The Perfect Life After Financial Independence

The Perfect Life

To me, the ultimate reward for achieving financial independence has nothing to do with money; it is having the time to be able to do exactly what I want to do with my life.

When I first started on my journey to FI, I didn’t really consider what my life would look like when I reached my goal. I just started accumulating as much money as I could without thinking about where I was going or how exactly I was going to get there. Being able to quit my job seemed like the finish line so I didn’t really consider what I’d do after I crossed it.

I noticed along the way, however, that not having a defined goal or vision made it much easier to get sidetracked.

FI Date

I decided to compute my FI date so that I would at least have a date to work towards and I could use that date to see if I was staying on track.

This plan worked quite well and I was progressing nicely but I still didn’t know what I’d do after I reached FI.

Mad Fientist

It was shortly after computing my FI date that I put on the Mad Fientist lab coat for the first time and discovered even more fientific power than I had before.

With this newfound drive, I began rethinking my plan and strategy.

Sure, I could just keep living the same life that I was living and easily reach FI within 5 years but why should I wait so long when I could head to the lab and develop a new strategy to reach FI sooner?

Plus, what’s more interesting to read about…someone who is easily reaching FI living their normal life or someone who is experimenting and optimizing in order to reach FI in half the time? Both scenarios are amazing but I think I’d prefer to read about the latter.

So now, rather than accept the FI date that I computed from my current income and lifestyle, I’m deciding when I’d like to reach FI and what I want my life to look like when I get there and I’m going to adjust my current lifestyle to meet those parameters instead.

There are a few reasons I see this as being beneficial.


If I have a clear picture of the life that awaits me, it will be easier to make more difficult financial decisions and sacrifices in order to achieve that ideal life as quickly as possible.


My first FI date was computed using my existing spending patterns. Obviously these will change dramatically once I no longer have to work for a living so by thinking about my post-FI life and working backwards, I should be able to come up with a much more accurate FI date.

Reach FI Sooner

Knowing what I plan to do after reaching financial independence could also allow me to start living my ideal life sooner.

For instance, since I plan on working part time after I reach financial independence, it makes sense to factor that part-time income stream into my FI plans and bring my FI date closer.

A Perfect Life

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”

-Alan Lakein

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about my perfect life (I obviously included my wife in this discussion as well).

When you really devote some effort into envisioning your perfect life, it’s actually much harder than it seems. Every time I would think I figured everything out, I’d usually find some sort of flaw that would make me rethink my plan.


After spending some time failing to really cement a clear picture of my ideal post-FI life, I decided to step back and think about what in life is really important to me.

I whittled down my list to the following categories:

– Family/Friends
– Traveling
– Learning
– Creating


This was the easiest category to settle on. I am happiest when I’m around people I love but since I live far away from most of my friends and family, I don’t get to see everyone as much as I’d like. Post-FI, I plan on changing that.


There is nothing more exciting to me than experiencing a new place for the first time. Traveling has changed my life and is what occupies my thoughts the most (besides money/finances, of course).

If you’ve ever struggled living below your means, just travel to Asia or Central America and see how hard people work for so little (and notice how happy so many of them are). I can almost guarantee you’ll come back and realize you don’t need whatever stupid thing the TV is trying to sell you.


My brain is my most important asset so I want to continue to stimulate it after FI. I will finish my Free Ivy League Degree in 2014 and after all of that brain exercise, I know I’m going to want to continue beefing up my gray matter.


The main reason I’m not satisfied with my job is because I feel like I’m just a cog in a wheel and I’m not really contributing anything to the world. If I died, I’d be replaced with another competent software developer and life would go on.

I want to create something that impacts the world. I want to create something that will be around after I’m gone.

Our Perfect Life

So after settling on those four categories, I then worked with my wife to structure a lifestyle that incorporated all of those things.

Here is the glorious result of that work…the perfect life!

