean more than just about anything else. I’ve known just too many people who live with crushing remorse over missing that school play, or not spending enough time with their spouse…and there comes a time (as we’ve all seen every day) when God draws a line — and you can’t get those moments back no matter how much you cry or beg.

    Nope…don’t wanna face that regret. Not I. I don’t think that’s how I’ve been called to live my life. And if it means leaving extended family or friends (though I might try to take them with me), then so be it. Never trade the critical/irreplaceable for the merely valuable.

    P.S. Look at McKinney, TX (just outside Ft.Worth/Dallas) and Carmel, IN as well. =)

  13. I like that you have a list… I don’t have a community where I am and regularly thinking of places I could move to…but no list yet… anyone live where the temperature is always or most of the time between 50 to 70*F???

  14. Why don’t you just sell and then buy again in the same geographic area for less with cash?

  15. I’ve been wanting to move for so long. I keep pushing it because of other plans. Some days it seems like I’ll never be ready and comfortable to do it. There’s always something that comes up that takes priority.

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