Aging with Freedom ™ is a personal journey in successful retirement by a couple of trailing edge Baby Boomers (1958 and 1961). The modern Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Retirement System requires proactive planning and choices. We help you achieve High Wealth, High Health, High Purpose through smart questions and informed choice.
59 60 and Lori 57 58. We started out looking at where and how we wanted to live in retirement, informed by our experiences as caregivers for our Greatest Generation parents. Caregiving taught some things to do and some not to do. It requires thinking about the money, our health, and how we live. Not just where we live.
We come to the challenge with professional experience in public policy, entrepreneurship, finance, real estate, and senior living design and construction. But we’re driven more by our own curiosity and hunger for the best.
Hunting for the best advice, insight, and choices in preparing for, and living in, retirement? So are we. Together we can find the best and avoid the rest. You can share your challenge and what works for you. We’ll do the same. This is a team effort.
We started out looking at Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), also known as Life Plan Communities, or Lifecare Communities. We still have a lot about these “where” to live questions and what makes for successful communities in design, programming, and benefits. What we discovered is that successful communities have a lot of intangibles with lessons for how to live regardless of where you live.
We’re still reviewing CCRCs and other senior living communities and options.
We blogged for almost three years under the CCRC LifeCast name. Learned a lot. We have a new name, Aging with Freedom. And a new simplified mission statement for ourselves and our readers.
Aging with Freedom seeks High Wealth, High Health, High Purpose.
We adopted our original tagline as our new blog name, domain name, and brand. Aging with Freedom better conveys the transformation we want for ourselves and offer our readers.
And we have a new tagline. High Wealth, High Health, High Purpose. That’s our motto. Our trifecta.
High Wealth – for us, high wealth is not necessarily an absolute number but resources (wealth and income) greater than our cost-of-living sufficient to empower the freedom of choice. We recognize the ability to influence both sides of the equation Resources > Expenses. You’ll follow as we strike our balance. We’ll interview others finding success in the positive power of choice. And we’ll track major trends in government policy and the economy because that’s our playing field. We all need to know the rules and plays open to us.
One of our favorite book reviews covers how to know how much money is enough. If you can, be ready to retire at 62
One of our best retirement financial tips is how not to be surprised by expenses that spring up at unexpected times. Sinking Fund Magic — Retirement Income Budgeting
High Health – because wealth alone isn’t enough, we also care about extending our own health and wellness to enable living a full life of choices, learning, service, and adventure. We are not experts in nutrition or exercise, but it turns out health and longevity are strongly influenced by that same freedom of choice. We’ll try to be smart about our choices. And share what we learn. What works for us and others. And what doesn’t. It’s not like we’ve always been health nuts or exercise fanatics. We were mediocre high school athletes. Did physical work growing-up, practiced weekend warrior home improvement and gardening, but ended up with careers behind a keyboard. But starting late can still make a difference. So we’re interested in wellness for the average retiree to become extraordinary.
High Purpose – because living without purpose is unsatisfying. Leisure and rest is a necessary part of living but living, alone, without purpose, is merely surviving. Aging-in-Place is a popular concept because we often get comfortable and avoid the work of change. But aging-in-place is also a formula for ultimate isolation and meaninglessness. We’re social animals. Our involvement in the community is an antidote for loneliness and depression. We think a life of purpose and service beyond self is an essential element in successful aging and defines one of the intangibles of successful communities.
So. what will you find in our blog? Some of the keywords or topics we care about:
Personal Finance and Financial Independence
We learned personal finance the hard way. By making lots of mistakes. But we’ve also discovered what works for us and a lot of tools, mentors, and more along the way.
It turns out budgets are not for poor people. Budgets are what make you wealthy. And it’s not about backward-looking accounting (where the money went), but about looking forward and being intentional (where your money is going). You don’t have to be a numbers person to succeed at Financial Independence. But you can’t ignore wealth, income, and expenses and expect to have good choices.
We’re over the million-dollar net worth threshold, but by spending less than we earn, paying ourselves first (savings and investment). We’re also debt free. It wasn’t easy and is relatively recent.
We’re far from perfect. We’ve learned some hard lessons. We’ll share. But we have plenty of room to learn more from you. Making the money last is one of our key challenges as boomers.
