Meet Billy and Akaisha, Who FIRE’d 30 years ago!  Part 2

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Continuing from where we left off last week, let’s find out from Billy and Akaisha about their housing situation and healthcare:

9)  You mentioned on your blog that when you’re not travelling, you’re home basing it at your “manufactured home.” What is that and how is it different from a house or condo?

RetireEarlyLifestyle:  A manufactured home is often located in Master Planned Communities, or Active Adult Resorts. While one can purchase the land on which this home is placed, we choose instead to simply pay “Lifestyle Fees” and rent the land. Also, since our particular manufactured home is taxed through the Department of Motor Vehicles as compared to a normal home, our yearly property taxes are ridiculously cheap. We recommend that if you would like to know more, you read our Worry-Free Housing piece.

Currently, however, we are living in our adopted home town of Chapala, Mexico, where we have a chic apartment for $300.00 USD per month and travel using the Guadalajara, Mexico international airport which is only 30 minutes from our place.

10) What are some of your favorite places to visit around the world?

RetireEarlyLifestyle:  We have so many!

We loved living in Thailand and eating the Thai street food as well as surfing Phuket. In Vietnam we traveled both North and South and loved their French influenced Vietnamese Cuisine. Between the two, we ran around the Pacific Rim for about 7-8 years.

Guatemala is another beautiful, enchanting country and we lived in both Antigua and on the shores of majestic Lake Atitlan in Panajachel. We lived there about 6 years.

Mexico offers a tremendous variety whether one enjoys cities, villages, beaches or mountains. We traveled all through Mexico regularly during the pandemic taking advantage of empty hotels at bargain basement prices and have lived here off and on since 1993.

We also enjoyed Ecuador, and Colombia and hope to return to Italy, Greece and Sicily next spring.

11) What’s your favorite piece of travel gear?

RetireEarlyLifestyle: Over all these years we still carry a 1-liter enamel pot, an immersible heating coil and 2 very lightweight unbreakable coffee cups. In our enamel pot we can boil water for coffee, soup or heat up canned stew or make hard boiled eggs. Our coffee cups serve as bowls for soup or chili, as our happy hour glasses and of course for our morning coffee. We learned years ago the benefit of eating one meal a day in our hotel room.

Most everything we carry is multi-purpose.  

12) I know you get this question a lot, but many of our readers are American so they’re going to want to know: What did you do for health care?

RetireEarlyLifestyle:  In the early days, we had a US-based catastrophic high deductible health care plan.

But this was not new for us, as having been self-employed we paid for our own health care insurance. We did not receive employer-supplied insurance until Billy worked for Dean Witter.

At some point in our retired life, we realized that we were living more time overseas, and were paying thousands of dollars a year for a plan we never used. At that time, we decided to Go Naked and pay out-of-pocket for medical care. We did this long before Medical Tourism was popular. In the travel community this is the name one uses when they don’t have a conventional health insurance policy.

We have found access to health care in foreign countries to be affordable and easy.

These days we qualify for Medicare – however, we still choose to get care locally and pay out-of-pocket.

13) What was the most expensive health-related cost you’ve ever had during your 30 years of retirement?

RetireEarlyLifestyle:  Decades ago, on one of our visits back to the States we had an unexpected event happen and we utilized our catastrophic, high-deductible insurance plan. That plan had a $10,000 deductible, and an 80-20 co-pay. Some things were not covered, and there was a three-day stay in the hospital.

Our part of the total bill came to over $14,000USD.

As a comparison, in 2012 Akaisha de-gloved her finger while we were living in Antigua, Guatemala. Hospital care, 11 appointments with a surgeon, various operations, 10 hyperbaric chamber visits, a private driver, all medications, x-rays, and bandages came to a total of $3,000 USD.

14) Your expenses were $20,000 USD/year for the 2 of you back in 1991. Now, according to your blog, it’s $30,000 USD/year. That means your yearly inflation rate was less than the prescribed 2%/year. How did you manage to beat inflation?

RetireEarlyLifestyle:  Basically, we live a very happy minimalist lifestyle.

The cost of living in Arizona where our manufactured home is located is one of the cheapest places we have ever lived. Much of what we need (restaurants, groceries, entertainment) is within walking distance.

We don’t have high property taxes or expensive house insurance. We “went naked” of health insurance decades ago and we haven’t owned a car for nearing 20 years now. We walk, bike, or take local transport.

Since we do so much travel, our needs are nominal – if you want it, you carry it – so our wardrobe is functional, not always the latest fashion.

