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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.
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.
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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