The Key to Early Retirement: Flexibility

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“Japan is SO expensive. All the hotels are over $250/night and I haven’t even added in taxis, food, or tour packages,” Lilly complained. “I have no idea how you manage to travel so much. It’s crazy expensive!”

“What about this one?” I said, pointing at a pristine, modern looking hotel with a reasonable price tag of $85/night. “It’s got a 4.5/5 rating from 200 guests and looks really nice.”

She wrinkled her nose. “3 stars?! I only look at 4-stars and up.”

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. “Okay. Then can you take the subway instead? Taxis cost over $100 for a short 30 min ride. For that, you could ride the subway for the entire week!”

“Subway? That’s going to be a hassle and really confusing. I don’t want to get lost.”

Deep breath. In and out. In and out. “Okkkkayy. How about instead of taking a tour, you visit the attractions on your own? They’re all near a subway station, so it’s really easy to just get there yourself and look around.”

“I dunno. I like tours because they figure everything out for you. It’s so convenient.”

And so I threw in the towel. As it turns out, travel planning with your friends is REALLY hard. Instead of a joint trip, we decided we would go first to Japan, and then just meet up with Lilly if her tour happens to cross paths with us.

As it turns out, that never happened.

Even though we did end up in the same city at the same time (TWICE!), we never did meet up with her, because her tour schedule was packaged so tight, she never got any free time to go off on her own.

We were prepared to empty our wallets in Japan, but as it turns out, even with the Canadian dollar in the crapper, we still only spent $68CAD/person/day (that’s only $53US/person/day!).

And that’s including splurges like:

Fancy Kobe beef dinner ($125 CAD for 2)

img_0955 img_0957

The Robot Restaurant (Best show I’ve ever seen in my life!): $150CAD for 2


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Eating out every day…half of our meals were sushi.





Playing with owls



Flight from Toronto to Tokyo, and additional flights and trains from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka.


Lilly on the hand, managed to rack up $350/day just for 1 person.

And the funny thing is she didn’t even enjoy herself! Most of her time was either spent on a bus, rushing from place to place, or being ushered off to touristy places with mediocre food, or to a market to shop.

She had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned the robot restaurant, kobe beef, the owl cafe, or the best ramen in the world. Most of her time was spent sleeping on a tour bus or train, travelling to the attraction, and then only being allowed 30mins to look around.

Which just goes to prove that paying more doesn’t always mean a better experience. If you’re inflexible like Lilly, you’re forced to spend more, but not necessarily for more enjoyment.

And when it comes to financial independence and early retirement, the same rules apply.

The less flexible you are the longer you have to work.

This is why people say you can’t travel the world for less than $100k/year and you can’t retire on $1 Million. These are the very people who CHOOSE to work an extra 30-40 years because they have needs way beyond the average person.

And they are right. If you’re inflexible, you can’t retire early.

If you:

• Must have an expensive car
• Must buy an expensive house
• Must live in an expensive city
• Must stay in 4 star hotels when on vacation.
• Must take cabs everywhere
• Must have the latest gadget, fashion, purse, etc

Then no, you can’t retire with a $1 Million. Hell, you probably can’t even retire with $2 Million. You will be working A LONG time. And if that’s the trade off you’re willing to make, that’s your prerogative.

BUT… if you’re flexible, $1 Million is probably WAY too much. Heck, I know couples who’ve travelled the world for $28K and retired in Vietnam with a $250K portfolio.

But so what, you say. That’s only because they’re retiring in a 3rd world country right?


Did you know that the average RETIREE Canadian household income is $42K/year? That’s the AVERAGE. Not the lowest.

So in that case, our $40K/year retirement income is actually not low at all, but quite average, statistically speaking. And we are able to travel THE WORLD on this income, including expensive countries like UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan.

During this time, we didn’t stay in any hostels or take any cheap, dangerous, overnight buses. We travelled around on comfortable trains and flights, stayed in mid-range hotels or AirBnBs, and splurged a lot on food and attractions.

By travel hacking flights, using AirBnb, taking subways instead of cabs, balancing cooking with eating out, we never felt deprived at all.

