A new city, a fresh start, free travel, and a cup of Matcha Latte.
Hi, 👋 folks!
Welcome to the 7th edition of my monthly newsletter — Boba Train.
Today’s drink of choice is no surprise — Starbucks Iced Matcha Tea Latte.
Unlike the drink though, the city I am writing from is a big surprise! Any guesses? You’ll hear about it shortly, don’t worry.
Meanwhile, I wanted to take a moment to apologize for missing August’s edition. When I started the newsletter, I swore that I wouldn’t miss a single month… But I guess it had to happen.
The last 2 months — August and September — have been two of the busiest months of my life. I guess that’s a good jumping-off point. Let me start this month’s edition with some important life updates.
Some Life Updates
After spending one year in Toronto, Canada, I packed everything a few weeks ago and moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
Even though it was a short 2-hour flight from Canada to the United States, there’s a lot that comes with a move. Not only did I have to sell or recycle all my belongings in Canada, but there were also a bunch of legal immigration matters to take care of.
There’s also the emotional rollercoaster of moving away from your loved ones — in my case, some of my closest friends, sister, and most heartbreakingly, my little niece and nephew.
I spent one of my most fantastic years in Toronto. But, it was time to come full circle and move back to Atlanta — my first city in the United States where I started college back in 2015.
Just like any other relocation, coming to Atlanta meant going through the initial busy phase where I had to do the following:
- Find temporary lodging
- Get an apartment
- Get my driver’s license
- Furnish my new apartment
- Meet new people
- Establish a new routine
Doing all these within a few weeks can be challenging. Yet, it can be very exciting and rewarding at the same time.
I am privileged to be able to live in 3 cities — San Francisco, Toronto, Atlanta — in 3 years, and I will never take that for granted.
You will hear a lot more about my move to Atlanta, how I handled everything, how much money I spent, how my new routines and setups look, and much more.
Stay tuned for that.
For now, let’s move to our regularly scheduled monthly content.
Quote of the Month
It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective.
— The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
What Am I Thinking About?
My last couple of months were mostly occupied with planning, worrying, and executing the relocation to Atlanta.
I treat most of my important life updates as a “project”. That means, I literally had a task on ClickUp called “Relocate to Atlanta”. Looking at it again now, I think the task exploded to have something like 50-ish subtasks.
Because of that, I did not have a ton of time to read, listen, or even think leisurely. Everything I thought about was related to the move one way or another.
Credit Card Points and Miles
I knew about all my expenses related to the move months in advance.
That’s why I had the time to accumulate enough travel points through strategic credit card usage. The result? Quite astonishing actually:
- FREE business class flight from Toronto to Atlanta
- FREE 7-night stay at a Hilton hotel
- FREE round-trip ticket from North America to Asia
It wasn’t easy to accomplish these. Everything required a lot of thought and planning. And, of course, it involved lots of spreadsheets.
I plan on writing more on this topic in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.
The Power of a Minimal Life
Not only do I write about minimalism, but I also try my best to live a minimal life.
Especially, when it comes to physical possessions, for the most part, I only buy essentials. Leading such a lifestyle has lots of benefits, but three in particular were evident in the past few months:
- Easy relocation
- Feeling of freedom
When I started the packing process, I realized that I possessed only 4–5 “big” items — A bed, Desk, Chair, TV, and a monitor. It was easy to give these away to a family in Toronto who wanted them. The rest I just recycled. Next, I put all my other belongings into a carry-on and checked-in luggage, and off I was to Atlanta.
Then there’s the feeling of “continuity” — or at least that’s the word I think explains what I have been feeling. Since I moved to Atlanta, I have been living in a hotel. But my day-to-day life didn’t change too much. Given I don’t need much to live comfortably, I have gone about my days with minimal fuss, even though I don’t own much right now.
And finally, the feeling of freedom that I wouldn’t trade for anything else in the world. Don’t get me wrong, the process of relocation was challenging. There were a ton of things I had to do before I could make this happen. However, throughout the process, I “felt free”. There wasn’t much tying me down in Toronto, so I knew that one way or another I would be able to move out easily.
