Millennial Revolution – Denouncing the Cult of Homeownership

Millennial Revolution - Denouncing the Cult of Homeownership

Joining me on today’s episode of the Financial Independence Podcast are FIRECracker (Kristy) and Wanderer (Bryce) from Millennial Revolution!

Kristy and Bryce exploded onto the scene after a video clip of them attacking the religion of homeownership went viral (it is now the most-viewed and most-shared video on, Canada’s largest news website).

During our interview, we dive into the viral video, explore why they believe buying a home is usually a terrible idea, and find out what they’ve been up to after retiring in their early 30s!

Listen Now

  • Listen on iTunes
  • Stream audio file here
  • Download MP3 by right-clicking here


  • Buying a house vs. retiring early
  • Delusional homeowner math and how to avoid it
  • Why you should rent everything
  • The benefits of using a financial advisor
  • How reaching financial independence is different in Canada
  • Why you should follow your dreams on the side

Show Links

Full Transcript

Mad Fientist: Hey, what’s up, everybody? Welcome to the Financial Independence Podcast, the podcast where I get inside the brains of some of the best and brightest in the personal finance space to find out how they achieve financial independence.

On today’s show, I’m excited to introduce Kristy and Bryce from Kristy and Bryce are Canadian. They took the world by storm when they challenged the cult of home ownership. Especially in Toronto, it’s a big deal up there. Everybody seems to be buying houses and the prices are getting crazy. But rather than do that, they used their savings instead to retire.

So now, they’re retired in their early 30’s, and they’re traveling the world. That would not have been possible had they just done what everyone else seems to do in Toronto, and that is sink all their money into a house and then spend the rest of their lives working to pay that off.

I’m looking forward to diving into their story. So without further delay, Kristy and Bryce, thanks a lot for being here. I appreciate it.

Kristy: Glad to be here!

Mad Fientist: So, Kristy, you’re FIRECracker. Bryce, you’re Wanderer. I just want to put the link of those two up, so people from your blog know who’s talking. Is that right?

Kristy: Yeah, that’s right.

Bryce: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Mad Fientist: Good! So, where are you guys at?

Kristy: So, right now, we’re in Chiang Mai, Thailand. And we’re staying in Thailand for the next two months. So, we’re chilling out in Chiang Mai, and then heading out to check out the beaches.

Mad Fientist: Nice! Where, what beaches?

Kristy: So, Ko Lanta has actually been our favorite because it’s more low key. The beach is not too crowded. So that’s the main one that we’re going to be checking out.

Bryce: And after that, down south Vietnam, Cambodia. Just kind of wherever the wind takes us, that’s where we go. That’s basically what we’re looking at. And I got to say, it’s pretty awesome.

Mad Fientist: That’s awesome. So, how long have you been on the road?

Kristy: About a year now, after we quit our jobs back in 2015, we’ve just been traveling around the world. And then, every now and then, we’ll just go home and visit our family. But mostly, we’ve been bouncing around countries.

We started off in the States, then we headed off to the UK. We bounced around in Europe. And then we came to Southeast Asia.

Bryce: Yeah, there’s this misnomer that when you start traveling, you kind of get it out of your system, and then you say, “Okay, now I’m done. I guess I’m ready to settle down.” And I’m sure you can attest to that. That does not happen. Once you start, you just can’t stop.

Mad Fientist: That’s awesome! So you guys, there’s no end in sight to the traveling? You guys are just planning on bouncing around for the foreseeable future?

Kristy: Yeah! As far as we’re concerned, that’s a pretty awesome life right now. So we’ll continue that trip.

Bryce: What we actually found when we started doing that, it was really just supposed to be, “Let’s travel for a year because we never did that and because we’re retiring now.”

But then what we found was that when we came back from our first year-long kind of thing, we looked at our expenditures, and then we found that traveling around the world actually costs about the same as staying in one place in North America.

Life is actually very, very expensive in North America. We’re from Canada. But people from the States can also attest to that. When you go out and you live like a local in all these other kinds of countries, especially when you average down countries—

In Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, you’ll find that the cost of living is way lower out there than when you’re just staying still.

So then you start asking the question, “I could travel around for the same price as staying in one place. Why would I stay in one place?”

Mad Fientist: Right! No, that’s a great point. And especially if you’re still earning some sort of income or a little residual income from some old side project or something, you’re earning money in dollars, and you’re not having to pay taxes because you’re not in the States—or in Canada, I’m assuming you have something similar. Canada doesn’t tax citizens who live abroad. The State does. So you don’t have to worry about that, right?

Bryce: Right, right. Before we left, we published a children’s book. So, our publisher is earning American dollars, a small amount of American dollars. But then we changed that into Vietnamese Dong. You just end up living like a king because it’s like, “Wow! This is so much money here in Southeast Asia.”

Mad Fientist: Oh, it’s fantastic. So yeah, give people an idea of how much you’re spending in Chiang Mai because that’s one of the cheapest places and it’s a fantastic place to live. So yeah, how much are you paying in rent and food and things?

Kristy: Yeah, it’s amazing! I mean, this condo that we’re staying in right now, it’s got a swimming pool and it’s pretty modern. We’re only paying $19.50 a day. You would never be able to find something like that with pool back in North America.

The weather is amazing. We don’t have to worry about seeing a snowflake which is something that we did not like when we were in Canada.

And the food is ridiculous! Every time we go out to eat, it’s like a dollar, two dollars. We never had a meal that cost more than CAD$5. It’s just ridiculously cheap.

Bryce: And again, this is all Canadian dollars. So when we translate that to US, it’s even lower comparatively.

Kristy: Yeah.

Mad Fientist: That’s awesome! So, let’s take a step back. We’re getting ahead of ourselves with all these traveling. Tell a little bit about your background and your story.

Kristy: So, how we started this whole journey was back in 2012, we are actually trying to buy a house.

In Toronto—I don’t know if you know, but in Toronto, the housing market has been pretty crazy for the last decade. So, in 2012, at that time, we have been married for two years and we were thinking, “Okay, the housing market is crazy. It’s really expensive. We have to save a ridiculous amount of money to put a down payment because it’s going to be very competitive. And at that point, we have saved up $500,000 because we have been working like crazy in savings because we knew that we needed as big of a cash […] as possible to get into the market.

And it was around this time that we started to realize (as we look at the different houses) different options that there’s actually a lot of people trying to flip houses for money. We saw this dilapidated house on our street that was basically fixed up in less than a month. They did not put any effort into making it last. They just basically wanted it to look nice and then sell it as much as possible.

So, it was a dilapidated house that the builder bought for $500,000, flipped it in less than a month, and then sold it for $800,000. And when we went to the open house, we saw that the floor boards weren’t even, and then they just did a very rushed paint job. We knew that it was not going to withstand the stand of time for sure.

It had eight bids. And we got into a bidding war so very quickly. So, at that point, we started to realize, “This is kind of a scam. I don’t want to be in the housing market. Everyone is just going crazy and losing their mind. They’re not even looking at whether it makes sense to get into the market. You just want to rush right in.”

So then, it was around this time that we thought, “Maybe we can go a different way. Maybe we don’t need to be struggling and being stressed at our jobs just paying off a mortgage. Maybe there’s something else we can do.”

So, it was around this time that we discovered Money Mustache and JL Collins, and we decided, “Hmmm… financial independence. That sounds really interesting. That might be a different path that we’ll be able to take.”

And at the time, I was really stressed out at my job, and there were rumors of lay-offs as well. So, we thought, “Let’s try this. Let’s try questioning the status quo, not buying a house, and instead, saving towards financial independence.”

So, that’s what we did.

So, from 2012, we started investing. And then, we grew our nest egg from that point on until 2015. We actually ended up growing our portfolio to a million dollars. And then at that time, we decided, “Hey, this is actually the passive income generated from the portfolio using the 4% rule. It’s actually enough for us to retire. So let’s do that instead.”

So then, that’s when we started traveling around the world. And then, basically, here we are. It’s been awesome!

So, you totally do not regret not buying a house. And I think we attribute that to our success a lot because we didn’t have to pay for all those expenses that our poor friends have to go through with property taxes and maintenance and all those headaches that a lot of people don’t realize they have until they actually get into the headache of home ownership.

That’s basically the drain in a nutshell.

