Retire Early Lifestyle

by Millionaire Mommy Next Door on February 17, 2009

in Inspiration,Interviews

In 1991, Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. During the last 18 years, they have made it through bear markets and bull markets, lived in the States and overseas, and have traveled in an RV for over two years. They’ve owned homes and rented, and have found a different approach to health care. Today, at age 56, Billy and Akaisha already have more years of retirement experience than most people will have over an entire lifetime. They share their experience, wisdom and travel escapades in their book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, 3rd Edition, available for download from their web site, Retire Early Lifestyle.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of exchanging interviews with them.

Billy and Akaisha, you’ve been enjoying life while young enough to take full advantage of financial freedom. What inspired you to retire so early?

We left the working world in 1991 at a very young age. We were at the peak of our careers and had a home near the beach in central California. On the outside it looked like we had it all, but on the inside we felt that we were missing out on what we really wanted to do and that was to travel, experience more of the world first hand, pursue passions, hobbies and to volunteer.

There were few role models and many of our friends and family thought we were crazy to be giving up such a comfortable lifestyle for something so uncharted. But we took two years to plan and to track our expenses. Billy ran the numbers and they worked for us, so we sold everything and began traveling the world. We are now into our 19th year of this adventurous and fulfilling lifestyle and we still love it.

Is early retirement everything you expected it to be? What has surprised you the most so far?

It’s everything we imagined and more. There have been so many opportunities for us to grow, to give, and to learn. And we have made friends all over the world. What surprises us is that more people don’t retire early. When considering the cost of the lifestyles many lead, they would surely have the money to do this.

I suppose that fear is a major factor in preventing people from making this change. What we have found in our experience though, is that the people who have actually made the leap don’t know why it took them so long to do so.

Where are you living now? As early retirees, what does your typical day look like?

When we were working we had typical days. Now each day is an adventure. We are currently living in Chapala, Mexico. Last year we lived for a year in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We figure that in our over 18 years of retirement, we have lived about 70% of the time overseas.

Depending on the country in which we are living at the time, we may pursue a volunteer activity like putting up lights on the tennis courts of Chapala. When we were in Thailand last year, I had a private tutor instruct me in the art of Thai massage. Billy was most encouraging in this, as he benefits from my skills!

We take advantage of travel opportunities wherever we are as well. Bangkok is a convenient hub to visit all of the countries in the Pacific Rim and we just finished a month touring the southern towns and beaches of Mexico.

We’re involved in the tennis community wherever we live which gives us great exercise and social connection. I also spend a good deal of volunteer time corresponding with people who visit our website answering their many questions about retirement, living overseas, how to reduce housing costs, relocate or how to find part time work in retirement.

It’s a very full life and we have never been bored!

How have the two of you learned to deal with doubts, unexpected issues and fear along the way?

We rely on each other. We’ve learned to support each other in ways that emphasize our individual strengths. We allow our past good financial behavior and personal habits to reinforce us when we might feel particularly challenged.

We’re survivors. We’ve come through years of demanding careers, were responsible for meeting the financial obligations of a thriving business, dealt with both bull and bear markets, and in our early years worked ourselves to the bone. We’ve developed a sense of self-reliance and confidence in our abilities as human beings and we see opportunities every day, everywhere. It’s up to us to take our lives in the direction we want.

If we get caught up in fear, we realize that we are looking in the wrong direction. It’s time to regroup and refocus. Sometimes a delay or side trip on the road of Life brings us some hidden treasure that we wouldn’t have if we had pushed relentlessly forward.

Generally, we look at the future as thrilling, not threatening. We have great faith in the future, feeling that the best is always yet to come.

You wrote: “We rely on each other. We’ve learned to support each other in ways that emphasize our individual strengths”. Can you give an example?

A good example would be the current financial problems that are happening around the world. This is a huge challenge for many people who have had their portfolios reduced and the uncertainty of the future can bring about a deep feeling of fear.

