Author Topic: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?  (Read 3410 times)

whywork

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FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« on: June 05, 2018, 09:19:15 AM »
I think mainly this applies to those with kids and with a decent stash (500k+); Instead of raising the children here, what if we move to some cheaper COLA country (Asian schools are better) and raise the kids there and come back when they finish college?

You can afford private school and also pay for college all within 2-3k per month in Asia. Meanwhile your stash here continues to grow and will be ready by the time you come back to retire.

This way you can both retire and also ensure kids are raised with frugal living habits so that they don't get attuned to american ways of spending.

What are your thoughts on this?


Cassie

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2018, 09:25:28 AM »
Something to consider is that the air quality is very unhealthy in many Asian countries which would have me thinking long and hard about taking my kids there to live.

Hirondelle

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2018, 10:01:26 AM »
How familiar are you with Asia?

Now the first thing I'd say is that I love love love Asia so I'd move there in a heartbeat. But there's some huge differences between countries. Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, but also several parts of China aren't LCOL at all. School culture is insane regarding pressure. Parents drop their kids into many extracurricular classes which increase this pressure even further and are also very costly $$$.

Also don't underestimate the Asian version of consumer culture. The Chinese upper class is the most consumerist culture I've ever seen and the rich Vietnamese for instance are also way more spendy than the average wealthy European (and to a lesser extent American) that I know of. Showing off your wealth by wearing branded clothes and such is a BIG THING. And these would be the kids you'd hang out with at private school (I've been teaching international school kids in Asia, the Asians there were the most spoiled kids I've ever seen in my life). The only difference is that they don't have the debt culture and indeed college costs are way lower.

So my thoughts would be that Asia is wonderful for many reasons, but that the points you're raising don't necessarily work out depending on your country of choice and your desired lifestyle.

Edited to add where my knowledge is derived from: I spent 6 months teaching in Vietnam, tutoring children from the international school and teaching English at language schools and local public school. The international school had both western and Asian (mostly Korean, some Viet) kids. The western kids were fine. The Koreans on the other hand... We had company-jokes about "the crazy Korean parent of the day", like the time when a Korean mom asked if her kid could join the homework class, but ONLY if there's no other Koreans as "Koreans are weird" (her words). One of my Korean pupils was a star student but nevertheless enrolled in tutoring for Math and English despite of being 2 years (!!) ahead of his age. The pressure his parents put on him was insane.

I also have a lot of Asian (Chinese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Phillipines) friends that have given me some insights in local education systems, but only anecdotal.

There's several people on these forums living in Asia and raising kids there who probably have more thoughts on this. Bat signalling @malacca @Freedomin5 @expatartist @Malaysia41
« Last Edit: June 05, 2018, 11:24:09 PM by Hirondelle »

montgomery212

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2018, 10:11:05 AM »
I wouldn't. But then FIRE isn't THAT important to me. Remember much of Asia is still the developing world. So you get pollution, shaky electrical grids, not the most sanitary conditions - constantly having to be careful about drinking water etc, a largely uneducated population etc. Sure the richest/ex pats carve out a life for themselves in the nicest parts of town where they don't have to deal with these things as much as regular folks and live a life closer to US/EU life (though you can't escape the pollution), but take a look at what those kinds of exclusive luxury condos go for -- it's not as cheap as it used to be if you want to replicate western life. Asian developers know there is a demand for the lifestyle and they've raised prices accordingly. Sure life is made a lot cheaper without health care costs, but unless you have the ability to transfer over there with a US employer -- you're not going to make money in USD and spend it in rupees/yuan/whatever. You'll be paid a local salary and have local expenses.

Also if you want your kids to be able to adjust, you'll like have to send them to American/EU Embassy schools. Again unless you're getting an ex pat relo package with your employer picking up the tab, these schools are pricey. And don't count on the idea that your kid can just go to college there for next to nothing. One of the MAJOR reasons tons of Indians/Chinese/Asians generally come to the US for college is bc the competition to get admitted to colleges there is fierce; there just are too many people and not enough college spots and in that part of the world, there is NO hope of carving out a middle class life or better without college. So Asian families -- even the ones that aren't rich, even the ones whose kids aren't the best students and can't come over here bc MIT or the ivy league wants them -- they will still save every last dollar, take whatever loans they have to, just to send a kid here to pay out of state for Penn State or Ohio State or whatever. (Not knocking those schools but I find it shocking that foreigners are so desperate that they will full pay to come to the US for their average kid to attend a regular state school.)