Mad Fientist: That’s fantastic! And that dilapidated house you mentioned, that’s the one where the crazy guy was living there and he was digging six foot deep holes all around the property. Is that right?

Kristy: Yeah! Wow…

Bryce: People have panic emailed us saying, “What was the address?!”

Kristy: Yeah! “Please tell us the neighborhood. I don’t want to have bought that house.”

Bryce: I don’t want you to start digging because I don’t want you to find a skull and freak out. It’s better that you not know.

Kristy: Yeah, that house is just really creepy. You walk by and you’re like, “Why are there holes all over the backyard? What is going on? I don’t want to look. I really don’t want to look. Let’s just walk by really fast and pretend we didn’t see anything.”

Bryce: The guy is 100% a serial killer. I’m calling him “serial killer.”

Mad Fientist: Yeah, that’s crazy. So, somebody paid $800,000 to inherit all of those problems which is absolutely crazy.

Bryce: And that is happening all over the city. And when we threw out those numbers, our friends from New York say, “Oh, $800,000, that’s adorable.” So, even our kind of crazy housing market is still happening all over the place. The same struggles can be heard from all these people that are just so frustrated because they have this idea that you have to buy a house because you’re an adult now. And if you don’t, you’re some kind of weirdo or some kind of loser.

That’s the reason why most people don’t actually ever accumulate any money. They buy into that idea. And then they say, “Oh, I’m so smart. I’m saving money on rent.” But then they don’t realize that all the other costs start adding up and you have to end up paying maintenance and you have to end up paying property taxes.

And then when you sell, you still have to pay a 5% commission just to sell the damn thing.

So, they wind up into these situations where they pay off this mortgage for decades. And at the end, they come out and they’re like, “Why don’t I have any money. I don’t get it. I thought I made the right decision.”

Mad Fientist: Yeah, it’s absolutely crazy. I completely agree. We’ve done two houses in our lives. And luckily, we didn’t buy in high cost of living areas like Toronto or New York or anything, so it wasn’t crazy to buy the places. But yeah, the cost associated are just insane. The 5% or 6% in the States at least, where we were, to sell it was just nuts!

Kristy: Ouch!

Mad Fientist: It’s a whole racket.

Bryce: It is! It’s just a racket.

Mad Fientist: Our first house in Scotland, when we were selling that—I actually sold it myself because I was like, “This is crazy! Why am I paying someone over there?” It’s only 1.5%. I was like, “I’m not paying somebody 1.5% to sell my house.”

Bryce: What the…?!

Mad Fientist: I’m like, “That’s insane!” So, I sold it. I created this whole website and everything and I sold it myself. And then, I got to the States, and it was like 5% or 6%. I’m like, “That’s nuts! Absolutely crazy.”

Kristy: Wow! But good for you for being able to sell it yourself.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, thanks. It almost backfired because it was right before the financial crisis. It was like 2007.

Kristy: Oh, wow! Just in time.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, no kidding. So, we only had three viewings. And luckily, the third one bought it, and then the whole world collapsed.

Kristy: Oh, my God!

Mad Fientist: It almost completely backfired just to save 1.5%. But it was worth it at the end.

So, you guys have definitely challenged the code of home ownership more than a lot of people because your video, as you just told me beforehand, went viral. What did you say? 4.5 million views.

Kristy: 4.5 million, yes.

Mad Fientist: And your article talking about all these stuff is the most shared and the most viewed CBC article. Is that right?

Kristy: Yes, it is, yeah.

Bryce: Yeah.

Kristy: We cannot believe that we’re saying, “Don’t buy a house.” It’s almost like you’re saying something sacrilegious. It’s like, “What?! What do you mean? I can’t not buy a house. That’s what everyone does.” So yeah, we’re not surprised.

Mad Fientist: And has there been a big backlash.

Bryce: Yeah.

Kristy: Yup!

Bryce: Because when you say something like this, every decision that people have made for the past five to ten years (where they did this five to ten years ago), you’re kind of saying—

Like the people that we sat down and we did the math, and people around us said, “Oh, you’re not going to buy a house. You’re going to be sorry. Mine is going to go up to $1 million, $2 million. And you’re going to be sitting there with nothing.” And then, now, not only did that not happen, they are stuck with these houses that are sucking them dry. We are traveling the world and having a blast.

People interpret it as an attack on themselves. People get really, really wrapped up in their identity when they’re homeowners. So when you attack the house, even if you’re doing it—the numbers, when you talk just the numbers of it, it feels almost like they’re attacking themselves.

So, yeah, the backlash has been a lot more intense I think than a lot of the other financial independence bloggers have had.

Kristy: Yeah, I believe that it’s more of an emotional decision than a practical one. And I think we’ve been pretty fair when we did the numbers. I like to say, “No, math, just shut up!” You’ve got to do the math. You can’t just base decisions based on emotions.

But a lot of the times, even when we do the math, people just justify it by just saying, “Yeah, well, the math doesn’t work.” But I’m doing it as a lifestyle decision. It doesn’t have to do with math.

But then I’m like, “Well, yeah, you can do that. But later on, when you run into financial problems, then you know that you made the decision emotionally, not based on that. So you have to understand that risk.”

So, the reason why we’re getting so much backlash is because it’s an emotional decision and not based on math—it’s based on feelings.

Bryce: Yeah, it’s a “lifestyle decision” is just a code word for “I didn’t do the math, and I just buy it anyway.”

Mad Fientist: Yeah, absolutely. There are so many arguments against it. I’m sure you’ve been given lots of them. Have you felt that you’ve convinced anyone or is it just like politics, it doesn’t matter what your candidate does because you’re voting for them anyway?

Kristy: Actually, surprisingly, when we sat down to do the math and we actually broke down an article of “Would we have been richer if we have bought a house?” and we did all the math, people actually came to our site (including real estate agents) and they actually looked at the numbers, and they said, “Yeah, that’s actually pretty reasonable. That is how much it would cost for ownership.” And then, it actually made people go back and rethink their math.

A lot of the times, people just say, “This is how much I bought the house for. This is how much I sold it for. And this is how much money I made” disregarding completely all the ownership costs.

It actually did encourage people to do the math. So, we thought that that was a very positive thing that came out of that whole calculation.

And then, one of the things that we made people question because they kept saying like “Leverage, leverage, leverage. You can use leverage to make money. This is all about leverage,” and then we actually did the math for that, they were like, “This is very depressing. I’m going to go do the math, but this is really eye-opening and depressing.”

Bryce: Just to summarize the article a little bit, what we did was we said, “Okay, between 2012-2015, we took an average house, and it made $150,000. It went from $500,000 to $750,000. Yehey, everybody wins.”

But then we actually started taking into account all of the transaction cost and the property taxes and all the maintenance, the mortgage insurance you have to pay and the mortgage interest itself and all these kind of stuff. We found that for the hypothetical person who bought in 2012, sold in 2015 when the capital value of their house went up $150,000, 95% of the profits got taken away by those costs. They only got to keep a tiny, little fraction of it. But they think that, “I’m a genius! I made $150,000.”

That’s why housing is so dangerous. It makes you think that you are winning. Well, in reality, everybody else is winning—the bank, the real estate agent, the contractor who you had to pay $10,000 to stage the place or whatever […]

So, it’s true that housing does make people money—just not you.

Mad Fientist: Yeah! That’s good. What is the name of that article, and I can link to it in the show notes. That’s fantastic.

Bryce: Sure! I think it’s Leverage: Is it Your Friend or Your Enemy? I can send you the link. Have fun!

Mad Fientist: Cool! Awesome. I’ll put that in the show notes. It sounds like a great article.

Bryce: And then, as Kristy was saying, people came on and tried to attack it. And then, some of the real estate agent, they looked at all the line items and said, “Okay, that’s true, that’s true. That is true… uh-oh…” At this stage, it was like, they said, “I have to go home and rethink my life a little bit.”

Mad Fientist: That’s amazing!

Kristy: Because one of the questions we asked for that article was like, “If it’s such a lucrative investment, the bank has lots of money. Why don’t they buy the house? They have enough money to buy the houses. Why did they want to lend you money, so you can buy the house? And if the house goes up or goes down, then they get their money regardless. You have to take your hair cut. It’s so lucrative. Why doesn’t the bank buy it? Hmmm…?”

