Since my last post I've been very busy packing up and getting ready to go. I had my last day in the office on Wednesday, then enjoyed some July 4th festivities with the other American ex pats. I also had my leaving party Wednesday night which was really fun. I was well behaved but certainly cutting loose. A lot of people came out to send me off, which felt really good. We think it was the largest turnout for a leaving party in the whole history of our London office, which says a lot.
I'm sitting at the Wetherspoons down the road from my flat while the cleaning crew goes to work on my filthy former domicile. I may be a tad embarrassed, but I don't really care. When you have to pay £200 for a move out clean you tend to stop tidying up. Let the professionals deal with it! I'm not normally like this, I'm quite clean, but at that expense I wasn't going to lift a finger to "pre-clean" for some professional cleaners that I'll never see again!
Once the clean is done I then wait for the inventory clerk to check me out and agree the security deposit. I'm crossing my fingers hoping that goes well, I've heard that London landlords are pretty brutal about security deposits.
Other than that, I've already taken my luggage over to the hotel, I'm staying the night and flying out tomorrow morning. All that's left to do is grab a few final pints with my mates tonight then try my best to sleep. I barely slept a wink last night, and probably less than 18 hours total over the last four or five days. I was fully packed by about midnight last night but simply couldn't fall asleep, so I went back around to make sure I had everything packed. By around 3am I was tired enough to sleep, but only until 8.
As I said before, I've had an amazing two and a half years living here. I will miss it greatly, but the friendships I've built will last a lifetime, these truly unforgettable friends will always be in my heart. I am trying very hard not to get too emotional about it, I guess I won't really know until I spend a few days back in Chicago, waking up in a new place and expecting some familiarity. I've been spending almost every waking hour of the last few weeks with my best mates, and the time together may be covering up my despair, so I won't have a grasp on my feelings until they're 4000 miles away. But my old friends will be there and we have plenty of catching up to do!
I haven't updated the blog in a while so I thought I'd check in. Haven't been much of a market participant in the past two weeks, but I have added a few shares and closed an INTC option position for a small profit. It was mostly passive.
I've really been focusing on moving back to the states. I've been living in London for the last two and a half years, and it's all coming to an end in a week. Needless to say, I've been busy. We had a bit of a stag weekend, then all the nights out at the pub to get my last few pints in with my mates, now I'm sitting here in my flat trying to pack up! It's all a bit depressing, but it's going to be the start of a new chapter in my life. My company sent me over here on an ex-pat assignment and now I'm returning to the home office in Chicago. My time here has been incredible, indescribable really. What am I supposed to say about two amazing, decadent years overseas? There were lots of ups and downs, but mostly ups. I'm going to miss it, and in a way I don't want to go back. I've made a life out here, made friends and, in a way, put down some roots. I will always consider London to be my home away from home. I don't even consider Chicago to be my home, I only lived there for two years before moving to the UK. Before that I was kicking it outside of Detroit. I've moved around a lot in the last 10 years, so where is home? It doesn't matter.
I'll probably be a bit more vacant from the blog for the next couple weeks as I wrap up my job, pack up my things, and get settled in Chicago. I know I don't have a lot of readers, I'd probably have more if I posted more frequently, but there may be a few people out there getting some RSS feeds. I feel like I'll get back into in when I get settled, especially since my lifestyle will likely undergo a forced change. Chicago is a great city, but I feel like I've been spoiled in London. There's always something going on, always coworkers willing to go out after work, and generally less aggressive civilians. I love Chicago, I'm just afraid of reintegrating. I'm more nervous about going back than I was about coming here. I'll get over it, I don't have a choice, but it's going to be a challenge.
It's like graduating from college after four crazy years, then looking at the next phase and feeling a bit uneasy about it. In a way I've felt like a student for the last two years, except for the fact that I worked my ass off more in London than I ever did in school. I was my own boss, I made decisions for my department, I solved dilemmas without outside support, and I only checked in with my US manager a few times a month. So, in a way, it is like having been in college: my parents [management] is back at home and I only check in with them a few times a month, but otherwise they know I'm doing well in my studies [massive workload].
On the whole, the experience is positive. It's a new chapter of my life! I'll get to use the skills that I learned overseas to my job back in the US. I have a better understanding of business and execution after having been neck-deep in a challenging project. I've grown personally and professionally, so it's exciting to take that and apply it elsewhere. I have a chance to reinvent myself as well, a lot of my friends and associates haven't seen me in a long time and it will be an opportunity to improve those relationships.
More than anything I'm looking to see my family. They're waiting for me to get back, the distance hasn't been too difficult but after two years it starts to seem further away than it really is. I can't wait to do some BBQ with my brother, his wife and my beautiful niece!
Enough writing now, back to packing!
Quick mobile blog post: good pullback the last two days, quite a bit of panic selling but leaving a great set up to average down on my prices. Already added more PM yesterday on the drop. Looks like global markets are back in buying mode now. Can't wait to see what happens today!
Hi everyone, it's the first week of June so I thought it'd be a good time to see where I stand with my dividend portfolio. In prior articles I talk mostly about my quest to build positions in the S&P Dividend Aristocrats, but some of my dividend holdings are not on that list, and some will probably never be on that list (I have a few positions deep in the red that are best left for dead, but I'm not selling at the moment, I'm hopeful of a comeback). [continue reading]
Just a quick update to the dividend aristocrats portfolio: added another 10 shares of VFC for an additional $8.70 quarterly income. Small, yes, but a valuable addition nonetheless. I was hesitant to buy in since the price had jumped up so much, but I had idle cash and I felt it more better that it was working for me. After all, income is the goal. It went ex-div on Thursday. Have a great weekend all.
Just a quick update, I took an opportunity on a small pullback today to add Philip Morris International (PM) to the dividend portfolio. If you don't know, PM was a spinoff of Altria (MO) a few years ago, they've spun off their international arm. It's not officially part of the S&P Dividend Aristocrats, and neither is Altria, but I consider it to be a strong enough candidate to hang with the other aristocrats in my portfolio.
A lot of analysts believe this company has a lot more growth potential than Altria due to the decline of smoking in the USA. I agree with them, and while there are some obstacles (like the bland packaging on cigarettes in Australia and general public health initiatives in developing countries), I still feel that the growth opportunities are huge.
Having lived in the UK for over two years now I can say with confidence that the most popular brand of cigarette here is Marlboro, and smoking still remains quite popular with minimal public outcry. Sure the packages have pictures of lung tumors, but that doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent. Smoking in the US is on a major decline, but in the UK and other parts of Europe it still seems to be en vogue. This is why I feel PM will do well.
They are paying a 3.7% dividend, and they haven't announced their latest one yet but I'm anticipating an announcement next week with an ex-div around June 25. Stay tuned