Lead Story… Today, I want to get away from talking about real estate and spend a bit of time writing about something that I haven’t done a great job of lately – work / life balance. To start with, I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic and have a tough time getting away from work even when I’m not in the office. 2017 has been particularly challenging. Projects seem to be moving at a slower pace than ever and I often compensate for this by feeling the need to reply to emails or return phone calls instantly. While this is likely good from a customer service standpoint, it probably isn’t the best thing for my sanity, especially in a year where everything seems to move at a snails pace. In addition to my day job, I write this blog a couple of times a week which means that I’m constantly prospecting for interesting and thought provoking stories online. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked about the sources of some of the links in the blog or how I find the time to write regularly between having two young children and a demanding job. As much as I’d like to think that it’s a result of my tremendous efficiency and skill as a writer, it really has a lot more to do with a largely unhealthy iPhone addiction.
That brings me to the point of today’s article. Every now and then I come across an article that makes me reconsider on some aspect of life. I recently came across a blog post from Venture Capitalist Mark Suster entitled I Only Have 7 Trips Left. On Managing Work / Life Balance, Love & Family that caused me to revisit the way that I look at family vacations. Since founding Landmark, we’ve joked internally that the best part about this job is the ability take off and travel whenever we want but the worst part is that we never actually get to take a vacation from work. This is part of our reality in a transaction-based business but I’ll admit that I probably take it to the extreme. Fully getting away from work has always been an issue for me when I’m on vacation: I have a hard time unplugging and tend to work too much when I should be out relaxing with my family.
Every year since Mrs. Links and I have been together (minus those where we either got married or had a baby during the summer) we have done a 2+ week lake trip to the east coast. My parents have a house on Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey that has been in my dad’s family for years. Her grandmother has a house on Lake George. It’s a great opportunity to bring our kids to a place that is very different than where we live and also spend time with relatives (my entire family and Mrs Links’ entire extended family all live on the east coast) who live 3,000 miles away and we don’t get to see as frequently as we would like. There is nothing like a lake in the early weeks of August. It’s a trip that is incredibly special to us since we get to watch our kids do the same things that we did when we were their age. Natalie is turning three next week and Hayden just turned one. This means that Natalie is now old enough to get excited about swimming, fishing, sailing, rowing, etc and I have the opportunity to experience these moments with her just like my dad did with me at the same age. My dad, aka PopPop will be right there with us which makes it all the more special.
Here’s the thing that Mark Suster’s blog post got me thinking about: when you really take a step back and think about it there are a lot fewer of these annual trips left than one would like to think. This makes it all the more important to enjoy them as a family while we can. Best case scenario, we have 16 more summer lake trips before Natalie heads off to college. That assumes that youth sports and other activities don’t get in the way at some point. It also doesn’t take into account that age and health. My parents are right around 70s and in excellent health. My wife’s grandmother is in her early 90s and also in excellent health, but 90 is still 90. My point is that there’s no way of knowing how many more times we will be able to take two weeks a year to relive our youth through our children’s eyes. I have zero desire to become one of those cautionary tales about a parent looking back when they take their kids to college and thinking that I only wish I had spent more time with them when they are young. Time goes by too quickly and you simply don’t get these days back.
That brings me to the work part of things. The last couple of “vacations” that I took, work ended up taking up too much time. When my parents came in to town for a couple of weeks right after Hayden was born, I was in the office pretty much every day. Same thing at Christmas save for a few days. We stayed at a friend’s beach house for a week after 4th of July this year and I was in front of my computer more than half of the time. You get the idea. So, I am taking Mark Suster’s advice to heart as I write this:
I love my wife and I love my children. I think some of our fondest memories will be the goofy time we spent during our travels as opposed to the planned itineraries. We’ll remember all of the games of Hearts. We’ll remember when Andy fell down the hill into the bushes (but was ok). We’ll remember throwing the football on the beach with Troy Aikman (the nicest pro football player you’ll ever meet who even with no cameras around and even once he found out we were Eagles fans was still so gracious to my boys). We’ll remember Daddy accidentally shoving an entire Serrano chili pepper into his mouth because it was dark outside and he thought it was a carrot. And we’ll remember how much time Mom spent meticulously planning with love so that our entire family could enjoy every moment.
