Author Topic: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?  (Read 23350 times)

jim555

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #50 on: February 16, 2018, 08:32:57 AM »

Raleigh, North Carolina. They are seeing the benefits of the Cost Sharing Subsidy portion of the ACA. Their income is low enough for a family of 5 that the ACA requires insurers to subsidize the yearly deductible, as well as the premiums.

 I'm just a little confused by your terminology, "the ACA requires insurers to subsidize the yearly deductible",
Don't you mean, the ACA requires taxpayers to subsidize the yearly deductible?
Or the 52% of households that pay taxes?
In the case of the CSRs the rate payers, not the tax payers must pay for the mandated CSR benefit.  Since the law mandates people in certain income ranges get lower deductibles the insurance companies must spread this cost to others in the insurance pool.  The CSR funding was ended by Trump.

wmc1000

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #51 on: February 16, 2018, 03:30:44 PM »
DW and I live in the midwest and for the last 3 years our spending has been a relatively constant $34K including healthcare only because we received a significant ACA subsidy and were able to keep MAGI low enough to receive CSR on deductibles and prescription costs.

Typically this spending includes about 4 weeks of travel during the year. Nothing extravagant just US based travel.

The stoppage of CSR funding by the government is what caused most of the premium increases for 2018 so insurers collect more from either the government, (taxpayers), through the subsidy amount or the non-subsidized taxpayers.

This year both DW and I start medicare and spending will increase to $40k.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 03:32:18 PM by wmc1000 »

GOFU

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #52 on: February 16, 2018, 03:39:36 PM »
DW and I live in the midwest and for the last 3 years our spending has been a relatively constant $34K including healthcare only because we received a significant ACA subsidy and were able to keep MAGI low enough to receive CSR on deductibles and prescription costs.

Typically this spending includes about 4 weeks of travel during the year. Nothing extravagant just US based travel.

The stoppage of CSR funding by the government is what caused most of the premium increases for 2018 so insurers collect more from either the government, (taxpayers), through the subsidy amount or the non-subsidized taxpayers.

This year both DW and I start medicare and spending will increase to $40k.

Thank you. This is a helpful response.

Thanks to all the others too for their helpful responses.

Adam Zapple

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #53 on: March 10, 2018, 07:31:43 PM »
I have two anecdotes:

A coworker of mine is set to retire.  He says he/his wife will have up to $6K per month to spend between savings, pension and social security.  They are retiring to a nice community on a golf course in coastal Florida and will pay cash for his condo.  He asked around and $6K per month is apparently considered a LOT of money among his family and acquaintances down there..."living like kings" was what they were told.

My parents recently retired in a very high cost of living area in northeast U.S.  They have a paid off house but have INSANE property taxes due to waterfront property...$20K per year (no that is not a typo).  Offsetting that, they have virtually zero healthcare costs.  They have 2 cars, a 2000 square foot house, eat out a couple times per week and socialize with friends often.  They take two reasonable vacations per year.  They live worry free on $6500 per month with little to no penny pinching.  They say they could easily live on less if needed.

I think 6K per month provides a reasonable, upper middle class retirement lifestyle for a non-frugal couple.  I recognize some people's heads may explode at this figure.


DreamFIRE

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #54 on: March 10, 2018, 09:27:25 PM »
I'm a single guy spending $1250/mo on average while not retired.  LCOL and home is paid off, so that helps.  The only change I "need" to make when I retire will be health care, hoping to work the ACA for some sweet PTC/CSR.  But at my current stash level, a 4% WR will allow me about $4300/mo to spend (that's after taxes and investment fees have already been subtracted).  So, that's a pretty good buffer for fun/travel.

Linda_Norway

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #55 on: March 11, 2018, 05:20:43 AM »
My FIL and his wife spent 23.000 euro's a year in the last years. This includes a basic level private health insurance of roughly 3.000 euro's a year. They live in the Netherlands.

Shane

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #56 on: March 11, 2018, 08:11:54 AM »
@GOFU , I know you said you were looking for info on how much it would cost to move back to the US, but I just wanted to suggest another option to you. Sounds like you're kind of over Bolivia. Maybe you guys could spend a year or two slow traveling to check out some other places. Depending on where you go and how you live, it's not necessarily more expensive to travel for a year than it is to live in the States.

My wife, nine year old daughter and I spent $39K traveling around the world in 2017. We visited Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and New Zealand, spending 1 - 3 months in each country. You could also travel in some parts of the world for a lot less than we spent. Friends of ours who also traveled as a family of three for all of 2017, seem to be living well in SE Asia on a budget of only US$1K/month. They just stay at cheaper places than we do and eat mostly street food or cook for themselves at their hostel or apartment...

2Birds1Stone

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #57 on: March 11, 2018, 09:04:46 PM »

My wife, nine year old daughter and I spent $39K traveling around the world in 2017. We visited Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and New Zealand, spending 1 - 3 months in each country. You could also travel in some parts of the world for a lot less than we spent. Friends of ours who also traveled as a family of three for all of 2017, seem to be living well in SE Asia on a budget of only US$1K/month. They just stay at cheaper places than we do and eat mostly street food or cook for themselves at their hostel or apartment...

Would love to learn more details of what you are doing......and your friends even more so!

Shane

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #58 on: March 12, 2018, 12:38:35 AM »

My wife, nine year old daughter and I spent $39K traveling around the world in 2017. We visited Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and New Zealand, spending 1 - 3 months in each country. You could also travel in some parts of the world for a lot less than we spent. Friends of ours who also traveled as a family of three for all of 2017, seem to be living well in SE Asia on a budget of only US$1K/month. They just stay at cheaper places than we do and eat mostly street food or cook for themselves at their hostel or apartment...

Would love to learn more details of what you are doing......and your friends even more so!

@2Birds1Stone SE Asia is just really cheap, especially if you live like the locals. When we were traveling there in 2017, because everything was so inexpensive, we tended to rent relatively fancy places, with AC, pools and sometimes gyms. We usually ate out 2-3 meals a day, mostly at street vendors or little hole in the wall, family run places.

