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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.

Update Interview with Randy and Lori Grant

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

The last time we interviewed Randy and Lori Grant was a few years back. They were still working as teachers in Japan and moving into their early retirement. Lots has changed! Now, with a few years of ER under their belts, it’s time to have an update interview!

Enjoy this amazing couple in our interview with them below:

Randy and Lori overlooking the Cinque Terra town of Vernazza in Italy

Randy and Lori overlooking the Cinque Terra town of Vernazza in Italy

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us how things have changed for you since you left your jobs and began to live the Early Retirement Lifestyle?

Randy and Lori Grant: Has it really been four years since we retired early?! It sure flew by in a flash! It’s been a whirlwind of fun and adventure along with many highs and lows. We have experienced so many wonderful memories and we’ve also discovered a lot about ourselves along the way.

REL: You have done quite a bit of travel in your retirement and we understand that you do some house sittting gigs. How has that worked out for you, and what advice would you give to others who want to try this approach to lodging? Is it 100% free housing or do you pay utilities or other costs? Have you found house sitting to be an integral part of your Early Retirement Lifestyle at this point?

RLG: House sitting has been a great way to save on lodging, which is our main expense, while also providing a valuable service to home owners. If we are staying at the home owner’s place as part of our lodging, we do not charge the home owners for caring for their house and/or pets. In turn, the home owners do not charge us for rent or utilities. For us, house sitting has helped us save, save, save. We get most of our house sitting gigs through word-of-mouth and we’d say that, on average, we’ve spent about half the year house sitting and the other half of the year traveling and renting places on our own.

Lori and Randy after hike up to Machu Picchu

Lori and Randy after hike up to Machu Picchu

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

RLG: We track our spending daily so our spreadsheets indicate that over the past four years of retirement, we have averaged spending just $70 a day, or approximately $25,000 per year. We are still too young for Medicare, so to cover our health, we self-insure unless we go on an expensive trip (trip insurance) or travel back to the U.S. where health costs are far more exorbitant. In those cases we purchase a separate, high deductible health plan that covers catastrophic health events.





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

RLG: Since early retirement we have become a little more conservative with our overall portfolio. Since we are not adding any new money, we are in a capital preservation allocation at this time.

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

RLG: We have a financial adviser that we meet with via Skype every three months. We discuss our current and future goals and determine if any changes need to be made to our portfolio’s asset allocation.

REL: Do you have a home base or own a home?

RLG: We do not have a home base. We always say, “home is where you hang your hat.” We make wherever we slow travel into a temporary home. It’s fun and never boring!

REL: Have you left much of your possessions in storage? Or did you chuck it all?

RLG: We have basically gotten rid of every single possession. No home, no car, no “things”. We do still have some photos and government paperwork left in a small storage box that we are in the process of digitizing. People are really surprised when they learn we don’t have any possessions and travel with only carry-on luggage.

REL: Do you own a vehicle?

RLG: We do not own a vehicle. It has been very freeing not to own one, or have the expenses that come along with it. We can only think of a handful of occasions where it might have been nice to have a car. However, there has always been an adequate public transportation system in every country we have visited. Plus, walking as a form of transportation has kept us in tip top shape.

REL: What are your greatest passions in life?

RLG: Our greatest passions are to travel as much as we can and learn about a plethora of different cultures. We want to be in our rocking chairs decades from now saying to each other, “Wow! We can’t believe we did that!” as opposed to saying regretfully, “We sure wish we’d done that.”

REL: Since we don't know anything about planning for "empty nest syndrome", maybe you could share with our Readers how you prepared yourselves and your son for moving forward into the future. We know your son was already used to an international lifestyle, still it had to have been a big step. What did you do to strengthen your son and yourselves? How did you deal with it? What would you have done differently? What advice do you have for other parents looking towards retirement who have children leaving home? 

Randy and son, Chase, looking at Mt. Everest in Nepal

Randy and son, Chase, looking at Mt. Everest in Nepal

RLG: We have lived overseas since our son was 5 (he is now 25). We knew the experience he would get living in Japan would shape who he is today. We traveled a lot when he was young to places like Thailand, China, and Australia. We wanted him to experience different cultures and appreciate their way of life. In our opinion, he is a much more well-rounded, open-minded and compassionate man today because of the indelible mark travel left on him.

RLG: We also taught Chase how to be independent by sending him to sleep away summer camps and allowing him to travel solo when it was age appropriate. We let our son see how our finances worked and talked about money and saving with him often. We taught him about investing and the magical power of compounded interest. He must have listened because he is already off to a great start investing in his own future early retirement.