Why not consider someplace in Europe or Australia? You'll benefit from low health care costs and cheap college, and the adjustment issues won't be as dramatic.

mxt0133

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2018, 10:15:45 AM »
I was in your position a few years a go, a young family and a decent stash.  I have family in Asia and decided to do a 6 week trial run to see how it would be.  End result was that we came back because we were not in the right mindset to make it work for us.  LCOL areas are so because they don't have what we would consider basic necessities in first world countries.  Things like clean drinking water, electricity, public safety, if you want access to them they actually cost more in those countries on a relative costs compared to local average wages. 

I had relatives that lived first world lifestyles only because they made the income to support it, meaning executive level jobs and not your run of the mill white collar profession.  They went to the best schools, traveled internationally, had two cars, ect.  But again it actually costs more in developing countries relative to what you will be paid.

How will you be able to afford those things and let your stash grow?  What are the chances that you will be able to earn more than the average professional in a foreign country.  My company was going to let me work remotely with travel back to the US a few times a year.  Financially we would have lived a very upper class lifestyle if I kept my US income.  The thing was I had to work US business hours, and after three weeks of that my stress levels were through the roof, my health was quickly declining, and I barely spent time with my family because I would be sleeping when they were up.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's not typically done unless you are already FI or can earn a sustainable income where ever you are.

Slowtraveler

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2018, 10:31:42 AM »
I have some friends who've done it and have no regrets.

Gocurrycracker also does something similar.

Rolling blackouts? Must be living in a shanty town somewhere. Electricity and internet are better in Thailand than the best in USA or Europe. I've also heard good things about Malaysia. Philippines, not so much. Education in Thailand and Philippines is a joke from what I've heard as well. Vietnam, China, and India seem to have some top notch programs.

Do some research and you should find multiple good options.

Clean water? 1 baht/liter vending machines for reverse osmosis water.
Electricity? 4baht/kwh legally enforced now.

The biggest hangup in Thailand would be language but many quality schools in other countries have that down.

MUCH safer here than the west. Look at the most dangerous cities by homicide, almost all in America. Very few in Asia. Less in Asia than Europe, a little research will go a long way. Pick pocketing happens but I don't know anyone who's had it happen personally. Helmet are left on motorcycles everywhere and nobody takes the helmet. They would be gone within 10 minutes in America or Europe.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2018, 10:37:12 AM by Slowtraveler »

Freedomin5

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2018, 07:52:39 PM »
Hi, bat signal received. I'm here, and boy do I have thoughts. I'll try to organize them into a semi-logical order, but be prepared for a bit of an essay. My thoughts are directly related to living in China. As an aside, the educational systems in Southeast Asia (e.g., Thailand, Cambodia, etc.) are worse than they are in China. Singapore and Malaysia may be exceptions, but Singapore for sure is a very HCOL locale.

Within China, we need to separate the education systems between first tier cities (e.g., Shanghai, Beijing), second tier cities (e.g., Kunming, Suzhou, Chongqing), and third tier cities, as well as the very LCOL rest of rural China.

In first tier cities, you can choose between top international schools, international divisions of local schools, or local schools. Top international schools will run you around USD$30K-$40K per year for tuition. International divisions of local schools are approximately USD$20-$30K per year. Local schools or experimental schools (more hard core local schools) are around USD$12K-$15K per year.

Please disabuse yourself of the idea that "Asian schools are better" and "you can afford private school". It really depends on how you define 'better' and what you mean by 'afford'.

Let's start with the local public schools in first-tier cities. Teacher-student ratio is around 1:40. Students are publicly ranked, so every student knows where they fall on the totem pole compared to their classmates. Teachers use public shaming and scolding (sometimes bordering on verbal abuse by Western standards) to motivate students to work harder. Rote memorization (rather than critical thinking and problem solving skills) is the primary method of instruction. Independent thinking is not encouraged, unless it is in line with the teacher's. God forbid that you have a child with special needs. Learning support or even understanding of attentional or learning difficulties are non-existent. Your child will be labeled as either stupid or lazy if they show academic difficulties and you as the parent will be blamed for raising a stupid/lazy kid. High school students have approximately 3 to 4 hours (or more) homework per day. Your child will need to be proficient in Chinese, as local public school = taught in Chinese. Now, if your child is exceptionally bright, exceptionally hardworking and self-motivated, well-organized, and energetic, he/she will likely thrive in this environment (granted, he/she will likely thrive in pretty much any environment).