In Vietnam we sent our daughter to a nice, small international school for 2.5 months. The school cost ~US$1200/month, which was our biggest expense. Besides our daughter's school, our living expenses in Vietnam were only around US$30-35/day for a nice triple room in a family run homestay with a small pool and a little restaurant right downstairs. In Vietnam we had no kitchen, so we ate out 3 meals a day. The way we lived in Vietnam, if we had homeschooled our daughter instead of sending her to an expensive private school, we could've easily lived on <US$1K/month for a family of three. Our friends spend much less than that living in Vietnam, because they live really simply. They like guest houses or hostels that cost ~US$6/night. The places they stay don't usually have AC, just a fan. Some don't have screens on the windows, which is local style. We chose not to rent places like that, though, just because it didn't seem worth the risk of getting dengue or malaria...

To avoid further cluttering OPs thread with too much off topic conversation, you're welcome to send me a PM with any other questions you may have, 2Birds1Stone.

GOFU

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #59 on: March 12, 2018, 05:36:01 AM »
@GOFU , I know you said you were looking for info on how much it would cost to move back to the US, but I just wanted to suggest another option to you. Sounds like you're kind of over Bolivia. Maybe you guys could spend a year or two slow traveling to check out some other places. Depending on where you go and how you live, it's not necessarily more expensive to travel for a year than it is to live in the States.

My wife, nine year old daughter and I spent $39K traveling around the world in 2017. We visited Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and New Zealand, spending 1 - 3 months in each country. You could also travel in some parts of the world for a lot less than we spent. Friends of ours who also traveled as a family of three for all of 2017, seem to be living well in SE Asia on a budget of only US$1K/month. They just stay at cheaper places than we do and eat mostly street food or cook for themselves at their hostel or apartment...
This is a thoughtful suggestion and I appreciate it. Yes, you read correctly between the lines, I am over Bolivia. If I could stand living here I would continue to do so because the cost of living is really low. Financially it is a pretty good deal. If I were single I would probably stick it out for a few more years. Unfortunately as a father of two small children this place pretty much sucks. Call me chauvinistic if you want to but I don't want my kids growing up in this culture.

I am glad you and your family are enjoying the extended travel. But I'm afraid I just don't see the appeal. I think about the idea of a year or more in Asia or some place like that and I just think, "For what?" What is it exactly that is so appealing about spending so much time in a place like, say, Viet Nam. Staying in a cheap place (perhaps the upstairs of someone else's house), living out of your backpack, eating food from street vendors and surrounded by people scrounging around for a meager existence? I can see doing that long-term if it was part of a job or calling. Hell, I've been at it myself for over 10 years. But as a leisure/retirement lifestyle I just don't see the appeal. In fact I get stressed out by the very thought of herding my family around like that for such a long time.

I am not trying to denigrate the long-term tourist thing you describe. I really am glad you like it, and $40k does not seem unreasonable for such an adventure. I've done a fair amount of travel, but almost always with a work or business purpose, with tourist excursions tacked on to take advantage of the travel. I guess I'm not much of a tourist. My attitude is that after enough waterfalls and rivers and villages and antiquities and relics and old churches and civilizational ruins you've seen them all. I've almost stopped taking pictures at these kinds of places unless they include family and friends because pictures of pretty much any place on Earth are available on the internet and they are better than any I can take. Maybe you or someone enjoying this lifestyle can explain to me the draw of being in transit for such a long period.

Another reason that living the travel life isn't my thing is that I would also like to be in a position to earn money. I have a profession that I can put to good use in the USA to keep the income flowing, even part time, and I would like for my children to see me as a practicing professional as they grow in these formative years. Dad the role model or Dad the cautionary tale, either brings value to the development of my children that I don't want to forego, and that is not an option if we are hanging out in Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City.

Thanks to all who offered information to help me in gauging what my needs might be. It seems like health insurance is the main financial killer that I can see, so I need to figure out how to best tackle that. All the rest of the consumption we can control a lot better.

flyingaway

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #60 on: March 12, 2018, 09:02:16 AM »
I don't understand why it is so fun to live on $1,000 a month in Thailand like a local when many people risk their life trying to get into the U.S. I can see the tourist experience to visit those places.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #61 on: March 12, 2018, 09:03:59 AM »
@GOFU , I know you said you were looking for info on how much it would cost to move back to the US, but I just wanted to suggest another option to you. Sounds like you're kind of over Bolivia. Maybe you guys could spend a year or two slow traveling to check out some other places. Depending on where you go and how you live, it's not necessarily more expensive to travel for a year than it is to live in the States.

My wife, nine year old daughter and I spent $39K traveling around the world in 2017. We visited Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and New Zealand, spending 1 - 3 months in each country. You could also travel in some parts of the world for a lot less than we spent. Friends of ours who also traveled as a family of three for all of 2017, seem to be living well in SE Asia on a budget of only US$1K/month. They just stay at cheaper places than we do and eat mostly street food or cook for themselves at their hostel or apartment...
This is a thoughtful suggestion and I appreciate it. Yes, you read correctly between the lines, I am over Bolivia. If I could stand living here I would continue to do so because the cost of living is really low. Financially it is a pretty good deal. If I were single I would probably stick it out for a few more years. Unfortunately as a father of two small children this place pretty much sucks. Call me chauvinistic if you want to but I don't want my kids growing up in this culture.

I am glad you and your family are enjoying the extended travel. But I'm afraid I just don't see the appeal. I think about the idea of a year or more in Asia or some place like that and I just think, "For what?" What is it exactly that is so appealing about spending so much time in a place like, say, Viet Nam. Staying in a cheap place (perhaps the upstairs of someone else's house), living out of your backpack, eating food from street vendors and surrounded by people scrounging around for a meager existence? I can see doing that long-term if it was part of a job or calling. Hell, I've been at it myself for over 10 years. But as a leisure/retirement lifestyle I just don't see the appeal. In fact I get stressed out by the very thought of herding my family around like that for such a long time.

I am not trying to denigrate the long-term tourist thing you describe. I really am glad you like it, and $40k does not seem unreasonable for such an adventure. I've done a fair amount of travel, but almost always with a work or business purpose, with tourist excursions tacked on to take advantage of the travel. I guess I'm not much of a tourist. My attitude is that after enough waterfalls and rivers and villages and antiquities and relics and old churches and civilizational ruins you've seen them all. I've almost stopped taking pictures at these kinds of places unless they include family and friends because pictures of pretty much any place on Earth are available on the internet and they are better than any I can take. Maybe you or someone enjoying this lifestyle can explain to me the draw of being in transit for such a long period.

