With the racism and sexual assault allegations that have befallen the Governor of Virginia, the Attorney General of Virginia, and the Lt. Governor of Virginia, I was reminded of all the racist altercations I experienced growing up in Virginia for public high school and public university in the mid-to-late 90s. They were instrumental for personal growth.
Given the revelations at the senior levels of Virginia government today, you know racism in Virginia wasn’t unusual decades ago. Racism wasn’t a constant ubiquity, but I did experience some type of racist encounter about every 10th time I went out of the house.
One of the more milder examples was while waiting in line to go to the bathroom at a gas station off I-95 heading south. A white guy behind me said, “Hey, don’t you understand English? What are you waiting for? The bathroom is open!“
I turned around and said, “There’s actually someone in there. They just didn’t lock the door. Do you understand the English that’s coming out of my mouth?”
He backed down with an “Oh, never mind.” But I was ready to rumble.
The amazing thing about all these racial experiences is that it’s all I knew after coming to America for high school.
Getting Accustomed To Racism
I thought it was normal to be on the receiving end of racial slurs or racial innuendos every so often. I just endured and fought back as hard as I could each time.
Yes, I got suspended from school multiple times for fighting, but it was worth it to defend my honor. Kids stopped messing with me once they felt my fists of fury.
After I got a job in 1999 in New York City and again when I moved out to San Francisco in 2001, I realized that being a minority in America felt so much more comfortable in a diverse city.
My racial conflicts dropped from every 10th time I went outside to maybe every 25th time I went outside in Manhattan. In San Francisco, I can’t remember my last racial conflict because we are a minority majority city.
The Positives Of Discomfort For Personal Growth
Looking on the positive side of racism, I thank my past racial altercations for having given me the extra strength I needed to endure those long work hours in banking for so many years. Racism gave me tremendous motivation to prove that I could succeed in America.
Yes, it is harder in the workplace when so few in management look like you and no one wants to mentor you. But screw that, I always told myself. Being a minority working in a smaller business in a satellite office was simply a great challenge to get ahead by being more energetic and entrepreneurial.
When I got promoted to VP at age 27, it was one of the greatest feelings ever. All of my contemporary colleagues were still Associates, one level down, and would stay Associates usually until 30-32 years old.
Getting the promotion was when I first realized the allure of meritocracy. It was also my first taste of power. When you need consensus from a committee to get promoted, you don’t mess with your senior colleagues.
Ongoing Motivation To Keep Working Hard
Despite being gone from the workforce since 2012, I still have the energy and motivation as I did when I was a teenager. I have kept up my cadence of publishing three times a week every week since 2009. Grit and perseverance are the keys to succeeding.
It’s like having Ironman’s arc reactor, pulsating in my chest, driving me to keep going no matter what thanks to all the hate I experienced growing up.
And to be honest, this energy feels wonderful! I remind myself every day that it is this energy that has enabled both my wife and me to leave work behind at age 34.
And it is this confidence that has fortified me to take big risks in my career, in my investments, and in our online business. It’s scary to take risks and fall flat on your face. However, the more you’ve been beaten up and rejected, the less scared you will feel.
Without this energy, I would not have been able to regularly get up by 5am for the past two years to work on Financial Samurai for three hours to then get to work as a dad. Instead, I would have probably slept in until 7am because taking care of a toddler is exhausting.
Hardship makes us better appreciate the good times.
Let’s Move To Virginia Instead!
Given how much racism and bullying has given me, I think it’s best for us to move back to Virginia and rejoin a 5.5% minority.
To survive in a less comfortable situation forces you to adapt. Learning things like self-defense, conflict resolution, self-deprecation, positive thinking and humor are all useful skills through our adult lives. What wonderful skills to teach our son.
Hawaii just seems like too comfortable a lifestyle to get motivated to do more than the average. When it’s 79 degrees and sunny, only the most disciplined individual would stay inside and study for three hours instead of go to the beach and play.
Virginia, overall, is a wonderful state with a strong economy and good people. People are products of their time. I don’t blame a minority of Virginians for thinking the way they do about minorities.
In general, I look back upon my eight years there with fondness. The good outweighed the bad. Virginia was my rite of passage into adulthood.
It’s just the recent racial incidents involving Virginia’s political elite that have triggered forgotten memories.
Norther Virginia is about 50% cheaper than San Francisco in terms of housing. Meanwhile, there are plenty of solid public schools. Although, there is an ongoing war on merit in the Fairfax County Public School district.
