Q2 Update – Geoarbitrage 2019

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Our first year of full-time travel was really starting to unfold once Quarter 2 was in the books. The good news is that we were on plan, pretty much exactly as projected. Looking back at Quarter 1 we started the year out in Southeast Asia where our cost of living and total spending were held at 75.86% of our monthly budget. Quarter 1 in Southeast Asia had a good balanced with our summer in Europe where the cost of living is much higher.

What was included in our lifestyle for Quarter 1?


We spent only 2 nights in the US before leaving to spend the next 5 months in Asia.

  • 2 nights in Arizona (staying with Alison’s mom)
  • 1 night on an airplane over the Pacific Ocean
  • 8 nights in Singapore (Hilton hotel on points)
  • 8 nights in Kuala Lumpur (at a hotel)
  • 9 nights in George Town (in an Airbnb)
  • 3 nights in Phuket (house sitting)


We spent almost the entire month of February in Thailand, including 2 awesome house sitting experiences.

  • 8 nights in Phuket (2 more nights house sitting, 6 nights in an Airbnb)
  • 1 night in Surat Thani (in a hotel)
  • 17 nights in Koh Samui (3 nights in a hotel, 14 nights house sitting)
  • 2 nights in Siem Reap (in a hotel)


We spent about a week in Cambodia, 3 weeks back in Thailand, followed by almost a week in Vietnam. We met a lot of new friends in Chiang Mai, which was absolutely the best part of that stay. And we built new relationships with family friends in Vietnam during our stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

  • 4 nights in Siem Reap (in a hotel)
  • 21 nights in Chiang Mai (in an Airbnb)
  • 5 nights in Ho Chi Minh City (in an Airbnb)

What was included in our lifestyle for Quarter 2?


We spent most of the month in Vietnam plus one week in Japan. This included some fabulous fun times traveling with a good friend and a splurge on a one night cruise.

  • 14 nights in Hoi An (5 nights in a hotel, 9 nights in homestays)
  • 7 nights in Hanoi (6 nights in an Airbnb, 1 night in a Hilton hotel on points)
  • 1 night on Halong Bay Cruise (big splurge with a good friend)
  • 7 nights in Osaka (5 nights in an Airbnb with a good friend, 2 nights in Airbnb on our own)


We spent the entire month in Japan, including a couple of days with our good friend and travel buddy that included an excursion out to Kyoto for the day on the bullet train where we participated in a historic tea ceremony.

  • 4 more nights in Osaka (in an Airbnb)
  • 9 nights in Hiroshima (in an Airbnb)
  • 12 nights in Kyoto (in an Airbnb)
  • 4 nights in Tokyo (2 nights paid in a hotel, 2 nights in a hotel on points)


We returned to the US to participate in some really important family events including a weekend of celebrating our nephew’s graduation from high school and some challenging but important stuff with Ali’s mom. This month was packed with wonderful time with our sisters, a camping trip, a couple of outings with friends, and then we took off to spend the entire summer in Europe with Alison’s mom.

  • 14 nights in NorCal attending some important family events (10 nights staying with Ali’s sister, 2 nights camping, 2 nights staying with Ali’s cousin)
  • 3 nights in Palm Springs (staying with good friends)
  • 8 nights in Arizona (staying with Alison’s mom)
  • 6 nights in Paris (in an Airbnb)

Understanding Our Graphics

  • The Solid Purple Line is our monthly budget target, which is based on our average daily spending goal of $115 per day for the two of us.
  • The Dashed Red Line is our Geoarbitrage Average for 2019, which is based on our actual spending for the year so far, averaged with our future projected spending for the remainder of the year. The geoarbitrage line will move up and down as we travel, but the budget is fixed and final.
  • The Blue Blocks represent our Fixed Expenses in each bar, which are 27% of our Total Budget. This includes our annual medical insurance and our 5×10 storage unit back in Seattle.
  • The Pink Blocks represent our Food Costs in each bar, which are one of our main three areas of spending. The main factor that causes increases in our food costs to increase is going out to eat in restaurants, which we do most often when we are enjoying time out with our friends.
  • The Yellow Blocks represent our Housing Costs in each bar. Our housing options as full-time travelers range from a hotel booked with points or dollars, an Airbnb booked with dollars, a house sit at no cost, or staying with family or friends at no cost. The generosity of our family and friends who host us when we are back in the US is definitely the thing we are most grateful for right now.
  • The Green Blocks represent our Transportation Costs in each bar. Our transportation costs include all trips to our destinations and within locations, by airplane, train, car, bus, and ferry.
  • The Purple Blocks represent our Fun Costs in each bar. These include things like admission costs for museums and other tours and excursions.