Another reason that living the travel life isn't my thing is that I would also like to be in a position to earn money. I have a profession that I can put to good use in the USA to keep the income flowing, even part time, and I would like for my children to see me as a practicing professional as they grow in these formative years. Dad the role model or Dad the cautionary tale, either brings value to the development of my children that I don't want to forego, and that is not an option if we are hanging out in Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City.

Thanks to all who offered information to help me in gauging what my needs might be. It seems like health insurance is the main financial killer that I can see, so I need to figure out how to best tackle that. All the rest of the consumption we can control a lot better.

You donít have to do 3rd world arbitrage though. Portugal, Spain, Budapest or Malta. Upgrade to first world living, affordable health care, cheaper living and you could still work however you want. All places that you could rent or buy relatively cheaply too and still give your family the international experience.

dougules

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #62 on: March 12, 2018, 11:13:49 AM »
I don't understand why it is so fun to live on $1,000 a month in Thailand like a local when many people risk their life trying to get into the U.S. I can see the tourist experience to visit those places.

People risk their lives trying to get into the US because there is so much opportunity to make money.  If you've already got money, things are different.

It also depends on the country.  Venezuelans and Thais are in a completely different situation. 

2Birds1Stone

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #63 on: March 12, 2018, 11:15:14 AM »
I don't understand why it is so fun to live on $1,000 a month in Thailand like a local when many people risk their life trying to get into the U.S. I can see the tourist experience to visit those places.

Different strokes for different folks.

The average household income in Thailand is ~$580/month. So $1k/month means you can live pretty well, and Thailand offers some amazing culture, weather, and nature. I wouldn't want to retire there for decades, but spending a year or two in the SE Asia region while spending $12k/yr and not "wanting" for almost anything sounds pretty damn fun.

Shane

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #64 on: March 12, 2018, 03:36:29 PM »
@GOFU , I know you said you were looking for info on how much it would cost to move back to the US, but I just wanted to suggest another option to you. Sounds like you're kind of over Bolivia. Maybe you guys could spend a year or two slow traveling to check out some other places. Depending on where you go and how you live, it's not necessarily more expensive to travel for a year than it is to live in the States.

My wife, nine year old daughter and I spent $39K traveling around the world in 2017. We visited Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and New Zealand, spending 1 - 3 months in each country. You could also travel in some parts of the world for a lot less than we spent. Friends of ours who also traveled as a family of three for all of 2017, seem to be living well in SE Asia on a budget of only US$1K/month. They just stay at cheaper places than we do and eat mostly street food or cook for themselves at their hostel or apartment...
This is a thoughtful suggestion and I appreciate it. Yes, you read correctly between the lines, I am over Bolivia. If I could stand living here I would continue to do so because the cost of living is really low. Financially it is a pretty good deal. If I were single I would probably stick it out for a few more years. Unfortunately as a father of two small children this place pretty much sucks. Call me chauvinistic if you want to but I don't want my kids growing up in this culture.

I am glad you and your family are enjoying the extended travel. But I'm afraid I just don't see the appeal. I think about the idea of a year or more in Asia or some place like that and I just think, "For what?" What is it exactly that is so appealing about spending so much time in a place like, say, Viet Nam. Staying in a cheap place (perhaps the upstairs of someone else's house), living out of your backpack, eating food from street vendors and surrounded by people scrounging around for a meager existence? I can see doing that long-term if it was part of a job or calling. Hell, I've been at it myself for over 10 years. But as a leisure/retirement lifestyle I just don't see the appeal. In fact I get stressed out by the very thought of herding my family around like that for such a long time.

I am not trying to denigrate the long-term tourist thing you describe. I really am glad you like it, and $40k does not seem unreasonable for such an adventure. I've done a fair amount of travel, but almost always with a work or business purpose, with tourist excursions tacked on to take advantage of the travel. I guess I'm not much of a tourist. My attitude is that after enough waterfalls and rivers and villages and antiquities and relics and old churches and civilizational ruins you've seen them all. I've almost stopped taking pictures at these kinds of places unless they include family and friends because pictures of pretty much any place on Earth are available on the internet and they are better than any I can take. Maybe you or someone enjoying this lifestyle can explain to me the draw of being in transit for such a long period.

Another reason that living the travel life isn't my thing is that I would also like to be in a position to earn money. I have a profession that I can put to good use in the USA to keep the income flowing, even part time, and I would like for my children to see me as a practicing professional as they grow in these formative years. Dad the role model or Dad the cautionary tale, either brings value to the development of my children that I don't want to forego, and that is not an option if we are hanging out in Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City.

Thanks to all who offered information to help me in gauging what my needs might be. It seems like health insurance is the main financial killer that I can see, so I need to figure out how to best tackle that. All the rest of the consumption we can control a lot better.

@GOFU To be honest, I don't disagree, at all, with your characterization of perpetual world travel as being, basically, meaningless. You're right. With very few exceptions, we're not usually contributing anything of value to the places we visit, mostly just hanging out, drinking cappuccinos, eating good food, going for walks, lying on the beach, talking with people we meet, reading books and playing on the internet. In our case, though, a long vacation without any work responsibilities was exactly what we had been looking for. After many years of working hard, with no real vacations, we were ready to take a break and just relax for awhile after we FIREd in 2016. Another reason we decided to do long term family travel was to expose our daughter to the world. Growing up in a pretty rural place, we wanted to give her a chance to see some big cities like Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Auckland and London in real life, not just read about them in a geography books.

Although there are, for sure, some challenges to long term family travel, in general, we've enjoyed this past year. Our style of travel is pretty low key and unhurried, usually renting Airbnb apartments for at least a month at a time to get the discounts. More than anything, what I like is to just get a feel for what it's like to *live* in the cities we visit, not to rush around and make sure we see all of the important sites, although we always do a little sightseeing, as well.

