92 comments

The Arizona Experiment!

The thing that drew me to early retirement is freedom, and that’s still the best part of it. 

Back in 2005, the primary reason for this freedom-seeking was being able to devote my best hours to being a Dad – I had a feeling my career in tech would be too demanding to sustain once the full-time job of raising children kicked in.

Eighteen years later, wow has that guess ever turned out to be right. Early retirement has proved to be the most amazing, worthwhile adventure and it’s still just getting started. It was an astonishing thirteen years ago that I wrote to you about Little MM starting kindergarten, and now he’s done with high school.

It has given me the space to enjoy so many new experiences, working hard and playing hard sometimes, but also slowing things way down when necessary, to deal with and grow through some real hardships.

But now, with that child-raising phase finally almost done, I’m cashing in a few of those Freedom Chips for a particularly big change: moving to a warm sunny place for the winter to try out a new life in the walkable, bikeable, car-free community you’ve probably heard me raving about in the past: Culdesac Tempe.

So on the first of December I’ll be packing up the essential clothes, tools and gadgets, and throwing my very best mountain bike onto the Model Y to make the epic road trip across the mountains. Just in time to escape the incoming Colorado winter. And my son will be joining me for the trip!

Looking for updates? I have added a separate tracker page here.

Heading West…

We’ve booked ourselves a spacious two bedroom apartment there, for four full months. Little MM will be roughly alternating his months between Arizona and Colorado so he can still have time with both parents, while I’ll be there the whole time. 

A big part of the fun is that this will force me to invent a whole new life for myself, away from the easy comforts of the big community and plentiful construction sites that keep me so busy here.  It will be both a big change and a significant challenge, which is exactly what all of us need on a regular basis to keep life full of meaning and joy. 

So What Are You Going to Do in Arizona?

Looking forward to replacing this with a *real* Arizona mountain biking picture I will be taking soon.

The exact details are still in the works, and I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback (see the “get in touch” note below. But here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Meet as many new people as possible, and answer the burning question we all have: what kind of people choose to move to a car-free neighborhood in the center of a super-car-based metropolis?
  • And of course hang out with existing friends who live in the area – did you know our own Coverage Critic (aka Chris Smith) already lives in Culdesac?
  • Share some of the experiences, whether good or bad, here on MMM and on places like Twitter and Instagram so you can live vicariously through this experience.
  • Use my newly liberated extra free time to visit their kickass on-site gym to get in extra good shape. 
  • Use more of that free time to write more blog posts and sweep some of the cobwebs off of this neglected online persona of mine.
  • Look at the weather app on my phone periodically to cackle at the blizzards I’m missing in Colorado and celebrate my good fortune in comparison (the typical “winter” day in Tempe is typically in the mid-70s which means sandals and palm trees and outdoor dining the whole time)
  • Host a few meetups in Culdesac’s outdoor plazas like we did last March
  • Start a quirky free handyman business where I help new residents set up their IKEA furniture and move heavy stuff and hang paintings, as a combo of meeting people and being useful and exercising my compulsion to build stuff.
  • Ride bikes! A lot. Explore the distant corners of the Phoenix metro area and the surrounding desert valley and mountain trails on mountain bikes, regular bikes, and the e-bike that comes included with the first 200 Culdesac apartments.
  • And perhaps most importantly, help my almost-adult son get all sorts of new experiences during his visits, by living in a brand new city for the first time since he was born waaaay back in the same era as my own early retirement.
One of Culdesac’s main “parking lots”, adjoining a restaurant patio
My future gym (specifically the stuff in the far background)

Is There a Bigger Picture To All This?

Okay, you’re onto me. If I’m going to go to the trouble of typing shit into the computer and sharing it with you, there’s usually a purpose behind it other than just journaling my own personal life, and this another one of those cases. 

First of all, there are the first-layer selfish goals: I want to have the best winter ever, meet a bunch of smart new people, and I also want Culdesac to be a huge success so they will build more neighborhoods like this around the country and set an example that permanently improves the way US cities build and expand themselves in the future.

Much Better than Parking Lots

But even if you don’t care about all that, I also want to use this as a little statement about trying deliberate life changes.

By throwing myself into a new community which aligns so nicely with my own values, I hope to serve as a reminder that maybe you might want to try the same thing. Or just try anything new.

In a comfortable, prosperous country like ours, some of the built in tendencies of Human nature tend to work against us, saying,

“Hey – I’ve noticed we have plenty of food and reasonable shelter and that’s good enough.
So let’s just double down on the Netflix, comfort foods, and occasional luxury purchases and that will keep us safe.”

Instead, I want you to set your life treadmill to just a bit of a steeper, healthier incline setting.

That means questioning the status quo and doing your best to keep at least one little experiment on the go in the background. Maybe that means forcing yourself to move to a better place, or taking steps towards getting a new job that gives you a better work-life balance.

The biggest move I ever made was leaving family and friends and my old job behind to move to the US, alone, at age 24. Looking back, I’m shocked I had the courage (and the organizational skills) to pull that off back then. I’ve become older and a bit slower, and so comfortable that it’s hard to imagine doing something so bold now.

But even today 24 years later, I thank my past self every single day for doing it. My present life is an incredibly different and better thing because of that past bit of courage.

The spirit of positive experimentation might also mean starting to challenge your body more regularly – giving it harder work and exposing it to a wider swath of temperatures and movements. Or joining new Meetup groups to expand your circle of friends and experiences. 

It doesn’t really matter exactly what you do, as long as you point your feet in what feels like a good direction and just start moving. Create some purposeful change, which will surely feel a bit difficult, simply because change is hard. And hard things are good. 

Future Arizona Neighbors: I’ll see you in four weeks!

Further reading: I’ve been reading books, doing life experiments, and writing about the value of strategic hardship for a while now. But the latest is a book called Dopamine Nation by the talented psychiatrist/author named Dr. Anna Lembke.