This is a time when we look to each other for support. It’s easy to fall into a sense of dread or anxiety, but we know that being in that frame of mind doesn’t allow us to see clearly and most of all it doesn’t allow us to see our options, or feel the freedom to take them.

Billy is very good at investments, at number crunching and at analyzing markets. I’m good at research and finding alternative ways to live our lives and still maintain comfort, and a sense of ease and joy.

We are both resourceful, flexible, creative and persistent. Together we have always been able to find an answer that suits the both of us, and our lives have become richer in countless ways because of it.

Why have you chosen to live in other countries?

Both of us have been travelers ever since we were teenagers. It was one of the appealing characteristics we found in each other before we were married. Our decision to live in other countries just developed from our traveling style. Wherever we go, we enjoy ‘getting local’ right away – whether it’s in Salmon, Idaho, Chiang Mai, Thailand or Chapala, Mexico.

We decided to increase our international traveling while we were still young enough to be flexible both mentally and physically, and before our comfort requirements chose our destinations for us. In traveling the world we found that we loved learning about the regional food, languages, customs and the people themselves. We picked up the languages whenever we could, joined in the community activities with volunteer work, and tried cooking the local fare. We found that not only was this challenging, invigorating and rewarding, it was really very affordable entertainment!

Our perspectives widened, the cobwebs of our minds were cleared away, and we found true joy and personal expression in this lifestyle.

How do you handle medical insurance and health care?

We keep a catastrophic medical insurance plan (basically) for when we visit or live in the States. Otherwise, we take advantage of the medical care in the country where we are living at the time.

Just to be clearer about this, for the most part we choose Thailand’s excellent care or Mexico for our medical needs. We speak more about this in our book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, and on our website’s Preferred Links Pages we have many links to Medical Options sites and other medical and insurance information for self-education. Not only is the medical care in Thailand clean, professional and internationally accredited, it is far more affordable than the care offered in the States currently. We have also had very good care in both Chapala, and Guadalajara, Mexico.

What were your careers before you retired?

Our first serious career was owning a restaurant near the ocean in Santa Cruz, California. Billy was trained as a French Chef, working in several Michelin star restaurants in Cincinnati, Ohio, and after we traveled through Europe for 6 months, we bought our own place.

We were quite successful at this business venture, and five years later Billy was recruited by the then-financial house, Dean Witter Reynolds, to become a stock broker. He trained to be a broker and became a very successful one at that, and then he was recruited to be a manager of his own office. Meanwhile, I continued to run the restaurant until we sold it five years later.

How do you create income now to provide for your early retirement?

All of our income is generated from our stock investments. We dollar cost average out as expenses dictate.

Fifteen years into our retirement we wrote our book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, to answer the repeated questions we received on our website. This has been a bonus, but nothing we needed to figure into our financial retirement plans.

Has the current financial crisis affected your long-term plans?

Not at this time. We reassessed our personal goals a few months ago, and found that our lifestyle – traveling the world, living locally, pursuing friendships and new skills, spending time with family and friends – is what we wanted to continue doing. Since we have no mortgage, car payments or credit card debt, we spend our money on living, not on maintaining things. We also derive great pleasure from our volunteer activities.

We believe there are always opportunities, and so if something appeals to us along the way, we will take advantage of it, but we aren’t actively looking for employment!

What personal characteristics do you contribute most to your financial success?

Perseverance, follow through, self-discipline and self-reliance, creativity for problem solving, optimism in the face of obstacles, commitment to each other and to a goal. We are also not afraid to step away from the crowd to be original. Neither of us are big consumers, preferring to emphasize experiences over owning things.

What is your #1 piece of advice for others who would like to retire early, too?

Don’t let anyone steal your dreams. Know what you want and don’t be afraid to go for it. If you know the ‘Why’ and commit to it, you will find out the ’How.’

Thank you, Billy and Akaisha!