Senior Living and Retirement Communities and other lifestyle choices like Aging-in-Place
We’re still looking for the best in senior living to avoid the rest. A great Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) offers a continuum of care from Independent Living, to Assisted Living and Memory Care, to full Nursing Facility. But CCRCs are on average attracting people in their mid-80s. (Remember many of us are living to over 100 now.) There are exceptions with far younger entrance ages.
But we’re also looking beyond CCRCs at other living options. We’d love to review your suggestions for the best-of-the-best.
Home is where the money is
We’re not yet 60. So, there are a lot of options on how and where to live. But housing is a key expense. And for many baby boomers, a large share of our wealth is tied up in the real estate of our home. You can’t eat the house. So, where we live and when we move are big questions. We don’t want too much of our wealth tied up in a hard to sell dwelling.
Aging-in-Place vs. Aging with Freedom
A lot of people never plan to move. They’re betting on aging-in-place. We’ve seen that strategy has lots of eventual problems. Too many of us still think we’re Peter Pan.
We want moves to be while we have the energy to choose, manage, and direct. We want to build community connections to enjoy wherever we move. For us, that means an inclination to downsize and move earlier rather than later. We want Aging with Freedom.
Downsizing or Snowbirds?
Where are we now? We’ve lived in several cities from Des Moines to Phoenix. Now, we live in a small resort lake community in the upper Midwest near our daughter in Minneapolis and elderly parents in Iowa and Minnesota. We have a 1920s cabin that evolved through various owners, years, and additions to a 1,800 square foot house. We’ve updated with a high-efficiency furnace, tankless gas water heater, many new windows, doors, and lots of insulation, but it’s far from “done.” We like architecture, design, and renovation, so that comes through in our own stories and our reviews and interviews. Face it, we all enjoy a sense of place and belonging. Wherever we live, we want to make it ours.
Where we are now is unlikely to be the last place we live in. We figure with travel, downsizing, maybe some snowbirding, we’ve got some choices yet to make. That’s why we’re so interested in what you are doing or planning.
Health, Wellness, Diet, Nutrition, Exercise, and other elements of an Active Lifestyle or Successful Aging
Yes, the lottery of DNA is a factor, but a choice is a stronger influence on our health results. Dad always said it doesn’t get better sitting still. We’d like to extend our adventure by being intentional about living well.
Entrepreneurship, Life-Long Learning, Service and other forms of meaning and purpose
Third Act or Encore Entrepreneurship is a definite trend for boomers. We’re extending our economic life beyond when we retire working from a primary career or employer. Sometimes it’s a necessity. Often, it’s just satisfying. Turns out Inspiration and Motivation are as important as oxygen to happiness.
But there are many ways to find meaning and create a high purpose. Travel, life-long-learning, volunteer service, and more can create those social connections essential to emotional and intellectual health and happiness.
Technology is changing our experience of aging and choices open to baby boomers
Whether it’s Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles or Self-Driving Cars, our retirement is going to be different than our parents. We grew up in the space age. Contrary to millennials’ biases, boomers are tech savvy. We bought every new tech invention of the consumer economy. We invented PCs, smartphones, and built the Space Shuttle. TechyBoomer ® is our label for this technology hunger. We’re interested in Alternative Energy, Green Living, Sustainability, and saving the world as good conservation stewards.
Travel is another lifestyle choice baby boomers are pursuing with a passion
Sydney, Australia, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Canadian side of the Great Lakes, Hawaii, and more are on our near-term list. This means both destinations and modes of travel. Recreational Vehicles (RVs) are booming. We’re contemplating one to take our Brittany Spaniel along for our travel and research adventures. This is part of that why and how to live equation.
GEOarbitrage – Trading places for retirement wealth
GEOarbitrage in retirement is trading locations with location-based differences in cost-of-living, and or income, to capture greater wealth. Arbitrage captures differences in pricing. GEO is short for geography or location. Hence GEOarbitrage or geoarbitrage.
Trading Places for Income and Wealth
GEOarbitrage was made popular by Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich) and other young entrepreneurs who moved abroad to stretch their income or savings while blogging about it.
Should you move to make your retirement savings last longer?
Trade a high-cost city for a lower-cost city to spend less and get the same (or more) in living expenses?
Trade a low-wage country for a higher wage country and get more income?
Live in a low-wage country and earn in a high-wage country?
All of these are examples of GEOarbitrage.
Look at this map to see the opportunities for retirement GEOarbitrage in the United States.
