A short while ago I wrote a post about dealing with the humidity here, and afterwards I received this lovely comment: “I think you’re an idiot. You probably have the worst reasoning powers on the planet. Obviously retiring in Hawaii was a HUGE mistake but one that your stubborness would never admit to.”
The Occasional Nomads is not a retirement blog. Yes, we are retired but that’s not the focus of the blog. I don’t write about retirement or give advice about retirement or pretend to know a lot about retirement issues. There are other excellent blogs out there for that (such as Bob Lowry’s A Satisfying Retirement). Anything that relates to retirement on this blog is about our experience, and ours only.
The Occasional Nomads is also not about how to live in Hawai’i. Brett and I write about our life here, things we do here, about traveling and occasionally about Japan. That’s it. If we lived somewhere else we’d be writing about that place. Our experience here is ours, and really not transferable to anyone else. If readers find something on here that’s helpful or interesting, that’s great, but Hawai’i advice is not what the blog is all about.
We live on a fixed income these days. We have two (soon-to-be three) children attending college. And yes, the cost of living on Kaua’i is higher than many places back on the mainland (but not all: San Francisco, New York, Southern California, Seattle, etc. are much higher than here. Even Portland is getting close or exceeding the cost of living here in some areas.) But I’m a bit confused why or where anyone would have gotten the idea from this blog that we’re struggling or miserable. We’ve thrived here and are getting ready to make a big dream come true. We’re not going around the world next year because we have to leave Kaua’i, but because we want to travel the world and we can.
According to the commenter above though, why don’t we just admit to ourselves and our readers that our retirement to Hawai’i has actually been a failure and a sham?
Well, here’s why:
You don’t have to be rich to live in Hawaii, and we’re not rich. Still, our monthly expenses here are less than our monthly income. What we don’t spend each month we put into savings. We haven’t had to go back to work or even consider looking for work to supplement our income. I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom about living in Hawai’i, but it is possible to do so affordably if you do some research before coming, plan carefully, and be willing to adjust your lifestyle.
Maybe this commenter thinks we’re deluding readers because we don’t publish our income and an itemized budget for how we spend it. However, our income and what we do with it are not really anyone else’s business. We don’t have to justify or explain our family’s finances, and especially not on a public blog. I don’t care if others do – that’s their choice. I’m happy to let readers know how we save for travel and what our financial goals are, but that’s as far as it goes.
Just like anyone else, retired or not, we make choices all the time about how to spend or not spend our money in ways that work for us. For example, we choose to go without air-conditioning here because we want to put more away for travel. Maybe having air-conditioning is of life-or-death importance to someone else, but we’re willing to go without for a few months and be temporarily uncomfortable in order to save more for something that’s important to us, something we want to do, and that we feel will be of greater benefit and happiness for us in the long run. We’re more than able to afford an air-conditioner or two, and pay a higher electric bill for running them, but we choose to direct our money elsewhere for reasons that make sense to us.
Everyone’s retirement is different. We all make choices throughout our lives, but those choices are unique to each person or family and their circumstances and preferences. Brett and I are happy and satisfied with the choices we’ve made and are making. We live a simple, comfortable life in one of the most beautiful places imaginable. We eat well, we’re healthy, and our children and grandchildren are healthy and happy too. We’ve been able to travel to the mainland or internationally at least once a year. We have all we need or want right now for a successful and satisfying retirement with no regrets, and we’re planning to go on the adventure of a lifetime next year. As far as I can tell, our retirement income and lifestyle are pretty much working fine for us, without any sort of struggle.
Is our life perfect, retired or otherwise? Of course not – no one’s is. But what you see here on The Occasional Nomads is who we are. And that’s no delusion. Or sham.