Since I want to complete my master’s degree and my wife, who is Scottish, wants to apply for US citizenship (so that we never have to deal with American visa issues again), we are going to stay where we are, doing what we’re doing, until 2015. After that, it all changes.

We’re going to sell our house, cars, and most our belongings and execute what we’ve been calling our 3-6-3 plan.

The 3-6-3 Plan

Because my wife’s friends and family live in Scotland and my friends and family live all over America, we’re going to split our time into three- and six-month increments.

The First 3

The first three in our 3-6-3 plan will be three months living in America. This time will be spent traveling around the country visiting all of our American friends and family.

Seeing friends and family only around the holidays every year doesn’t cut it so having a full three months every year to properly catch up with the people we love in America will be incredible.

The 6

The six month period will be spent in Scotland, seeing my wife’s family and friends and also working. Since my wife is not a fientist, she’s going to continue working after 2015.

She is a fientist in the making though so she’ll easily be able to earn enough in six months to sustain herself for the entire year (while also building her savings) so the six months in Scotland should be the only time she’ll have to work during the year.

While she works, I plan on exploring a few business ideas with one of my friends who lives in Scotland.

The Second 3

The final three months of the year will be spent somewhere else in the world.

When we travel, we really like to experience the local culture and usually a couple of weeks vacation doesn’t really cut it. Therefore, we plan to live somewhere, as locals, for three months every year.

One of our goals is to learn another language and I believe living somewhere where the language is spoken will be one of the best ways to do that.

Geographic Arbitrage

Travel is usually costly due to the inefficient nature of most traveling. When you spend a lot of money on a plane ticket to fly thousands of miles, stay in an expensive hotel, eat out every day, then fly back home a few short weeks later, the cost per day is usually extremely high.

By living somewhere for three months, however, we’ll be able to get an apartment, immerse ourselves in the culture, travel locally to see the surrounding area cheaply, and potentially spend less than we would living in America or Scotland.

Since I plan on building additional income streams in America before we execute our plan, it is possible I will be earning dollars while living somewhere considerably less expensive (this is known as geographic arbitrage…more on this to come).

Potential Destinations

  • Thailand – The cost of living there is very low, the food is amazing, and it could serve as a great hub to explore the rest of Southeast Asia.
  • Guatemala – World-traveling early retirees Billy and Akaisha Kaderli mentioned during our interview that if that had to pick one place to retire early, it would be Panajachel, Guatemala.
  • Ecuador – Maybe we’ll head down and join Jim Collins in the early retirement retreat he proposed

Learning and Creating

It’s pretty obvious that our plan extensively covers the Family/Friends and Traveling categories, but what about Learning and Creating?

Well, learning and creating will take place throughout the year in all of the places we will be living.

I already mentioned a few of the things I’d like to do:

  • Create businesses and web applications with my friend in Scotland
  • Learn languages in our second three months abroad
  • Create amazing Mad Fientist content throughout the year

There are also a few other things I plan on exploring:


I want to create synthesizer music with my brother on machines like the one pictured at the beginning of the article.


Most PhD programs offer full tuition wavers and an additional stipend of around $20,000 per year so getting paid to study, while potentially conducting groundbreaking research, sounds like an incredible option for an early retiree.

Obviously this would limit our traveling a bit but this is definitely an exciting opportunity to consider a few years after living the 3-6-3 plan.

So What Now?

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

– George S. Patton

It’s time to get started. It is going to be quite a challenge bringing my FI date two years closer so I’m going to need to make some big changes.

Additional Income

My main focus will be on generating additional income streams so that I can not only increase my savings but reduce the amount I need to save to reach financial independence.

If I build a business that generates $500 per month, not only will I be adding an additional $500 to my FI savings every month while I’m still working but I will decrease the amount of savings I need to accumulate for financial independence by $200,000 (since $200,000 of savings would be needed to generate $500 of monthly income based on a 3% dividend).