But since the objective is more wealth, you have to be careful that moving for higher income isn’t just consumed with higher living expenses. Or vice versa, moving for lower living expenses isn’t defeated by even lower relative income.
GEOarbitrage could be the perfect opportunity
GEOarbitrage is a serious opportunity for retirees because our income tends to be fixed or determined by Social Security and savings. These incomes don’t vary by state but rather are the same for similarly situated people nationally. The Social Security benefits equation does reward working in high-wage cities or states during working years. However, once in retirement, the Social Security benefits equation does not control payout by location in retirement (at least within the United States). Once benefits are set, staying in a high-wage location like New York City or San Francisco drains the fixed income faster because these are also high-cost places to live.
Living Abroad: The extreme version of retirement GEOarbitrage
The extreme version of retirement GEOarbitrage is living abroad, say Mexico or Vietnam, or in a U.S. territory like Puerto Rico.
www.LifeAfterCubes.com offers an eye-opening example of an American expatriate (expat) in Vietnam.
Also Jerry Brown Travels has become a popular YouTube series. Jerry and Lori Brown share travel advice about retirement living on less in Mexico.
Family & Friends Matter In Retirement
Wealth maximization isn’t our only goal and will likely not be your exclusive goal. Proximity to family, close friends or other competing objectives may limit your desire or ability to GEOarbitrage.
Another complication is access to quality healthcare. Healthcare quality and access can vary widely by location. Rural and frontier areas have difficulty recruiting and keeping physicians and other healthcare providers. As always there are exceptions to the rule. But as you plan for or live in retirement, GEOarbitrage should be one of the options considered.
We have an adult daughter in a high-growth, high-income urban center (Minneapolis/St. Paul). But it also features high taxes and a relatively high cost of living. Condos in the Twin Cities go for a $50,000 plus premium above similar options in Des Moines (the urban capital of the next state south). And we save even more over urban Des Moines by living in a small resort city in Iowa near the Minnesota border, two hours from the Twin Cities. But we’ve looked at relocating to nearby South Dakota (even cheaper with no income tax) or an outer ring Minneapolis suburb (closer to the daughter and better healthcare).
Relative Cost-of-Living Scores
We live in Clear Lake, Iowa. The national average cost of living ratio is 100 (by definition). Our local cost of living is 92.2% of the national average. (Approximately 8% less expensive than the national average.) We lived most of our career in Des Moines. Des Moines’s cost-of-living is 4% higher than Clear Lake. Minneapolis cost of living index is 109.4, almost 10% more expensive than the national average. See your location’s ratio here. https://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/
GEOarbitrage and/or Downsizing
Downsizing is a version of GEOarbitrage. Here in Clear Lake, we have friends that have moved from expensive lakeshore homes to luxury condominiums for net savings in the monthly budget. The price difference between the lakeshore and even a block off the lake can be $500,000 or more. Real estate wealth locked up in the home is hard to use for living expenses. It’s not spendable cash until a successful sale. (We’re not fans of reverse mortgages.)
Aging-in-Place works until it doesn’t
It’s great to be so wealthy that you don’t have to move. Most of us have a predisposition to stay with the familiar. Hence the emphasis on aging-in-place. But it’s necessary to consider the potential savings of moving. There are a lot of unknown variables in retirement planning. For instance, we don’t know how long we’ll live. Or how much health care or assistance we’ll need. That means we have to exercise more control over the known variables, like cost-of-living. Where we live strongly influences cost-of-living.
Here’s a list of the U.S. states by relative cost-of-living. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/17/states-with-cheapest-cost-of-living-in-america.html.
Even this list misses big differences within a state between urban, micropolitan (small cities and towns), and rural locations.
There are also big individual differences in income, taxes, housing choices, health needs, energy, food, and more. It’s perfectly possible to live beyond your means in a low-cost state. The challenge for most of us is making the most of our available, often fixed, retirement resources.
FreedomIsGroovy has an example and offers a simple GEOarbitrage calculator. http://freedomisgroovy.com/the-geoarbitrage-calculator/
SmartAsset lets you do comparisons between specific cities or locations. https://smartasset.com/mortgage/cost-of-living-calculator
Aging With Freedom advocates for Baby Boomers to age well and live a great retirement filled with purpose and passion.
To Learn more about Aging with Freedom click on link
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