I don’t even know where to begin with this months update. So much has happened that it feels like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve logged in to give you all an update on our journey.
I guess I’ll just go in chronological order but I may have a few sidebars here and there.
We were still in Vietnam at the start of March and I pretty much covered all the things we did there in our Feb update… I don’t think there’s anything noteworthy on the last few days.
Oh, one thing I will mention is that we couldn’t really shop anywhere in SE Asia because we were backpacking and didn’t have any checked luggage. This is a much more convenient way to travel around but you sometimes see some killer deals and want to buy stuff but can’t. We had already well and truly maxed out our 7kg carry on limit multiple times when boarding (most of the time getting away with extra weight).
So anyway, because our last stop was in Hanoi and the next two flights (Dubai and London) included checked luggage for both of us, this meant that we could buy a suitcase and do a big shop before we eventually ended up at our new home in cold old England!
We ended up with this haul after one shop at the night markets costing a total of $400 AUD!
The best buys from everything had to be our ‘North Fake’ jackets! They are so incredibly warm and if you look really close you will see the logo is slightly suss but honestly you can’t even tell. We have been wearing them almost daily now in cold AF London and they have been the best! No signs of dodgy materials… yet. I was also really happy with the fake Daniel Wellington watch, looks great and cost around $10 AUD.
We then packed our bags and finished our SE Asai adventure and boarded a flight to Dubai which was a nice in-between stop on the way to England but was a place I had really wanted to see for a while too.
What can I say about Dubai… it was a big shock paying western prices again after we got so used to SE Asia, especially the cost of alcohol!
Dubai definitely lived up to the hype in terms of big is better and a lot of flash and bling everywhere. Each time I looked around at the buildings it was as if every single architect was trying to outdo each other. Many of the 100+ buildings we saw would have probably been world famous if it had been built in Melbourne just because they were so nice looking and unique. But over there it’s just another skyscraper. Everything is so new and luxurious it’s crazy!
I finally met up with someone who reads the blog in Dubai too which was extremely cool! This person reached out to me months ago through my contact me page and I can’t remember the exact details but they mentioned they lived in Dubai and if I was ever traveling through I should shout out.
Well that’s exactly what I did and we caught up in person for a beer
We also went out for dinner with our partners and it was a lot of fun to finally chat with other people from the FIRE community in person.
And you couldn’t mention Dubai without bringing up the Burj Khalifa AKA the world tallest building.
Photos do not do this engineering feat justice! It’s simply incredible to look at something so insanely tall and realise it was built by humans. We have come a long way from the cave!
We were only in Dubai for a few nights before jetting off to London which took roughly 8 hours.
It’s been an absolute whirlwind since landing in London. I really wanted to prioritise finding a job ASAP and not sightseeing straight away. There’s only so much holidaying I can enjoy before itching to get back to work and have some income rolling in again. It does help that I’m getting long service leave until June but still.
Mrs. FB teaching gig is super easy and the pathway for teachers from Australia to London is well established and very mature. They even have a bloody app where you just tick on you’re available and you’ll have school contact you. Super easy!
So she was working within the second week we got there which was very easy. My work, however, was a little bit more unknown.
I wanted to see if I could get into contracting in London. I had always seen that there was plenty of money to be made in Melbourne, but that of course came with a much higher cost of living so I never really entertained that idea. But since I was moving to one of the worlds biggest and most popular cities I thought I’d investigate a bit more. Contracting usually offers a very competitive day rate and is perfect for a travelers lifestyle. You get paid well for short periods (3-6 months) and then you need to find more work. This could give us some flexibility and allow time for traveling Europe.
I updated the resume and started applying for contracts. The first week was a bit disheartening because I hardly had any responses and wasn’t even sure if I was experienced enough to be applying for these lucrative contracts. But I was determined to land one of these jobs and continue doing my research.
My luck turned around in my second week when I found a fanatic website that was made for IT contractors in the UK. I was doing so many things wrong and the forum there helped immensely.
I also ended up connecting with another reader on the blog who was already a contractor here in London. It was great to chat to an Aussie who has made the move over here and had successfully secured a contract and also just happened to be apart of the FIRE community. We chatted over a beer of course.
