My wife and I worked at professional jobs for 30 years, but
our wealth accumulation was from owning real estate. In 2005, we had a five-year
plan to retire when several of the rental properties we owned were paid off. In
this same year
we sold one problem property and reinvested the money in a tenancy-in-common,
known as a TIC. This allowed us to own a small stake in a large commercial property,
income more than doubled from making this change. We liked that idea so much that we sold
the rest of our investment properties, and bought into more TICs. These changes
in our portfolio resulted
in a fairly large monthly income, without requiring us
to manage these properties.
Because we could, we retired immediately.
Drake on top of the world on Kilimanjaro
point we bought a large motor
home and took a seven-month trip
around the US and deep into Mexico. We had enough income that we did not sell
Feeling flush, we took a trip around the world stopping in Paris,
then going on to Africa and climbing Kilimanjaro, and going on safari.
Dazzling African sunset
When our fellow climbers returned home, we rode a bus
across Tanzania and took a ferry to the island of Zanzibar.
In Thailand we met up with Billy and Akaisha, with whom we
had been communicating after reading their book, The Adventurer's
Guide to Early Retirement. We spent two months in Thailand and a
month in Vietnam. At this time, an around-the-world airline ticket cost only a few hundred
dollars more than a ticket to Africa.
was still rosy.
and Drake riding elephants in Asia
We took a trip back to Asia the next winter and went to
Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and
a ticket to Asia, a ticket back home four months
later, and basically, just went where the wind took us in between.
Arriving back to the US, we found that the whole
economy had crashed.
great disappointment, our investments started suspending monthly payments, one
Now, things were not so rosy.
We wanted to stay retired, and we
wanted a smaller RV, so we sold our motor home at a major loss and put our
brick and mortar home up for sale. Luckily we found a buyer for cash, but at a price much less
than we would have received only two years before. When the house sale closed, we
bought a truck camper and moved into it full time.
Fortunately, we wanted to travel in a truck camper, so it was
not a hardship moving into one.
was hard was seeing our financial
personal encounter with falling investments
that had taken us 30 years to accumulate was being lost in a very short time. Our commercial tenants were going bankrupt,
tenants, we were losing investments. Even though we were still doing what we wanted, I
found myself to be very angry at those whom I felt had caused the problems
our losing much of our retirement assets.
I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer when I was 49. I
was cured, but I had come face-to-face with the old adage that “No one is
promised tomorrow.” With the financial losses we were suffering we could have gone back
to work full-time, but we decided to stay retired while we were still healthy. If we
had to return to work sometime later, so be it.
A four month trip to Alaska in the camper was wonderful.
Off the grid in spectacular Alaskan
decided to take jobs at Amazon.com in Fernley, NV for the three
months before Christmas. Working in a warehouse was a completely new
experience. Not only did the hard physical labor get us in better shape, it
also gave us a new appreciation for how much things cost when we made a fraction
of our old incomes. A tank of gas for the truck was 10 hours of hard work!
Perspective enhancing benefits
I have finally come to grips with my anger at losing so
much of our retirement investments. I rarely beat my self up anymore with the
“Why didn’t I do X instead of Y." When I slip
into that mindset, I remind myself of three ideas:
1. Being angry is like taking poison and hoping the other
guy gets sick. I am only hurting myself.
2. If I had done
"Y" instead of "X", like selling our house
sooner, I would not have taken the money and just let it sit in the bank. Knowing
would have invested it, and whatever I invested the money in - be it stocks or
real estate - would also have gone down in value, and I would be wondering why I
didn’t do "Z" instead.
Today we are happily retired, although it is not the
retirement I thought we would have. I am thankful we retired when we did,
because I do not know if I would have had the guts to retire if I had waited
after the crash. I am afraid I would have thought I did not have enough
income to retire, and we would have kept working during these prime years of our
Retirement is not a static state
After two years living full time in our truck camper, my
wife told me she needed either a bigger RV or a house. As wonderful as I am, two years
living close together
in a truck camper was enough. After a lot of thought, we realized that we did
not want to settle down in a house that couldn’t move.
We recently bought a beautiful used
Freedom and comfort on the road
motor home is nicer than the one we sold in 2008, and cost nearly the same
amount as what we received for selling our previous one. Now I don’t feel so bad
at the beating I took on selling the first one.
This summer, we are going to work as camp hosts at 10,000
ft. in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. More than likely, this is not something I would
have done if I still had a large income, but I am looking forward to a summer in
the mountains, doing what other people can only hope to do on the weekends.
We plan to travel out of the country again within the next year. Our
fixed expenses are only a fraction of our old ones, but we can park a motor home in
storage for $100 a month, not the $3000 a month we used to
pay for our house.
I am happy every day that I
am retired and I now know I don’t need $100,000 a year to do so.