@ev in #stuckinyourcraw

Do we have to move back to America to make it?

@gb and I have been talking about this all day, so I figured it might be good to air it here on the append-only log.

We made it past the dismal election cycle, and in a few days the no-doubt-amusing inauguration, on money we earned working at a restaurant in Fayettenam for six months at the end of 2015/beginning of 2016. Also, we both have a trickle of book sales, mostly in BTC (which is awesome, but we can't buy food with it here).

However, with all of the anti-Mexico sentiment up there, we can't help but consider that Americans may be hesitating before paying for things from people who are below border. I hate that this appears to be true, but we can't work down here, and it's expensive to get set up and difficult to find a job up there.

What do we do? queue @gb .

@susanne in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

Why don't you work online as freelance developers?

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@xstt This is a good suggestion. I've been pursuing this as one avenue. The biggest issue is I don't have any leads. I've talked with a few people about setting up various things -- specifically I've pitched a few people on sbot pubs and/or personalized sbot clients for their people -- but I've had limited luck turning any of these leads into actual gigs.

@gb in #stuckinyourcraw
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@xstt
your response arrived while I was responding to Everett and I'll say this. First, thanks for weighing in. I check the listings for paid gigs. So far, I haven't taken any paid gigs to do dev work, and I will if they appear.

As for your questions, @ev, yeah, it's on my mind, too. Right now you're over there cooking some pulled pork and it smells so good that all I can think of is many afternoons eating bbq pork in the ville. I'm not nostalgic for it the way I am Haskell, but I do think Carolina gets the bbq right.

I love living in Mexico City but the last month of pollution has been really bad. I mean, non-stop bad. You already know this, but for the record, I'm now doing the neti thing twice daily to make it possible to breathe. Everyone was all, 'it will improve post-holiday season,' but it hasn't. I'm not sure it will. Wishing it would don't make it so.

I love the Carolinas and would live there again with a quickness. I have family there, and some of them want me back in the Carolinas, so it's a possibility I'm open to. Really, I want the quiet to be able to do the programming work, hardwood floors to do the daily hour of yoga and four walls. I require very little. You require very little. Both of us pack down to one bag each. I used to be a bag on my back and one sidebag, but now I'm down to one bag on my back.

Funny to think I used to travel with two full-sized rollie suitcases and a bag on my back!

Hmm, where was I? Just past 6. Dinner soon.

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

@gb The biggest benefit to being down here is the inexpensive cost of living. Our rent is 6,000 pesos -- which is now less than $300 USD, and it includes everything from wifi/gas/garbage. All-in-all I think we're living for under $800 a month here. We can walk or take the Metro anywhere we want, so there's no need for a car either.

My big concern about the US is that it's expensive to live in any of the cities with public transport, and if you want less expensive then you gotta live somewhere where you need a car. We couldn't have got anything done in Fayetteville without the Oldsmobile on loan to us. But some of the preferred places I've lived in the US are so expensive that I'd need a full time job to be able to pay rent and eat.

I'd move anywhere in the US for a job. As you mentioned, the one-backpack thing. But finding one these days isn't as easy as I sometimes see people claim.

I end up thinking the only way to make a living right now is to get a restaurant job. Those are everywhere, and turnover is always high at restaurants. It's cut and dry work, and I always had time to code or write in my spare time.

Anyway, I'm torn about the whole thing. yah, and the smog has been horrible. That was one of the reasons we left in 2015. That and running out of money, which is the same issue we have now.

@gb in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

I'm up for living in something about the size of a chicken coop. I'm also willing to do the bartender thing again.

The big thing last year was you, @ev, were all, 'we can prepare to roll when we have distributed social,' and then it happened. And we're here. The profile photo thing is stuck in my craw, but that's a few hours of work to fix.

I don't know, man. Setting an intention is super yogic and I guess if I were to set my intention it would be to give notice, roll back to a city in the States where we can both find tech jobs and teach people about sbot at conferences in the 50 States.

All while living in a space as inexpensive and small as a chicken coop.

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@gb I'd love to find a tiny space somewhere, but the question I often come back to is where?

I guess if we narrow it down to places where I know people, we get this list:

New York, Brooklyn
SF Bay, (Oakland, SF)
Portland, Or
North Carolina (Fayetteville/Asheville/?)
Chicago
Kansas City
Texas (Laredo)

Then there's places I've thought about living, but don't know anyone -- Pittsburgh or any other random city I've never been to.

I'd always prefer living in NYC or the Bay, but I also think it's best to live in those places when you have a job. Otherwise you're just economically fucked.

But North Carolina, you need a car. And I hate cars.