And it’s like, “Yeah, that’s true. Why doesn’t the bank buy it?”

Bryce: “Houses always go up.”

“Why don’t you buy it?”

“Well, I don’t want to.”

“Well then, you’re lying to me.”

Kristy: It’s a scam, it really is.

Bryce: It’s a scam. It’s a total scam.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, definitely. And once you buy into that, it’s like, well, you’re always going to have your money locked up in the house because you’re not going to just make your fortune, and then start renting because.

Even if you actually do make a fortune, and you’re like, “Well, buying is the best thing,” and then you’re just going to sink it into a bigger house, a more expensive house, then your money, if you do make any, is just going to be locked up in that asset for your entire life, and you’re never going to benefit from it really.

Bryce: Yeah, that’s the fascinating thing, isn’t it? More than any other of your asset, it is tied to your sense of identity. And once it is tied to your sense of identity, you can’t get rid of it because then you’re getting rid of part of your identity.

I mean, if you’re an index investor like us, we don’t go, “Oh, VT stocks is my identity. I can never part with it.”

Kristy: “Don’t ever attack my VT stocks.”

Bryce: That doesn’t make any sense, but it makes people go crazy.

As you know, if you’re making investing decisions based off of like—if you’re buying something and you say, “I can never sell this in the future,” you’re not investing. You’re just throwing money at something to make yourself feel better.

Mad Fientist: You’re right. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I completely agree.

And then, the whole argument of renting and you’re throwing money away, it’s just insane to me. You’re getting shelter for that money. That’s a valuable trade of dollars for something. You’re not throwing money away. You’re buying something very important. And it’s just costing you less than what you’re earning.

I’m so happy to be renting again. We’ve been renting for the last year. And we’re renting furnished places now, which is even better. It’s like we have nothing that we own.

Have you guys been loving it?

Kristy: Yeah, we love it as well. That’s why we wrote the article on—we did a guest post on JL Collin’s blog which is Buy Your Freedom & Rent the Rest because it really is awesome to be renting.

When we lived in Toronto, we also rented cars from Auto Share instead of actually owning a car because any time anything breaks, you don’t have to worry about it.

And then, this one time, this crazy white van—I hate white vans. They’re like my arch nemesis, seriously. The worst! This white van came in. It swerved. It went on the other side of the street and then hit us. Everybody, all the witnesses said, “Okay, that van was driving dangerously. It’s completely their fault.” They told the police and everything. And then the insurance company still ruled it 50/50.

But luckily, because it was a rental, we didn’t have to pay anything. It was just covered as part of the insuring policy, as part of the Auto Share agreement. It was just like, “Okay!” So, we just got another car the next day. We didn’t put out any money at all.

So, renting everything really does take away the stress. Like you said, you’re renting a place with furniture right now. It’s like, “If anything breaks, it’s the landlord’s problem, not your problem at all.”

Bryce: I mean so many readers write in to us and just kind of saying, “I’m trying to get ahead, but it just seems like, every month, there’s an emergency—a pipe burst, my car tire blows,”—something about a muffler. I don’t even know what a muffler is. Something goes wrong, and it just ends up costing you a lot of money.

And then you have to think… if every month, there is a once in a blue moon emergency, that’s not normal.

Kristy: Yeah. What do you save for retirement if you’re constantly having costs that you can’t predict? It’s just popping out of nowhere.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, I completely agree. Renting has just been amazing. You can rent exactly what you need at that moment and you’re not buying this house that has three bedrooms because you think you may have kids in 10 years and a big mini-van because you may have those kids and all these crazy things that are costing more money just because, one day, you may need them.

You just rent exactly what you need at the time. And yeah, it’s fantastic! It’s easier than ever now with all of these start-ups coming up that lets you rent other people’s houses, rent other people’s cars, rent everything. It’s just amazing.

Bryce: Life is far simpler than what most people think it is, isn’t it?

Mad Fientist: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Bryce: People think life is so difficult because they’re constantly working hard riding this treadmill, paddling, and they don’t realize that they added all of these baggage onto themselves without realizing it. They’re completely optional. They’re completely a self-inflicted wounds.

Then when they’re done, we take all those things up and you realize how far you can go, life becomes so much easier. It’s just eye-opening. You just want to tell people. You don’t have to do all that stuff that you think you have to do.

And that’s what makes people so stressed out, freaking out over where the next paycheck is going to come from—but it’s all self-inflicted.

Mad Fientist: And the Buy Your Freedom & Rent the Rest article that you mentioned, that’s how we actually got talking. I left my first blog comment in probably like four years when you posted that on your website. I felt so strongly about it.

So, I’ll definitely link to that article as well because it’s great. And the example I gave in that comment is that when we were in Mexico, we wanted the pool for the week, and so we just rented an AirBnB or a VRBO with a pool. And then, my buddy came down to visit us, so we needed an extra bedroom. So then we just moved to another place that are 2-bedrooms.

Kristy: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Mad Fientist: And then, we moved back to the pool place. And it’s like you can’t do that if you bought something. Renting allows you to get exactly what you want when you need it. That’s just awesome. And I don’t think I’ll ever go back. It’s just been fantastic!

But back to you, guys, let’s dive into what you do invest in then. So if you don’t invest in real estate, where is all your money part?

Kristy: So, we structured our investments into a 60/40 portfolio—60 equities, 40 bonds. So what we’ve done is because we’re now in retirement, we need to actually rely on the income for our expenses. From that portfolio, we generate 3.5% approximately of dividend income.

So, a lot of people have been asking, “Oh, no! Trump has been elected. What happens if your portfolio gets decimated? Have you thought about that?” It’s like, “Yes, we have.”

And so one of the things we can do is live off that dividend income without having to ever sell anything, and then use rebalancing to come out of it.

And so, using the 60/40 portfolio, and using the strategy of indexing, using the cost ETFs, and then rebalancing periodically has actually helped us survived 2008. We were actually investing back in 2008 before we decided to buy the house. And this current strategy is actually the strategy that allowed us to survive without losing any money at all.

It’s a tried-and-tested method, and we’re definitely going to stick to it. That’s why the Trump presidency hasn’t really scared us at all. We survived worse, so it’s going to be fine.

Mad Fientist: That’s awesome. And it wasn’t all smooth sailing there. You did sell all your stocks in 2009, is that right? Can you tell that story?

Kristy: Yeah, that was a really stupid mistake.

Bryce: Well, yeah. But it wasn’t actually because we’re just kind of, “Okay, now, we’re scared.” When we sold that we had gone back to break even, we were like, “Oh, geez! Thank God for index investing. So now we know that it works.”

Kristy: But now, we’re like, “Let’s go badass!”

Bryce: At the time, we had decided to get married. We were independent. We were just investing for the sake of investing back then. We weren’t investing for financial independence back then because we haven’t even heard of it.

Well, at that time, 2009 or 2010, we were getting married. And then, we figured we didn’t even need all these money that we have.

Kristy: Probably in the future, we would need to have more money in cash…

Bryce: …in order to go and buy that house.

Kristy: Yeah, settle down and all that stuff.

Bryce: Then we realized what we actually wanted to do. We ended right back into the same portfolio we had before […]

Mad Fientist: Nice! So, how long did you end up being out for?

Bryce: I think 2010 to 2012. That’s how long it took for us to discover M&M and you and these other guys that had done all these amazing things. We’re like, “Wow! Can we do it too?” And apparently, the answer was yes.

Mad Fientist: Nice! So, it obviously wasn’t too bad because now you guys are just hanging out in Chiang Mai and enjoying life. But yeah, it was a funny story when I read it. If that’s your biggest mistake, as you’ve said, in that article, then that’s not so bad.

Bryce: Yeah, not too bad.

Kristy: Yeah, champagne problems.

Bryce: Champagne problems.

Mad Fientist: Right, exactly. And at least, like you said, you didn’t do it for fear or something. It was a calculated move.

Bryce: Yeah, yeah.

Mad Fientist: So, that’s been going well.

And you guys actually have a financial advisor, which is quite rare in the FI space I would say as far as bloggers doing it all themselves. But you’ve had good experiences, is that right?