This great article from Paula at Afford Anything really resonated with me and helped shift my focus from cutting expenses to increasing income: Quit Thinking About Consumption. Start Thinking About Creation

Being frugal is great but it shouldn’t be my primary focus. Frugality comes naturally to me so rather than try to optimize my frugality further, I should focus on expanding my income instead. There is only so much more I can save on the spending side of the equation but there is an unlimited amount of income I could earn so it makes sense to focus on that side of the equation instead.

Mad Fientist Readers

So what can you look forward to as a Mad Fientist reader?

  • More articles about entrepreneurship and building businesses – I will document my experience with building addition income streams and side businesses.
  • Additional experiments in the Mad Fientist Laboratory – To meet my 2015 deadline, I’m going to have to get creative and experiment with different strategies so you should benefit from reading about both my successes and failures.
  • Articles on travel hacking – Our plan involves quite a bit of travel but luckily I’ve become adept at travel hacking over the last few years so I will describe some of the techniques that will enable us to travel at minimal expense.
  • Country profile articles – I plan on researching (and writing about) specific countries in order to find the best places for semi/early retirees to spend extended time abroad.
  • Mad Fientist Financial Independence Podcast – I will continue to interview the most respected fientists in the field to discover the techniques and strategies they used to achieve financial independence.
  • Progress reports – I plan on sharing more of my personal numbers so that you can not only stay up to date with my progress but also see that achieving FI early in life is possible. Most of my favorite FI writers have already achieved financial independence so I think there will be value in seeing someone documenting their journey to FI, as it’s happening.
  • Financial theory – I will continue to dive into the financial theory behind investment strategies, as I did with the Unique Risk series, in order to gain insight into what financial advice should be followed and why.

Now that I know where I’m going and when I want to get there, it’s time to work backwards to figure out how I’m going to get there.

I am excited to get started and I hope you will get involved and join me on this journey so that I can learn as much from you as you learn from me.

What does your perfect life look like?

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46 comments for “The Perfect Life After Financial Independence

  1. jlcollinsnh
    November 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Hi MF…

    Just got back from Ecuador. Thanks for the link!

    Great time and I like the idea of living there even more.



    • The Mad Fientist
      November 25, 2012 at 11:06 pm

      Hey Jim, welcome back!

      It was great reading about your trip in your latest post. I definitely want to talk to you more about Cuenca, since it seems like it could be a great geographic arbitrage destination.

      Good luck settling back into this cold New England weather and I’ll hopefully speak to you again soon.

      • Dividend Growth Investor
        November 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm

        Hi, I think you have a really nice site and it has a lot of helpful information. That’s why I would hate it that my first comment is pointing out at something that I doubt is right.

        You are referring to a MINT article, which claims that Austria is “the cheapest” country in Europe to live. I am scratching my head, trying to understand whether this person from Mint has ever been to Austria.

        Check this resource out on US vs Austria:

        And also the links from Us Embassy in Austria:

        Now, the article might have been true after WW2.. But now Vienna is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

        I would say it would be cheaper in the newest members of the EU, like Bulgaria and Romania. You won’t be able to practice German, but you would have access to warmer climate, mountains and sea resorts in the summer.

        Best Regards,

        Dividend Growth Investor

        • The Mad Fientist
          November 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm

          Hey DGI, thanks for stopping by.

          You’re absolutely right. I’ve actually been to Austria, Bulgaria, and Romania and Austria was definitely the most expensive out of the three so I don’t know why I didn’t question the claims of the Mint article when I read it (the article was written in 2009 but that was still after Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU so I’m not sure how they came to the conclusion that Austria was the cheapest European country to live in).

          While I still imagine my wife and I will spend some time in Austria, living there wouldn’t really be considered geographic arbitrage so I removed it from the list and replaced it with Guatemala (another place where we plan to live).

          • Tom Johnston
            June 6, 2017 at 2:23 pm

            DGI and MadFientist,

            I’m with you, Austria is anything but inexpensive. Croatia not far south is way less expensive than Austria, and freaking amazing. (Full disclosure, I lived and worked there for three years; so the country is near and dear to my heart.) I spent two months on the Dalmatian coast last spring and had a fantastic time. I paid under $1000 per month for a four hundred year old home right on the coast because I was there in the “shoulder season.” Just in case you ever want to explore another option….