To summarize: your brain creates a baseline for happiness based on the HARDEST thing you do, and then compares everything else to that. So if you do hard things, life in general seems fantastic because of this perspective. If you eliminate all hardship, suddenly even the pleasures of life seem bland, and you live a spoiled and unmotivated life.


To get in touch: send me a DM on Instagram or use the email address “newsletter” at the domain of this website. (Newsletter subscribers can also just reply to this post if you received it via email.)

Interested in stopping by for your own Mini Culdesac Experiment? They have a few short-term rentals available at rather reasonable rates (less than nearby hotels) – check em out at book.culdesac.com

What will you do with your car?

I’m bringing the car just as a convenient electric moving truck to carry two people and four months of living supplies. Once I get there, I’ll find a safe place to park it offsite and live the full car-free lifestyle of Culdesac, much like I do when I’m here at home. I typically only use cars to carry really heavy stuff or for trips to other cities and states, but it’s even easier to accomplish this in Tempe with its location right on the light rail and with their onsite bike, scooter and even car sharing lots.

What about your house?

My place in Colorado is currently set up as a two bedroom house on the main floor, plus an apartment with a separate entrance on the walkout lower level. When I’m at home, I use the whole thing as one home – the apartment just makes a great place to host a fairly constant stream of visiting friends. But for the winter I’m hoping to rent out one of these spaces to a friend or trusted acquaintance who will take good care of everything, while I leave the other section free for the occasional visits I’ll be paying to this area over the winter. Aside from keeping an eye on the place, it will be a great way to practice the age-old Mustachian technique of making money while taking vacations!

What Happens at the End of March?

As it stands, I have no plans beyond this point. I’ll head back to Colorado for my home base, but with this being a new phase of life I’ll be layering on new adventures. Aside from the two mountain properties that I’ve been helping to build out, I just teamed up with a friend to help him create an intentional (and somewhat experimental!) living community in Denver called Wild Life Ranch

We’ll have to cover more of that in a future article, but the basic idea is that he is converting a 13-acre former horse ranch in a relatively prime part of the Denver area, into a future village of higher-end tiny houses and other dwellings. These will be arranged around nice common amenities with a big emphasis on people actually enjoying the process of living together, as opposed to just living separately side-by-side as we tend to do in normal neighborhoods.

  • Jen Bart November 2, 2023, 3:22 pm

    Looking forward to hearing about your time in AZ!

    Reply
  • Lee November 2, 2023, 5:07 pm

    Awesome! Moving to a new place is the perfect way to get a new perspective on things. Enjoy culdesac. I worked with Ryan a while back. They’re doing great stuff. I’m hoping this sort of thing catches on in other places across the country.

    Reply
  • JT November 2, 2023, 5:20 pm

    Love This! Welcome to the Valley MMM. Winter is most definitely prime time around here. Looking forward to connecting again at a future meet-up!

    Reply
  • Lou November 2, 2023, 5:21 pm

    Hi MMM,

    Sounds great but I am curious if you cut a special deal to get a 4 month rental or does the complex offer “snowbird” rates/plans for the just the winter? Also if it is not too personal how expensive are the 2 bed/2 ba units there? And I also assume it is furnished right? But whole idea sounds terrific so I wish you best of luck with it.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  • AZ Joe November 2, 2023, 5:23 pm

    Almost 12 years ago we did just that, in reverse. We moved from the Phoenix area to somewhat cooler Southern Utah. It has been a great choice.

    When we were in Greater Phoenix we met a gentleman from Canada (!) who spent his winters in Phoenix and every day rode from Laveen to the top of South Mountain (you’ll find it) and back every day. Not suggesting every day, but it might be interesting once or twice. And, don’t miss the Superstition Mountains at least once. In the spring it has beautiful wild flowers. Best of luck.

    Reply
  • Ravi November 2, 2023, 5:24 pm

    Cool! Hope you can use your blog to popularize the Culdesac experiment and get more people thinking about car-free communities.

    Reply
    • Camillo November 9, 2023, 8:18 am

      He already made me think about it!

      Reply
  • The Orchard November 2, 2023, 5:33 pm

    This is a cool idea for an experiment – both the carless city in general and your moving there for the winter to try it out. I hope it provides material for some interesting blog posts. I like to read about what you’re up to nowadays, all these years into retirement!

    I have a question: You’re going to be in Arizona during the winter months. That’s the nicest time of year to live in the desert. During the summer, it must get brutally hot. Do you think that will be a disincentive for people to move to Culdesac, knowing they won’t be able to rely on the comfort of air-conditioned cars?

    Humans are pretty adaptable, but there are limits to what we can acclimate to. I enjoy walking, but even I would have second thoughts about leaving the house to go for a stroll if it was 120 degrees outside. And climate change is only going to make the heat worse. I’d have concerns about living somewhere that routinely gets that hot if walking or biking were the only ways of getting around.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 2, 2023, 7:39 pm

      Yeah, Phoenix summers are definitely not for everyone! Although Culdesac is designed specifically to make it easier to bear, with the desert-friendly white buildings with close spacing and plenty of shade structures.

      When it comes to the heat, a car is the LAST thing I want to be getting into! Those glass domed furnaces get up to 200 degrees within minutes every time you park them in a climate like that. I’d greatly prefer to be in a neighborhood where I can walk in a shaded alley, and perhaps shift my schedule a bit during the summer months so I take a Siesta for the hottest part of the day and enjoy a bit more of the evening hours in exchange.

      The other thing to note is that somehow, five million people DO choose to call Phoenix home and the population is still growing rapidly. A big part of this is that the human body can adapt to a much wider range of temperatures than we realize. Both my Phoenix friends (115F summers) and my Ottawa family (-30F winters) say, it’s not that bad” even though both of those temperatures would sound unbearable to, say, a Hawaiian.

      Reply
      • Madeline November 2, 2023, 8:35 pm

        Our son lived in Tempe for 10 years and mostly rode his bike to work at the local community college in Mesa.In the HOTTEST summer months,he was able to grab a bus to the campus.Never needed a car.We learn to adapt to the hot hot summers, we switch up when we do stuff, we go slower, you do NOT hike locally, you go up NORTH for that.. overall,I love it here in t he desert and don’t miss winter,snow,driving in ice, etc. Creative folks like MM will do great!! Tempe is just about the ONLY ‘burb/town in the Valley where you can actually go without a car..they EXCEL at public transportation!!

