Financial Independence Week Europe 2017

 

 

What is FIWE 2017?

FIWE stands for Financial Independence Week Europe. It’s a meeting of like-minded people who are interested in financial independence, lifestyle design, minimalism and mindfulness. It’s a way to bring people together to exchange ideas and experiences in a relaxed, easygoing setting. Often people whose interests lie in these kinds of areas have trouble finding like-minded people to talk to in their immediate environment, so the idea of FIWE 2017 is to build connections between people who think differently to the mainstream and to build up a pan-European community.

The main conference will take place over a weekend (Friday – Sunday) and will include presentations, discussion sessions, a city tour and of course lots of free time for informal discussions.

What is FIWE Extra?

FIWE Extra is an extension of FIWE during which a much smaller group of people will spend a few more days hanging out together in an even more informal setting. We’ll move from the bustle of the big city to a small sleepy town where we’ll spend most of our time outside – swimming in the lakes, riding bikes, cooking together. There won’t be any formal presentations, just lots of time to talk and exchange ideas and visions for the future.

When and where is it happening?

Timisoara Map
Source: Wikipedia

The main conference will be happening in Timisoara, a city in western Romania, and will run from the evening of Friday, 15th September until the afternoon of Sunday, 17th September.

Afterwards a small group of particularly enthusiastic participants will be staying on for a few more days to take part in FIWE Extra. This event will relocate to a small town an hour away from Timisoara on the Romanian-Serbian border and will run from the evening of Sunday, 17th September until the evening of Thursday, 21st September.

Participation

If you’d like to participate, you’ll have to apply with a short video before the 1st of may. See details below.

About

Timisoara

I'm not going to spout irrelevant statistics from a travel guide - you can look those up yourself on Wikipedia, but here's Timisoara in a nutshell: It's a major city in the Banat region of western Romania. Just under half a million people live there, including small but significant Hungarian, German and Serbian minorities. Timisoara's claims to fame are that it was the first city in mainland Europe to have electric street lights and also that it was where the Romanian revolution started in 1989. It's also recently been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2021.

The city has a lot of beautiful old buildings from when it was under Hapsburg rule, but a lot of them fell into disrepair under communism and basically looked pretty shitty for a long time. In the last few years a huge effort has been made to renovate these buildings and transform a large area into a pedestrianized, modern city centre. New cafes and restaurants are springing up all the time and the place feels really dynamic.

The city is fairly small and easy to get around if you know what you're doing. Thankfully Mr W is an expert since he went to school and uni there so he'll be in charge of navigation.

The venue

The main conference will be happening in a small B&B near the city centre. It's run by an old school friend of Mr W's and we've stayed there many a time, so we can thoroughly recommend it from our own experience. The B&B is fully enclosed and feels like a totally different world to the bustling city outside. It has two lovely quiet courtyards and attached conference rooms. We'll basically be booking out the entire place for the weekend which will make things a lot easier logistically. It means we can all be together as much as possible, especially during meals, breaks and free time, which is often when the most interesting conversations take place. It also means we'll all waste a lot less time getting between our rooms and the conference facilities. We love efficiency!

Program

We're still working hard on the specifics of the program, but here's a general outline so you know what you're getting yourself in for:

Friday 15th September: Arrival Day

We'll kick the conference off at 5 pm with a welcome and introduction session followed by some ice-breaking games, then we'll head out into the city for dinner and a sightseeing tour. The point of this first evening will be to get everyone together, learn each other's names and get a first taste of the city.

Saturday 16th September: Conference Day 1

Now it's time to get down to business! After breakfast at the B&B we'll start the presentations. We'll have a couple of presentations in the morning with a break in between, then we'll stop for lunch, which will be delivered to the venue.

In the afternoon we'll have two more presentations and a lightning discussion session, again with breaks in between.

After yet another short break, we'll head out into the city for dinner and the evening's entertainment (still to be sorted out, but we have some good ideas).