  2. Prob8
    November 28, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Good post. Good luck with reaching FI 2 years sooner. It’s nice to see you are trying to generate alternate income streams. I look forward to hearing about them.

    • The Mad Fientist
      November 28, 2012 at 11:42 am

      Thanks for stopping by!

      It is definitely going to be a challenge achieving FI more than two years earlier than previously planned but it should be a really interesting and exciting journey.

      I’m actually already in the process of building something that will hopefully become an additional income stream and I plan on writing about it soon so stay tuned!

  3. John Mark Schofield
    January 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    I love the thought you’ve put into the ideal life. I’m a programmer, so although I’m currently employed full-time, I should in theory be able to work remotely from anywhere there’s Internet access. (At present, I need to stay in Los Angeles to take care of my ailing parents, but sadly, that’s not a limitation that’s going to last too much longer.)

    Clearly if you have an income you can receive anywhere, moving somewhere with lower costs is a great financial move.

    My wife is from a warm climate, and we’re trying to avoid anywhere too cold.

    In Asia I’m considering Thailand and the Philippines.

    In Central and South America, I’m considering Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica. Although Ecuador looks tempting, the crime rate there is disturbingly high. Homicide rate there is 18.2 per 100k, vs 5 in the US, 5.4 in the Philippines, or less than 1 in Denmark.

    In my 20s I traveled to some quite dangerous places very happily, but now that I’m 40, married, and have a child, I’m looking for a little more stability and safety.

    If you made me pick just two contenders, in the “closest to a Western standard of living while still being less expensive” category I’d pick Chile, and in the “best really low-cost country” I’d pick the Philippines.

    And of course, I’m also considering the US — currently looking at house prices in Southern Oregon.

    But of course, all this research is really just narrowing down the list of places we’ll visit first — you can’t make a decision as important as where to live over the Internet. We hope to visit one or more of these countries every year for the next few years.

    • The Mad Fientist
      January 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

      Hi John, sorry I only just saw your comment now. It looks like all of my comment notifications started going to my spam folder a few days ago and I didn’t notice.

      That’s exciting you are also thinking about relocating. I’m a programmer as well and it’s definitely great to be able to work from anywhere.

      Thailand is our number one choice right now but we’re also looking to South America for some other options. I’ll have to do some more research into Chile, since that is on the top of your list.

      Please keep me posted as you continue your research into locations. I’m planning on writing a few posts here on some of the best early/semi retirement destinations but I’d love to hear your analysis as well.

      All the best to you and your parents and I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

  4. Eric
    March 21, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Good post! I’m in a similar situation as you (reluctant software developer trying to build additional income streams until I can do lots of travel), so I’m excited to read though your blog because it is so relevant.

    • The Mad Fientist
      March 21, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      It’s great when you stumbled across something that seems like a perfect fit, isn’t it?

      Don’t hesitate to comment on what you read here because since we’re both on similar paths, I’d love to hear about what you’re thinking/doing as well.

  5. Jeremy @ Go Curry Cracker!
    April 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    What a great plan!

    My wife and I are doing a bit of geo arbitrage, traveling the world indefinitely / permanently. There are some great opportunities for living large for very little money outside the US. We’ve been in Mexico for the past 3.5 months and are headed south through all of Latin America

    We share detailed information on all of our travel spending over at our blog. It may be useful as part of your planning efforts. I’d also be happy to dig into anything you have questions about as we visit particular countries



    • The Mad Fientist
      April 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Jeremy. That’s awesome you and your wife are already living the dream! Is it as amazing as I imagine it to be?

      Mexico is definitely high on our list of places we’d like to spend some time so I look forward to reading more about your adventures down there.

