What is it?
Domestic Geoarbitrage is just a fancy way of saying, leaving a High Cost of Living (HCOL) area for a Low Cost of Living (LCOL) area while maintaining (or increasing) your monthly income. Some Americans also take advantage of this concept, but through international means by moving to a different country where expenses are generally lower and they can maximize their US based income. For today’s post, we are strictly discussing what geoarbitrage looks like from a domestic standpoint.
Mainstay in the FIRE Portfolio
You might be asking, what is the point of leaving a HCOL area for a LCOL area? Essentially, geoarbitrage is part of the FIRE Movement that is used to rapidly build up your savings rate to essentially achieve financial independence. Something this Pandemic has presented is the need for work in rural areas as well as large companies who have implemented full remote home office options for their employees. Additionally, RV related sales are up 35% from this time last year. according to Winnebago’s CEO. Geoarbitrage is here to stay, especially has air travel has diminished significantly and those who have lost their jobs as a result of regional lockdowns. This has opened the door for many to travel safely to find work and adventure combined.
Not a New Concept
Living in a lower cost of living area with a higher cost of living salary isn’t a new concept. It’s been around for quite sometime, but only recently did it receive the name geoarbitrage. With advancements in technology, leveraging a RV to travel for work has created a rush of new campers to hit the road fulltime. Ironically enough, generations that came before us did this all the time. Early settlers were quite the nomadic people. Traveling via horse and carriage was a common thing centuries ago. As times changed, so did the necessity for travel. As our country grew in populace and companies grew in large cities, the nomadic lifestyle changed to ‘putting down roots’. Often these roots were related to a couple of things, work and school if you had young kids. I’ve heard from many who would love to travel in a RV fulltime to pay off debts, but usually follow up with, “if only we didn’t have kids”. Strangely enough, there are numerous fulltime nomadic RV families traveling our roadways these days.
American Working Culture
So has the American Working Culture changed as a result of this Pandemic? Absolutely. What I believe we’ll see is a revolution for work-life balance and the demand for remote work will continue to sky rocket well into the next 2 years. Careers that could be done remote will now become 100% remote and those large corporate office buildings will eventually become ghost towns. Jobs that require in person work like healthcare will remain unchanged except for contract based offerings. Employers will need to become flexible with schedules and demands on personal life. Especially those who lost their jobs like myself as a result of this pandemic. Nurses especially are taking note of the treatment they have received from this Pandemic and the lack of protection from their hospital administration staff. Nurses are the real heroes of this Pandemic, showing up and taking care of the critical patients who’ve contracted the Coronavirus. W2 based nurses are overworked with an alarming nurse to patient ratio and many have started looking at Travel Nursing as a way to curb the burnout that’s currently running rampant across many of the epicenter’s of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Geoarbitrage and the Future
Honestly, this movement will continue for many years. Many IT related positions that once were required to report to a physical location will be forever changed. Those individuals living in Silicon Valley, New York, and Seattle will likely began to move to lower cost of living areas. No doubt many companies will realize this and will likely issue pay cuts to those who do. Healthcare workers will continue seeking contract work and leverage a higher salary as a contractor to work in rural areas to provide a need. Most others who have been affected by the Pandemic and have lost their jobs will seek areas that have work to offer. RV sales are already exceeding expectations as a result of travel restrictions in our country. Remote work combined with Geoarbitrage will be a mainstay for many years after this financially disrupting Pandemic.