When you decide to do things against the grain, society tends to condemn you, one way or another. At the very least, society doesn’t understand both why and how you are doing what you’re dong. The same goes for early retirement (or “Financial Independence”). So, I have decided to start a new series named after the oh-so-persistent question, “What Will You Do?” This series will also allow me to ‘constructively’ indulge in some of the daydreams I tend to entertain while passing time at my remote work site, where I spend 3 weeks at a time with just 5 other people.
Humans are a pretty predictable bunch and when you tell different people the same thing repeatedly, like, ‘I am finished with my old career’ or ‘I am going to retire at 33’, you get a pretty predictable set of responses. One of the most common is the question, “But what will you do with your time?”
My Dad is 63 and has been working 5o-60 hour weeks for 45 years now. He has diligently squirreled away and invested a lot of money. Much more than he needs at this point. But he is still working away at his 50-60 hour weeks. I could delve deep as to why that is but one of the main reasons, which he will admit in his most honest of moments, is that he is ‘scared of being bored’. In other words, he has no idea what he will do with his time*. And that’s OK. Judging by the number of people that seem to be worried about how I will pass my time in retirement, my father’s struggle is not rare. So that’s what we’re here to discuss – what to do when you no longer need to work.
You see, in many instances we work long hours to pay for our expensive and frivolous lives. This leaves us tired. So we do things after work like sit and watch TV or, worse, outrageously skewed news outlets online. It’s this sitting and delving into the world of the corporate advertising and media fear distribution machines that convinces us (remember we’re tired and easily convinced at this point) that we ‘need’ this or that new gadget or car or life insurance policy, or that it’s dangerous ‘over there’. So we remain convinced of the necessity to earn endlessly and get up in the morning to repeat the cycle, continuously being force-fed what our lives should look like by the very people who want nothing more than to keep you trapped in this cycle for their own benefit.
And so, lately, I have been pondering what exactly I will do, particularly in my first months of retirement. And my current big idea, which has been lingering in some form or another for several years now, is to buy a cargo bike with fat tires and strap a surfboard to it and ride it around New Zealand for about 6 months.
I have been to parts of New Zealand’s North Island for a few weeks before and it was amazing. I have heard that the South Island is even better. I have pondered doing this trip by Van for a while, and then even as a large motorcycle tour, but recently have thought up the idea of getting around by a Bicycle. There are some awesome cargo bikes out there, or even trailers you can get for a regular-sized bike. With Fat Bikes and Bikepacking growing and largely expanding what a traditional Cycle Tour enthusiast would consider possible, there’s really no end to what one might get up to. I recently saw an Instagram Post about a man who completed the 1000+ Mile Iditarod Race, which takes place in Canada and Alaska’s Far North, on a Salsa Blackborow. So with time not being crucial, and a bicycle being much simpler to maintain than a Van or Motorcycle, as well as to find free camping spots, it seems like a no-brainer to take this approach and slow things down while exploring the endless empty waves that New Zealand has to offer.
Now, a couple of other obvious questions emerge, right? Like I said, we’re a predictable bunch. First and foremost, people may ask, “But how will you pay for your trip?”
Easy. The same way I will pay for my basic costs of living when I am not traveling, and the same way I will pay for future trips, with my passive income. Currently, this is almost entirely restricted to rental income from my small duplex in Mexico. In its current form (i.e. without expansion to increase versatility and passive income), it will provide about $1500/month throughout the year. As I have been outlining in my series The Resolution, I am currently aiming to live on $1250/month average throughout 2018.
In Fact, I have calculated that I will be able to travel around New Zealand for even less, once the purchase of the bike and associated gear have been made.** Below is a quick breakdown:
Food – $10/day. Being on a bike I will be forced to pack light, and will be eating campfire-side most of the time.
Accommodation – $10/day. I will be looking to find free, remote camping sites a lot, which shouldn’t be too hard being on my own with just a bicycle and gear strapped to it. Occasional pay sites are about $10/day and sometimes I will likely splurge on Hostels, particularly while passing through larger centres presumably. These will cost more in the $30/day range. I hope this will all average out to somewhere around $10/day over the course of the trip. Don’t forget, there are lots of other options such as homestays, WOOF, work-for-accommodation and Couchsurfers to consider.
Miscellaneous – $7.33/day. Because as I’ve been learning and saying, there really is no such thing as ‘unexpected’ costs. I plan to be pretty fully content and entertained wandering the coast chasing waves, reading, writing and taking photos, but there is certainly more to life than just Food and Acommodation.
Bills, etc. – $6/day. These are things that I will have to continue to pay back in Canada or Mexico while I am away such as a small accident insurance policy, mobile phone, a few bank fees, Netflix and Apple Music subscriptions, etc. I have accounted $180/month for this.
In total, this all adds up to $1000 CAD/month, leaving me with an estimated $500 ‘cushion’ each month between expected passive income earnings and spending. If both my spending and earning goals are reached, I will be able to save and invest that $500 each month all while roaming the coast and chasing empty waves in one of the most beautiful countries in the world without any obligation to work.
That’s what I’m going to do when I retire.
*Now I must take some responsibility for this: for decades my father’s mission was to work and to provide for his family. I am a big part of the reason he has become so habituated to working and doesn’t even know what he would do with his time if he had more of it.
**Another reason I am leaning towards the bike idea over motorized options is that I can ship the bicycle home after and use it for future adventures, both local and abroad. I can also use it to get to the beach and back and pick up beer and groceries day-to-day, allowing my truck to last a lot longer as well. I haven’t yet mentioned the logistics of traveling with a surfboard on a motorcycle (possible but not straightforward)