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Expat approaching the finish line
Old 09-10-2020, 10:28 AM   #1
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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Expat approaching the finish line

[Yes, I did read the Am I Ready checklist, yes I did run everything through FIRECalc]
Long time lurker decided to uncloak.

DW and I turned 57 this year. I have 30 years with Mega. We have been expats in a low cost part of Europe for several years now and our contract runs to 2022. The last of our 4 kids just graduated high school and is set. I love my work, am very well paid, and am quite good at it. (In fact I'm always sad to read in these boards about how much people hate their job.) I work with young people, hire, train and coach them and enjoy watching them grow. Living in Europe feels like a great bonus - we get to do our travel now at very low cost. But the work is hard, I want to leave at the top of my game, and I do have a long list of things I want to do while I can. The upshot of all that is: earliest departure 2022 at 59, latest is 2025 at 62. One thing I will not do is go back to work - this is a one way trip.

Assets
401K or equivalent: $1,400,000 (1/3rd Mega stock [required], 1/3rd S&P500, 1/3rd money market)
Roth (S&P 500): $20k
Non retirement: $40k
Home & mortgage: none and none

Recently moved equities to money market and I guess I will move that into bonds? I was always a Vanguard500 investor but my short term risk appetite has plummeted.

Liabilities
A tendency to procrastinate and inability to dance.
No loans or other debt.

Income
SS: I will take at 62 to get what I can while I can. We will draw $38k.
Family farm (shared with my brothers): my share is reliably $20k

Expenses
This is hard. As long term expats our spending is really variable and may not translate to what we would see in the US. But my best estimate is $100k / year including $1,000 / mo for Mega sponsored insurance. I could live happily on half that but I married for love.

I have run the 2022 and 2025 plans through Firecalc and both show good. My plan was to enjoy my current life, and see what the market does before picking a date between the two.

Questions
We haven’t decided WHERE. The kids are on the move and other family is everywhere. One thought is to stay mobile (US and international short term rentals) until we find a place to settle or the family settles. But in our travels we have accumulated a large collection of nice household goods that the kids will want but aren’t ready for. No problem when it was Mega’s job to move them around. Long term storage? Buy a cheap place just to house furniture?

Anyway, it is coming up much faster than I thought. And is suddenly a little more scary than I anticipated
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Old 09-12-2020, 06:38 AM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
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Personally I would stay put until you can answer the WHERE question. A 100k spending with no house payment is a lot of spending. Does this include taxes?
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Old 09-12-2020, 09:57 AM   #3
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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Yes it does include taxes. It also includes rent since we are not planning on buying a house unless and until we find a place we want to settle. Can't really stay put since I will have to move somewhere once I retire. Rent is payed by MegaCorp until then. I have property I could build a house on but not certain that is where we want to live. That is why we are thinking to do extended stays in various places for the first 5 years or so and then pick some place to stay. Until then we need to store stuff. We'll downsize where we can but are holding lots of stuff for kids who just not ready to settle either.
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Old 09-12-2020, 02:20 PM   #4
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I suffer from the analytical engineer disease when approaching a question like "WHERE?"

I would look for places less susceptible to natural disasters, which seem to be on the rise. No coastal areas, no earthquake prone areas, no wildfire prone areas, no flood-prone areas.

Then, taxes. There are frequent magazine articles ranking states as retirement destinations, all of which include taxes as a major factor. Research these.

Then, future taxes. This is tougher because it is a forecast, but states and cities with major pension shortfalls will IMO eventually see major tax increases. Illinois and Chicago come to mind. I think California has problems and I have read that there are others. Again, research.

Then, future property values. I would avoid high-flyers like Seattle, SF Bay area, etc. on the theory that what goes up must come down.

My guess is that analysis will point to the inland SE of the US or maybe inland TX but there may be surprises. Canada?
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Old 09-12-2020, 02:30 PM   #5
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I suffer from the analytical engineer disease when approaching a question like "WHERE?"

I would look for places less susceptible to natural disasters, which seem to be on the rise. No coastal areas, no earthquake prone areas, no wildfire prone areas, no flood-prone areas.

Then, taxes. There are frequent magazine articles ranking states as retirement destinations, all of which include taxes as a major factor. Research these.

Then, future taxes. This is tougher because it is a forecast, but states and cities with major pension shortfalls will IMO eventually see major tax increases. Illinois and Chicago come to mind. I think California has problems and I have read that there are others. Again, research.

Then, future property values. I would avoid high-flyers like Seattle, SF Bay area, etc. on the theory that what goes up must come down.

My guess is that analysis will point to the inland SE of the US or maybe inland TX but there may be surprises. Canada?
States w/o income taxes are TX/TN/NV/SD.
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Old 09-12-2020, 02:38 PM   #6
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Congrats on your journey thus far!

Are these household goods really that valuable that you need to store them until your kids are ready for them? Have they expressed desire to have them? It is definitely a complication to an otherwise easy plan.

Can you get PR to stay in your current location for awhile, or will you need to leave as soon as the gig is over?
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Old 09-12-2020, 02:45 PM   #7
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Sounds like everything is good. ~3% net WR if starting at 62 y.o.
Wherever you go, obviously research closely the history of rent increases in that particular rental and the area in general.
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Old 09-12-2020, 03:45 PM   #8
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WHEREver you go THERE you are.