Because we are flexible, we need a much smaller portfolio than other people, like Lilly, who will need to work another 30-40 years to build a multi-million portfolio to support the 4 star hotels, the cab rides, and the organized tours.

The less flexible you are, the bigger the portfolio you will need to retire.

So to figure out how long you have to work for, I’ve broken retirement into 3 different types, based on flexibility.

The Backpacker Retirement Plan


  • You are extremely flexible
  • You are willing to stay in hostels, shared rooms, and rooms with no air conditioning,
  • You are willing to take long bus rides to save money.
  • You are willing to travel hack, cook, and give up some comfort to save money.
  • You are willing to clean, teach English, or house-sit for free accommodations
  • You are willing to live in Southeast Asia for a significant part of the year

With this retirement plan, because of your extreme flexibility, you can retire on a $250K-$500K portfolio.

Assuming you have a combined family income of $100K (before tax) and have a savings rate of 50%, you can retire in 5-10 years based on a conservative 6% market return.

The Flash-packer Retirement Plan


  • You are quite flexible
  • You are willing to forgo 4-star hotels for mid-range 3-star hotels and AirBnBs.
  • You are willing to spend time travel hacking to save on flights.
  • You like eating out, but are willing to cook occasionally to save money
  • You are willing to forgo cab rides for public transit.
  • You are willing to live in Southeast Asia for part of the year or move to an inexpensive North American city.

With this retirement plan, because you are quite flexible but want to splurge every now and then, and have needs similar to the average North American retiree, you can retire on a $600K – $1 Million Portfolio.

With a combined family income of $100K (before tax) and a saving rate of 50%, you can retire in 10-15 years (we did it in 9 years–slightly faster due to our higher savings rate).

 The Kanye West Retirement Plan

kanye west
Photo credit: AlinBoss12 @ Wikipedia
  •  You want it all…the 4 star hotel, the cab rides, the fancy restaurants, etc
  • You must live in an expensive city
  • You must buy or rent an expensive house
  • You must own an expensive car
  •  You must buy expensive things

Since you are completely inflexible, you will need a HUGE portfolio to retire. $2 Million will barely cut it. You will likely need at least $3 Million – $4 Million to live what you consider a comfortable lifestyle.

Even if you make significantly over $100K per year, you are looking at at least 30-50 years before you can retire. But in reality, more likely you will NEVER retire because you’ll never be able to control your costs or save money.

So there you have it. Whether you’re on the Backpacker, Flash-packer, or Kanye West retirement plan depends on your flexibility.

The less flexible you are, the longer you have to work.

And the corollary to that:

If you are completely inflexible, you will NEVER be able to stop working.

So tell me, what type of retirement plan is yours?

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66 thoughts on “The Key to Early Retirement: Flexibility”

  1. I loved this article. I never thought of it that way, but you are absolutely right. Flexibility is key. If you can roll with the punches, you can really make any amount of money work out, most likely.

    And that’s a great point about the average retirement income. I didn’t even think about it that way, but most people are living on about the same retirement income as you are making now. And you still have 30 more years you could pick up a job, if you wanted to.

    40k a year from your portfolio, plus figure out a way to make an extra 10k or 20k a year if you wanted to, and suddenly, you’re living a baller retirement. You could go with that Kanye retirement if you wanted to! 🙂

    1. yeah, people think they need SO much money to retire…and that’s only because the banks trick them into thinking they need to replace their salary. That is ridiculous. The average retiree family in Canada is living off 42K/year and they are just fine.

  2. Nice post! Despite its reputation there is absolutely no reason why Japan has to be expensive. I’ve been there many times and know the truth of it. It’s the traveler that’s expensive!

    Also, I was amazed at the statistic you cited – $42 CAD/yr is the average Canadian retiree income.

    After exchange rates, I’ve already blown past that with dividend income alone!

    That said, I’m probably closer to your “Flash-Packer” retirement plan than any of the others.

    1. Yeah, that surprised me too. Especially since it’s the AVERAGE. I think everyone forgets how much your costs go down once you retire. You no longer have to pay for daily transportation, daily eating out, business clothing, dry cleaning, etc.