If you’re caught on the hamster wheel, recognizing it and trying to take some actions is the first step. Having just gotten back from my first proper 2-week vacation (as opposed to extended family gathering) since 2009 I can tell you it was truly life fulfilling. I’m now ready to come back to work feeling really refreshed.
I haven’t been on an actual vacation for more than a few days since 2015. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks as a chance to spend some quality time with my family and recharge my batteries. This means no blogging until mid August. I’m also going to try to unplug from the daily financial news cycle for the first time in forever. My game plan is to go get a couple of books that I’ve been meaning to read and enjoy them in my downtime or when the kids go to bed rather than reading countless articles about economics and real estate markets. I don’t think that this will be particularly easy for to do but I guess that’s part of the point.
So, why am I posting this rather than just checking out for a while? Two reasons:
- This is difficult for me to do. I figure that writing it down where regular blog readers can seen it will help to make me a bit more accountable. In addition, I’ve already told my co-workers that I’m going to unplug for a while starting the end of this week. They seem to be skeptical that I can actually pull it off and I want to prove them wrong.
- I’m hoping that it helps someone. I was planning on just looking at this trip as “business as usual” until I read Mark Suster’s post last week and it helped me to re-consider the bigger picture. Perhaps that this article will do the same for someone else.
I hope that you enjoy the next couple of weeks of your summer and I’ll see you again mid-August.
P.S. This is where you can find me
Counter-Intuitive: Financial conditions are easing even as the Fed continues to increase rates. This makes it more likely that the Fed will continue to stay on track with their planned hikes.
Clustering: The best $100k + tech jobs are increasingly concentrated in just 8 cities.
Decline: An alarming number of Americans are worse off than their parents were.
En Fuego: America’s hottest properties for investors may be data centers and cell towers as landlords anticipate more tenant demand thanks to e-commerce.
Help Wanted: Amazon’s warehouses may be highly automated by conventional standards but they still need human employees and finding them can be a challenge in an increasingly tight logistics labor market. But See: The next leap for robots is picking out and boxing your online order.
How It’s Supposed to Work: A look at 1950s rental ads shows how yesterday’s luxury housing became today’s affordable housing. Keep this in mind the next time some NIMBY starts shrieking about luxury development.
Incoming: Canadian home buyers are beginning to flock to America as their domestic market starts to rollover and the dollar continues to weaken.
Fixer Upper Nation: American’s are pouring record sums into home improvements as tight inventory continues to keep a lid on people moving. In other words, t’s a good time to be Home Depot.
Seems Reasonable: According to a recent survey by SunTrust Mortgage, 33% of Millennials were influenced more by dogs than marriage or children when purchasing their first home. The desire for more space and opportunity to build equity were the only two factors that topped having room for a dog.
New Game in Town: Expedia and Priceline are both making moves to move in on AirBnb’s turf.
Changing Tastes: Millennials don’t seem to like beer all that much, causing headaches for the brewing industry which is losing alcoholic beverage market share.
And So It Begins: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has questioned Amazon’s tax collection practices .
Played: The pedestrian buttons at crosswalks don’t actually do a damn thing.
Chart of the Day
From the Daily Shot
Turning to housing, home prices continue to rise at nearly 6% per year.
In fact, the FHFA measure shows national housing inflation at almost 7%. Note that a weaker dollar will provide further tailwinds for US property markets by making homes more affordable for foreigners.
Here is an updated chart comparing home prices and wages over the past couple of decades.
Home prices in some areas are rising rapidly. Here is Seattle’s housing market gaining 13% a year.
Gotta Hear Both Sides: A creepy one-armed clown with a machete was arrested in Maine.
Hide Yo Kids: ‘Stoned’ sheep go on ‘psychotic rampage‘ after eating cannabis plants dumped in Welsh village.
Clowning Around: The Clown Motel in Nevada, once described as the scariest motel in America can be yours for a mere $900k (h/t David Landes).
Brilliant Disguise: A Los Angeles man was arrested for smuggling three live king cobras hidden in Pringles canisters.
Millennial Link of the Day: Six tips to making Snapchat work on your cat.
Landmark Links – A candid look at the economy, real estate, and other things sometimes related.
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