After visiting Billy and Akaisha’s site and the interview I did for them, please visit the Carnival of Money Stories. I’ll be back soon with the rest of my story, Part Five: My Early Forties, soon!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

The Kiwi Millionaire February 17, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Wow – fantastic interview! All the best :-)

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Anonymous February 18, 2009 at 8:41 am

This sounds very nice and wonderful but one thing was not addressed: children. The couple have no offspring. Most of us could pursue a life like this if it were only two. I can’t envision a life without children. Sorry. But that’s me. I’ve know other couples who have lived like this and again, it all sounds so wonderful and moving till one partner dies or gets sick. Hey! Life happens. People get older. Some retirees I know in Thailand usually wind up hiring someone to take care of them in their old age. I personally wouldn’t like that.

I’d like to hear about the balanced point of this chosen lifestyle: doing and living it with children and a larger family. The equation changes exponentially. Perhaps this lifestyle can be pursued after the children are grown?

Thank you MMND for this possible retirement strategy. It is definitely a life choice one can ascertain and well worth strategizing over. I plan on investigating and learning more.

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Sarah February 19, 2009 at 6:54 am

Great interview, thanks! As per Anon’s comment, I have thought a lot about this too. I currently have two children and want more. My parents have six, and my inlaws have four. My parents probably will never do something like this.

However, my inlaws are currently talking to all of us about assisting us in building/buying a bigger home with a MIL suite. Their idea is if they gift each couple some money, we can afford a place with a room or small apt for them to live in when they visit. This way they can travel the world, and still maintain a home(s) AND have the option of visiting their children, without burdening them AND they wouldn’t have to maintain their own house.

After reading this post my first reaction was, ‘I must live like this.’ Of course it isn’t logical to do so until my kids are grown, but that’s ok because it is going to take us that long to become financially secure.

Very interesting post!

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Allan February 19, 2009 at 8:31 am

Children are a huge expense. One of the best decisions I ever made was to stay single and not have kids. I have the ultimate freedom and can do as I please. Most men get killed in divorce court in the USA anyway. You have no guarantee that your kids will be there for you later.

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Dawn February 19, 2009 at 10:35 am

Regarding comment #2… I’m a hippie’s child. My parents packed up a home-made RV (converted blue school bus) when I was a baby and I lived my first 5 years on the road with my parents. We toured the states, my mom waited tables and my dad made and sold jewelry to support us those 5 years. Then they returned to Chicago for me to start kindergarten. I didn’t understand it as a child but it provided me with the most amazing open minded start to life. I see options others can’t see and I think it has a lot to do with this experience. So, my point is… It’s not for everybody… but having babies doesn’t mean that you have to follow the beaten path either… Peace.

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Money Funk February 19, 2009 at 10:42 am

What a wonderful post! I cannot wait til I have time to delve deeply into the content of the post. I, too, have children (like the other commentors) and see that my time traveling will need to wait some years. But, I plan on doing more local trips with my family and hope to transpire post children to this sort of lifestyle mentioned.

Fascinating. If anyone tells says that you cannot live your dreams is bologna!!

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Sharon February 19, 2009 at 11:06 am

Interesting post. I’m mostly a homebody, so traveling around the world does not interest me. Spending more free time with my husband and kids? Absolutely.

@Allan,
I’m so sorry you feel kids would have been a detriment! My four children make my life complete! Expensive? Yes. But so worth it!

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Chad @ Sentient Money February 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm

MMND,

Glad your back to posting a little more regularly. I missed your blog.

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Allan February 19, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Other than my health, nothing is more important to me than my money. I work when I want and live mostly off my interest with no debt. I would rather have that life then dealing with bratty kids, possible divorce, and loss of my wealth. I see lots of divorced women with kids desperately trying to meet men like me on-line. Why would I want to sign up for that?