Bryce: Yeah, that has been a very positive experience. Our financial advisor is actually another blogger, Garth Turner who wrote the blog Greater Fool, who taught us about a lot of the other stuff as well as how dangerous housing is. He was one of the big anti-housing kinds of bears in Canada. And then, we got to talking with him. And together, we kind of figured out the mechanics and the actual nitty-gritty details of how to build this portfolio and how to actually structure it.

A lot of the finance bloggers out there, you just kind of go 100% equity, and then just go, “Yee-haw!”

So, we wanted it to be a little bit more conservative. We needed some help doing that. It’s been a pretty big experience. And yeah, we highly recommend it.

Mad Fientist: That’s cool! I can link to him as well. You said Greater Fool.

Bryce: Yeah,

Mad Fientist: Cool!

So, obviously, you interact with a lot of US bloggers and people I’m sure. Are there any major differences between reaching FI in Canada as opposed to the US?

Bryce: I think that the biggest difference is healthcare which is far more complicated in the US than it is in Canada. In Canada, it’s just kind of like, “Yeah, you’re done. If you ever get sick, you fly back to Canada, and you’re just good to go.”

And in the US, until recently, people would be scared. They didn’t want to leave their work because they were scared of losing their insurance. And then, ObamaCare came around, and then that was the way that we were trying to tell people, “It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.” And then, Trump happens.

We’re still not sure what’s going to happen with that. Just base on my conversations with the rest of the FI community, everyone is still trying to figure out what to make of that, especially on the ObamaCare stuff. So, that has the potential of blowing up a lot of math. And that is something to be concerned about.

Once an answer kind of clears up, we’re all going to write about it and figure out what the right thing to do is. But right now, we actually don’t know yet, which is unusual.

In Canada, it’s just easy. But in the US, it’s far more complicated.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, I’m back in the UK now as a full-time resident—well, once we get back from this trip. I’m just so amazed having the NHS there to back you up. It’s just such a different feel to everything. You go to the doctor, it just feels like they want to help you and make you better. It doesn’t matter if have to get sent to a specialist or two specialists or whatever. They just want to make you feel better and help you get well. You go to the pharmacy, and they just give you free drugs. It’s just amazing! I absolutely love it.

Do you feel the same about your socialized medicine in Canada?

Bryce: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And the strange thing that I kind of noticed is that a lot of the financially independent people have a dual citizenship or they grew up in another country. So, I know that Mr. Money Mustache is Canadian I believe. You have ties to the UK. We’re Canadian. Jeremy and Winnie from Go Curry Cracker, she’s Taiwanese. So they’re right now in China […]

So, I think part of that is the optimism from the people who become early retirees comes from the fact that they have this idea that they’re not scared of healthcare issues coming up and blowing up their life—part of it. But people who actually were born, raised and grew up in America, that’s always part of their calculations. And that scares them for a good reason, right?

So, I think that’s an odd thing that I’ve noticed about a lot of us.

Kristy: Well, on one plus side, from traveling, we’ve noticed that there are other countries that actually have very, very low cost and very high quality healthcare compared to the States. I think Thailand has one of the highly rated places for medical tourism. A lot of people come here and get treatment. It’s very fast, very high quality.

A lot of the doctors and dentists have actually been trained in Boston and other places in the States. Seeing the doctors is $12 or something. It’s ridiculously cheap!

That’s another option that early retirees have found, that they can move abroad and get very cheap healthcare that way. That’s something we discovered as well outlining with the idea that most of America is very over-priced and there are many other options abroad that you can tap into.

Bryce: Yeah. There were some early retirees that we met who found it actually cheaper to exit the US and then get their healthcare through travel insurance which is counterintuitive when we think about it, right? It’s like, “Really?! Okay.”

But it’s because the healthcare system in the US is so complicated.

Kristy: Complicated, yeah.

Mad Fientist: Do you guys have some travel insurance for when you’re outside or are you just self-insuring?

Bryce: We have travel insurance, yup. It’s not that expensive. It’s like $1500 for the year for the two of us and it covers the entire worldwide—any kind of travel, you’re covered worldwide.

I don’t know what the cost is if you were to self-insure in the States, but I suspect it’s higher than that.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, definitely. We’re currently on a 3-month trip. We get 3-month insurance for the two of us for something like £230 or something like that. And it covers the US, so we’re completely covered now in the States. We’re paying a fraction of what most people pay per month just to have insurance in their home country which is crazy.

Bryce: Yeah, crazy.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, I completely, completely agree if you’re willing to travel. And that’s the beautiful thing about early retirement. People are young and able and willing to do things like that. That’s a great way to handle that equation at least for the early year. Just go and travel other places and get cheap travel insurance rather than crazy American style insurance which is…

Bryce: Yeah. Again, it’s the thing that we’ve discovered. Life is so much simpler and cheaper outside of North America. We’re in one of the most expensive countries to live in. It’s a great country to make your money in work, but it’s far easier to retire outside of it because the costs are so inflated.

Mad Fientist: Absolutely! You mentioned that you write children’s books. Can you talk a little bit more about that? And also, what’s been keeping you occupied ever since leaving your jobs?

Kristy: Yeah, sure. The writing the children’s book, the funny thing is I had this crazy idea back in 2008 because I was reading Twilight. I was like, “Oh, my God! She made how much money from writing this book?” And when I read it, I was like—I mean, it’s fine, but it’s not JK Rowling level. So I’m like, “Hmmm… I could probably do this too.”

So, I was like, “I’m going to accomplish my dreams of being a writer outside my day job of being an engineer. I’m totally going to do this. This is going to be really easy.” And it was totally the opposite of what I thought. I have so much respect for others now because it was just five years of just being stuck in the writing trenches—just rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection.

And it actually made me very grateful that I decided to chose the engineering STEM path and they kind of follow my dreams on the side rather than rely on that for my income because there’s just so many writers out there and so few writing jobs. It’s so hard to make it in the publishing industry. I was really, really glad for that experience because it really humbled me and it taught me a lot about writing.

But man, am I glad I decided to go the STEM route in terms of the salary and then just do that on the side.

But happily, we did get through it. We did get through all the rejections. We wrote all three novels together. And two of them got completely thrown out. And it was the third one that got published by Scholastic which actually happens to be the biggest children’s publisher in the world. And it took us…

Mad Fientist: Oh, congratulations.

Kristy: Yeah, thank you very much. It took us about five years to get here. But that’s one of my passions. And now that we’ve been able to retire and become FI, I can actually do that full-time now without having to worry over where’s the money going to come from and “Can I actually pursue this because, financially, it doesn’t make sense.” But now, we can just do that and actually really enjoy it.

Mad Fientist: That’s fantastic! So you’re writing another one then?

Kristy: Yeah! So…

Bryce: Yeah, we’re writing the series […] And people has been really, really receptive to that.

The whole dream of becoming a writer professionally, it ended actually becoming true, strangely enough, after we left our jobs. We’re now writing pretty much every day, writing articles for the blog, writing on the fiction route and the non-fiction route. So, it’s been pretty crazy.

When we came out with our story, it kind of blew up in Canada and it also kind of went into the States pretty strongly as well. We were in Business Insider and Yahoo Finance […] People really, really want to hear about this whole financial independence thing because I think it really addresses a big problem that people didn’t know that they had.

Mad Fientist: Mm-hmmm… no, that’s fantastic. That’s so good.

And we actually didn’t talk about this. But what did you both do before you retired?

Kristy: We’re both computer engineers, and we actually went to the same university. We were like lab partners. It was a very nerdy love.

Bryce: Software development. You’re in software development too, right?

Mad Fientist: Yeah, yeah. Yup.

Bryce: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mad Fientist: Lots of us in this…

Bryce: That’s one of the strangest things. It seems to be happening a lot. There are a lot of people that are engineers that ended up doing this other type of thing.

Kristy: Mostly engineers, yeah.

Bryce: It’s very fascinating. I’m not sure why.

Kristy: MMM is an engineer. His wife is an engineer.

Mad Fientist: Yup! Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jeremy.

Kristy: Jeremy. Jeremy is an engineer. I think Justin, also an engineer.

Bryce: Yeah!

Kristy: Yeah, it’s just really funny that that just happens to be the pattern.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, I think MMM did a post on his site a while ago, many years ago. He polled his readers. I think it was like some crazy percentage where over 60% were some sort of…

Bryce: I think it’s because we get turned on by spreadsheets.