      • Jeremy @ Go Curry Cracker!
        April 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm

        I can only say life is good. Learning is one of our joys as well, and we are making daily progress on Spanish through immersion, have plenty of time for reading, and have learned a ton through blogging as well.

        It’s hard to figure out how I had time to go into an office before

        All the best


        • The Mad Fientist
          April 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

          Learning a language through immersion is one of the things I am looking forward to most, actually.

          Glad to hear everything is going well for you. Thanks again for stopping by and I’ll hopefully speak to you again soon.

  6. Petey
    June 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Hi there,

    Are you planning 3-6-3 also for tax purposes? If you are, you may want to reconsider the US citizenship as they tax worldwide income.

    • The Mad Fientist
      June 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Hi Petey, sorry for only replying now; I was abroad and did not have an internet connection all week.

      Yes, the 3-6-3 plan was designed with taxes in mind. I plan on taking advantage of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, which would allow me to exclude over $95,000 of foreign earned income.

      • Petey
        June 21, 2013 at 11:14 am

        Thanks, I did not know about that.

      • Libby
        July 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm

        According to the requirements on the IRS page, you have to live in a foreign country (or countries) for at least 330 days of the last 12 months in order for your foreign income to be excluded. If you live/travel/stay in the US for 3 months out of every 12, I think you’ll have to pay taxes on your income from the whole year, correct?

        • The Mad Fientist
          July 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm

          Hi Libby, you are absolutely correct. I actually don’t plan on earning much foreign-earned income but in years that I do, assuming the income is significant enough, I will plan my trips back to the States with the 330 days in mind. The 12-month timeframe for the 330 days doesn’t have to be a calendar year so it would be quite easy to schedule my visits to the US on either side of the 12-month period that I use for the Physical Presence Test.

          • US expat
            February 25, 2014 at 6:46 pm

            I caution your wife to take tax advice prior to obtaining US citizenship, so she understands the long term implications (like 20 years down the road when her financial assets including pensions are of greater value). Being a British citizen living abroad is simpler compared to being a US citizen living abroad.

          • The Mad Fientist
            February 28, 2014 at 8:45 am

            That’s a really good point. We’re still a long way from her potentially getting citizenship but there is definitely a lot to consider before we go that route.

  7. Jason
    July 26, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Love your blog! I just came across it via MMM, and it’s amazing how many posts are relevant to my situation.

    I came across MMM about a year ago, and at that point started doing some serious thinking about FI. I made a number of changes in my spending/life and eventually cut my annual spending from $100K to less than $35K and transitioned my job to a part time gig. MMM actually featured my story on his site via a Reader Case Study which was pretty cool.

    Anyway – I’ve ran the numbers and decided I’m ‘retiring’ once this part time gig runs it’s course (~6 mths). Just the other day I sat down and tried to comprise my ‘perfect life’. It almost mirrors your post.

    Mine is more of a 4-4-4 plan…four months in Colorado (my brother lives there and I’ve always loved visiting), four months here in Texas but I’m moving closer to family and into a lower cost area, and four months of traveling. Thailand, Central and South America are top of the list. Immersion is my plan to (re)learn Spanish. And I plan on seeing quite a bit of the US as well. While I’m in Texas I plan on buying and rehabbing one more rent house per year to continue adding to the stash/passive income.

    Anyway, guess I just want to say keep up the good work. I’m planning on spending the rest of the morning reading through your old posts!!

    PS I’m heading down to Ecuador in September as part of the MMM/JCollins trip, so let me know if you’re joining us

    • The Mad Fientist
      July 26, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      Thanks, Jason!

      I actually hadn’t read your guest post on MMM before but I just did and really enjoyed it. For others reading this comment, definitely go check out the post if you haven’t already read it – Why is it So Hard to Downshift.

      That’s really cool you’ll be starting a similar adventure to the one we’re gearing up for. Maybe we’ll cross paths at some point and can grab a coffee or a beer in Thailand or Central America.

      I sadly can’t make it down to Ecuador in September. It sounds like it’s going to be an amazing trip though so I’m looking forward to hearing all about it when everyone gets back.