  3. I completely agree with this, but I’m also of the view that if for some reason unknown to me you love infinity-starred hotels at ridiculous dollars per night, it’s not necessarily stupid to go enjoy those as long as you accept and understand what it means to your personal economy.

    1. Yup, that’s why I said if you choose to work longer to support that lifestyle, it’s your prerogative…but doesn’t mean other people can’t do it on less. It all depends on that person’s flexibility.

      1. Very fair response. I have become somewhat reactionary to a certain blogger who makes a crapload of money off his blog and then sneers at everyone for not living like paupers. You guys are not that blog.

        1. To be fair, he doesn’t sneer. He actually threatens to punch them in the face. Now THAT’s commitment.

          Seriously though, I don’t think MMM’s like that in real life. He tends to write like that to create a persona for the blog. Judging by how well he’s doing, I’d say it’s working out pretty well 🙂

          Anyway, you don’t have to agree with EVERYTHING he says. Just pick and choose what makes sense to you. I don’t agree with everything he says but he’s still my hero because he showed us all what’s possible.

  4. Great article as always. And that kobe beef looks awesome!
    I also like the retirement categories. But if someone goes for the backpacker package, they shouldn’t forget that once they’ll be 70+ and then health related expenses might be much higher than some of those exotic trips. The flash-packer plan looks like a safer option.

    1. Ahh, but if they go for the backpacker package, they are flexible enough to move to Southeast Asia or Mexico, and those places have good quality health care at dirt cheap prices (when I was in Thailand, I found a lot of doctors who were trained in Boston. And to see the doctor was only $12/visit!)

  5. First, can we pick your brain a bit on good places to eat in Tokyo? We’re visiting in late December/January for the first time. 🙂 Travel hacked our way to flights, of course (something like $90 per person) and we’re going with our partners in crime, who also travel hack, so the four of us are sharing big AirBNBs when paying cash, with some separate travel hacked hotels in between to keep our sanity. 🙂

    Totally agree on the flexibility being the key to early retirement. Flexibility means having more choices! We can easily splurge and go the Kayne route for a day or three if we want on vacation, and often do. But then we can dial it down and travel like college students, too. Best of both worlds, baby.

    1. Wow! Nice job on the travel hacking and the AirBnB! And you are definitely right about dialing it up or down for the best of both worlds.

      For food in Japan, I HIGHLY recommend the following:

      1) Ichiran (
      This franchise makes, hands-down, THE BEST RAMEN in the world. Seriously. They only make 1 thing and they make it INSANELY well. Best of all, you get to customize the oil, garlic, and richness. And only costs $7USD/bowl.

      2) Uobei sushi. This is an awesome conveyor belt sushi restaurant where each plate starts at only $1 USD. Very popular with locals. Be prepared for a long wait on weekends though.

      3) Get a Chirashi bowl (rice + fresh sashimi, salmon roe, sea urchin, etc) from either “Ameyayokocho Market” or “Tsukiji Fish Market”. The first one is more local and better value and 2nd is more touristy. Both are good places.

      4) The kobe beef place we went to in Osaka is called “Tsurugyu”. Most expensive meal of our trip but totally worth it!

      5) Try the Soba noodles at the train stations restaurants. They are AMAZING..and only $5-6USD/bowl.

      1. >5) Try the Soba noodles at the train stations restaurants. They are AMAZING..and only $5-6USD/bowl.

        We’ve had some pretty awesome food in subway stations in Mexico City. Things like 5/$1 tacos (including a soda). Or $2 Chinese food. It’s like regular street food on steroids. I think it’s the massive quantity of pedestrian traffic that drives up sales volumes, leading to fresher product with higher turnover and allows smaller profit margin per item served to still make a living.


  6. ”$40K/year retirement income is actually not low at all, but quite average, statistically speaking. And we are able to travel THE WORLD on this income, including expensive countries like UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan.”

    — you travel the world on C$110 a day? Show me. Day by day.

    Calling Beardstown Ladies on this.

      1. Why you no share data— is sad.

        You are all about the numbers— show us. Until then, you are just making this stuff up out of thin air. Surely as keen a data geek as you has trailing 12 months of expenses available for upload…or are you living in Beardstown?