RLG: Dropping Chase off at university was a really bittersweet time for us as parents. I was kind of proud that I really held it together during the transition of moving him into his new dorm at college. That is…until we had to leave the States to fly back to Japan for another year of teaching. As soon as the plane lifted off, I began sobbing.

RLG: I was trying to be really discreet, just staring out the window while the tears poured and my throat ached. Randy, having no idea I was so upset, patted my leg and said jokingly, “Well, it’s just you and me now, huh?” I turned my head to look at him with my mascara running in black rivulets down my cheeks and his expression changed from one of humor to horror. He quickly asked, “Are you crying because it’s just you and me now?” I immediately started laughing through my tears and reassured him with a hug that I was just overcome with the sadness of leaving my baby boy behind in the big, wide world. It was a sweet moment that we like to remember together even today.

RLG: My advice to parents facing the empty nest? It gets better. I found a new normal and my relationship with Randy was enhanced as we became a team of two.

Randy and Lori releasing their lantern at the annual Loi Krathong festival, Thailand

Randy and Lori releasing their lantern at the annual Loi Krathong festival, Thailand

REL: How do you contribute to the world?  

RLG: We understand how fortunate we are and always try to help others when we can. Whether it is through charitable giving or volunteering, there are always ways to give to others in need.

RLG: I kind of think of myself as an empath and every now and again I will meet someone who just needs some compassion, a smile, or my time and attention. I call these my special “appointments”. Here’s an example of one such occasion. I was riding the bus through town in Ajijic, Mexico and happened to sit next to an older, somewhat frail-looking expat lady. I said hello and she quietly returned the greeting. We didn’t say anything else for a bit. I could tell that she was sad or tired or in distress of some kind, but didn’t feel it was my place to pry. So, I just smiled at her and made some friendly comment about the weather.

RLG: Before I knew it, she was talking about just receiving an upsetting cancer diagnosis from her doctor and how lonely and worried she felt. I listened to all that she had to say, while in my mind I sent her all the good vibrations I could muster. I keenly felt her fear, her sadness, and her heaviness as she recounted all she’d recently been through.

RLG: In the meantime, my bus stop had come and gone but I stayed sitting right next to her until I felt her spirit lift a little. I softly patted her shoulder and reassured her that all would be well (I felt that in my gut).  Finally, it was time for me to get off the bus. When I did, I happened to look back up at the window where she and I were sitting and found her smiling down at me. I waved and she did as well. As I walked back toward home, I looked up to the universe and felt such gratitude that I had been in that bus at that exact moment. It was a divine appointment and I always treasure these fleeting meetings when they come along.

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

RLG: Randy’s challenge is to trust in the process of early retirement. Sometimes he doubts that he did the right thing. It can even keep him up at night so I try to check in with him if he’s extra quiet or looks as if he’s in deep, troubled thought.

RLG: As for me, getting through a bout of major depression not long after our early retirement began was by far the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. It was a very dark time as I navigated my new normal, without the identity of teaching to ground me any longer. I also missed having colleagues and not having enough to do to fill my days left me alone with my thoughts, which became very destructive. With some time, therapy, and medication, I slowly started to feel like my happy self again. I also learned that I need some kind of structure to my week. Too many consecutive days with nothing at all planned and I become really anxious. I’ve learned to have at least one physical activity planned per day such as walking to run my errands or attending a tai chi or Zumba dance class to keep myself more balanced, both physically and emotionally.

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

RLG: Those “pinch me moments”, while fleeting, are the feelings I treasure the most in our lifestyle. Sitting on a hillside next to a gentle llama overlooking ancient Machu Picchu or sipping spiced wine and nibbling warm apple strudel on a chilly autumn day in a historically picturesque European town are two small examples of many such moments where I really stopped to just take it all in. I can vividly remember the immense gratitude and the complete contentment I felt.

RLG: I never experienced that tingle along my spine very often when I was working full time, struggling to get ahead, paying bills, running endless errands, and always waiting for Fridays in order to finally feel a little less stressed out. Now, every day is like a Friday at quitting time! It’s simply amazing and something we never take for granted.

Llama and Lori near Machu Picchu

Llama and Lori near Machu Picchu

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

RLG: We know first hand that it is very unconventional to go against the norm of working until a ripe old age. Before we made the decision to choose this lifestyle, we were inundated with people telling us not to do it or questioning our decision with a fair amount of judgment in their tone. However, we stayed true to our inner compass - and kept our vision of how we wanted our life to look - firmly at the forefront of all we said and did. We believe that if you have the ability to retire early, then DO. We always say, “life is not a dress rehearsal.” You and I don’t get another chance to do it another way at the end of all this. This is the life we make. Here, at this very moment. So, what are you waiting for?

