Reaching F.I.R.E. while living in Hawaii is possible…probably. I’ve never actually met anyone that has done it. Or even read about anyone doing it. But it could, theoretically, be possible. I’m sure. But we want to do it sooner. And I have majorly itchy feet. I live to travel. So when I realized that we could save much higher rates by traveling than by living at home, I became utterly obsessed. Just ask my husband. I will not shut up about it.
There are a few aspects to this that are really exciting. First you take advantage of Geographic Arbitrage. Here’s a great article on what this means. Basically you make dollars in expensive places like the US and you spend the dollars in cheap places like Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe. I’m really excited about Saranda, Albania right now. It boarders Greece, is on the Mediterranean Sea, and the cost of living is about $1000 per month according to this blog. Saranda seems like a great chill place to relax for the summer. It has beautiful beaches and is super affordable. We could take our monthly spending from $3100 to $1000, while simultaneously seeing amazing places, meeting people, eating epic cheesy pastries, and learning about the world and ourselves. Travel is so rewarding. Did I mention eating incredible food? I imagine Albanian food to be like Greek food but with more melty cheese. But here in Hawaii we do not have any Albanian restaurants so for now all I can do is imagine.
So you might think to yourself, okay the cost of living in these places is cheap but the flights are the expensive part. You probably think that I’m deluding myself (we will see my friends, we will see). But I have a plan for this. Drum roll please…travel hacking. First step, apply for a credit card with a nice 40,000 miles sign up bonus and promptly get rejected because you have never had a credit card in your life (Seriously? And you’re how old?). Step two, you sign up for a secured card so you can start building credit history and you follow all the tips to really optimize this. If you pay your bills through your bank you can get a nice boost with Experian Boost (unless you pay your bills through an account with Bank of Hawaii who apparently doesn’t play well with other bank websites- Seriously BOH, the rest of planet Earth is currently living in the 21st century. Catch up.). Step 3 you learn all about travel hacking here’s the free course I took. Step 4 you gently encourage, then just apply for credit cards for your husband who actually has credit history. Thanks spouse. And the two of you start paying for all your normal expenses on this fancy new card! Remember this is not an opportunity to spend more than you need to. Also a word of caution: if you aren’t good at paying your bills on-time and in-full, or even setting up auto-pay, credit cards are not a good idea for you. Wait until you’re ready to pay in-full every month before even applying for a credit card. This tool from the Mad Fientist is pretty great for choosing the best cards.
There you have it. Very low cost travel + very low cost of living + nice cushy American income = 90% savings rate. So what you’re just going to move to Albania? You don’t even speak shqip. This is a fair point. But no I’m not planning to move to Albania. We are planning to do slow travel to mainly digital nomad hotspots like Chiang Mai, Thailand, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and Tbilisi, Georgia. Slow travel is spending a month or so in each place to really get a feel for the place. No more rushing around trying to see all the sites and getting super burnt out in the process. Instead we go where we want, we really get to know the place, spend the weekends exploring and then we move on when we’re ready.