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Old 28-09-2013, 22:14   #1
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Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

My wife and I would like some feedback from someone who was in a similar situation as we are now. To repeat…we want feedback from someone who already has the experience and knowhow, not from naysayers and generally negative people who would rather project into the future based on their limited fact base

Here is our situation. Please bear with me here as I hope it will find its way to a parallel situation with someone with a solution. Last January, after 3½ years, I quit my job due to some management and ethics issues. Basically, I just couldn’t stand it any longer and I was liable to keel over from the high blood pressure the company was creating. This was not a well thought out move, but it seemed like what the universe was saying to do at the time. The job was salaried and, even though I was often putting in hours for which I was not paid, I was making a fairly good wage for what I was doing (I am a licensed engineering geologist in the State of California, with another license in Arizona). Luckily, we had some money in reserve from my father’s pension after he died that carried us through a few months. Due to my age and salary level, I have not been able to land another position. Geotechnical firms in this economy would rather hire a newbie at a low salary and train them, which would lead me to a whole other conversation regarding the quality within the geotechnical engineering field. Because I quit, I was not able to apply for unemployment.

After a couple of months finding no work, I got a couple of offers to do some contract consulting work, which I jumped on right away. As a result, I set myself up with the necessary general and professional liability insurance and set up my own consulting business. However, after three jobs, the work has dried up and I have had no contracts in the last month. We are now dipping into retirement funds to stay afloat and my wife is doing some contract work, which supplements things to an extent, but we are still upside down due to mortgage and other payments. There is no penalty for this, since we are both over 59½, but taxes are being taken out at this point until we are at full retirement age. We have $300k in our combined retirement accounts.
This is where we need some good feedback. It is quite apparent that we will not be able to boost our retirement funds up much higher than they are with the time we have remaining before full retirement and we will not be able to live long on $300k (assuming there is that much remaining). Besides whatever bucks our business can contribute, we are also eligible for Social Security. We might dip into my wife’s SS next year when she turns 62, which will add about another $10k a year to the pot. If we can hold out long enough, we will tap my SS when I turn 66, which will mean a total of about $40,000 a year if there is anything left in the system by then.
So, we have always dreamed of living aboard a sailboat and are considering this as a way to lower our expenses and give us a means to bail out of the system. I had a boat when I first met my wife and we were going to trade up to one we could live aboard, but things just got in the way (kids, ex-husband, etc., etc.), so we traded up to a better boat and just enjoyed getting away for a couple of weekends a month until we had to sell it. After considerable research, I am reading blogs and articles from a number of places that suggest that cruising or living aboard in other countries can be done for $1,000 or less per month if done properly. On the other hand, I am seeing the same amount of information saying that this is financial suicide.

What we need is to hear from another couple who is or was in a similar situation and has actually retired or semi-retired onto a sailboat. We want to know all of the ins & outs, positives and negatives. We would appreciate any insight from those with first-hand experience
We don’t want to keep waiting until we are both too old to pursue this dream. It would be nice to have some validation that we are on the right track
Thanks in advance!
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Old 28-09-2013, 23:12   #2
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

Hmmm ... a lot to think about. First, let me say we retired early and in order to reduce expenses built a retirement home in Thailand while keeping a sailboat on the US side for cruising and living aboard. We spend roughly half our time on the boat and half in Thailand at the house. Our financial situation was a bit different than yours so this is probably not an option for you, at least not entirely. Let me also say that I was a CPA with my own practice so I know a little about financial planning. Based on what you've said, getting out from under the mortgage and other debt is not going to get you any equity to buy a boat so I'd forget the living on the boat route. Boats are expensive and there are other ways to reduce living expenses and still have an adventure. If I were you I'd look into moving to a developing country and living there to reduce living expense. Some place like Panama, Ecuador, Thailand, etc. You can find condos and rentals in Thailand where you could easily live on your Social Security especially if you go ahead and take yours at 62. We both draw Social Security and it's all we need when we're in Thailand because the cost of living is so low. In the US on the boat it's a different story because food, transportation, boat maintenance, everything is much more expensive.
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Old 28-09-2013, 23:37   #3
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

Doodles:

Appreciate the reply and advice, especially from someone that knows finances. In re-reading my already long post, I noticed that I failed to mention that we have, perhaps, $100k in equity in our house and would plan on buying a used boat with cash, with, hopefully, some extra for any refits/repairs that might be necessary. Sale of other assets like furniture & motorcycles would also add to the available cash. Not sure if that would change your advice.