Sunday 17th September: Conference Day 2

The morning and afternoon will look pretty much the same as the previous day, except that in the afternoon we'll only have one presentation and one lightning discussion session followed by a final closing session. The official conference will be over at around 6 pm.

Some participants may already start leaving during the course of the evening, while some of you may opt to stay another night in Timisoara and leave the next day. It's up to you based on your own preferences and travel schedules. Those of us who're staying on Sunday night will again head out into the city for dinner and some more quality entertainment.

Monday 18th September: FIWE Extra, Day 1

On Monday morning we'll say goodbye to the last of the weekend participants and then relocate to a smaller town near to Timisoara. Brace yourselves for a bumpy train ride! The venue for FIWE Extra will be our house. We'll spend the day hanging out on the terrace, cooking in the yard, and swimming in the nearby lakes.

Tuesday 19th - Thursday 21st September: FIWE Extra, Days 2 - 4

We'll spend these three days going on bike rides, making day trips and exploring the culinary offerings of the region. We have some ideas for trips in the pipeline, including a visit to Serbia and a wine tasting in a spa town near to Timisoara. We'll provide more details once we've got everything organised. You don't have to stay right until the bitter end, if you want to just stay on for a couple of days, that's ok too (but please let us know how long you're planning on staying so we can plan the activities accordingly).

 

Practical Info

How do I get there?

You have a wide range of options available when deciding how to get to Timisoara. We've listed the main ones below. If you have any questions or problems, just send us a quick e-mail and we'll do our best to help you out.

By plane

The airport in Timisoara is called Traian Vuia. You can fly there from the following cities:

  • Germany: Dortmund, Düsseldorf Weeze, Munich, Frankfurt Hahn, Memmingen
  • Belgium: Bruxelles Charleroi
  • France: Paris Beauvais
  • Italy: Milan-Bergamo (Orio al Serio), Bologna (L. Ridolfi), Rome (Fiumicino), Terviso, Bari
  • UK: London Luton, London Stanstead
  • Netherlands: Eindhoven
  • Spain: Barcelona El Prat, Madrid Barajas, Valencia în Manises

The airport is directly on the outskirts of the city, which is pretty rare these days. You can reach the city centre by bus or taxi. Once you've booked your flight, you can ask the other participants in the facebook group if anyone else is arriving at the same time as you and band together to figure out the bus system or share a taxi. We'll provide you with full details of how to get to the venue nearer the time.

If you can't find a good flight directly to Timisoara, you can also fly to Budapest and then take one of several airport shuttle services that offer airport pickup and transport to wherever you want in Timisoara for around €35-40. Driving time is about 3 1/2 hours.

By train

If you don't like flying or can't find suitable flights, you could get a train instead. International trains arrive at Timisoara Nord station, which is very close to the city centre and the venue. You can currently get a direct train to Timisoara from Budapest (it takes about 5 1/2 hours). You can look up connections on the German railway portal.

How much will it cost?

The most important thing to know about FIWE is that it's not for profit. We're not looking to make any money out of it whatsoever because, let's face it, we don't need any more money and we also don't believe that high costs should be a barrier to participation. All the money you pay is just to cover costs. We'll be paying our share too. Also, we're not going to invite big-name speakers and pay them for giving a presentation. All participants will be on a level playing field with everyone covering their own costs.

Travel

You're responsible for organising and paying for your own travel to and from Timisoara. See the How do I get there? section for more information.

Accommodation

You'll be paying for your own accommodation at the conference venue. All prices include breakfast and are as follows:

  • Standard double room: €36 per room per night
  • Standard twin room: €36 per room per night
  • Triple room: €53 per room per night
  • Standard single room: €32 per room per night
  • Basic single room: €28 per room per night

Once we've confirmed your place at the event, you'll get an e-mail will full details of the venue and information about how to reserve and pay for your accommodation and find a roommate if you need one. The rooms will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis so get in quick if you have a strong preference about which type of room you'd like.