With each difficult encounter, his mother and I will mentor him by teaching him about hate and ignorance. And perhaps with each encounter, our boy will also develop a chip on his shoulder. Maybe he’ll grow a FIRE to prove the haters wrong that he cannot become somebody great.
By shunning a diverse environment for a more homogenous environment, my son will have a chance to experience more racial discrimination than if he were in San Francisco or Honolulu.
I fear that if we shelter our children too much, they’ll grow up to be ignorant, unmotivated individuals. They might whine at the slightest of inconveniences.
I have three immediate neighborhood households that all have adult sons still living at home with their parents because life is too easy. When your parents pay for everything as an adult, there’s no longer an incentive to try.
Taking away a person’s ability to provide for themselves is so sad. It feels so amazing when you establish your independence.
My hope is that by putting our son in an environment where he will have to struggle more to get ahead, he’ll gain a tremendous amount of satisfaction and self-esteem as he grows older.
Besides, my mother-in-law lives in Virginia. My sister and nephew live in Manhattan. And my sister-in-law and family live in North Carolina.
Fear is the key ingredient for achieving financial independence. And I fear my kids will become soft because they live such a comfortable lifestyle.
Examples Of Uncomfortable Situations For Personal Growth
When life becomes too easy, nothing really happens. Besides experiencing racism growing up, here are some personal examples of uncomfortable situations that helped me grow:
- Being the new kid at school all the time. I was the new kid every 2-4 years growing up and I hated it. But I grew to have no fear chatting up anybody in a new environment, which made a big difference in my professional growth.
- Having to get into the office at 5:30am. Getting in by 5:30am for two years at my first job, and then by 6am on average at my second job for 11 years, never felt natural. But after about 10 years, I no longer needed an alarm clock. I was conditioned to naturally wake up earlier than my peers to get things done. This productivity accelerated my path to financial freedom.
- Confronting my boss for a severance. Without a manual, not many people have the confidence to argue their case for a severance. But I knew my worth, and I knew what would happen to the business if I suddenly left, or worse, went to a competitor. This confidence came from having to repeatedly stand up for myself growing up.
- Writing mind-benders that may offend. I go through a process every six months which I call, “The Culling.” The Culling entails publishing an article that enrages a subset of undesirable readers who are unwilling to read beyond a headline or unable to understand the nuances of what I’m trying to say. My goal is to reduce the accumulation of easily triggered readers and grow a community of intelligent readers with well-argued rebuttals.
Feeling Uncomfortable Is A Catalyst For Change
Now that I’ve shared such convincing arguments about the importance of consistently being uncomfortable for personal and professional growth, it’s clear that we should move to Virginia and not to Hawaii.
Oh, but wait. With important geoarbitrage moves, unless a divorce is what you want, it’s a good idea to have a consensus between spouses and partners.
Let’s see what my wife has to say. She spent 20 years growing up in Charlottesville, Richmond, and Williamsburg, Virginia.
The Choice Is Obvious – Thoughts From My Wife
Hi everyone! Sam and I are fortunate to be quite a balanced couple. Opposites attract as they say.
He’s mostly an extrovert; I’m a total introvert. He’s very athletic; I’m a total klutz. She’s super efficient and fast at most things; I tend to be slow and cautious.
So what are my thoughts on Sam’s idea to move to Virginia? Absolutely not. My answer is, Hawaii of course!
Here are just a few of the reasons why.
1) I grew up in Virginia and although I agree that it is a beautiful state with plenty to offer, I booked a one way ticket out of there after college graduation faster than Quicksilver in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Virginia: Been there, done that. I’ve never looked back.
2) Racism is terrible. Plain and simple. Does it exist more in less diverse places? Probably. But sadly it exists everywhere. Our son will likely experience some encounters of racism no matter where he grows up. I also do not want to intentionally expose our son to unnecessary negativity and hatred. I do plan to teach him to respect people of all sorts through travel, reading, volunteering, and having many open discussions wherever we live.
3) I do not believe our son needs to experience racism and be a minority in school in order to be a driven, hard working individual. His personality is unique and definitely a blend of both Sam and me, although I see Sam’s focus and determination in our son as clear as day. My motherly instinct already tells me our son is going to be a good student who wants to succeed. I know he will need coaching and a supportive environment to get past obstacles and we’ll be there for him.
For example, when our son can’t do something, like get a block to fit into his shape sorter toy, he yells out in frustration and throws the block to the ground. He has daddy’s fire.
