In this episode, Ryan and Chrissy interview Court from Calgary, Alberta. We talk about why she and her wife moved from sunny Florida to snowy Alberta, the benefits of living in Canada, how coming out as lesbians was easier than coming out as FIRE… and so much more!
- Court’s dad is a dual-citizen who was born in Ottawa and raised near New York City.
- Court was born and raised in Florida and now a dual US/Canadian citizen.
- Her wife Nicole is from Saskatchewan, and they met in Florida through playing hockey.
- They weren’t fans of the heat and humidity (or the people) in Florida.
- They came up to Canada to visit Nicole’s family and friends and fell in love with the Canadian Rockies (especially Canmore).
- Almost all of Nicole’s family lives in the Calgary area, so that’s where they decided to settle (in 2015).
The move and the plan
- The plan was to move to Alberta then travel for a year. They travelled for six months, but Court ended up with a job offer.
- At the time, the job market was shaky, so Court decided it was a wise decision to take the job and cut their travels short.
The transition from Florida to Calgary
- It took two years to decide on and plan the move to Calgary.
- In that time, Court and Nic sold everything which helped to propel them towards FI by allowing them to develop a valuist mindest.
- Court didn’t know what to expect other than more affordable healthcare.
- An unexpected benefit is the people—they’re more laid back and less focused on status and keeping up with the Joneses.
- Their quality of life is much better now. They get outside and enjoy the nature around them and are so much happier.
- All these lifestyle changes are what propelled Court and Nic towards making the move from Florida.
Comparing the cost of living and earning potential
- Court works in the renewable energy space, and hasn’t found a discrepancy in pay.
- She actually finds there are more companies in renewable energy in Calgary. That gives her more opportunities to jump around to increase her pay.
- Pensions are more common where she is now than in the States.
- Benefits are more generous as are government-provided benefits like maternity leave.
- She talks about some of the huge differences in the healthcare system between the US and Canada. (Yay Team Canada!)
- She hopes Canadians appreciate not having to worry about the cost of their healthcare and whether they can afford the procedures and care that they need.
- Ryan and Court further discuss the extreme differences in the two countries when comparing hospital birthing experiences and maternity leave. (Again, Canada wins!)
Their FIRE plan
- They’re basing their numbers off the 4% safe withdrawal rate, living on $35,000 per year (which means $875,000 is their target number).
- To get below a 3% withdrawal rate, they’re factoring in a larger Child Tax Benefit (because they’ll be lower-income once Court retires) and currency arbitrage (the majority of their investments are still held in USD).
- They currently calculate their portfolio as if their US dollars are on par with CAD. If they were to take the 1.3 exchange rate into account, they would already be FIRE.
- These tactics will help them to mitigate the sequence of returns risk.
- Chrissy says this further reinforces what they discussed in the 4% Assumption episode: people in the FI community are very creative and have many ways to lower their withdrawal rate to under 4%.
- Court says you also need to plan for what your lifestyle will be, not what it’s like right now. There could be factors in the future that could positively affect your FIRE plan.
- She feels there’s really no downside to FIRE. It just gives you options and the ability to choose what you want to do with your life (even if it includes going back to work).
Coming out of the closet twice
- Coming out of the closet as lesbians was gut-wrenching and scary, but not at all an issue with their families.
- She started an Instagram account about six months ago (fire2moms1babe) and it felt like coming out of the closet again!
- Money is still so taboo, and no one really wants to talk about it.
- It’s interesting how it’s so much harder for them to come out as FIRE seekers than it was to come out as lesbians.
- No one in their family knows about their FIRE aspirations, and she can’t figure out how to broach that subject.
- While Chrissy is fully ‘out’ about her FIRE plans with her family, Ryan is also still in the closet.
- He and Court fear similar things: that people won’t get how much work it takes to reach FIRE; they’ll judge; they’ll expect handouts.
Her wife Nic’s role in their plans
- Nic has always been a frugal, non-spendy person and is totally on board with FIRE.
- They decided together that Nic would be a stay-at-home mom to their daughter.
- Nic didn’t love her job as a nurse whereas Court enjoys her job enough to continue working.
- Their priority is happiness, so it made sense for Nic to leave her job to become a stay-at-home mom.
- This choice only delays their progress to FI by about a year or two.
The benefits of a full-time stay-at-home parent
- Court and Chrissy discuss the benefits of having one parent at home full-time.
- It’s an easier, happier life. The schedule is less hectic. There’s just more time for everything.
- Court is even considering shifting to part-time work. This would add a year to their FIRE plan, but it would allow them to enjoy the journey more.
- She would be there more often to see their daughter Finn, 16 months old, grow up.
- Their hope is to both be around when their kids are little and cute, then consider part-time work once they’re in school.
- Ryan tells us his whole reason for FIRE is to be a stay-at-home dad. He wants to be there to see the early milestones and not have to work 60 hours a week to support a lifestyle they don’t care about.
- Team FI or Team FIRE?
- Team FIRE—it’s just way more catchy. Court also likes FIOR (financial independence, optional retirement).
- Tim Hortons order?
- Court loves matcha tea lattes and doesn’t do coffee, so she’d order a farmer’s sausage wrap.
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