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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.

lnterview with World Travelers

Carey and Susan Mossop

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

We at Retire Early Lifestyle like to share with you the stories of Captivating Characters. Below you will find another success story of a journey to financial independence and personal satisfaction. Enjoy our interview with World Travelers Carey and Susan Mossop!

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

We are Carey and Susan Mossop. In January of 2016, at the age of 53, Carey quit his job as a Product Manager for a large multi-national company. We sold everything except for a carry-on suitcase and a daypack each and began to travel the world full-time. Our nomadic lifestyle centers around traveling slowly, staying in a country for as long as a tourist visa allows, usually 30 to 90 days. So far, we have spent time in 23 different countries.

REL: When did you start your journey to Financial Independence? What was your motivation? Were you both always on the same page with this goal?

We have always saved and invested for retirement, starting in our early twenties. At that time, we thought that it was the prudent thing to do to ensure that we would be comfortable in retirement. About eight years before we actually retired, we “supercharged” our saving and investing strategy to be able to retire early and travel while we were still young enough to really enjoy it. Carey was probably more focused on a traditional life of keeping up with the Jones and having a nice big house in the suburbs, two cars, etc. Susan was always more of the mindset that things were not that important in life and experiences and living life to the fullest was the way to go.

Horseshoe Bay, Canada

REL: Did you ever think it was possible to live a different lifestyle other than the conventional one? What triggered you to think outside of box?

The first trigger was an article we read in the newspaper in the early nineties about a growing trend of Americans moving abroad at retirement for adventure and a lower cost of living. This concept fascinated us. We loved to travel to other countries and the idea of living abroad started us thinking about whether we could do something like that and retire earlier than the commonly accepted 65 years of age.

 

 

 

 

The second trigger was our son moving out of the house after his first year of college. Carey was traveling for work in the USA and Canada about 50% of the time. Why on earth did we still need a three-bedroom house in the suburbs with multiple cars when it was just the two of us? Why spend the time, energy, cost and effort to have all this “stuff” when we craved travel and adventure much more.

REL: Would you consider yourselves to be Financially Independent? Are you still working to afford your lifestyle?

We do consider ourselves to be financially independent. The bulk of that is in 401k and IRA accounts. We did have some savings and cash outside of that from the sale of our house when we retired.

Angkor Temple Complex in Cambodia

REL: The cost of housing is one of the highest cash outlays in any household budget. In your retirement lifestyle, did you choose to keep a home? Relocate? Travel? Do you have a home base now? Where do you keep all your “stuff”?

We sold our last house a couple of years before we retired. After our son moved out in 2007, we sold our house and downsized considerably, eventually to a one-bedroom rental apartment. We found renting to be a much more flexible and lower cost lifestyle. We did buy a small house in 2011 to live in for a few years, taking advantage of the downturn in housing prices.  We extensively renovated it, selling for a nice profit to boost our retirement funds.

Our mailing address is Susan’s sister in the Seattle, WA area. She is kind enough to let us know what little mail comes for us – we do as much as we can online. If it is something she thinks we need to see, she will snap a picture and email it to us. For things like new bank cards, etc. we have her FedEx it to us wherever we are in the world.

We pared down our stuff to a few family keepsakes and heirlooms that half-fill the smallest storage locker we could find in the Seattle area, a 5-foot by 5-foot unit.

Since January 2016, we made two short trips back to North America: summer of 2016 for a wedding and family reunion, and Christmas of 2019 to visit family and for Carey’s parents' eightieth birthdays. Other than that, we have been traveling full-time until coronavirus restrictions necessitated a temporary return to North America.

REL: How long have you been Financially Independent?

We became debt free – mortgage, credit card debt, etc. - a couple of years before we retired. Like a lot of people working in Corporate America for decades, we had a significant 401k balance. Of course, while we were working, we could not draw on the 401k retirement savings balance.

Anshun, China

We could not have lived an acceptable lifestyle to us with our 401k and other savings in an expensive country like the USA. Now, our monthly expenses are 50% to 70% lower than what we needed in the USA living a nomadic lifestyle in low-cost countries.

REL: In your retirement life, what will you do about access to health care? Are you open to Medical tourism?

Thankfully, we are both healthy. We have a high deductible emergency medical plan just in case something major happens. We have never had to use it. The cost of medical care outside the USA is incredibly affordable and is of an extremely high quality. We pay for any needed medical costs out of pocket. We have a favorite dentist in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and a favorite doctor in Bangkok, Thailand that we have gone to for routine check-ups, teeth cleanings, etc. We both take one long-term maintenance prescription each and have no problem getting our medicine around the world without a prescription at any drug store – at a fraction of the cost compared to the USA.