        Reply
        • Ryan November 3, 2023, 12:09 pm

          The last five years I lived in Phoenix (near downtown), I got around without a vehicle, reaching all destinations by light rail and bike or walking.

          Reply
      • nice joy November 2, 2023, 10:32 pm

        Lack of humidity makes a big deference in how the heat affects you . 100 degrees is like 75 degrees in Florida . I can stay all day outside in shade when the temp is at 110 . Just need to drink a lot of water.

        Reply
    • Christof November 3, 2023, 4:38 pm

      I was in the Phoenix area a few weeks ago. It is amazing how quickly you adapt. Temperatures where I live are in the 50ties to 60ties, it was above 100 in Phoenix. During the day in the sun, it is really hot (it’s more than 120 in the sun in mid October!). In the shade it actually felt comfortable. At night at 85 I put on a jacket, because it felt chilly.

      Florida on the other hand… I was there in February one year: It felt rather cold, but I got a sun burn. Late summer the humidity is killing me.

      Reply
  • Natalie G November 2, 2023, 5:36 pm

    That is SO awesome, MMM! I made the move to southern California in 1996, and I have NEVER regretted it. I grew up in Wisconsin, and although I love the scenery there, it’s just way too cold 8 months out of the year.

    Your blog reminded me of the book “Four Thousand Weeks,” by Oliver Burkeman. It’s an amazing book on how looking at “time” differently (to me, more realistically), can change how you experience your life.

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that the constant “do, do, do” of our culture and our personal mindsets allows for very little time to really consider what is important to us, but also how recognizing that we can’t do it all, have it all, and get it all done, allows for us to really think about what we do want to do, have and get done in our lifespans (which average about 4,000 weeks).

    Can’t wait to hear more…

    Reply
  • Keaton November 2, 2023, 5:38 pm

    I’m currently 24 and have been thinking I need a change for a while now. Maybe this will be the kick in the ass that I need! Moving to a new place seems scary but I’m sure it’s less risky than it seems.

    Reply
  • Thomas November 2, 2023, 5:49 pm

    Interesting! I’m actually flying into Phoenix on Tuesday to buy a car! (2017 Chevy Volt plug in, $14k in AZ, $17kish if purchased locally in UT). I’ll have to stop by here to check it out on my way home!

    Enjoy the winter down there!

    Reply
  • Darcy November 2, 2023, 5:50 pm

    Hey, you’re copying me! I’m moving from Massachusetts to California that very same week of December (which is going pretty smoothly thanks to my FI journey). I will sadly not be in a car-free community, but my move will also be a deliberate life change. Here’s to a wonderful experience for the both of us!

    Reply
  • Bill November 2, 2023, 5:51 pm

    Hey, long time no stache! Good luck with your new adventures. The only reason I still work is we own an airplane. It’s a time machine.

    Reply
  • Profit Greenly November 2, 2023, 5:58 pm

    So excited to hear that you’re giving Tempe a whirl! I lived there for 2 years and I loved it. You can go a really long way on the off street bike paths, just make sure to bring water and drink it a lot. I used to love riding to the Botanical Garden/Zoo/Hole In The Rock from there. There are also multiple mountains you can ride to and hike. Echo Canyon trail is my favorite hiking trail in the world, and it’s a reasonable bike from Tempe. South Mountain has a lot longer trails to hike on too (College Ave has a bike/ped bridge over the highway so it’s easy to get to). The greenway trail up past McKellips Lake is also just a wonderful ride. There used to be a farmers market type thing on it. I wonder if it’s still there? Also, be sure to go the AZ International Marketplace, the most Mustachian grocery store I’ve ever been to (they once sold me a whole head of garlic for $0.10).

    Don’t forget to travel to nearby towns/cities too while you’re down there. Saguaro National Park in Tucson is amazing. Sedona is home to some of the most beautiful views in the country, but the town itself is kind of a miserable strip mall. I would suggest going to Prescott AZ first, because it’s almost as beautiful naturally and far nicer as a town, with a great walkable downtown. Flagstaff is another fun stop on the way to the Grand Canyon.

    You probably don’t need this blog post I wrote a long time ago about how to live in Tempe without a car, but maybe others will find it useful. Back then was right after I’d retired and I talked you up to a bunch of my old neighbors. I wonder if they still live there, and if so whether they’ll see you at Cul De Sac? Your next challenge will be living there through a full summer :)

    https://rampantdiscourse.com/car-free-tempe-baby/

    Reply
  • Andrew November 2, 2023, 6:06 pm

    Looking forward to more blog posts!

    Reply
  • FIREme1 November 2, 2023, 7:28 pm

    Great concept for living. I hope it catches on!! It’s almost worth the move just for that gym! I’m really curious to hear how you like living in Tempe. The phoenix area is a tough one for going car free and I eventually moved from the Phoenix area because I didn’t find enough like minded (mustacian) types but culdesac looks like an oasis in an otherwise car-dominated amalgamation of cities.

    While we made our own big move a few years ago (to Boulder), I was born in Prescott and lived in Tucson, Flagstaff, and Scottsdale and find the state incredibly beautiful. Some of the best hiking anywhere and Mtn biking is in Sedona. Prescott, Jerome, Flagstaff are all worth exploring. Put the hike to Supai falls in the Grand Canyon on your bucket list. I’m sure you’ll get to know the Superstition Mtns well (also great climbing there) and stop to bike in Moab and Monument Valley on your way to AZ. Last tip: extra tires and tweezers in your bike kit, since we/they have cactus galore in AZ.

    Since we still have kids in school, we do big summer trips but I’m already making the list of places to live for part of the year once they’re out of the house. What I like about your choice is you guarantee you’ll find other like-minded people quickly because they’ve opted in to a similar lifestyle. That’s a great way to speed up finding community which is actually the hardest part of moving. Can’t wait to read about how the experiment goes!