Right now, we're in Athens for the month of March, where we've been alternating days of going out to explore the city with days of staying home to do schooling, read books, play on our electronic devices and just relax. On days when we stay home, usually we'll cook breakfast and lunch ourselves and then take a walk in the evening to a nearby restaurant to eat a nice dinner. Last week, we spent a day at the Acropolis, and tomorrow morning we're planning on going to the National Archaeological Museum, but in between, we've spent days just walking around the city, sitting in the parks, hanging out in little cafes sipping coffees and Coca Cola, and also several days where we just stayed home and took it easy.

@GOFU , I'm curious to learn more about your belief that it's important for your children to see you as a "practicing professional." I've heard others make similar statements, but, to be honest, I don't really understand why that's important. When I used to work at a job, I'm pretty sure my daughter didn't see me as a "practicing professional." She just saw me as gone from her life. Now that I don't have to go to work every day, I'm grateful to be able to spend more time with my wife and daughter. Maybe I'm missing something, though. What is it you think is so important about your children seeing you as a "practicing professional," and is that more important than their seeing you as a dad who is always available to read books to them, go for walks, play?

Also, how did you end up in Bolivia? That seems like such a random place to be living. Do you live in a big city? Countryside? What's life like there?

GOFU

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #65 on: March 12, 2018, 06:16:21 PM »
@Shane  I prefer to keep this thread on track for people to share information about their retirement spending numbers and the significant drivers thereof, as an educational/guidance tool for me to evaluate options.

If you like I can try to answer your questions about my ideas of modeling a professional life for my children and my Bolivia experience via private message.

To respond to you briefly about world travel, I am all in favor of it as a useful component of experiential education for children and adults. In fact, when my kids are a little older, old enough to actually form significant memories of the places we go, I plan to make travel part of life with them.

As I said before, I am glad you are enjoying your travel experience. Taking a year or so to do that in a relaxed and deliberate manner, after retiring from many years of hard work, sounds the realization of a dream.

Shane

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #66 on: March 13, 2018, 08:49:40 AM »
Our family of three is planning on returning to rural Hawaii in late summer, 2018 and are conservatively budgeting ~US$3K/month for living expenses. Hoping to rent a 2 bedroom/one bathroom house for between $1K - $1.5K per month, including all utilities and internet. For groceries, we'll probably spend ~$600 per month. Insurance, registration, depreciation, maintenance and fuel for a used, fuel efficient car will probably run ~$300/month. That leaves us ~$600/month left over to spend on eating out, entertainment, etc, which seems reasonable based on past experience.

Alternatively, we've also considered living on Oahu, but COL there is considerably higher. Oahu is a beautiful place to live, there's lots of stuff to do, and some neighborhoods are easily walkable/bikeable, but it's also relatively crowded and can be expensive, especially for housing. Based on internet searches, a 2 bedroom apartment in a nice, walkable/bikeable neighborhood, not too far from the beach, where we wouldn't necessarily need to own a car, would run about $2500/month, all in. Groceries would probably cost our family of 3 ~$800/month. Not owning a car, we'd probably spend at least $100 per month on public transport, Uber and occasional vehicle rentals. Since there are more things to do on Oahu, we'd probably spend more on eating out and taking part in various activities, so we're thinking we could possibly live a comfortable, semi-Mustachian lifestyle on Oahu for ~$4500/month.

@GOFU , if you have time and would like to send me your thoughts on why you think it's important for our children to grow up seeing us as "practicing professionals," I'll be happy to read your ideas and respond by PM. It's something my wife and I have talked about recently, and one of my brothers also brought up similar concerns to me not too long ago. If you're willing to share, I'd also be interested to learn more about what you've been up to in Bolivia and what it's like living there long term. South America is a place we haven't visited yet, but we're definitely interested in going there some day.

Mrbeardedbigbucks

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #67 on: March 15, 2018, 05:35:21 AM »

@GOFU , if you have time and would like to send me your thoughts on why you think it's important for our children to grow up seeing us as "practicing professionals," I'll be happy to read your ideas and respond by PM. It's something my wife and I have talked about recently, and one of my brothers also brought up similar concerns to me not too long ago. If you're willing to share, I'd also be interested to learn more about what you've been up to in Bolivia and what it's like living there long term. South America is a place we haven't visited yet, but we're definitely interested in going there some day.

I donít have kids but I too am curious about why itís important for kids to have this ďpracticing professionalĒ perception of their parents. Iím also curious about how the OP ended up in Bolivia. I think you should keep this conversation going or start a separate thread.

To stay on topic:

Wife and I live in N.H., ages 44 & 39, no kids, 1100 sq foot house, 2 cars. Our average spending for the last 18 months has been about 4K per month but our essential spending is only about $2800 per month. We will both work part time, about 12-14 hours a week to pay for our discretionary expenses in order to keep pressure off our assets. Iím not officially FIREíd yet but will be in about two weeks but my wife left her job in June 2017. I posted our case study not long ago and i wrote out our detailed monthly budget  in one of my replies. Hereís the link if you wanna take a look:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/is-this-fire-plan-'razor-thin'/

jeroly

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #68 on: March 20, 2018, 04:49:38 PM »
(NO FACEPUNCHES PLEASE!)

I've been FIREd since 2000 at age 41, living mostly in HCOL areas (NYC and DC), and have spent between $6-9K/mo. depending on whether I've had ACA health insurance or individual, whether I was paying the costs for my ex as well as myself (more for housing, food, etc) or just me (more for dating), whether I was in school (tuition adding) or not (entertainment costs adding), etc.

Here are some of the things I've found to be true over that time:

Unless I wanted to own and operate a boat/RV/jet/vacation home (I don't), it's hard to see me wanting more than say $10k/month even in a HCOL area. (But that's just me in my current situation...maybe if I had stayed in my career with its then-exponentially-growing salary, I might have experienced more lifestyle inflation and found myself 'needing' more things)

I love to travel and travel a lot, but have found that my costs when traveling, aside from airfares, even when factoring in lots (~33%) of travel in HCOL areas like Europe/US/Canada (the other 67% in Asia/Mexico/South America), wind up being about the same as when I stay at home. So traveling winds up being almost 'free' when I have longer trips.

If I needed to, I could pretty easily cut back on housing costs (to save $2,250/mo), car costs ($275/mo), and 'toys' (computers and other gadgetry at $250/mo) to bring monthly expenses down to about $4k/mo... and that's without even touching my crazy-for-MMM entertainment and food budgets

GOFU

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #69 on: March 20, 2018, 06:43:22 PM »
(NO FACEPUNCHES PLEASE!)