That’s my cue to pick up the block, put it back in his hand, help him wiggle it into the right spot, and then share in his excitement. Seeing the ear-to-ear grin on his face when he pushes the block in followed by him immediately try another shape by himself says it all.
Fight Or Flight For Personal Growth
Growing up as a multiracial kid, I was at the top of the minority list in school. I was literally the only one of my “kind” – Japanese mother, Caucasian father. I didn’t look Asian; nor did I look white. Our town was almost completely 50% white, 50% African American.
I looked “weird” as some girls said. “What ARE you?” was another question I’d often get. Fortunately, I had a few friends who looked past my appearance and the shock that I had an Asian mother.
I didn’t “belong” in Japan either. Everyone stared at me wherever I went in Japan. Some whispered look at the gaijin; this word for foreigner has a bit of a negative connotation.
Others said I was so lucky to be half because I had pale skin and big eyes. Thank you, I guess. But what are they saying about people who are tan with small eyes?
Fortunately, I didn’t experience frequent bulling or racist remarks, but I still had my share. That didn’t make me want to fight back like Sam though.
Criticism Made Me Want To Change
The hurtful comments made me want to leave. The rest were just annoying distractions. I knew they didn’t define who I was. My racial background made me unique and wasn’t something anyone could take away.
I don’t like confrontation; I never have. When kids and adults have said mean things to me I don’t talk back; I usually stay silent and walk away. Sam sees this as letting them walk over me. Perhaps, but I don’t give people like that any power over me.
I’m just the type of person who doesn’t want to waste any energy or time on disrespectful people who just don’t get it.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t hurt. I felt sadness, isolation, and frustration especially growing up. But, I really don’t like to dwell on negativity. I have so many better things to do!
Finding Motivation From Within
The one thing I’m certain of is that we are all motivated by different things. I remember someone telling me that during management training at work and it’s totally true.
You might be motivated by adversities, or discrimination, the desire to be the best, money, family, power, financial freedom, a better lifestyle, countless other things and likely a whole combination of things.
Growing up, I was self motivated to get good grades. Perhaps it was my perfectionist personality or the desire to be like my smarter sister. Who knows. What I don’t remember though is my parents ever pushing or telling me I had to get straight A’s.
In middle school and high school, I was motivated to be the best violinist in school and to get the lead part in every theater production. I think a combination of wanting recognition and enjoying those activities were my main motivators.
Motivation Post College
In my career, I was definitely motivated by power, gaining autonomy, earning money, and recognition for my niche skills and efforts.
As a parent, I’m motivated by an immeasurable amount of love, and wanting to see our son happy, develop and succeed.
Ultimately, I believe motivation is very personal and has to come from within. I think it blossoms in supportive environments.
Some people get motivated in harsh environments, but definitely not all. I probably would have been mentally crushed over time if I was in a worse situation growing up. So I’m thankful my experiences weren’t much worse.
Making The Right Choice For Personal Growth
Now that you’ve heard from both sides, we’re curious to hear what you would do if you were us? Your vote will help determine our family’s future.
Would you move to warm and sunny Honolulu, where life is even more comfortable than it is in San Francisco? The majority of the Honolulu population will look like our boy, either Asian or multi-racial. He’ll grow up in an environment that is much more chill because most people in Hawaii are working to live, not living to work.
Or, would you move to somewhere in Virginia, where it is very hot or very cold for half the year. Such temperature will help him appreciate the other half of the year better. Our boy will feel the discomfort of being a 5.5% minority.
As a result, he’ll better learn how to deal with difficult situations like racism and bullying. He’ll also get a quicker taste of how cruel the real world is so he can hopefully be more motivated to study and work hard.
A Blessing To Grow Up As A Minority Who Experienced Racism And Bullying
In conclusion, what a blessing it is to grow up as a minority in Virginia. If all I experienced was love and acceptance, I’d probably still be working at my soul-sucking job wondering what else is there to life. There would be no Financial Samurai and no financial freedom.
Experiencing the bad has helped me appreciate the good. As a result, I believe I’ve reached a higher steady state of happiness as well.
I hope we can all have sand kicked in our face one day. Overcoming adversity is a gift.