International divisions of local schools are like local schools but harder and more demanding. They often follow an IB (International Baccalaureate) programme which will allow your child to study abroad (outside of China) following graduation. Classes are taught in English. Everything else is the same as listed above, since it is still a Chinese system. Kids here tend to be wealthy Chinese kids. I believe other posters have already mentioned the crazy amount of comparison and "Keeping up with the Jones/Wangs/Chens" that occur in these schools.

So let's explore staying within the international community then at the international schools. These hire Western-trained teachers for the most part (except for the mandatory Chinese classes). They tend to be well-funded and thus have large, beautiful campuses with a ton of technology and resources. However, on the international circuit, your child must apply and interview for a spot in the good schools. Academic demands tend to be higher than in the local Western public school. For example, straight A students in your typical public school in Normaltown, USA, will likely be getting As and Bs at an international school. The pace of instruction moves faster and again, the students who are most likely to succeed are the strong students. Critical thinking skills ARE encouraged, and many of these students go on to attend good universities. Now, because we are China, most teachers are on two or three year contracts. This means that it is basically a crapshoot each year as to whether you will get a good teacher. Teacher turnover is quite high. Again, if your child has special needs or require special education services, you're not going to find much here, not matter what the brochure says. If services are needed, you will be paying out of pocket or paying additional fees.

Speaking of additional fees, the expensive schools will have annual school trips for the students that run between $1000-$2000 that are not part of the tuition. Don't forget fees for uniforms, fundraising endeavours, and keeping up with the Jones. The amount of wealth is insane here, and your child will need the newest iPhone (or at least an iPhone 7) if he/she wants to have friends and not be bullied/mocked at school. There is an undercurrent of comparison and often overt excess in the expat community. Having an ayi/maid and driver is the norm, not the exception. If your family doesn't have those, your child will likely feel left out. Yeah, frugal living habits is probably not going to happen in the typical international school.

Now, having said all this, there ARE ways to attend posh international schools cheap. I can think of two off the top of my head.

1) Get your company to send you over on an expat package. Your salary will be higher (due to hardship allowance), the company often pays for housing, a driver, flights back to home country for the entire family, health insurance for the family, and covers tuition fees for your children. As long as you don't take an excessive amount of exotic vacations while here, you should be able to save a chunk while living comfortably.

2) Get a teaching job at an international school. Your children can attend for free (though recent policy changes suggest that only one child can attend for free for each teacher teaching at the school). The school will cover housing, flights for the teacher back to home country, health insurance for the teacher only, and tuition fees for one child. You can live comfortably and save a good chunk. If you hang around other international teachers' children, your kids are less likely to be exposed to the opulence. They will likely feel poor compared to their peers.

With regard to college in China, your kids will need to take the Gao Kao (college entrance exam) in Chinese where they will be compared to every other graduating student and then ranked, which determines the colleges to which they can apply. At the college level, education focuses on rote memorization. I know because I used to teach at a local university.

If you choose to move to a second or third tier city for a lower cost of living, things are basically the same as above, but a several notches worse.

Anyway, take some time to do some real research before making this decision. My experience is based on living in a first tier city currently, teaching in a second tier city in the past, volunteering annually in a third tier city (mountain village school), with a spouse who is an international school teacher.

expatartist

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2018, 09:07:21 PM »
Calling in from Hong Kong! Your idea sounds great in theory. But there's a view of Asia in many western minds as: poor, cheap, dirty and/or clean, full of hardworking people whose relatives have become a "model minority" in the US and elsewhere https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/04/19/524571669/model-minority-myth-again-used-as-a-racial-wedge-between-asians-and-blacks and this is far from complete.

What does Asia mean to you? As the world's largest and arguably the most diverse continent (tied perhaps with Africa) Asia spans an incredible range of experiential possibilities. You've got the Stans, Mongolia, the ancient and modern civilizations of China and Indian subcontinent, parts of Turkey, Syria, regions of the world commonly referred to by North Americans as the Middle East. From gorgeous islands to the world's highest mountains. Most people here when speaking of Asia tend to mean East and SE Asia.

To give useful advice, it'd be good to know what you're looking for besides cheap. Cheap places in these regions (Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam etc) can have problems with infrastructure and significant and visible sex tourism as part of contemporary culture. Then again so does HK and less so Singapore due to their stratified class system, colonial history, and the nature of those drawn to these cities via the financial industry. Other places can be quite repressive, though as a foreigner you're usually given a freedom that local people don't have.

