Financial Independence

7 Lifestyles of Financial Independence Early Retirees

Once you achieve financial freedom, the world might not change but it will definitively change your world. Once your investments can sustain your lifestyle, you’ve made it. You are free.

Once FI, you can then choose to work, or not. You can choose to travel the world or keep working on projects which you are passionate about.

Some reach financial independence and retire early, others simply enjoy the freedom to slow down their work life and live a little.


Choose your financial independence lifestyle

With the FI movement getting more and more popular, we are seeing an array of amazing lifestyles people are creating for themselves. From cruising the world to van life to geo-arbitrage, the possibilities are endless.

If you think outside the box, the world becomes your playground. The structure and limitations society has to offer is not the only possible way of life. In some cases, people live alternative lifestyles to drastically lower their expenses and reach financial independence quicker while others are a way of life they created only once reaching  FI. In either situation, these extraordinary people went all in and created a lifestyle around their wants and needs.


Van life, even with a family

If a giant McMansion is not your thing, how about living in a tiny van? That is exactly what Andrew, Stacey, and Rowan chose to do. This family of 3 bought a 1999 Volkswagen Vanagon camper van and designed a lifestyle of family adventures for themselves.


Camper Van Travel with a Baby From Youtube


They are not fully financially independent yet but the van life is a great way for them to travel for less and spend more time with their newborn. This is also an amazing way to reach financial independence faster since they are reducing their expenses considerably.

With a van, they are able to have water, cooking facilities, a bed, space to stand up, and plenty of storage for the baby’s stuff like diapers, blankets, a car seat, etc. for a fraction of the price of more traditional travel.

On the plus side, this lifestyle is super cheap, allows you to travel extensively, and to reconnect with nature. However, the downsides include the many material sacrifices needed to fit in such a small accommodation, mechanical issues and power and sewage scarcity.


How about traveling the world in an RV?

If you need a bit more space, you could always start shopping for an RV. That’s exactly what our friend Steve from Think Save Retire did when he retired at 35 years old. He is now traveling in a 200 square foot Airstream with his wife. Exploring the continent, and enjoying these small living quarters.

They saved 70% of their income for several years and has now that they have reached financial independence, they have built a lifestyle around their love of travel.


Picking Up Our Airstream From Youtube


They have a great post on why you do not need a huge house and they are the perfect preachers of this. They sold their house and now live in an RV fulltime!

It is slightly more comfortable than the van life but still is a radical lifestyle change.

On the bright side, this arrangement can be achieved for a lesser cost than owning a home, allows you to travel extensively, and to reconnect with nature. However, some disadvantages include the smaller living quarters, mechanical issues and the need to connect in campgrounds for power and sewage.


Meet the full-time Cruiser 

From down-sizing to grand living, meet Mario Salcedo.

The round-the-world cruise has long been one of those brass rings of retirement but Mr. Salcedo has taken this to a whole other level. Since he reached financial independence 20 years ago, he has been living on cruise ships permanently.


Retire Early on a Cruise ShipSource: Scott McIntyre for The New York Times


Mr. Salcedo estimates he has been on 950 cruises and logged 7,000 “cruise days” at sea. – The New York Times


It’s not something we would think of doing but that’s what makes him happy so he has built his lifestyle around it. Although full-time cruising costs him roughly $70,000 per year, he has created a lifestyle which makes all of this possible.


I decided I had enough of the corporate world, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life traveling the world – Mario Salcedo


Once he retired from his corporate job, he started an online investment management business which he now operates as he cruises around the world.


Meet the Happiest Guy in the World From Youtube


Now, if that is not the perfect example of creating a lifestyle around the life you desire, I don’t know what is. He wanted to live on a boat and was sick of wasting time on the things which did not bring value to his life (cleaning up, dishes, cooking…) so he designed a life perfectly aligned with his desires.

The good things about such a life choice are that it allows you to travel extensively, is truly all-included, and maximizes your leisure time. However, the high price tag, lack of stability and connection, and potential monotony of being on a boat all-year-round could outweigh the positives.


Debt free with a tiny home

Now back to earth, housing costs are through the roof and even the smallest condos are far from affordable in most major city centers. People are now taking on huge mortgage debt to pay for guestrooms they barely use and that second living room they so needed.

On the other end of the spectrum, some are building their future in tiny homes, living debt-free, and enjoying their freedom.


70 Year Old Builds Innovative Off-Grid Tiny House From Youtube


Imagine having a cost of living so low that you can actually watch your bank account grow just from your government pension. Well, that is just one of the benefits that Peter Matheson discovered when he built and moved into his off-the-grid, super tiny house on wheels in Grand Forks, British Columbia.

He always enjoyed building and the creativity of trying to fit things into a smaller space. Once he volunteered at a cold weather shelter and helped design some tiny homes for the homeless, he then felt the need to experience it for himself. That’s when he built his own 125 sq. ft. tiny house.

He is now retired debt-free and enjoying a life of leisure in British Columbia, Canada.