        1. I have no idea what “Beardstown” is 😛

          And I do agree that showing the numbers would be helpful, but copying and pasting a bunch of spreadsheets into a comment field is NOT readable. I already break down the numbers day by day in my “Let’s go Exploring Series” (, but I’ll write a more detailed post showing the bigger picture of what we spent month-to-month in a future post.

          But generally, our monthly cost averaged out to be North America $3175/month (we spent 2 months there), Europe $4390/month (3 months), Japan $4216 (1 month), and Southeast Asia $2580 (6 months). So $3175*2 + $4390*3 + $4216 + $2580*6= $39216. Add in $875 for trip insurance, you get $40,091/year.

  7. I’ve explained this concept before on an online ER forum where many of the vocal posters have USD$2, 3, or 5 million and consider that level a bare minimum for eking out a minimalist existence.

    To them, it’s a foreign concept to divert from the tour bus and venture out on independent travel. I’ve seen statements like “yeah but it’s impossible to get by anywhere that doesn’t speak English as a first language so I stick with English speaking countries like UK and Australia”. Because it’s impossible to use google translate and learn how to say please, thank you, bathroom, beer, and count to 10 in a few different languages.

    Things like spending $10-15k (plus some credit card travel hacking) for a summer in Europe are completely foreign (“I like 5 star hotels and won’t travel in less than BusinessPlus class, so $10k won’t even get us to and from Europe, let alone allow us to stay in a hotel or eat anything”). WTF. I shrug my shoulders and move on to booking my own life. 🙂

    1. “yeah but it’s impossible to get by anywhere that doesn’t speak English as a first language so I stick with English speaking countries like UK and Australia”

      HA HA HA. That’s hilarious. I’ve spoken English in Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Greece, Prague, Germany, and Hungary. Never had a problem. Sure, you’ll encounter some people who won’t understand you, but just use hand gestures and you’re fine. Also, Google translate! DUH.

      It’s hard to judge whether you’ll have a problem communicating unless you actually GO there. Travel is big business…so more and more places are catering to English speakers.

      1. I know about 20 words in Mandarin, and have no problems in Taiwan, there are so many young students wanting to speak english to you, I was accosted everywhere I went with “Do you speak english” ” How is weather in Canada”

        Mexico, the same 5 words of spanish, (none really, I learned as I went) Its a challenge.

        In Taiwan, all traffic signs are in english, I had no problem driving.. Just dont’ drive in Taipai, take a cab.


  8. YES YES YES!!! Love this article.

    Too often I have friends that look down at my original travel plans thinking that I am slumming it. They have the very same arguments that they could never travel like I do because it doesn’t meet their standards.

    A perfect example is when my wife and I went on an Alaskan cruise. We were told over and over again that it wouldn’t be worth it unless we had a balcony or suite to soak in the beauty of Alaska. We instead chose an inside room which as you know has no view. In turn this forced us to get up early and soak up the beauty on the top deck with an even more spectacular view. On top of that we could walk from one side of the boat to soak in the views without being restrained.

    Sure it would have been wonderful to wake up and sit on our balcony in our terry cloth robes. But we had such an amazing experience waking up early that I wouldn’t change the way we did in a million years.

    1. Having been on a quite a few cruises myself, I can tell you the balcony suite really doesn’t matter. Especially considering how little time we spent in our room. There are SO many things to do on the ship, why would ANYONE stay in their rooms? You can do that at home!

      Besides, whether you have an inside room or balcony room, you get the same service on the ship and access to the same food and amenities. If someone else wants to pay extra for the balcony, that’s their right, but doesn’t mean you have to.

  9. When you give amounts needed to retire, is that per couple? How much would a single person need (because it costs more for a single person to live than just half of a couple)? For plans backpacker and flash-packer? Thanks!

    1. I would say a single person can do it on 65% of the cost. So for backpacker retirement, a single person would need $165,000-$325,000. And for flash-packer, around $390,000 – $650K.