I changed my resume around and created my own limited company as an IT consultant which costs around £1,000 all up (with all the insurance and everything). It was a bit of a gamble but it’s what’s needed if you want to land the job.
I ended up with 2 contract offers by week 3 each paying £500 a day and both for 3 months 👊
There’s also an extremely big tax advantage for limited companies as opposed to PAYG which I’ll probably go over in another post. The dividend system is completely different over here and the UK pay way less tax in general than Australia which I am constantly reminded is one of the highest taxed countries in the world.
The other big piece to the puzzle was finding a place to live. I had dreaded spending days on end looking at apartments and rooms only to be disappointed. I knew this part of our trip was going to be hard. The rent is so much and you get so little but it’s the price you pay to live in London I guess.
Fortunately, we got extremely lucky and found a place that was perfect in just the second go! Right near the train station, 25 minutes out of the CBD, cool places all around, reasonable rent (£900/m), came with an ensuite which Mrs. FB had said long ago was a non-negotiable and most importantly… came with great housemates who we have been living with now for 3 weeks.
The rent of £900/m is a tough pill to swallow and was right at the max of what we were going to pay. But the place is brand new (we’re legitimately the first to live here) and it’s a killer area so it makes it easier… it’s still more than double of what we were paying back home though 😢
Setting everything up here in London has been exhausting. Just navigating around, finding a gym, working out the trains, setting up a bank account and all that takes time and energy. After nearly 4 weeks I only now just feel like we’re getting settled and back into a routine.
Traveling takes a toll on your health (for me anyway) but you gain some much valuable experiences from it. I’m honestly loving getting back into the routine of work (ironic for this blog), gym, eating healthy and a normal sleep schedule.
I have also got my computer setup finally so I can get back to releasing content on a more consistent basis.
That’s all the major things that have happened for us over the last month. Time to take it a bit easier now and see if we can start sending some £££ back home to continue our investment goals! The next overseas trip is a few more months away, but we have plenty to explore here in England first that’s for sure.
Net Worth Update
It wasn’t a lot, but we escape March in the black up $3K!
The sources of income that saved us from an incredibly expensive month were my long service leave still generating $1,600 a fortnight, share returns (including some nice dividends 🤑), money made through the blog via affiliates and Mrs. FB getting paid for her teaching gig in London.
We spent a lot last month though. It’s amazing how much it cost when you move into a new place. London has Gumtree thankfully but there are still so many things you need and it all adds up. Combine that with all the costs of traveling around (buses, trains, Ubers) and it’s actually a miracle we came out ahead for March.
Most of the big stuff is out of the way now and hopefully, I can start to get the big consultant checks for the next 3 months which will help immensely. I’ve signed up with Transferwise and plan to send surplus £££ over to my Aussie account so we can continue to invest in shares whilst overseas. I’ll report on how that goes in next months update.
No changes in the properties this month.
Property 1 was sold in August 2018
Various data sources (RP data, Domain.com etc.) are used in combination of what similar surrounding properties were sold for to calculate an estimate. This is an official Commonwealth bank estimate and one which they use to approve loans.
We added $16.5K worth of A200 shares last month to the portfolio. MLT and AFI were at a discount if I remember correctly but I’m starting to become hesitant about the shifting laws in franking credits and just felt more comfortable going with the vanilla ETF index this month. I still haven’t made up my mind about what will happen if the franking credit refund gets axed.
All positives from last month expect for AFI. VAS had some juicy dividends for us while A200 wasn’t too shabby either.
I have seen a lot of talk online about A200’s dividends being lower than VAS and some investor have used this as a reason not to invest in A200 vs VAS. There is a perfectly good reason for A200 to have lower dividends initially vs VAS and that reason is that it’s a new fund! But it doesn’t mean that it will have lower returns. It will just have higher CG vs dividends in its first couple of years which if you ask me is perfect for people in the accumulation phase. After the fund grows to a decent size you will see the dividend yield be almost identical to VAS (slightly different because of A200 vs A300).
I’ve been a bit slack in catching up so I was quite surprised to learn about your trip. HOW EXCITING! I love travelling, but I’m not sure I could pack up and move for a year. I eagerly await to learn all about London, as I’ll be visiting for the first time later this year. Well done on snagging a job too.
