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Quit the world at 34 and now "broken" and refuse to go back
Old 08-03-2019, 06:17 PM   #1
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Quit the world at 34 and now "broken" and refuse to go back

Im writing in hopes that others find the courage to do what we did because I can tell you that while I didn't think it was possible before, we've been living the life of our dreams far earlier than anyone would have said possible (and i'm absolutely convinced that most of you can too)!!

My wife and I quit the world and ran away before my 35th birthday. At first that was intended to be only a year or two "sabbatical" to travel and find ourselves so that we could go back to our jobs with more focus/energy... but somewhere along the way we realized we were "broken" and would do absolutely anything to avoid going back to the lives we had before.

Don't get me wrong, our jobs weren't horrible and we should have been thrilled to have them...trust me, we tried... but we simply couldn't make ourselves play the game and we weren't willing to slave away at jobs we hated just to try squeezing our lives into only 2weeks a year vacation.

We decided at some point to do something/anything to try and impact change/take control of our futures.

We made a real estate investment or two... but for us the real focus all started with a goal. A goal of taking a year off to travel.

We downsized dramatically (from a 5+ bedroom home to a 3br apartment, then a 1br, then small studio (and eventually a van)). We paid off all bad debt and started saving money. We still paid enough to get the 401k match and continued to made investments... but we cut out all other expensive spending habits (travel, purchases, eating and drinking out, etc).
We eventually had enough money for a year or two living/traveling on the road and pulled the trigger/walked away.

After a year hopping beach to beach (our dream) in Mexico and Central America we realized we wanted to find a way to do this longer term. There was no concrete plan... and there still isn't, but one thing that really hit us deeply was that in all of our travels the ONLY people we met between pre-college and after-retirement years who were also living their dreams were those who had just lost the person closest to them or who just got diagnosed themselves.

We weren't willing to wait for that type of news to start living our lives on our own terms.

We returned home and spent the rest of our travel funds creating a "home base" for ourselves out of our former garage (so we could continue to rent the house) and then realized it was better financially to rent it out as well and continue living in our van and traveling. Dire needs lead to creative solutions!

Somewhere along the way we worked to improve our investments and with them our cashflow. We started a few businesses, not because they made money but because we realized we were offering services because we enjoyed doing them (for free) and should probably ask for some money as well.

We make our decisions day by day and always based on happiness first rather than money... and so far the money seems to work itself out.

We mostly live off passive income from our investments and occasional money from other projects we take or businesses we start along the way. Yes, we have bounced off the bottom and had no money left, we have depleted most of our 401k/retirement funds to invest in things we trust more and can actually impact (real estate mainly).

The last 7 years traveling and living nomadically have been the happiest of our lives and while we said all along we wouldn't change a thing, we decided last year to go after another life-long dream and moved from traveling in a van to buying a boat and teaching ourselves to sail while island hopping the Caribbean.
In many ways the lifestyle is the same, but our views are far nicer (and the risks are far higher).


To be very clear... we do not have everything solved (far from it) and there is of course a chance that someday if worse case scenario happens that we could find ourselves having to work again, or start another business, or do what we've been doing ever since we walked away from the jobs... just figuring it out as we go along.

But at this point we feel like everything is working out perfectly and we couldn't possibly be happier (and we're getting to enjoy it in the prime of our lives).

I haven't plugged numbers into the FIRECalc and haven't talked to a financial advisor... (mostly because i'm pretty sure I wouldn't like the answers)... but what I can tell you is that i'm 100% certain that if I hadn't of listened to my wife and run away when we did - I'd already be dead (or at least already had a major heart attack while sitting behind a desk). Instead, i'm living the life of my dreams every single day and doing so with no regrets... and have more confidence every year that we will never be returning to the lives we ran away from.

The only advice I can offer is... don't wait for a "number" to decide your fate and don't risk being a story of someone who died behind their desk fighting for a retirement that never came.
It's important to remember that you still have control after retirement too... you can still make changes/decisions and live more frugally, you can still take projects or make money... but you can do so on your terms while making your own choices.

Turn your dreams into goals. Turn those goals into reality by setting a date and writing it on the calendar (in sharpie).
Life is far too short and can be far too good not to!


