I didn't want to write about Covid-19, the new Coronavirus. I prefer to think about more positive things, even if that does sound a bit like burying my head in the sand.
But I've given in. Covid-19 is too big to ignore. It's surely affecting all of us in some way, and the news suggests that will continue for a while. Possibly quite a long while. Right now, it's changing how we live our lives.
I'm fortunate, the effect of the Coronavirus on me isn't so serious in relative terms. But even so, here are some of the ways that it has impacted over the past week.
Friday, 13 March - London Marathon is postponed
The marathon that I've been training for has been postponed to October. It's not a surprise given the other sporting events that have been cancelled. Whether the world is back to "normal" by October is unclear as of now.
I was using my entry to get back into the habit of regular running and back to being properly fit. I'm the kind of person that works best to a target and a plan. With the target now postponed, I need to guard against complacency, skipping runs and undoing some of the work that I've put in so far to get fitter. That's if we're allowed to go outside.
Sunday, 15 March - We cut our trip to Dubai short
When we flew out to Dubai on 8 March, the Coronavirus was serious in China, Iran and Italy, but seemingly of lesser significance elsewhere. We were, however, concerned enough to be checking the government travel advice (which was next to useless) and concluded it was OK to make our trip.
We then watched as the virus escalated in other countries, and with more implementing restrictions I started to worry about being stranded. Sally and I talked about it and decided to cut our holiday short and get home. It felt like the right decision, although it did mean that the following day was spent going through three airports and on two flights i.e. being in close proximity with a lot of people who may or may not have been exposed to the virus.
We're fit, healthy and relatively young so ought to be able to fight off the virus if we catch it. But traveling still felt concerning, even if we simply became a vehicle to spread it to someone more vulnerable. We therefore decided to self-isolate for fourteen days once we got home (something that was enforced on us on 17 March anyway).
Monday, 16 March - Our stock and bond investments have been hit
Normally I only check the value of our investments at the end of the month but I decided to check them for this post. Perhaps I shouldn't have because I found that our stocks and bond accounts have gone down by £152,000 / €180,000 / $200,000 since the end of January. That's not good news, but we're fortunate in that we're not drawing on these investments. My plan therefore is to not panic, be patient, and wait for them to recover.
The income that we use for our daily living costs comes from our rental properties. Perhaps in due course the value of those properties will reduce but, again, they are long term investments that we're not looking to sell so the value of a property on a random date isn't of much importance. What is possible is that one, or perhaps more than one, of our tenants loses their job either temporarily or for a longer term and can't pay their rent. We hope this won't happen, for the tenant's sake as well as for our own, but we'll cross that bridge if and when it arrives. Fortunately our financial circumstances mean that I don't have to worry too much about it.
What I have realised is that I'm glad I retired early with a bit more of a financial cushion than I needed (although I didn't realise that at the time). If I'd quit with only just enough money to live on, I'd be losing sleep now, and I really can't afford to lose any of my beauty sleep🤣
Tuesday, 17 March - We're living in lockdown
Last evening, the French government announced a 15 day lockdown whereby people must remain in their homes. There are some exceptions:
to travel to work
to get medical care
to buy groceries
to do some exercise alone
If we do leave our home, we must complete and carry a document justifying our reason (one of the four exceptions above) for being outside our home. We have heard on social media that the police in our town are stopping people to check their reasons and that they have a completed justification form. The fine for failing to comply can be €135.
Wednesday, 18 March - Other plans are on hold
You may know from some of my previous posts that I'm still very happy with my early retirement but, at the same time, I'm still trying to figure out where we should live and some of what I want to do. I know, first world problems that really don't seem very important given the circumstances in world now, but life must still go on.
While I haven't miraculously figured these things out, while we were in Dubai we did come to a decision on one sizable plan, and when I get an idea in my mind to do something, I want to get on and do it. However, realistically, these plans are now on hold until Coronavirus is something we talk about in the past tense. So while I say that life must go on, these days it isn't always so easy.
So what is this plan that we've figured out? I'm not telling, at least not yet. It can be the subject of an upcoming post.
But we, our families, and our friends are healthy
This is the important thing and puts into perspective the previous four items where the coronavirus have had some affect on us this week. What we are reminded of is that friends, family and health are what are truly important. If we have these, then we can work all the other stuff out.
There are others who are really affected by the coronavirus
Unfortunately this is the reality, there are people who have lost loved one, who are currently battling illness or may have lost their job or had their income reduced. Unfortunately, there will be more of this to come. Again, this puts things into context.
The ski resort in which I live has closed early, businesses are suffering and people have already lost their jobs. Our thoughts go out to them. But we've also seen social media posts offering help - it's heartwarming to see how people rally around. I firmly believe that the vast majority of people are good and kindhearted. As I mentioned earlier, maybe we'll find that one of our tenants is impacted and has difficulty paying their rent - our finances have limits, but I hope that we will be kindhearted at that time too.