It all comes down to priorities. If having two living rooms is not in your priorities, then why pay for that?

This way of living is really cheap, allows you to leave a minimal impact on your environment, and to reconnect with nature. However,  one has to consider the many sacrifices needed to fit in such a small accommodation and some municipalities have by-laws against tiny homes.


A homestead instead?

If small is not your thing, how about a 66-acre homestead in rural central Vermont. That’s what Nate and Liz along with their daughter and dog are doing. While working high-paying jobs, the Frugalwoods used extreme frugality to allow them to save 71% of their income and they have now reached financial independence at the ripe age of 32.


What a well-off couple learned from cutting consumer habits From Youtube

If you enjoy hikes in the woods, working on the land, and being close to nature, homesteading is a great way to live in the midst of it all. This rural lifestyle can be a lot of work but it can be very healthy, appeasing, and relaxing.

Another alternative to this is cottage-living. We are thinking of this once we achieve financial freedom. Buying a cottage would be cheaper than living in town and would get us closer to the nature we love. With city home prices skyrocketing, living a bit further from civilization might be the way to go.

On the plus side, this lets you reconnect with nature, disconnect from the busyness of the city, and live from your own land. However, the downsides include a dependence on cars, long hours of manual work, and long drives to get anywhere.

Liz just released her first book, Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living which we highly recommend. It is a great read and complement to their blog.


Geoarbitrage to retire early

Another option if you are location independent (such as not having a fix work location since you have reached financial independence) is geoarbitrage. This entails living in a lower-cost of living country or city to benefit from a lower-cost lifestyle.

This might mean moving to a cheaper state or tax-free country to cut your spending once retired. Another great life hack (if you can pull it off) is to use geoarbitrage while working remotely. This can drastically increase your savings rate and let you achieve financial freedom faster.


Geoarbitrage to Financial Freedom


For example, our friend Mr. Crazy Kicks is currently shopping around Central America for a cheap place to live. We really like the idea since, once you retire early, there is no obligation to stay in a high-cost of living neighborhood or even country.


We’ve already investigated retirement destinations in Costa Rica and Spain, so we jumped on an opportunity to fly to Belize for free. – Mr. Crazy Kicks


Why not explore the world and save while doing so?

What is amazing about geoarbitrage is that it lets you live in warmer climates or different cultures than you might be used to, and it can be cheaper than to live than where you come from. However, a major downside is that you might need to give up your citizenship and might be leaving a lot of friends and family back home.


Just never stop exploring

On the same lines, if you are financially independent and like to explore the world, you could become a perpetual traveler.

Go curry cracker lifestyleThat is exactly what Jeremy and Winnie over at Go Curry Cracker are doing, even with a kid. They have been to dozens of countries and, just like us, mostly travel for free using rewards points.

This lifestyle is definitely not for everyone since perpetual traveling can get exhausting but if you are an avid traveler, go for it!

Traveling full-time can be fun and eye-opening, can be done cheaply with the help of rewards points, and is a great way to discover the world. However, a major downside is that you might be leaving a lot of friends and family back home and it can get exhausting.

Finally, there is always the option to stay home, exactly where you are, and stay put. But that’s boring! 🙂

We hope you find your own calling and create your ideal lifestyle. If there is anything we missed, please share along in the comments! Mr. and Mrs. Xyz.


16 replies on “7 Lifestyles of Financial Independence Early Retirees”

I love it! Definitely motivating for me to continue my path of FIRE. We are only on this planet for a limited time so better make the most of it. Once you no longer are bound by a W-2 job, you can do whatever you desire. I’m not quite there yet, but should hit it around 53-55 (I’m 47 now).

Great post. It just shows that the possibilities are endless when it comes to financial freedom. I still work a full-time job but I hope to be able to combine a couple of these retirement ideas. Small camper traveling the country all while writing my blog sounds about perfect.

Very cool rundown! It’s interesting seeing these all in one place – really helps illustrate how vastly different they are. The ones I come closest to are “Geoarbitrage to retire early” and “Just never stop exploring” – which explains why GCC lands so well with me!

This is a great list! I love reading about others who are doing something different too. Personally we are in the geo-arbitrage phase, but we think we are going to try van life when we get to our next continent – Australia.

Thank you for putting this list together. I’m already a fan of some of these blogs. I’ll check the rest of them out.

That’s pretty much what we are testing right now, we will be spending a few months in Thailand this year to see how we would like that lifestyle.

Hey Xyz,

Awesome post on collecting all the different lifestyles of those who are already financially independent or working to get there. No doubt it’s a process but you help explain it in a way which makes it seem more achievable with all the examples.

Thank you and great post.

Choices are freedom. Money is freedom. You are totally right, once you know what you want, work towards it and get your portfolio to support your lifestyle.

It’s great to see people living on their own terms. No one grew up wanting to be trapped in a life they didn’t wish for and yet living these out takes a tremendous amount of courage. It’s not easy to leave behind coworkers, friends, and families to chase something a little crazy.

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