Food

Breakfast: Included in your accommodation price.

Lunch: We'll be getting lunch delivered to the venue on Saturday and Sunday. We've yet to sort out the details but you can budget around €4-7 per meal.

Dinner: For dinner we'll be venturing out into the student area near the venue or checking out the old town. Again we've still got to do some scouting around for good places that can handle 25 people and also offer vegetarian/vegan options, but for €4-7 per meal you should be able to eat well.

Participation Fee

We'll be charging an additional participation fee of €15 per person to cover the costs of renting the conference facilities and any other miscellaneous costs that crop up. We're deliberately keeping these costs as low as possible because that's just how we are. And also because that's just how you are, right? You don't need any extra fancypants crap. You're Mustachian, goddamit!

There won't be an additional participation fee for FIWE Extra, but if you participate you should also budget for meals each day and travel between our house and Timisoara (a train ticket costs less than €1.50 one way - this is not a typo).

 

Participation

How many participants will there be?

We're limiting participation for the main conference (Friday to Sunday) to 25 people including the two of us. That way, everyone should have a chance to talk to everyone else and there should be a good community atmosphere.

FIWE Extra will be smaller because we anticipate that only very few people are hardcore enough to want to extend their FIWE experience to a full week. Also, FIWE Extra will relocate to our own house and we can't accommodate 25 people! If we turn out to be wrong and lots of people want to stay longer, we'll adjust the plan.

Who can participate?

The event is open to everyone who's excited about financial independence, minimalism and generally living a meaningful, mindful life. Everyone who's bursting with ideas but has no-one to share them with in their immediate surroundings. Everyone who's looking for like-minded people to hang out with for a few days. Everyone who wants to finally be able to talk freely about FI, investing, their personal finances, and how they envision (or are already living) their financially free life.

Why is there an application process?

Maybe you think it sounds harsh to set up an application process and pick and choose participants. Why don't we just accept the first 25 people who say they're interested? Basically to make sure we have a good mix of participants from different places and with different experiences and ideas to contribute. If we operate on a first come, first serve basis we run the risk of having too many participants from a single country and/or with a single topic of focus. That then makes the event less enjoyable for the people who don't belong to this majority group.

How will participants be chosen?

We'll look carefully at all the applications and choose participants based on the following criteria:

  • Do you seem really, truly excited about the event?
  • Do you have ideas and experiences to contribute?
  • Will you add some diversity to the overall mix of participants?
  • Can you communicate confidently in English about the kind of topics we'll be discussing at FIWE? If you're not comfortable listening to presentations and having informal discussions about financial topics in English, maybe FIWE isn't the right event for you. Although if you're reading this, chances are you'll be fine!
How do I apply?

If you think FIWE 2017 is for you, send us a short video (2 minutes max.) or send us an email telling us about yourself:

  • Why do you want to come to FIWE?
  • What can you contribute to the event?
  • Do you want to come to the main conference only (Friday-Sunday) or do you think you can handle some FIWE Extra days as well? If so, how many extra days do you want to stay for (until Thursday 21st September at the latest)?
  • Do you want to give a presentation during the event? If so, give us a brief introduction to you topic.

Also important for logistical purposes, please tell us:

  • Whether you're vegetarian/vegan/have any other dietary requirements

(Don't worry, your answer to this last question won't have any impact on whether or not you're chosen - but having this information will allow us to make sure you have food you can eat during the event.)

If you apply with video, please upload your application video to a platform where we can watch it without downloading it, for example:

  • vimeo: with password protection - don't forget to e-mail us the password: fiwe2017 (at) gmail.com
  • YouTube: share it privately with the following e-mail address: fiwe2017 (at) gmail.com

If you apply by email, please send it to the same address: fiwe2017 (at) gmail.com

When can I apply?

The application process is open right now! The deadline for applications is May 1st.

What happens next?