Here’s how we did in Quarter 1

Quarter 1 includes the lowest expenditure months for the year because the entire quarter was spent in Southeast Asia where the cost of living is quite low. The fact that we spent so little on housing in Quarter 1 was the key, with 2 nights at home with Alison’s mom, 8 nights in a hotel using points, and 19 nights of house sitting. Though we definitely made some mistakes in our spending that caused some spikes, like flying out of Koh Samui (the most expensive airport in Thailand) instead of leaving by bus/ferry the way we arrived. But all in all, we did quite well with our budget in Quarter 1.  Our total spending in Quarter 1 averaged out to 75.86% of our budget. We were happy to see actual spending come in around 24% below the budget line in Quarter 1 to set the bar for our Geoarbitrage goal for 2019.

Here’s how we did in Quarter 2

Quarter 2 includes a relatively expensive month in Japan, followed by one of our highest expenditure months for the year (June) because it was spent with family and friends in the US and included lots and lots and lots of eating out in restaurants. June also includes the first week of our summer in Europe. Quarter 2 spending was 101.55% of our budget.

Moving Forward

Combining Quarters 1 and 2 and also adding in our projected spending for the rest of the year, we are currently projecting our Geoarbitrage spending at 105.72% of our Total Budget for 2019

Today is July 1, and it does make us a bit uncomfortable to see our individual monthly expense numbers starting to climb up over the budget line. But it helps to focus on our Geoarbitrage Line and remember that we are in range of our annual target budget, because we were under budget for Quarter 1, and we were on budget in Quarter 2. And of course we expected and planned for our summer spending to be over budget in Quarter 3, which is what our Geoarbitrage plans are all about.

Our successes so far are keeping our spending relatively low in Quarter 1 in Southeast Asia, managing our spending pretty well in Quarter 2 while visiting with friends and family, and planning for an amazing summer in Europe with Alison’s mom in Quarter 3. And in Quarter 4 we will have a chance to drop our spending again while we travel in South and Central America, even with an event that is over our budget in November — Chautauqua in Ecuador! We are REALLY excited about that!


  1. […] The following table lists each of the locations we stayed in during our 4 months in SE Asia. The locations are listed in order of total cost PPPD from lowest to highest, not in the order that we actually stayed in each location. The numbers and comparisons give some hints about where we overspent in various categories. And since we had very different experiences in each location with wildly different housing costs for example, the numbers can be misleading. The actual cost of living in each place is often masked by our spending choices in each place. For more detail on our spending during this trip check out our blog post, Q2 Update – Geoarbitrage 2019. […]


    • We are SOOO excited about Chautauqua!!! We are looking our different points flight options into Ecuador for early October right now. I can’t wait to see what that whole next chapter will look when we explore staying in that region for a few months. 🙂


    • Hey so glad you found our blog and wonder how did you find us? :)

      We are super excited about Chautauqua, though it is quite a splurge on our budget in our first year of FIRE! We really can’t wait to meet this awesome lineup of presenters and talk all things FIRE related.

      Our new nomad life, which is almost at the one year mark now, has been a very liberating process as we learned in practice just how much freedom and flexibility we have. And just as “they say” on this topic, meeting our budget while traveling is EASY.

      Just took a quick glance at your blog page (and will definitely look more). So fun to see you are into RV travel, which is something we are interested in as a next step in life when we are ready to be back in the US more.


Also – congrats on your 3 year FIRE anniversary!


    • Geoarbitrage isn’t for everyone. Nor is FIRE for that matter. It’s working for us but only after we made some big changes in our lives. We’re grateful for this time right now and are trying not to take it for granted.


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