REL: What do you average in spending annually? Does this include health insurance? Do you track your spending?

We typically spend between $35,000 and $40,000 a year right now, including health insurance. When we first started our retirement, we tracked our spending almost to the penny. I think we wanted to make sure that we really could do this. Now we just review our bank balances and credit card statements monthly to make sure we are on track.

REL: Can you share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured? Did your retirement affect your asset allocation at all?

Our investment portfolio was always focused on aggressive growth mutual funds. Early on, we realized that we were in the stock market for the long haul and did not worry about the ups and downs of the market in the short term. Many financial advisors suggest rebalancing your portfolio at retirement to a higher mix of bonds and short-term investments versus growth stocks. However, since we hopefully have another 20 to 30 years left in retirement, we do not want to limit our long-term portfolio growth. Most of our investments are in an S&P 500 Index Fund. We keep four years’ worth of living expenses in short-term investments like bond funds – long enough to outlast even a major market downturn.

Indigenous Peoples Trail, Nepal

REL: What was your biggest challenge to early retirement?

Carey probably had the biggest mental block of ditching the traditional lifestyle of “work till you are 65 and retire”. Although we both loved the idea of traveling and the associated lifestyle, it took him a little longer to make the actual leap and jump in with both feet.

We really cannot think of any major challenges or hardships. People ask us, “But don’t you get homesick and miss your friends and family back in the USA?” The answer is, “Yes, but not enough to give up this lifestyle and go back to a high stress, high-cost lifestyle in the USA.”

REL: What did your children and family think of your choice of retirement lifestyle?

Our son loves it! He comes to visit us once every year wherever we are. Carey’s parents have visited us in Thailand and Vietnam and one of Carey’s brothers visited us in Vietnam. These days with social media, email, video conferencing, etc. it is so easy to stay in touch.

Some of our family members were not so sure about our choice and a few still worry about our safety in “strange, faraway lands”. Ironically, most places we go are far safer than living in the USA.

Malaysia Waterfall

REL: What has surprised you the most about your journey to Early Retirement?

Carey was a little surprised at how liberating it was to get rid of the bulk of our “stuff”. Living in a one-bedroom apartment and only having one car freed up our ability to enjoy life without being tied down to housing, storing, caring for, and maintaining our “stuff”.

REL: What is exhilarating beyond words? Something you would never trade about your lifestyle to obtain “security?”

The freedom and flexibility we have to do what we want to do, when we want to do it, where we want to do it, is huge for us. We love hiking and snorkeling. We are avid history buffs and enjoy visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites all over the world. Our greatest joy comes from meeting people around the world and learning their foods, customs, and culture.

REL: So far, what has been your biggest challenge with this new lifestyle?

Right now, coronavirus!! Since we live in countries on tourist visas, when covid-19 restrictions hit, most countries in the world closed to non-citizens or non-long-term visa holders. We were in Thailand in March of 2020 and the Kingdom of Thailand graciously let us stay on a tourist visa until the end of July. At that time, Thailand ended their visa amnesty program for stranded individuals and we had to return to either the USA or Canada. We chose to ride out covid-19 in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Mt. Hua, China

We cannot say that we really have had any big challenges. Technology makes a life of traveling so easy today. We can videocall, text, email, or phone our friends and family from practically anywhere in the world. We try to learn a few courtesy words in the language of wherever we are going, but there are apps that can translate for you. Gone are the days when you had to travel with a bunch of cash or travelers checks, bulky phrase books, and physical maps. Even in some of the poorest countries in Asia like Nepal, Cambodia, and Myanmar you can find ATMs to get local currency with just your bank card.  

You do have to have the right attitude and be able to go with the flow sometimes. You will run into obstacles that you were not expecting, challenges you were not anticipating, cultural norms that are different than what you are used to. If you let things like that stress you out and expect everything to be just like your life in the USA only cheaper, you will end up frustrated and disappointed.

REL: What would you say to someone who is considering tossing the conventional lifestyle and retiring early? What advice would you give?

The biggest piece of advice we would give is figure out what is important to YOU. How do YOU want to live your life? We hope that reading about our lifestyle might inspire someone to try this lifestyle, but we know it is not for everyone. Find out what is important to YOU and go for it.

For us, our goals evolved over time. We first started reading about people’s experiences retiring overseas in places like Panama, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. We joined a few Facebook expat groups to see what people had to say about their lives. Later we began to read about vagabonding and nomadic living. When we looked at the nomadic lifestyle, we knew we had found what we wanted to do.