REL: What is a secret fact about you?

RLG: People can’t believe that Randy is really an introvert and wasn’t born for this lifestyle. It takes a lot for him to get outside his “comfort zone” and take risks. Now, wherever we travel, he is always found talking to new people and engaging enthusiastically with the local cultures. I look at him sometimes and wonder, “Who is this chatty guy?” Haha!

RLG: As for something not too many people know about me? Well, I was always a pretty frugal gal. Case in point, is a story about planning our wedding over 25 years ago. Randy and I were newly engaged, he was still in college, and I was a Mississippi school teacher. Needless to say, we were barely making ends meet financially. So, we wanted to cut corners wherever we could as far as paying for a wedding and reception.

RLG: It just so happened that I had been engaged to “Mr. Wrong” several years before ever meeting Randy. Thankfully, that engagement dissolved a few months before the wedding but I’d already purchased my wedding gown. After the break up, I shoved it in the farthest corner of my closet and went on with my life.

RLG: Along comes Randy, it’s love at first sight, and when our plans moved toward marriage, I showed him my almost-used wedding gown from my previous engagement. I was planning to sell it to make a little money toward the purchase of a different wedding gown. However, after we discussed it, he encouraged me to wear the original dress rather than sell it. We both knew a new gown would be a big expense and I had no emotional aversion to wearing it (it was gorgeous!) so that’s exactly what I did. I wore a wedding dress meant for a completely different life during my dream wedding to Randy. How lucky am I?

Randy and Lori in traditional attire in Peru

Randy and Lori in traditional attire in Peru

REL: What are you looking forward to?

RLG: We will be traveling through Eastern Europe (Baltic States) this fall/winter. We haven’t explored much of this region and can’t wait to see it up close. We are very excited to see our son again too. Chase will be meeting us in Europe and we will get to travel together as a family for a couple of weeks. Finally we are really anticipating enjoying the crisp, cool weather of autumn. Most places we slow travel, due to economic reasons, have much warmer climates than we really enjoy. So, we plan to relish every single day of “hot chocolate weather” that we get while we’re in Europe.





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

RLG: I think we believed that we would lead a completely stress free life once we retired. Surprisingly, this is not the case at all. Stress simply manifested itself in different ways than when we were working. Managing our health care while on the go, the anxiety and irritations of hectic travel days, setting up a temporary home in a new country, and constantly saying hello-then-goodbye to new friends we meet along the way always present challenges in this more transient lifestyle. That being said, our overall stress level now, compared to when we were working full time, is approximately 80% lower. Not too shabby!

REL: What is your biggest splurge?

RLG: We have traveled to some really amazing, out-of-the-way places and met some outstanding people. Randy trekked to Mt. Everest Base Camp in Nepal with our son, Chase. On one of our repositioning cruises, we met Dr. Henry Oster, a Holocaust survivor. Last October we hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We’ll also be splurging on a safari in Africa at some point in the future. Experiences over things is the cornerstone of 99% of all our splurges.

Randy and Dr. Henry Oster

Randy and Dr. Henry Oster

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

RLG: A quote by Mary Ann Radmacher really resonates with us… “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world”. It really encapsulates that feeling we get when we’re standing someplace completely new, with the little hairs on the backs of our necks standing on end from the pure joy of being alive at this place, watching the moon shine.

REL: What do you do for fun or entertainment?

RLG: Living in Ajijic, Mexico has provided a lot of physical activities for Randy who likes to be active. He is involved in the hiking club, pickleball, golf and softball. I enjoy yoga, meditation, swimming, and walking. We also like to get involved in the local culture and try new experiences in every country we visit. I auditioned for a part in a community theater production and happily got selected for a role. Being part of a cast on stage has been one of the highlights of my time here in Mexico.

REL: Where are you going next?

RLG: We will be traveling and house sitting through eastern Europe (Baltic States) for the fall and winter. We also plan to hike the El Camino de Santiago in the fall of 2019. Lots to look forward to, that’s for sure!

We at Retire Early Lifestyle would like to thank Randy and Lori for the time it took to answer our questions, and for sharing with us their zest for life and their wonder-filled stories.

For more stories of Early Retirees and Captivating Characters, click here


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, 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

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