As soon as we receive your application we'll send you a confirmation e-mail so you know we've definitely received it.

After May 1st, the jury (us - Mr and Mrs W, Oli from Frugalisten and Mr RIP from Retire in Progress) will look at all the applications and choose the participants. We'll notify all applicants by May 15th whether you've been successful.

Unsuccessful applicants will go on a waiting list and we'll notify you by July 15th if there are any cancellations and we can offer you a place after all.

If you've been successful, we'll provide you with full information about the venue and how to book your accommodation. We'll also add you to the closed facebook group for the event so you can meet the other participants in advance and find a roommate if you need one. To secure your place for the event, you'll need to book and pay for your accommodation by June 1st. After that deadline, we'll offer your place to someone else.

 

FAQs

Can I bring my partner?

Yes, if your partner is also interested in fully participating in the conference. If your partner is already somewhat on board but has a few reservations, this might be a good opportunity for them to explore the topic a bit more and talk to people other than you about it. If they're totally on board and as excited as you are about the whole thing, even better! In both these cases, feel free to send us a single application for both of you.

On the other hand, if your partner isn't interested in any of the topics of the conference but just wants to see Romania, we suggest you leave them at home this time or add on a holiday with them after the conference. Accommodation is limited and we want to make sure there's enough space for the people who have a genuine interest in the event.

Do I have to be FI or on the path to FI to participate?

Not at all. While we suspect that most of the participants will end up falling into this category, it's not a must. You can be interested in minimalism without being interested in FI. And vice versa. Not having FI as a goal doesn't mean you're not an interesting person. If your interests lie more in the direction of minimalism, mindfulness and lifestyle design (e.g. the digital nomad lifestyle), you'll definitely have some interesting ideas to contribute!

Do I have to be a blogger to participate?

No. While FIWE 2016 was primarily a blogger meetup, this year the event is open to anyone who has something to contribute, blog or no blog.

Can I give a presentation?

Of course! Presentations should be no longer than 30 minutes to allow for 30 minutes of Q&A / discussion afterwards. Tell us about your idea in your application and we'd be happy to discuss it further with you if your application is successful.

How will the lightning discussion sessions work?

This is an idea suggested by Amber Tree Leaves at FIWE 2016. The aim is to be able to discuss lots of topics in a structured way while making sure people aren't bored and no single topic dominates the discussion.

We'll split the participants into two groups of 12-13 and appoint a moderator for each group. Everyone writes down a topic they want to discuss on a post-it, then everyone in the group votes on these topics (everyone gets 5 points to allocate in total). The moderator then ranks the ideas based on how many points they got. The group discusses the most popular topic for a maximum of 15 minutes. If anyone in the group thinks the discussion is getting boring, they put their thumbs down. If more than half of the people in the group put thumbs down, the moderator moves the discussion on to the next topic before the 15 minutes are up.

Another advantage of this is that even if only two or three people are interested in a particular topic and it doesn't get discussed in the group, these two or three people get a chance to find out that one another is interested in this topic and they can get together during one of the breaks or in the evening and discuss it in depth for hours if they like without boring the rest of the group. Everyone's a winner! A big thank you to Amber Tree for suggesting this idea!

Did you get my application?

We'll send you a confirmation e-mail within 24 hours of receiving your application. If you don't receive a confirmation e-mail:

  1. Check your spam folder.
  2. E-mail us at wlcbblog[at]gmail[dot]com and we'll be able to tell you whether we got your application.
I'm vegetarian / vegan - will I be able to find food I can eat?

Yes, don't worry! While vegetarianism and veganism are less well-known in Romania the options available are slowly getting better. We haven't sorted out all the logistics yet but we'll go to great lengths if we have to to make sure you're fully catered for and not reduced to eating plain boiled rice the whole time.

I have a question that doesn't appear in the FAQs - how can I contact you?

Please send all questions to wlcbblog[at]gmail[dot]com.