I met a man who made my dreams of minimalism look ridiculous. Anyone who knows me or has read deeply into this nonsense knows I have a deep desire to pare my life down to its bare essentials. Few things give me joy like getting rid of something. It’s probably the same rush that others get from the hunt and purchase. In five years I’m going to be deeply disappointed in myself if I have half of the physical crap I currently own. I am working on a one new thing in two old things out policy and it’s working for me personally but not as fast as I would like. I say all that to set the stage for meeting a new hero.
I was in the United lounge deal at the airport and before I put on my DO NOT DISTURB headphones the gentleman next to me struck up a conversation. We talked for a while and then he asked how I liked the iPad I had just pulled out of my bag. I talked about how it is my daily driver and the one piece of technology I love over all others but it has some drawbacks. He said that he wanted one but if he got it he would have to sell his laptop. When I asked him why he blew my mind.
He went on to tell me about his life to this point. He was tree years out of a failed marriage that yielded no kids and a messy divorce. He had always loved work more than anything and once the divorce was final he dove back in with both feet. He is operating at a different level than most having reached a senior Vice President level at a large corporation so he was used to a certain lifestyle. After a year of living alone in an oversized home he sat down and did a complete accounting of his life.
His house was in an upscale suburb of Chicago called Oak Brook. He had a $5,000 a month jumbo mortgage payment that he could easily afford but it bothered him. More than half of that was paying property taxes and the other half was a jumbo loan that was basically paying interest. So he decided to do something that everyone he asked told him not to do and that was sell everything and make some drastic changes.
Not only did he sell his house and both of his cars but he challenged himself to get everything he owned into three suit cases. Ultimately he wants to be down to two but he is still working that out with the suit requirements for his job. But that’s not even the part that blew my mind. He now lives full time year round in hotels!
And these are real hotels not weekly or monthly motel six type places. He stays at mostly Marriott properties as he has the highest available status. He is on the road a lot so he gets reimbursed and also has some tax thing worked out with his accountant. His only bills are food, cell phone, dry cleaning, Uber and or taxis to get him around. He pays no utilities obviously but he also pays no gym memberships because he stays in full service hotels that in his words “have adequate facilities for my needs.”
I asked what he pays and he said after a full year of tracking and keeping in mind his status upgrades and being able to go in to management and negotiate multiple weeks at a time he averaged a little under $150 a night. I did the math and almost choked but he reminded me that it is less than he paid per year in his house for just the mortgage.
Fascinated I asked about buying something smaller or renting an apartment and he said he could never go back. He doesn’t have to pay anyone to clean he never has to make a bed and if he doesn’t like his view a phone call or a complete change of location can fix it. The next thing I knew forty five minutes had passed and I had to get on my flight.
I could have talked to him all day but when I thought about exchanging contact information it felt creepy for some reason so I chickened out. Hold shit. Three suit cases and permanent life in hotels. This dude makes the tiny house folks look like hoarders.