Sea anemone, Chumpon, Thailand

Once we had this goal in mind, we aggressively downsized our “stuff” and expenses to save and invest for the life we really wanted. Retire Early Lifestyle has used a term that we really like, “reduce your personal infrastructure” it perfectly describes what we have done. We essentially got rid of all of our stuff except the suitcase and daypack we carry with us. The only “fixed costs” we have today is $60 per month for our storage unit rental and about $1800 per year for an emergency medical plan. Practically all of our other expenses are variable on a day-by-day basis. If we had to, we could rent a furnished condo on the beach in Malaysia for $300 per month on a month-to-month basis and spend $10 a day on street food and survive nicely.

We are Retire Lifestyle Mentors. Our goal is to help you achieve your retirement dreams.

REL: What would you say are your most unique talents? 

Our avid curiosity and love of people.

When we started traveling full-time, we also discovered that we have a highly sought-after talent; we are native English speakers. English is by far the most popular second language in the world. While trekking in Nepal, the head teacher of the village would often come to meet us with a couple of their best students to practice their English. In many other countries, people, especially children, want to try out their English on us. We had the privilege of being invited to teach at a holiday “English Camp” in Malaysia for a month.

REL: What are your greatest passions in life?

Our love of travel. We especially love meeting people from other cultures and seeing that we are so much the same as human beings, and yet have such a wonderful diversity of how we approach life, from our customs, language, food, and values.

We love the variety we have in our life. We rarely go on package tours, but love hiking, snorkeling, visiting museums and UNESCO world heritage sites. What we really enjoy most of all is being able to interact with people outside of the tourist areas and get to know them as much as we can and experience their daily life. Some of our greatest joys are being invited to people’s homes, getting to know them, and sharing time and meals together.

REL: Tell us about your greatest personal success, not necessarily finance related.

This is probably true for all parents but raising our son has given us joy and satisfaction (despite being very challenging at times). We feel our greatest success now is being able to focus on and do the things we needed to do to now be able to enjoy an incredible life as a global nomad.

REL: How do you contribute to the world?

As Christians, we believe that service to others is an important part of life. We do not formally seek out specific opportunities, but we run into opportunities to serve around the world for example; we have helped repair and renovate a school in the Dominican Republic, assisted at a school for underprivileged children in Paraguay, assisted a Pakistani refugee family in Bangkok, and taught English for a month in Malaysia.

When we can, we try to support local, small businesses such as shops, guest houses, local artisans and weavers, and local tour guides whenever we can.

Boat ride in Trang An, Vietnam

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

Our goal is to be traveling across this world somewhere. People often ask us if, and when we plan to stop traveling and settle down somewhere. Our answer is, “When we are too old and creaky to travel anymore!” We do realize that as we age, our bodies will wear out and our stamina will decrease. We hope to be traveling full-time at least into our late seventies and when the time comes, we might find that perfect spot in the world to establish a home base.

 

 

 

 

REL: What is your biggest splurge?

Our travel style is slow travel, so we rarely travel long airline flights. However, I can think of a few times we went over our typical monthly budget to do some incredible things. We traveled to Astana, Kazakhstan in 2017 for a week to visit the 2017 World Expo – this was far out of our path and relatively far and expensive to fly to for just a week. We do not usually do package tours or programs, but we splurged on a nine-day trek in Nepal and a four-day safari tour in Chitwan National Park in Nepal.

Susan loves meeting weavers and artisans and has collected some nice handwoven fabrics. Even though we typically don’t buy more stuff, she will splurge and buy some pieces. We ship these back to Seattle to her sister and plan to enjoy them when we finally settle down somewhere and enjoy the fabrics as mementos of our travel adventures.

REL: Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you've found to be very helpful?

We don’t have a particular mantra or motto but do find ourselves looking at each other from time to time and saying, “I can’t believe we get to do this! I can’t believe our incredible life!”

REL: What do you do for fun or entertainment?

Our fun and entertainment come primarily from the adventure of traveling to different countries, meeting the people, eating the food, and learning the culture. We do try and visit most UNESCO World Heritage Sites that we are near. We always look for nice day hikes everywhere we go. When we are in the coral triangle of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines we eagerly seek out great places to snorkel. When we get to stay in a particular city for an extended period, a month or more, we will look for local and expat Meetup groups where we can get together with people of similar interests, compare notes, and learn of other great places in the world to visit. 

If you are interested in following our adventures, you can find us at:

http://ournomadicexperience.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ournomadicexperience

We at Retire Early Lifestyle would like to thank Carey and Susan for taking the time to answer our questions and share their lives and lifestyle with our Readers. We hop their story inspires YOU to live your best life!

For more stories and interviews of Captivating Characters and Early Retirees, Click here

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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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