And certainly... if we can help in any way don't hesitate to ask!!
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Old 08-03-2019, 07:25 PM   #2
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Old 08-03-2019, 07:36 PM   #3
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Good on you. Probably most people would like to think they would do what youíve done - create the life of your dreams - but youíve actually done it. Donít underestimate your good fortune in finding a spouse whom you are in such close sync with regrading your unconventional lifestyle choices.
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Old 08-03-2019, 08:24 PM   #4
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Don't know if you have the funds, but one guy I knew who worked around the corner from my home started a B&B on the beach down with his GF in Mexico while still working for that same company, just remotely now.
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Old 08-04-2019, 04:44 AM   #5
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Good on you. Probably most people would like to think they would do what youíve done - create the life of your dreams - but youíve actually done it. Donít underestimate your good fortune in finding a spouse whom you are in such close sync with regrading your unconventional lifestyle choices.
No underestimation here. We have much gratitude daily that we both want and are committed to the same things!

In both communities (sailing and overloading) its very common for the man to have to convince the woman to come along. In our case it was all her. She's the one that spent years telling me how stuff didn't matter and that we should quit it all and run away.

I needed a bit more convincing and honestly thought it would all end horribly. In reality - she saved my life (yes, literally).
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Old 08-04-2019, 04:56 AM   #6
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Don't know if you have the funds, but one guy I knew who worked around the corner from my home started a B&B on the beach down with his GF in Mexico while still working for that same company, just remotely now.
Funny you should mention it... but the first time we returned to the states we had an offer on a little piece of land in Mexico.
It would have taken every dime we had which meant no travel or other projects for about 5years in the plan we had laid out (to build it into a groovy little BnB hotel).

Still often look back and wonder how that path would have turned out (no regrets on the path we chose)... and still assume we'll do something like it in the future, but now it seems like that little patch of sand will be on one of the islands were sleeping off of. Pretty good reason to explore every single one of them while we figure out how to get the money.
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Old 08-04-2019, 08:07 PM   #7
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Great story. I like security and predictability in my life. I decided at 38 that I would become a 'work mercenary', trying to earn as much in my field as I could, so that I can retire around 50. I would rather over save a bit, than hit bottom periodically, and have to wonder if I'll be working at 70. To each his/her own.
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:48 PM   #8
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Sorry but even if I had died young I would be glad I didn’t subject my family to this but I had kids.
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Old 08-05-2019, 03:46 AM   #9
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Great story. I like security and predictability in my life. I decided at 38 that I would become a 'work mercenary', trying to earn as much in my field as I could, so that I can retire around 50. I would rather over save a bit, than hit bottom periodically, and have to wonder if I'll be working at 70. To each his/her own.
I get it. Some crave predictability/pattern... we hated it.

Mostly just wanted to point out to people that there is more than one way to get to freedom... or in hopes that some of the people hovering around their "number" but still afraid to go can see that you still have control after leaving. You can still alter your path and make changes that prevent you from going back to the daily grind.

For the record...we don't plan on hitting bottom again.
Most of our investments are in real estate and while we're traveling/sailing they are gaining in value and being paid off by others.
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Old 08-05-2019, 03:49 AM   #10
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Sorry but even if I had died young I would be glad I didnít subject my family to this but I had kids.
"subject your family" to full time travel and adventure?

Sounds horrible... after my coffee this morning I'll snorkel over to the couple with two young kids living on the catamaran next door and ask the kids how miserable they are... it's hard to tell admidst all the laughing and giggling.
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:07 AM   #11
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Great story bdrydanger! Congrats on living the dream. Good point on not working until you get to a financial "number". The number would probably not be the right number anyway. One should pull the plug based on a lifestyle event rather than financial. Good that your DW gave you the nudge.
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:09 AM   #12
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Not for me but quite a story. Enjoy.
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:15 AM   #13
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Im writing in hopes that others find the courage to do what we did
Courage?
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:16 AM   #14
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For the record...we don't plan on hitting bottom again.
Did you plan on hitting the bottom the first time?
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:28 AM   #15
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Iíd guess the couple living on the catamaran isnít scraping by.

Kids bring a different perspective. They require good education, not just life experiences. Many people arenít well versed in science, math, history, and English. Especially as you move towards middle school and high school. As an engineer doing technical work - I canít be confident I recall all the details of calculus. Many people know home schooled kids and are aware of their average social skills (especially with peers).

If I didnít have a kids, Iíd be fine in a 1 bedroom apartment without feeling like Iím downsizing. You will probably get many opposing views due to many people here having kids. Meeting a family who has kids does not provide context.
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Old 08-05-2019, 05:06 AM   #16
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Did you plan on hitting the bottom the first time?
Essentially, yes.

We knew that after 2 years of full time travel and not working that we had a choice coming rapidly. We could either spend the rest of our money trying to make a better lifestyle for ourselves and continue the journey, or we could go beg for our jobs back. We chose path A.

