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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.

Suzanne and John O'Rourke

An Updated Interview

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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It’s been several years since we have interviewed Suzanne and John O'Rourke, and it’s time for an update with this amazing couple!

Suzanne and John have a traveling/working lifestyle, not yet fully retired.

Let’s check in on the O’Rourke’s now and see what’s going on with them.

 

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us how things have changed since we last checked in with you?

Suzanne O’Rourke: I think when you interviewed us last, we had just started RVing. We loved the RV lifestyle for many reasons, but after 5 years, which is about our limit, we got restless.

Since our tenants moved out from our townhouse in Southern California, we decided to qualify for California's capital gains tax break by making it our primary residence for two years. We are also using these 2 years to renovate this home. 

Coming back to California was an emotional challenge. We’ve gotten spoiled with the slower pace of other places and how far our money could go with lower taxes and overall costs. But this is a bullet we needed to bite. We’ve been here about a year and now feel that we will probably keep the place long term, if not as a home, then as a rental. Time will tell, and everything is on the table.

Oriental, North Carolina FEMA disaster

The house is one that John built an addition on when we sailed to Oriental, North Carolina. Now, 20 years later he was checking it as a FEMA Disaster inspector.

REL: How long have you traveled, worked and lived overseas as a lifestyle?

Suzanne O’Rourke: Thank you, Akaisha and Billy, for the invitation to share with you and your readers.

We started traveling at age 21 and I’ll be 62 tomorrow. Out of those 40+ years, we have been nomadic in one form or another at least 65% of the time. 

REL: You have owned many businesses in your lifestyle of creative liberty. What are the most recent?  

Suzanne O’Rourke: In our first business, which was brick and mortar, we learned an important lesson early on with employees. Never again.

Ever since then we have been creating businesses that could be run from most anywhere and have no staff. We currently own an International Computer Training brokerage business. We’ve had it for 17 years along with a mix of other revenue streams that opportunity presented.

We source train solutions for Enterprises, Training Centers, Governments and Universities around the world. All it takes is a phone and internet. Most days will find me on Skype with international business calls for a few hours a day. 

The Business is full time, but we can run it from anywhere. We have owned a Solar Electric company in Mexico, taught school, done graphic arts, built homes, done boat repair, yacht management, had a yacht brokerage, done seasonal work and for years, been FEMA contract Disaster Housing inspectors.

working on Easter Island

We worked while visiting Easter Islands - this was our most remote place to work from. We stayed in a woman’s guest house.

 
 

 

 

We have worked from our boats, islands, RV’s, and abroad. Flexibility and low overhead are driving forces. I was recently asked, “so, you work about 3 hours a day?”  No, we take our work seriously and it supports us comfortably from anywhere. We also believe in having multiple revenue streams.

We are gearing up to let out our guest room as an Airbnb and look forward to meeting some interesting people while covering our mortgage. We are just organizing our 2nd privately led tour as a “test” for doing more privately led tour groups in retirement. We are heading to Ireland and Scotland with 35 folks in 2020. These are examples of new revenue streams we are developing.

REL: Are you getting closer to a financially independent lifestyle? One where work doesn’t control your location and daily activities as much? Or does this lifestyle continue to be perfect for now? 

Suzanne O’Rourke: By some standards, especially the low cost of living overseas in many places, we could quit now and have a comfortable retirement. However, we have some long term goals we want to achieve with the training business and then sell it.

Also, currently we feel the need to be close to aging relatives, so we are back in California for the time being. It’s a myth that California is laid back. While here, we actually fit in best if we work, because everyone is working all the time. But we start our days with a walk on the bluffs above our local beach, take a long lunch, get some exercise or play in the late afternoon and are enjoying life while we work. 

Also, because we designed our business to work with International clients, we are offered opportunities to go overseas regularly. We suggest if you are thinking of starting a business, design a business around the things you like, the things you’d love to happen (company benefits) and with a mind to ultimately sell it. Then you can enjoy your work, enjoy some benefits along the way and cash out when you think it’s time to quit.

John Kickin’ back in the Gulf of Mexico - RV Life

Kickin’ back in the Gulf of Mexico - RV Life

For now, the benefits of work still outweigh being retired, but that day is coming in the next few years. I can imagine it easier than John. If things gel well, we could be fully retired in 2-3 years. On the long side, we are looking at 4 1/2 years when we take Social Security.

REL: What are the current projects that you are working on? 

Suzanne O’Rourke: We are doing a lot of focus on our training business with a big website expansion. We have a new consulting opportunity to help a company to grow their franchises in Latin America and we have our Tour efforts. I could spend all day with the Travel planning business, but we are choosing to do it in phases and see how it goes rather than jumping in with both feet.

We also are getting set up to rent out our guest room as an Airbnb. I am hoping to get through the final edit on our first book about our 7 years of sailing our boat, Blew Moon. While we are living in the house for the 2 years, we are trying to tackle a lot of things that we can be distracted from when traveling a lot.

