I've seen a lot of posts on social media recently on how most of us have a flawed view of what other people's lives are like because we are only seeing the best of what they post. And they only post what they want us to see. Something like 5% of their lives are visible if I remember correctly. I am sure these types of anecdotes or similar have been around for some time now, but I feel I should also make sure that people understand that our road to retiring early, even now, is not easy. It is neither glamorous nor stress-free. But those are the impressions people get when we tell them where/how we live. And those that follow our lead and do what it takes to retire earlier should also be ready for what is to come.
Our home is definitely not traditional
For the last several months, we have lived on a sailboat. It is not small and is technically considered a yacht because of its size and accommodations, but it is also not large. And she is old. Built in 1974 as a "budget" boat, she is starting to show her age while being completely safe and seaworthy. We have had Abigail since December 2014, but only recently lived aboard full-time. We decided to be completely aggressive toward saving money and investing instead of spending. Since Abigail was fully paid for, it made perfect sense. So we gave up the house we had been renting on land. Then after a couple months, we left the marina and it's $500+ costs per month. Now we live in the bay outside the marina.
We are fortunate enough that Abigail has everything we need and she is fully outfitted. Our solar panels power all of our electrical needs and we can run the engine with it's high-output alternator if the clouds attack us too much (a rarity in Mexico). We also make our own water with a PUR Powersurvivor 160E that makes salt water into fresh at 6.7 gallons per hour. We have two propane tanks that together probably last us 3-4 months depending on how often we cook on-board. When one goes empty, we take it into town and get it filled (for less than $10 USD) while the other one gets used.
We don't use an air conditioner or heater. This summer, we are sweating...a lot. We have an air conditioner and a heater...we just choose not to use them. They require too much electricity and that is something we must moderate. Guess what else we have to moderate...water usage. When you only get water 6 gallons/hour at a time and that takes 16-20 amps per hour there are no showers. You read that and, yes, I just admitted it on the internet. No showers/baths on Abigail. We shower on land from time to time at friend's houses. My favorite is to just scrub myself down really good while I am dry (or sweaty) and then jump in the ocean for a swim. A quick mist with fresh water when I get out to remove the salt and I feel great. Besides...most people over-bathe anyway.
And...it's crowded with two kids and all the stuff for a family of 4:
Why is there always crap on the floor?
Why is there always crap on the seats?
Why is there always crap on the galley counter and in this baby diaper?
And did I tell you it's a boat. It is always moving, rocking, making creaking noises, requiring constant maintenance and vigilance. But then again, it's a boat. So we take it sailing and find remote beaches or beaches with parties and have fun a lot, too. So there's that. But most of the time we are in this bay, appeasing spawn, seeing how little clothes we can wear to be comfortable but not indecent...all while trying to get work done so we can be really retired and NEVER have to work again. But it's a trade-off we made by choice.
We have two cars, though! Kind of.
We have a GMC truck with 4 doors that gets us around town, back to the States, and affords us the mobility we need in this fast-paced world. But to get from our boat to our truck...we use our 'car'. This beauty:
That beauty right there is an 11' Caribe inflatable dinghy. Complete with 20-yr old Tohatsu 5HP outboard and two leaks. Once a month we have the pleasure of pumping air back into it and draining water out of it. I call them de-flatables. But we can't get to shore via Abigail, so we need it. It takes us 5-6 minutes to go the 1/2 nautical mile to shore. Then we tie off at the dock, unload everything from the dinghy, walk to the truck (did we get to park close last time?), and then re-load everything in the truck. Obviously we don't do this everyday. Probably every 3 days if we averaged it out. The next time you think we are just sitting back and relaxing here in Mexico, remember that we get to load/re-load our kids and our stuff TWICE AS MUCH on any trip we take. Any guesses on how fun it is to get all the way to the dock (or worse, into town) and realize you forgot something you needed. Yeah, that sucks.
It's all worth it though, right?
I could go on and on about how we only have two burners on our stove and it tilts back and forth while to boat rocks. I could go on about how we have to pump our toilet after doing our business because there is no running water like what you have at home on a boat. I could also tell you the pleasures that come from your boat smelling like diesel and burnt rubber when you have to run your engine a lot to charge the batteries. But I don't want to do all of that. I only want to implant into your stubborn brain that there is no low that you can bring yourself down to that won't make it all worth it in the end. That doing whatever it takes to save more money for early retirement is the best thing you can do.
So whether it's living out of a wooden crate in your grandparent's back yard or memorizing the hundreds of ways to cook with eggs, you have the power (and my permission) to do whatever you can. Some may call you crazy. Others may ridicule your choices. But don't give in. Within 10 years they'll be scratching their heads trying to figure out why they can't get ahead while you are out there having the time of your life financially independent, doing whatever you want, and all on your own schedule. You'll look back and be glad you once read about this family of four sweating all over each other on a boat in Mexico.
What is the roughest you could tough out in order to meet or exceed your savings/investment goals? Do you think it's worth it to live like we do, or are we doing it all wrong? Let us know in the comments below!