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  • Corwin November 2, 2023, 8:50 pm

    It’s funny, this is essentially the opposite of what we’ve considered doing in the future – we live in Austin TX with extremely hot summers (and humid, unlike AZ), so we’ve thought many times about getting out of here during the kids’ school summer vacation. In fact, living somewhere between Boulder and Fort Collins is likely at the top of our list, along with the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps in a few years when our youngest is a bit older.

    I have also found that you can see and do so much more in a new area by living there even just a couple months, vs just a week long trip. Even if you’re working full time, as I did when I was younger and doing internships across the country. Having a new home base opens up tons of opportunities.

    Best of luck man, look forward to hearing (reading?) how it goes!

    Reply
  • jseliger November 2, 2023, 8:56 pm

    “Instead, I want you to set your life treadmill to just a bit of a steeper, healthier incline setting.”

    In my case, alas, life has set my life treadmill to much steeper, unhealthier incline setting: https://jakeseliger.com/2023/07/22/i-am-dying-of-squamous-cell-carcinoma-and-the-treatments-that-might-save-me-are-just-out-of-reach/

    I wanted to move to Cul De Sac, but my wife is an ER doctor who works at Mayo Phoenix, which is nowhere close to Cul De Sac. And now I’m dying, and being treated at Mayo, so moving there is even more impractical.

    Reply
  • Nice Joy November 2, 2023, 10:28 pm

    Grand welcome to Phoenix. So excited that you are coming here. Yes you can park in my garage if you need a parking space . Please reach out for any local help or guidance. I really wish to see you in person. I am a long time follower and I owe you so much because you changed my life for good. I have replied to your newsletter e mail. Please reach out for anything.

    Reply
  • Kathy November 2, 2023, 10:29 pm

    I’m all for adventuring to different places and trying to things – but I’m not “getting it” about the culdesac being innovative and new. It seems like a small college campus – except without the benefits of living on a campus. Perhaps I’m suspicious of overpriced rentals from “developers” who come in and do what they call “place-making” without parking spaces. They convince the city council that the people who will live in the new developments can’t own cars (because they want a clearance from being forced to build parking), but then the no-car rule is not enforced (could easily by checking DMV registration), so cars basically flood nearby neighborhoods. Perhaps the Culdesac developers are different, but what I see where I live is: a developer comes to town, promises the city council these great high density living situations, but once they are built, the developer sells them and washes their hands of it. Then the new property manager takes a units off the market and rents them for short term business rates which are double the rent. Result: We have less housing.

    Reply
    • AnotherEngineer November 3, 2023, 12:57 pm

      I don’t know the details of culdesac, but much of what you say is fair in general. Our development system is quite broken as it depends on risk-adverse, profit-seeking developers to build out a communities’ land use vision, which may or may not be supportive of car-lite living in itself. It has resulted in sprawl and “luxury” everything sameness and widespread auto dependence. I agree ideally there would be lots of employment in the development, but I would argue that dense, transit accessible housing is the greater need in our system. Less regulation is often the answer here (e.g., removing parking minimums, increasing residential zoning density), but in your example, clearly some way of ensuring that the development follows through on its promises it made for approval is needed. On the flip side, any housing built, even if it is for AirBnbs is creating housing and likely converting other short term to long term rentals due to competition. Any dense housing in an area that isn’t car dependent is a win in my book, and culdesac’s ideals seem about as good as a developer of a single parcel can do to prove a concept and get the ball rolling. I hope they are vey successful and make lots of money to prove the concept elsewhere, which can translate into lower price points, mixed use, 15 minute cities, etc.

      Reply
  • Mr. Nomad Numbers November 2, 2023, 11:07 pm

    This looks super exciting, Pete! We will be watching your adventure unfold in Arizona. We are just in the process of cutting ties to California by moving (our domicile) to Texas. Maybe our next step would be to start exploring Culdesac during another trip.

    From looking at the website, this looks pretty appealing. They did a great job at marketing it. Though I would love to hear more about what you think about the team (mostly real estate folks?) that is behind this project. Have you met with them, and more importantly, why aren’t they allowing people to buy vs. rent these units?

    Cheers,
    Mr. NN

    Reply
  • Calt November 2, 2023, 11:53 pm

    Nice move! Pun intended.

    We’re also embarking on some winter-avoidance trips this year with our 2-year-old daughter, and it has been an incredible experience so far. Not only are we escaping the cold and rainy weather, but we’re also extending our bike rides for a few more months (no car), saving on heating costs, and living in a generally more affordable location. This experiment has proven to be worthwhile from both a practical and financial standpoint.

    Enjoy your time in Arizona!

    Reply
  • Bowthy November 3, 2023, 1:11 am

    You’re driving? Why not take the train?

    Reply
  • Anna November 3, 2023, 4:09 am

    Hi MM community! Tangentially related question to Mr Money Moustache’s post: I live in Boston, and would love to pick up some skills he’s describing (assembling furniture, hanging and building stuff) I know this may sound stupid, but I completely lack those skills as an adult. I’ve been trying to find clubs and makers’ spaces through libraries and meetups but not very successfully. Will appreciate any local tips (within MBTA reach is even better;) Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jake November 3, 2023, 7:05 am

      I’m in Greater Boston and I barely encounter anyone around my age (30) that likes to DIY stuff or even has the skills. And it shows with the prices the tradespeople know they can charge up here. A friend recently got a quote for $600 to paint a small 10×10 room.

      I am very thankful for YouTube, which is helping fix the skill gap of life skills that were never passed on to me. You can learn a lot from watching and following along with people doing stuff you’re trying to do. I started watching videos of how to do small items on my car to save money, now I’m installing toilets and running piping in my house, building a custom kegerator, and I also have a small workshop with a 3D printer and design and print functional items.