 

 

 

REL: We know your love for travel and Suzanne, you have lived in many locations growing up. Can you mention a few of your favorite places?

Suzanne O’Rourke: We first explored abroad for about 25 years, visiting over 40 countries, living in a number of them, doing business in all of them, and then we started discovering the U.S. 

Overseas, we love anywhere with crystalline, warm water. Top places in Latin America and the Caribbean:  The Sea of Cortez, San Andres, Columbia, the British Virgin Islands. 

House sitting Winter 2018 - Lake Tahoe, California

House sitting Winter 2018 - Lake Tahoe, California

In Asia, I think Malaysia is my favorite for the mix of cultures. Easter Island may be our favorite international destination of all times. In Europe - Paris, southern Ireland and Turkey. The assault on our senses in Turkey was all positive and we left wanting more.

In the U.S. - Catalina Island for its raw wildness, Grand Tetons National Park as the “Serengeti” of North America with its massive herds of wild big game. Santa Fe, New Mexico surprised us. We went for a day and stayed 4 months. The vibrancy and boldness of individual’s true personality was unique. Anacortes, Washington is the perfect little town to bike around and keep discovering more. The northern gulf coast of Florida is heaven if you love being in or near the water.  

America surprised us. It was not all strip malls and homogeneous culture. We fell in love with the amazing achievement of the American revolution and better understand now what an amazing legacy we had taken for granted.

REL: How do you balance the mix of travel with family time? 

Suzanne O’Rourke: We are almost  always the ones to travel to family. It used to hurt that they wouldn’t come to visit us, but I’ve finally realized that most people really are not that comfortable traveling. 

So, we visit a couple of times a year, and still encourage visits from our families. We talk on the phone frequently, send postcards, and Skype. When we are with family we make a point of being physically there to help with projects and bundle in some significant events, like Anniversaries, Graduations etc.  We want to be treated as the ones where there is a Honey Do list waiting for us, because we aren’t good with just sitting around visiting.

REL: Since housing is a big expense, how do you manage lodging? Do you own a home? House sit? Rent apartments? Stay in hotels

Suzanne O’Rourke: All of the above. 

Trading with the locals from our Sailboat in the San Blas islands

Trading with the locals from our Sailboat in the San Blas islands

We lived on boats for 28 years, but about year 20, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. John insisted we buy a house where I could recover. We figured we might lose it, but could get through the surgeries, chemo and radiation before it got repossessed.

We never missed a payment, but once I was well, we moved back on the boat. We’ve rented the house out off and on since we owned it.

We bought an RV about 8 years ago, sold the boat and kept the house rented out. But when our tenants gave notice last year, we moved back in to renovate and possibly consider selling it. We had to sell the R.V. since we couldn’t afford to keep both. 

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We rented apartments in Puerto Rico for a year, house sat in the Baja, stayed in hotels and Airbnb. We even tent camped for months when we first had our Solar electric company in Cabo San Lucas. We’ve been put up by FEMA and clients when we’ve worked for them, including a beach front apartment in Puerto Rico for a year, and stayed in extended-stay hotels and some posh places when overseas. 

We like to savor a place and stay long term. So, in our pipeline there are plans to live in different parts of Europe in the future. Buying our house and treating it like a resource, has been a great benefit to us over the years.

Not getting attached to things has gotten to be our normal.

Hammock camping, Sisters Island, Singapore

Hammock camping, Sisters Island, Singapore

Rel: Since you are still too young for Medicare, what do you do about health care?

Suzanne O’Rourke: This has been our biggest challenge.

It has cost us more than our mortgage for years. 

We work hard to stay healthy, eat consciously, exercise regularly, eradicate stress when it creeps in and keep a ridiculously high deductible which we never meet. 

John had to have heart surgery and it paid for itself in spades. We didn’t begrudge the deductible then. We do always opt for a PPO with a large nationwide network which costs more, but it allows us to travel and to be covered

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

Suzanne O’Rourke: We live on about $60,000 a year including health insurance. That number is about a 30% increase since we moved back to California and is a strong motivator to leave the state when we have established our 2 years of residence. 

One rule we follow has always been to live modestly and save. We are frugal and it’s never stopped us from living our dreams.

A sign on our walk each morning, that sums things up nicely

A sign on our walk each morning, that sums things up nicely

REL: Can you share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured? Will your allocation change once you retire? 

Suzanne O’Rourke: We’ve pulled everything out of the stock market recently, aside from one stock that is still upside down. The rest has been shifted into more secure investments with lower yields. We’ve honestly not gotten to the point to figure out how we would allocate things later but expect it to be a mix of rental income, Social Security, Medicare, investments and some part-time income that we enjoy doing, like leading tours and writing our books.

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

Suzanne O’Rourke: It’s all online banking and online brokerage accounts. We’ve done this for ages. It’s so comfortable, we actually do it for our parents too.

REL: Do you own a vehicle?

Suzanne O’Rourke: Yes, we own a used 2014 Ford Edge SUV. We are fine with just 1 car, always used. Vehicles are just a tool to us, not an identity.