Related Posts About Discomfort:
Silent Threats In The Night: My Charlottesville Story
Explaining Why Asian Income Is Highest In America
Beware Of Financial Blind Spots On Your Road To Financial Freedom
Seeking Approval From A Critical Father
Readers, what were some uncomfortable situations you experienced growing up that helped make you stronger? How much real world hardship should we subject our children to before they enter the real world? Are people simply a product of their times, and as times change, people change?
Belinda H. says
I don’t agree with everything, but your blog is an amazing resource on running a successful blog and becoming rich!
I grew up in SF Bay Area, so a little bit of both, and I think about stuff like this frequently. I’d say Virginia- having a motivated peer group on the main land exposes to lots of good information early. Eventually even if someone is say, white, you have to learn to ignore peer pressure and not take stock in others all the time- being able to handle racist comments, as long as it doesn’t get violent or there’s good legal recourse and ways to protect yourself, are all good skills to learn while under parents’ roof. Even if someone pursues a passion career, eventually people will try to screw you over. I really would feel better if my kid was aware of how the world works while I can still help them grow.
Hawaii for sure!! Just my two cents from a 10+ year reader of your awesome site. I dreamed of retiring to Hawaii ever since my first visit back in the mid 80’s. A few years ago my wife and I finally made the move from LA to Kakaako because she was able to find a government job (I was blessed and able to retire at 53 so my wife was the only one who needed employment.) Both of us love it out here, but as you know it’s not paradise but heck of a lot nicer than LA.
I’m Sansei, born in Santa Monica, CA and lived in Palos Verdes Estates and LA and my wife was born in DC. She spent many years living in the Great Falls, VA area so it’s kinda similar to your wife’s family history, except my wife isn’t Hapa. Traveling back to VA to visit her family involves a 9+ hour nonstop flight to Dulles and we are thankful for that because United Airlines has the only nonstop flight from HNL to IAD. We were so happy to visit her family last year because we didn’t see some of them for almost four years. Even though her family lives in northern VA, my wife was 100% in favor of moving to Hawaii and was the one who allowed me to retire early.
Financial Samurai says
Tell me more about how much you enjoy Hawaii! And also include the cons!
I published this: The Pros And Cons Of Retiring In Hawaii
I’d love to hear more about your perspective.
I agree with your well thought out article and would like to emphasize how expensive housing is in the Kakaako area. The 2bd 2ba 1,016 sq ft condo I’m renting sold in 2019 for approximately 1.22 million and similar condos in the building with ocean views of Ala Moana Beach and Magic Island sold last year for 1.2-1.4 million. A brand new 2bd 2ba 842 sq ft unit at Aalii a couple of blocks away is on the market for 1.25 million, so yeah it’s really expensive!
Another con to living in the Honolulu area that most people don’t realize is the huge number of property crimes that occur. Per crimemapping.com, the area surrounding Ala Moana Center has car thefts, burglaries and assaults occurring just about every other day. Then add 2-3 robberies into the mix every week and it’s a disturbing crime trend. It’s nothing in comparison to LA, however when coupled with the almost worst in the country’s crime clearance rate of the Honolulu Police Department it’s really disappointing. The embarrassing low clearance rates mean if you’re a crime victim, it’s unlikely the case will be solved unless there’s media attention or someone who knows “somebody”. If you ever visit popular scenic areas such as the Pali Lookout, you’ll probably notice broken glass in the parking lots from previous thefts. This occurs so often that the police often park their cars in the lot to deter thieves.
Even though the article is from Sept. 2020, it unfortunately illustrates how some members of the police department are too “laid back” when it comes to investigating crimes and actually doing real proactive police work.
On nextdoor.com there are multiple incidents of people reporting crimes to HPD with video/license plate information only to find out their case wasn’t properly investigated, or not investigated at all. One person in Waikiki even flagged down an officer who was parked in his patrol car and informed him the suspect who stole his bicycle a week before (he had video of the theft) returned to the area and had an electric bike (that was possibly stolen) in the bed of his truck. Instead of confronting the suspect, the officer drove off and didn’t bother detaining the suspect.
In the short amount of time I’ve lived here there have been numerous stories about HPD that were disappointing and outright criminal in behavior. If you conduct a Google search, you’ll see dozens of articles about corruption and the “bruddah-bruddah” behavior of not only the police, but politicians and government officials too. And please don’t get me wrong Sam, I completely support our brothers and sisters in law enforcement and understand how difficult their job is. I just feel bad for crime victims because many of their cases are not taken seriously.
I apologize for going off track, but thanks for listening to some of the cons from the perspective of a retired 26 year detective. The bottom line is my wife and I love it out here!!