      I would say most of the process is learning through doing, you will make mistakes but you will learn from them, the biggest thing is just getting out the screwdriver and attempting to put that IKEA furniture together… if a panel ends up backwards, oh well disassemble and reassemble correctly… and after wasting 30 mins doing that you’ll know better for next time. :)

      Reply
      • Paul November 6, 2023, 10:25 am

        Also in Greater Boston area (30ish miles west) and the way I started was by finding things that needed to be made and just jumping in. Lots of great content on Youtube, etc.
        Good place to start is with something like shelves, or even Ikea furniture to understand how things get put together. Buy tools as you need them, but a good drill and circular saw will get you started.

        Reply
    • Christof November 3, 2023, 5:04 pm

      Act like a child… My 10-year-old son suddenly decided he wants to build a tiny house in our backyard and move in there. After he showed for a few months that it wasn’t one of this “oh look here… On no, look there” kind of things, our family is now building a tiny house with infinitely fewer carpentry skills than MMM had when he was born.

      The theory of what you should do is readily available on YouTube, web sites, blogs, books in the libraries, material offered by the likes of Home Depot, etc. The practice comes, well, from practice. You can do that without a group to get started.

      Reply
  • Superdog November 3, 2023, 5:43 am

    How did you rent without a “job”? You can’t do that here. My friend offered to pay 12 months rent in advance on an apartment and was declined. If you are a millionaire, you would need to buy the whole complex to rent a unit.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 3, 2023, 8:29 am

      That’s a strange story, although I can see how a really stodgy property management company might not be set up to handle retired people who are paying rent from something other than a job(?)

      If you have significant savings, you’ll probably have a history of tax returns that show your dividend and other investment income, which is probably fine for renting at any reasonable apartment complex. I’ve been able to do this even to get mortgages in these post-retirement years.

      Offering to pay multiple months is a good strategy too. If someone doesn’t want your money, move on down the road.

      Reply
      • Dharma Bum November 4, 2023, 8:55 am

        I’ve often wondered about the problem of renting when one doesn’t have a “job”.
        I am going to be selling my house this spring (after 40 years), and am planning to rent moving forward.
        I just assumed that providing a landlord with documented income information via tax returns would be enough to prove one’s income stream.
        The irony is that ever since I retired, I make more money per annum that I ever did while working, due to lucky investments along the way that generate income. Once the house is cashed in, the residual income from the invested funds will generate more monthly income than most renters earn through employment.
        So the “you can’t rent without a job” really makes no sense at all.
        Unless the landlord or property management company are total morons.

        Reply
    • Lisa November 6, 2023, 1:39 pm

      I know this is a few days late, but if you see it, there is also qualifying based on assets. I’m not working and my hubby is doing a fun but shittily paid Americorps job, so we couldn’t qualify on income. Fortunately, the agent asked about assets and we qualified that way.

      When we previously lived in Alexandria, they also wouldn’t let you pay upfront. Didn’t make sense to me, but that was the policy. You also might have better luck with an individual landlord than a property company. I had a friend who paid for 2 whole years in advance in Philly a few years ago.

      Reply
      • Murph December 11, 2023, 2:59 pm

        If someone offered that on one of our rentals I’d snap it up in a heartbeat

        Reply
  • Ingrid November 3, 2023, 5:48 am

    It’s so funny you mention Dopamine Nation because just yesterday I was discussing that book with a friend and how it reminded me of your philosophy of voluntary hardship. It’s fascinating to explore the science behind boosting your dopamine by doing intentionally hard things. Since reading the book, I’ve been experimenting with little changes like cold showers, increasing my weights at the gym, and eating for nourishment instead of entertainment. :)

    Reply
    • Dharma Bum November 4, 2023, 8:49 am

      I recently read that book after hearing the author interviewed by both Joe Rogan and Andrew Huberman. It gave me a new perspective on motivation and “happiness”, and closed the loop on these ideas as so practically described by MMM.
      Satisfaction, contentment, and motivation come to us by way of the “struggle” and the the effort of dealing with and facing challenging situations of all sorts – physical, emotional, and mental.
      Feeding our desires constantly – eating, entertainment, alcohol, drugs, shopping, etc. – only serve to make us less and less happy and more and more depressed.
      Eliminating our cravings and desires, while pursuing intentional hardships to keep us fit, sharp, and strong, ultimates results in a more satisfying state of mind and a fulfilling sense of wellbeing.
      It all comes together with the MMM philosophy of living a simple, frugal, productive, and healthy lifestyle.

      Reply
      • Colin November 6, 2023, 6:37 pm

        Ok someone JUST recommended me this book, or at least the podcast. I’m not super motivated to read it though, it kinda just seems like everything else… if you continuously do easy shit, that’s what you’ll be used to but if you do hard shit constantly, the easy shit doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Jonathan Heidt also talks about the concept in his book Happiness Hypothesis, I’d love to see the 2 compared, see if it’s worth the time.

        There’s a concept called the Hedonic Treadmill, pretty interesting. Just talks about how we get used to the acquisition of material goods and no matter how fancy or new they’ll all just be normal after awhile.

        Reply
  • barb November 3, 2023, 6:23 am

    Have fun. in the sun . Love the idea of starting a free handyman business as a way of getting to know people in your new home.

    Reply
  • Jake November 3, 2023, 6:52 am

    Cool, it’s interesting to see that you’re renting to try out the community. I think a lot of folks when they get older, especially after already owning a home, feel like they have to buy a second home in a warmer place to spend the winters. This of course directly leads to those seemingly endless suburban retirement communities where everything looks exactly the same for miles and miles. This is certainly an interesting alternative and I’m looking forward to your thoughts and more MMM writing in general.

    Reply
  • Daniel November 3, 2023, 10:53 am

    Damn, your kid is in high school now? Time flies.

    Reply
    • Christof November 3, 2023, 5:27 pm

      Out of High School, that’s what you wanted to say? Geez, I started reading this blog when he was in first grade. Time really flies.

      Reply
  • Mary stone November 3, 2023, 11:08 am

    Mackinac Island is older; state and federal regulations require motorized vehicles for public safety, its airport, and snowmobiles in winter. It has year-round residents. See also Bald Head Island, NC.