Thanks Jess. It’s been so exciting for us! I sorta wish I did it earlier, to be honest. I’ll continue to report on how it’s going in our monthly updates 🙂
Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Is there a reason why you chose VTS instead of the US equivalent VTI?
VTI on the ASX is actually VISIONEERING TECHNOLOGIES, INC. I believe VTS is the equivalent of VTI for the Australian market.
Sorry my question wasn’t clear. Why don’t you buy the US Vanguard VTI instead of the Australian Vanguard VTS?
Interested in the steps you’ve taken in terms of becoming non-resident in AUS tax-wise.
I’m still an Australian resident for tax purposes. I will need to declare my income from the UK on my Australian tax return though.
I would check this, if you remain a Australian tax resident you’ll be liable for Australian tax on all your income(incl UK dividends/salary from your contracting).
It’ll be offset by any UK tax you paid however as you noted UK has some attractive tax rates, esp for contractors/dividends.
Off to Google I go.
I’ll give an update in one of the future net worth posts about what I concluded.
Sounds like you’ve got yourself sorted quite quickly, well done.
I remember moving to London right out of Uni and didn’t really think much of how I was going to set everything up from scratch, but it somehow all worked out. If I had my time again I could be more organised, but it was an adventure in itself and that age is all about proving you can handle life ><
It's awesome you've also been able to connect with readers in multiple locations around the world!
I'm jealous you are about to go into summer (though you wouldn't know it was autumn here atm with mid 30 degree days).
Looking forward to further updates.
Thanks MB 🙂
We are going to take another 2 months off around July for a Euro trip to fully take advantage of the summer over here. Can’t wait 😁
A friend of mine spent 4 years based in the UK after finishing high school. She said it’s the best place for being able to then travel Europe because it’s easy and cheap to go anywhere from there. Have a great time!
That was exactly our thoughts when we moved 👊.
Probably the most interesting net-worth update i’ve read so far. Good to see you’re still smashing it!
I second that.
I’m fascinated by your job hunt, having been without a job for a few months in Sydney. At first, I didn’t mind, but now looking at jobs I see how many things I ‘don’t’ want to do. Thankfully, comparing my ‘net worth’ to yours I feel ok – though no partner to lean on!
Thanks Mateo 🙂
Must be a shock to be back at work after all that time on holidays, hope it’s going well! You’ve picked a great time of year to be arriving because summer in London is awesome, everyone makes the most of the sunny days before it gets back to being cold again. I’m going to be over there in August to see family and friends, let me know if you’re up for a blogger beer/catchup!
I’m a very routine-based person so I was actually craving a schedule to be back in my life lol. And the work has been amazing so far. It’s new and exciting and a bit different. They say that a job of jobs can be as good as a holiday…well I’ve combined the two and it’s been GREAT!
Mate…you had me at beer. Definitely let me know when you’re over here and we will catch up for sure!
Ha ha. Watch out Aussie, your getting the “Heathrow injection”! (Drink more , excercise less= more weight). Getting set up over there is the hardest part so we’ll done. I used to love doing walking history tours. Even the suburb you live in no doubt has plaques on houses of famous people. I loved getting out to countryside and seeing a castle and some Roman ruins. My one regret is I didn’t see the natural history museum do make sure you do that. Oh and don’t forget to just pop to Paris for the weekend!
Heathrow injection lol interesting.
I’ll report back in a few months to see how that old scales are holding up.
The walking tours sound amazing. I’ll definitely be hitting them up at some point.
I’ll put natural history museum on the list and Paris is already starting to be booked 😁
Well done on the increase in your net wealth – very impressive given your travelling. I’m interested in your comment about not investing in LIC’s given the franking credit policy uncertainty. Given that ETF’s can also attach franking credits to their dividends wouldn’t you have the same worry investing in ETFs?
Aussie ETF franked dividends do suffer the same of LICs but the difference is that LICs have to pass a fully franked dividend whereas ETF do not. So ETFs become slightly more tax efficient vs LICs for passive income if these changes were to be implemented.