Financial Samurai says
Glad you guys love it out there! And if we were to move, we’d move to Waialae / Kahala where there is less density and traffic.
I’m jealous you guys get to live there!
Mahalo Sam! Time literally flies by so you’ll be here before you know it!
Also, check out the Kahala neighborhood on nextdoor.com for info on what’s going on in the neighborhood.
Mat Khn says
I love the content on your website but this article is so superficial and anecdotal and totally well racist in itself.
You had terrible incidents as a child growing up in the south as a asian immigrant. You think that is unique for any immigrant anywhere in the world? You think I didn’t experience the exact same thing growing up Asian in NYC?
Ask any Asian who went to NYC public school in our generation if they every experienced racial comments and fights in any part of the city. Come on the entire education system in NYC is segregated even today.
Also you seem to think Hawaii is an ideal place, do a quick search on the how aggressively racist natives are to “Haole” for real teenagers who live on the islands. Hawaii I would argue is the most racist state in the country if you looked at it objectively.
In terms of Crime which is really the kind of racism you want to worry about, and education outcome the South for “minorities” is far better place. Its safer, the educational outcome of minority groups is far better.
I get it you used negative experiences to drive you to financial success but seriously you need to rethink that maybe some of what you encountered is just the crappiness of people in general.
Financial Samurai says
I apologize that sharing my negative experiences has offended you. I plan to keep more of my experiences to myself in the future and keep my articles more vanilla.
Perhaps my experience as part Hawaiian (dad’s side came in 1905) might not be good enough to provide a good view about growing up in Hawaii.
Can you share with me your background and where you are on your financial
Journey? How did you end on this article anyway? I’d love to understand what other things are making you upset besides my writing. Thanks
Related: Three White Tenants, One Asian Landlord: A Story Of Opportunity
I’d love to know why you are so disagreeable. What happened to you to be so easily offended by someone else’s suffering?
What’s wrong with Sam sharing his own experiences and lessons on his site? Are you used to telling people how are you think and feel? If so, this might be your problem as to why you might not have the strong relationships that you like.
I think you should follow your wife’s advice and move to Hawaii or another city where there’s lot of minorities. I think a young child’s brain is fragile. Constant bullying can destroy them. Do your son a favor and don’t move to a place where he will get bullied. You grew up being bullied. I’m sure when you were younger you wished your parents could move so you wouldn’t be subjected to the bullying. As an adult with past experience from being bullied, why move to a location where your child can be bullied?
Financial Samurai says
I think bullying is everywhere. I wasn’t constantly bullied. But I experienced bullying and I learn to fight back. Then people stopped bothering me.
There needs to be a good amount of adversity for growth.
John S says
Sam, Love your podcast but found the end very judgemental and wrong. I’m currently 42 and I lived at home until I was 29 years old in order to save to buy my first condo. My parents live an hour outside Boston, which is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. I worked in corporate finance for 14 years before becoming a full time real estate investor. Before my corporate job I had private clients that I would personal train in their mansions in the city. I woke up every single day at 4:15am and did not get home until 8pm and sat in 3 hours of rush hour traffic every day. I did this for 8 years commuting from my parents house into the city in order to get ahead financially. You shouldn’t assume young adults who love at home in their late 20s are lazy or have failed to launch. Today I am a real estate investor with a multi million dollar net worth and financially independent. Also, not everyone is as lucky as you to have found your mate very early in life in college. I’m currently single, 42 and have gone to bars in hopes of meeting a mate, gone on dozens and dozens of dates over the years, gone the dating app route, pursued every avenue possible and am still single. I would love to have a family but it just isn’t happening. The point of me telling you this is for you to realize that many people strive for that and pursue it but it just doesn’t happen. You shouldn’t talk and laugh about people as if they are failures because they are single or are living at home until 30 to get ahead financially in life. College debt and real estate prices in coastal cities nowadays make it impossible for millennials to get ahead if they DONT live at home until around 30.
Financial Samurai says
Hi John, sorry to offend you. I’m reading my post and I will go back and listen to the podcast again and try to find the point where it talks about judging people for living at home too long after college.
I though the over arching point of this post was the importance of experiencing failures, criticism, and so forth to get better as a person Eg growing up as a minority in Virginia vs a majority in paradise Hawaii. But with your feedback, it seems like I failed to make this point and will improve.
