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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Double Trouble...

Interview with Margo and Carole

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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There is no one way to live a life, or for that matter, one way to live a dream retirement. Carole and Margo have an interesting story and when finding themselves single in mid-life, decided to join forces and resources to create a unique retirement style. Enjoy our interview with Margo and Carole below:

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us a little about yourselves?

DoubleTrouble: Margo was born in 1943 in Detroit and Carole in 1945 in southeast Virginia in a small village with a population of less than 500. This is relevant for several reasons but specifically for two; we are both a product of the 1950’s and polar-opposites as a result of being separated by the Mason Dixon Line! We met in San Francisco in 1989. Both of us moved there from our perspective homes following a divorce. We each had been married for 18 years!

Margo was pursuing a graduate degree in Counseling/Psychology and Carole a job offer she couldn’t refuse. Ironically, and unbeknownst to each other, we had both sold our marital homes and had shipped our belongings via the same shipping company. We met on a Sierra Club hike and basically gravitated toward each other because we two were the only ones who attended the hike solo. We experienced the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake together and later the Oakland fires and bonded as a result.

We both had children who were adversely effected by our divorces. Sound like twins? Almost!! We both married young in the 1960s and regrettably both of our children chose to remain in their familiar surroundings in their birth state. During our years in San Francisco we made many decisions; we “adopted” each other as the sister we never had and always longed for. (We both had only brothers). We also became housemates due to the rising costs in San Francisco. 

Cruising the Mekong, from Laos to Thailand

REL: How long have you been traveling?

DoubleTrouble: Carole stopped working at age 59 and with the aid of a small inheritance didn’t collect social security until age 62. Margo stopped working at age 62 and began to collect social security immediately. 

REL: Tell us about your approach to travel. 

DoubleTrouble: Even though neither of us had a pension, at age 59 and 62, we became “homeless” by choice. We sold our Brevard, North Carolina home where we had been living for ten years; downsized and put our remaining belongings into storage. Times were good in Brevard and we “banked” the entire proceeds from the sale of our house with the exception of one major purchase, a GTRV-Westy camper van similar in design to the VW Westfalia of the 1970’s, and began to tour the U.S. 

REL: Are you consistently on the road or do you have a home or home bases?

DoubleTrouble: Twelve years later, we sold our Westy and purchased a compact car. Quite a downsize from the camper-van, but we realized we were no longer utilizing the van as it was intended. Instead, we had gradually shifted our travel interests from the U.S. to outside the country. We were new to international travel having spent one vacation in Portugal and another in Belgium during our working life when 2-3 weeks was the norm for working folks. We recently moved into a loft apartment in downtown Plymouth, Michigan where we now reside during the warmer months; spending 6 months in warm climates outside the U.S. and 6 months in Plymouth with family and friends. Before moving into our loft apartment, we downsized considerably and had countless garage sales and give-aways.

Carole, Margo, Istanbul, Blue Mosque

REL: Name some places where have you been and what was appealing to you about them. 

DoubleTrouble: We have traveled extensively in Mexico and even traveled two times by Greyhound bus from Detroit to the Mexican border and then transferred to the far superior Mexican buses. We “fell into” housesitting in Mexico quite by accident which afforded us an excellent opportunity to stay in one place for longer periods and live like a local. In between housesitting assignments, we bussed to places where it would not be considered safe today. We loved these times in Mexico and most recently began to explore Southeast Asia as a result of a chance encounter and conversation in Oaxaca, Mexico. We have amazed ourselves by traveling to Guatemala, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Berlin, Budapest, Istanbul and Valencia, Spain. 

REL: Do you have favorite places? 

DoubleTrouble: Our best answer to this question is the one Margo gave to her grandson when he asked what is the favorite place we have visited. “Our favorite place is where we are at the moment!”

Carole and Margo in Putrajaya, Malaysia

REL: Do either of you speak another language? 

DoubleTrouble: Both of us have studied Spanish in high school, college and privately. It has NOT taken and thus we struggle along with a few words of Spanish. Fortunately for us, locals have been more than willing to assist when we cannot speak their language. We have also been pleasantly surprised at how many folks are able to speak some English no matter where our travels take us.

 

REL: We have found that 99% of our travels have been free of concerns over our safety. Do you agree or have you had any scares? 

DoubleTrouble: We were on 17 flights during our travels last season which is probably the scariest part of our travels. Nowadays, Margo finds some areas of her native Detroit more scary than any other place she would go to! 

REL: Do you have family? How do you stay connected? 

DoubleTrouble: We both have children and grandchildren and stay connected via email, Skype, cell phone and our blog. We use an unlocked cell phone and replace the sim card each time we enter a new country. Currently, our cell phone in Mexico with local sim/chip card through Telcel allows us phone coverage within Mexico, the U.S. and Canada for approximately $7.00/USD per month. We have found this to be very convenient, and have let our house phone go, keeping only our unlocked cell phones.

Carole and Margo dressed for a Thai wedding

REL: Do you consider yourself retired? 

DoubleTrouble: Yes

REL: What challenges did you have making the transition to retirement?

DoubleTrouble: We had no challenges and were more than ready to “hit the road” and make up for lost time. 

REL: When did you know you were ready to retire and what motivated you? 

DoubleTrouble: Amazingly, we didn’t really think about “were we ready to retire” as things just fell into place. Carole’s workplace changed ownership and Margo had become overwhelmed with third party reimbursement paper work in her private therapy practice. Margo, in particular, was motivated to travel internationally and for months on end when her father and only sibling (her younger brother) passed away within a year of one another. She said to Carole, “...remember when we used to say one of these days we’re going to (name the place)?...well, this is “one of those days.” We both agreed to take traveling seriously!

