Building a well-lived life

A big driver for the FIRE movement is the freedom to choose how you spend your time. As I get older, I realize how very important this is. In my twenties, I was so busy working and raising my young family that it never occurred to me that time is the most valuable resource in the world. It’s the one thing you can’t buy more of, no matter how rich you are. (Ask Steve Jobs and Paul Allen). You can always buy more “stuff”, but you can’t buy more time.

Given that our time in this world is finite, the most important goal is making the most of the time we have. That means different things to different people. For me, it means having the freedom to spend time with my family, to read, learn, cook, go out with friends, travel , and enjoy the beauty of the world around me. And, yes, I’m simultaneously  working on becoming the best version of myself that I can be, though I’m still working out exactly what that means. (And, I don’t have to be retired to do that).

There has been an explosion of books written on happiness over the past 10 years or so. I think happiness is an extremely personal pursuit, and I agree with the literature that it is unlikely to be found in more money, more “stuff” (which often just becomes clutter), or even in more experiences. Once you’re past the first couple levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you can focus on the things that truly make you happy. As far as FIRE is concerned, I think it’s important to have that worked out before you’re retired. If you are unhappy working a 9-to-5 job, especially if your unhappiness is broader than employment, having more time will only result in more time to focus on your unhappiness.

Start building a well-lived life now, regardless of where you are in your FIRE journey. None of us has the luxury of waiting. “Some day” might be too late.



“Geoarbitrage”, a term popularized by Tim Ferris in his book, The Four Hour Workweek, simply means relocating in order to take advantage of a lower cost of living. Due to the fact that I got started late in my FIRE adventure, geoarbitrage will factor into the overall plan to retire in the next five years. It’s tricky, though. There are a lot of important things to consider, not the least of which is the question of “where”?

There’s plenty of data for determining where the low cost areas are. In the United States, for example, this article from 2017,  shows the lower cost areas (mostly in the Midwest and South) and the high cost areas (mostly the west coast and parts of the east coast).

I consider myself a fairly adventurous soul, but I’ve pretty much landed on geoarbitrage within the United States. (There are less expensive international options, but those options add quite a bit more risk and complexity). 

Cost aside, there are other important considerations to think about: proximity to family and friends, access to quality health care, weather, access to arts and culture, traffic, crime and taxes, to name a few. 

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about weather. The Mr. and I are leaning toward the Atlanta area (though we are early in our research). I’ve never lived in the South before. The lure of warmer weather and cheaper housing is strong. Will I be able to manage the heat and humidity of the summers? Is Atlanta far enough inland to avoid major hurricane damage? Will our adult daughters ever visit us (or, better yet, decide to relocate as well)? These are important questions that we’ll need to find answers to before committing to this life-changing plan. Luckily, we have almost five years to find answers. If my “analysis paralysis” doesn’t set in, we should be fine. 


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