Billy & Akaisha Kaderli have been location-independent long before it was a recognized travel term. These two are dreamers and doers who found their own way to include travel as the focal point in their lives. They left the traditional workforce before turning forty and have been traveling and wandering the globe ever since. Before face time conversations and amidst naysayers-they ‘left’ and haven’t looked back. Having four home-bases (where they set up housekeeping and travel out of) in Arizona (United States), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Chapala (Mexico) and Panajachel (Guatemala), they travel with the ease found after twenty years on the road. Considering themselves ‘retired’, here they offer travelers a glimpse at life their way.
1.When did you get started traveling? Billy and I were both travelers before we met each other in the mid 1970’s, and it was an important ingredient to our relationship that we held in common. One of the first things we did together was to go to Europe in 1979 and spent about 6 months traveling around. Billy was a trained French Chef at the time, so we ate and drank our way through our travels. When we returned to California, we purchased a restaurant which required a lot of time and work to run. Our travel time was relegated to long weekends and two week vacations. It was because we wanted to continue to travel without limits that brought us to this lifestyle when we left the conventional working world at age 38 in 1991. We wanted to see the world and have been traveling together ever since.
2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent/travel-based existence? In the mid 1980’s Billy was now a stock broker for Dean Witter working Monday through Friday with weekends and holidays off. I was still running the restaurant and working nights, weekends and holidays. Because of our work schedules we were like ships passing in the night. We were working 60-80 hour work weeks and our relationship began to falter. It was Billy’s idea to quit the rat race and begin traveling the world together. I thought he was nuts and that it was a terrible idea. What made him think I would give up my home just blocks from the ocean? The closeness to family and friends? My career? Billy persisted, showed how we could live off our investments, and besides, our relationship needed a boost. We took 2 years to chart our course, track our spending to see if we could actually live on the amount we were getting from our investments and then pulled the plug January 14, 1991. We haven’t looked back.
3.What benefits do you feel you get from this lifestyle? How do you handle the nay-sayers in your life? It was a lot harder on many levels back in 1991. Receiving little support from family and friends, there were very few mentors doing anything like traveling as a lifestyle at that time. There was no internet, no BillPay, no Skype, no 4% rule for spending. When we encountered nay-sayers at that time we simply had to gut it up and believe in what we were doing. Most everyone we met said it couldn’t be done, and if it could be done, why? But personal freedom to come and go as we please and to do with our time what we want has always been a major factor to our happiness. We had already done the career paths and now we were looking for adventure and ways to volunteer. We wanted to meet up with indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their languages; live history, geography, and anthropology first hand. There was a long list we made of places we wanted to see and things we wanted to do and learn. Now we had the time to do this. We were never bored. There are still nay-sayers who say what we have done for over 2 decades can’t be done but we just smile at them now. And they give us every excuse in the book which is more reflective of where they are than what we are doing. We still value personal freedom and what we have seen and done since 1991 cannot be replaced with money. A certain sense of self-reliance has been cultivated and a world perspective has been developed. We value these things very much.
4.How did you save money to be able to afford living ‘on the road’/travelling often? How long did it take you to make the jump to a location independent/travel-based life? Billy and I have never been big consumers and have saved money as a lifestyle. When we were working 60-80 work weeks, it was easy to save because we were always working! We’d spend seemingly large amounts on a vacation but that’s because we hardly spent any money to begin with… so I imagine we could say that we saved the whole time we began being a couple. Once we considered living a life of travel (at age 36), we took 2 years to track our spending, cut back on our expenses and superfluous services and took the leap when we were 38.
5.How do you choose your destinations and for how long you’ll stay? What type of accommodations do you typically choose? Are there any specific resources you recommend? We like to go to where it’s easy and affordable (airfare deal? Cost of living? Do we speak the language?) or someplace exciting where we are attracted. (Asia, Latin America) Weather also has a big part to play in our decision making. We don’t enjoy cold, dark weather and we haven’t really visited snow countries in a very long time. We generally prefer the tropics or climates that are dry and clear like high desert. We stay until the weather changes or until we are attracted to another location or until our visa runs out. We went to Chapala, Mexico for the first time and planned to stay 2 months. We stayed 4 years. If we go across oceans, we will often stay a year to amortize the airfare, renewing our visas as needed. I try to visit my family every year, so that is also in the mix. As far as accommodations – we will do many different things – house sitting is a wonderful way to stay in luxury with access to kitchen, gardens and the home life. We will stay up to 6 months in a house sit, but we don’t want to be spending more than that amount of time in a permanent location – after all, we are 61 now and time is getting shorter, not longer. We will rent an apartment or a hotel room and get a monthly rate and we have RV’d for a couple of years. That’s a great way to travel and bring your home with you. Sometimes we’ll stay with friends or family and become part of their routine. Sometimes volunteer opportunities have housing included, and of course, one could always live and crew on a boat. Lately we have been trying out Compass Living which is an affordable luxury all-inclusive in exotic locations. I would definitely recommend our Travel Housing Page for a list of resources for housing on the road.
6.How much money do you traditionally need annually to support this lifestyle? We generally spend less than $30k annually for our lifestyle (see our video Adventures in Financial Independence ) but often spend much less than that. Housing and transportation are the two largest expenses in anyone’s budget, so if you can find a way to modify your expenses there, you can affect your yearly capital outlay dramatically.
7.How do you make money on the road and save for retirement? We have been retired and financially independent since 1991, living off our investments since then. However if an opportunity finds its way to us, we’ll take advantage of it. We wrote our first book 15 years into our traveling lifestyle and now we have 7 books plus we run a popular website. We suggest that people track their spending and find out what their daily spending average is then manage that. Save the rest.
8.How do you handle visas, vaccinations, legal documents/passports, taxes and healthcare while living without a home base or an ever-changing one? We utilize a mail forwarding service should we ever need a permanent address and we also have a friend who monitors our mail. Most of everything we need that is legal or financial is done online and we are 99% paperless, including e-filing our taxes. In the years before Obamacare, we utilized a high deductible health insurance plan for health coverage when we were in the States. But some years ago we decided to drop our US based health insurance and “go naked.” We generally use the health care system of the country in which we are visiting and pay out of pocket. We will have to see what the requirements are for Expats and the Affordable Care Act. If there is anything else that needs to be taken care of, we generally do that in the States when we visit family.
9.If you decide to settle somewhere – where and when do you think it will be? We have been looking for “that perfect place” for almost 2 dozen years! We prefer places where the weather is good, there is solid access to a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, the cost of living is reasonable, health care is affordable and accessible and as we age, we think about assisted living costs. That might prohibit living in the US as this type of care is far more affordable in foreign countries.
10.What advice do you have for others trying to make the jump to a location independent/ travel-heavy lifestyle?
- Track your spending so you know how much you need to live per year.
- Pay special attention to your categories of housing, transportation, taxes and food. Make adjustments there and you can live anywhere in the world.
- Go paperless as soon as possible. Stay paperless.
- Lighten up your physical possessions.
- Know yourself. See if you can be content pet sitting instead of owning a pet, working in someone else’s garden or growing a flower in a pot instead of having a whole yard. Know if you need to have all four seasons or if only two will do. Can you entertain yourself or are you easily bored? How do you like to contribute to the world? Learn to be flexible and have a sense of humor. They are both very important in this sort of lifestyle. The more you know yourself, the better your chances are to be happy in a location independent life.
To learn more about the Kaderlis and their travel stories, check out their website: retireearlylifestyle.com.