About Derek

I’m a 32 year old entrepreneur and digital nomad based out of Austin, TX. I saved $500k by age 25 and decided to challenge the status quo and live on $10k a year and retire early.

I live a flexible lifestyle with no car and few possessions. I use shared living (coliving and hostels) to travel the world and live affordability in the the best global cities.

In 2021, I plan to stay in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami. I’ll also travel abroad to London, Mumbai, and Singapore.

To better get to know me I’ve broken down my life into three parts:

  • My Purpose
  • My Path
  • My Principles
Derek Baker Portrait Photo #2
1
websites
2
industries

 Finance & Housing

1
common goal

Provide Solutions that Allow People to Live a Great Life on Less 

All of my businesses exist to provide a path to freedom and fulfillment

My Purpose

I retired (really) early now what?

Imagine not having to worry about money after graduating college. No debt and a half a million in the bank. That was me. For some people it may be obvious what to do but I struggled with my freedom. I had nothing holding me back – I could go anywhere and do anything. Yet I was hesitant. I was fearful. I didn’t even want others to know I was rich.

What I realized was money was just a number in a bank account. Sure I had a large one but it didn’t have much meaning to me. It hadn’t changed me or my lifestyle. I liked being frugal and living on less. I didn’t aspire to acquire luxury items. I didn’t want to eat out at fancy restaurants. I didn’t even want to own a car. What I wanted was a flexible and simple life with meaning and that’s what I set out to create.

To start fresh I decided to leave Michigan where I had lived my whole life. My father and brother lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had visited a couple of times and decided to give it a try. 

Over a five year period here’s what happened:

  • I sold most of my stuff in Michigan and fit all my possessions into two suitcases. Each time I moved I kept only what I needed and used often. 
  • I lived in a variety of living situations. I stayed for 3-6 months on month-to-month leases. I shared a bedroom in a high rise, student apartment, single-family home, and most memorable – a historic mansion with 12 roommates. I also owned two condos. 
  • I shared a vehicle with my brother. I tried to be car-lite, driving less and walking and biking more. Then I went car-free and lived local, frequenting stores within a one-mile radius of me, and using public transportation for longer trips.
  • I became a pro at budget travel. It was a natural fit because I already lived a simple life so I just traveled in the same way I lived. I used points, miles, and other perks to reduce costs further. I built up my trips from a weekend, to a week, to several weeks. I found out what I truly needed in life. I started out bringing too much and over-packing. After several trips I learned I just needed a carry-on suitcase and then a backpack.
Through these experiences I was able to better understand myself and the lifestyle I wanted to live. 

My Path

A search for the best lifestyle for me

I knew I had to make some tough decisions and come to some important realizations to make retiring early and living on a low income work for me in the long-term. 

First, my work was virtual and I wanted it to remain that way because then I have maximum flexibility. Second, my stuff could not hold me back so I chose to only own items I needed and used often.. Third, my life had to have meaning and focus beyond money. I had to make an impact on the world with what I know and what I have. Fourth, I had to be in good company surrounded by others who are like-minded and in my situation or working toward it.

When I thought about my values and the freedom I was looking for I realized I had to live a life outside of the mainstream. The traditional way of living was too materialistic, routine based, and inflexible. I reflected on an experience I had living in a shared house with other startup founders. It was affordable, had just a six month lease, and I lived around other people who were passionate about their work and had a genuine interest in getting to know me. This concept called coliving was starting to catch on in America. I decided I wanted to be a part of it.

In 2020, I rented out my condo for shared living with the intention of using the rental income to support me in becoming a digital nomad. I would live for 1-3 months in 2-3 US cities and plan for at least one trip abroad, likely two. I did some research and planning and found out that is was pretty affordable. I found out I could live comfortably for around $1,200 in the US and few weeks or months in the best cities in the world. I put together an agenda with plans to start when it is safe to travel, likely in early 2021. Check out Freedom Coliving to follow my journey.



