2018 The Start of Our Early Retirement Adventure
September 21, 2018, was officially my last day at work and the start of early retirement. My wife, Alicia, and I decided to retire from the rat race and start a new adventure. We decided to sell our primary residence and slow travel around the world. We initially decided on South East Asian with a few other nearby countries thrown in like Australia and New Zealand. Alicia officially started early retirement, two months prior, to handle the sale of our condo.
We decided to sell our primary residence to slowly travel the world. However, we are still holding on to our preconstruction purchases and will decide later if we keep one as a primary residence, rent out the property and become landlords, or sell them and realize a profit.
The Decision For Early Retirement
Sometime in June Alicia and I were talking about where we were in life and what was important to us. I was nearing the completion of an MBA; our careers were going well but we, mostly Alicia, felt restless. We were getting tired of the grind. Alicia then stated, “what if we retired and travelled the world?”.
At first, I thought she was crazy. When we travelled for vacations it was pretty extravagant. We ate and drank what we wanted and enjoyed excursions without much consideration for how much things cost; there was never a budget. I knew we could never slow travel the way we vacationed. We had to set some boundaries and expectations.
A rough monthly budget was required for this adventure. After the budget was set we determined that out our dividend income far exceeded that number. Moreover, we were able to slow travel and still build our portfolio. It was the best of both worlds. You can read about how I found my investment philosophy here Finding My Investment Style. I’ve also written about my principle investment style here Intro To Dividend Investing.
Alicia started a blog journaling our early retirement adventures (The Wandering Asian Couple). She outlines our monthly expenses, itineraries’ and outlines our thoughts. Eg some of the drawbacks of slow travel; looking through a different set of lenses when vacationing and slow travelling.
October 12, 2018, was also when I completed the final course for the MBA. After 3 years of hard work, many late nights and weekends I was finally done. I completed the MBA while working fulltime in the Asset Management Business and managing a team in both Toronto and Montreal. I was travelling to Montreal every other week. It definitely was difficult at times but I do feel a sense of satisfaction with my achievement.
Many people have questioned why I did an MBA even though I retired early. When I started the MBA, I didn’t have FIRE on my mind. To be honest, I didn’t even know what FIRE was until recently. I always thought I would work another 10 to 15 years. It was still early retirement but a lot closer to ‘normal’ retirement age. The MBA is something I’ve always wanted to do and is something I can use if ever I get restless and want to go back to work. After 3 months of slow travelling, this is something that I’m strongly considering (don’t tell Alicia though).
Our Principal Residence
After our decision to retire we needed to decide what to do with our principal residence. Do we keep it empty for eight months while we travelled? Should we rent it out or should we sell it?
Keeping the property empty while we travelled didn’t seem like a good use of money. Although there was the benefit knowing we have someplace to come back to, there were still expenses (property tax, condo fees, insurance etc).
We’ve never been landlords, although this was definitely a consideration, however, I don’t think we’d like being landlords. Especially if we’re halfway around the world. We would need family or friends to help out if there were problems. This wasn’t a burden we wanted to leave on someone.
We finally decided to sell our principal residence. It made the most financial sense. Our money wouldn’t be tied up, we wouldn’t burden family or a friend. Finally, we already had other preconstruction properties we purchased as investments. We could live in one of those when construction was completed. This also ensured we still had diversification in our investments.
As mentioned above, Alicia retired two months prior to me, this was to allow one of us to take care of the process of selling our property. Since I was still completing my MBA, it made sense for her to take on this responsibility. We needed to sell our property, some of the contents (it’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ accumulates) and store the rest. It was a lot of work, and I’m grateful that she was able to take this on and allow me to concentrate on school.
During the preparation period, we decided that it was time to give notice to work and to make this announcement. We told family, friends and some of our work acquaintances of our plans. To our surprise (I guess we really shouldn’t have been) people weren’t as happy for us as we thought. Although there were several people who were genuinely happy for us, there were many more who feigned happiness. I guess it was because they weren’t in a position where they could make that kind of decision? I don’t really understand it and am not going to try to.
The Slow Travel
It’s been about three months since I left work and started our adventure. In this short time, we’ve cruised through Alaska, spent some time in Tokyo Japan, Chiang Mai and Phuket Thailand, Hoi An and Da Nang Vietnam, and Kuala Lumpur and Puchong Malaysia. We’ve really enjoyed experiencing the sights, the culture and especially the food. As mentioned, Alicia has documented our adventure and provides tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way (The Wandering Asian Couple). Many of these tips would’ve been really helpful to us prior to our trip. Hopefully, you will find some of these tips useful if you are planning a slow travel adventure.
This past year has been a time of change for my Alicia and I. I completed an MBA, we sold our property and are now halfway around the world experiencing new sights, sounds and tastes. It’s been a wild ride. Although we’re extremely grateful for where we are and what we’ve been able to experience, we’ve gained a better appreciation of what we had at home in Canada.
After this trip, we may consider becoming more of a snowbird rather than full-time travellers. Btw, snowbirds are people who spend the summers in Canada and leave for warmer climates in the winter. I may also consider going back to work since I’ve recently started having thoughts about returning to work (I know crazy right?!). I still feel like that drive in me is still lingering. We’ll see what we decide when we return to Canada in May. Until then there’s still more sights, sounds and tastes to experience.
Happy New Year!