Author Topic: Socking away money and FIRE-ing in a third world country  (Read 2380 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Socking away money and FIRE-ing in a third world country
« on: May 13, 2015, 08:53:04 AM »
Hello fellow mustachians:) I'm kindly looking for advice on a few things regarding FIRE-ing in a third world country. This works great as brain storming for me and I'm sorry if the text below resembles the ramblings of a madman, but please if you have any thoughts, feedback, advice, opinions, questions feel free to post.

I'm currently living in Norway where salaries are good, expenses are expensive and taxes are high. In the future (7-12 years down the line) I'd like to settle in Kenya. Either permanently with occasional travels to Norway or just stay in Kenya large parts of the year. My nest egg will at that point be big enough to choose between living cheap-ish in Norway, or have excessive wealth somewhere along the eastern coast of Africa.

The advantages are pretty obvious to me:
- Way lower cost of living, reducing the required stache number.
- I enjoy the climate more.
- I like the culture more and feel at home.
- I have a local network there consisting of inlaws/DW family, friends, contacts and professionals, people I have gotten to know through work/travelling 3 years ago.
- Easy to start up small businesses if I want to.
- What is regarded as normal competency here can often be regarded as expertise there.
- With money, you have access to anything and everything more so than in Norway. If I want/need a gun, I simply buy one. If I want a luxury meal at the beach, I simply pay someone to supply it for me. Most first world countries don't work like that, especially not Norway.
- DW would be closer to her family

The (potential) downsides:

1. The obvious risks: crime and potential political/economic instability. Other than knowing my way around and be sound in my investing there's not much one can do to avoid these risks; they are outside of my control and I am personally comfortable living with them.

2. Medical expenses and logistics. I'm not used to paying for those in Norway and have to figure out the best way. I have diabetes type 1 and insulin might be hard to obtain at times.

3. Being taxed in Norway for the wealth I have in Africa. One way to go around this is socking away cash whenever I go travelling there, which should be 5-10 times between now and retirement. I've already made a few small business loans to people I trust as a way of getting money to work for me there, and I plan to keep that money there instead of getting it paid back to Norway. Bank deposit lockers seems like a good way of storing money (although without interest...), which other ways could be exploited? I'm thinking of buying land/property too, I just have to get citizenship to be able to (fully possible because of my marriage).

4. The currency is low. 5 days of work in Norway buys me a two-way ticket to Kenya. 5 days of work in Kenya hardly pays for a taxi fare in Norway. Moving permanently to Kenya means less flexibility/opportunity in terms of raising money to grow my stache. Or looking at it the other way: If I was retired in Norway and figured I wanted to do a $5.000 luxury trip to France I would have the choice between increasing my SWR or working for 2 months. In Kenya I wouldn't have the same degree of choice.
I also need to make sure I don't lose my social welfare rights in Norway permanently, in case I wish to move back in the future.

5. Feeling homesick and other social-psychological issues. This is a potential downside that can be dealt with.

6. Parents in need of care. What if one of my parents fall sick? Would I be ok living in Kenya knowing my mum probably has less than 5 years left? I need to think this through and make sure that my plan is flexible enough to deal with this.

7. Having kids. I haven't decided what I would prefer between letting my kids grow up in an overprotective country where everything is handed to you, or let them experience reality of life in a poorer country. Or both. There are probably middle ways in both Norway and Kenya, but nevertheless needs to be thought through in case we decide to have kids one day.

x. Which other downsides haven't I mentioned?

I guess I'm mainly looking for advice regarding the above mentioned downsides with all of this. My main weapon against the risks/downsides is simply staying flexible. I want to make sure my investments are diversified and not only tied to Kenya (nor will I trust substantial amounts of money to other people). I want to be able to move to yet another country, or back to Norway. Any specific advice or general comments are more than welcome.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Socking away money and FIRE-ing in a third world country
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2015, 04:23:09 PM »
The biggest concern for me would be having a local network that can take care of you, find you health care, knowledge of local customs etc. So I think you've thought about almost everything.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Socking away money and FIRE-ing in a third world country
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2017, 05:49:54 AM »

I stumbled upon your post looking for expats in Kenya pursuing FIRE. I've lived in Kenya for 2 years, will probably stay for another
2 then my partner (Kenyan) and I will probably return to Canada.

Here's my feedback:

1) You'll have a security guard at any expat friendly apartment or house every evening. This is commonplace. The most dangerous risk is traffic accidents, which are hard to avoid. If you buy an SUV upon arrival at least you'll have a bigger cushion if hit... I use a motorcycle which has it's pro/cons, at least I don't get stuck in traffic.

2) You'll be able to find insurance, just get used to paying for it and make sure you have evac policies. Aga Khan has hospitals all over the country and you should be able to manage your diabetes with their help but I wouldn't want to get operated on in Kenya.

4) Everything is imported into Kenya, so although Fruit/veg are cheap cheap a lot of western products are actually more expensive than Canada. Can't speak for Norway.

5) Homesickness all depends on where you locate, Nairobi and a lot of coastal towns have a large expat presence.

7) Kids are the reason most expats leave Kenya. Mostly due to costs. Schools which are free in Norway cost 12-18000 USD/year.
Shots for kids & availability of high end immunisations, pregnancy & birth costs... all these things add up. Child care can be cheap, so a lot of expats stick around until kids are about 5 years old then return to the west for free schooling.

If you plan to have kids it's most likely Norway would be cheaper when they are in school, unless you want to work for the UN/NGO and have a high level role that pays for all school fees.

That's my 2 cents! Personally I'd pick South Africa if I could pick anywhere on the continent to retire as it's much cheaper than Kenya with better access to goods.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Socking away money and FIRE-ing in a third world country
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2017, 06:37:21 AM »
Thanks for posting this!  That's not a part of the world I have experience with, so it's interesting to read about the nuts and bolts.

I lived in Taiwan and China for 6 years, and (similarly, it seems) the biggest trigger of expats returning home (other than those that burned out within a year) was having school aged kids.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Socking away money and FIRE-ing in a third world country
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2017, 06:51:41 AM »
Hei Bjørn.

I discussed this with my DH as well, not Kenia in particular, but just moving to a much cheaper country, like Eastern Europe or South-East Asia.  Because then we could FIRE already today.
Our main concern is that there probably will be more people that will try to exploit you and rob you from your money. But in your case with having a local spouse and relatives, this is a different situation. They can help you a lot in telling you want is smart to do in Kenia.

You might consider bringing along some of your own blood in case you need a transfusion.

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