As Freedomin5 mentioned above, schooling to western standards can be extremely expensive. Upper Secondary tuition where I work is over US$50k/year, not including extra fees. Most westerners in Asia tend to leave once their kids hit important age milestones like middle- or high-school, unless their companies pay for kids' schooling. It's just too expensive, most go home for university and they need to have residency to avoid paying expensive foreign student rates. The local schooling options tend not to translate well to life overseas, and most universities in Asia are considered sub-par, though this isn't always true. Some families get around this by homeschooling and having their kids participate in age appropriate activities in other ways - this is generally only viable in places with a large foreign population.

One option that might suit you could be Bali. COL is relatively low, the radical Green School is  affordable-ish though may be difficult to secure a place, and the visa situation seems viable - you'd want to look into the details. escapeartistes.com has some info on homeschooling while traveling, and their eventual settling-down in Ubud. I think her son goes to the Green School.

Where I'm coming from: previous Asian home bases have included Korea's two largest cities, Cambodia's largest tourist trap, Penang, Beijing and western China, with significant stints in Hanoi, Bangkok and Chiang Mai while doing research on artisans. My current job's with an education foundation which has branches in Hong Kong and throughout Mainland China. With them I've traveled to a dozen locations throughout China, from first- through third-tier cities.

expatartist

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2018, 09:17:03 PM »
PS: For university, you might want to look into some of the affordable programs available in Europe, especially if your children are interested to gain proficiency in those languages. Whether we agree with it or not, degrees and other accomplishments from Europe tend to be viewed more favorably by westerners than those from Asia. My father's doctorate from France was highly viewed by Americans, but actually it was more like the equivalent of a US Master's (though to be fair he completed his dissertation in French).

It'd also give your kids a more diverse view of the world. Their time in Asia will mean it'll always be easy for them to return there, and it's likely the job growth in Asia will continue to be high.

PDXTabs

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2018, 11:09:53 PM »
I have family from all over the world, including a Taiwanese sister in law and an older brother who was born in Hong Kong (not a US citizen). I was conceived in Hong Kong but my younger brother and I were born in the US, so we are US citizens. My younger brother is currently living in Vietnam for the low cost of living. I love Asia, I love Hong Kong in particular, but it isn't the place that it was 30 years ago. In specific, it is really expensive with very bad air quality. My older brother moved to Singapore just so that his daughters could have (sort of) clean air to breath. But Singapore is also really expensive, he isn't saving any money living there.

Honestly, unless you really want to live in a developing country like Vietnam (and pick a part in the country with clean air, except during field burning season? which will be a huge culture shock) I would look at southern Europe or New Zealand.

EDITed to add: I do actually hear really good things about Taiwan, and I could maybe get used to Malaysia. Also, my brother has done well with his MBA form the University of Singapore.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2018, 11:17:28 PM by PDXTabs »

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2018, 01:18:34 AM »
Interesting question, intimidated by the long responses others have already given.  We moved overseas when our kids were 1 and 3, but it was Norway.  We also lived overseas in the UAE with kids.  Prior to that (we had kids later in life), I lived in the Philippines, Canada, and Shanghai.  We have also traveled extensively during our times abroad as well as our time now settled in Houston, but I know not to lump 'Asia' into a category.

For what it's worth, even with the best of situations, dragging kids through other cultures with the intent to return to your own culture can be selfish.  Our kids were probably more Norwegian than American when we returned after being abroad.  Going to the UAE was a bit indulgent, but again, we thought they would benefit from cultural experiences.  Ultimately, they just wanted a place to call home and stability, especially once the teenage years kicked in.

We have gotten over the hump to make the US our home again, but it took a lot longer than I would've expected.  Hard to anticipate unless you put yourself in your kids shoes.  If you live in Asia for most of their childhood, then they will likely have an unexpectedly (from your perspective) hard time with re-entry and adjustment.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2018, 01:36:37 AM »
You donít generally read about Asian students being shot at school, so thatís a bonus.

Freedomin5

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2018, 03:13:43 AM »
At the risk of sounding morbid, they donít need to be shot. Theyíre committing suicide due to stress and immense pressure. Itís so bad that the government has recently started focusing on bringing counselors into schools to help the students learn to deal with stress.

expatartist

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2018, 09:57:24 AM »
In East Asia teen suicides are significantly higher than in the US: Japan and Korea are very high, Hong Kong and the Mainland are bad as well. In HK many successful suicides involve leaping from high rises; in the US they're done with guns.

