One of the benefits of working for a startup that scales through IPO is you get to yield and realise value from equity grants. This post isn't about that, but it is the genesis of everything I'm about to write.
As the reality of the pandemic set in across Europe, I sat on some stock for a few weeks, not sure what would happen. A marginal increase in value had happened to mine. On a grant I had received in 2012 or 2013 that was curiously obfuscated by our trading platform's horrific UI. It was a significant amount that could have wiped a significant portion of our mortgage out. Knowing this, I pulled the trigger on it.
Then I sat on it. And in some ways, that was a good thing to do. "Rainy day" money is something I've always held onto as important. I'm something of a pragmatist in that regard, to the point that my wife is convinced that I'm simply growing into my age, which has held steady at about 45 since I was 22. In some ways it was naive. Tech saw a "covid tailwind," as businesses and customers flocked to the internet in ways they never did before as in-person retail and experiences were shut down. If I had held onto the stock for another year, I would have added another chunk to their value. But this is why the market is gambling. I don't gamble.
Anyway, we decided to keep our mortgage ticking along as it's comfy for us. We've always had the argument that if tech and the arts (where my wife's career is) fell apart catastrophically, simple jobs in retail or hospitality would easily pay for the mortgage. And it's the only debt we have, or have ever had.
Instead, we decided to take the money and make a big bet alongside my mother in law. We decided to get a holiday home. For us, our extended families and the kids (and their cousins!). My wife and her family are originally from Cork. Her habitation in Dublin and marriage to me is part of a life-long rehabilitation program to get the Cork out of her!
We had a modest budget, but that's fine, we were seeking a holiday place, not an actual home for a family. So we never went to "homes" to view, always sought out campsite places and seaside towns. And we were constantly bumping into selling issues (like the seller we agreed to buy from who lost their deed in Yaughal) and sadly, into people looking to buy inadequate family homes.
After the Yaughal home fell through, having spent hours driving to/from places on the Cork coastline, my mother-in-law looked up the spec of a holiday place and expanded beyond Cork. We found a bunch of places closer to home, which spurred some debate on the value of them. And then we found Dunmore East. A place I had legitimately never heard of in my life.
Long story short (and closing the place was a long story!), we closed on a dream town with a dream situation of a house in a holiday site on a golf course with a bar & restaurant on-site, alongside kids playground and everything else. The town is gorgeous, a small fishing port with a booming summer tourism scene. Pristine water along a number of beaches and coves. And it's all tiny, and walkable. Even better, it's 2hrs and 7mins door-to-door.
Naturally, our first call was to get a new kitchen, solar panels and a car charger. And this summer, having done so much IKEA building and work on the house, we get to simply enjoy it with the kids, who are building memories here. Like my eldest (aged 2 and a half as I write this), who learned to get into water and splash about in the ocean here.
I don't really have a conclusion here except that it's exciting to build memories. We could have all-but cleared our only bit of debt. But the debt is worth hanging onto for the sake of lifelong memories 2 hours from home. Oddly, when we arrive our stress immediately leaves. The air is clean, the ocean absorbs sound and the views are spectacular. What's not to love?