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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Let's open this thread up to anyone who wants to weigh in. If you're in The States, how do you survive in America?

@Toady in #stuckinyourcraw
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I have no idea how to help here but this is very sad.

I hope you both find a place to stay that doesn't kill you one way or the other....

@mixxx in #stuckinyourcraw
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I'd be interested to hear from @ahdinosaur about his experience as an immigrant and bit of a wanderer.

New Zealand is a long way, but there are some lovely people here and having a community of lovely people to back me has enabled me to go so much further, so I would recommend places that have the right people.

@mixxx in #stuckinyourcraw
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Also, I really appreciate you both sharing and opening your thinking on this very real challenge.

I'm also currently trying to figure out how to pursue my passions and potentially support a partner who isn't working (e.g. having children etc).

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@cryptix It's funny you say that, because I told @gb last night that we might be getting skin cancer and lung cancer in Mexico City from the smog, but if we move to the states we'll end up with kidney, stomach or pancreatic cancer from the stress. Hah.

@gb in #stuckinyourcraw
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Thanks, @cryptix -- found your response touching.

@noffle in #stuckinyourcraw
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Aw, I'm sorry to hear about the hard times @ev @gb. I wish you both success in these endeavours.

I'd love to see y'all up here in the bay area, though it's hardly the pinnacle of affordability. My partner and I are in the process of finding a place in Oakland to get out of San Jose, which has been getting unbearable re: rent. In fact, we saw a really unique place yesterday in Oakland (1bd 1 bath) for $1100. It's a couple of cool folks who bought out the whole building and are finishing up / renting out most of the bottom floor to some cool folks. If this interests you, let me know and I can get you in touch with them.

Bonne chance, mes amis!

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@noffle Yah, I'd love live in Oakland or even San Francisco in my ideal world. After our trip to Oakland in 2013 (where we met @james @marina @johnny @maxogden and Luk.xxx RIP and saw @dominic when he stopped by, we came to the conclusion that it's really not possible to live in the Bay right now without employment. For us anyway.

$1,100 for us right now is more than we spend in a month on rent and food and anything else. It'd actually be kind of hard to spend that much money here in Mexico City.

But I used to have a loft in Oakland in 2010 that was $1,300 or $1,350, all to myself. And that felt weirdly cheap back then. But Jingletown was driving me loco, so I moved to San Francisco and got a room for only $800 in the Mission. Can you imagine? You'd never be able to get that now.

If I had a job anywhere in Bay, I'd jump on a one-way ticket there tomorrow.

@Apostolis in #stuckinyourcraw
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If you had a house somewhere and a farm, you could reduce your expenses to a minimum. At least that's what I am doing for now.

People that detest Capitalism will be affected by the stress that all people feel but they will also have to deal with a reality they dislike.

I was lucky to have a place to stay and a very small income to live by, otherwise I would probably be in the same position as you.

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@apostolis A farm is one idea, but as you mentioned, it would require access to a farm. We have considered that. I'm also concerned about the expense of a car.

While I do hate cars --I think they're dangerous killing machines that own you, not the other way around--, I don't consider myself to be in the 'people who detest capitalism' group. I'm fine with using money to buy and sell things, in a working economy. I do believe that the economies of much of the world are a bit skewed right now. I'm not sure how to fix that myself.

I had many discussions with people last year who would say 'well, why are you working in a restaurant? why don't you get a real job?' and I've always said 'if you'd be willing to refer me to a job alternative to the one I have right now then I'd be happy to take it.' And no one ever seemed to have any suggestions other than the vague 'there are jobs out there.... somewhere!'

@gandalf in #stuckinyourcraw
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I've definitely seen folks with good consulting practices move away from big cities and keep things rolling. Those folks tend to make regular trips into the big market cities, to face-to-face with their clients, keeping the human connection alive. They also tend to do lots of VOIP and video conferencing, for the same reason. The personal element is really important.

I get the sense that it's much harder to establish a consulting practice selling your services into the cities from Far Away. You become fungible. In my own time, I found myself falling into the "outsourcing" bucket with prospects outside my metro area, a bucket that felt ever more crowded with very low-rate foreign contractors. I can only imagine that's more true now, especially on the big oWork/eLance/Upwork-scale platforms. Even with an $800 per month target take, you may find yourself outbid by folks with even lower costs. There's still a premium for native English, but good working proficiency is a lot more common abroad than it used to be.

Slotting yourself in as an overflow or supplementary hand to an established consultancy might bridge the gap. If your costs are really that predictable, you might even work a deal where they put you on a monthly retainer that looks a lot like your minimum take for the month. That kind of gig still isn't easy to come by, but you may have more luck establishing a good personal and professional rapport with one busy consultant or consultancy, as opposed to a steady stream of new clients, all of whom are remote.