The pressure to conform and to achieve are immense. It's nearly impossible for kids to view alternatives at that age.

mathlete

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2018, 10:03:01 AM »
"Asian schools are better" is a pretty broad and sweeping statement.

To answer the question though, I don't have kids yet, but I have no intentions of raising any future kids anywhere but the greatest country on the planet.

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IMO. Hold your tomatoes please!

whywork

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2018, 10:40:31 AM »
Thanks all for your replies. I will describe my situation so that you have context.

Right now I have ~650k networth. Renting out. I am 38 and have two kids aged 8 and 4. If I continue to stay in us, that will need me to work for another 7 years or so to safely retire with 1.5 mil with family to be able to afford kids college fee and leave something for them. 7 years sound too much for my mindset.

On the other hand if I take them to thailand where COL is low and manage my living expenses to be under 2k, then I can come back when the kids are grown up. I can delay leaving by another two years till my elder one is 10 which will be the best max age for kids to move to a new country. At that point I will have 900k which if left alone can grow to a good amount by the time we come back in 10 years.

My wife is from thailand and her mom who is old has about 300k which she can give my wife as inheritance. Going there and taking care of her mom (she will be living in her own home) is beneficial in that aspect too so that we could get that inheritance. Her mom might still give it anyway but it will be only after her passing away, which will not be useful for my FIRE. We could literally live on that 300k for the next 10 years in thailand while our 900k money here grows to a sizeable 1.5 to 2 mill without even needing me to work. Bringing her mom to US and selling off that thailand property is not an option as her mom doesn't agree to it.

I only have 1-2 more years. Once my elder kid enters middle school, it will become harder for her to adjust in a new country. So either I leave now, retire early, and let them be raised in thailand and then come back. Or I stay put here and continue to work for next 7 years
« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 11:06:12 AM by whywork »

mathlete

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2018, 10:53:32 AM »
I'll try to answer this question analytically (instead of jingoistically like I did before!)

Raising children anywhere that is less than a "Flawed Democracy" on the Democracy Index is a complete non-starter for me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index.

That leaves South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, East Timor, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Singapore.

If the idea is to exploit a lower cost of living, that rules out Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore, as all of these have COLs that are comparable to the United States. You might be able to make an argument based on healthcare costs, but I assume I'm moving there to work, since the visa process probably won't be very kind to a person coming in to leech off social services while not contributing either work product, or a fat stack of American retirement cash. I already have a job here in the states. And it's a cushy, white collar job that gives me health insurance and pays me more than enough to meet my OOP max every year (and I seldom never even sniff it).

That leaves Taiwan, India, East Timor, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

India is out. I'm not potentially raising a daughter in a society that values men over women to the point of selective abortion and infant killing. I have incredibly high hopes for India. Awesome country. Awesome people. World's largest democracy. I think they'll figure it out. But this is my (theoretical) kid, and I'm not putting her through that.

Taiwan probably fits my service-based, white collar skill set the best, but in that case, I might run into similar issues as with Japan/SK and such, where the COL benefit is negligible.

I don't know much about the three remaining nations, but I strongly suspect that even now, I'm overthinking this way too much. The United States consistently leads the world in net migration (people in minus people out). The second place country only makes the list because they're taking on millions of Syrian refugees. Everyone wants to get to the US, and so being born here is a tremendous privilege, and one that I plan to afford my kids.

At times, I get extremely frustrated with my country. But the grass is always greener. I have no illusions that by moving, I'd be doing anything but trading old problems for new problems.

Lastly, I'm kind of against the idea of geographic arbitrage to begin with. Poorer countries don't exist so that privileged Americans like myself can mine their low COL and enrich themselves even further.

PDXTabs

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2018, 11:23:54 AM »
My wife is from thailand and her mom who is old has about 300k which she can give my wife as inheritance. Going there and taking care of her mom (she will be living in her own home) is beneficial in that aspect too so that we could get that inheritance. Her mom might still give it anyway but it will be only after her passing away, which will not be useful for my FIRE. We could literally live on that 300k for the next 10 years in thailand while our 900k money here grows to a sizeable 1.5 to 2 mill without even needing me to work. Bringing her mom to US and selling off that thailand property is not an option as her mom doesn't agree to it.

That changes everything. If you and your wife are comfortable with culture, politics, and infrastructure in Thailand then who are we to tell you not to go? I just don't really understand your desire to come back to the US when you are done.