Let me ask you these questions: as a 42 yo multimillionaire, why do you think it has been so difficult to find someone? Do you think there is any correlation to living at home until 29 and your current relationship situation? Would you rather be with someone and not a multimillionaire? What would you have changed if you could rewind time to when you were 20 years old?
Roxi Connell says
John, Glad this worked out for you so well financially, but one of the reasons you didn’t find a mate in your 20’s is that no woman wants a man who is living at home with his parents, regardless of reason. There are plenty of other options to save money. In college I lived in dorm, then had multiple roommates all through 20’s and 30’s (part of the time in SF) until I got married while I also worked in finance and extra jobs. Truth is, when you’re working that much, you’re hardly home, so no need for big empty house unless it’s an investment. Even then, you can have roommates and get income from it while you’re living there. Many times after divorce, I lived in VERY small renovated studios or mother-in-law units, places without laundry facilities, hotplates with no oven. showers but no bathtub… one rental in the basement of a house had 67 steps up a steep hill to the front door! Not easy while moving in or carrying groceries! My point is there are options other than living with parents. Don’t mean to sound judgmental; I also never found the right person therefore never had any children, but have had a surprisingly fulfilling life so wouldn’t change anything. As for seeking out partners in bars… is that how you would look for a person to fill a job? It’s good to get clear on type of person you want and seek them out same accordingly. Best of luck to you!
I live in Hawaii, spent time in the Bay Area too and I mostly agree with the article with some exceptions:
1. NYC is tough because of the competition, they have some of the most talented and ambitious people in the country. Hawaii, not so much. One tough aspect about Hawaii is the lack of opportunities compared to other major cities, you can’t job hop forever or pack up and drive to the next nearest city. People stay with the same employer for many years for better or for worse.
2. Housing cost is a killer, you don’t get much bang for the buck. Prices keep going up for whatever reason, eventually people start leaving for the mainland. There has been a population decline the last couple of years. It’s frustrating and unfair for those that are patiently saving. There’s no way living in Hawaii can make you easily satisfied with life when you’re spending half your monthly income on rent or living with your folks. Lower income earners have second jobs.
3. The further you live away from Honolulu, housing gets cheaper but the commute with traffic can add long term stress and burst that paradise bubble. Food prices is not that big of an issue if you buy in bulk at Costco. But still, the mainland is cheaper with more choices.
4. Island fever: Staying on an island for an extended period of time after living on a continent and you may start feeling claustrophobic. There are no seasons on the islands to mark the passing of time. Christmas is watching snow fall in other parts of the country on TV.
5. For me, it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond. If you’re just starting out and are motivated and in a career field where you can grow and excel, Hawaii might be the place to be.
Did you end up deciding? Saw your repost on facebook. I would caution against moving to an area where culturally competent mental health providers and other resources are significantly harder to come by, though I’m sure Virginia isn’t as bad as say Wyoming. I also find the framing to be really…myopic, in the sense that if I were raising a kid in the Bay, I’d be excited by the opportunity to ensure that they were forced to interact with people from a wide swath of cultures and backgrounds, including opportunities to stand up for others as well as themselves. Much more to learn there IMHO than simply navigating a white area in a white/non-white binary.
I completely agree with your assessment that it’s important to develop comfort with being uncomfortable. It sharpens your edge and desire to succeed. I don’t agree with the premise that you must move in order manufacture discomfort or struggle the breeds character. Life is naturally uncomfortable.
If you are planning on moving, I would look for many of the reasons you stated in previous posts. Lower cost of living, better schools, unique opportunities, change of environment/scenery. Two of our factors in evaluating multiple job offers for my next career advancement were cost of living and state taxes. Ultimately we picked the opportunity that took us to Texas. That opportunity has allowed me to build and lead the spin off of a business unit into an independent subsidiary company. The advancement potential and challenge were the biggest factors in accepting the offer. However, Texas’ lower cost of living and no state income taxes were a huge sweetener.
Guillermo Monroy says
Its hard to make a recommendation of a specific place without knowing your guys preferences and such. One of the coasts? South? Midwest? Abroad? I think the struggle is important, but it can be had anywhere and for different reasons.
These are a sampling of questions and tradeoffs I have considered (mainly so I don’t write you a book):
Do I want to be in a larger city so I can switch jobs if I please, or have easy access to museums or events/cultural stuff? But then also potentially deal with traffic, higher rent, etc. Conversely, a cheaper cost of living city but with less ‘interesting’ amenities directly in town (but perhaps nearby to other larger cities).