The big modification to my strategy, if these were to go through, would introduce more international shares as essentially we would be missing out on franking credit all together if there wasn’t a refund. This takes away a primary reason I invest in Aussie shares, to begin with. With that reason gone, I’d be looking back to a more internationally diversified portfolio… But we’ll see. I still haven’t made up my mind on that one.
I’m not sure I understand about the difference between the betashares asx200 and VAS.
Just because it is a new fund why should the dividends be less. Doesn’t it just track an index like VAS and therefore pass on the dividends from the same companies. Happy to hear further explanation.
Here is an explanation from the Betashares podcast.
We often see new ETFs come to market and have a dividend yield slightly lower than expected during the first couple of years of operation. This is due to timing of fund flows and dividends. As a fund goes from a very small size to a much larger size its growth in the first couple of years is exponential.
With distributions paid quarterly, a dividend received by the fund at the start of the quarter may then need to be paid to a much larger pool of investors at the end of the quarter, meaning the dividend yield for all investors becomes less.
To provide an example. If CBA pay a dividend of 5% at the start of the quarter, and the fund holds $1,000 worth of CBA shares, they will receive a dividend of $50. If by the end of the quarter they hold $1,500 worth of CBA shares (as more investors have contributed to the fund), they will still pay out $50 worth of dividend, but the income yield to investors will be $50/$1,500 = 3.33%.
We don’t expect in reality to see examples so extreme, but investors relying on income distributions should be aware that yield may be slightly lower initially. This won’t affect overall performance (share price + dividends), just income yield.
Haha I can relate, sometimes after a long time traveling you need a routine to keep you feeling grounded. Good on you for getting settled in a new country so quickly.
I’m interested to know what you’re concerned about regarding franking credits changes? As far as I know only cash refunds are impacted, which would not necessarily impact those who are still working and in the accumulation stage.
Correct about no effect during the accumulation stage. But what about when you actually hit FIRE?
I major reason I invest in Aussie shares is for the franking credits. Not having the refund will mean no franking credits all together for us when in FIRE because we will be under the threshold (as I’d expect most FIRE people to be). With a partner, you’d need over $180,000 of passive income each year not to be affected!
It’s not like its a small change. No refund can take away over $10K for a couple which would have previously been there. So in light of that, I’ll be modifying my asset allocation should the changes go through. But we’ll wait and see I guess. My mind is not made up just yet.
Just want to commend you on this site, love the honesty and transparency. Proper real world stuff, not the usual “I bought 100 properties and now i’m rich crap”. I love London and have spend a lot of time there but never worked there. I recommend getting some cheap bikes off gumtree for the summer, and stay at some seaside caravan parks in static caravans. You also have to do the “package” holiday to the costa del sol or Majorca to see how the brits holiday 🙂
We did some Europe touring staying at fixed “eurotents”, basically glamping but takes our all the hassle of camping. We even stayed in one in a giant caravan park a short boat ride from venice, was awesome, check them out.
Nice tips mate.
I’ll add them to the list 👍
Love the blog enjoy Europe! one thing though.
Overall Australia has a lower tax burden then the UK.
Hey that’s a nice little wiki page!
Well there you go. I was under the impression that Aussie’s pay more income tax… upon further research it appears to be a bit hard to work out though and depends a lot on how much you earn and if you’re including public benefits into the calculations from one country to another. But overall the UK doesn’t pay more income tax for a PAYG.
Luckily, the corporation tax rate is much lower and the rate of dividend income. So for my circumstances (started my own company), I think it should work out in my favour.
I’ll definitely be reporting back my results though.
Interesting stuff, thanks Chris!
Nice read! I had actually been waiting for this one as I’m about to relocate again myself and was interested to see how you went, that long service leave has got to be a good feeling on the in between time. I haven’t been in the same spot for more than 6 months at a time in the last 3 years so I know jarring feeling of having to find your feet in a new location well (you really realize how much you don’t have when you all you have is a suitcase ha). It will be interesting to see how you go over the duration of the UK stay, being in a temporary position can be challenging and it really changes how you can view purchases, my partner and I went 6 months without a microwave as we were both on contracts, funnily enough it totally changed my opinion on weather or not I really need a microwave ever in my life. Anyway, more than any thing wanted to drop a comment as I’ve been reading since moving back to Aus last year and discovering FIRE. It’s great to see digestable content from someone the same age, keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll still be reading 😉
Setting up everything sucks!
