Let’s Talk About Retirement

Posted by on Jan 23, 2018 in Blog | 2 comments

Sunset from my winter apartment in Torre Del Mar, Spain.

Let’s talk retirement. Shall we? What’s your plan for retiring? Can you actually afford to live where you currently live when you retire? I retired earlier than most people. I believe it was largely possible to do so because I met my financial goal to live debt free with the lowest overhead possible. It certainly wasn’t because I’m rich.

It took a heaping amount of common sense, perseverance and the willingness to face reality to reach my financial goals, however.

It’s fairly common knowledge that many of the moneymaking industries are centered in major cities these days and that those less prosperous regions of the US were the most negatively affected by globalization, automation and the tech boom. Farming and manufacturing were both hard hit industries, unfortunately, and probably will never recover their former glory.

My daughter lives in LA and as a single woman in a gentrified part of West Hollywood, she pulls in a good salary plus has started her own side business which is also making her some serious cash returns. She’s providing a service for people who can afford to pay her top dollar. She’s perfectly located at this particular time of her life, her moneymaking years.  It’s fair to say that many educated young people are often forced to migrate to these cities to make a decent living.

This phenomenon has often been compared to the Industrial Revolution of the last century which turned the work world upside down and forced people to rethink how they made a living.

As AI and technology continue to flourish, the current movement toward heavily populated cities where most often the tech industries are located will no doubt continue. However, as the young working population ages, even contemplates retirement, these high end cities become a difficult place to afford on a retiree’s income.

On the streets of Santiago De Compostela, Spain.

International Living is a publication that does a fairly decent job of promoting the cheapest places in the world to live, countries abroad where a retiree can make their money stretch further.

International Living Publication

This involves expatriating which isn’t for everyone, but many American and Canadian retirees have done so, embracing a lifestyle that they can afford. Often they enjoy an even higher personal standard of living than they’d achieve back in the states. In Europe, northern Europeans have also retired in great numbers to countries with a lower cost of living such as Portugal or Spain where the sun shines almost every day and their money goes further.

Read my article about Traveling a Different Financial Path

I’ve lived everywhere but nowhere and thus far have not found it necessary to move permanently abroad in order to enjoy retirement.

That is largely because after I retired, I relocated to a part of the US that like Portugal or Spain offers a lower cost of living. It was purely by accident mind you. I moved here after the birth of a grandchild.  I had no idea that housing would be many times more affordable and that basic monthly utilities would cost pennies compared to the standard bills that I paid in Maine.

Read part 2 About Traveling a Different Financial Path

Overall, I live about 20% cheaper in the Midwest than on the east coast and I didn’t  live in one of the major cities in Maine either but rather in a rural area. If I had been living in Portland or Boston, I probably would be living about 35% cheaper.  

Whenever I look at the cost of living in a place like Costa Rica, Mexico or Portugal, even Spain where I keep a winter apartment that I’ve been returning to for 13 years, I quickly realize that there are few places that offer a much better deal than my current stateside abode. It was an accident that has actually turned out to be quite beneficial. I may decide some day to move abroad, but if I do, it won’t be strictly for financial reasons. I enjoy a standard of living that allows me to travel, eat out and spend freely on my granddaughter. I can even save a little money which is almost a lost art in modern America.

My goal to live with the lowest overhead possible and completely debt free was much easier to achieve by moving to my current location in the midwest and that suits me.

I now encourage young people who like my economic model of working toward a debt free lifestyle with the lowest overhead possible to go ahead and make their money during their young working years in a big city but eventually retire to middle America where their money will go a lot farther. They’ll have a much stronger possiblitily of retiring early in life with money left over to pursue travel like I do. Oh, I know, it will require a major adjustment if you have grown attached to a longtime residence.And, yes, there will be things you’ll have to sacrifice, certain perks you may not find outside of a large and prosperous metropolitan area, but you will gain freedom of another kind. You won’t be forced to continue to earn top dollar,  the inevitable stress of trying to work like you did in your big moneymaking years. And, then you can spend your winters in Portugal or Spain or Costa Rica like I do.

Happy trails …

Books by Teresa on Amazon …

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  1. Great words of wisdom Theresa. When we retired in 2015, we sold up in Canberra, Australia, having made a tidy sum as we bought into the property market at just the right time in 2000. We chose to move to rural NSW without a mortgage and enjoy a tree change for a few years mainly because we had two dogs in tow. It is not a forever home and we are busy maintaining the property and doing a few minor alterations with the view of selling up by the end of 2020 and hitting the road, house sitting around the world for two years while we can still afford the travel insurance! We are already busy planning ahead and meanwhile head off to a new house sitting destination at least once a year. Your books have been a great inspiration. Always wishing you safe travels.
    Best regards, Rose x

    • Thank you, Rose,
      I love hearing about your travel adventures and thinking that perhaps I had a small hand in it. You’ve done well. Please stay in touch. I still hope that some day our paths will cross.

      Happy trails,

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