Lastly, I'm kind of against the idea of geographic arbitrage to begin with. Poorer countries don't exist so that privileged Americans like myself can mine their low COL and enrich themselves even further.

Good post. I think that people leave Taiwan because their economy is stagnating, but that doesn't make it a bad place to live if you have money (but that is also true for southern Europe). Also, I think that the average wealthy westerner adds more to these economies than they take way when they move there. My brother in Singapore is paying market rent (that is, not government housing) and my brother in Vietnam who is there for the low cost of living is still spending ~4x more than the average local.

mozar

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2018, 11:25:19 AM »
Remember that your kid needs time to apply to college. I lived overseas and we came back my junior year so I had time to research and apply.

Also moving to Thailand so you can leech off your mother in law's stash sounds sketchy to me.

AD700

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2018, 11:27:57 AM »
It looks (judging by length) that you've got some really comprehensive replies. As a person currently living in Asia (without children), I will add my perspective. Many of the points may have been raised by others, but to be frank I have no interest in reading them as they don't apply to me..

1) Visas, logistics? I'm assuming you know what you are entitled to and not? Not everyone can just decide to take their family to another country.

2) Be more specific. Asia is a huge continent where the majority of humanity lives. Narrow down so people can give you meaningful advice.

3) Most expats have a reason to be there and have networks/entry points which make everything easier. This can be more difficult if you turn up without connections.

4) Most Western expats put their children in private international schools. Talk to some people who have been educated in these environments about what they are like. Depending on the country they can be crappy, elitist, transitory, brilliant, dislocating etc. In many cases by putting your kids into international school you will be putting them into an environment where they understand themselves to be inherently superior to others.

That's about it. Loads more I could add, but best if you get more specific.



PDXTabs

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2018, 11:28:49 AM »
Remember that your kid needs time to apply to college. I lived overseas and we came back my junior year so I had time to research and apply.

Remember that the US is not the center of the universe. There are still colleges in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Europe that offer perfectly good educations (although the application process in some of these places can leave something to be desired).

Also moving to Thailand so you can leech off your mother in law's stash sounds sketchy to me.

There is that.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 11:31:20 AM by PDXTabs »

mathlete

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2018, 11:45:26 AM »
Good post. I think that people leave Taiwan because their economy is stagnating, but that doesn't make it a bad place to live if you have money (but that is also true for southern Europe). Also, I think that the average wealthy westerner adds more to these economies than they take way when they move there. My brother in Singapore is paying market rent (that is, not government housing) and my brother in Vietnam who is there for the low cost of living is still spending ~4x more than the average local.

These are good points. I didn't mean to imply that every American living abroad in a poorer country is some kind of leach or anything. I think it's perfectly fine, for example, for a rich retiree to go move to an island nation and become a permanent contributor to the local tourism industry.

But I don't much like the idea proposed in the OP. In general. OP seems to have family abroad and if moving to be with family is the right decision for them, I have no problem with that of course.

But in the abstract, a rich person moving into a locality in order to take advantage of their public services, and then move back... Not a big fan. First and second generation Americans are legendary for how much they contribute to the country. A poor, hard working immigrant raising their kids in American schools so that their kids and grand-kids become excellent Americans; that's practically the poster story for the modern American dream, and the biggest argument I can make in favor of immigration.

But a rich American emigrating to a poorer country to educate their children in the country's public schools, and then absconding back to America with that education in hand. Well, that's decidedly less romantic for starters.

PDXTabs

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2018, 11:55:49 AM »
But a rich American emigrating to a poorer country to educate their children in the country's public schools, and then absconding back to America with that education in hand. Well, that's decidedly less romantic for starters.

Absolutely, but in reality (as AD700 put it), I think most are in private international schools. In fact, in the asian countries that I am the most familiar with, showing up with your kids will not entitle them to a free public education. That is, you have no choice but to pay for a private school. Even if you could put your kids in the local school often the language and cultural barriers are too much.

The OP might not be in that situation with his family connection.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 11:59:06 AM by PDXTabs »

Hula Hoop

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2018, 01:18:58 PM »

Also moving to Thailand so you can leech off your mother in law's stash sounds sketchy to me.

I agree.  Also I don't understand your reasoning.  Your MIL is "old" and plans to leave her $300K to your wife (I assume that she does not have any siblings).  How is moving back to Thailand going to make any difference to that plan?  Will she only do it if your wife moves back and provides care?  Will she leave it to someone else if your wife doesn't provide care?  I don't understand how moving to Thailand has any bearing on your wife's inheritance.