      Thanks a lot for getting in touch and if you get the chance, send me an email and let me know a little bit more about your journey to FI. I always like to hear about how others are pursuing financial independence and it sounds like you have a really interesting story (drastic decrease in spending, real estate investments, etc.).

  8. Jason
    July 27, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Actually, it was a different MMM post, although the one you linked to sounds quite a bit like me too! MMM referred to me as “JJ” to protect my privacy, but I don’t really care. Here’s the link

    • The Mad Fientist
      July 27, 2013 at 8:27 am

      Oh, my bad! I just Googled “Jason MMM” and that’s what came up so I figured it was you.

      I do remember reading your guest post and it is a really inspiring story. I’m thinking about cutting back to part-time prior to FI so it’s nice to read that your situation has worked out so well.

      Definitely keep me posted on your journey and let me know when you finally call it quits for good!

  9. Danielle
    September 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I am far from FI, but your article made me think about my perfect life and what I would do when I retire…
    Like so many readers of Jcollinsn, MMM and your blog, I regret much the fact that I did not know anything about finances after college.

    So my plan when I become FI is to find some sort of way to work with youth like High School students or freshmen college students. To me there is no bigger gift you can give than to help a young person start their life with enough financial education to allow them to make sound decisions down the road.

    Brandon, you are helping so many already, but your readers seem to be the ones already “fired up” and on their way to FI.

    I know Jcollins work with VITA, so he gives back to the community that way.

    Perhaps you can find a way to work with the young kids?
    Can you imagine what an impact you can make with all the cool graphs and charts??
    It’s going to be a while for me to get to FI. You already have the tools and the reputation :-)

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 25, 2013 at 9:08 am

      That’s a great idea Danielle and something that I’ve actually thought a lot about. Since I work at a university, I feel the urge to teach these kids around me all the things I wish I had known back when I was in school. I’m not sure the best way to go about that though so I haven’t taken any action.

      I will be presenting my master’s thesis next spring, and it focuses on a lot of the topics that I write about here, so maybe I’ll try to invite a bigger audience to that presentation.

      I agree that financial knowledge is extremely important and yet does not get adequately addressed in the traditional education system.

      Maybe Jim, MMM, and I should take a tour around the country delivering presentations to colleges and universities or something? Who knows the best way to reach these kids? I don’t have a good solution so until I come up with one, I’ll continue pumping out as much information here as I can and hope that more and more people find it and benefit from it.

      • Dustin from SF
        November 19, 2014 at 2:54 pm

        MF, one yearish follower on and off, first time poster.

        I think it’d be great if you could record your thesis lecture and maybe post it ‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch style. =) Steps: Set on youtube, become super viral, bring light to the masses on this topic, create an economic revolution that changes the minds of many. ;) And maybe you’ll even have a legacy like Randy Pausch did for programming with his Alice program.

        On another note, I’d just like to recommend Tony Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness’ if you haven’t read it. It’s a really inspiring book full of passion and the synergistic pursuit of creating and accomplishing something bigger than himself. He reached FI a few years after college, but this didn’t stop him from creating an envious environment at Zappos. So many great books in the Zappos library, but this would be an awesome book to put on your ‘Learning Tier’ =)

        • The Mad Fientist
          November 30, 2014 at 6:27 am

          Hey Dustin, thanks for the comment.

          I actually presented my thesis to an undergrad History class at Dartmouth and it was very well received but sadly it wasn’t recorded. I’d like to present to more college kids at some point so if I do, I’ll make sure I record it and stick it up on YouTube.

          Thanks a lot for the book recommendation! I haven’t read that yet but I added it to my reading list so I’ll let you know what I think after I’ve had a chance to check it out!

  10. Jian
    October 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Hi MF,

    Great post! I stumbled onto it just now, so am very curious how much progress you’ve made since its posting almost a year ago.

    Would you mind doing a report card? If you already did, will you add links to those developments? It would be even better, if you added a new category devoted to your progress to FI.