  10. My husband and I enjoyed AirBnB but have never stayed in Hostels before. Our 23 year old nephew stayed in hostels throughout Europe last year. After hearing about all the fun he had meeting, cooking with and traveling with people he met in the Hostels, we’re going to give it a try too. Our nephew said there were many “old” people (40’s and 50’s) like us staying in the Hostels. (I thought of them more for the 18-22 crowd but I figure-what the heck, we’ll try it at least once!)

    1. Definitely prefer the flashpacker lifestyle myself. Stayed in a couple of hostels before airbnb was really a thing but I don’t actually enjoy them. The demographic is not a good fit for me. I don’t mean in terms of age but rather in terms of outlook on life: there are people who… don’t have an engineer’s rational perspective on the world and on achieving one’s goals, let’s say. Still, worth a try.

      comment on infinity-starred hotels: usually I associate that with not having a roof over one’s head, i.e. an unplanned bivouac after an outdoor activity takes longer than expected. Usual cost of such a hotel is $0. But it can be a bit chilly.

      1. Hostels will probably have more partying, drinking…college-aged people. But on the plus side, there are A TON of opportunities to make new friends.

        I think AirBnB is my favourite. You get to meet like-minded people who will give you really good local recommendations (The touristy recommendations from hotels staff generally suck), and you get your own private space at a fraction of the cost of a hotel.

    2. I have heard that you will make more friends staying in hostels than hotels. That’s why, in general, I prefer AirBnB over hotels. You get to meet locals who will show you around AND give you fantastic food recommendations. In hotels, you only meet the staff (who generally give you touristy recommendations) and other travellers.

      I say give it try! If you don’t like it, you can go back to hotels, but you’ll never know until you try!

  11. You are a great inspiration!
    I’m working on the same concept with my partner and we will be there you are now in 10 years.

    Nice Regards Swedish Female couple

  12. As an Airbnb veteran, I would love to hear about your experiences in a future post. The good, the bad and the ugly. Thanks

  13. Can you explain what you mean by “hacking”? Also, can you direct me to one of your articles about investing, Currently, I only have a RSP and need to figure out how to diversify. Thanks & I appreciate your teachings!

    1. “Travel hacking” means accumulating frequent flyer miles with credit cards. Once you have enough points, you essentially fly for free (just need to pay a small amount for the taxes).

      I wrote an post about travel hacking here:

      As for investing, here’s the investment series (4 posts) we wrote to explain everything:

      Here’s one on how to minimize the taxes on your investments:

  14. IMO, the most flexible is mixing up a combination of the three choices you’ve created. It’s pretty nice to sometimes stay in 1500 square foot luxury suites. You don’t always have to stay in one of those, and if you’re flexible, you can get them for 1/3 the price of peak season. We discovered several years ago the Tuesday after Labour Day in the US hotel prices plummet. What was $900 dollars a night yesterday is now $250 dollars. What was $300 is now $100.

    Having a good network is also awesome. Last February we stayed in California wine country for free. A well known wine maker has two visitor’s apartments at his winery and offered to let is stay in one for free. Not only were the accommodations free and awesome being his guest meant we usually got the VIP treatment at other wineries for free.

    Other times we just go somewhere off the beaten where life is good but cost is low. It’s all about mixing it up and experiencing life in different ways.

  15. Love your posts!!! So accurate. When I studied theory of interest and actually did mathematical calculations and saw that with 20 and 25 yr mortgages with the right interest rate one can actually being paying $200,000+++ interest alone on a $200,000 loan I swore to myself then to never have one and I still don’t. When people ask me about housing investments etc. I refer them to your site. People are talking. Having said that…if you really do start to have an effect noticeable enough on big bank profit books I’d keep an over my shoulder if I were you. You guys haven’t exactly used the kindest of words describing them either. You just might piss one of them off past the tipping point. Take Care.

    1. Yup, that’s what people don’t get. They fact that they paying for their house TWICE over the amortization period.

      As for the banks, I don’t get a crap if they get pissed off. People have a right to financial education and not be screwed by high MERs or insane mortgages.

  16. Hi there,

    I love everything that you and husband are doing, have achieve and the life that you guys have built. You guys have totally changed our (myself and my wife) perspective on life. Weve learned so much from you guys.

