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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

A Follow Up Interview with Robert and Robin Charlton

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

We at RetireEarlyLifestyle just LOVE bringing you interviews of other Early Retirees. Living your best life is a great joy and the world needs more happy people!

Speaking of which, take a joy-filled read of our Follow-Up Interview with Robert and Robin Charlton. To read their initial interview, click here.

Snowbirds Robin and Robert enjoying beach time in Panama City Beach, Florida

Snowbirds Robin and Robert enjoying beach time in Panama City Beach, Florida

RetireEarlyLifestyle.com:  We last saw you in Saigon, Vietnam sipping on weasel coffee. How long have you been retired now? And your current age?

Robert and Robin Charlton:  That’s right, weasel coffee! We both turned the big six-oh in 2023. (Yikes, how did that happen?) We’ve been retired 17 years now (since December 2006).

REL:  What are the biggest changes in your lives since we last interviewed you?

R&RC:  Since Covid put a damper on travel for a while, I began writing fiction – something I’ve wanted to do since childhood. Since then, I’ve completed three science fiction novels (the Occupy Earth Trilogy). I also managed to get my first crossword puzzle published in The New York Times (a Saturday puzzle dated 9/23/23), and I’ve had a second puzzle accepted (a Thursday puzzle, date pending). I feel like I’ve entered a creative period in my life, one where the focus is a little less on travel and a little more on writing and creativity.

Occupy Earth Trilogy, Robert Charlton

Robert's Occupy Earth Trilogy

REL:  Has your portfolio changed much or are you allocated differently now?

R&RC:  Our portfolio remains essentially the same. We remain invested in three Vanguard stock index funds: 500 Index, Extended Market, and Total International (VFIAX, VEXAX, VTIAX). We also have a Total Bond Market index fund (VBTLX). After my mother’s passing in 2021, we inherited a Vanguard Wellesley Fund (VWIAX) which we’ve left essentially in place.

 

 

 

 

REL:  Is balancing family time with travel time going well?

R&RC:  We were able to provide end-of-life care for my mother in 2020-21, which allowed her to remain at home thanks to Robin’s nursing background. We continue to spend roughly two months of each year in Maine (usually from late-August to late-October), taking our turn at managing the family’s Sunset Cottages business near Acadia National Park. This is our time for connecting with family. Most of our trips are 4-6 weeks long these days, so we have more room in our lives for other things now, including family.

REL:  Describe your housing situation. Do you continue to live in your condo in Colorado when you are not traveling?

R&RC:  Yes, we spend about half the year in our Boulder condo on average. As for the other half, we usually spend about 2 months each year in Maine, 2 months each year in Panama City Beach, FL (as snowbirds, where we rent a small beachfront condo), and ~2 months each year on international travel. We still move around a lot compared to most people, but we do like having a home base. Since our last interview, we’ve stopped renting out the Boulder condo out and keep it just for ourselves.

Celebrating Carnival in Barranquilla, Colombia

Celebrating Carnival in Barranquilla, Colombia

REL:  Has your access to health care changed? Are you still going through the Affordable Care Act for your health insurance plan?

R&RC:  We’re still on an ACA Bronze-level plan through Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, which is very affordable premium-wise (with subsidies) but does have high deductibles. We eat a mostly plant-based diet, walk two or more miles each day, and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle overall. We take advantage of medical and dental care overseas when possible.

REL:  These days, what are you averaging in spending per year? Does this include your health insurance?

R&RC:  We average $50K to $55K in spending per year these days, including health insurance. We hit $60K in 2022 when we splurged out on Botswana and South Africa. Our spending has increased somewhat as we’ve become more confident about our financial situation over the past 17 years. We were quite frugal during our initial years of early retirement (~$40K on average), but as time has passed, we’ve realized it’s far more likely our money is going to outlive us rather than the other way around! The ACA keeps us from spending even more for now, since it requires us to stay below certain AGI limits (Adjusted Gross Income limits) in order to qualify for subsidies.

"The Highest Pub in Africa" in Lesotho

Visiting "The Highest Pub in Africa" in Lesotho

REL:  Did you keep your vehicle while living in the States?

R&RC:  Yes, our trusty 2005 Toyota Matrix is now registered in Maine, allowing us to fly between Colorado and Maine instead of having to drive 5 days each way. We also have a 2017 Hyundai Elantra (inherited) registered in Colorado. We tend to use public transport in other countries (e.g., train and bus during our recent Eastern Europe trip), but a car really is useful in the U.S.

Overlooking the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary

Overlooking the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary

REL:  Do you continue to be happy with your retirement lifestyle? Do you regret having made that decision?

R&RC:  We have no regrets whatsoever. As we get older, we realize what a gift we gave ourselves retiring early, which let us travel adventurously while still feeling young and fit enough to fully enjoy it. Some of the trips we did then – like hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal – would be harder for us to do now (not impossible, but harder). I think we’ve turned the page on intense adrenaline adventures like skydiving and bungee jumping, but we’re so glad we did them when we were younger (e.g., in our early 40’s). Now, we feel content to slow down a bit while still logging plenty of fun travel miles each year.