Los Angeles

Length: 1-2 months

New York City 

Length: 1-2 months

Miami

Length: 2-4 weeks

Cancun

Length: 2-4 weeks

Europe, India, & Asia

Length: 2-3 months

2021 TRAVEL AGENDA

$1,017

per month estimate 

$1,550

$1,346

$1,150

$805

$800

Building a Home Base

I call Austin, Texas home. It’s a great place to live. I’m lucky to have found a way to live there affordably. Since I like to travel and I’m not there all the time I needed a way to make money while I’m gone. The bills were about $350-400 a month and with housing being my largest expense I really wanted to reduce it. 

To make income from my property I had two options that made sense. I could rent it out short-term on Airbnb (after getting licensed) or I could rent it long-term to roommates. I chose roommates because it was steadier income, I could still live there, and I could provide an affordable place to live in a city that is increasingly becoming unaffordable. 

After having success renting out my place I’m looking to expand to a second property.  This will be a large home that is well located close to public transit and retail, and in a city with good job, wage, and population growth. Having a well connected airport is important too. If I can live there without a car and with my frugal lifestyle it passes the test! I narrowed down my search to Dallas or Atlanta. Rent will be under $400 a month. Now I’m looking for roommates, reach out if interested. 

I’ve been able to live a higher quality of life than I ever dreamed while spending below the poverty line

Here's The Math



Housing

Food

Transportation

Healthcare

Everything Else

MONTHLY EXPENSES

$805

per month

$440

$180

$40

$20

$125

My Principles

Principle #1: Frugal is a lifestyle

  • I cut my expenses down to only what’s necessary. 
  • I live with few possessions and only keep what I use often.
  • I travel often and as affordably as possible (which is easier now than ever before.) 

Principle #2: Spend wisely

  • I only buy what I need. 
  • I comparison shop.
  • I try to make buying decisions without advertising and impulse.

Principle #3: Invest early and often

  •  I started investing in the stock market at 19.
  • I saved my extra income and turned it into more money instead of spending it.
  • I contributed to retirement accounts whenever possible.

Principle #4: Take risks

  • I bought businesses, started my own, and invested in stocks and real estate.
  • I learned as I went along and took action quickly when an opportunity presented itself.
  • I did research and due-diligence. I tried to know what I was getting into.

Principle #5: Have big goals and dreams

  • I have dreams that I work toward achieving through consistent action.
  • I never settle. There is too much to see and do and experience.
  • I devoted the rest of my life to my passions. Now that’s a commitment.

Principle #6: Give back

  • I got to the point where I didn’t want any more money or stuff. This made giving back a natural fit. 
  • I felt like my most authentic self when I was helping others without a hidden agenda.
  • I can get involved in so many ways. I can give my money, free time, and knowledge to invest in other people, causes, and ideas.

Principle #7: Live life in Community

  • I made the decision to live year round in shared living with roommates (even when traveling).
  • Community allows me to be in constant contact with positive, creative, and uplifting people.
  • I have to be more social and push myself out of my comfort zone.
  • I can gain a better understanding of different cultures and viewpoints from being surrounded by a diverse and inclusive environment. 

Principle #8: Take time for myself

  • I make time regularly to be by myself. As an introvert this recharges my batteries.  
  • I reflect by journaling,  listening to calming music, and being outdoors in nature.
  • I’m comfortable saying “no” to a social event if I’m not in the mood. 

Principle #9: Live life without regrets

  • I live one day at a time in the moment.
  • I speak my mind, express my feelings, and ask for help when I need it.
  • I act in a manner I want others to treat me. 

Let's Connect

If you’ve made it this far you must really like my story. I’d love to connect and see how I can help you. I don’t charge for many of my services. I’m purpose driven and want to make an impact on as many people’s lives as I can. It would be an honor to make a difference in your life or the life of somebody you know. Please get in touch and let’s talk!