    My wife and i have both work in downtown Toronto, we had been dreading moving far away from work just to be able to *invest* or purchase a home. but after following your blog for weeks now. we are so relieved to know that there are other and much better alternatives. This is after doing all of our own research and calculations. You guys are totally right about everything financially speaking.

    we have been making a lot of sacrifices to save and after about 3+ years weve saved $150k. But we are not sure which funds ETFs or what type of portfolio to invest our money in. We are in it for long term and want to continue to contribute. But can you suggest perhaps at least 3-5 great Funds*bonds, stocks and or ETFs invest our money in. your help is greatly appreciated.

    thanks again, and good luck.

    1. Kudos for having a good head on your shoulders…especially with the new housing rules Finance Minister Bill Morneau is bringing in.

      Okay, so on the investing front, since we’re not licensed advisors, we can’t advise on individual funds, BUT, you do have 2 options:
      1) Reach out to Garth to become a client (note, we are not being paid by him in anyway for this endorsement, we’re recommending him because we trust and are invested with him)

      2) Follow along on our step-to-step guide to how to build a 60/40 self-directed portfolio (which we will be posting in the near future).

  17. I actually just booked my first AirBNB the other day. 28 nights in Albuquerque, NM in an 1880s adobe house. Huge discount for a monthly commitment. There’s so much to do in and around Albuquerque. And it has a pool and spa for those lazy chill out days. It’s nearly half of my SoCal rent + utilities and it includes breakfast. 🙂

    1. Nice! Putting Albuquerque on my list of US cities to visit. (makes me think of “Breaking Bad” whenever I picture it :))

  18. Amazing post! But… I don’t believe you spent so little in Japan 🙂
    Been there exactly a year ago and I’ve been ubercheap and spent much more if I include flights to and from Switzerland 🙂
    Did you forget to account for the japan rail pass? Did you sleep in capsule hotels – awesome by the way?

    Luckily it was partially a business trip so Hooli paid for my flights (not for Miss RIP’s ones) and first week of hotel in Tokyo. 🙂

    1. We didn’t buy a Japan rail pass 🙂 Wasn’t worth it since we were visiting 3 cities and we wanted to stay at least one week in each city. (Rail pass forces you to use it all in 1 week). Instead, we bought flights with Peach (only $100/person) from Tokyo to Osaka. From Osaka to Kyoto, it was the local train system, so only $11.50/couple.

      And no, we didn’t stay in capsule hotels. Shockingly, AirBnB prices beat the pants off capsule hotels! The AirBnBs we stayed in average out to be only $57CAD/night and they were all self-contained units with their own bathrooms and kitchens (very small, but very clean and private). Capsule hotels were at least $30/person and females and males had to be on separate floors. Doesn’t work well for couples.

      I was SO impressed with Japan’s efficiency and super good deals! Even the train station restaurants (their version of fast-food) was incredibly high quality for only $5-7/ bowl. Wow. Japan has some serious kick-ass deals.

  19. That looks like an awesome trip. I like the flash backpacker style. Nice. I used to be the cheap backpacker, but I’m loosening up now. We’re heading to Thailand next month and we have a mix of sleeping arrangements. We’re staying with family, sleeping on the train, mid level hotels, and really nice hotels. It’s good to mix it up and I don’t mind paying a bit more for convenience. I hate tour groups, though. They cram too much in.
    I’d love to visit Japan again. Never heard of the robot restaurant.

    1. Oh sweet! Which cities are you visiting in Thailand? Of all the islands we visited, our favorite is Koh Lanta (5km of beach and perfectly calm and clear water) and our favourite city is Chiang Mai.

      I think you’ll enjoy the sleeper trains. It’s a truly unique experience with really nice scenery, whizzing by your window. And mixing up family stays, mid range and nice hotels is a great idea! Hope you guys have a great trip! EAT EVERYTHING!!!!

      If you ever go back to Japan, check out the robot restaurant! It’s a show with a set that cost $10 Million to build (complete with robots, lasers and pyrotechnics!) and did not disappoint! Even cirque du soleil’s “O” can’t compare to this (in my opinion).