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Bridget February 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Great post, MMND. And I agree with Chad; I’m glad you are back to posting a little more regularly. =O)
@Allan…I’m glad you’re planning on staying single. Don’t ever give it a second thought. Yikes!!

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carlos February 20, 2009 at 7:42 am

@Allan … people have different priorities. Some find the joy in raising kids to be THE biggest pleasure. I, OTH, follow your path. I wouldn’t phrase it quite like you do however. I don’t knock those that choose the kids & family path just as I hope that won’t do the same for my choices.

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Allan February 20, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Bridget, Thanks for you kind works. You have made a judgment of me as a person because I don’t want to be chained to someone like you! There is nothing wrong with bratty, screaming crumb crunchers for those who want them. I don’t! My money is far more important to me than ending up divorced (80% of divorces are initiated by women) and paying child support. I get to keep my money, invest it, and spend it on myself. Carlos, you will be singing a different tune if your wife files for divorce. you will lose half or more of everything you earned and you will pay child support. Marriage is a very bad idea for men in the USA now!

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Jerry February 24, 2009 at 10:21 am

Who says you can’t have children overseas? We are living overseas right now, in SE Europe, and we have a 3-year-old daughter. She is doing just fine, thank you very much. She is also learning the language, is polite and funny, and she is far from a “bratty, screaming crumb-cruncher.” Really, all kids are like that, Allan? Come on. That’s great that being single worked out for you, but it strikes me as a “nothing-ventured-nothing-gained” mindset to never consider marriage and family. (Yeah, you are guaranteed that you won’t get hurt. Awesome.)
Anyway, we would love to have another child over here, if we can. We will return to the States in a few years, but would not rule out living overseas again.
Re: health care, as the interview pointed out, we can afford most medical procedures here without insurance, and only need catastrophic coverage. The care is excellent if you go to the right hospitals. It leads me to wonder about the costs back home for similar care…
Jerry

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Allan March 2, 2009 at 9:58 am

No, Jerry! I am an independent man who does not need the “security” of marriage and the burden of children. I am FREE to do as I please and not chained down like you are. Also, if your wife decides to file for divorce, for any reason, depending upon your local jurisdiction, you could lose 50% or more of everything you have earned. Your kids could abandon you later in life when you need them. You are living in a dream world if you think this can’t happen; just look at the statistics. there is a high probability that you will end up divorced.

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Millionaire Mommy Next Door March 2, 2009 at 10:25 am

Allen, you do realize that with your mindset, there is a 100% “chance” that you will live your life never knowing the joys of sharing your life and love with a family, right?

If you know without a doubt that you prefer to live your life solo, then it’s a good thing you know what you want and are sticking to it.

On the other hand, if you’re avoiding love simply because of your fears and the statistics, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. You know the old cliche, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all”. Countless research studies and surveys have found that relationships with others contribute more happiness and meaning to one’s life than money ever does.

I suggest you look for solutions rather than problems. For instance, consider a prenuptial agreement, “maintenance” marital counseling, etc.

Whichever path your life takes, I wish you joy and contentment.
Jen

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Allan March 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I don’t have a problem. I can do anything as a single man that I could do married. I can love someone, have a child (which I don’t want), and have all the advantages of a relationship without the probable financial consequences when it doesn’t work out. there is no benefit to a man when it comes to marriage in the USA. it’s simply too easy to get divorced and women file over 75% of the time. A woman will generally fare better in divorce court than a man. Until they change the divorce laws, i suggest all men stay single and rebuke “marriage” The point is, I am as free as the subjects of your article. If I had a wife and kids to support, I would be a wage slave. Any man who has been through a divorce, lost his house, and money will agree with me; especially when he drives up to the house HE paid for to pick up his kids and sees the ex-wife’s boyfriends car in the driveway!!!