We utilized Geo-Arbitrage almost from the very beginning (before that word was coined) and our exercise and sports requirements are very affordable (hiking, biking, tennis, yoga, reading, taking digital photos, writing on our blog, studying indigenous cultures and food, cooking our own meals, enjoying each other’s company, etc.).

When one’s needs are minimal – without sacrifice – inflation isn’t much of a problem.

15) Any words of wisdom for anyone thinking about early retirement?

RetireEarlyLifestyle:  Early Retirement is not for everyone. Some enjoy a scheduled routine and a conventional life or events planned out long in advance. They might want a large garden, pets, and several cars, motorcycles and perhaps a boat, jet skis, and a summer cabin. These people would choose “security” over risk management and would probably not be a seeker of FIRE.

To be a candidate for FIRE, one must know how to entertain themselves and be self-starting, perhaps enjoy a sense of adventure, be creative and be comfortable with calculated risk.

We would definitely recommend making a list of all the things one wants to do with their newly-found time and freedom. This list would include everything one might want to learn (languages, painting, cooking, learning a musical instrument, carpentry), places to go and visit, and any passion projects one might pursue (volunteer work, writing a book, teaching a class, developing an app, etc.) When there comes a day where you might doubt your decision to FIRE, you have this list to look to in order to remind yourself why you wanted that free time.

All of that being said, FIRE is everything we ever wanted and more. We love choosing where to go, what to do, and be on our own timetable. We love not being owned by debt or needing a paycheck and we love being able to choose where we want to live – and come and go when we’d like.

It’s FREEDOM!

We are unencumbered, live a simple life and more times than not, we think outside the box. Conventional society seems to be challenged by our ideas.

If that kind of life appeals to you, then you probably would be successful as a FIRE-ee.

In summary

We could never have lived the life we had, visited the countries, met the interesting people on our path, helped with End of Life Care for our parents, done the volunteer work or had the opportunities offered to us had we continued to live a traditional lifestyle.

There is nothing wrong with that style of living, it’s just that it wasn’t for us.

Thinking unconventionally gave us answers to common problems and allowed us to live an intentional lifestyle of our own choosing. It’s been a very creative path with commensurate rewards.

We are living our best lives and feel deep gratitude and satisfaction for this.


Thanks, Billy and Akaisha! You are truly inspirational and looking at your lives is like looking into the future!

To learn more about their 30 year early retirement journey, check out their blog: RetireEarlyLifestyle.com


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27 thoughts on “Meet Billy and Akaisha, Who FIRE’d 30 years ago!  Part 2”

  1. I agree that FIRE isn’t for everyone. Most people are better off living a regular lifestyle. But if it’s the right fit and you can pull it off, it’s awesome.

    1. not to point out the obvious, but – the regular lifestyle has only provided people that are living paycheck to paycheck.

      I’m not sure I agree with your comment. Let’s remove FI or RE – being financially responsible is really the underlying message here. You configure it the way you want.

      Steve (NWOutlier)

  2. This was such a relatable and real interview. I really love reading their responses. I especially enjoyed this response:

    11) What’s your favorite piece of travel gear?

    RetireEarlyLifestyle: Over all these years we still carry a 1-liter enamel pot, an immersible heating coil and 2 very lightweight unbreakable coffee cups. In our enamel pot we can boil water for coffee, soup or heat up canned stew or make hard boiled eggs. Our coffee cups serve as bowls for soup or chili, as our happy hour glasses and of course for our morning coffee. We learned years ago the benefit of eating one meal a day in our hotel room.

    Most everything we carry is multi-purpose.

    My mom and I recently went to Vegas for a few days and she brought a water kettle and rice cooker. LOL. So, their response is so relatable.

    Kristy, do you guys carry any kitchenware?

  3. The 1-liter enamel pot: is it simply a pot or does it plug in and heat up like a rice cooker? If not, is there a plug-in version out there somewhere?

    Thanks!

    Dan V
    Taipei, Taiwan

        1. As an Uruguayan who has a mate always at hand, these heating coils are part of our daily life since we’re born. Can’t live without them. So practical !

          1. I used to use them a million years ago as a student to make instant coffee!

            ¡Saludos desde Taipei, Taiwan!

            Dan V

  4. I keep coming back to this interview and rereading it. The manufactured home idea is super intriguing because my girlfriend and I spend so much time out of the United States. Not having a permanent (super inexpensive) home base has been a bit of a challenge.

    1. Not necessarily. Arguments can be made that many cases of cancer are of a type and/or stage where treatment is futile no matter the cost. So the alternative would be to die without spending all that money. Still a roll of the dice though.

  5. “At that time, we decided to Go Naked and pay out-of-pocket for medical care.”

    This is the most important takeaway from this entire interview.

    And that’s quite scary.