  20. Love your site! Also in Toronto, the most over-priced city for what you get. (The Economist said Toronto is 25% over inflated for no reason.) I’m planning on leaving in the coming year. I’ll have $150K in investments next year and am looking at the flash-packer option with a twist. I actually don’t want to be 100% traveller, but owning a couple of tiny houses in places I can get to as needed with relatively little fuss. Can you do some more detailed posts that dive into the backpacker and flash-packer financial level with alternative living options. Or maybe some guest posts from the people you know that are living in those constructs? I get that the key is mapping it out, saving as much as possible, index fund investing, and living small. I’m keen on hearing more about the intro levels as a million dollars is 20 years away at my pay scale and the cost of living here. Thank you!

  21. What if you want to pay for your kids college education? That is estimated to cost 250,000 per kid according to online calculators. We live in the US.

  22. Came to your site thanks to your interview with MadFientist. Really enjoying the articles I have read so far. You are a great writer, I look forward to following the blog and reading more!

  23. Good article.

    We went last March-April to Japan for a month. We had a family group of seven so Airbnb ended up working out to $30/pp/night. Everyone had a JR rail pass. I second ueboi sushi – everyone loved it! We even saw Jiro from Jiro dreams of sushi. Didn’t make it to an owl café but went to a cat café and maid café – and loads of other things. If you are a studio ghibli fan get tickets abroad in advance and you can tour it.

    This year four of us are going back in March and April for another month but we’ll be based in Osaka and just take day trips. We rented a whole Airbnb house for $1500/month Can. due to a 49% monthly rental discount. Japan used to be so expensive to visit but I find it pretty affordable – especially with tickets bought on points. Might change now that there is a crackdown there on Airbnb in many places.

    Did you know you can buy a rentable condo in Japan for about 30k in some of the smaller cities with good cap rates? A bit complicated to transact but they are pretty popular with Chinese investors:
    With the right visa it could be an affordable base part of the year and a cheap place to fly to the rest of Asia. Non-stop tickets from Osaka to Bangkok are $400 return. Someone who is willing to do your option 1 and teach English could buy a place, live inexpensively and travel a lot in Asia, and rent out the apartment when they leave.

    I really like your travel series. The internet has opened up out of the box solutions to living well.

    1. Wow! Good work on the Japanese AirBnB! Ours averaged out to be around $56/day. I especially loved how the bathroom turns into a dryer. Very efficient.

      Had no idea you could buy a condo for 30k! Surprising how they used to be so short on space but managed to solve the problem. I’d be wary about buying in a foreign countries because of the Visas, but if that could be sorted out, it might make sense for expats. Maybe someone who figures out foreign real-estate investing will write about it.

      And thanks! When I was working I was pretty pissed off about all the outsourcing, but after I started travelling, I realized, hey we could just outsource ourselves! Why not live overseas where the weather is better, quality of life goes up, and costs go down? It’s a no brainer.

    1. Personally, I like Waterloo and Ottawa in Canada, Las Vegas and Minneapolis in the States (I’ve also heard good things about Raleigh, NC and Austin, TX). There’s also Merida and Oaxaca in Mexico (both safe, lots of stuff to do and tasty food) and I’ve also heard good things about San Cristobal de Las Casas and San Miguel De Allende.

  24. I LOVE YOUR BLOG! I’m going to read every single article I’m super pumped right now. This is literally the PF blog I have been dying for!

    Thank you so much.

    1. Welcome Linda and thanks for the kind words! If you’re willing to put up with our crazy ramblings for all 333 posts, you are really something!

  25. I am currently listening to your book through audible, and I really love it. It made me learn new things, a lot of new things and ideas, thanks a lot for sharing your wisdom

  26. Great article. This framing is really helpful to think about the lifestyle you want to work towards and how to achieve it using this range of savings rate, timeline, and general income level. I have lived for all my 11 post undergrad working years overseas, and for me it is hard to think about returning to the USA where I would feel pressured to buy a home, probably need two cars, live a less exciting, more costly lifestyle, and make less money.

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