Relationships and Memories
While the lack of physical belongings was a blessing, building so many relationships and making memories turned out to be an anchor (in a good way!).
Most, if not all, of the pain I felt when leaving Toronto had to do with relationships and memories I was leaving behind.
The last few weeks were painful. Every time I met people knowing that it would be a while before I saw them again, it hurt.
Similarly, going to my most frequented places for the final time in a while was painful. I still remember when the teary barista from my favorite local coffee shop gave me a tight hug and wished me farewell. Likewise, the night before my flight I had to say goodbye to my little niece and nephew. Of course, they are too young to understand what “leaving” means, but just like any other time, my niece was crying loudly when I was about to leave. To her, nothing was different, but I knew that it would be a while until I saw her again.
The biggest takeaway for me was that relationships are both the best and most painful thing about life. I might lead the most minimal life when it comes to physical possessions, but the relationships and memories I make in a place will always make it difficult to leave.
What Am I Reading?
It has been a laboriously slow couple of reading months. I could barely make time for it.
So, I don’t have much to leave you with, except the book I am currently reading, and what I plan to read in the coming months, now that I am settled in Atlanta.
Secrets of Divine Love by A.Helwa — almost 70% completed.
Next to read
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson
- The Millionaire Fast Lane by M.J. De Marco
I anticipate having more time to read in Atlanta. So expect to see a lot more from me on these books in future blog posts.
What Am I Listening to?
Unlike reading books, I have actually been listening to a lot of podcasts.
I have mostly listened to episodes from shows related to traveling and spirituality. Outside that, there were also a few good ones on technology and productivity.
If any of these topics interests you check some of these out:
For the eagle-eyed ones, you must have noticed that some of the links above are from Apple Podcasts. That’s because I recently switched from Snipd to Apple Podcasts.
I have been a huge fan of Snipd for the better part of a year now. However, since the addition of some of their new features, I found myself wanting a more simple podcast listening experience.
With iOS 17’s visual updates to Apple Podcast, the choice was simple for me. I plan on writing a more detailed guide on Apple Podcast, and how my experience has been so far. Go ahead and subscribe to me if that’s something that interests you.
What Am I Recommending?
As you most probably have guessed by now, most of my recommendations this month will be related to credit cards, travel, and interior design (to help set up my new apartment).
Just by putting your regular spending on these cards, you can amass close to 300,000 Hilton points which give you 3 free nights in Conrad Maldives Rangali Island or up to 15 nights in more humble locations.
Travel with Points and Miles
It was only a few months ago that I was introduced to the world of “travel hacking” or more accurately put — getting free flights and hotel nights.
Since then, I have amassed close to half a million points! I have barely spent any money on flights and hotels all across North America.
Here are a few podcasts and YouTube channels that massively helped me achieve this:
Moving to a new city means moving into a new apartment as well.
I always get excited by fresh starts. When I walked into the apartment for the first time, all I saw was a blank canvas and all the different ways I could paint it.
YouTube channels like Daniel Titchener really helped me understand the different “splashes of paint” I could use if we follow the metaphor above.
There’s also a treasure trove of content about Smart Home, especially the following YouTube channels:
I am super excited to build out my apartment in the coming weeks. You will hear a lot about this in the coming weeks.
What Am I Writing?
As life got busy the past few months, the one thing that I had to frustratingly put aside was my writing.
Unfortunately, I haven’t written a single blog post in over two months now. I am sure you can feel my “rustiness” if you made it all the way to the end of this blog post.
So, no writing updates this month. Hopefully, if things go well, this will be the first of many to come, now that I am settled in Atlanta.
That’s a wrap for September 2023.
All in all, one of the most eventful months of my life. I will surely remember this for years to come.
If you got any value out of this newsletter, please subscribe to my newsletter, or follow me on Medium.
Until next time.
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