-Me personally, I find that I say I will travel for fun but it requires more effort / planning, and day to day tend to do whats nearby. But maybe thats OK?
Also, once you decide where to go, still have to choose where to live in that general area. What do I want to see every day? City / urban jungle or nature / landscape? (may determine how close you want to live near a large city). Do you plan on buying a house? Need to consider school districts, commute, and things like that.
Do you need to live in proximity to other people (EG family, friends, customer base, etc.)? This has played a larger role than I thought for me personally, making traveling for holidays and such much, much easier. That being said, its not a big deal to travel for those things, just again, takes more planning.
I hope you figure out whats best – its not easy. Also keep in mind that there likely is no perfect place, you may want to move again elsewhere in a few years if your circumstances change.
Guillermo Monroy says
Why limit yourself to 2 very narrow geographical regions of the country? Is there anywhere else you two have ever thought to move? (Even abroad?)
Personally, I strive for flexibility, balance, and access. Will either of these places provide more of that for you and your family? Solely focusing on the racial attitudes and elements of where one lives seems shortsighted, as life is much more than that, and as many others have stated, is not the only important aspect in development or life. I would argue the support one gets is very important. What sources of support did you lean on during your childhood?
Financial Samurai says
Feel free to suggest more geographic locations. When you have too many choices, sometimes it’s hard to make a choice.
Given that you speak of the cost of living in places, I would narrow choices by that criteria. I’d also look at public school scores and the state’s rate of taxation on income. When you narrow it down that way, the pacific northwest, Texas, and the Southeast (FL, GA, SC, NC) come out ahead by my calculus.
It seems like such a defining quality of some people that because they happened to have the opinion they succeeded due in part to their environment that was truly difficult, that my child must face the same environment so he will also be as successful as I have or have certain personality traits like I do.
I think this is dangerous because it assumes by placing the child in the same harmful environment, the same outcome will be achieved. What if the boy is more like others who grow up in harmful environments and actually do not thrive? Unlimited examples here, but think o the famous one of the boarding school nightmare of Prince Charles, who hated his father because he was forced – in his words – grow up in a living hell. It scared him for life and he is seen to be a less successful person because of it. Or if you became stronger as a result of growing up in a baptist community in the south as a gay child. If you then had a gay son, would putting them through hell to potentially be emboldened really be worth the behavioral and psychological risks involved?
I’m curious on your thoughts on this. I would think there are far less risky and harmful means to impart the same qualities that you feel you learned in your specific environment.
I’m 30, a huge fan of your insightful writings, and have lived a life somewhat similar to yours during your 20’s. I look forward to future postings!
Financial Samurai says
I’m not talking harmful environment, I’m talking uncomfortable environment. And it’s not that uncomfortable all the time, just sometimes.
What I thought also. I don’t think Sam is suggesting a completely and obviously bad environment. He is suggesting a good environment with challenges that can be used as natural tools that can be used to build and mold character. I also really doubt that he and his wife will not guide, support and help navigate these challenges as need.
As an adult, I’ve seen my initially all white, all straight, family stretch to include both African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and persons with alternate lifestyles. So? None of it seemed to be a problem to anyone, even to the generation behind mine. I’ve lived all over the US and Asia.
I’ve refused, flat out refused, to let concerns about diversity, or a lack thereof, determine, or even influence, anything about my life (or my family’s).
Personal safety is another matter but it’s not necessarily tied to diversity or its absence.
Don’t make decisions based on perceived diversity or lack thereof . Find other reasons to go wherever you go or stay wherever you stay.
I like Virginia fine (although California has spoiled you as you make it sound more like Minnesota), but I’ll probably never live there again because, in my estimation, anywhere near the coast is too crowded and too expensive and, overall, I don’t like the taxes.
I love Hawaii, but I’ll probably never live there again because, in my estimation, it is too crowded and too expensive and, overall, I don’t like the taxes. Also, island fever is a real thing, despite how many people pooh-pooh it, and I’m also not fond of making 7-10 hour flights, each way, on a semi-regular basis (heck, I don’t even like commuting to work 15 to 20 minutes each way).
El Guapo says
I grew up in McLean the same time as you (Langley and O’Connell though), so I think I understand part of your worldview. I was in NoVa from 1976 until 2011, then got out and semi-retired to my slice of paradise in FL.