Also, we would not plan on staying in the States on board very long...we know that is expensive. We have just seen a lot of posts & blogs by people who are cruising and living cheaply in foreign ports. If we were able to stretch our retirement funds long enough to hit our full SS benefits (six years hence), that lifestyle seems like it could work.
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Old 28-09-2013, 23:56   #4
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

Similar plan to what we are doing. Possible to live inexpensively in Mexico if you anchor out most of the time, and are careful.
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Old 29-09-2013, 00:00   #5
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

I'm in Australia, retired and solo, temporarily I hope, living on pension. I find it quite comfortable to live even in marinas...where I've been for 10 months while undergoing to prostate cancer treatment. Out of the marina situation in 2 weeks time will see me saving money and I guess, long term...a cruise up to Thailand will be enjoyable for many reasons.

At our age it's time to get on and do stuff....get out of the rat race!
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Old 29-09-2013, 00:15   #6
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

I am looking at a similar plan but looks like in slightly better position. In my younger days I spent a few years living on board and cruising and, with care, it can be done on a very small budget.

To succeed on a limited budget may take some planning and compromises but eminently doable. Some of the factors:

1. Bigger costs more. In every way you can imagine and some that might not even occur to you. Dock space is by the foot. Almost every part on a bigger boat has to be bigger, stronger and thus more expensive. This includes sails, motor, rigging, ropes, anchors, etc, etc, etc. So you will have to make the personal decision on what size you can live with. Varies with each individual so this you have to figure this out for yourself. This does not mean you have to live on a 25' mini cruiser but 50' would be very difficult.

2. Live in a place that's less expensive. That eliminates most of CA although we do have one forum member who manages to live very cheaply on board in SF.

4. How much repair and maintenance can you do yourself? Boatyards are for bigger budgets. As an engineer you might be able to do most of the stuff on your own (but feel free to ask for tech support on this forum!)

5. Marinas cost money, anchoring is free (except it helps to have a better IE more expensive dinghy if you do).

The costs of cruising and living on board are common subjects on this forum. Search through some of the previous discussions here on the subject. One that covered low cost cruising in great detail, including a lot of comment from the naysayers just to keep the optimists in check is here.

Cruising on $500 per Month . . .

Good luck. I think you have a good plan.
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Old 29-09-2013, 01:03   #7
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

Skipmac:

Thanks for the input. We have considered most of what you posted, especially the size of the boat. We, actually, have our hearts set on a Hans Christian 33T, or something similar. However, there are also some 38's and even 43's out there for nearly the same prices, depending on age and condition of course.

Cyndimarcus:

We would be interested in how you are doing it, when you have some time to post. Maybe do some brainstorming about it?

Amnesia II:

Good luck with your treatments! Hope you get back out there soon.
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Old 29-09-2013, 01:36   #8
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

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Originally Posted by Amnesia II View Post
I'm in Australia, retired and solo, temporarily I hope, living on pension. I find it quite comfortable to live even in marinas...where I've been for 10 months while undergoing to prostate cancer treatment. Out of the marina situation in 2 weeks time will see me saving money and I guess, long term...a cruise up to Thailand will be enjoyable for many reasons.

At our age it's time to get on and do stuff....get out of the rat race!
Hi Amnesia2 and good luck with the treatment! Could you tell me what the charges are in Brisbane marinas per week? We are heading that way next year.

ciao
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Old 29-09-2013, 02:17   #9
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

My wife and myself have both retired and are currently living aboard our steel Roberts 44 Offshore here in Mooloolaba, Qld, Oz.