    Anyways, great blog and thanks for writing!

    • The Mad Fientist
      October 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks, Jian!

      Things are progressing nicely, actually. A year from now, my wife and I will sell our house/possessions, quit our jobs, and head off on a big adventure (check out the American Explorer Award post to read what that adventure entails).

      I don’t tend to discuss my progress very much because I’d much rather describe strategies and tactics that others can use to reach FI sooner but I imagine that next year I will write about my own situation a lot more, since so many exciting and drastic changes will be taking place.

      Thanks a lot for the comment!

  11. Ferenc
    November 7, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Just one warning: I am living some few hundred kilometers from Wien and I can not imagine that it is cheaper than many of the neighboring cities/ countries – such as Prague, Budapest, Krakow, etc. (all of them earlier eastern-block capitals, where wages are considerably lower – therefore services are also considerably cheaper probably)

    Maybe what tilted the balance in favor of Wien instead of these cities was that the writers probably took into consideration the earning potential – which is admittedly much higher in Wien. :)

    And one more note: once you are in Europe (Scotland), it is much cheaper to fly around with Ryanair, EasyJet, AirBerlin than you would imagine.(Ie. it can cost as few as 30 bucks if you buy tickets early on and are flexible on schedule of flights.)

    • The Mad Fientist
      November 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Ferenc, I lived in Scotland for 4+ years so I am actually very familiar with all of those low-cost airlines. In fact, they are the main reason I was able to travel to so many different places in my twenties.

      You are absolutely right that intra-Europe travel can be very cheap. I once booked a flight from Glasgow to Dublin for £0.01 (taxes included)! Since I booked a flight for both my wife (then girlfriend) and I, I literally had a charge on my credit card for £0.02! That was back in the good old days though when RyanAir just came onto the scene; now they charge so many fees for everything that their flights end up being quite expensive even though their fares are still low.

  12. rm
    February 24, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Do you have any plans for children? If so, how do you factor them in (providing proper home, edu, etc.)


    • The Mad Fientist
      February 25, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Hi rm, we don’t currently have plans for children but if we do decide to have some, that would obviously change our plans a bit. We would likely still travel and live other places while they were young but once they reached school age, we’d probably have to settle down a bit more (either in Scotland or America).

  13. Forticus
    July 19, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    My wife and I are FI, as she keeps saying, since we never had private debt and are able to work. Yet we are not retired. Recently we started to discuss how to spend time at retirement. Mayhaps the same as now: “Learning and Creating” value to others. This may include more travelling than the 2 weeks per year we had for 18 years now.

    -> “I want to create something that impacts the world. I want to create something that will be around after I’m gone.”
    -> “PhD”

    While graduating and at doctorate I had this dream to create something …
    I dropped out of since right after my PhD. Now 20 years later I recognise that I created something that impacts the world and will hopefully doing so after I am gone: my son (16). I had the pleasure to coach him almost full time from diapers to juvenile mustache. It was him who gave me the best lessons about life before he even went to school.
    In summary, let me encourage you to continue “Learning and Creating”.

  14. Jay A.
    September 15, 2015 at 1:41 am

    Another great article, MF!

    My Perfect Life seems quite similar to yours, although currently I do not have a significant other. Maybe My Perfect Life should include one…

    A couple of months ago, I went to Romania for a week. It occurred to me while there that it could be a nice place to spend time post-FI. Bucharest is relatively expensive compared to the rest of the country, but still likely less expensive than similar, modern cities elsewhere. I also stayed a few nights in a small beachfront town called Vama Veche. It seems to be more “commercial” and developed than 10, 15, 20 years ago, but I could also consider it, or other similar locales, an attractive potential post-FI destination.

    • The Mad Fientist
      October 2, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Glad you liked it, Jay!

