Our Grand Plan

Monica and Don


           Here are the top four remarks/questions we are asked or people say when we tell anyone about  "Our plan" 

(in no particular order):   

1. "Wow, so you're not going to have a home base?" 

2. "I could never leave my home..." 

3. "What about all your stuff??" 

4. "When did you start planning for this and did you get professional help?" 


We were talking about our plan the other day and for the life of us, we couldn't remember when we first came up with this plan. We knew we wanted to travel a good amount in retirement and had done a number of home exchanges as part of those travels so living in someone else's home was no big deal for us. But could we live in other people's homes indefinitely? 

   I think the idea to sell the house, get rid of most of our stuff and store only the sentimental things, and live overseas was part our idea but influenced greatly by a couple that calls themselves The Senior Nomads (http://seniornomads.com/). Essentially their plan is the same and they have done it for about 5 years with great success. We would modify their plan slightly in that instead of staying just a week or two in a city, we would determine whether the city is just a "2 week-er", good for a month, or even or 3-6 months, Schengen Rule permitting. From prior travel, we have a running of list of cities to which we want to return and for how long. And in what time of year.   

Another inspiration has come from HGTv channel's House Hunters International.  Yes, the show is formulaic- there is always one home in budget but not really what they want and the other 2 are over budget but their dream home. And we've binge watched enough shows to know that in 9 out of 10 of them, the female gets her way. Sheesh..... But by watching this show, we've certainly added to our travel wish list and have a better idea of which cities will fall in below our budget and which will be a little pricier (more on our budget later). It's tough to watch, though.... it makes us just want to sell it all tomorrow and get started!      

  So, to answer some of those questions /statements mentioned earlier:  

 1. "Wow, so you're not going to have a home base?"   

A. We were going to sell the house anyway. New Jersey has treated us well for the most part but we are in no way wedded to staying there. Don was born and bred in Jersey and is looking for something new. I've moved around my whole life- bring it on!    

 B. Out timeline is flexible and  we don't know where we'll want to eventually settle once this grand adventure is done - much of it will depend on where our kids (and grandkids!) will be. They're both still deciding on their futures so we feel the timing could work out really well. Once we decide to "retire", we can make that decision. And even then, we more than likely won't buy. We can't guarantee that we'll stay in any place longer than 7 years, the amount of time it generally takes to make money on real estate.      

C. Having a home/apartment in the US means we're landlords. We don't want to be landlords- we did that for 2 months and that's all we need, thank you.   

 D. Part of our financial plan that allows us to start this adventure includes the assets of the sale of the house.     

 2. "I could never leave my home..."   

Home is where the heart is! We plan on making every home we stay in "our home."


3. "What about all your stuff??"   

Ah, stuff... I volunteer in a thrift store and see first-hand how much "stuff" we humans acquire. And frankly, do we really need it all? Do we really need 8 serving platters and a collection of dog statues to feel happy? A long time ago, Don and I decided that more than "stuff", we want experiences. We were that couple that didn't buy a CD until about 5 years after they came out. Didn't buy a cell phone for ages and when we did, didn't upgrade until the day when we could no longer get system updates. I take my kids' outcast phones when they update. Our biggest TV is 19". We drive a minivan from 2004. We'd rather take our kids to Paris when they're 10 and 7, even if they won't remember it years later, because it's an amazing experience to live in a different culture, even if only for a week. Added bonus- they now have the travel bug and have no fear of travel. They roll with the punches that can come with travel and they're troopers.  

  We've put the house on the market and have cleared out/sold/donated all non-essential furniture and general "stuff".  Our 5x10 storage unit is almost full with sentimental items and a few pieces of furniture our kids have  "called".  It's been pretty liberating!   

 4. "When did you start planning for this and did you get professional help?"  