GuitarStv

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2018, 01:25:26 PM »
"Asian schools are better" is a pretty broad and sweeping statement.

To answer the question though, I don't have kids yet, but I have no intentions of raising any future kids anywhere but the greatest country on the planet.

What's your backup plan if the Netherlands won't let you immigrate though?

Rosy

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2018, 02:16:18 PM »
Lastly, I'm kind of against the idea of geographic arbitrage to begin with. Poorer countries don't exist so that privileged Americans like myself can mine their low COL and enrich themselves even further.

What happened to, "The world is my oyster?":).
Living in Asia or wherever - outside of the states is a viable option for people who have some connection to another country. It is also an adventurous possibility for those who have jobs that could be profitably parlayed into living abroad and supersizing the stash in half the time.

I can't imagine a CEO of a mega-corporation who hasn't worked in offices around the globe or lived abroad at least for a few years. A fair number of them choose to live and/or retire outside of the US because they've seen the world and found a place they liked better.

You use whatever edge you have in the game of life and do your best to have a good life for yourself and your children. I bet there are even fewer people who would move overseas to further their career or their stash than there are people working on increasing their stash to hit FIRE status - ASAP.

Mathlete, it is good to be privileged no matter what country you live in:)

To the OP:
From my own experience, I can confirm what others have said, ten years in another country during their formative years will affect your children forever. They become wholly immersed in the culture.
A ten-year-old who returns in ten years will be Asian and in culture shock. No longer American in their perspective and views unless they have continued exposure to the American way of life. 
If I took my son and especially my daughter to some of the countries in Asia I'd make sure they would enjoy extended stays in the US and have continuous contact with the Western views of the world - if for no other reason than to broaden their horizon.

I'd say you need to research which schools are close enough to your MIL place in Thailand for your children to attend and still meet Western standards. You may need to pay a pretty penny or shucks send them to a boarding school, if there is nothing suitable nearby. You don't want to ruin their chances for a good college/career here in the US. Even if it costs you a year in savings - you don't want them to have a difficult time once you return.

I second whoever mentioned coming back in time to allow for some culture re-adjustment and enough time to settle in and prepare for college. Not to say like Mozar alluded to they couldn't attend college in Europe or New Zealand:)
However, if your daughter, for instance, wants to become a doctor in the US it will be easier for her to begin and end her education in the US - since the US doesn't recognize a degree from another country. 

mathlete

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2018, 03:39:42 PM »
Lastly, I'm kind of against the idea of geographic arbitrage to begin with. Poorer countries don't exist so that privileged Americans like myself can mine their low COL and enrich themselves even further.

What happened to, "The world is my oyster?":).
Living in Asia or wherever - outside of the states is a viable option for people who have some connection to another country. It is also an adventurous possibility for those who have jobs that could be profitably parlayed into living abroad and supersizing the stash in half the time.

I can't imagine a CEO of a mega-corporation who hasn't worked in offices around the globe or lived abroad at least for a few years. A fair number of them choose to live and/or retire outside of the US because they've seen the world and found a place they liked better.

You use whatever edge you have in the game of life and do your best to have a good life for yourself and your children. I bet there are even fewer people who would move overseas to further their career or their stash than there are people working on increasing their stash to hit FIRE status - ASAP.

Mathlete, it is good to be privileged no matter what country you live in:)

Hahah, "the world is my oyster" conjures up the exact kind of pillaging and imperialistic comparisons I'm looking to avoid. ;-)

I'm all about adventure, and I don't begrudge anyone for choosing to live and work where their career takes them. But I reject the idea of someone living in the richest nation on earth scheming to go to a poorer nation for the express purpose of extract wealth and bringing it back just so they can shave a few years off an already short and pampered working career.

Not saying that's exactly what OP is doing since he seems to have other motives. But it is what I would be doing in my rhetorical answer to the titular question of the thread.

Rosy

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2018, 05:48:12 PM »
You do have a point, Mathlete, but I can't say that I agree with it.

I don't see that it makes any difference how rich the "country" is that you are in - it still comes down to what the individual and his family can achieve in said country.
If you can't get ahead fast enough in the US and have the opportunity to do it elsewhere - then why not move and return once you achieved your objective?