After 4 weeks, we only just feel like we are getting back into the swing of things. And we were very lucky with work and finding a great place to stay. I’m sure a lot of people take longer to get established! We have booked another 2 month trip starting in July (over the European summer) which means we might have to move out and set up again! Hopefully, we can just sublet our room out. It would be so much better if we return to an already established place but we’ll see.
Most importantly have you picked an EPL team to follow?
Funny enough though, everyone I speak to doesn’t really watch the EPL. It seems rugby is huge over here 😕!? Or maybe it’s just the crowd I’m hanging out with.
COME ON YOU SPURS !
Great update FB! Man Dubai looks crazy! Have always wondered whether what we see about it is accurate or not.
Sounds like you’re off to a solid start finding work and getting back into a routine now. I’m also a real routine-focused guy and it has to include being productive somehow or I get a bit grumpy lol.
Duude. The photos don’t even do it justice. It’s just so over the top.
I’m hearing ya about the routine. I was feeling a bit crappy towards the end of our SE Asia trip.
We have already booked another 2-month adventure for July which is going to be slightly bigger than the SE Asia one!!! I’m already exhausted just thinking about it lol.
Nice little update – sounds like you’ve settled down nicely in the UK.
Just getting into reading and listening to your material. Love the transparency and your attitude. I have learned quite a bit and enjoy your style of podcasting. Keep it up.
Glad you’re enjoying the content mate 🙂
I was wondering how do you re-invest the dividends? manually quarterly or through some auto-plans?
If manual what about brokerage fees? What platform do you use for this?
What’s your strategy there?
I don’t use DRP.
If we get dividends, we simply add it to the amount we were going to invest for that month. We only trade 12 times a year.
The strategy is pretty simple. Buy once a month, around $5K each trade. I’m mainly sticking to a vanilla Aussie index like A200 for now. I’m still making my mind up about the franking credit refund law that the ALP are proposing.
What about for the dividends of your vanguard ones?
RE:A200 after reading the shuffle blog I was also considering adding them. What do you mean you’re still making up your mind?
The same goes for Vanguard. Any dividend income we recieve will just be added to next month’s purchase. The franking credit refund is a bit of a long sorry I’m sorry. I think I’ve spoken about it in a AFF episode. Have a browse is you’re interested.
You are an inspiration Firebug! I love reading all of your content, completely new to the FI world but your blog has been a godsend. Very relatable, humorous and filled with useful content.
Do you believe that should labour win the election and put an end to franking that there will be a major sell off of LICs and a good time to buy (for people just entering the accumulation stage).
Thanks for the kind words about the blog.
I have absolutely no idea if that would happen I’m sorry. It definitely could, and I understand why some might think it will… but honestly mate, I’m probably the worst person to ask for financial predictions. I don’t really keep up to date with finance news unless it directly affects me such as law changes. I’m a big believer that no one knows what’s going to happen and if they say they do, they’re probably lying!
Congrats on the move to London. I did the same 10 years ago and seems like not much has changed! Contracting on 500pds a day you will be able to save more money than you can ever imagine. Even though rent in London is more expensive, almost everything else there is cheaper (esp if you bike or moped everywhere), and less of a ‘user pays’ society than Aus. I look forward to your future posts to see if you’re tempted to live like a rock-star on that $$$ 🙂
Thanks Kate 🙂
I’ve noticed this as well. The rent is more than double what we were paying. But I’m also earning twice as much… And I think it’s even better because of the tax breaks here for contractors.
Food here is a lot cheaper too! And flights are so cheap it’s crazy. I entered this adventure not really thinking we could save much this year… But not I’m not so sure. It really depends on what you’re into hey. If you go out drinking all the time, the budget could be destroyed. But if you have a high earning city job and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I’m starting to think you can actually get ahead quite fast!
I’m going to continue to update you guys each month with my findings. I found something very interesting about our spending so far. Before I worked out an online system that could track our expenses, we were spending like crazy. It’s so funny because we have built good habits but without us tracking it each week, it started to get out of hand on rubbish. Really interesting case study for a future post I think.