No matter what way you go, expect a slow initial startup period. Eventually, almost all good contract coders survive and thrive by referral and repeat business, which takes time to build up on itself to a self-sustaining level.

The one piece of advice I think I've earned the hard way about that period is to purge yourself of all pickiness about the work you're willing to take. If you go out looking for just distributed systems work, or just JavaScript work, it's going to be much, much harder. Most folks I know who specialize---in any line of skilled work---do so by taking everything they can get to start, building up more of that kind of work than they can handle, then picking and choosing the kind of work they want when it's Feast, falling back on whatever-comes-in-the-door when it's Famine. A few years of that, and you end up with a reputation that draws clients who need what you want to do.

As for surviving in America, people are all over the board. I'm a latecomer to Oakland, where I pay pretty serious rent, with baseline monthly costs over $2k. I can overcome that only because higher billing rates are the norm here. Two unfortunate effects:

  1. In the Bay Area, I'm cheap as lawyers of my ilk go. To clients in Oklahoma and Virginia and Texas, I'm a pricey specialist at the same rate.

  2. The relatively high billing rates don't help when you're just getting started, trying to build up book. I only survived because I had savings from previous employment to hold me down until my solo practice gained steam.

I think you're right to associate cheaper stateside living with cars. The same dynamic hits consultants who leave California for affordable "fly-over:" country. Even if they stay freelance, they tend to ride airplanes a lot. Longer distances, longer time frames, but it's still a kind of commute.

Then there's the whole category of folks who set up on the fringes of a metro area, just inside reasonable commute or transit range. The last BART stops in the Bay Area. Burbs of LA. I meet lots of folks on motorcycles who ride just because they can split lanes and take the HOV lanes. That gives them a much wider viable commute range during rush hours.

Good luck, y'all.

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@kemitchell thanks for weighing in. I agree with you on not being picky -- I ran food to tables for 6 months! I'd definitely trade up from that experience to coding in any language, on any legacy system. I'll even design your website for you. But I also have to agree with you about low-bid foreign contractors, it's impossible to compete with India or SE asia on freelance platforms. It's hard to argue with the economics of having someone design a website for you for $5 -- I think this pretty much eliminates any American's ability to compete in the low-end market.

@Apostolis in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

@ev

I got about 4 interview offers from Companies, mostly because of my activity at mailing lists.

I got one from Google when I was creating a decentralized graph processing system and was using apache zookeeper.

I got one from a London company when I switched to possibly using apache storm.

I then got two offers when I started using the Idris programming language. Their mailing list is full of google and facebook employees that search for talent. One offer was from Google. The other was from a San Fransisco company.

As you might know, the SF programmers get in average 120k+.

I didn't even reply them. I prefer 500 per month that 10k per month because I am a free person now.

In Greek, the word for "work" is "δουλειά" and the word for "slave" is "δούλος" most probably because as you might know ancient greece used slaves to do the work.

Modern Greeks do not really look into the etymology of the word , most of them do not question why someone gives them orders.

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@apostolis I'm 100% up for being a wage slave. There was a time when I railed about that kind of thing, but after years of being independent with various levels of success, I wouldn't mind checking into an office every day.

@susanne in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

I have a house outside Rio de Janeiro, if you guys need somewhere to live for free. Internet and electricity is shit, but otherwise it's a rather nice pad...

@susanne in #stuckinyourcraw
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My house: https://www.facebook.com/susanne.tarkowski.tempelhof/media_set?set=a.10151199634806417.433789.722051416&type=3

395486_10151199637941417_924513033_n.jpg

@Dominic_temp in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

My big concern about the US is that it's expensive to live in any of the cities with public transport, and if you want less expensive then you gotta live somewhere where you need a car.

All while living in a space as inexpensive and small as a chicken coop.

Sounds like you are talking about a van.
A chicken coup on wheels.

When I was last in the bay area I attended a "vechile dwellers meetup" which included various people living in vans, RVs, shipping containers (we visited a collective space for converting a shipping container into a home), including one person who lived in a Toyota Prius (!)

I met someone that worked for GOOG and slept in a box truck in their parking lot. https://frominsidethebox.com/

The difficulty with this suggestion, however is it does require the capital expendature of purchasing the van.

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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Oh man, this is a very generous offer. I can't log into FB because I don't have one, but I'm happy to hear you got yours back!

I'm hesitant to say yes, because I know from my experience traveling in 2012 (couldn't pay rent in Japan, so bounced to Berlin -- had to sell Macbook Air to get back to US) that getting on a plane when you're broke is not always the best idea.