I've been FIREd since 2000 at age 41, living mostly in HCOL areas (NYC and DC), and have spent between $6-9K/mo. depending on whether I've had ACA health insurance or individual, whether I was paying the costs for my ex as well as myself (more for housing, food, etc) or just me (more for dating), whether I was in school (tuition adding) or not (entertainment costs adding), etc.

Here are some of the things I've found to be true over that time:

Unless I wanted to own and operate a boat/RV/jet/vacation home (I don't), it's hard to see me wanting more than say $10k/month even in a HCOL area. (But that's just me in my current situation...maybe if I had stayed in my career with its then-exponentially-growing salary, I might have experienced more lifestyle inflation and found myself 'needing' more things)

I love to travel and travel a lot, but have found that my costs when traveling, aside from airfares, even when factoring in lots (~33%) of travel in HCOL areas like Europe/US/Canada (the other 67% in Asia/Mexico/South America), wind up being about the same as when I stay at home. So traveling winds up being almost 'free' when I have longer trips.

If I needed to, I could pretty easily cut back on housing costs (to save $2,250/mo), car costs ($275/mo), and 'toys' (computers and other gadgetry at $250/mo) to bring monthly expenses down to about $4k/mo... and that's without even touching my crazy-for-MMM entertainment and food budgets
No face punches from me. To each his own. Thank you for your input.

Letj

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #70 on: March 20, 2018, 09:01:52 PM »
Posting to follow. Very interesting thread.

RookieStache

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #71 on: March 21, 2018, 07:08:04 AM »
My retirement spending is pretty close to what I was spending when working full time.

No kids, house/car payments? I am 29 years old with an 18 month old and one on the way. Currently have mortgage, house payment, daycare, saving for schooling, weddings, and other necessities. I can only imagine how much less I would be spending in my early years of retirement when I will no longer be paying for any of the aforementioned, assuming good health.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 07:12:14 AM by RookieStache »

Cassie

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #72 on: March 21, 2018, 11:26:52 AM »
Also once you don't work some expenses go down that are work related but others may go up because you have the time and energy. For instance, when working we rarely went to events, entertainment venues etc because we were too tired.   Now we have the time and energy for these things. We didn't travel much either and that has changed too.  for instance this summer we will go on a month RV trip and usually we take 2 cruises/year.

caracarn

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #73 on: March 21, 2018, 11:34:55 AM »
PTF

GOFU

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #74 on: March 24, 2018, 09:40:21 PM »
PTF
I'm afraid I don't know what this means.


2Birds1Stone

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #76 on: March 25, 2018, 06:37:50 AM »

Gone Fishing

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #77 on: March 25, 2018, 07:30:51 AM »
We semi-retired with a $48k/yr budget for a family of 4.  Our monthly nut is $3k which includes a $850/mo mortgage payment and $125/mo of subsidized ACA insurance.  The other $12k is for vacations, vehicle replacement, and home maintenance. 

Quitting megacorp did not realize any meaningful cost savings as I was already packing lunch, doing my own laundry, and driving an efficient car. 

My hobby expenses have certainly gone up as I have the time to indulge them.  They are very seasonal, spiking in the winter time, then dropping to near zero during the warmer months. 

I don't track that closely, but so far, our monthly expenses seem pretty much on target.  It is still too early to say if my car/home expense projections are accurate.  That said, our withdrawal rate has been very low, around 1% or so, due to higher than expected part time income.  The part time schedule has been great, we still have summers and holidays off, unlimited (if unpaid) sick time, and flexible schedules that allow us to attend nearly all of our children's activities. 

We are probably working a bit more than we need to, but it does serve as insurance against ACA repeal and/or a big pull back in the market early in our retirement.  My wife, who is putting in more hours than myself, did recently decide to cut her hours by 33%, which will be nice.  Occasionally, I muse that we could have semi-retired several years earlier if I had known the part time work was going to be there, but the ACA/market uncertainty would have still been there, and any adverse conditions would have made an even more substantial impact on our 50+ year retirement trajectory.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2018, 07:37:55 AM by Gone Fishing »

MarciaB

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #78 on: March 29, 2018, 11:59:45 AM »
I've been retired for 14 months and in that time we've downsized to a handful of storage tubs at a friend's house and a few pieces of furniture (at one of our kid's). We're nomadic. I'm 56 and he's 66. We have a second grandchild coming on line this fall. Family is all in the Portland OR area.

We travel internationally some of the time (some cheap and some expensive places) and in the States we house sit (free) and rent spendy furnished apartments in Portland (expensive).

We're finding that our average monthly cost of living ($3750 or so) has been pretty constant over the past couple of years. Meaning, staying in one place (while working, and then newly retired) seems to be about the same amount of money as moving from place to place (after retirement). This surprised me but I have great data (I'm a QuickBooks nerdy whiz). Spending varies a great deal from one month to the next (and from one place in the world to another) but seems to average out over time at that same level. Huh.

We are also examining the idea of "perma travel" and whether or not it makes sense for us. From what I can tell so far I think I like the idea of it better than the reality of it. We're probably going to scale it back so that we have more nesting time in a home base (of course we need to actually have a home base of some kind first...and Portland is not the cheap seats...)
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dude

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #79 on: March 30, 2018, 06:13:16 PM »
(NO FACEPUNCHES PLEASE!)

I've been FIREd since 2000 at age 41, living mostly in HCOL areas (NYC and DC), and have spent between $6-9K/mo. . . .

This is the sort of "unMustachian" spending level I'm anticipating when I retirement -- my wife won't retire until some 5-6 years after me (and will continue to earn her low six-figure salary). I've got a generous pension coming, and should have $850k+ in 401k stash that I can access penalty-free right away at age 54. Planning to draw just under 2% from the 401k to supplement the pension. This should put me at or above current (pre-retirement) spending. Will make necessary adjustments when the wife retires.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #80 on: March 30, 2018, 08:39:13 PM »
By means of geographical arbitrage my new plan is to FIRE on ~$18k/yr.