Rhinos in Botswana

Rhinos in Botswana

REL:  In our previous interview with you, you mentioned volunteer work. Have you pursued that more in these last several years?

R&RC:  We haven't done volunteer work in the traditional sense (at least not so far), but we did provide end-of-life-care for both of our moms. Robin in particular put in endless hours, caring for her own mom for some four years during the end of her life, and another year for my mom. Her nursing background proved hugely helpful in this respect. This is something we could not have done had we continued working, and it blessed us as well as them. Robin's four sisters were able to help out from time to time with the care of their mom, which allowed us to continue traveling (albeit more briefly) even during these years.

REL:  You both seem to enjoy extreme sports and hiking. Have you slowed down at all?

R&RC:  We still love to hike and hope to do more village-to-village walks in the future. The Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek across northern Spain, was one of our all-time favorite travel experiences. Such walking adventures are still in our wheelhouse, but extreme sports…not so much. Been-there-done-that, in the best sense. That doesn’t mean we don’t still love adventure. Our 2022 Botswana safari was one of our favorite trips ever, and we followed that with a one-month self-drive through South Africa, including ten days of self-safariing in Kruger National Park.

 

 

 

 

REL:  You both live a life of adventure in retirement. What would you say to someone who has children, loves owning pets and likes to garden?

R&RC:  We’d say wonderful, nothing wrong with that. In fact, as seasoned travelers ourselves by now, we’re more and more drawn to the quiet life these days. Creative pursuits require quiet time. I can’t imagine trying to write a book while traveling. I doubt we ever stop traveling because it brings us such joy, but it may take up a smaller space in our lives in the future. It’s all about balance – and financial independence gives us the freedom to find the balance that is right for us, and keep on adjusting that balance as our needs change.

REL:  Do you continue to document your travels on your website Where We Be? Do you have any new projects in the wind?

R&RC:  Where We Be continues to grow with each passing year. This past July, we cruised to Iceland and Greenland, followed by a month-long journey by train and bus through nine different countries in Eastern Europe, and it’s all out there on the webpage for any armchair travelers. Next up is the Dominican Republic (a beach vacation with my brother and his family), followed by a 12-day southern Caribbean cruise and a 7‑day Bermuda cruise (lots of cruising all of a sudden). On the wish list: Antarctica, Bhutan, Mongolia, long walks in Europe, and more African safaris. Yup, we’ve still got the travel bug!

Middle aged couple Hiking the Cocora Valley in Columbia

Hiking the Cocora Valley in Columbia (tallest palms in the world)

REL:  What are you most excited about right now?

R&RC:  I’m most excited about my creative pursuits at present – fiction writing and crossword puzzle construction. They occupy most of my free time. It’s wonderful to be able to pursue such activities without worrying about the money angle. No pressure, just the joy of creation. We're also both excited to have visited 76 countries and hope to someday reach 100.

REL:  What has been the highlight of your year? 

R&RC:  After submitting something like forty puzzles to The New York Times, I finally got a yes. That has to have been the highlight of my past year. If all goes well, 2024 will be the year the trilogy is published. On the travel front, Eastern Europe was a highlight.

Robert's New York Times crossword puzzle (published 9/23/23)

Robert's New York Times crossword puzzle (published 9/23/23)

REL:  What is your proudest accomplishment not financially related? 

R&RC:  My proudest accomplishment is writing a science fiction trilogy – nearly 900 pages of coherent story. It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid. Robin loves doing genealogy and has traced her ancestors back 12 generations to the early 1600s on several family lines.

REL:  If you could start a charity, what would it be?

R&RC:  What an interesting question. Mine would involve helping the poorest of the poor overseas in some fashion. Robin says if she were to start a charity, it would be focused on helping the elderly overcome obstacles that are keeping them from doing what they love to do, like getting out into nature. 

REL:  What would be the title of your memoir?

R&RC:  “A Life Well-Lived.” Wait, that’s taken. “Fearless Living.” Nope, that’s taken too. Hmm, this is harder than I thought. How about, “Embrace Each Day.”

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

R&RC:  There is no “worst thing,” per se, but the biggest thing we miss is owning a dog. Being on the go so much makes pet ownership a challenge. It’s also a little harder to stay close with friends for the same reason, but we make a real effort to stay connected each time we return to Boulder. Sometimes our lives feel segmented because we move around so much, which is why we can envision a time in the future when we stay put more – and get that dog.

REL:  What gives you hope? 

R&RC:  Travel itself gives us hope. It reminds us that the vast majority of people are good. We’ve met so many wonderful people during our travels. In Fez, Morocco, a family asked us to join them for their Friday feast of homemade couscous, veggies, and chicken. During the Camino, pilgrims went out of their way to help each other, and locals called out “Buen Camino” as we passed. In Nepal, a school girl took time out of her day to guide us to the right path when we took a wrong turn. Repeat experiences like these give you faith in humanity, which is hard to come by sometimes when watching the nightly news. Other things that give us hope: meeting people who are still out there having adventures as they get older, and seeing examples of people achieving their creative goals later in life.

We at Retire Early Lifestyle would like to thank Robin and Robert for taking the time to answer all of our questions, and for their willingness to share their lives with our Readers. Thanks to both of you!

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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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