Since I retired three years ago I have had a lot of people ask how much it costs to fund my travel lifestyle. I have always been hesitant to answer that because what a person “needs” is a very personal thing and the way I live may seem, depending on where you are coming from, either extraordinarily extravagant or miserably deprived. I truly am fortunate because most of the choices I make regarding travel are lifestyle decisions and not ones of finance. Finance is, of course, important but because for now because I choose to live very simply it isn’t much of an issue.
Also, living my life with what is — from my previous perch anyway — a minimum of possessions, I have given myself to a lot of freedoms that I didn’t know existed. The time and money that I used to spend acquiring, maintaining and housing all of my stuff is now mine to spend on other priorities. I don’t worry about property insurance because I have no property to insure. I don’t worry much about fashion because I only have a few suitcases. I don’t buy big screen TVs or home-entertainment systems because I don’t have time for them and just the act of owning them would restrict my mobility and my freedom. Below is an example of how I am living now — it could change tomorrow. That is another freedom I am giving myself; the right to change my mind.
I am currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My fixed living expenses; including water, electricity, and Internet are around $350 USD a month but I know people that spend less than that. For this, I have a simple but newly remodeled 15th-floor studio apartment in the center of town with city and mountain views that is a five-minute walk to most events and many restaurants. For transportation I rent a late model Honda PCX 150cc motorcycle for $120 USD a month that I turn in to the rental agency when I am traveling so I don’t have that expense or worry when I am away. I could save a little money by cooking at home but, because Chiang Mai is such an affordable and diverse food town, I choose to eat most of my meals out. Even so, it is rare when my food costs exceed $15 USD a day; including a beer or a glass of wine with dinner. If I wanted to be a bit pickier and only eat local I could easily keep my food costs below $5 USD a day. Entertainment is generally free or inexpensive but to give you an idea, seeing a first run movie (in English) in a modern theatre with reserved seating costs about $3 USD.
Also, I usually a travel lifestyle that is “close to the bone” and experience life a little bit closer to the way the majority of people on the planet do. That is not to say that on occasion I don’t indulge in, and completely enjoy a little extravagance and luxury. My main objective is to live a lifestyle that is outside of the mind-numbing bubble of perceived entitlement, privilege and convenience that I used to spend most of my time in. I want to expand my comfort zones — not devote my time and money to making them more plush and constrictive. Because of my semi-nomadic lifestyle, my costs of living a life of travel “on the road” generally don’t change that much except for transportation costs. For example, see “What Does it Cost to Live in Bali for a Month?”
- For a Happy Retirement, the Riskiest Risk is Avoiding Risks
- Life is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing
- Why I Decided to Sell Everything and Travel the World
I have never intended this blog to be an accounting of costs or a self-indulgent, “You Must Live the Way I Do” screed. Everyone’s situation is different and I am just hoping to tell people my thought process regarding my traveling lifestyle, help them look at different possibilities and see some alternatives to how they are doing things now. I also enjoy sharing my experiences and showing what is available to anyone looking for something different. Next week I may be sleeping on the floor of a homestay in remote Indonesia or spending a few days back in the bubble of a six-star resort, but whatever it is I will be trying to make the most of my most valuable asset — time.