REL: What do you average in spending annually? 

DoubleTrouble: Here are a few facts and figures from our 2015/16 travels beginning in Toronto, Canada and ending in Valencia, Spain.

We were away for a total of 208 days with an average daily cost of $58 per person. This figure includes every single expense for those 208 days. This also includes visiting six countries and taking a total of 17 flights. Incidentally, this grand total also includes $574 for medical treatments. We do not keep records for the other six months in Plymouth. 

Margo and Carole, Chinese New Year, Borneo

REL: Does this include health insurance? Do you have health insurance? Are you open to medical tourism? 

DoubleTrouble: Our only health insurance is Medicare. We are self-insured and we are very open to medical tourism and have used the Chiang Mai Ram Hospital in Thailand  many times.

REL: Do you own a vehicle? 

DoubleTrouble: Yes and we drop the insurance when we’re gone for six months keeping only fire and theft coverage. Our vehicle is garage kept and our landlord starts it once a month while we’re gone.

REL: Can you share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured? 

DoubleTrouble: We do our entire banking with Schwab including brokerage, checking and savings. 

REL: Did the market declines of 2008 affect your retirement nest egg or make you question your retirement plans? 

DoubleTrouble: We both “stuck our head in the sand” and made no changes during the 2008 decline. And as you know, things perked up eventually and we’re in good shape to continue traveling. 

Cruising from Yangon to Mandalay, Burma on the Irrawaddy River

REL: How do you manage your finances while on the road? How do you fund your travels? 

DoubleTrouble: As mentioned above, Schwab makes it VERY easy for us to travel anytime and everywhere especially as we take a laptop with us. We tend to book the majority of our major flights and even some long term lodging before leaving home and fund these purchases with a credit card. We take a few hundred crisp US dollars with us for emergencies but have yet to use them. Once we arrive at our country of destination, we use our Schwab debit card to withdraw local money.  

REL: Share with us your best money-saving secret. 

DoubleTrouble: Margo began working at age 15 and was always a saver. At age 21, her grandmother gifted her with $2,000 and encouraged her to put it into a mutual fund. She did and the rest is “history” as they say. Carole says SAVE, SAVE, SAVE starting early in your life.

 

REL: Share with us your best packing tip. 

DoubleTrouble: We continue to remind ourselves that traveling for six months is the very same as traveling for two-weeks! We have perfected our packing list over the years and basically dress in layers just as we did years ago when living in San Francisco. Each of us takes three small pieces of luggage (checking one) and we work very hard at keeping the total of our three pieces at 50#. This means we have little, if any, room in our individual pieces to purchase anything. It helps that we are of the age that we have just about everything we need or want...instead we save our money for traveling as nothing else gives us as much pleasure.

REL: What are your greatest passions in life? 

DoubleTrouble: Traveling the world gives us the most pleasure these days and we continually have to pinch ourselves to make sure it is real. For the most part, we like to stay in one place for a month or so which enables us to live like a local. We also tend to seek out rentals outside the tourist zone and frequent local eateries and entertainment. As a result, we have met many locals who have befriended us; many of whom continue to stay in touch. We do enjoy returning to a place to rekindle these friendships.

Carole and Margo in a Puducherry, India Guest House

REL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now? 

DoubleTrouble: Five years will put us in our late 70’s and we suspect we will still be traveling as long as our good health continues. We may want to “slow” down somewhat and would consider canal barging and small guided trips for seniors. 

REL: How do you contribute to the world? 

DoubleTrouble: While traveling, we attempt to be as culturally sensitive as possible. We attempt to be “good-will ambassadors” for our country.

REL: What’s the worst thing you deal with in your chosen lifestyle? Your biggest challenge? 

DoubleTrouble: Carole says that putting together our travel plans is like putting together a giant jig saw puzzle. We do not necessarily want to back-track while traveling and am always on the look out for warm climates. Getting caught in freezing rain in Brussels was not fun and so we realize that Europe will only work for us during limited months.

We also have to be aware of the “slash and burn” season and go to great effort to avoid certain places in Southeast Asia and Mexico during these times. We look for destinations that are relatively safe, clean and comfortable. Our destinations have to be walkable and/or with good public transportation. We rarely take a taxi except when arriving/returning to the airport. We also try and plan not to arrive or depart when there is a major holiday in a country.

Food can be a challenge as well... Margo aspires to be a vegetarian and Carole dislikes spicy food. We are not necessarily budget travelers and we missed the backpacking era in lieu of raising a family! Having said that, we like clean and comfortable as stated before. Resorts and the beach scene have little appeal. Instead, give us architectural delights, museums and art exhibits, entertainment and great coffee shops and cafes. 

REL: What would you say to someone who is considering tossing the conventional lifestyle and living one of travel? What advice would you give? 

DoubleTrouble: Follow your heart and your dreams...do your own research and determine what makes you happy. In other words, do become very honest with yourself! Keep in mind that it is possible for two senior women on a limited budget to travel around the world INDEPENDENTLY.

REL: What is a secret fact about you? 

DoubleTrouble: Can’t think of one...I think we’re both pretty wide open.

REL: I understand that you keep a blog of your travels. How can people follow you and your journeys? 

DoubleTrouble: Please check out our blog here!

We at Retire Early Lifestyle would like to thank both Carole and Margo for taking the time to answer all of our questions, and for being so open about their lifestyle of travel. Thanks for your marvellous photos too! Check out their travel stories on their blog.

 

About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.


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