We are so excited to share Mrs. Groovy’s story with you! Have you ever thought of moving to a place with a lower cost of living? Mr. and Mrs. Groovy did and then they made the leap. Here is their amazing geoarbitrage story!
New York Love & Living
Mr. Groovy and I met when we were in our forties. I was living in Manhattan and getting my Master’s degree at Baruch College. After taking one of my winter finals, a classmate and I decided to go out and celebrate.
My classmate had a friend taking a make-up exam in the same room as us, so we decided to wait for him before heading out. A few minutes later, out walked Mr. Groovy and the rest is history.
That was year 2000. By 2002 we were married and living in a condo on Long Island. I worked a part-time job on Long Island, while Mr. Groovy worked for a Long Island government municipality.
We were just rolling along like so many newlyweds, unaware of how we were spending our money. We were not focused on fueling our dreams. We had never even discussed finances prior to our wedding!
Then we got our property tax bill. It had jumped from approximately $3,700 the prior year to $5,400. Our condo was a bland one bedroom unit on Long Island, with no deck or porch, one bathroom, and outdoor unassigned parking. And for that “luxury” we paid $433 a month in HOA fees – plus, a mortgage, flood insurance, and regular insurance!
That tax bill provided the “what the heck are we doing here” moment that started the ball rolling. Living in New York was so expensive!
Where the Heck Do We Go?
The “what the heck are we doing here” moment was followed by the “do you want to get the hell out of New York” moment. Mr. Groovy posed the question and I answered with a resounding YES!
Once that was settled, we quickly became energized to devise a three-year plan for relocating. We began saving money like crazy and set our sights on geoarbitrage – moving to a place with a lower cost of living.
I had always been infatuated with North Carolina. After my senior year of high school, I acted in a summer stock theater in the NC mountains. Since then, I have always wanted to return.
While Mr. Groovy and I were discussing moving, my brother sent us an article from the NY Times travel section about Charlotte, NC. The section about the local food really intrigued us, so we decided to take a drive and get us some fried pickles!!! After that, we made several more trips to North Carolina before ultimately deciding on the Charlotte area.
What About Our Jobs?
I had only been working part-time, trying to avoid that sickening commute from Long Island to Manhattan, but part-time employment wasn’t going to cut it for the three-year plan. So I sucked it up and got a full-time job in Manhattan, eventually landing a job as a program coordinator at a nonprofit.
I felt I had a 30% chance of keeping my New York job, working remotely from North Carolina. But since I had only worked for the organization for nine months, it didn’t seem likely. However, the timing was right and I was needed. When I gave my notice, I was able to work out a telecommuting arrangement and stay on after our relocation. I ended up working for this organization for eleven years until I retired.
We also didn’t know how Mr. Groovy’s government job would play out. He had built up a lot of comp time over the years and hoped to cash most of it in, but that was not a given. Mr. Groovy was a valued employee who went above and beyond his duties and because of this, his employer graciously allowed him to stay on the books for a year after we relocated, making use of all his comp time. In exchange, he was required to return to New York one week per month to train a replacement.
Keeping his paycheck during this transition was a huge financial boon. His compensation also counted towards, and increased, his final average salary, forming the basis for his pension. This arrangement also allowed Mr. Groovy to take his time in pursuing his next job in North Carolina. Luckily, just as his New York paycheck ended, his North Carolina one began.
I’m so grateful for how our job situations worked out, but we did have a backup plan. This consisted of finding $10/hour jobs at Bed Bath and Beyond and Home Depot in North Carolina. We could have easily swung our expenses on retail jobs and still have raised our standard of living.
What About Leaving Family?
Relocating is a huge decision, especially if it means leaving friends and family. We feared telling Mr. Groovy’s family about our move. My family is very small and my parents had already relocated from New York to Florida. But Mr. Groovy’s situation was entirely different. He had parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, great aunts and great uncles— all on Long Island within a short distance from us. How was he going to tell them?
It turned out everyone in Mr. Groovy’s family, especially his parents, were extremely supportive. So much so, that over the years, most of them relocated to North Carolina as well.
Our decision to move went smoothly, but I know it can be difficult, especially if you have children. I would say to anyone considering geoarbitrage (with or without children): In the scheme of things, our lives on this earth are a blip. You deserve to live your life and improve it in any way that you see fit. If you make a life decision that ends up disappointing other people because you’re not doing what they want you to do – you’ll learn to get over it. And so will they.
Geoarbitrage at Work
There’s no doubt about it that our lives changed for the better due to geoarbitrage. Our cost of living decreased dramatically. We were able to buy a condo outright (no mortgage) in Charlotte that was 50% larger than the condo we left in New York, and our property tax bill was just $900!
In 2008, we sold this condo and moved into a new home more than three times the size of our old New York condo. Our property taxes just crossed the $2,000 threshold this year.
Being able to work remotely saved us a lot of money as well. I used to pay over $200/month for the Long Island Railroad pass.
North Carolina is also a kinder, gentler place to live than New York. We found relief from stressors such as commuting, rushing, rudeness, traffic, and crowds. We found room to breathe. And with that peace, we were able to begin thinking about creating the life we really wanted.
We both retired in 2016 and are now in the process of building a new home we affectionately call Groovy Ranch. Groovy Ranch will be built on 3+ acres of land we purchased in a rural town near Mr. Groovy’s family, who moved to the Raleigh area after we moved to Charlotte. Once we are settled in at Groovy ranch we plan to buy a camper and make extended trips out west to Montana, Wyoming, and Utah – or wherever the road takes us.
Thank you to Mrs. Groovy for sharing their story! I love the financial freedom they discovered with geoarbitrage. We are excited to follow their Groovy Ranch updates! And we hope they make a stop in Wisconsin to visit when they travel out west!
You can also find the Groovys on YouTube: Talking Trash with Mr. Groovy!
Here is his episode about GEOARBITRAGE
Do you have a freedom story you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Submit your story here!