My initial impression is that a 33' sailboat would be too small as a permanent live aboard. The canoe stern may make davits and dinghy management difficult. The age would present maintenance issues.

For a limited cruise it could be most suitable. A very pretty boat indeed.

My opinion is that for a couple a fibreglass sailboat in the 40 - 45' range is most suitable. I consider the Beneteau Oceanis to be a modern classic, they look to be available ex charter for a similar cost to a good condition HC 33 and may present far fewer maintenance issues after a thorough survey. Oceanis 40s are also becoming available ex charter for a little more and similar boats may be available for a little more again in mainland USA.

My experience has been that the additional speed of a bigger boat can save problems from developing and it's nice to have the space and storage.

Again my opinion is that your plans are doable. As mentioned above I don't think a HC 33 is viable as a long term retirement boat and larger versions of similar boats look to be about double the price which would put them out of reach of your budget. Other than that with care and some penny pinching my experience is that it's possible.

Starting from Florida or the Virgin Islands would be more practicable than starting from California though others may disagree.

It sounds like you haven't burnt any bridges. My impression was that after a few younger whippersnappers had made a real mess of things employers were much more interested in someone with a proven track record. Don't be surprised if you get a few calls in a little while.

It also sounds like there are no major health issues on the horizon however keeping an eye on where medical treatment is available and affordable would be highly desirable.

As to retiring to another country I've been looking at that option for some time. The major issues in some prospective retirement places is the quality of the health care and some questionable real estate practices. My plan is to rent for a considerable period before making any major decision and given the high cost of fair quality real estate in some countries I may never purchase.

My experience is here in Oz and I have found so far that there are first class medical services here on the Sunshine Coast and it may be possible to source reasonable services in (say) Florida. Rents here look Ok, asking prices not so much.
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Old 29-09-2013, 02:29   #10
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

ok -- i was in a similar situtation about 6+ years ago - at age 60 i was fired - i was hired to built a subsidary for a large company and after it was built the company decided it was to much trouble so fired me sold off the assets -- so i did as you and did a bit of consulting as i had and still have a good reputation in the industry(i still get job offers) but that did not last when the recession hit -
the only difference is i bought a new boat when i was working - a jeanneau ds40 --
at age 62 i applied for a small pension for a company i had worked for with the understanding that at 66 i would drop it in favor of ss - which i did -- i am 68 now --
i sold my house and paid off the boat with nothing left over - and moved aboard - at 62 i set sail up the east coast for the 1st time from miami to mass - coming back to miami my then girlfriend quit her job and joined me and we headed to the bahamas -- then back up the east coast to maine and back to the bahamas and then to the cheaspeake for a lot of boat work then we set off for mexico and down to colombia, across to jamica and down to trinidad and this past may crossed the atlantic to the med and are now wintering over in tunisia
as for costs -- well we track everything from a drink to new chartplotter -- for a while our expenses averaged between $2,000 and $2,500 a month _ BUT - i did one major upgrade a year and our insurance had some hurricane stuff in it - when we got rid of the hurricane issues we were in the $1,800 to $2,200 a month - we don't take marinas often but had to in colombia as required by our insurance company -- the western carib is cheaper than the eastern carib and you can get just about anything you want there and it is safe --
we have done a lot of upgrades on our boat such as 3 solar panels with a large contoller, small water maker (3.5 gal/hr) extra fuel tank -
this winter in tunisia we will spend about $390US a month for a nice marina for 6 months --
it is possible to do what you want BUT we got a new boat for 2 reasons - first i did not want to repair an old boat and 2nd i had no idea how to repair a boat as this is my first and only boat
if you will pm i can fill you in more --- but we both have ss and we live pretty well and not touching our 401ks

just my thought and opinion and works for us
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in port yasmaine hammemet tunisia for the winter
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Old 29-09-2013, 02:33   #11
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

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Originally Posted by sepeteus View Post
Hi Amnesia2 and good luck with the treatment! Could you tell me what the charges are in Brisbane marinas per week? We are heading that way next year.

ciao
All's fine...I'm 8 weeks post op now and clear, fit and well!

