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I Semi-Retired and Moved out of the Country.

· Money,Travel

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.

When?

I already left!

What are you doing about work?

Short answer: I maintain ~7-10 streams of income, half of which are passive.

Long answer: I'm semi-retired. More on that in an upcoming post or you can preorder the book if you're interested in building a similar lifestyle.

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.

I'm committed to the semi-retirement experiment for a few reasons:

1.) I enjoy my work! I just don't enjoy doing it 50+ hours, five days a week and in a set time and place. :-)

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).

3.) Multiple streams of income >

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 kid's 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.

With who?

Me, myself and I.

What about being lonely? Aren't you afraid of the danger?

On Loneliness: 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).

What are these so-called passion projects?

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
  • INSPIRE. media - visual storytelling on travel and culture
  • 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 50+ hour weeks, sleeping 7-8 hours a night and trying to maintain any semblance of a social life can be challenging.

So what places are you planning to visit?

Phew. No place is off-limits. This is a sample foundational list, but, honestly, I'm open to visiting every single country in the world.

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.

Can I visit?

Yes! I would love to host friends and family! Don't hesitate to reach out if you're interested -- I'm 100% serious. My Instagram is going to pin my location so you'll always know where in the world I am.

How can we keep in touch?

All the same ways! My phone number and email address are the same. Between Skype and social media, I won't miss a beat. If you're interested in my travels, follow me on Instagram: @theElleMason

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