Kristy: Yeah, we all like optimizing the crap out of that.

Mad Fientist: Oh, yeah. It’s definitely optimization. Yeah, absolutely.

Bryce: And it’s a natural part of our thought process. You put a dollar in instead of milli-amps and then it’s the same process.

Mad Fientist: Right, exactly. So you guys are still coding, right, but you’re doing it for a non-profit. Is that right?

Kristy: Yeah! So, that’s one of the rewarding things we’ve been doing as well. We’ve been able to give back to the community. We met a group of writers through our writing. They started a non-profit to promote more diversity in children’s literature. So I’m actually working with them to develop an app to help people find more diverse books.

So that’s one of the passion projects that we’ve been working on. And then, as a result of that, because we have those writing skill and the coding skill and it’s very portable, we can actually do that anywhere in the world. We just need our laptop and an Internet connection. So that actually fits really well with our lifestyle currently.

Bryce: Yeah.

Mad Fientist: Any other big projects that you’re working on at the moment? It sounds like that would keep you plenty busy, all of that stuff, especially with the traveling and everything.

Bryce: Well, the biggest part is the blog. Right now, we’re kind of experimenting with what we want to do with the thing.

Right now, we’re running this thing called the Investment Workshop. There are so many people that have talked to us and said, “I like the idea of index investing. I don’t know where to start. I’m scared. I don’t even know where to sign up” and this kind of stuff.

So, we started doing this as an experiment. It just kind of says, “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to pretend that we are building our portfolio with real money. We’re going to use the real stock market. We’re going to show every single move that we do. We’re going to show screenshots you can follow along and you can learn.”

“You can follow along and mirror our steps if you want to. We’re going to tell you every decision that we make along the way, why we’re doing it, and how we’re actually implementing it. And you can see the results.”

People have been really receptive to that. I don’t think anyone has done it before. It’s all for free because we want anybody to be able to participate and learn how all these stuff works.

You know what? If you walk into a bank, and you say, “How do I invest?” they just shove you into the worst high fee-paying mutual fund at all. There’s a lot of people out there that want to learn this stuff, but they don’t know who to trust because the entire finance industry is geared to helping you make the wrong decision or you and the best decision for them.

That was something that really frustrated us. We’re trying to do something about that right now. We’ll see how that goes.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I’ll put a link to the investing workshop in the show notes. It’s really good. I went through all the articles you have so far. It looks fantastic. That’s such a good idea.

Bryce: Oh, thank you.

Mad Fientist: It’s no surprise that people are into it.

Bryce: That means a lot coming from you, man.

Mad Fientist: Oh, thanks. Yeah, it’s great. I’ll link to that in the show notes.

So, yeah, I don’t want to keep you guys too long. I know it’s 9 p.m. in Thailand right now?

Kristy: Yeah, it’s around that time.

Mad Fientist: So, there’s time for at least one more Pad Thai?

Kristy: Yeah, Pad Thai, maybe a foot massage.

Bryce: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely!

Kristy: Oh, my God! The massages are ridiculously good. It’s like $10. It’s just ridiculous. I’m like, “Wow!”

Mad Fientist: Oh, that’s so good. Up in the northeast corner of the old town is where we found the cheapest ones. I think it was 200 baht for an hour or something (or half an hour, I can’t remember). It was super cheap and fantastic!

So, yeah, I don’t want to keep you too long. But I usually end all of my interviews with asking, “If you had one piece of advice for someone who wants to pursue financial independence, what would it be?”

Kristy: I would say, “Question the status quo.” Don’t just do what everybody else is doing.

That’s what we were doing. We were just heading in that direction. Everybody is buying a house. I know it’s expensive in Toronto. “I have to buy a house because that’s what everybody does. There’s no other way to live your life.”

And when we started questioning it, then we started thinking, “Maybe we don’t have to do this. Why do we have to do what everyone else is doing? And maybe we’ll regret it, but let’s try. Let’s try something different.” And that’s actually completely made a huge difference. That completely changed our lives.

Now, I actually get to do work for non-profits. I get to do passion projects. I get to interact with people on the blog. It really is life-changing to question the status quo.

Like Steve Jobs said, “Everything that you know around you is made up by people that are not smarter than you are.” He’s absolutely right about that. You have to question.

Mad Fientist: That’s fantastic! And Bryce, would you give something else or would you agree with that?

Bryce: Yeah, I would say just to add to that… find people who are living the life that you want and ask them. The financial independence community has been growing as a movement by leaps and bounds. And the great thing about this community—

Even if you don’t believe our blog, go to yours, go to Money Mustache’s, go to Jim Collins’. We’re all trying to help people do it themselves. We’re all trying to shake up the system in some way […] what it means to be working and what it means to be like a middle-class kind of guy.

And we’re feeling that the movement is starting to become more and more—it’s not mainstream yet, but it is gaining momentum. When we were first starting out, when this whole thing first started out, it was Money Mustache and Jim Collins. They were seen wildly as freaks and weirdos doing this strange kind of stuff. And then, you came along and Go Curry Cracker came along. And then, Justin from Root of Good came along. And then, we’re coming along.

It’s starting to feel like it’s becoming harder and harder to dismiss us as a real thing. It’s harder to attack us saying, “These aren’t real.”

So, I would say read these blogs and learn from these guys. Everybody wants to help people. Everybody wants to teach the stuff that they learn. We’re not trying to keep and hoard this knowledge for ourselves. We want it to get out there as much as possible. So take advantage of that, right?

Mad Fientist: Nice! I completely agree. I highly recommend people check out your site. So, how can people find you?

Kristy: So, go to We post there three times a week.

Mad Fientist: That’s insane. How do you do that? I can barely post once a month. And it’s like stressing me out. How is that possible? You guys are natural at this.

Kristy: Well, having two of us does help.

Bryce: There are two of us. And we are fiction writers.

Kristy: We used to writing more.

Bryce: We’re used to writing more, like every single day.

Mad Fientist: Oh, that’s good. I need to get into a better habit. I can’t even imagine.

How about emails? Can people email you from there or just leave comments on your post? Is that the best way to get in touch if they want to just say hello?

Bryce: Yeah, absolutely. Our email is in our contact us form—and as well, just in our comments. We try to answer every single one.

Mad Fientist: Awesome! Well, thank you both so much. This has been great. I really enjoyed talking to you. And hopefully, I’ll see you somewhere in the world, maybe Southeast Asia in December which would be really cool.

Have a great time! Thanks again. I really appreciate it.

Bryce: You too!

Kristy: Alright!

Mad Fientist: Alright, bye.

Kristy: Take care.

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68 comments for “Millennial Revolution – Denouncing the Cult of Homeownership

  1. Raymond Stoecklin
    December 1, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Great podcast as always, I love how you find these folks who are living the FIRE life!

    I must disagree with (what seems to be) your recommendation of travel insurance over regular health care though. First, I’m pretty sure that using travel insurance to get known needed procedures done is fraudulent. Second, it would not cover proper long- term care. Case in point: I broke my knee 3 years ago; 3 surgeries and constant therapy racked up a $250’000 bill. I know two people who had the same injury but without good insurance and follow-up, and they are limping for life now.

    My apologies if I misunderstood your recommendation. I just want to emphasize that while travel insurance is good, one absolutely needs long- term health insurance as well, at least “catastrophic” one.

    • MIke
      December 1, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      good thing us canadians have universal health care = )

    • FIRECracker
      December 2, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Agree with you that travel insurance doesn’t completely replace regular health insurance. However, that being said, the combination of travel insurance + medical tourism is much lower than the medical insurance in the States. That’s not to say that everyone can just up and move to another country, but more and more millennials are becoming location independent and living overseas because healthcare is unaffordable in the U.S (eg, see Mike and Lauren’s podcast about medical tourism).

  2. Baron
    December 1, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Decent podcast but all choices are lifestyle decision. Buying a house in Canada or traveling around the world is not the cheapest course of action. You don’t make choices just because it is cheapest. You are traveling in a way that you can afford that gives you the lifestyle you want and I can find some math that shows how wrong your lifestyle is. For example, I could buy a cheap mobile home in Wyoming and live for a less than you are spending in travel. I could say don’t be so emotional and just do the math.However, I would be in the wrong. How we spend our money is based on the emotional side and we find the math that we let us live the life we want. So buying a home is not a scam, depending on the circumstances. In many cases, people buy too much house. However, in my situation and many others owning a house is right by the math.