GOFU

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #81 on: March 30, 2018, 09:08:58 PM »
By means of geographical arbitrage my new plan is to FIRE on ~$18k/yr.
Pack light and keep moving? Go where the climate suits your clothes? Or where the cost of living matches your desire to spend?

On the one hand that sounds great to a restless soul like myself. On the other hand I'm not sure how long I could keep it up. 

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2Birds1Stone

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #83 on: March 30, 2018, 09:47:04 PM »
By means of geographical arbitrage my new plan is to FIRE on ~$18k/yr.
Pack light and keep moving? Go where the climate suits your clothes? Or where the cost of living matches your desire to spend?

On the one hand that sounds great to a restless soul like myself. On the other hand I'm not sure how long I could keep it up.

A combination of all of the above.

Be flexible on when/where you do things.

We are looking for some adventure and to explore new cultures and areas. Our plan includes SE Asia for 6-12 months , thru hiking the Appalachian Trail for 5-6 months, spending a year in Europe (have a paid off family flat in Poland for home base), spending 6 months in Central America learning how to surf and speak Spanish, cook etc, Exploring the national parks in the USA by converted cargo van or a trailer camper for 9-12 months, Thru hiking the PCT, Thru hiking the CDT (triple crown), Motorcycling from NY down to the southern most part of South America, and eventually circumnavigating the world over the span of 3-5 years by sailboat.

Those are the big ones, we may only do a few, or we may be able to knock them all out intermittently with a tiny bit of work thrown in between.

We are about to be 31 and 27 years old, the above will keep us busy for a solid two decades if we do it right. None of it is very costly. If we throw in some work here and there, we will likely draw less than 4% from our portfolio in most years, even starting at a modest high six figure starting point.

daverobev

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #84 on: March 31, 2018, 08:53:50 AM »
PTF
I'm afraid I don't know what this means.

ROFLCOPTER
You stumped me with that one too.

Posting to follow (ie, so this shows up when there are replies; people prefer it over the 'notify' button).

ROFL = rolling on the floor laughing.

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gerardc

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #85 on: March 31, 2018, 08:56:40 PM »
$20k to $70k for 1-2 persons depending on COL and fun budget.

physdude

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #86 on: April 15, 2018, 08:53:06 AM »
I don't understand why it is so fun to live on $1,000 a month in Thailand like a local when many people risk their life trying to get into the U.S. I can see the tourist experience to visit those places.

People risk their lives trying to get into the US because there is so much opportunity to make money.  If you've already got money, things are different.

It also depends on the country.  Venezuelans and Thais are in a completely different situation.

I personally think the whole risking lives to get into the US meme is massively exaggerated. One of my "Malaysian" (Malaysian in almost every way except for actual nationality) is actually trying very hard to get rid of her US citizenship right now (guess what, there is a large queue for giving it up as well as getting it) which she accidentally acquired by being born there and which is turning out to be a serious pain tax-wise. As for myself, my PhD advisor was furious that I didn't even want to apply for any job in the US after graduation but I definitely wanted to get back to Asia and vastly prefer the lifestyle here. (Also, those classmates of mine who did their PhD in Asia did much better than me and my US classmates career-wise despite my PhD  being from a top 10 US university.)

physdude

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #87 on: April 15, 2018, 09:06:00 AM »
To go back to being on topic, my expenditures come out to about US$30k/yr living in a LCOL country (Malaysia) with about a vacation a month (usually in a decent 4-5 star hotel), a 3 br apartment in a complex with a nice infinity pool overlooking some forested hills, gym, sauna etc and within a short walk of a train station, eating out most of the time, playing bridge often and partying out once a week or so when I am not traveling.

RookieStache

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #88 on: April 17, 2018, 09:42:27 AM »
To go back to being on topic, my expenditures come out to about US$30k/yr living in a LCOL country (Malaysia) with about a vacation a month (usually in a decent 4-5 star hotel), a 3 br apartment in a complex with a nice infinity pool overlooking some forested hills, gym, sauna etc and within a short walk of a train station, eating out most of the time, playing bridge often and partying out once a week or so when I am not traveling.

Seems rather low considering the 12 vacations a year and eating out majority of the time. Most be a low rent fee on top of it. Well done!

physdude

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #89 on: April 17, 2018, 11:29:53 PM »
To go back to being on topic, my expenditures come out to about US$30k/yr living in a LCOL country (Malaysia) with about a vacation a month (usually in a decent 4-5 star hotel), a 3 br apartment in a complex with a nice infinity pool overlooking some forested hills, gym, sauna etc and within a short walk of a train station, eating out most of the time, playing bridge often and partying out once a week or so when I am not traveling.

Seems rather low considering the 12 vacations a year and eating out majority of the time. Most be a low rent fee on top of it. Well done!

The trick is to find nearby places to travel and the more I go around here, the more I find to do. I had planned to travel to Japan/US this summer but it looks like I will finally just spend it near here since it is just so much better value for money and the food/climate are much more suited to me (probably not true for many others). To give you a taste of what it costs to get a decent vacation here, I will give a rough breakdown of my recent 1 wk trip to Medan. The hotel, the Four points (which is one of the best in Medan), was the bulk of the cost costing just under US$350 for a week's stay with breakfast included and including 3 dinners I had in the excellent restaurant there. The flight, airport transfers, other eating out, local transport  and sightseeing came out to US$180 for the week. The other eating out was surprisingly little given Medan's culinary reputation since the hotel breakfast was extensive and tasty but I could indulge myself to my heart's content with my favorite fruit, the durian, which has become expensive in Malaysia due to sudden demand from China. One of the hotel dinners I had, an oxtail soup which was re-interpreted by the chef to be grilled oxtail and a vegetable soup, was amazingly good and would not be out of place in a Michelin starred restaurant (I have been to a few). I am not including about $50 worth of coffee beans (an obvious thing to bring from Sumatra though it is only a bit cheaper than in other places) and $50 of other souvenirs  and food (some of which I forgot in the cab back home :() since those are all for the back home.

This actually overstates the cost of the vacation a bit since I would have probably spent about US$100 for the week here eating out, playing bridge, partying, getting massages etc.

