Why Geoarbitrage Is Underrated For Achieving Goals In Life
A pervasive mistake of financial planning is to save and invest as much as possible with the hope of having enough accumulated wealth to start a “comfortable retirement” around age 60. That’s a half century (or more!) dedicated to full-time working for a life of leisure during our
sliver silver years. But, when personal finance management is guided by a (too big and vague) goal of traditional retirement, it falls short of accounting for what motivates us to achieve financial freedom in the first place.
Healthy financial fitness goes beyond net worth to include wellbeing as a measure of wealth while focusing on giving us control over how we spend our money AND time. Because money matters—only if we earn, spend, save and invest in ways that help us enjoy every stage of life.
Aligning financial goals with personal goals in life is key to successful money management. And we’ve learned from experience how geoarbitrage is an approach to building wealth beyond just dollars and cents.
<<IT’S ALL ABOUT THAT BASE>>
When mini-retirements became our version of early retirement, being in locations where we can get more bang for our buck in quality of life became central to our goal-based saving and investment plan.
We adopted international geoarbitrage—or the world adopted us—as a way to afford a sabbatical now and live better for less.
Geographic arbitrage refers to the life and money hack that takes advantage of earning in a strong currency while reducing expenses by living (and outsourcing) in lower cost areas. Although the concept has been popularized by well-known travelers and entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss of 4-Hour Work Week fame, it is still often overlooked and misunderstood.
Long-term travel, even during a mini-retirement, does not always convert to an extended vacation. In fact, you don’t have to migrate to a faraway land. You might move from a bougie city neighborhood to a cheaper one or relocate domestically to a state with more profitable tax advantages. The real core of geoarbitrage is about shifting perspective and wholesale lifestyle change.
For us, the choice to live abroad has helped us find greater purpose and more moments of joy in the journey to total financial freedom for three priceless reasons:
1. License To Earn Less And Create More
Living in our “hometown”, commuting to the same office, hanging out with old friends are all elements of a comfortable routine. But, with comfort can also come complacency. While geoarbitrage is often touted in lists of personal finance tips, it’s really a tactic in lifestyle design that can rejuvenate your ambition at work or provide greater opportunity to explore a career change.
Leaving behind the security of a steady paycheck and living in an unfamiliar place force us to be resourceful. At the same time, basing ourselves in more affordable cities alleviates the pressure to earn a 6-figure salary and keep up with the joneses.
Traveling outside our comfort zone has given us the creative inspiration and cash runway to start a new entrepreneurial venture that we hope will grow into a sustainable social enterprise.
2. Simpler Budgeting For Stressless Spending And (Retirement) Saving
Strategies to achieve early retirement revolve around two primary tactics: spend less and/or earn more. Since we’ve always prioritized purpose over profit in our professional lives, opting to focus more on reducing our expenses was a logical one. But micromanaging details to live frugally carries a high-risk for budget burnout.
Geoarbitrage helps anti-budgeters like us to moderate spending simply by being based in a place where the “big 5” as well as the little luxuries are more affordable. Maximizing on the exchange rate sweetens the deal too!
Now we’ve adopted a version of frugal living without the hassle of day-to-day penny pinching and enjoy a rejuvenating sabbatical without sacrificing our financial goals to have the freedom to retire “early”.
3. Investment In Experiences
As part of making moves that help keep us on the road to success, geoarbitrage hubs are places where we can expand our network of like-minded friends as well as deepen our sense of connection. Immersing in diverse cultures that align with our guiding principles and desire to have an impact as global citizens is an investment in living life to the fullest.
<<HIGH NOTES FROM OUR FIRST MINI-RETIREMENT>>
Finding the best places for geoarbitrage is a process of personal financial goals and choice in lifestyle design. We have a shortlist of (evolving) criteria that we look for in homebases, and every new locale where we dwell enriches and enlightens us in some unexpected way.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Queretaro has the historical character of a UNESCO preserved city center flanked by modern industry, which makes this quaint, comfortable town a surprisingly great value.
Seaside Zen: Puerto Morelos is a small fishing village that (although it does welcome a fair number of tourists) remains laid-back and budget-friendly, and is conveniently located between the big resort city of Cancun and the digital nomad enclave of Playa Del Carmen.
Svaneti (Georgia) is a magical mountain region of remote villages where simple living reigns pristine and motherly love nourishes your body and soul—from Mother Nature’s embrace to Svan-strong moms’ home cooking.
Power of First Impression:
Upon arrival in Bulgaria, we were greeted with a vibe of warm people, development that doesn’t overpower tradition, good food and an affordable liveability. Opinions are subject to change over time, but gut-feeling is a valuable indicator. We’re excited to settle in!
<<STARTING A NEW POSITION>>
Sure, geoarbitrage is a gateway to early retirement. More important, though, is that it’s part of a comprehensive plan where earning, spending, saving and investing are not only reserved for money management. These basic finance terms are equally (if not more) beneficial to apply to making the most of life.
Worldwide travel and a nomadic lifestyle during sabbaticals come with their fair-share of challenges. So start first by defining your values and doing some planning—not travel planning, but planning that gives purpose to your (potential) relocation(s) based on your life goals.
Ultimately, financial security and the freedom to focus on meaningful work are our measures for the best way to retire at any age, anywhere.