    One catastrophic medical issue (e.g., cancer, which 40% of the population would get at one point or another!) can wipe you out financially completely. Talk about rolling the dice.

      1. there the Americans again. If you’re in the US – the WORST places in the world for many things – healthcare included, then NEVER is the right answer. Pretty much everywhere else in the world things are more decent and fair and they don’t see you ONLY as a giant $100 bill like in the United $tates of America

        1. I’m Canadian, not American. You “assume” much but don’t actually “know” much.

          When I travel abroad, I have travel insurance. If I were to reside somewhere else permanently, I would pay for healthcare if it is required.

          Only a fool is so cheap to skimp on their health. You only have one body. You should take care of it.

          Why ever would I derail my retirement because I was too cheap to pay for a healthcare premium? Totally preventable issue.

          Measure twice. Cut once. A well prepared retirement = peace of mind.

          1. wow…for a canadian you should be smarter Dave. I’m sorry…I’m not wasting my time explaining things for someone who doesn’t want to learn. Come here to Ireland and I’ll explain to you with real examples

          2. Not having health insurance doesn’t mean “skimping” on health. Most illnesses are lifestyle-related. If one chooses to eat clean and exercise regularly, minimal insurance coverage can certainly be adequate if one has no preexisting conditions. Also, as other posters have written and as the interviewees said in the article, medical procedures that could ruin you financially in the U.S. are reasonably priced in many other parts of the world. Finally, these two have successfully been retired for thirty years, so for you to call out their method as “stupid” is, well, stupid…it has served them well for decades.

  6. Wow…reading these two posts I realized I don’t want to FIRE anymore. Too risky, lack of regular schedule and routine, entertain myself? I can barely tolerate me. Be with my family all day long when I can barely stand the weekends? No, thanks

  7. oh my Gosh I had no idea how much investing sucks! I don’t ever wanna go thru this market lows again. I’ll simply acknowledge that and keep everything in cash/CDs.
    I thought I could tolerate 70% in stocks and ride the ups and downs but I can’t. I value too much my money to let the market take it without working for it.
    Bye bye FIRE plans. Hope you guys can stay the course cuz I’m bailing.

    1. A 60/40 or 70/30 or even an 80/20 portfolio is fine, so long as you can generate an income from it through dividends/interest payments. My dividend payouts haven’t changed regardless of market swings. They easily cover my expenses. Why would I cash out? At one point, when markets are majorly down, take a portion of the fixed income component of your portfolio and buy equities and wait for markets to rebound. This isn’t rocket science.

      Did you cut your FIRE number too fine that you say these things?

      1. Dave, don’t you have anything better to do than spamming all the posts? What a silly “know it all” man ! I wasn’t talking to you

    2. Yeah, that’s a tough market. Sorry to hear you are bailing out and abandoning your FIRE plan.

      We are probably close to a bottom right now. Stocks and bonds are much more attractive than they were since a very long time. It will probably end up being one of the best opportunity to buy when we look back a couple of years from now.

      But we shall see. Maybe you are right and I am wrong. Nobody knows the future…

    3. it does take a couple downs to gain the strength to power through. but if you invested 50k and it is 100-150k – and it drops by 30% – 40% you’re still up.

      my account is down from its highs, but it is no where close to my out of pocket investment.

      1. I have no problems at all with stocks going down…it’s a sure thing..what made me bail is the bonds. I’m 60% bonds and that alone was down 35% ytd which is not common. Bonds are supposed to help and stabilize your portfolio but they are doing way worse than stocks and that is not sure to recover as stocks are.

        1. Again, sorry to hear about your losses.

          I agree, bonds were a very bad investment in 2020 and 2021. With yield close to zero and the possibility of rising interest rates, they were almost a guaranteed way to lose money. And this effectively pan out in 2022 in a pretty bad way.

          Today, they are a pretty good investment, yielding nearly 4% per year. You still have price risk if interest rate continue to go higher, but I would be surprised if they increase by another +4% (ie. interest rates going up to 8%).

          If I were you, I would stick to your original plan. 60% bonds / 40% stocks. Or maybe 20% cash / 40% bonds / 40% stocks.

          Going all cash is an interesting idea right now with yield around 3%-4%. You can stay in that position for a couple of months while you read about investing, improve your knowledge and try to learn from your mistakes.

          The only problem with cash is that interest rates could go down again (let say to 2% for example). If that happen, stocks and bonds will literally explode (to the upside) and you could miss out on substantial gains while earning a meager return of only 2%…

          Anyway, that’s for you. Do what you feel is best for you with the information that you have. But do not let the market define your life. Set your goals and stick to them no matter what (as long as they are good plans!). 🙂

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