I've always wanted to backpack around S. America, but I also want to have the financial padding to do so.

Right now we're < $90 USD from my dad's house in Laredo, so worst case we're just a bus ride from the border.

The other thing I'm considering is work. I can't really work on the ground in Mexico, and I can't really work in Rio. The reasoning to stay in Mexico over Rio is I know the language a little bit, so I have better chance of negotiating the whole broke thing. Also I'd have to find the money to get there. S. America is a surprisingly long distance from Mexico.

But ultimately I know that I have the best opportunities back home in America, even if that means running food to tables -- or ideally scrubbing dishes in the back of a brewpub somewhere in the USA.

@marina in #stuckinyourcraw
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@xstt your home is beautiful!

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@dominic_temp I know @johnny and @cel are doing this right now, maybe they can weigh in on their experience? Don't forget about the downsides guys!

I know that California has a long history of people living in vehicles, but I've never been brave enough to do it myself.

@johnny in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

stackoverflow has many remote listings

@noffle in #stuckinyourcraw
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I know @johnny and @cel are doing this right now, maybe they can weigh in on their experience?

Yes, I'd also like to hear more about your experiences with this.

@Apostolis in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

@ev

Note that my job offers had to do with mathematical skills or with analyzing the private data of their users.

So I can understand why you would take that job, people need to make a living , but we need to be aware of the things we lose.

@susanne in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

Would be interesting to explore some sort of app-token that rewards pub holders.

@johnny in #stuckinyourcraw
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I do not live in a van; I live on a satellite in a space lab.

@ev in #stuckinyourcraw
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@johnny One of my concerns about living in a van is I'd begin referring to it as a 'satellite in a space lab', meanwhile the guy in the house across the street would say 'that dude lives in a van!' But it's California, everything is weird in California.

@ansuz in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

I shared my 14 square meter apartment with my girlfriend over the summer. It was pretty cramped, but it motivated us to spend more time out in the city.

I'd want a bigger space in a cold country like Canada, where you might expect some gnarly cabin fever to kick in, but in a warm climate I don't think about it too much.

@johnny in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

There are no streets in space, and the neighbors are pretty far out!

I really don't live in a van, except when touring earth, and then I prefer to have friendly places to rest. If I did live in my van for reals, I would probably live off highway 1 with the other RVers, between Ventura and LA, close enough to bike some place for supplies. That's probably the best you could hope for, unless you want to spend $10-30 to camp or day use some County, State or Federal Park.

A van is inadequate for more than a couple nights. You can't store enough to be far from water sources, and you need to be close to a restroom (or nature, which tends to put you far away from other needs/wants). Although I did meet a dude who had water and gas tanks, stove and a toilet in his van, I was not envious. I'd get a bigger vehicle if you want to actually live out of it... then you can park up on the coast for weeks, or the forest, or desert...

@johnny in #stuckinyourcraw
Re: %lagp0zQR3

Addendumlog: a van is fun if you want to move around a lot, and have money to blow on conveniences, town to town, cafe to cafe... I almost joined a regional 24 hr. fitness franchise, for their showers and such, the most economical solution to ablutions I could find (this was because the spacelab was inadequate at the time, not because I was stationed in my van).

@nilon in #stuckinyourcraw
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Hey @ev & @gb . First of all full empathy, I totally get what you're going through and it's quite a hard deal to have place and job, so all best. Then I'd like to also pitch some ideas.

  • Maybe @gb can teach yoga?
  • Maybe both can teach English, just conversations with a native, this is quite worthy, maybe you have to get out of the pc and show your face in language institutions. It's a good starter. I had a friend who did this in Chec Republic with Spanish ten years ago and now owns an institute.
  • I got a little shocked with the quote:

    I'm 100% up for being a wage slave.

    Maybe you can make a small investment in the real world and be your own boss in any field. I finished a masters degree with research in social science field and have to always go on the side for parallel work. I just put U$S 3000 together and two other partners with the same amount and we're launching together a juice bar.

  • If you already know Spanish, then Portuguese and going to Brazil is not far away, it's just a half step more. Also when you've already learned a language the next comes easier, plus you already are fluent in some cultural adaptation.

And again, all best, hope you can move forward. You guys are looking around with attention, I believe that the best will come out of it. Hope I can see you in Argentina or around sometime. Cheers.

@gb in #stuckinyourcraw
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Buena suerte with your juice endeavor, @nilon! Will holler if I'm in your neck of the woods someday. :tropical_drink:

@nilon in #stuckinyourcraw
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:cool: !! I hadn't noticed you could use emojis here.
keep update on what you're doing/heading, all best

@gb in #stuckinyourcraw
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:tada: will do, @nilon