Sorry for the pun. Mobile and no fixed long term plan is your best bet. You will know it when you find a place that feels right to put down roots
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Old 09-12-2020, 06:49 PM   #9
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These are some questions that my wife and I have been struggling with. We have some very nice furniture that we planned to give to our kids, only to find that they didn’t want it. Ultimately, we decided to keep our house (and furniture) while we visit different places and decide where to live permanently.
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Old 09-12-2020, 09:44 PM   #10
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Welcome! As someone who's in the middle of packing (1,600 pounds packed out of the mover's estimate of 5,000), I'm eliminating all of my furniture and starting over. My mom passed away in 2018, and even though she had some really nice oak furniture and solid brass lamps, none of it was modern, and none of it suited my taste, so I donated it all to friends, family, and a charity. So, as far as your furniture goes, I'd ask if the kids really do want it. My experience with self-storage is that it's a good way to burn through some cash before donating/throwing away what you were paying to store. YMMV.

Anyway, sounds to me like you need to figure out where you'd be happiest. Waiting/following the kids may not be a realistic/ideal path. Just my two cents. Take 'em or leave 'em!

Best wishes!
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Old 09-13-2020, 12:03 AM   #11
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I was a long term expat too - congrats on the journey. My experience was that because I moved around so much and never put down roots, the company became my „hometown“. So don‘t forget to work on the psychological side of things — where will you go, whom will you hang out with, who will understand the experiences you’ve had. In many ways we retreated into a world of two before slowly coming out again, and that‘s certainly one answer. But I think it makes more urgent the question of WHERE (and the associated questions of cost of living and what you‘ll do for housing). Living on the expat merry go round is great fun but it comes with a price, and that is the lack of established roots and social circles outside of work. It’s quite similar to the military in that respect - without the uniforms and discipline! If you can answer the question - where do I belong now? Then you’ll have made a big step
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:24 AM   #12
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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Thanks, all, for the feedback.
- Yes, we have some data based criteria as we look at places but in reality do not expect the find a forever place for several years. I like the idea of 6 months here and there - international and US.
- LCOL is definitely on the list of priorities and the SouthWest is top of our list.
- We are downsizing brutally, but we do have heirlooms that are three generations old now and things the kids will certainly want. It really isn't a huge issue, we have stuff in conditioned storage now and can just add to it. I have property and could even build a conditioned storage unit if it comes to that. I guess I'm asking to have my cake and eat it too - keep our stuff and still be free for awhile.

I read an article some years back about a couple who spent their retirement in 3 and 6 month increments - balancing HCOL and LCOL to average out over the year. That's where I got the idea. I just like being different places but hate being a tourist. DW is MOSTLY on board. She will be much less so once grandkids enter the picture. The kids are also expat raised and much more likely to come visit if we are in someplace they consider interesting.
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:32 AM   #13
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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whom will you hang out with, who will understand the experiences you’ve had.
This is certainly my experience. Very hard to connect with people who haven't lived it. You can get superficial interest but hard to find someone who immediately understands why you have three jars of peanut butter in your suitcase.

But the social circle is certainly high on DW's priorities. Not mine - I always find myself to be the most congenial company.
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:34 AM   #14
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DD852. Just noticed the handle. You must be USN. Same here - so you definitely understand about life on the move.
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Old 09-13-2020, 05:24 AM   #15
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DD852. Just noticed the handle. You must be USN. Same here - so you definitely understand about life on the move.

Interesting guess but no. The 852 is the dialing code for Hong Kong, where I lived for four different tours and a total of 12+ years.
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Old 09-13-2020, 07:48 PM   #16
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I read an article some years back about a couple who spent their retirement in 3 and 6 month increments - balancing HCOL and LCOL to average out over the year. That's where I got the idea. I just like being different places but hate being a tourist. DW is MOSTLY on board. She will be much less so once grandkids enter the picture. The kids are also expat raised and much more likely to come visit if we are in someplace they consider interesting.
Moving around from country to country in 3-6 month chunks sounds like great fun to me. I could never get my wife to agree to it as she points out that we need to get our social circle set up before we are too old to make new friends.
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Old 09-15-2020, 01:49 PM   #17
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DD852. Just noticed the handle. You must be USN. Same here - so you definitely understand about life on the move.


MrSmee, I had thought the same since I am retired USN lol.
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Old 09-15-2020, 10:35 PM   #18
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In the current Covid 19 environment, it is probably better to put off the decision on moving between 2 or more retirement locations until you are closer to the actual retirement date (hopefully by then, things will be clearer).

I am a long term expat (over 30 years) and my wife and I have homes in 3 different countries - just can't travel between them this year!
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:48 AM   #19
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That's true. I spent 2 weeks in government supervised quarantine after a short trip home. I did get to work on my prison bod though
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Old 09-16-2020, 08:08 PM   #20
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That's true. I spent 2 weeks in government supervised quarantine after a short trip home. I did get to work on my prison bod though
You quarantine must have been better than the Australian government quarantine. In Australia everyone arriving has to do 14 days in a room with no time out for exercise, no ability to open windows for fresh air. Plus you have to pay the government $A3,000 for the experience.
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