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Semi-retirement: the under-rated key to round the world travel, 10x’ed learning and enjoying your life.

I semi-retired and moved out of the country.

What?

I’m leaving the United States indefinitely. Although I plan to visit, I have no idea when (or if) I’ll be returning to live. I’m open to the idea of returning in a few years. I’m also open to the idea that I’ll discover another place that I would like to settle (if I decide to settle at all).

Why?

I think that we have a lot to learn from other people, places and cultures, and I would like to spend a substantial amount of time living on each continent (except Antartica — visiting will be sufficient). I plan to travel in a slow, immersive way to truly get a feel for the way of life in various locations.

Although I remain passionate about consulting, I’m reducing my working hours to ~10-20 hours a week, 6-9 months a year, to free up my time for exploration, new language acquisition, scaling businesses, international development work, and one of my millions of passion projects.

1.) Let’s walk through a hypothetical scenario: if at the age of 20 years old, you decide to invest $50,000 into index funds (nothing fancy!), and you decide after that, to contribute nothing else, ever again, not even a $1, but you hold onto to those funds, with an aggressive asset allocation, you will have about $5.4 million dollars at the age of 65. If you do this at 25, you will have $3.2 million dollars at 65. If you do this at 30, you will have about $1.9 million dollars at 65. If you do this at 35, you’ll have $1.1 million dollars at 65. If you do this at 40, you’ll have $670k at 65. Compound interest and ETF’s are a beautiful, beautiful thing.

2.) Travel as a full-time lifestyle is not expensive as you think. It’s expensive when we manage it while also maintaining our daily life: we are responsible for all of the usual bills, AND the travel costs on top of it. We pay a premium on flights because we’re typically doing it on weekends and holidays when prices peak. When we have the flexibility to look at Google Flights and select flight based on cheapest price rather than date, when we can take advantage of weekly or monthly discounts on hotels / apartments, and we eat, explore and get to know the area like the locals, we spend much, much less than we would at a week in a resort, not to mention we have a richer and more authentic experience. Check out my recent trip to Mexico for an example. In fact, many travel bloggers estimate that their round-the-world travel costs significantly less than their life in their home base — some have estimated the overall cost to be closer to $20,000-$30,000/year. This is especially true if you concentrate in low-cost areas, such as Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe or Central America, where you can live abundantly for $1,000/month, including serviced apartments and weekly massages. I’ve published a few “Budget Guides” that detail cost of living in different areas to prove this point.

Once the decision is made, the money is actually the easiest part to figure out. If you don’t believe me, shoot me an email, and I guarantee that I can customize something for your specific situation. It’s my superpower. The hard part is saying goodbye to a thriving career, 99% of my material things, my wonderful friends and family, and venturing out into the unknown. It’s exciting, yes, but it can also be a challenge to your identity, especially if you’re someone who derives a lot of your identity and esteem from accomplishments and career prestige.

2.) I don’t touch my investments or savings and unlike the above scenario, I intend to keep investing on a monthly basis (say yes to dollar-cost averaging).

4.) I want to be over-prepared to face any major future expenses, such as having an elaborate, over-the-top wedding, and investing heavily into my kids education and enrichment.

Where are you going?

Another complex question: everywhere. I plan to experience a new country every month. I’m planning to set-up a home base per continent for ease of movement without having to go 100% nomadic (which is just a logistical pain). Specifically, after I spend the month of February in (Chiang Mai & Bangkok) Thailand, (Bali) Indonesia, (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia, my new base will be South Korea, which will allow me to visit many, many countries in Asia for very little money (I’m serious – roundtrip flights to China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, etc. are under $200 and are only a couple of hours). Scroll to the bottom to see my (current) destination map and planning.

Aren’t you going to be lonely?

I can count on one hand how many times I’ve felt lonely (literally – I can recall the two separate instances clear as day). I’m deeply, deeply comfortable in my own solitude. When I initially planned this venture a couple of years ago, I intended to have a partner. But since then, I’ve realized that you can’t wait on other people to get where you’re going. You need to make your own moves, and when you do, you’ll organically meet people who are making the same moves — no compromising needed. I also think that it’s critical to spend time (yes, years) as a single woman to understand who you are without the influence of a significant other, learn how to deeply fall in love with yourself, and focus on your own accomplishments and pursuits. Then and only then should you consider accepting a suitor, and he should be an asset to your already fabulously-designed life. You’ll have loved yourself so intensely that you won’t be confused at what love looks like when it comes knocking again (i.e. it’s not jealousy, betrayal, neglect, etc).

A short list:

  • Happy, Healthy and Almost Wealthy: a personal development website on money mastery, mental mastery and the art and science of mastering your craft
  • smartwork.greatwork: a human capital consulting business for organizations
  • intentions. – lifestyle planners for dreamers and do’ers (Fall 2018)
  • INSPIRE. media – visual storytelling on travel and culture (2019)
  • I’m learning Korean (+ gaining proficiency in at least half a dozen languages – I can currently “use” ~7 but they all need work)
  • I’ve been expanding my data science toolkit / skillset (machine learning and AI)
  • I’m still in grad school 🙂
  • Working through my ever-growing reading list

Upcoming projects:

  • Getting my diving certification and diving in the world’s best destinations
  • Revisiting ballet and barre
  • Revisiting yoga

Plus a million other things that’ll come to me. Learning and growth opportunities remain abundant. I’m sure you can imagine that having this many interests, working 60+ hour weeks, sleeping 7-8 hours a night and trying to maintain any semblance of a social life can be challenging.

2018:

So far this year, I’ve lived in: Thailand, Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea. Upcoming plans are to visit:

  • Philippines
  • Vietnam
  • Japan
  • Hong Kong

2019:

  • Italy
  • Greece
  • France
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Morocco
  • Portugal
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • Croatia
  • Bulgaria
  • Montenegro
  • Aruba
  • Curacao
  • Colombia

2020:

  • Cuba
  • Costa Rica
  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Dominican Republic
  • Jamaica
  • Belize
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Egypt
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • South Africa
  • Ethiopia
  • Mauritania

….and so, so many more. Honestly, there are 54 countries in Africa alone and I want to see them all. Follow the journey, absorb the learnings and learn how to kick off your own semi-retired lifestyle at Happy, Healthy and Almost Wealthy.

Originally published at www.happyhealthyandalmostwealthy.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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