    My second point is that this holds true for people with no kids or small families. If you have several kids and make a good amount of money, buying a home can be a brilliant decision, depending on the locale. So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water because owning a house doesn’t comport with your current values.

    • Kierra Ivy
      December 2, 2016 at 5:49 am

      No disrespect to you because you are completely entitled to your opinion, but you are obviously not the target audience for this podcast. Your points are valid on their own, but they are not saying that everyone should forego becoming a homeowner. They are clearly saying that if buying a home does not align with your personality and life goals then you shouldn’t feel the pressure to buy based on some societal status quo. They are saying it’s okay to think differently. It’s okay to want different things from the average person. When they share the numbers, they are doing so to help those who think it’s impossible or financially irresponsible understand the math behind their decision. They are not doing the math to determine that everyone should do it. They are saying if it cost them the same anyway why not live the life of travel they’ve always wanted to live. If you have no desire to travel full-time then of course you would design your life to fit that, but then this message would not be for you. Sometimes we should listen to understand, not listen to respond.

    • FIRECracker
      December 2, 2016 at 10:43 am

      hey, if the math worked out for you then kudos! But most people we know just blindly go into houses because “they always go up” and “renting is throwing your money away”. They don’t do the math. I’m glad you did though.

      • MikeM
        January 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm

        I did the math. I made >$1,000,000 clear from successive houses, lived in them for ‘free’, and now travel the world- business class.
        (I rented out the annex, which paid all the property taxes and maintenance)

  3. Phil
    December 1, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Wondering why engineering coincides with early retirement? Haha… because you make a ton of money! And are smart! But for people who are not engineers and never want to be an engineer, financial independence isn’t as easy.

    • FIRECracker
      December 2, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Teachers have done it too (and they have normal salaries). Check out “Millionaire Teacher” Andrew Hallam.

  4. Van
    December 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Did she really say she hates white men at 19:55? Racism isn’t any sweeter from a minority mouth.

    • Frank
      December 1, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      I believe she said “white vans” – it was in the context of a story of a car accident.

    • The Fire Drill
      December 1, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      I thought so too, but she’s talking about white vans. I definitely needed to rewind that section.

    • Andrew
      December 1, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      “White van” She’s talking about a white van that hit their car. Fuller story here:

    • Baron
      December 1, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      I didn’t hear that the first time, but that is really offensive.

    • Dorf
      December 2, 2016 at 6:53 am

      She said, “White vans.” I had to get that from context; it shocked me, too. Don’t know if car discrimination is sanctioned here.

    • Cody
      December 2, 2016 at 10:01 am

      I heard it as a “White Van” swerved in to her.

      • Andrew
        December 2, 2016 at 12:15 pm

        Yes, she said “white van.”

    • FIRECracker
      December 2, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Right because white men have been know to “swerve into our car”. I thought it was white VANS that do that? ;)

    • Nicholas
      December 2, 2016 at 10:49 am

      It’s White Vans for sure. She’s blogged about a white van before, she hates them.

    • Money Miser
      December 2, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      She said “White Van” and hss in fact written articles about this:

      Though upon listening I can see why you thought she said “man” and it does sound very racist if you hear that. They might want to clear it up somehow.

  5. Marvin McDude
    December 1, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Life is indeed very, very simple when you are young, healthy, and living in a period of history when software engineers are so well compensated. I’m not trying to sound complainy-pants — but a dose of modesty and humility wouldn’t do “FIREcracker” and “Wanderer” any harm.

    • FIRECracker
      December 2, 2016 at 10:53 am

      Hey teachers, with regular salaries, have done it too. I take it you haven’t heard of “Millionaire Teacher” Andrew Hallam?

      I’ve also written about how people with regular and even low salaries can do it too:

      But of course you’ll just dismiss it because that’s what haters do. So predictable. *yawn*.

      • Marvin McDude
        December 3, 2016 at 4:44 pm

        My point was that we are fortunate to live in a time when there are many, many professions that enable early retirement — software engineering is just one of them. And while I think you should feel pride in being able to escape the rat race, you also might consider that, through no fault of your own, you’ve also benefitted from being born in Canada in the last 25 (?) years.

        I am not dismissing anything. I’ve been involved in the early retirement community for years, I’m on board with the foundational concepts, I apply them every day, and I’m not that far behind you in my own journey.

        Have a great day.

  6. Joe
    December 1, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Oh man….This one was painful.

    Just bought a new place (reasonable 220K….gez), I love it, and it is ABSOLUTELY part of my identity, even though I don’t want it to be and it stands in contrast to what I say I stand for:)

    Great Podcast…Keep challenging the norm!

    • FIRECracker
      December 2, 2016 at 10:59 am

      Wow, love the self-awareness and sorry for the pain. Feel free to attack my precious VTSAX if you want! :P

  7. Cyndy
    December 1, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Hope you enjoy Japan! I went back last May for the first time since I lived there in ’92-’93. Still my favorite place in Asia, and more affordable now thanks to a favorable exchange rate and years of deflation.

  8. Ashley
    December 1, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Good podcast! Really felt the fact that society/family really pushes for owning a house when the math for them do not fully work well … in most cases. Maybe I’ll send my family to come watch this!

    Thanks for the podcasts/articles, only been a 2 months in this early retirement path but its great to hear stories of other engineers earning this goal, though at 24 and just starting I have quite a few years to get there.

  9. Mike
    December 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    It really depends on the person. I have made several million dollars on real estate. My niece in her late 20’s just sold her first home after owning it for 2.5 years made 45 k without putting a dime in it. (really) I tried to get her to do a few things before putting it on the market and she refused. I am now 50 and can do whatever I want.

    I do see the wisdom of not buying real estate if you are a diligent saver but the majority of the population is not. A home is forced savings. When you say you hear people say they made 145k but they really haven’t because expensis etc. is not accurate in most cases because if they did not have that house they propably would have blown all that money.

  10. David Jones
    December 1, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Amen. Word. Etc.

    As always, awesome content and guests. Sharing now!

    Btw, I don’t see any of the typical share button thingies on the mobile site (Android – Chrome) … Can someone point me in the right direction? There’s prob a better way than my old school copy/paste method. :)

  11. Ann
    December 2, 2016 at 12:30 am

    Thank you for this podcast. Every now and then I need to be reminded why I don’t want to be a home owner. Renting a furnished home is also a great idea. I did that for 5 years and it sure makes moving cross state lines a lot less expensive.

  12. Tanya
    December 2, 2016 at 2:36 am

    Does this apply to non-Americans as well? Like South East Asian nationals?

  13. Aaron
    December 2, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Nice podcast. They have done well not purchasing a home; however, we have to be careful with making broad generalizations. My FI journey was made possible by flippinig my first home we lived in and then, purchased our 2nd home at the bottom in 2008, and now rent out 1/3 of my house that pays my mortgage, and still have 2/3 for my family to live in.

    Agree that the States is a great place to make money in, especially for engineers… then move away where you can live off low cost of living; however, it’s difficult to find places that both offer high pay and low cost of living… this wasn’t stated in the entire long discussion in the podcast. For example, I’m living in Scotland now, that is quite low cost compared to the Silicon Valley, but if I was to go to work here, I’d be making perhaps 1/3 of my original salary. Yes, health care costs are non-existent here, but there can be a huge price to pay in earning power.

    Also recommend you clip out the bigotry at 19:55 in this podcast. Quite offensive. As they later discussed they are pushing some sort of diversity, this could be quite damaging to their career in that area.

    • FIRECracker
      December 4, 2016 at 10:28 am

      If you actually read the transcript you’ll see that I said “white VANS, not man”.

      • Travis
        December 4, 2016 at 2:34 pm

        I am here in the defense of White Vans. All color cargo vans, really. Cargo van drivers are statistically among the safest on the road. Now, when it comes to people who drive only in very rare cases and have very little safe driving experience – well, actually, I don’t know..

      • Aaron
        December 8, 2016 at 10:12 am

        Whew… glad we have the clarification. My mind just couldn’t believe what I heard, very strange indeed… But now makes much more sense, although it is quite hilarious to have a white van affliction. Enjoyed the podcast! As it’s great to hear different financial perspectives.