Now, Medan is not a major tourist destination by any means which makes it a bit cheaper and my trip last month to Sandakan was a fair bit more expensive - a much longer flight, slightly more expensive hotel (the Four points again but worth the extra cost due to the breathtaking view from the room imho) and much more expensive but amazing tourism as the Malaysian government takes further steps to charge foreigners prices close to international ones for the good tourist stuff (distances are also much more to get to the forests and rivers as they are not that close to the city). Everything came out to about US$850 or so for the eight day trip but I think that was very good value for a trip that included seeing sun bears, orangutans, proboscis monkeys (both semi-wild ones that come right up to you and truly wild ones in the forest), rhinoceros hornbills, the bird's nest caves etc. together with good food, a hotel with a great view and so on.

These vacation costs could be brought down considerably quite easily with moderate hotels etc. but since I can afford it, I do it this way. But this gives me great confidence about whether I have enough since I could easily cut 30-40% of the costs on these vacations and have them still be pretty good - ditto for housing. On of my British friends who is retired here lives quite comfortably on about US$20k/year also taking about a vacation a month but stays in a 1 br apartment here (in an expat area) and in moderate hotels while traveling.

The apartment rent with utilities is about Us$650/month. This is on the high end for away from the city center due to the proximity of the train that gets you there in 20-30 minutes and nice, new facilities (3br, 1200 sf). The main trick is to avoid the expat areas and food which are very overpriced. This suburb has cheaper food (US$1.8 for an unlimited south Indian vegetarian meal or US$0.4 for a simple chapati/dal, US$1.2 for a decent meat portion - compare this to US$3-4 for the Starbucks coffee in downtown and the expat areas) and services (US$10 for a one hour Thai massage compared to US$18 or so downtown, a bit more for the oil massage but I learnt to my surprise that that is a code word for them to ask you for extra services :redface:) making it a great deal. If one doesn't care about the facilities, renting a townhouse is much cheaper and would only be about Us$450 a month.

I am considered a bit of a weirdo here as I don't have a car and this is a very car-centric country (much, much more so than the US - many people spend more on their car than on their house). However, the public transport is okay for most places I go to and I don't mind walking a kilometer or so which the middle and upper class locals would consider totally unacceptable. Grab (the local equivalent for Uber) is okay for the rest and the two or three rides I take a week still make this combination much cheaper and hassle-free than having a car. And since I am traveling quite often, this is even more true.

physdude

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #90 on: April 17, 2018, 11:49:59 PM »
Day trips or short trips from KL are also good value. I am taking a US$55 day trip next Saturday to see the famous fluorescent algae off the west coast of Malaysia. This includes a return 2.5 hour bus ride, boat trip and sea food dinner with guide which is not unreasonable (but not cheap by local standards) and the phenomenon is, of course, only seen in a few places worldwide.

My next long vacation is going to be much longer and expensive than usual as my alma mater has offered volunteer positions to alumni on a two week research sailing trip on the Java Sea from Jakarta to Pontianak. They have made it abundantly clear that this is not a cruise and it is going to be dorm style and definitely not luxury accomodation with many in a large room and with limited fresh water and that is one is expected to help out with the research activities to the extent that one is capable of. OTOH, the boat is a true sailing boat, is going to some fairly remote places which are apparently chock full of very beautiful islands and one is going to be traveling with very smart and adventurous people. It is not very cheap either (US$1250 for everything included on the 2 week trip but not the to/fro flights - this is apparently the actual cost incurred since it is definitely not a profit-making venture as I personally know some of the organizers) but sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience and so I have signed up for it. All in all, it will cost be around US$2k including the few days of hotels to see Jakarta and Pontianak themselves, the return flights etc and it will be a 3 week vacation.

This definitely puts me well over budget for the next month but I am confident I can make it up on the other months.

Shane

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #91 on: April 18, 2018, 09:13:43 AM »
@physdude , are you a US citizen? If so, how do you stay in Malaysia long term? MM2H visa?

physdude

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #92 on: April 18, 2018, 09:38:46 AM »
@physdude , are you a US citizen? If so, how do you stay in Malaysia long term? MM2H visa?

No, not US citizen but don't want to reveal too much due to privacy concerns (let us say citizen of a large Asian country and have lived for a long interval in Singapore before). I am indeed in Malaysia on the MM2H visa which is a decent deal. The Philippines visa is a better deal comparatively speaking but the life in Malaysia is far better and, surprisingly, cheaper (I suspect this is because of the low population density).

Padonak

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #93 on: April 18, 2018, 10:31:35 AM »
Physdude, why did you choose Malaysia? Why a Kuala Lumpur suburb? Why not a place like Bali, Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Danang, for example?

I am also considering retiring in SEA, haven't decided where yet.

Shane

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #94 on: April 18, 2018, 01:48:20 PM »
@physdude , are you a US citizen? If so, how do you stay in Malaysia long term? MM2H visa?

No, not US citizen but don't want to reveal too much due to privacy concerns (let us say citizen of a large Asian country and have lived for a long interval in Singapore before). I am indeed in Malaysia on the MM2H visa which is a decent deal. The Philippines visa is a better deal comparatively speaking but the life in Malaysia is far better and, surprisingly, cheaper (I suspect this is because of the low population density).

Thanks, @physdude . Agreed, the quality/cost of living in Malaysia is high. The people are nice. The infrastructure is good. The food is delicious! In 2017, we spent ~3 months in Malaysia, mostly in KL, and liked it a lot. Riding Uber and Grab cars everywhere for just a few ringgit was great! In a place like KL, where Uber and Grab are almost free, owning a car doesn't make much sense to me. I'm looking forward to self-driving Uber cars coming out. Never having to worry about parking will be a great.

physdude

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #95 on: April 21, 2018, 09:28:39 PM »
Physdude, why did you choose Malaysia? Why a Kuala Lumpur suburb? Why not a place like Bali, Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Danang, for example?

I am also considering retiring in SEA, haven't decided where yet.
Am traveling to Singapore for the briefing on the sailing trip and so not checking the forum very often.

Malaysia is great because the cost of living is about as low as it gets while the infrastructure is top notch and is actually better than many first world cities. It is also an amazing travel base due to air Asia and the other budget airlines and a very good airport, which while far from downtown, has great connectivity to it (hint for travelers - unless you are in an extreme hurry, take the bus to downtown rather than the train - it is just US$3 and very comfortable and only a bit slower while the train is about $15).