Did we actually plan on both of us thinking that the other had paid the cc off that month and literally going into the red/not being able to pay a bill for the first time in our lives? No.
But... we did know that the project we had just completed would start bringing in money within a few weeks so it was pretty easy to handle.

It's a choice. We now believe that no matter what happens in the future we can and will find a way to continue the journey without my greatest fear coming true (having to beg for my job back). We no longer view retirement as a number that has to be reached, which puts us in the position to live our best life today but still totally in control of our finances/long-term wealth.
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Old 08-05-2019, 05:09 AM   #17
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Encouraging people to quit working before reaching financial independence so they can go have life experiences strikes me as wymsical. To each his own��
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Old 08-05-2019, 05:16 AM   #18
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The only advice I can offer is... don't wait for a "number" to decide your fate and don't risk being a story of someone who died behind their desk fighting for a retirement that never came.
It's important to remember that you still have control after retirement too... you can still make changes/decisions and live more frugally, you can still take projects or make money... but you can do so on your terms while making your own choices.

Turn your dreams into goals. Turn those goals into reality by setting a date and writing it on the calendar (in sharpie).
Life is far too short and can be far too good not to!

And certainly... if we can help in any way don't hesitate to ask!!
You mentioned many interesting attitudes and beliefs in the first paragraphs of your post. What I now know is that the world is filled with many people, and I am but one. I feel strongly about my beliefs, but hopefully don't retell my story as the path for others.

For example, I never had a retirement goal, so I've enjoyed being free of that weight. Between 30 and 50 we raised children, settled in a diverse neighborhood, and enjoyed all of it. I did exactly what I wished in that period, and was self-employed. We were very frugal, small footprint, etc. However, the majority of citizens need a stash of some size to make it through 10-20-30-40 years of retirement, and after 50 I had to put in serious retirement savings rate for the next 15. I'd venture a guess that a large number of people would not do well with your path, or mine.

We've snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, courtesy of one child. To be honest, I have no desire to go snorkeling again, as I don't enjoy the ocean, sun, etc. But snorkeling each and every day is right for some of the population.

So, as has been said, there are many roads to Dublin. Without the backbone and industriousness of workers, much wealth and enjoyment would not spread so well.
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Old 08-05-2019, 05:31 AM   #19
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Iíd guess the couple living on the catamaran isnít scraping by.

If I didnít have a kids, Iíd be fine in a 1 bedroom apartment without feeling like Iím downsizing. You will probably get many opposing views due to many people here having kids. Meeting a family who has kids does not provide context.
I agree on all of the above...except that meeting a family/families on the road not being context.

If you're suggesting that the families we meet daily who have kids are somehow doing their children an injustice by showing them the world AND that life can be more than a 9-5 hamster wheel I would strongly disagree (as would they).

We meet these families every day. They made the same choice to have kids as many others but also choose to raise them in a different way (with some pros and some cons just like those back home).

Education can actually happen from anywhere (and in many cases is better than in the assembly-line system we have been creating in north america), and if you think world travel creates only kids with "average social skills" you should get out and meet more of them!


For the record, the boat next to us IS actually what I would call "scraping by", but i'm not sure why it matters in this conversation...
And in case it's somehow forming into your judgement on us or on them, I wouldn't exactly refer to us as "scraping by".

The simple fact is that kids are a choice just like any other - and how you raise them (or where) is too.

We talk with a lot of people who use kids as the excuse for why they aren't able to do something different or why they can't do what they want... and then we spend our evenings with people and their kids who are doing that same thing, many of them because of the value they believe it provides to their kids (seeing the world and different cultures, getting to spend the prime years of their youth with BOTH parents at home, seeing that there are infinite choices available in life, etc).

These families simply made a choice for their kids rather than using their kids as an excuse. And should we choose to have kids at some point (though thats quickly becoming less likely) we will do the same.
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Old 08-05-2019, 05:46 AM   #20
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You mentioned many interesting attitudes and beliefs in the first paragraphs of your post. What I now know is that the world is filled with many people, and I am but one. I feel strongly about my beliefs, but hopefully don't retell my story as the path for others.

So, as has been said, there are many roads to Dublin. Without the backbone and industriousness of workers, much wealth and enjoyment would not spread so well.
I hope my original post didn't come across as believing others should follow our exact path (I assume our path has an interest to only a small few). I was hoping more that we are an example that there ARE other paths available.

Just like yours, an example that the typically prescribed path is not the only one available, which is the common belief and the reason so many people are not only feeling trapped in jobs they hate but why others who actually have reached their number are still afraid to go enjoy the reward for their years worked.
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