    Reply
  • Brent November 3, 2023, 11:26 am

    Great mountain biking destinations nearby…..including Sedona, BCT, McDowell and you can escape to Flagstaff in the summer. You can ride McDowell after dark with lights when it cools down.

    Reply
  • Ryan November 3, 2023, 12:03 pm

    Hoping you will pay us a visit in Tucson which is more beautiful than the metro valley (I lived in Phoenix for 22 years and still love it there), make friends on 150 mi bike rides with Campfire Cycling. Places worth visiting in AZ include the agrihood Agritopia in Gilbert, the solar village of Civano, and the Mercado neighborhoods in Tucson.

    https://www.campfirecycling.com/

    Reply
  • Financial Fives November 3, 2023, 12:27 pm

    I am 100 percent with you on hoping more cities rebuild on the values of CulDeSac, ensuring that people have more chances to interact with one another, walkable amenities, and multimodal transportation that goes beyond spaying “bike lane” on the side of an asphalt roadway.

    You’re going to have an amazing 4 months, Tempe does a great job of building on its good winter weather fortune, with lots to do, places to eat, and things to explore! Look forward to hearing updates on which home you like better.

    Reply
  • Gary Grewal November 3, 2023, 12:28 pm

    I am 100 percent with you on hoping more cities rebuild on the values of CulDeSac, ensuring that people have more chances to interact with one another, walkable amenities, and multimodal transportation that goes beyond spaying “bike lane” on the side of an asphalt roadway.

    You’re going to have an amazing 4 months, Tempe does a great job of building on its good winter weather fortune, with lots to do, places to eat, and things to explore! Look forward to hearing updates on which home you like better.

    Reply
  • Den November 3, 2023, 12:55 pm

    While you’re in Arizona, you may want to check out Arcosanti, about half way between Phoenix and Sedona. It’s the original attempt at a prototype arcology, the 1960s urban planning model defined by Paolo Soleri and later popularized in Sim City and many science fiction novels. He focussed on combining dense urban living, environmental conservation, and place-based architecture. Arcosanti is itself beautiful, and it’s fascinating to see how the ideas that germinated there have slowly been manifesting in places like Culdesac.

    Reply
  • SwammyRetired November 3, 2023, 3:56 pm

    Hey MMM,

    Cool that you are escaping the brutal winter and moving for a while to a carless community… maybe for the summer you can escape the brutal heat and experiment another CARLESS community like MACKINAC ISLAND, MICHIGAN ?

    Reply
  • Keith November 3, 2023, 7:57 pm

    Got a google alert for “culdesac tempe” that led me here haha. Been reading your blog for many years. Stoked that culdesac and the ideas behind carless communities is getting support. Looking forward to hearing the good and bad from living that way. I lived in Philly, Seoul and now NYC carless, so the idea isn’t foreign at all to me. But culdesac is exciting in that its showing how it can be applied to medium sized cities down to small towns. The future is bright

    Reply
  • Dharma Bum November 4, 2023, 8:39 am

    Congratulations on the “temporarily moving to a warm climate” phase of your retirement.
    For most retirees, that comes in year one of retirement. For you, it came WAY later, LOL.
    Anyway, now you know you’re getting old. Kid finishing high school, you heading to warmer climes in the winter.
    It’s all good, man!
    We’ve been going to Arizona for a month every year since I retired at 58 years old. It’s a heavenly place for hiking, biking, exploring, walking, eating, and photography. My walls are plastered with the dramatic landscapes I’ve shot of the stunning vistas in the state of Arizona. Breathtaking.
    The best part of each year’s hiatus in Arizona is the road trip from Toronto, Canada. Stopping in interesting regions of the USA along the way. Depending on the route we take, we love staying over in all kinds of great spots, from the beautiful mountains of Colorado, to the canyons of Utah, to the Ozarks, New Mexico, the Texas plains, and everywhere in between.
    Interesting people. Interesting places.
    I love it, and I know you will love it even more because of your sense of adventure and creative mind and stellar technical and people skills.
    Enjoy!
    Maybe I’ll accidentally on purpose run into to you down there sometime.

    Reply
  • Chris November 4, 2023, 10:40 am

    AZ sounds like a blast! We’ll be in Phoenix for a week in December and might have to checkout Culdesac to see what all the fuss is about. Thanks for the tip!

    You and your son might enjoy a hike down to Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon while you’re in the area. Jenni and I did this a year or two ago and it was pretty amazing!

    Good luck with the big adventure! Excited to read more as you progress.

    Reply
  • Doug November 4, 2023, 10:47 am

    Best of luck in Tempe – the community sounds awesome. FYI, the book link in the text is correct but clicking on the pic of the book links to some Tesla jack pads.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 5, 2023, 9:41 pm

      Haha, oh how funny – thanks for catching that!

      (Those pads are indeed something I researched and shared elsewhere on this site for fellow DIY’ers who need to do things like swap on snow tires for the Tesla, but I have no idea how I ended up pasting that link into this article)

      Reply
  • Tom Crew November 4, 2023, 11:00 am

    Experiment is probably the correct description. I am not sure about this plan. Will be interesting to see what you report and how well the actual experience aligns with the aspiration. I predict that the highlights will be more about the time with your adult son and less so much about the communal-like living situation. In the end, if one ventures very far from the Culdesac, one seems to find a fairly blighted urban scape. I’m not sure if simply trying a more bikeable existing community wouldn’t offer overall greater variety of experiences an amenities. Like I particularly choose a bikeable community in Florida for the winter (not saying all of FL is bikeable – most is not) because I get all that Culdesac offers, but in a greater scale community and with the beach and olympic size pools to bike to. But good on you for supporting this vision at least for the optimal months of the year in Tempe.

    Reply
    • Glenn November 7, 2023, 10:23 pm

      Would you mind sharing where you winter in Florida? I lived briefly in Pinellas county and found the biking quite good but would love to hear about other places. Thanks!