      I have a friend who is from the Transylvania region of Romania and he loves it. We were going to visit him there this summer but it didn’t work out but hopefully we’ll get out there eventually because it sounds really nice. I visited Bucharest for a day a few years ago and liked it so I’m sure there are plenty of places in Romania that’d be good to spend an extended period of time in!

  15. Chad Carson
    September 26, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Hey MF,
    I know this post is old, but after meeting you briefly at FinCon and hearing you interview Mr and Mrs. 1500, I thought I would check out more of your articles.

    I love the perfect life exercise, particularly with your spouse. My wife and I have been talking a lot about it too.

    We share a lot of your goals with FI.

    We plan to use income from our rental properties in South Carolina to help us travel abroad in 2017 with our 2 little girls so we can all immerse and improve our Spanish. My wife is fluent, I speak ok, but we would love our girls to learn when they are 4 and 6.

    We like Central America, too, but we also love Spain and have been reading blogs and studying expenses there. We will see.

    I also share the idea of continuing to learn and create. The thing I love the most about writing my own blog is that process of learning something intensely and then sharing it in a concise and intelligible way. It is a lot of fun. Learning languages is also a lot of fun. It forces us back to being a beginner, which I hope to do my entire life.

    Thanks for your own inspirational work. It is cool to read about other people on their own journies toward a more perfect life!

    • The Mad Fientist
      October 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      Hey Chad, great meeting you and thanks a lot for stopping by to check out more of my articles!

      I too hope to learn a foreign language one day and I actually may do it sooner rather than later. Instead of paying a bunch of money to get UK citizenship, I may use my Hungarian heritage to get Hungarian citizenship (which will still allow me to live and work in the UK) but I need to be pretty fluent in Hungarian (which I’m not) so that may be the motivation I need to dive in!

      • Chad Carson
        October 2, 2015 at 3:47 pm

        Wow, Hungarian! That’s cool. My German teacher in college was native Hungarian, and from talking to her it seemed more difficult leap to go from English to Hungarian than English to German or English to Spanish.

        My wife is very interested in the mechanics of language acquisition as a teacher, and she said this website ( does a good job of moving you forward in a more natural way than class room style curricula. She says you need to be ok talking like a cave man with bad grammer in order to move forward:) Most people are embarrassed becoming a 2-year old again.

        Good luck! Thanks again.

        • The Mad Fientist
          October 6, 2015 at 11:07 pm

          I’m actually subscribed to the fluentin3months Hungarian newsletter! Now if I could just convince Jill to let us go live in Budapest for a few months so I can become a 2-year-old again :)

  16. Jonathan
    April 20, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I’m revisiting this post as I feel it’s the best one to post this question on. I discovered your blog through a guest post you did on MillionMileSecrets, and it seriously changed the direction of my life. I’ve transitioned from being a poor college graduate to now starting to stash away some money each year and I’m excited to finish grad school and ramp up the savings. I’m super excited about all that I’ve learned and my wife and I are both eagerly working toward financial independence.
    I have a question about your envisioned perfect life. When I try to envision the future, one thing that makes me feel anxious is the prospect of paying for multiple kids to go to college. Do you understand how FAFSA works? If my wife and I have a large amount saved in tax-advantaged accounts as well as a large amount invested elsewhere, will we have to pay the entire bill for our kids college education (no subsidized loans or grants)? We don’t have any kids yet, but I think we might be shooting for about 4.
    Thanks for answering and thanks again for your work you’ve put into this blog! It really has changed my life for the better.

  17. Miles Beckler
    November 11, 2016 at 6:34 am

    Great post. My wife and I have been location Independent internet entrepreneurs for a few years now and we really resonate with your 3-6-3 idea. When we travel too quickly, quality of life and our businesses suffer.

    In Chiang Mai now and extended our visa for another 30 days because we just wanted to keep working and not travel.

    We may come back on a 6 mo multi-entry visa next year for a longer stay (60 days this time) and the freedom to take trips around SE Asia.

  18. Bill Yount
    January 8, 2019 at 8:33 am

    MF, love your work. Binging on your Podcasts right now.

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