Based on an original series by Think, Save, Retire and continued by Our Next Life (the blog), I’m completing the “Our Next Life” series for Northern Expenditure. This means discussing the transition, the quitting, and the goals and plans for life after “work.” This is an interesting subject for me to tackle because instead of having super definitive plans, we’re sort of all over the place. But here’s where we’re at today:
December 2018 – Pay off the mortgage
2019 – Three years before retiring early – slow travel through the UK for the summer with the family. One of my priorities as a parent is to give my children an international mindset. I want them to realize that people live differently all over the world and that doesn’t make anyone right or better than anyone else. I want to start this in the UK because it is different enough to start this dialogue, but similar enough to make it an easy place to move (we speak English, I love the UK so much, etc.etc.).
2020 – Take the family to Cambodia for some portion of the summer. Continue the dialogue with my children. Mr. T speaks Cambodian. The kids and I are learning it (very slowly). I hope to pick up this language learning and have us all be semi-conversational by 2020.
2021 – One year before retiring early – Have Mr. T get hired by a company or University in the UK (or Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, … I’m open to most places) so we can live and work there for his final year. I would just move there for a full year after we retire, but I can’t figure out the legal way to do this and have my children be able to go to school. Homeschooling them abroad isn’t really what I have in mind because I want my kids to get a broader view of education by experiencing a different system.
2022 – Mr. T cuts formal ties with “work” (cutting ties won’t be tricky or dramatic. He’s a man a few words. He’ll just give his notice and walk away) and we venture forth…
Our Next Life:
Mr. T and I are project people. We always have a project going. So we will definitely keep doing things we find fulfilling. The idea is that we won’t have to rely on any of those things to make money. We are creators. But we’re realists. We mainly create out of enjoyment and if we can pay for our “expenses and a dinner out” (as my art trading Uncle used to say), we consider it a success. Our next life just means we can create more.
The reality of where we’re at geographically at this point highly depends on my ability to figure out how to legally put my kids in school in other countries. If anyone has tips on that, I would LOVE to hear them. If we’re confined to education in the United States, we will spend at least a month per summer slow traveling the world. We only have so many years with these kiddos and I would like to spend a lot of it traveling. We haven’t yet decided if we’ll stay in Alaska post-retirement or not. I think it depends on where our families end up at that point. Right now, our families are spread out all over the U.S., so living in Alaska (with the PFD and Mr. T’s job with tons of vacation time) is actually the best place for us to be able to see family. But if in seven years, they’re all consolidated somewhere, we’ll probably head there so the kids can have cousins. We love Alaska (as I’m sure you know), but we don’t have any family up here.
When Mr. T and I spent 10 month unemployed during the Great Recession, we sold things on ebay. We didn’t make money, but we hustled to pay the bills that we had (and thus emerged having maintained our savings!). Toward the end of that time, it became less of a stress and more of a game. Car insurance payment is due in two weeks; can we find something to sell to pay for it before then? I think the game will re-emerge to an extent (though probably not with ebay… the thrift stores up here are terrible!).
Another goal we have as parents is to provide our children with employment experience in their youth. Both of our parents were successful small business owners, and we both had the privilege of working for them in high school. We arguably missed out on employment experiences at McDonald’s, but we saw how our parents were able to put something together and make it work. Also, working for family allowed us to continue family vacations (it’s nice when you have the same work schedule as your family!). Selfishly, we want that for our kids, too. So, working in “our next life” will involve something that can involve our children. It’s less important to make money and more important to cover expenses, hire our children, and focus on teaching them the skills they will need for future employment. We’ve toyed with creating and selling something at the Anchorage outdoor market and festival in the summer (it’s a great venue, and there are a lot of tourists as well as locals!). I think it would be super fun and it would be the perfect opportunity for the kids to learn.
As I’ve said, I’m learning Cambodian. I have been for TEN YEARS (no, there’s no Rosetta Stone). I want to get myself to Cambodia and stay until I can speak the language. And my kids can, too!
Also, exercise. I’m horrible at it. With school and work and projects and house and dinner and work and school (did I say those?), we’ll be so good about it for a week and then one “busy week” will hit and we’re off the wagon again. While the kids are in school, I would like to make this a major priority for our health. Mr. T and I need our own recess!
I’m horrible at waiting. I’m very impatient. But I’ve also realized that when I have to wait for something, or work towards something for a long time, I’m constantly hacking it to make it better. I should probably re-write this post once a year for the next seven years! I mainly can’t wait to see what Mr. T and I can do when we are able to do whatever we want on our time. And I’m excited to get the kids involved in the planning as it gets closer!
Any tips on kids living abroad and going to school?