  14. Nicholas
    December 2, 2016 at 10:01 am

    How do you guys deal with friends that are super home ownership and tell me that I’m throwing away my money on rent….trying to explain it to them was painful…

    • FIRECracker
      December 4, 2016 at 10:34 am

      Telling home owners that houses are bad investments is a lost cause. They’re too emotional and see it as part of their identity. We basically gave up trying to explain it to them because it’s a waste of time. Besides, we’d much rather drink a margarita and relax on a beach instead :)

    • PlasticBubble
      December 4, 2016 at 11:29 am

      You can’t always convince these types of people. Just go on living your life, do what is best for you. Like they said in the podcast, you attack home ownership, you are attacking them, their way of life.

  15. Bruce from Northern Kentucky
    December 2, 2016 at 10:50 am

    I understand renting for life if you wish to live life in a cookie cutter neighborhood or home and want to live a nomadic or transient lifestyle. There are certainly risks of rent raises and changes in ownership that would prevent renters from “growing roots”. You must be prepared to move out at the end of your lease if the landlord non renews it. That would be a major problem for those with kids in schools, etc.

    The idea of travelling all the time? Pass. Not sure why folks are so enamored with this. I’ve been all over the world from Greece, Africa, South and Central America. I would rather spend my time in peace at my own home with my own family and friends.

    I own a 40 acre parcel. I garden and am fencing in for my own life stock as I’m moving toward producing my own food.

    You’re unlikely to find something like that for rent. The idea of renting for life seems more for urban families.

  16. Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes
    December 2, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Still waiting for the transcript!

  17. Cody
    December 2, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Really enjoyed the podcast and I went to the article “Leverage: friend or enemy” to read up on their analysis. I was really enjoying the parameters being set up, until I got to the end of the analysis and noticed one glaring issue. Since they include all mortgage payments as a cost in relation to the ending profit, they’d need to also include rent saved during the time span the home was owned. Otherwise, this is assuming a small profit, but not including the fact that he would’ve technically lived mortgage free with the equity gains over the few years.

    • FIRECracker
      December 4, 2016 at 10:37 am

      The rent is included on the investment scenario. We are using a side by side analysis, not an opportunity cost analysis. In a side-by-side analysis, you look at the gains and costs independent of the other scenario. Otherwise, you end up doing silly things like adding rent saved on the home side, and then minusing the opportunity cost of not investing. At that point it starts to be very confusing and inaccurate.

  18. chris
    December 2, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Do you guys know of any articles that go over how to deal with health insurance in the states? You guys discussed using travel insurance and going out of state for that but what would be a good way to setup a plan here. Both my side hobbies of riding dirtbikes and woodworking mean needing a good insurance plan $$$

    • FIRECracker
      December 4, 2016 at 10:39 am

      That’s a good question. Since Obamacare may not exist in the future, there needs to be an alternative. We’ll look into it and will write about it once we find the best solution.

  19. Iain
    December 5, 2016 at 11:36 am

    What a great podcast! You guys are spot on – people are nuts for paying the prices they do in Toronto (and Canada generally). Congrats to you for bucking the trend and becoming wealthy. Cheers!

  20. Aussie Firebug
    December 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Great podcast yet again.

    I do feel that these guys have a very anti real estate mind set.

    I mean c’mon, real estate has been a wealth builder for centuries. Long before the stock market has even existed!

    To say that you can’t make money in real estate is a bit narrow minded in my opinion.

    And this is coming from someone that agrees with the renting lifestyle (I rent to live and don’t intend on buying in the future). I invest in ETF’s AND real estate. Both asset classes have pros and cons.

    I also crunched the number with the whole rent vs buy debate and in my analyst, renting is cheaper 99%.

    HOWEVER! There are intangibles that you cannot put a price on when buying a home. I must admit that I cringed when they said buying is a scam. You can defiantly get ripped off when buying a home but calling it a scam… calm your farm.

    These guys are living the life though. No doubt about it.

    Their site is great. An aspiration to an aspiring millennial from down under :)

  21. Perry
    December 6, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Awesome Podcast. Shared their leverage article on FB and had to defend it from some pissed home-owner friends, haha. MadFientist I was just in Japan for the last 2 weeks of November. Hope you are having a great time. Wish I could have met up with you there. I live in Honolulu so hit me up if you travel here. Would love to share a beer with you. – Perry (33yo on the FI path with a wife and 1yo boy.)

  22. R
    December 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Live in a medium-to-high cost of living area and this is all rings true. We are sitting out of the housing market after selling in a rough market and then seeing a rental we were in that had significant issues sell for 500k (125k more than the selling price 4 years earlier). Property taxes are the real risk in HCOL areas. They are mostly out of your control and drive older people out of established neighborhoods. A friend saw his mortgage go up $500/mo because of property tax increase.

  23. Henry
    December 7, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Maybe I’m missing something here but I always thought the basic idea of homeownership was not to make money on the asset but to stabilize housing expenses against inflation (if you do make a profit on the asset, that’s gravy). My mortgage payment including taxes, is now significantly less than the local rental market.

    I don’t walk around identifying myself as a home owner as opposed to a renter either. That sounds like a Dr. Seuss story about creatures with stars against creatures without stars. Its none of my business how other people live. I’m just a person who needs shelter and happens to be paying a housing expense significantly less per month than if I was to rent in my particular market.

    Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that I hate the inside of airports. I don’t know.

  24. FI Lyon
    December 8, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Has anyone come across a Rent vs. Buy calculator that factors in renting spare bedrooms? As a single man, buying a 3 bedroom home and paying the full mortgage would never make sense vs. renting (according to the rent vs. buy calculators out there), but I am interested in seeing those numbers if I would rent out 2 of the bedrooms.

    • Jennifer
      November 25, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Yes, you can do that with Michael Bluejay’s calculator. Search “Michael Bluejay rent vs buy” and it should show up. Be sure to switch from the basic calculator (which hides factors) to the deluxe calculator.

  25. Kevin Klinkenberg
    December 8, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Great podcast, and I enjoyed hearing their story. I mostly concur on the home ownership fiction, though I have found one way to do it that has made sense for me. I wrote more here:

    Keep up the good work,


  26. Ben
    December 8, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Write the transcript already!

  27. Matt
    December 10, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    I love these podcasts! The Millennial Revolution couple/blog is very inspiring and a great example for many young people. I wish someone had told me this was possible when I was a bit younger. But I can’t help but think that many of the individuals speaking about FI got there over the past 8 years, in the wake of the financial crash of ’08, and the amazing bull market that followed. Wasn’t that a once in a lifetime event? I would love to know what their trajectory to FI would have been if they started in other years, to see if they would have gotten to FI quicker or slower. Does anyone know if there’s a tool like this?

  28. Henry
    December 11, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I don’t think that is a relevant question. Life is fortuitous and being able to take advantage of the hand one is dealt is just playing the game right.

    I think the issue is making broad stroked claims, such as real estate is a scam, which I think is simplistic and reductionist, not to mention patently false. I work in the industry and have seen many fortunes won and lost in it. I have seen people purchase a property, make so much money on it, only to segue out of the business that brought them into ownership into real estate ownership itself. To say those who won were the scammers and those who lost were the scammees is just plain ignorant. Its called opportunity and I have seen many opportunities created by people who thought they were saving money by avoiding paying 5% commission to an agent on a sale/buy when in fact the only thing they avoided was paying a professional (like an attorney, or tax consultant who they would not question to hire) to warn them against making a terrible mistake. Real estate agents are not bad. Bad real estate agents are bad.

    Owing real estate is both a business and a personal preference. Like all of life’s decisions there is no one size fits all truth to the matter. Traveling the world holds no interest to me. It’s not my definition of freedom. But I don’t say those who do engage in traveling around the world are just members of the travel around the world cult.

    And don’t forget the simplistic but often truthful real estate axiom “location, location, location.” Real estate needs to be contextualized within a market economy. I live thirty minutes from NYC which is an international real estate market. Where I live is a local market. Therefore there are unique opportunities created by the dynamic of two proximate but diverse markets that are so complex a PHD student write a dissertation on the matter.

