From time to time I think we have all thought about what it means to be “rich”. For the purposes of this article I don’t think of rich as simply becoming Financially Independent. I’m also not correlating the level of wealth to happiness either. The most miserable people in the world can be “rich” while some of the happiest people on the planet are living in the lowest levels of wealth.
When I think of rich, it’s like Scrooge McDuck rich. So much money that you couldn’t spend it if you tried. You don’t own houses, you own castles, a fleet of cars, a private jet and fancy boats (yachts).
Well this isn’t the outcome of FIRE that we are targeting. To get to that level of rich, most people would likely have to work way too hard and long to justify the value you’d get out of all that “stuff”. And does “stuff” really make you happy? (Check out our articles Free vs Cool and Need vs Wants, then decide for yourself)
I definitely see the attraction of it all, but thinking in those terms will only lead us to the “one more year” syndrome. You know, where you look at your accounts growing and just imagine what you’d be able to do with just one more year of working and saving.
The key is figuring out where you gain the maximum happiness with the least amount of effort (earning / saving / investing) over time.
For us, we already figured out that no “castle” is what will make us happy. You see, a castle also comes with all of the upkeep associated with it. We have come to dislike how wasteful we feel in our current large home. (See our article entitled Our Biggest Mistake to find out more) I couldn’t imagine how we’d feel about something many times bigger.
We don’t like cars either, driving around is a chore. The most exciting advancement that I’m rooting for is self-driving technology. All that commuting time would be reclaimed. Then there are private jets… that just feels wasteful. If I need to get somewhere, I don’t mind being the riff raff corralled into the “public” metal tube in the sky. It’s a cost I’m willing to pay to get somewhere awesome, fast and cheep.
But then there are boats. Both FI Girl and I love the ocean. We love the crashing noise of waves, the smell of the sea air and the overall beauty in every direction as far as the eye can see. Now as much as we love being out on the water, the idea of owning our own boat scares us. Even if we trusted ourselves to pilot our own vessel, it seems like so much work it wouldn’t be worth it. Never mind the cost of maintenance and possibly crewing the thing. I think we will pass on this one. #RichPeopleProblems
So what’s the alternative? Well, nature is free, so that isn’t the problem. The problem is how much time and money do you want to invest to enjoy that part of nature?
Our solution is cruising smart or Value Cruising.
Over the years, we found cruise vacations to have the most bang for their buck (for us at least). So we figured out ways to get the most value out of riding around on a big boat without all of the chores and cost associated with going the “rich people” route of buying one. We certainly are not the first people to think of this and we certainly won’t be the last.
Part of our plan, when we officially become nomads, is to be on a big boat for one third of the year (or more). Sounds expensive right? Well, we have run into lots of retirees who just live on a cruise ship and chain itineraries indefinitely. People who have taken hundreds of cruises on the same ship. These people are walking ads for the lines and they treat them like celebrities onboard the ship; giving them honorary titles, awards and plenty of perks.
After seeing this for ourselves we thought, that’s what we want to do. So we spent a great deal of time adding up the costs to live on a boat by the year and the costs actually came out lower than or comparable to the costs to live in a really nice retirement community. Like everything else there are always pros and cons. One of the downsides of doing this is the availability of advanced medical services when you get older. This is why people who are in their healthy years start their retirement this way and end up going a more traditional route later.
An early retiree can also follow this same pattern. The difference is that an early retiree will most likely have more “healthy” years by default. In our first couple years we plan to document this strategy and our experience extensively. This is partially the reason we decided to blog about our journey. We couldn’t find an example of anyone else retiring early to become “boat nomads” by value cruising.
It may be as awesome as we think it to be or the worst experience / idea imaginable. In either case, we will adapt accordingly and give you the full report.
When you FIRE, you become your own boss. We like it, we do it more. We don’t like it, we try something else. Can’t wait!