      Reply
  • Nicole November 4, 2023, 11:19 am

    Going to share this post with my Transportation Planning class this week!

    Reply
  • Steve Yoder November 6, 2023, 1:36 pm

    Spent 2 years in Tempe for graduate school and found it bikeable 20 years ago. Hoping it still is. You might also want to check out one of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses out there, Taliesin West, which was designed with all kind of neat tricks to keep the house cool in the desert heat. This Culdesac seems to have borrowed some of those.

    Reply
  • Colin November 6, 2023, 6:21 pm

    Perhaps a bit personal, but does it feel a bit weird to have done all this building and personal development and not have a Significant Other there to share it with you? Obviously it sounds like you’ve got this new community and still do trips with your son, but how does it compare to the married life? You ever regret any parts of it or just believe it ran its course? Having similarly outlandish views, sometimes I worry that the same thing that makes you impactful can drive people away after long periods of time

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 7, 2023, 9:18 am

      Hmm, yeah that is indeed a bit too personal for this comments section (I do my best not to mix my relationship life with the MMM Internet life – except for that one necessary mention that we amicably parted ways in 2018).

      But I do like to share a general message, because divorce is such a common thing yet it is widely associated with shame and blame: it is OKAY if it’s right for you. It’s not a failure or a negative, selfish choice. And more people need to get over the fear of making changes like that in their lives, once they have done their best to think it through. And more people need to be nice about it as they go through the process.

      I think I’m a long-term-couple person at the core, so I happily look forward to settling down in that way in my own future. But as with any relationship, both people need to be compatible and appreciative with each other. And as an outrageous optimist, I believe there ARE plenty of wonderful people out there for everyone!

      Reply
  • aeagal November 8, 2023, 1:27 pm

    You’re a Snowbird now! Rent a condo in AZ or FL for the winter, then come back to your family in the warmer months. This is exactly what retired people have been doing for decades. Though, they tend to golf instead of ride bikes. I guess a Tesla is like a street legal golf cart. Still, I like your version better.

    Reply
  • Andrew G November 8, 2023, 7:45 pm

    Very cool! My wife and two kids and I packed up from the Midwest and moved to AZ a couple years back—we originally planned to split time but fell in LOVE with Arizona—even the summers! If you love outdoor activities you’ll love it here.

    We live in Estrella Mountain Ranch, known for its 50+ miles of hiking and biking trails throughout the foothills of the Estrellas. We’ll never go back!

    Reply
  • Calvin November 9, 2023, 8:06 am

    This is a really rather well-timed article.

    I’ve been a long-time reader and am now only 18 months from my expected FI/RE date if I stayed at my current location (very low cost of living — Rural SC — but a bit dull for a guy in his 20s). I have recently gotten the opportunity to switch jobs to two much higher cost of living areas (WA and HI) that would probably extend my FIRE date a bit further into 2025 or perhaps early 2026. But the new job would be more interesting than my current one, has more options for career growth if I choose to be a SWAMI instead of an early retiree, and the higher cost of living would present a fun optimization challenge for me to figure out how to “beat the system” and live efficiently.

    Perhaps this might mean going car-free (especially if I pick HI — after all, high cost of living is just a state of mind), shifting hobbies around, being flexible with housing, etc. Hey, if Jacob Fisker could live in the Bay Area on under $10k/year, anything’s possible. I’ve never lived very long in a given place anyway — heck, I think 4 years at college is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my life! And frankly, I would enjoy being near more like-minded individuals who value things like efficient living, minimizing one’s impact on earth, or even just staying healthy… As it turns out, a 45% obesity rate makes for a rather poor friendship or dating scene when being outside and active is a big part of one’s life.

    MMM is spot-on with the embracing of changes in your life. It’s very easy to pick out comfort and unknowingly resign oneself to stagnation. New challenges keep us sharp between the ears. They’re more important for personal growth. Go out and feast on those ripe mangoes of opportunity!

    Thanks for many years of great advice and sharing your experiences, MMM. Keep the updates coming! If I do move west, perhaps I’ll need to stop in Arizona to see what all the fuss about Culdesac is. I’d love to see a human-oriented community in person instead of the car-oriented ones that dominate here in the Deep South. First beer is on me!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 9, 2023, 7:10 pm

      Great thoughts Calvin, and congratulations on your own next stage of life!

      (Also, thanks for the laughs – I definitely caught all of your references to the long-ago MMM articles in there)

      Reply
      • Calvin November 21, 2023, 6:29 pm

        Well how bout that — a comment from the big man himself.

        Thanks my guy. A lot of the great advice you’ve given — both the words you’ve posted in years past and the changes you’ve gone through in those years — have been a light to guide countless others and myself. The older posts are useful for when I’m feeling a bit soft or whiny about something, realizing life is pretty damn great these days, and motivating myself to bust ass. The posts have aged well, and I love that the same level of infectious optimism is still there to this post.

        Then there’s the posts about changing the world, trying to slow life down (I’ve recently started journalling a lot more and that’s been useful to differentiate days that would otherwise morph into one repetitive loop, “Groundhog Day” style), and more recently about making conscientious use of not just the money but the freedom the money brings once one gets to a more stable point. Maybe that means taking that new job even if it means my living costs rise, maybe for others it means going to do charitable work instead of “one-more-year” syndrome, and for you it looks like it means moving to a new location to a community you believe in and want to see succeed.

        But of all the posts you’ve ever written here, there are two that stand out to me. One’s “What it feels like to become rich”, because that’s one of a very small group of FI/RE articles to be found on that “okay so I’m full in on the savings stuff but not at my number yet, what do I do?” number of years on the journey. I reference that one a lot when I get bored or restless about my finances.

        The other was the eulogy to your father that you wrote. I lost my dad in 2020, at an age far too young and also from a rare form of cancer. He worked really, really hard to teach me right from wrong, the value of hard work, and that I could do anything I set my mind to. 2020 was, for other reasons, not a fun year for me at all. That particular post of yours helped me cope with the grief, and I’m very grateful you made it because I’m sure making it was NOT easy. In a lot of ways, the wisdom you’ve discussed on this site is very similar to the wisdom my dad taught me, and I’m sure a lot of that wisdom was learned from your dad.