Conjecture
Mainly, and I am doing a lot of assuming here - because this is the only other option to speed up the process to fire the OP has, and I'm guessing his wife is on board with taking care of mom 24/7 - in their case it seems to be a mix of different scenarios.
It is a rather slim edge and I get the feeling this is not in any way a privileged situation. Plus, there is the possibility of an inheritance which sweetens the pot, but will most likely (based on my life experience) turn into a can of worms:).


whywork

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2018, 08:08:25 PM »
My MIL 300k is not a big deal here. Even without that money, if I move to a low COL country and come back then I can FIRE much early.

The main idea here is this moving to a low COL country and coming back. Especially for those with young kids under 10 years. I believe this is a wonderful idea that can help us retire much quicker. For example, if I send my family to thailand exactly 2 years from now and then work for another 1.5 years here, my networth will be 1.2 mil. I can transfer the 200k then to thailand and can retire (at age 42) with my family in thailand for next 12 years till both kids complete their college. Meanwhile my 1 mil here would have grown to 1.85 mil. My entire family would come back to the US and retire here then.

If for some reason (one of) my kids or wife don't like to come back, then 1.85 mil is a big enough amount to retire rich in thailand forever.

Consider the other scenario. I stay here and will be working hard to provide for the family. My wife believes in private schools and insists I join the  kids in private school. So assuming I put both the kids into pvt. school in high school and then pay for their college, I am looking at retiring by 48 with the same 1.85 mil. This is like a 6 year difference (from my thai retirement at 42). Add the 300k inheritance from my MIL, it will be more like a 8 year difference.

expatartist

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2018, 08:41:52 PM »
Once you brought up the consideration of family it all makes more sense. Your wife's Thai, your kids are half-Thai, this would be a great opportunity to live in their Mother's home country and be closer to that part of their family. It's important they explore this part of their heritage. As Eurasians (I'm assuming?) they'll have that privilege and challenge of feeling in-between but there are plenty of Eurasians in Thailand and likely would be at int'l schools.

It's important culturally and emotionally for your wife to take care of her mom, and for your children to spend quality time with their grandmother. Talking about it in pure $ terms is to put it lightly, crass.

whywork

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2018, 09:00:14 PM »
It's important culturally and emotionally for your wife to take care of her mom, and for your children to spend quality time with their grandmother. Talking about it in pure $ terms is to put it lightly, crass.

The first part of wife and kids is true.

The second part about finances though is very important to me. retiring early is my dream. I am concerned about the downsides of my kids not being raised american but don't see much of a problem if they are raised thai but study in good international schools and can come here to US and have a good living mustachian style.

Hula Hoop

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2018, 04:59:39 AM »
It's important culturally and emotionally for your wife to take care of her mom, and for your children to spend quality time with their grandmother. Talking about it in pure $ terms is to put it lightly, crass.

The first part of wife and kids is true.

The second part about finances though is very important to me. retiring early is my dream. I am concerned about the downsides of my kids not being raised american but don't see much of a problem if they are raised thai but study in good international schools and can come here to US and have a good living mustachian style.

I guess what concerns me and some others is that you seem to imply that going to live with your MIL and look after her implies that you'll get the $300K faster somehow.  Or maybe I misunderstood. 

raquel1208

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2018, 06:04:26 AM »
My family and I are moving to the Philippines in less than 2 months with a $400k networth.  We are going to move to a small coastal town where I grew up.  My kids are going to be enrolled in private school and hire a language tutor so they can learn the language.  Expected total monthly expenses will be $1000. It is 4-6 hours drive from Manila and not polluted. We will have internet and cable.  The only downside I can think of right now is electricity because the cost will be higher when you run the AC every night to get a good night sleep.  It is also unreliable during the summer months which is April and May. For those months, we plan to go back to the states and spend time with families.  Me and my kids are dual citizens.

Rosy

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Re: FIRE by living in Asia 10 years and come back?
« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2018, 06:45:36 AM »
Once you brought up the consideration of family it all makes more sense. Your wife's Thai, your kids are half-Thai, this would be a great opportunity to live in their Mother's home country and be closer to that part of their family. It's important they explore this part of their heritage. As Eurasians (I'm assuming?) they'll have that privilege and challenge of feeling in-between but there are plenty of Eurasians in Thailand and likely would be at int'l schools.

It's important culturally and emotionally for your wife to take care of her mom, and for your children to spend quality time with their grandmother. Talking about it in pure $ terms is to put it lightly, crass.

@expatartist - Thanks for saying what I was thinking and couldn't quite find the right words.