Friendly advice: you, like me, seem exceedingly driven. And, like me, you seem to be “the man with the plan”. I have kids that are in high school now. You know what – life has not turned out anything like I planned for them. They are each their own person despite all my shepherding – and they needed to come into their own self on their own timetable and in their own unique way. In reality, I harmed them by trying to maximize everything for them.
As a parent, if I were to do it again, I would just provide love/support, values, work ethic and basic financial planning skills. That’s all. Stop overthinking things.
PS – McLean and Vienna are definitely where to go for the right balance of community, work ethic, schools (in Vienna make sure it is Madison, not Marshall), traffic avoidance and Asian friendliness. North Arlington is good too. And, as you know, you get public Ivy college for in-state pricing which means leftover money for grad school if desired. I’ve thought about going back, but I haaaaate the wet cold and have bad seasonal allergies, so they only time the weather is nice out, I can’t go outside :(
PPS – The biggest thing that bothers me about living in a beach town is the complete lack of work ethic – it is not a great place to raise kids if the aspiration is for them to make more than $60k. Life really is too easy here and complacency is real. It’s hard to make them hungry. I suspect Hawaii might be the same.
Financial Samurai says
Agree on beach town.
What happened to your kids and what did you do exactly that makes you think u harmed them?
Born and raised in Hawaii, family goes back generations, school and worked on mainland (both coasts) before moving back. Being asian helps you fit in for sure. everyone gives each other a hard time jokingly, though whites get it the worst probably (not always jokingly), but it’s more pronounced because white folks aren’t used to it. If your kid looks white then they may get more flak. Living in hawaii certainly feels like living in a bubble, the outside world just seems to far or foreign to understand, even things happening in the US. I knew a couple black kids, 3 jewish kids, no hispanic kids growing up. Few kids leave the islands for college or work, it’s seems big and scary, it was for me. You’re adventurous when you do. Being the minority for the first time (I’m asian) was a shock. You seem a little familiar with the islands, but you probably know living there isn’t the same as visiting. There’s a reason population has declined the past few years. Folks are struggling. You have money so you might be ok. you mentioned kahala somewhere once which of course is the premier non-gated neighborhood on Oahu, so you’re in a different category than most. Sure folks can be laid back but also why things don’t get done or work poorly. However, I don’t find it any more laid back than cities/towns of equal size of population/density. Being on vacation, in great weather with great scenery can certainly add to that laid back feel. Of course going from SF to honolulu will feel more laid back, as would honolulu to Maui, then maui to Lanai. It’s all relative. Being near family is the only reason I stick around. If not for that, it would be hard for me to stay. Great place to visit, but the islands are changing, and not for the better.
Financial Samurai says
Curious about this logic: If most kids end up staying on the island, and there aren’t that many great job opportunities unless you want to be a doctor (? heard super saturated), what’s the point of spending so much on a grade school education?
You’re kind of right. I don’t know how many parents or kids really think that far ahead though. I think for a lot of people it’s just trying to achieve at the highest level and only thinking of the next step. Trying to get into the competitive big name private school, then the big name competitive college, then big time career and so on. But if your kid wants to live in Hawaii forever and be a teacher or something (no offense to teachers), they could likely do just fine going to public school then UH. I have family members who did that and did well for themselves. I’d say most kids in general stick around but I’d bet most private school kids leave for college and many end up staying there for careers. A majority of my friends went that route and some have, or will, return to the islands taking a lower paying job likely. Some don’t have a good job setup in Hawaii so they can’t move back. Certainly some can make it big with a business or something. If the private school kid goes to harvard then returns back to Hawaii to teach, that’s probably best investment. But again I don’t think many think that far ahead or know what they want.
Forgot to bring up your point about doctors. I work in healthcare and there is probably a shortage of doctors but the problem is, like many other occupations in Hawaii, doctors don’t want to come and/or don’t stay long, which tightens up hiring because some employers don’t want to hiring short-term doctors and try to focus more on doctors with local connections.
Ultimately, I wanted to add, parents mostly want to provide the “best” for their kid and give them the best opportunity to succeed. It’s easy to understand how private school might provide that, and they’re willing to pay a premium for that chance. Financially, it may not make sense, or the numbers don’t add up, but it’s part emotional too. Personally, I will try my kid out for all the private schools, see what happens. I may succumb to the pressure, emotion, insecurities, etc. and pay for private school as it may just make me feel better that I gave them every opportunity to succeed (whether it’s true or not) without regrets and/or just provide them a nice environment, potentially, for them to learn and grow up in.