Penang is a cheaper and better option for those who don't travel very often and like nature as it has a lot of nature which is one thing that KL lacks. However, Penang does have much fewer cultural activities than KL.

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soccerluvof4

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #96 on: April 23, 2018, 03:36:24 AM »
We live in a relatively HCOL area and I have been fire'd 3 years and my DW works for simply HC and anything she makes is 100% saved but is really is minimal. So our budget with 2 in college and 2 at home, a paid for house no debt it 82k a year.  Largest part of that is soccer travel and seeing our kids in college as one is 4 hours away and the other is 12 hours away.  We pretty much travel every weekend.  Once we get pass that stage which wont be for awhile our costs will drop dramatically and easily would live on around 50k a year and well below our current withdrawal rate but then depending maybe we might want to do more just for us but i dont really see that happening as we are pretty simple.  I would add that this year we have been under budget a minimum of 1k a month usually quite a bit more as well and have done extensive remodeling the last couple years to the house we downsized into.
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physdude

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #97 on: April 24, 2018, 09:03:41 AM »
One issue with countries such as Malaysia is relatively high inflation which needs to be taken into account though the starting costs are low and almost absurdly so if you compare with HCOL places like HK, Silicon Valley or Manhattan. Just today, I found that the south Indian unlimited veg meal has been upped in price to $1.90 from $1.80 (RM 6.5 to 6.9) in the nearby place (a large single portion of any chicken dish remains at $1.3 or RM 5 for now) and I am seeing similar increases in the posh areas of the city where it can reach $2.5 now. This is still absurdly cheap for a meal that can easily provide half or more of the day's nutrition but at the rate of increases I am seeing I wouldn't be surprised if it doubles in price within the next 10 years.

I have no idea of how to fit this into the SWR but it probably makes more sense to use a somewhat lower SWR here to account for this - 3 or 3.5% maybe. Returns on EM assets tend to be higher and will reflect local inflation so having some local investments might alleviate that concern.

jeroly

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #98 on: April 25, 2018, 04:22:32 AM »
One issue with countries such as Malaysia is relatively high inflation which needs to be taken into account though the starting costs are low and almost absurdly so if you compare with HCOL places like HK, Silicon Valley or Manhattan. Just today, I found that the south Indian unlimited veg meal has been upped in price to $1.90 from $1.80 (RM 6.5 to 6.9) in the nearby place (a large single portion of any chicken dish remains at $1.3 or RM 5 for now) and I am seeing similar increases in the posh areas of the city where it can reach $2.5 now. This is still absurdly cheap for a meal that can easily provide half or more of the day's nutrition but at the rate of increases I am seeing I wouldn't be surprised if it doubles in price within the next 10 years.

I have no idea of how to fit this into the SWR but it probably makes more sense to use a somewhat lower SWR here to account for this - 3 or 3.5% maybe. Returns on EM assets tend to be higher and will reflect local inflation so having some local investments might alleviate that concern.

In general, economic theory holds that, all other things being equal, the exchange rates should compensate for differences in inflation between two countries. Therefore, one would expect the ringgit to depreciate in value over time, making up for the faster rising prices in ringgits compared to lower inflation rate in, say, the United States.

GOFU

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Re: So how much does it really cost to live early retired?
« Reply #99 on: April 25, 2018, 01:55:25 PM »
Hey Hey!! This thread has gotten 100 posts! Where do I put in for my medal, or at least a chest to pin it on?

Thanks to everyone for their contributions on this topic and to the spread of useful information. Your posts have been thoughtful and informative, and surely much appreciated by many.

I had the chance this month of April 2018 to visit the USA for a couple of weeks. Due to an illness in the family and some other circumstances I got an up close and personal look at the costs of health care, elder care, housing and daily living expenses like groceries.

First, as a side observation, the abundance that reigns in American society is really staggering. If you have not spent significant time living in a lesser developed or poorer place outside the USA you may not have had occasion to think too much about it, but to my eyes the grocery stores alone are a modern day wonder. Produce, meat, bread, dairy, home health, junk food (candy, soda, chips, cookies), beer/liquor, spices, prepared foods, frozen, fresh, boxed, bagged, organic, gluten-free and on and on. The cleanliness, the order, the automation, the efficiency, confidence in the products, the trust!! that allows one to so easily access it all. I could go on for hours. And if you know how to eat well and shop well it is not expensive.

The abundance extends to civil infrastructure, systems of credit, protection of private property, generally reliable legal systems, the opportunity to build personal wealth and so much more.

Now all this abundance comes with a societal cost in terms of commercialization of culture, significant waste, the tendency to under-appreciate, predatory lenders and pernicious lawyers and many other negatives. But there is no denying the basic material and especially alimentary abundance that pervades and is within reach of almost everyone. 

I am only going to touch on a couple of points here, but I would be interested in how people manage the seemingly prohibitively expensive items like health care/health insurance, housing, and parochial or private education.

My observation is that if you shop wisely at a marvelous grocery store and prepare your own food, the daily cost of living and eating is extremely manageable. I prepared some excellent tasty, nutritious and abundant meals for two and three people for just a few dollars each. Of course I am a savvy shopper and an awesome cook, but from my ability to observe, the food aspect of a family budget is not, or at least should not be, problematic in the USA.

On the other hand, health care and elder care will ruin your ass quick if you are not well insured. Rehab or residence for an old person in a skilled facility, around $10,000 a month at least. How the hell is a family supposed to afford that? Hospital is worse.

Two bedroom one bath houses in mediocre neighborhoods in a midwestern city for $200k? Damnation that is a bite. Get out to the suburbs to a "good" school district and the price goes up 50% and the property taxes which never end cost as much as a bachelor pad apartment.

$10,000 a year for two kids to attend Catholic grade school? Grade school! Holy shit. Then of course there are the fundraiser auctions and supplies and activities which inflate that price. High school and college even worse.

These brief points merely scratch the surface, I know.

Many people don't save much because they are ill-informed or undisciplined. But it seems these basic costs sure do make it difficult for even a Mustachian to bank for a good retirement.

How do people handle these types of big basic things?

Once again thanks for participating in this thread.