        I’m sure I’m not the only one who benefited greatly from you being willing to share all the goings-on over the years like this. There’s countless others, I’m sure, of people just like me just never left a comment saying so.

        Hope knowing this one makes you sit back and smile. You’ve touched a LOT of people on this planet. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU….and keep it up :)

        -Calvin

        Reply
        • David February 1, 2024, 2:58 pm

          Calvin, couldn’t agree more! MMM here has changed my life and I’ve never left a comment before. But your story hit me, I lost my father in Nov 2020, I re-read the articles when I need that boost, and recently went into a completely different career. From managing hotels (and ‘stashing half of those earnings, thanks my man!) for 5 years, to being a Broker for a year (what a lie! charging these good people fees’, maybe Triple M here made me leave that job! no money in selling index funds :) ) now trying my hand at working in a weed plant, HA, what a crazy time to be alive.
          but really, MMM, you are the man! I hope you wake up with a smile everyday from knowing what you have done for us, I’ve been dishing out face-punches here in Southern IL since 2014! Fell in love with biking, read hundreds of books with my daughter, everything is so different form this perspective.
          I’m rambling, take care my friend,
          Good luck Calvin, god-speed
          And thank you MMM! Most influential person I’ve never met :)

          Reply
  • Barbara Harrison November 10, 2023, 7:10 am

    Seventeen years ago my husband and I quit our jobs and moved from RI to southern UT. It was a great adventure! We love the West, but I am writing this comment from our temporary living arrangements in the Shenandoah Valley of VA. We left the desert as (in our opinion) there isn’t enough water in the West to meet the ever-growing demand. We are also older now (late 60s) and an 8+ hour drive (round-trip) for cancer treatments made us very aware of the downside of wide-open spaces. Winter weather is great, but in the summer you really can’t exercise outside later than 10 am. That said, I love the idea of this community. I hope it succeeds and many more are built across the country. Enjoy your time in AZ!

    Reply
  • mmmJr November 14, 2023, 2:04 pm

    Welcome to AZ.
    Just to set your expectations post Summer; you won’t be leaving.

    Reply
  • Trevor Ross November 14, 2023, 9:40 pm

    HEY! Look at that! All my worlds are colliding!

    I’m a fellow Canadian (Newfoundlander to be precise) who’s been reading your blog from the very beginning. Mostly it’s a case of “preaching to the converted”.

    I’ve been spending winters in Arizona for the last 10 years because my partner (also from Newfoundland) lives in Chandler. And literally, no joke, the first item that I have written down on my list of things to do in Arizona this coming winter is “go check out Cul De Sac”.

    Maybe if I go and wander around there, I’ll spot your facial hair

    I don’t know if it’s weird to say this, but I’d be up for a coffee or a bike ride or some hang time or whatever if you feel so inclined. It would definitely be the weirdest way that I’ve ever made a friend. In a good way.

    Anyway, obviously the desert has lots of beautiful hikes and bike rides. But do yourself a favour (note the “u” in favour LoL) and go check out The Desert Botanical Gardens. It’s one of the absolute gems in The Valley. It can sometimes have lots of tourists there … particularly us Canucks. But it’s for good reason. It is spectacular. And they have lots of cool events there too. We take all our visitors there. And if you’re so inclined, the library offers free passes to DBG and lots of other local attractions too.

    Some other cool things that I like:

    (1) The Musical Instrument Museum is pretty huge and unique

    (2) The drive out to Tortilla Flats is really beautiful. It literally is an old stage coach trail that was turned into a twisty 2 lane highway.  And you can go boating or kayaking in Canyon lake, which is pretty sweet.

    (3) Sedona is obviously one of the most gorgeous places in the US and a reasonably short drive. If you’re going to go to the Grand Canyon from Sedona (or even if you’re just going to Flagstaff), there’s this fabulous older highway called 89A that takes you to Flagstaff. It’s so much more fun than taking the freeway.

    (4) There are oodles and oodles of free Disc Golf courses (my new obsession and the price is right)

    (5) South Mountain has a thing called “Silent Sunday” where they close the mountain to cars. So you can ride your bike up (obviously challenging) but then down (woo hoo!)

    (6) There’s a cool thing downtown called “First Friday Art Walk” every month. Google it.

    (7) Most importantly, my favourite place to ride my bike is in the Northern part of The McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Specifically, I like the trail called “The Long Way Around”. It’s just the right length (around 25 km). The ground is very beginner friendly. In fact, I have a hybrid, not a mountain bike and it does fine. But the trail still has lots of ups and downs and twists and turns, so it’s a blast. So much so, that the first time I rode there, I was giggling like a kid, even though I’m 55. It’s as easy or hard as you want it to be, based on how fast you go. And also it’s one of the nicest parks in the area.

    (8) Taliesin West is super cool. Particularly if you get a good guide. It was Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal project. His winter home. So he was free to do whatever crazy things he could dream up, without having to account to a client. The handyman in you will love it!

    I could go on, but that’s off the top of my head.

    One last note. If you wear something Canadian; like for example, I wear a CBC logo on my hat or my partner wears something from the Leafs … a zillion snowbird Canadians will approach you and ask what part of Canada you’re from.

    Anyway, here’s to a great time in Arizona.

    Reply
  • Chip November 19, 2023, 10:28 pm

    Hey MMM, my wife’s been following you for a long time and told me you were moving out to Tempe. I grew up there, and still meet up with friends I’ve known in the area since elementary school. Tempe’s a great college town- Go Sun Devils!

    I live in east Mesa now, close to Usery Mountain National Park and the Superstition Mountains. I’m a retired teacher, solar guy, and artist. I do a lot of hiking and biking in the area, as well as SUP and kayaking. If you and your son would like a tour guide/hiking/biking/river partner, be sure and get in touch.

    Reply

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