Motorbiking to Mexico

Home was the bike, the saddle bags and a tube tent with a single hammock, a camp stove - 1st trip to Mexico

REL: What’s your biggest challenge to full retirement?

Suzanne O’Rourke: From when we first met, we agreed that Lifestyle was our focus. We both lost a parent at a young age and didn’t know how much time we would have on this beautiful planet, so we have been intent on living life as we go, not waiting for retirement. 

It’s a contrary mode, and not one easily achieved without both being totally committed to this core value. We really believe that work is good for us, both emotionally, mentally and socially. So even after we formally give up work, we plan to work at something that brings in money. So, to answer your question, retirement has always been filtered in to our lives, just not in the conventional sense.

REL: What are your greatest passions in life?

Suzanne O’Rourke: Nature first for both of us, trying new things, and being creative which takes on a wide variety of passions. Swapping stories with other travelers ranks high on our list of favorite activities.

REL: We’ve asked you this question before, and you have given such amazing answers. How are you continuing to contribute to the world?

Suzanne O’Rourke: Thank you for the complement. 

It’s incremental to where we are and what we are doing, on a daily basis. I belong to D.A.R.- Daughters of the American Revolution because I love uncovering our personal histories wherever we go. I help others with this when I can. D.A.R. is a service type organization that always has projects I can help with, remotely. 

Homes of Digital NomadsHomes of Digital NomadsHomes of Digital NomadsHomes of Digital NomadsHomes of Digital Nomads

Some of Our homes - One thing they all had in common, they all needed TLC when we bought them, and we got our money back when we sold them.

We also put physical labor into causes, instead of money when we can. We can do this remotely through computer work like graphics, writing, project support, or onsite if the opportunity presents itself. 

The trip we are leading to Scotland and Ireland came out of my interest in genealogical treasure hunting. Last year, we spent 6 weeks in northern California rebuilding the trailer for a farm worker family we know. John does my folks’ online banking and accounting. He is the family Tech Support guy which again we can do from anywhere. I plan events for family and friends, because I like to make sure special times are not brushed by. Any financial donations are down to Nature and Animal causes. We participate in online campaigns for causes we feel strongly about. This again, we can support anywhere we have internet. 

We just try to pitch in when we see the need

REL: What is a secret fact about you?

Suzanne O’Rourke: You make me laugh with this question. 

 

 

 

I would say that we are brave, but we didn’t realize it until others told us so over the years. If we want to do something, or we have to face something, we just jump in and start making it happen. Having the courage to do something new, never crosses either of our minds. It’s just what needs to be done, and we start taking the necessary steps, together.

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

Suzanne O’Rourke: I see us fully out of our current work situation, possible building an off-grid house, or living internationally again. Or ideally, both. 

We would like to build a low-cost homestead that we can button up half the year while we go explore. Not sure the equation works on that, so we have decided if we have to choose between a permanent place and being nomadic, nomadic wins - hands down.

John installing a Solar Well pump system for an off grid house in Todos Santos, Mexico

John installing a Solar Well pump system for an off grid house in Todos Santos, Mexico

 

REL: What is your biggest splurge?

Suzanne O’Rourke: Extended Travel!  We don’t like being tourists, we like to immerse ourselves in a place until we are accepted as locals.

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

Suzanne O’Rourke: It’s a poem that we had in all our boats, campers, homes and always in our heart.

On an ancient wall in China, where a brooding Buddha blinks

Deeply graven is the message, “It is later than you think”

The clock of life is wound but once and no one has the power

To know just when the hands will stop at late or early hour.

Now is the all the time you own, the past a golden link.

Go cruising now my brother, it is later than you think.

…Anonymous

REL: Are you still chronicling your travels on your blog?

Suzanne O’Rourke: We suspended Itchy Nomads when John had the heart surgery but we intend to get back to it. So, if anyone wants to see what we have posted please visit www.itchynomads.com and if you would like to see more, please leave a comment on the site. It is a fun way to open doors and meet great people.

REL: What do you do for fun or entertainment? 

Suzanne O’Rourke: Since we moved back into our house a year ago we discovered streaming, bingeable TV series, so that has been new and fun. Who doesn’t enjoy a good story. We love to hike, bike and be outdoors. Hanging out with people never gets old. 

Suzanne teaching 3rd grade in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Suzanne teaching 3rd grade in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

REL: Where are you going next? 

Suzanne O’Rourke: We are going to the South Pacific. Specifically, the Society Islands of French Polynesia. It’s an experiment in Travel Hacking. The experiment is to see how little we can spend to fly there, explore different islands different ways, from a rented Airbnb room to a luxury over-the-water bungalow, using motorcycle, ferry, and inter-island planes over a period of 2 weeks. 

I think we can do it almost for free. We did Maui for 3 weeks, 3 separate experiences that way and it was a fun challenge.

Sounds like a blog series I might need to write.

Thank you, Suzanne and John, for taking the time to answer all of our questions, and for sharing your remarkable lifestyle of liberty with our Readers. We so appreciate it!

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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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