Manly have just put prices up...13.5M pen = $750/Month, weekly $253, there is also a $45/week liveaboard fee...usually associated with long term.
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Old 29-09-2013, 02:37   #12
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

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Doodles:

Appreciate the reply and advice, especially from someone that knows finances. In re-reading my already long post, I noticed that I failed to mention that we have, perhaps, $100k in equity in our house and would plan on buying a used boat with cash, with, hopefully, some extra for any refits/repairs that might be necessary. Sale of other assets like furniture & motorcycles would also add to the available cash. Not sure if that would change your advice.

Also, we would not plan on staying in the States on board very long...we know that is expensive. We have just seen a lot of posts & blogs by people who are cruising and living cheaply in foreign ports. If we were able to stretch our retirement funds long enough to hit our full SS benefits (six years hence), that lifestyle seems like it could work.
O.K., with $100K+ you could find a suitable cruising boat and spend a bit to get it just right and maybe have a little left over for a repair fund. Assuming you get away from the US right away you are still going to find it a bit expensive unless you say anchor out all the time some place like Mexico. But with visa restrictions you have to keep moving and that costs. Without tapping the retirement funds can you live/cruise off just the one SS check? I kind of doubt it but only you can answer that. Personally, I'd start taking the other SS check now. In the long run taking it early only hurts you if you outlive your life expectancy and really need the extra money.

The bigger question for me is what are you planning to do long-term? Where do you see yourself in 15-20 years ... still cruising on the boat? Remember the retirement funds are set and so will the SS checks. That's why I'd find a place I can live ashore now and in the future on the SS checks. You can always get a small boat to cruise on but maybe not live aboard full-time. Any cruising boat you buy today for under $100K isn't going to be worth a lot in 15-20 years so don't count on that asset for much down the road.
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Old 29-09-2013, 10:48   #13
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

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Originally Posted by Stratafinder View Post
Skipmac:

Thanks for the input. We have considered most of what you posted, especially the size of the boat. We, actually, have our hearts set on a Hans Christian 33T, or something similar. However, there are also some 38's and even 43's out there for nearly the same prices, depending on age and condition of course.
The Hans Christian is a beautiful boat and I think well made. Whether it's roomy enough for you, again depends on your preferences and lifestyle. Also, choice of boat should take into account your cruising plans. Have you gotten that far in your thought process? Planning ocean crossing or just day sails and coastal cruises? Most of the time in the Bahamas (shallow draft helps here) or Pacific (deep draft boats usually sail better).

Original purchase budget of course also a major factor, but if you're thinking something up to $100K then you have a lot of options.
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Old 29-09-2013, 12:59   #14
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

wow -- a 33' boat -- sure hope you and misses get along as it will be very very cozy -- we sail a 40' and have lived on her for 6 years and sometimes we wish we had a few extra feet - not to big but a 43 would be nice - amazing what 3' gets you -- and as said above what are you going to do with her
our goal was to sail the bahamas and the east coast of the usa -- somehow after 3 years of that we started drifting farther afield and next thing you know we crossed the atlantic and are now in tunisia -- sure glad we got a boat to go anywhere -- think about that when looking for a boat - it is easier to sell a go anywhere boat than a coastal or day sail boat -- that is if things do not go the way you envision them --
by the way we have a lot of friends that just do the east coast of the usa and the bahamas year after year and they love it -- but for us it got boring - but it was cheap by the way -

just our thoughts and opinions
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in port yasmine hammemet tunisia for the winter
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Old 29-09-2013, 13:15   #15
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Re: Retiring Aboard -- Ways & Means?

i worked as an rmn in critical care areas many years, err, decades..lola nd i had no retirement due to needing to raise a kid and all that stufff--i worked for highest dollar, which in nursing means sans benefits.
i was fortunate in that i was rendered disabled and i am now living on that.
i found usa not acepotable to stay as prices are way out of my range.
here in mexico i can make my short dollars last just about a month.
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