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Vicky March 6, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I completely agree with Allan that he is much better off remaining single. His fear of losing money or being taken advantage of dominates his mindset. It would not be fair for anybody to enter into a relationship with him and expect mutual respect since they are all out to get him in his mind. I am not as ‘FREE’ as Allan because I am in a committed relationship where you have to give and take – I don’t see it as an infringement on my freedom though.

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Allan March 8, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Vicky, of course you don’t see your situation as a problem because if you file for divorce, generally you will get half or more of everything the man has. You will leave with a variety of cash and prizes. You will get the house while your husband moves into an apartment and surrenders the equity to you. I can be in a “committed” relationship without being married. What kind of commitment is marriage when it’s so easy to get divorced. There is NO benefit to a man getting married in the USA today; it only benefits women and children. Your ridiculous statement that it wouldn’t be fair for anyone to enter into a relationship with me is precisely the reason I won’t get married. It’s an insane statement. Also, you can have mutual respect and love without being married. I NEVER said everyone was out to get me; that’s what you said. Ask any man in the USA what it was like to get divorced and lose his money and let’s see how fast he marries again. I have NEVER been burnt; I won’t let it happen. Relationships can be great, but marriage is not for intelligent men in the USA under the current laws and divorce statistics, except in rare exceptions. The risks are too great for men; that’s why there is a marriage strike and the majority of households are headed by SINGLE adults.

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kevin March 9, 2009 at 10:08 am

These people dared to live the dream the rest of us are too cowardly to try. As for the person commented on having children being a safeguard against being alone in old age, I have a few facts for you:
1. Many children (if not most) move away when they hit adulthood. So having children as free assisted living staff, or forced friends, doesn’t make sense. Odds are you’ll get two weeks a year with them…if they can find the time.
2. The economy is a mess. Your kids may be looking to you for help, not the other way around. So keep those extra bedrooms in your home available.
3. People die. It is, as you say, a fact of life. But not a good basis for living a life afraid and doing things to hedge against it.
4. I’ve traveled to 39 countries and have met a lot of people who retired early with kids. A LOT. It was great for all concerned. I’ve yet to find a family that regrets the move.
It’s my hope to follow the advice of this site, and the retireearlylifestyle site. And live life for the joy of it.
Thanks. You provide a valuable example for us all.

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Akaisha April 8, 2009 at 4:58 pm

HI Kevin,

I agree with your points. While Billy and I did not have children, we know many people who choose to travel with their families, giving their kids a broader perspective. The children learn other languages, and learn how other cultures live their lives and prioritize their values.

Some couples use their children as an excuse not to do things, while other couples utilize their children as a motivation to try new things. It’s all personal choice.

Best,
Akaisha Kaderli

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Amy May 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Kids are great, I have two grown just out of college but still at home, traveling is great, I do it as much as I can, can’t wait to retire,
3 years, 5 months, 11 days. Yeahhhhhh
Sunset Beach, Treasure Island here I come.
Oh…. the kids are welcome if they want. Life would be so empty
without them.

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louellas September 23, 2009 at 2:47 am

Allan!

You are amazing, isn’t it funny that people like us are always having to defend our position on our life choices… I am female, I dont have children, I dont want children, I dont want to be married. But these are judgements I have based on my situation only. I dont care what anyone else does. I just ask that people stop questioning what I dont do, and maybe think a bit harder about what they plan to do in the future….

As I am under 25 and on the way to being financially free, I feel people are more threatened by this, and wish to have me “explain my reasons” because I am shunning something that other people have just been raised to believe is the norm…

This does in no way mean I would ever put down a person for wanting or having kids, we make our own choices through our actions. I like my lifestyle, I love kids, this freedom gives me time to focus on my passion, working with children in poverty, because I was raised as one and got out of it.

I figure I could have 1-2 kids and work and maybe support them, but wouldnt it be more fufilling to NOT have kids, and have time and money to focus on more kids who arent mine and who didnt choose to be born in less than inspiring circumstances?