 In my eyes, Don is a financial guru and for years he really enjoyed investing our money and generally planning for our future. But even he knew that to take on this plan, we would need some professional help. So about 3 years ago, we interviewed some local financial planners and found a really good fit with Newroads Financial (http://www.newroadsfinancial.com/) right in our town. While location wasn't originally a requirement, it turns out that having a planner nearby has been really helpful-- we can just stop by to pick up paperwork or sign a form. And the meetings we have about 3x a year can be done before work. (Note that we seem to meet with our planner more than the average bear by our choice. Frequency can vary. ) Of course you pay for the service (our rate is approximately 1% of assets managed) but for such a non-traditional retirement plan that will hopefully last longer than the usual 15 years, it's money very well spent.    Our advisor has helped us with the overall plan, how much to invest every year and where, helped us get life insurance and long-term care, and has given us a clear budget for every year to age 95. There have been some tweaks along the way but now we feel confident that we're on the right path.

    A tremendous advantage in being able to even consider this plan  is the fact that we have actively lived below our means truly from the moment we began working. With starting salaries of 17K in 1987, that was no easy feat but as we said in college, it's the simple pleasures. Bagel and fruit salad for dinner on a hot summer night? Sure! Weekends spent at a local park with a picnic and the paper, watching the stream of weddings that were always there (highest count- 11 in one day!).-- so nice. One vacation a year, at the beach- we always made the best of it. And as our salaries grew, we could indulge a bit more but we always stayed below our means. Between that and investing in our 401K from Day 1, we were able to take extra dollars and make them work for us in investments.   

 Yes, our driveway could use a makeover and we've had the same bedroom furniture for the past 30 years (and we got most of it from family and garage sales). And an AUX cord in our 2004 van would be heaven but we'd rather sock the money away for a 25th wedding anniversary to Italy and a family trip to Machu Picchu, both of which we did this year.   We understand this way of thinking doesn't work for everyone and we don't mean to be preachy but it's what brought us to this possibility.  And we're pretty excited to be close to pushing the "On" button!

Join us vicariously on our adventure!  

ps-- and the Boba Tea thing?  yeah, we just like Boba tea.  Simple as that (:      

Places we plan to visit or live- and there are many!


  •  Hanoi, Vietnam (Ba Dinh neighborhood)
    France- Antibes, Lyon, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Toulon, Sanary sur Mer
    Antwerp, Belgium 
    Island of Paros, Greece 
    Croatia- Dubrovnik 
    Italy- Tuscany, Rome, Elba, Portofino, Cortona, Camogli, Santa Margarita , Senigallia, Portonovo, Ferrara, Bagno Vignoni, Citti di Castello ; Lucca, Cecina  
    Train travel in Europe- north to south 
    Movie festival- Cannes, TriBeCa or Sundance 
    México city
  • Amsterdam   
    Tangier or Marrakech tour
    River cruise- Danube or Rhine (Scenic Cruises)
    France- Lyon, Paris  
    Napa valley 
    Med cruise 
    Nordic cruise
    Spain- Madrid, Gijon, San Sebastian, Santiago, Salamanca
    Nyt cruises w/ speakers
    French Open or Wimbleton or Davis Cup
    NYC (Manhattan or Brooklyn?)
    Ecuador- Cuenca,  San Jose 
    Uruguay- Carmelo
    Backroads- biking through Chablis and Burgundy 
    Quebec City
    North Rim Grand Canyon
    Canary Islands
    Ashville, NC
    Los Angeles
    Transatlantic cruise (seasonal transfer )- from Miami to Rome 
    Cape cod 

Helpful Resources


Our city analysis

How did we chose the cities to visit?  We spent a weekend analyzing cities we were interested in based on a number of criteria.  We assigned a number amount to each and came up with a final tally for each city.  We were pleasantly surprised to find the number one city overall for the criteria we found most important was... Taipei! Also, we had to map out when we would be going where based on the weather (avoiding winter at all costs!) and the Schengen Rule in Europe (Schengen Area - Wikipedia


city comparisons (pdf)


RETIREMENT CITY TIMING 10.18 - Google Sheets (doc)



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