    To relegate home ownership to cultic (personal) and/or dubious (business) status is, at best uninformed, at worse, irresponsible. And as an FYI, Vanguard feels the same way as a percentage of all their broad based funds hold a portion in real estate and I don’t see John Bogle as a man who is wont to invest in cults and scams.

    • Matt
      December 11, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Yeah, great points Henry. I agree that we all will have great opportunities in life, the key is that some will have their eyes open to take advantage of it, and others will not. No matter what that opportunity is (real estate, stock market, business, etc.), looking for the edges and sticking to a strategy sounds like it’s key.

  29. Henry
    December 11, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    I don’t begrudge their early retirement or anyone else’s success. I have personally benefitted greatly from the FIRE crowd specifically their vigorous and unwavering anti-consumerist sentiment and live- below-your-means ethos. That being said, I neither aspire to be Jimmy Buffet (Millennial Revolution), St. Francis of Assisi (Jacob Lund Fisher) or Bob The Builder/Lance Armstrong (Mr. Money Mustache).

    However, if you have a children (which I don’t as I can’t stand them) and want to school them (which I obviously don’t have to) in a certain community during their childhood and you are afraid that the two-family house you live in will be sold or your rent will be annually jacked by a profiteering landlord you might opt for home ownership for purposes of emotional and economic stability. Constantly having to move, regardless of whether its across the street or the country, is always an expensive economic and emotional proposition. Rental rates in my area have gone up 100% in fifteen years. Builders don’t build condos/town houses anymore, just rentals, because they know more people earn good money than have good money so they can charge exorbitant rents to people who make a decent living and will spend a disproportionate amount of it on housing expenses in order not to live in a rat trap.

    I don’t believe home ownership is always the best, let alone a good choice for people. I am just saying that it is not always a bad one.

  30. Alex
    December 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    I love MadFi, but didn’t find this podcast to be worth the time. I had hoped the interview would have some new ideas/concepts, but these seemed like really well worn territory (4% safe withdrawal, rent vs buy, lifestyle arbitrage).

    Also the comments that people who tell them buying a home is “lifestyle decision” and that means they just haven’t done the math – is a bit of an immature mindset. No one decides to have children because math, and being part of a permanent community is not something you can rationalize in excel. Yes, lots of us understand that money put into a 7% annually return index fund will outpace the value of a home appreciation, gee – exhilarating insight.

    • Leanne
      January 12, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      I agree with you, Alex. I stopped listening about 3/4 of the way through and then just read the rest in transcript. I found the tone very condescending. I mean, doesn’t Mr. Money Moustache own his own home? I started down the FI path due to the Frugalwoods, who own two homes, actually. They turned their first home into a rental and then realized their dreams by moving to a homestead in the woods. The income derived from their first home now pays the mortgage on both, I believe. I think that examining the pros of cons of home ownership vs. renting is important but acting like everyone who owns a home is an idiot and has somehow fallen into a “cult of home ownership” is narrow minded. Can’t we just agree there are different paths for different folks?

  31. Tom
    December 29, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    How do you guys find rental homes that don’t require paystubs for income verification?
    I find that in North America without verifiable income no landlord will talk to you.

  32. Ibar Al
    January 5, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    There is NO absolute correct answer to the question regarding homeownership. You really have to do a lot of research and do the math. But that is the root cause of the problem isn’t it? Most people are simply too lazy to put a lot of time and effort in analyzing if buying-renting is better in the city they want to live in. Would buying a house in SF back in 2007 a great idea – obviously not and you would have lost half of it by 2011. But would buying a house in 2011 be smart – we now know that had you bought then likely you almost tripled your money in less than 5 years. My point is this: Do not fall for broad, over-simplified financial advice, but rather put in the time and effort to research your decision.

    Buying a house is likely the biggest purchase you would be doing in your entire life and do you truly feel it is smart to entrust that decision to an agent that simply took a 3 month course? Unfortunately, most people do.

  33. Trent
    January 6, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    How do you make 3.5% dividend income on a 60/40 portfolio?

  34. Pauline
    January 16, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I agree with the comments that there are no magic bullet, 1 size fits all solution to FI. Otherwise, everyone would be. I do find Firecracker’s tone to be extremely condescending in both this podcast and in her blog posts generally, however, personal feelings aside, I do see their perspective since I also live in Toronto, Canada. This town is crazy for property. I see people flipping their own property (primary residence) for bigger & bigger ones as soon as there is any equity in their place. Sometimes their entire investment portfolio is in their house and there’s no reasoning with them since they claim it’s the highest RoR. (Diversification and uncorrelated asset prices fall in deaf ears)

    And there is a large part of identity in Toronto that is tied with homeownership; people look at you different if you don’t own and by different, I mean, down their nose. And Toronto is a very image conscious place. So it’s hard to break out of that kind of thinking. Torontoians definitely equate bigger with better (and is also an extremely expensive place to live). Living well below your means is a foreign concept in this town. So I see why these two think they are the smartest because they buck this social norm.

    For what its worth, I do own in Toronto, I was lucky and bought in 2007 for a really reasonable price and my mortgage, insurance & all costs in is the same as what I was paying in rent. (rents have gone up since) While I get a lot of intangible benefits of owning my own place, I do view homeownership as an investment – valuation analysis must be done and not on the assumption that prices will go up. Same as buying any stock, index or not.

    Oh, for the 3.5% income portfolio, if you don’t care about your market value volatility or unrealized losses (assuming your time horizon is perpetual), then 40% in high yield bonds (yielding prob 4-8% depending on the credit rating) and 60% in combo of Cdn equities (higher div ratio due to lower PE vs US), US equity and EAFE yielding around 3% will get you to 3.5%. There are still a lot of risks in a portfolio like this, but you can reach that distribution yield, even in this economy. (FYI, I’m a portfolio manager by education & training)

  35. Jay
    March 24, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Interesting but somewhat mathematically (therefore logically) fraudulent conclusions on denouncing the home ownership in a broad sense. Putting it simply, a fundamental number one can look at to decide whether to dive into home ownership or not at the local market is to find out “the current price/rent ratio”. The exact tipping point may vary due to local government regulations, taxes, labor cost, etc., but anywhere ~25, one should caution against buying; anywhere ~10, one should think towards purchasing. In between, one should do their own homework and know more about the ins and outs of the local market.

    On a different note, I often find this type of so called “mathematics” that really only applies to certain situation, and fails more or less on a broader level. I guess there is a reason why there is “engineering mathematics” (to solve local in-your-face problems) and “mathematics” (to answer to a more general question on a grand scale), lol.

    • Jennifer
      November 25, 2017 at 11:49 pm

      I agree with your criticism.

  36. Jennifer
    November 25, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    The best rent vs buy calculator was created by Michael Bluejay. No I am not affiliated. There are very few housing markets in the US where it’s always better to rent. That’s probably a valid statement for Canada as well. In the vast majority of the markets it’s better to buy given a few caveats. You can read the analysis on his website to see what those caveats are. Also, when you live in an area with public transit of course it’s usually cheaper to take transit and occasionally rent a car from a car share pool. I did that for two years when it made sense financially. However, in most of North America going that route will probably cost you hours more of time each day for very minimal if any savings. Even if you bike everywhere, like Mr. Money Mustache, it’s good to have a car that you own as a backup. There are plenty of car hacks to reduce the cost per mile of owning a car to a very low amount. In summary, it’s great to challenge the status quo, but this article makes it sound like the decision to buy is usually emotional, when in fact it’s usually the best decision when looking purely at the numbers without being emotional. A better message (for any and every target group) would be that in most cases it’s better to buy, but always run the numbers to be sure.

  37. NavOff
    January 28, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Hello Madfientist,
    I have been listening to your podcast for the past 2 months and I have become a big fan of yours and all the guests (like Jill Collins, FireCracker etc.) you have interviewed. I am a US citizen (Asian origin) and have a couple of questions reg. how can I live abroad in case of any uncertian events (recession etc.).

  38. j d m c
    February 24, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    I recently discovered your podcast and am listening to some past episodes, so am late to the commenting party here. I enjoy the variety of guests you have and the varying views. However, in this instance, I felt compelled to comment. I just found the tone of FIREcracker to be a bit self-righteous. Life decisions do not always come down to just money – there can also be non-monetary value for many people in owning a house. I think it is great to shed light on the alternative to owning, but I believe it could be done with a little more tact and sensitivity.

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