Allan has fantastic points everyone you just have to stop taking them so personally, he did not have that intention

Ella :D

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swissmexms November 10, 2009 at 10:40 am

Dear Everyone,

It is so interesting and wonderful the diversity out there. Everyone makes valid points and everyone is free to choose as they feel.
I am married and don’t ever plan to leave my marriage. We have two children. One grown and out on his own, one still living at home. Both are wonderful kids, both can be challenges at times. But then again, so can my husband and I. I also agree that most women initiate divorces. I live in a family dominated by men and as such realize how vulnerable they can be. Women CAN be nasty. So CAN men.
I also have a brother who is single and will continue to be so. He doesn’t wish to marry. I do worry about him in his old age. Will anyone care for him? Who will care for him? It is a valid question. Also, while of course we cannot depend on our children to care for us, I do believe family dynamics and the lifestyle and morals of how you raise a child/ren is ultimately the telling point of whether or not they will help you in your old age. That is where travel comes in. It is invaluable. Seeing how people, specifically families live around the world, how they treat their elders. Very important, and yes, unfortunately, sometimes changing for the worse. But I can’t help but specify, it is because of greed and a life surrounded by materialism and ungratitude that molds our youth, and some people in our culture.
The beauty behind this post is to think of possibilities. Not to follow others blindly in the herd, and to take the chance to live a life of possibilites. Enjoy, cherish, and love your life. If you don’t, make the changes that will make your heart sing. Jen has presented an alternative. This wonderful couple has presented a viable alternative. Why not!? They seem to have built a life on mutual trust and faith. Faith in themselves and the world around them. Jen has built a blog and family style that makes them happy. It too is an alternative. The point is. Do what makes you happy, materialism is great as a means to achieve an end (hopefully enjoying it), if you feel happy single, family-style, commune- style, childless, whatever. Inherent in ALL of them is risk. And NO ONE knows what the future holds for them. We can prepare, but we just don’t KNOW for certain. Isn’t it wonderful to follow the heart? Life takes faith.

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Euro Expat December 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I know this is an old post but I wanted to comment anyway. Actually, Allan has a point. I was married for 20 years and was continually poor. I filed for divorce in order to gain control of my life. We had two wonderful kids, who are now grown, but marriage can drain a person financially, emotionally, and otherwise. My husband was a good man, but selfish. I just got tired of pinching pennies so that he could have his hobbies and felt like I was “doing it all”. Ok, you might think divorcing was selfish of me, and yes it was, but he moved on fast, and we were still friends, so it was not all that bad, really. After the divorce, in which he got to take whatever he wanted from the house, I bought him out of the house even though I was unemployed. The bank knew me since I was the one in charge of the finances so they let me take over. I started working very hard and investing. I could have done better if I had been more frugal, but I still managed to go from being a housewife with no income to owning my own small business. I have put together a modest nestegg in a retirement plan, bought my own car, and am now remodeling the house. I started traveling in Europe and Southeast Asia and am able to live out my dreams. I think marriage is great if it is the right person. If not, it can be very lonely. I am not looking for someone now and that is fine with me. Next week I will be 60 and am happy as a lark.

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Amy December 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Hi
It’s Amy from May 2009
Well I’m down to 1 year and 11 months today.
Kids have left the house and we have an empty nest.
I don’t have that much in retirement coming but I’ll make it work.
Part-time job or something to get a little cash coming in. Maybe
work on Treasure Island cashiering or something like that for a few hours a few days a week
Have to be at the beach that’s for sure.
Good luck to all the adventurous people who want to retire asap.
My best advice is to keep to a budget and things will work out.
Keep the faith.

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Akaisha December 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Euro Expat, we know what you mean about how difficult it can be to save money for retirement when one’s spouse is not on the same financial page as you are. We consider having financially like-minded spouses to be the #1 priority when planning retirement. It is very difficult when one person saves the other spends. We talk about that in our book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement.
Sometimes these choices can be challenging.

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