Once someone learns that we
at the age of 38 in 1991 and have been traveling the world
ever since, they ask, "How could you afford such a lifestyle?
It must cost a fortune for airfare, to live in guesthouses, hotels,
apartments and eating out!"
When we left the
conventional working world in January, 1991, the S&P
500 Index was 312.49. Today it is over 2500. That's an average of a 10% per year
return including dividends. See the calculator below.
Sure, we had expenses,
but our net worth has outpaced both spending and inflation because we
The cost of not retiring
Whenever we're considering
a trip, we ask ourselves, "Can we afford it?" Our answer shocks some: "We can't
afford not to go."
I'm no spring chicken at 65.
I'm experienced enough in life to know that I will be more
disappointed if I don't try new things than if I make mistakes at
the ones I attempt. I'm only getting one shot at this life, and I
my travel list is getting longer, not shorter.
Over the years we have
lost many friends - some who never chose to retire from their jobs, and they had
plenty of money.
For close to 3 decades we
have been spending
less than $30,000 per year. We have seen dozens of
countries, stayed in resort hotels, purchased new computer equipment and
digital toys, refreshed our wardrobes countless times, drank fine wine, had
maids, gardeners, and ate at some of the most fashionable restaurants in the
world. We have hiked, biked, and scuba'd, lived on tropical islands and in
million dollar homes,
the Maya, met musicians and magicians and
generally enlarged our perspective about the world.
After all this traveling,
spending and inflation, our net worth is still higher than when we retired.
So how much did this
lifestyle really cost us?
we would probably have spent more on
a complicated infrastructure
per month working and having a life in the States, we could look at
our traveling retirement lifestyle as actually saving us
Packing up your finances
Even if you decide our
particular lifestyle of wandering the globe doesn't suit you, maybe you would
like to include more adventure into your retirement. Where do you start?
First, you need to get your
financial house ready for travel. Can you access your
money at ATMs worldwide? Your local bank card won't work in
exotic lands, whereas major no-load fund brokerage firms have accounts that can
accommodate this requirement. We even have ATM fees rebated through
Are you signed up for
BillPay or another automated bill paying system? Does your bank or brokerage
firm allow you to write a physical check electronically and send it in the
mail to any address where it's needed?
Can you get all your
banking statements online so that you can view them from anywhere in the
Make that change.
Secondly, you must get your U.S.
residence in order. Can you let it be unattended for periods at a
time? How about asking a relative to house-sit for you, watering
your plants, cutting your grass, tending your pets and starting your car? Or you could
a house sitting organization and have the sitter do these
duties. What services can you put on hold? And what
about your mail?
Keeping in touch with
family and friends is now easier than ever before. You can Skype or use
WhatsApp, and send photos via email. Even though you may be on the road for
months at a time, you can still conveniently contact your loved ones, and
even your financial houses or insurance company if needed.
Affordable health care
What if you become ill? Chip
a tooth, break your eyeglasses, need refills for prescriptions or have
emergency like we did?
You can take out
traveler's insurance or
use local care. We have received excellent medical
care in Mexico,
Guatemala. Fortunately, we have had easy-to-reach, high-quality hospitals, dentists, eye professionals,
pharmacies, and clinics.
English is the international
language, so you will be able to fill your medical requirements
without fear. Not only that, but the costs will be considerably less
-- another place where you could be saving money.
You do not need a prescription for most meds, and in many cases you can walk into a pharmacy and
buy what you need for much less than in the States.
Retirement through a
Everyone looks at retirement
differently. Some people have said to us, "We're going to work a few
more years. You never know what the future will bring."
It's hard to
dispute that statement!
However, others have said to us just as
firmly, "We're going to retire now. You never know what the future
We, of course, subscribe to the
latter school of thought.
Travel has broadened our minds,
giving us a perspective of the world and confidence that pervades